Kirkland Grove is historic Baptist campground located near Heathsville in Northumberland County. It was one of three revival camps in the Northern Neck, and the only one that still retains it's Tabernacle and still holds meetings. Week-long revivals were held at Kirkland Grove from 1892 until the 1940s when interest declined due to WWII. Annual meetings began again at Kirkland Grove in 1956. In 1992 the campground was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The idea for a Baptist camp began at Coan Church in September 1891. The following month delegates from 11 Northern Neck Baptist churches and a number of ministers including Isaac Henry Marsh met to plan the camp. A committee was formed to select a site. In February 1892 the group met again and agreed to acquire land known as Everett's Neck near Heathsville. Initially they were unable to negotiate a deal and a site near Weems was almost purchased. In mid April a deal was finally reached for the land near Heathsville and work was began right away in order to have a revival that summer. The camp was named in honor of Dr. William Heath Kirk, a Baptist minister active in Northumberland from 1845 to 1884. In a few short months many construction projects were done including the tabernacle, two three-story hotels, 42 cottages or "tents," two confectionery stands, and a covered horse lot. The first meeting began on Friday, August 19th, 1892.
During camp as many as six sermons were preached a day and many musical performances were featured. Some people visited for the day while others stayed for a few days or even the whole week. Attendance on the first Sunday was estimated at as many as 2,000 and by the second Sunday as many as 3,000 people may have been in attendance. The social aspect of camp meetings in this era were equally or important as the religious events. In a time before automobiles the camp meeting was a chance to catch up with friends and relations from across the Northern Neck.
Isaac Henry Marsh ran one or sometimes both of the hotels from the first year through 1905. He was also listed as a cottage owner. During the first meeting in 1892 John Taliaferro Sisson arranged for a lot to build a cottage for future meetings. The Northern Neck News ran the photograph below in a 1956 issue.
- October 1891 - Kirkland Grove planning meeting (I.H. Marsh)
- February 1892 - Heathsville selected for Baptist Camp
- March 1892 - Camp location in doubt
- April 1892 - Kirkland Grove site selected
- June 1892 - Building Begins at Kirkland Grove
- August 1892 - Camp is almost ready
- August 1892 - Construction continues
- August 1892 - Kirkland Grove Tabernacle
- August 1892 - Kirkland Grove Advertisements (I.H. Marsh)
- August 1892 - Cigar Sales
- August 1892 - Kirkland Grove opens (I.H. Marsh)
- August 1892 - Account of the first days of camp (I.H. Marsh, J.T. Sisson)
- September 1892 - First camp meeting over
- September 1892 - Lost dog at Kirkland Grove
- August 1893 - Kirkland Grove hotels
- August 1893 - Kirkland Grove hotel advertisement (I.H. Marsh)
- August 1894 - Kirkland Grove horse lot (I.H. Marsh)
- August 1896 - Camp overview (I.H. Marsh, J.T. Sisson)
- July 1901 - Kirkland Grove hotel (I.H. Marsh)
- August 1906 - Kirkland Grove hotel (I.H. Marsh)
- August 1993 - Kirkland & Wharton Groves, A Century Later - Page 2
- The Northern Neck News
- Virginia's Northern Neck a pictorial history, John C. Wilson
- Harper, Jean "The Tradition of Kirkland Grove" Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Magazine. 23.1 (1973). Print.