In his will, dated June 16, 1822, Reuben Moore gave one-half acre of land in Mt. Jackson for the use of a meeting house, school house, and burying ground to be used by “all Christian Ministers of any society.”
Though Moore would not die until 1827, the community took action to build a church on this site in 1825. This effort was led by Betsy Steenbergen of Mt. Airy farms. As a wealthy and influential local, Mrs. Steenbergen had the money and power needed to organize such a campaign.
When the church was finished it became home to the Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist, and Brethren congregations among others.
The adjacent cemetery was established at the same time as the church. Its residents reflect a complete history of Mt. Jackson. The poor and the rich, men and women, soldiers and civilians are all buried there side by side.
During the Civil War the Union Church was used as a hospital and barracks. Since the railroad terminated in Mt. Jackson, the town had been selected as a major medical depot by the Confederacy. The church served overflow patients and those soldiers who were passing through. Grafitti, evidence of their presence, can still be found on the church walls.
As the 19th century ended, Mt. Jackson’s Christian congregations each moved into separate church buildings. By the 1930s the Union Church had been abandoned and was overgrown. However, a group of local women came to the rescue and in 1934 the Mt. Jackson Garden Club was established with the purpose of restoring the church and cemetery. This organization was one of numerous women’s clubs in the county dedicated to beautification and civic improvement.
Later on the Town of Mt. Jackson began to accept responsibility for this historic structure. In 1963 they appointed four trustees, one from each of four local church congregations, to manage the building and the cemetery. Today the church, now adopted as a symbol of the town, is open for special occasions and historic interpretation.