This site presents the results of research in progress by Catherine E. “Cathy” Saunders. The research represents an intersection of my professional and personal interests: I am an Instructional Professor of English at George Mason University whose research focuses on the American antislavery movement, and I am also a longtime member and ordained elder (past member of the elected governing board) at Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia.

The views expressed here are my own; they do not represent the views of either my university or of other members, staff, or pastors of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church.

That said, I do want to thank George Mason University’s Center for Humanities Research for financial support for this work during summer 2022, and members, staff, and pastors of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church for helping me think through the issues addressed in this research in a variety of formal and informal conversations. I am especially grateful to earlier Lewinsville historians, including Rev. Franklin Gillespie, Frank Gapp, and Roland McElroy, who have located, preserved, and interpreted the available records of the congregation’s life, making this project possible.

Work on this project is ongoing, and my conclusions and interpretations will almost certainly change as I find more evidence, and think more about the evidence I have already found. The site you’re currently seeing was created to support a cemetery tour for Lewinsville’s beginning of the program year kickoff Sunday on 9/11/2022 (which is also the anniversary of the Civil War battle of Lewinsville). (The tour was postponed until 10/16/22 due to rain). The short introductions you’ll see at the top of many pages are designed to be posted on signs in the cemetery, with QR codes leading to the full text posted here.

I will try to keep the urls of pages referring to specific individuals or groups of people — especially those who were enslaved — constant, but the content may change. If something you found on this site previously seems to have gone missing, don’t hesitate to contact me.

I am working to upload copies of the primary documents on which I’ve based many of my conclusions to an Omeka site, and to link to other sources. In the meantime, if you have questions about the source for any piece of information, please contact me as described below.

I welcome comments and questions, especially but not only from anyone who can offer additional information relevant to this project and/or who is related to any of the people named on these pages. (Please keep in mind that comment moderation is turned on for initial responses, so if you’re commenting for the first time, it may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, and it may take a while for me to reply to comments even from repeat commenters).

I can be reached at the email address in the GMU faculty bio page linked above, or at cathy dot saunders at gmail dot com.