Andrew Holt and the African American New London Methodist Episcopal Church

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The African-American Church
Holt Plat of New London 1835
The 1835 Holt Plat Survey

1754, May 22 – First court of Bedford County held at home of Matthew Talbot, Gent.; William Callaway offered 100 acres of his land for a new court house and prison. (Became New London Towne.) William Ingles purchased Lots 17 and 39 (Lot 17 would later be purchased by Andrew Holt in 1826.

1785, May 19 – Hook and Ross sold their land holdings in and around New London, presumably including Lot #23, which, according to Holt plat survey, Holt later owned. Next to/across alley from Lot #17.

Early 19th Century – Holt-Ashwell house built on Lot 17, possible earlier construction; (later?) home of Andrew Holt, baker and free African-American.

1822 – Andrew Holt purchased “one negro boy named Andrew, son of Judy” from James Steptoe for $150, possibly Andrew Holt’s and his wife’s son.

1826 – Andrew Holt purchased 4 lots in New London for $50, including the lot on which was built the “Holt-Ashwell House” where he likely lived with his wife, “Juda/Judy,” and granddaughter “Mahala.” He also later purchased lots on Buffalo Creek and the north side of what is today Alum Springs Road.

1835 – Holt Plat Survey Map indicated that Holt owned New London Lots #17, 23, 24, 26, & 27.

1842 – Andrew Holt taken to court in Rustburg for “suffering an unlawful assemblage of negroes at his house.” Case dropped.

1848, March 28 – Thomas Steptoe executed a deed of trust conveying his property, including two slaves, Andrew Holt’s sons, Burwell and Dennis.

1849, April 6 – Trustees advertise sale of the slaves Burwell and Dennis, whom Andrew Holt hoped to purchase in order to free them. Henry Stevens, Andrew Holt’s neighbor, bought them in trust for Andrew Holt for $620, awaiting repayment. Andrew Holt hired his sons out, Burwell to William M. Jenks, and Dennis to Thomas Steptoe.

1850 – Andrew Holt listed as a free black man on the 1850 Census of Campbell County and on the Free Negro Register:  1802-1864 (registered December 9, 1850, at 73 years old). Thomas Holt had set him free in Kentucky.

1850 – Andrew Holt brought suit against the administrators of the estate of Henry Stevens, deceased, being Henry J. Stevens, Robert B. Stevens, and Thomas Stevens, to take possession of slaves Burwell and Dennis. The case lasted 3 years, and ended with Andrew Holt purchasing them for $690.74.

1851 – Andrew Holt charged with holding “unlawful assemblage of negroes” in his home; charges dropped, and he donated land for the construction of the Methodist Episcopal Church South (“African-American church”) “for the special but not exclusive benefit of coloured people.” The location of New London Methodist Church, North. During this time, Andrew Holt also sold his 41-acre tract to Auty W. Templin and sold a tract of land adjoining David F. Clowdis’ blacksmith shop to him.

1854-1858 – Andrew Holt died. In his will, he directed that his sons Burwell and Dennis should be immediately freed. He listed Thomas Steptoe and Robert Steptoe as his executors. Burwell was immediately registered as “a free man of colour,” but a similar record for Dennis is not found. John F. Teass administrated Andrew Holt’s will and sold his last tract of land to a free woman of color, Sarah Jordan.

1930 – Current New London Methodist Episcopal Church building erected on land originally donated by Andrew Holt. Now owned by the Friends of New London.

2017 – Holt-Ashwell house burned, donated to Friends of New London.

2017 – African-American church acquired by Friends of New London.