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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Pointer Morton, December 12, 1994. Interview Q-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Helping to build the Jonathon (Johnson) Creek Church

Morton explains how her grandmother obtained land for and helped to build Jonathon (Johnson) Creek Church. Although she does not offer a specific timeline, it is likely that the church was built sometime during the mid- to late nineteenth century. According to Morton, her grandmother was enslaved by the Pittard family, who obliged her request for land so the African Americans in the area could have a church of their own. As Morton recalls, her grandmother was later able to purchase five acres of land (the same land where the church stood) where she raised her nine children. Later, during the early twentieth century, Morton and other children in the area attended school near the original church, which had by then been rebuilt. Her remembrances here are especially indicative of the importance of church as a social institution in the African American community during the transformative years following the end of slavery.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Pointer Morton, December 12, 1994. Interview Q-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

EDDIE McCOY:
… and I'm visiting Mrs. Pointer Morton. She lives in northern Granville County and I'll be talking with her this morning. Mrs. Morton, I want you to tell me something about your mother and your father and their—and your children as y'all come along, playing in the yard.
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Oh yeah, that's been a long time. My mother and father raised nine children to get grown and married. And out of the nine, it's five dead now and four living. Five dead and four living. And all them have families in different parts of the world. I have a sister named Beatrice Pointer Webster. She lives in Detroit, Michigan. I have a brother named John Lewis Pointer. He lives in Philadelphia. And I have a brother here named Willie Pointer, lives here in Oxford. And I'm the next, Louise Pointer Morton. I'm the next. Well, my mother raised us all up. We lived on a farm all of our life. And as we got grown, the boys and all, they went off different places, working and all. And then, my grandma was living. My grandmother was named Margaret Yancey Downey. My grandma was old but I was a small girl and she used to tell us about the church and all. So she told me the first [standing] of Jonathon [Johnson?] Creek Church, she was [in] slavery. And she worked for the [Pittards]. And she said, when they—colored people would get ready to have service, said they'd get together and turn down a pot that would catch the sound. That way they sung and prayed. And said, well, by she was working in the [Pittards], said the white people went to church, said she told her bossman, said, "Look-a-here." Said, "We wants a church. Could you let us have a church?" Said he told us yes. And Jonathon Creek—the first land of Creek Church was given to my grandma, Margaret Yancey Downey. And she told us that the first church they had, the men got together and built a log church. And said they stayed in the log church and as the years rolled over, said they built a frame church. And they named it Jonathan Creek Baptist Church.
EDDIE McCOY:
What was the name before? The first one's name? What was the first church's name?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
The first church? The log church was the first church. That's where they named it Jonathon Creek, the little log church.
EDDIE McCOY:
Why?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
I don't know why.
EDDIE McCOY:
The white man gave that land?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Gave the land.
EDDIE McCOY:
And she was a slave on his farm?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
She was a slave for these [Pittards] people. She was a slave.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. He told her—if he could give her anything, she'd like to have a church where they could worship.
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Uh-huh. Yes, they wanted a church. And so this [Pittard] man gave her the land and they built a church. And she said the church they built was a log church.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did she have a house to stay in, or what was she staying on the—?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Oh, yeah. My grandma had a home, not far from the church. She bought five acres of land. She was a widow. Her husband died, don't know nothing about that. But she was a widow, and she bought five acres of land and she lived on that land and raised my mama and eight or nine—oh, a crowd of girls. It was about eight girls and two boys, I think. And she raised one adopted son. And she lived on this five acres of land, raised those children. As they'd get large enough, they would work out and she would work, [she said], and raise those children.
EDDIE McCOY:
Is the church on the land that Mr. Pittard gave her, the five acres?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Yeah, we still got the church on—. Her house was not far from the church. But Mr. Pittard give her this land—I don't where it was [stated], but anyhow, he give her the land to build a church.
EDDIE McCOY:
Does she have a deed to it now? Do y'all have a deed?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
No, my grandma's dead. The church had a deed then cause the church bought more land beside there. That's why I don't know how much was in that Mr. Pittard gave her for a church. But after the years rolled over and the church—. After they built more church, didn't put it [down here]. [See, after the people growed], they built it up high. They took down now for a school, had a school. I went to school there for years and years when I was a small girl.
EDDIE McCOY:
Where was the first school at?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Right there on this spot where this man give my grandma. And then after the church people growed and had a little money, they bought land joining this. So it all joined together now.
EDDIE McCOY:
So it's been two schools?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
It was just one school, but it's been two churches. I know it's been two churches.