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Parish History Notes 27: Fannie Doswell & St. Martin's Chapel

A young Frances Ann Sutton, daughter of James T. Sutton and Mary Oliver, married Thomas W. Doswell of Bulfield, near Hanover Junction.  For a period of time in the second half of the nineteenth century, the Doswell stable was famous in Eastern horse environments.  Lavish events were held at the Bullfield race track, now overgrown but still visible from the air.

“Fannie” Doswell, as she was called, was a pious woman who regularly provided quarters at Bullfield for traveling ministers and bishops.  Her most significant project was the construction of a small wooden Victorian chapel near Hanover Junction, now Doswell, for railroad worker who lived in the area.  After years of fund raising, especially at the horse racing functions, the small church was completed in 1878, and named St. Martin’s Chapel, being within the borders of St. Martin’s Parish.  Because of the main source of funding, this original building was also known as “the turfmen’s church.”

For the next twenty years Fannie Doswell was the superintendent of the Sunday School at St. Martin’s.  Thomas W. Doswell died in 1890, and in 1898 Fannie moved to Charlottesville, where she lived until her death in 1903.  They were both buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery.  The original chapel burned in 1944.  The current St. Martin’s Church stands near the site of the fulfillment of Fannie Doswell’s dream.