The Presbyterian race, from the north of Ireland, is not found in Virginia and North Carolina, till after the year 1730, except in scattered families, or some small neighborhoods on the Chesapeake. About the year 1736, Henry McCulloch persuaded a colony from Ulster, Ireland, to occupy his expected grant in Duplin county, North Carolina. Their descendants are widely scattered over the lower part of the State, and the south-western States, with an influence that cannot be easily estimated.
The loss of the early records of Orange presbytery has left us without the means of ascertaining the precise year the Presbyterian colonies in Granville, Orange, Rowan, Mecklenburg, and, in fact, in all that beautiful section extending from the Dan to the Catawba, began to occupy the wild and fertile prairies. But it is well known, that, previously to the year 1750, settlements of some strength were scattered along from the Virginia line to Georgia. On account of the inviting nature of the climate and soil, and the comparative quietness of the Catawba Indians, and the severity of the Virginia laws in comparison with those of Carolina, on the subject of religion, many colonies were induced to pass through the vacant lands in Virginia, in the neighborhood of their countrymen, and seek a home in the Carolinas. As early as 1740, there were scattered families on the Hico, and Eno, and Haw—and cabins were built along the Catawba.
The time of setting off the frontier counties is known, but is no guide to the precise time of the first settlements. These dates show the progress of emigration and increase of population, but do not fix the time when the cabins of the whites began to supplant the wigwams of the Indians. The dates of the land patents do not mark the time of emigration, as in some cases the lands were occupied a long period before grants were made, and the lands surveyed; and in others, patents were granted before emigration. Some of the early settlements of Presbyterians were made before the lands were surveyed, particularly in the upper country.
Emigration was encouraged and directed very much in its earliest periods, by the vast prairies, with pea-vine grass and cane-brakes, which stretched across the States of Virginia and Carolina. There are large
While the tide of emigration was setting fast and strong into the fertile regions between the Yadkin and Catawba, from the north of Ireland, through Pennsylvania and Virginia, another tide was flowing from the Highlands of Scotland, and landing colonies of Presbyterian people along the Cape Fear River.
In the upper part of the State, between the Virginia and Carolina line, along the track traversed by the army of Cornwallis in the war of the Revolution, there were above twenty organized churches, with large congregations, and a great many preaching-places. In Caswell county, McAden, the first minister that became permanently settled in North Carolina, had his dwelling and his congregation; in Granville, and in Orange, along the Eno, the eloquent Pattillo taught impressively the wonder-working truths of the gospel of Christ; in Guilford, was the school and seminary of Caldwell, the nursery of so many eminent men; in Rowan, the elegant scholar, McCorkle, preached and taught; in Iredell, Hall led his flock both to the sanctuary and the tents of war; in Mecklenburg, Craighead cherished the spirit of independence which broke out in the declaration in Charlotte, May, 1775; and Balch, McCaule, and Alexander, fanned the flame of patriotism in their respective charges; and Richardson, the foster uncle of Davie, ministered in holy things. All of these with the exception of Craighead, who was removed by death, were at ONE TIME teaching the principles of the gospel independence, and inculcating those truths that made their hearers choose liberty, at the hazard of life, rather than oppression with abundance; all were eminent men, whose influence would have been felt in any generation, all saw the war commence, and most of them saw its end, and not a man of them left his congregation, not a man of them faltered in his patriotism, and two of them actually bore arms. Their congregations were famous during the struggle of the Revolution, for skirmishes, battles, loss of libraries, personal prowess, individual courage, and heroic women.
The time of the settlement of the first Scotch familes upon the river Cape Fear, is not known with exactness. There were some at the time
Some of the smaller clans in the Highlands unanimously raised the standard for the Pretender; and many of the young men of the clans of the McDonalds, the McLeods, the Makenzies, and others whose leaders would not favor the enterprise, gave way to the impulse of national enthusiasm and chivalric enterprise, and joined his ranks. For a time it is well known that he was successful, and on his march towards the capital of the kingdom, spread terror through the country, and struck alarm in the cabinet of King George. On the 16th of April, 1746, he fought, a few miles north of Inverness, against the Duke of Cumberland, the disastrous battle of Culloden; and with his defeat his hopes of empire vanished. The men were hunted down like wild beasts, and shot on the smallest resistance; the huts were burned over the heads of the women and children, and the cattle and provisions were carried away or destroyed.
On the return of the army under the Duke of Cumberland, a large number of prisoners were taken along, and after a hasty trial by a military court, publicly executed. Seventeen suffered death at Kennington Common, near London; thirty-two were put to death in Cumberland; and twenty-two in Yorkshire. This was probably done by way of vengeance and alarm. But kinder thoughts prevailed with his Majesty George II.; and a large number were pardoned, on condition of their emigrating to the plantations, after having taken the solemn oath of allegiance. This is the origin of the large settlements of Highlanders on Cape Fear River. For a large number who had taken arms for the Pretender, preferred exile to death, or subjugation in their native land; and during the years 1746 and 1747, with their families and the families of many of their
No minister of religion accompanied the first emigrants in 1746 and 1747; nor is it known that any came with any succeeding company till the year 1770, when the Rev. John McLeod came direct from Scotland and ministered to them for some time, though he was not the first preacher. This fact, that no minister of religion came with these people, many of whom were pious, and all of whom were accustomed to attend on public worship, cannot easily be accounted for; and it had an unhappy effect upon the emigrants and upon their children. The wonder is that in the circumstances of these colonists the sense of religion was so well maintained under the ministrations and labors of one solitary preacher, James Campbell, who pursued his laborious course alone among the outspreading neighborhoods in what is now Cumberland and Robeson, from 1757 to 1770.
This worthy evangelist, the Rev. James Campbell, was born in Cambelton, on the peninsula of Kintyre, in Argyleshire, Scotland. Of his early history little is known; and too little has been preserved of his pioneer labors in later life. About the year 1730 he emigrated to America, a licensed preacher in the Presbyterian Church, and landed at Philadelphia. His attention being turned to his countrymen on the Cape Fear, Mr. Campbell emigrated to North Carolina in the year 1757, and took his residence on the left bank of the Cape Fear, a few miles above Fayetteville, nearly opposite to the Bluff church.
For a long time he held his Presbyterial connection with a Presbytery in South Carolina, which was never united with the Synod of Philadelphia. About the year 1773 his connection with Orange Presbytery was formed, and in that connection he continued till his death in the year 1781.
His preaching places appear to have been three, for regular congregations, on the Sabbath, besides, occasional and irregular preaching, as the necessities of the country required. For ten or twelve years he preached on the southwest side of the river below the Bluff, in a meeting-house near Roger McNeill's, and called “Roger's meeting-house.” Here Hector McNeill (commonly called Bluff Hector) and Alexander McAlister, acted as Elders. After the death of Mr. Campell, and about the year 1787, the “Bluff Church” was built, and Duncan McNeill (of the Bluff, Hector being dead) and Alexander McAlister, and perhaps others, officiated as Elders.
Soon after his removal to Carolina, Mr. Campbell commenced preaching at Alexander Clark's, and continued his appointments for a number of years. About the year 1746, John Dobbin, who had married the widow of David Alexander in Pennsylvania, and had resided in Virginia, near Winchester, about a year, removed to Carolina; and, while the Alexander families that came with him took their abode on the Hico or the Yadkin, he fixed his residence on the Cape Fear, somewhat against the inclinations of his wife and step-daughter. The situations on the river being esteemed less healthy than those more remote, Mr. Dobbin and others took their abode on Barbacue; and about the year 1758 Mr. Campbell began to preach at his house, and continued so to do till the “Barbacue Church” was built, about the year 1765 or 1766. The first Elders of this church were—Gilbert Clark, eldest son of Alexander Clark, and step-son of John Dobbin (having married Ann Alexander), one of the first magistrates of Cumberland county, under the Colonial Government,—Duncan Buie, who early in the Revolutionary war removed to the Cape Fear River, nearly opposite the Bluff Church,—Archibald Buie of Green Swamp,—and Daniel Cameron of the Hill. These men were pious, and devoted to the cause of religion and their duties as Elders; and for their strict attention to their duties got the name of “the little ministers of Barbacue.”
Barbacue church was the place of worship of Flora McDonald while she lived at Cameron's Hill, and though the congregation is less extended and flourishing than in former years, it is still in existence. May it revive and flourish!
Mr. Campbell also began to preach soon after his coming to Carolina, at McKay's, now known as Long Street, one of the places visited by Mr. McAden in his first journey through Carolina. A church was built about the year 1765 or '66, the time at which Barbacue was built. The first elders were Malcom Smith, Archibald McKay, and Archibald Ray. This congregation is still in existence, and though much curtailed in extent and numbers, flourishes.
These three congregations were the principal places of Mr. Campbell's preaching, and for a time accommodated the greater part of the Scotch settled in Cumberland. As the emigration continued new neighborhoods were formed, and the limits of these congregations contracted: and one after another the numerous churches in Cumberland, Robeson, Moore and Richmond, and Bladen, were gathered, some of which now surpass in numbers these ancient mothers.
Mr. Campbell, for a few years, had an assistant in the ministry. The Rev. John McLeod came from Scotland some time in the year 1770, accompanied by a large number of families from the Highlands, who took their residence upon the upper and lower Little Rivers, in Cumberland county. Barbacue and Long Street were part of the places in which he preached during the three years he remained in Carolina. In the year 1773, he left America with the view of returning to his native land; being never heard of afterwards, it is supposed that he found a watery grave. He was a man of eminent piety, great worth, and popular eloquence.
With this exception it is not known that he had any ministerial brother residing in Cumberland, or the adjoining counties, that could assist him in preaching to the Gaels. McAden, who preached in Duplin, could give him no assistance where the language of the Highlanders was the vernacular tongue.
The first ordained minister that took his abode among the Presbyterian settlements in North Carolina, was the Rev. James Campbell, on the Cape Fear river. The first missionary whose journal, or parts of journal, has been preserved, is Hugh McAden (or as sometimes spelled McCadden), who was also the first missionary that settled in the State.
The first Presbyterian minister that preached in North Carolina of whom we have any knowledge, was William Robinson, famous in the annals of the Virginia churches, of whom the Rev. Samuel Davies says: “that famous man, Mr. Robinson, whose success, whenver I reflect upon it, astonishes me.” This eminent missionary passed through Virginia to North Carolina, and spent a part of the winter of 1742 and 1743, among Presbyterian settlements.
We are not able to ascertain the places with precision, which he visited, but as the Presbyterian settlements in the county of Duplin and New Hanover were the oldest in the State, and there were none others
Supplications were sent from Carolina to the Synod of Philadelphia as early as the year 1744. The records speak of them as having come “from many people,” but do not tell us from what section of the State they were sent. In the year 1753, two missionaries were sent by the direction of the Synod to visit Virginia and North Carolina, Mr. McMordie and Mr. Donaldson; but there is no mention made of the settlements they were to visit, further than they were “to show special regard” to the vacancies of North Carolina, especially betwixt Atkin (Yadkin) and Catawba rivers. In the year 1754 the Synod of New York directed four ministers, Messrs. Beatty, Bostwick, Lewis, and Thane, to visit the States of Virginia and North Carolina, each three months, but no particular places are specified. In 1755, the same Synod appointed two other missionararies, and named some places in the upper part of the State; but owing to the disturbances in the country from the depredations of the Indians, this mission was not fulfilled.
The settlement of Presbyterians in Duplin county is probably the oldest large settlement of that denomination in the State. About the year 1736, or perhaps 1737, one Henry McCulloch induced a colony of Presbyterians from the province of Ulster, in Ireland, to settle in Duplin county, North Carolina, on lands he had obtained from his majesty, George II. The descendants of these emigrants are found in Duplin, New Hanover, and Sampson counties—the family names indicating their origin. The Grove congregation, whose place of worship is about three miles southeast of Duplin court-house, traces its origin to the church formed from this, the oldest Presbyterian settlement in the State, whose principal place of worship was at first called Goshen.
Nearer Wilmington was a settlement on what was called the Welch Tract, on the northeast Cape Fear.
This was composed at first of Welch emigrants, but after a short period other families were located on the tract, and then were associated families enough to form a congregation sufficiently large to invite the services of a minister.
These two settlements, one in Duplin and the other in Hanover, formed the field of labor in which McAden passed the first part of his settled ministry. As you pass rapidly on the cars from Richmond, Virginia, to Wilmington, North Carolina, after crossing the Tar River, and entering upon the extended sandy level that stretches, without an elevation of
Hugh McAden was born in Pennsylvania; his parentage is traced to the North of Ireland. His Alma Mater was Nassau Hall; his instructor in Theology, John Blair, of New Castle Presbytery. He was graduated in 1753, and was licensed in 1755, by the Presbytery to which his instructor belonged, and ordained by the same Presbytery in 1757; and dismissed in 1759 to join Hanover Presbytery, whose limits extended indefinitely south. Comparatively little is known of his early life, as his papers were almost entirely destroyed by the British soldiers, in January, 1781, while the army of Cornwallis, in the pursuit of Green, was encamped at the Red House, in Caswell county. Of the few papers that escaped was the Journal of his first trip through Carolina, and is the only document of the kind known to be in existence. As it contains many facts, incidentally stated, that will now be useful, all the important and interesting parts of this brief document will be presented, either verbatim, or in a condensed form, leaving out repetitions, and things that are likely to be in a journal not intended for the public, and which are not of lasting importance.
“Tuesday June 3d, 1755.—Took my journey for Carolina from Mr. Kirkpatrick's in the evening; came to Mr. Hall's, where I tarried all night. Next day crossed the river in company with Mr. Bay and his wife. Spent the day in visiting her friends on both sides,”—that is, the old and new sides into which the church was then divided. “Thursday we set off and came to York, forty miles, with some difficulty, the weather being extremely hot, and no food for our horses. A very bad prospect of crops appears everywhere, the ground being quite burned up with drought, and the corn much hurt by the frost; the green wheat and meadows, in some places, entirely withered up from the roots as if they had been scorched by fire. Here I left Mr. Bay and his wife, rode out in the afternoon and lodged in the congregation. Next day set off in the morning and came to his house, where I stayed for breakfast.” This Mr. Bay was a Presbyterian minister, of New Castle Presbytery, of the new side, and he speaks as if it were remarkable that he visited both sides with Mrs. Bay. York is the first town mentioned; and the bear
The second Sabbath [8th] of June, he was at Rock Spring, and continued till the Friday after; the people making preparations to attend the administration of the Lord's Supper in the two congregations, that lay on each side, of one of which the Rev. James Campbell, who was the next year in Carolina, was the pastor.
“Monday, June the 16th, set out from Connegocheg, upon my journey for Carolina, crossed the Potomac, and lodged at Mr. Caten's, where I was very kindly entertained, and civilly used. Next day (Tuesday) set off about 12 o'clock, and came to Winchester, forty miles, and tarried all night. In the morning rode out to Robert Wilson's, where I was kindly entertained. Spent the day with Mr. Hogg” (or Hoge).
On Thursday, the 19th, he set off up the valley of the Shenandoah, of which he says: “Alone in the wilderness. Sometimes a house in ten miles, and sometimes not that.” On Friday night he lodged at a Mr. Shankland's, eighty miles from Opecquon, and twenty from Augusta court-house. On Saturday he stopped at a Mr. Poage's—“stayed for dinner, the first I had eaten since I left Pennsylvania.”
From Staunton he went with Hugh Celsey to Samuel Downey's at the North Mountain, where he preached on the fourth Sabbath of June, according to appointment, and being detained by his horse, preached there the fifth Sabbath also. The same cause detaining him another week, he consented to preach in the new court-house on the first Sabbath of July. “Rode to widow Preston's Saturday evening, where I was very kindly entertained, and had a commodious lodging.” This is probably the widow of John Preston, whose family have since been so famous in Virginia. The North Mountain congregation has long since given place to Bethel and Hebron. On Monday he rode out to John Trimble's, more encouraged by the appearances at North Mountain than in Staunton. On Tuesday he passed on to the Rev. John Brown's.
“Came to Mr. Boyer's, where I tarried till Sabbath morning, a very kind and discreet gentleman, who used me exceedingly kindly, and accompanied me to the Forks, twelve miles, where I preached the second Sabbath of July, to a considerable large congregation, who seemed pretty much engaged, and very earnest that I should stay longer with them; which I could by no means consent to, being determined to get along in [my] journey as fast as possible; and proposed to preach at Round Oak next Sabbath. Rode home with Joseph Lapsley, two miles, from meeting, where I tarried till Wednesday morning.
“Here it was I received the most melancholy news of the entire defeat of our army by the French at Ohio, the General killed, numbers of the inferior officers, and the whole artillery taken. This, together with the frequent account of fresh murders being daily committed upon the frontiers, struck terror to every heart. A cold shuddering possessed every breast, and paleness covered almost every face. In short, the whole inhabitants were put into an universal confusion. Scarcely any man durst sleep in his own house—but all met in companies with their wives and children, and set about building little fortifications, to defend themselves from such barbarians and inhuman enemies, whom they concluded would be let loose upon them at pleasure. I was so shocked upon my first reading Col. Innes's letter, that I knew not what to do.”
This was the defeat of Gen. Braddock. The consternation that followed through all the frontiers of Virginia, which were then all in the valley, is well described in the few lines given above. The difficulties and dangers increased till many of the inhabitants of Augusta fled to the more quiet frontiers of North Carolina, as will be seen in the progress of this journal. Among others who fled, and in a few years took his residence on Sugar Creek, was the Rev. Mr. Craighead, who had been some years in Virginia, residing on the cow pasture. His congregation was not in the track of Mr. McAden's journey, which left Mr. Craighead's residence to the right, and Mr. Craig's to the left.
After much consideration whether he should remain where he was, or return to Pennsylvania, or go on to his destined field of labor in Carolina, he determined, in the fear of God, to go on. “I resolved to prosecute my journey, come what will, with some degree of dependence on the Lord for His divine protection and support, that I might be enabled to glorify Him in all things, whether in life or in death, though not so sensible as I could wish for and earnestly desired.”
On Wednesday, the 16th of July, he left Mr. Lapsley's, in company with a young man from Mr. Henry's congregation, in Charlotte, who had been at the Warm Springs, and was fleeing from the expected inroads of the savages. Giving up the appointment at Round Oak, he took the route by Luny's Ferry, which was distant about twenty-six miles—“because it was now too late to cross the mountains, nor did I think it quite safe to venture it alone: but here I thought we might lodge with some degree of safety, as there were a number of men and arms engaged in building a fort, round the house, where they were fled with their wives and children.”
The next day Major Smith sent a guard with them across the mountains; and after riding thirty-two miles they reached Mr. I. Sable's, about
On Wednesday, 23d of July, he left Mr. Henry's, rode ten miles, and preached at a Mr. Cardwall's, in Halifax county, and passed on that night to Ephraim Hill's, five miles. The country was then thinly settled, and the people appeared to Mr. McAden as sheep without a shepherd. On the next day rode twenty miles to Capt. Moore's, on Dan River, where he remained and preached the Sabbath, July 27th. On Tuesday he left Capt. Moore's, proceeded five miles up the Dan, crossed over, and preached at Mr. Brandon's; and on the same evening, riding twelve miles, came to Solomon Debow's, on Hico, an emigrant from Bucks county, Pennsylvania. Here he remained, and preached the first Sabbath of August. “Having now got within the limits prescribed me by the Presbytery, I was resolved not to be so anxious about getting along in my journey, but take some more time to labor among the people, if so be the Lord might bless it to the advantage of any. May the Lord, of His infinite mercy, grant His blessing upon my poor attempts, and make me in some way instrumental in turning some of these precious souls from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that the power may be known to be of God, and all the glory redound to His own name.”
Mr. McAden was now out of the sphere of alarm occasioned by Braddock's defeat; and he was also now beyond the southern bounds of any settled minister of the Presbyterian denomination in connection with the Synods of New York and Philadelphia. There were some Presbyterian churches built in North Carolina, and many worshipping assemblies, but few, if any, organized ehurches at this time, and no settled minister. Mr. McAden was of the New Side, as they were termed. This is discoverable from a few sentences in his journal which occasionally appear, when he meets with some opposing circumstance from the other side; for through Virginia and in the settlements in North Carolina the difference of opinion had spread, and the fierceness of the dispute had yet scarcely passed away.
We shall follow him with interest from this first Sabbath in Carolina, August 3, 1755, at Solomon Debow's, on Hico, through the settled part of the State. Some of his preaching-places can be identified, and others with difficulty conjectured; as they were at private houses generally, or in the open air. As might be expected, some became permanent preaching-places and others gave way to more convenient locations.
On Tuesday, 5th, he preached at Mr. Debow's; on Wednesday, rode ten miles to the chapel on South Hico, where—“I preached to a number of church people and some Presbyterians. After sermon they seemed exceedingly pleased, and returned abundance of thanks for my sermon, and earnestly entreated me by all means to call upon them as I came back, and showed a very great desire that all our ministers should call upon them as they travel back and forward.” He went home with Mr. Vanhook, five miles, and preached at his house on Thursday; and on Friday was conducted by Mr. Vanhook “to Eino” (Eno), about twenty miles, to a Mr. Anderson's. The second Sabbath of August, the 10th day, he preached at Eno—“to a set of pretty regular Presbyterians,” who appeared to him to be in a cold state of religious feeling. “In the evening returned to Mr. Anderson's; here I tarried till Tuesday, the 12th of August; preached again to the same company.” From these expressions it would seem there was a house for public worship on the Eno.
“Being sent for, and very earnestly entreated to go to Tar River, I took my journey the same evening, with my guide, and rode to Bogan's, on Flat River, twenty miles. Next morning, set off again, and rode to old Sherman's, on Tar River, and preached that afternoon to a small company, who seemed generally attentive, and some affected.” Next day he went to Grassy Creek, sixteen miles, where was a Baptist meetinghouse, and preached to a people “who seemed very inquisitive about the way to Zion.” The next day he accompanied his host, old Mr. Lawrence, to Fishing Creek, to the Baptist Yearly Meeting; and on Saturday and Sabbath preached to large and deeply interested audiences. “Here I think the power of God appeared something conspicuous, and the word seemed to fall with power.” Being earnestly pressed, he preached again on Sabbath afternoon, with some hope of success. On Monday he preached again with greater appearance of usefulness. The inhabitants, he was informed, were principally from Virginia, and some from Pennsylvania and Jersey. “I was obliged to leave them after I had preached to and exhorted them with many words, that they should carefully guard against taking shelter under the shadow of their own righteousness, committing themselves to God, who, I know, is able to
After preaching, he visited some sick people, and went home with James Smith, about four miles. On Tuesday, he preached again at the meeting-house, and went home with Cornelius Anderson, about six miles—“a judicious, honest man, I hope, who seems to be much concerned for the state of the church and perishing souls.” On Wednesday, 10th, he visited Captain Hunt, who was sick with an intimitting fever, and found his visit welcome; and returned to Mr. Sloan's. On Friday, 12th, he crossed the Yadkin, and rode about ten miles to James Alison's. On Saturday, he went three or four miles to Mr. Brandon's—“one of my own countrymen.” On Sabbath, 14th, he preached at “the meeting-house
On the Sabbath, the 12th of October, he rode seven miles to Justice Alexander's, “when I preached in the afternoon, a considerable solemnity appeared.” Though it was now near the middle of October, the drought was still so great that he says—“I have not seen so much as one patch of wheat or rye in the ground.” On Wednesday, he went over toa place where never any of our missionaries have been.”
On this journey, he passed through the lands of the Catawba Indians. On the first night, they prepared to encamp in the woods, about three miles south of the Catawba—“there being no white man's house on all the road.” This was his first night “out of doors.” On the next day, they passed one of their hunting camps unmolested; but when they stopped to get their breakfast, they were surrounded by a large number of Indians, shouting and hallooing, and frightening their horses and rifling their baggage. Accordingly they moved off as fast as possible, without staying to parley; and to their great annoyance, in a little time they passed a second camp of hunters, who prepared to give them a similar reception, calling them to stop, from each side the path. Passing on rapidly, they escaped without harm; and after a ride of twenty-five miles, were permitted to get their breakfasts in peace.
[Here some leaves of the journal are missing.]
On Sabbath, the 2d of November, he preached “to a number of those poor baptized infidels, many of whom I was told had never heard a sermon in all their lives before, and yet several of them had families.” This seems hardly credible. But he relates an anecdote told him here of an old gentleman, who said to the governor of South Carolina, when he was in those parts, in treaty with the Cherokee Indians, that he “had never seen a shirt, been in a fair, heard a sermon or seen a minister, in all his life.” Upon which the governor promised to send him up a minister, that he might hear one sermon before he died. The minister came and preached; and this was all the preaching that had been heard in the upper part of South Carolina before Mr. McAden's visit.
How far he penetrated the State is not known, on account of the loss of a few leaves of the journal. “On Monday, the 10th of November, returned about twenty miles, to James Atterson's, on Tyger river; preached on Tuesday, which was the first they had ever heard in these parts,
“Friday, the 14th, took my leave of these parts, and set out for the Waxhaws, forty-five miles, good; that night reached Thomas Farrel's, where I lodged till Sabbath day; then rode to James Patton's, about two miles, and preached to a pretty large congregation of Presbyterian people. Wednesday, preached again in the same place, and crossed the Catawba river and came to Henry White's.” Here he remained till Sabbath; part of the time sick of the flux, but was able to preach on Sabbath, the 23d, at “the meeting-house” five miles off; and went home with Justice Dickens. On the Monday following he set out for the Yadkin, retracing his steps; lodging that night at Henry Neely's, where his disorder returned upon him, and kept him till Sabbath, when he rode six miles, to James Alexander's, and preached. From thence he proceeded to Justice Alexander's on Rocky River, twelve miles; thence on to Captain Lewis's, in the Welch settlement, and there tarried some days as before, and preached the first Sabbath of December (the 7th); thence to William Reece's; and on the next Sabbath (the 14th) he preached in the “new meeting-house,” near Mr. Osborne's; the next, at Coddle Creek; and passing on he called on David Templeton, William Denny, Justice Carruth, and John Andrew, and preached on Sabbath, the 28th, at Cathey's meeting-house, now called Thyatira, to a large audience. Here he was urged to remain and divide his time with that congregation and Rocky River. The congregation, however, was divided in their preference, some for the old side, and some for the new; and the movements to settle a minister unfortunately became a party question. Being urgently solicited, he preach the next Sabbath at the same church, and his friends made out their subscription. On the whole, he thought it unadvisable to prosecute the matter. After visiting Second Creek, and preaching at Captain Hampton's, he passed on to the Yadkin, and having crossed it with difficulty, he lodged with his former host, Mr. Sloan, and preached
On Tuesday, January 13th, 1756, he set out on a journey down the Cape Fear river, to Wilmington, in company with a Mr. Van Clave, and reached Huary, thirty miles, and preached the next day, Wednesday. The next day he reached Smith's, at the Sand Hills, and remained till Sabbath; in public worship he could find no one to join in singing a part of a psalm. On Monday, the 19th, set off in company with Mr. Smith, who was going to court, and rode fifty miles to McKay's. Next day rode thirty miles to Anson court-house. Here he met with an old acquaintance, James Stewart, and went home with him and remained till Saturday, and preached at the court-house, and rode to the New Store. On Sabbath, the 25th, he rode to Hector McMeill's, “and preached to a number of Highlanders,—some of them scarcely knew one word that I said,—the poorest singers I ever heard in all my life. Next day rode to David Smith's, on the other side of Little River, fourteen miles: on Tuesday, preached to a considerable number of people who came to hear me at Smith's. Wednesday, rode up to Alexander McKay's, upon the Yadkin road, thirty miles; Thursday, preached to a small congregation, mostly of Highlanders.
On Friday he “set off down the river, thirty miles, to Neill Beard's;” then he preached on Sabbath, 1st of February, to a “mixed multitude, some Presbyterians, some church people, some Baptists, and don't know but some Quakers.” However, they expressed themselves highly pleased with his visit. On Monday, the 2d, he rode to a Mr. James Semes's, about five miles, a sick family whom he visited, and preached in their house to the neighbors assembled; and in the evening rode on to Mr. Robinson's, “a very affable gentleman,” with whom he tarried till Wednesday, and then accompanied to the court-house in Bladen county, where he preached to a considerable congregation; and “in the evening went home with old Justice Randle, about two miles.” On Thursday he preached at George Brown's, three miles off, and went on three miles further to Neal Shaw's, and the next day to Duncan McCoulsky's; and on Sabbath, the 8th, rode to Esquire McNeill's, where he preached to a small congregation, the day being wet. “After the sermon a proposal was made to get me to come and settle among them; and I think I never saw people more engaged, or subscribe with greater freedom and cheerfulness in my life. May the Lord, in much mercy, prepare me for some usefulness in the world, and direct me to what will be most for His own glory, and the good of precious souls!”
“On Monday, 9th, crossed the swamp and came to Baldwin's, on the Whitemarsh, about five miles, where I tarried all night, and preached the next day to a very few irregular sort of people, who, I believe, know but little about the principles of any religion.” In the evening he rode home with Mr. Kerr, four miles. On Wednesday he set out for Wilmington, and rode thirty miles to young Mr. Granger's, “a very discreet gentleman, who entertained me with a great deal of courtesy;” on Thursday he rode fifteen miles to President Roan's; and on the next day fifteen miles further to the ferry, and then crossed by water, four miles, to Wilmington.
Here he preached, Sabbath, the 15th, “in the A. M., to a large and splendid audience, but was surprised when I came again in the P. M., to see about a dozen met to hear me.” This small number greatly depressed his spirits, and probably hastened his departure from the place on the Tuesday following. On that day he rode twenty-five miles, to Cowen's, up the Northeast Cape Fear, and on the next day to old Mr. Evans's, in the Welch Tract.
There he preached on Sabbath, 22d, designing to move on homeward, “but I was detained by the affection and entreaties of this people, who earnestly pressed upon me to tarry with them another Sabbath; their design herein was that they might have time to get a subscription drawn up, that they might put in a call for me.” On Sabbath, the 29th, he preached again to the same people, who expressed great desire for his return, and made out a call for him as their pastor.
On Tuesday, March 2d, he rode to Mr. Bowen's, about ten miles, on Black River; and on the next day six miles further, and preached, then crossed the river and rode about five miles to South River, where he lodged with Mr. Anderson. On Thursday crossed Collie's Swamp, then in a bad condition—“lodged at old Mr Grife Jones's;” on the next day crossed the Northwest, and lodged at George Brown's, where he preached on Sabbath, March 7th.
On Monday, the 8th, crossed the Northwest, and being detained by the rain, and some other business, he rode but about ten miles, to Mr. Isaac Jones's, “a good, honest Quaker, and an assemblyman.” The next day, crossed Collie's Swamp again, which was now overflowed, and caused much trouble by swimming the horses—“and got to Mr. Anderson's again about 12 o'clock;” that same day, he rode on to Mr. Lewis's, on Black River, about twenty-five miles. On Wednesday, he went fifteen miles, to John James's, and preached. By the high waters he was detained in the Welch Tract till after the second Sabbath in March. On Thursday, 18th, he rode to Jeremiah Holden's, about twenty miles; and
“The people here being very desirous to join with the Welch Tract, in putting in a call for me, and many of their best friends being abroad upon business, they insisted so strongly upon me, that I was forced to consent to stay with them another day. Tuesday, rode up to Goshen in company with Mr. Dickson, and several more. Came to Mr. Gaven's, twelve miles, where we tarried all night; next day preached, and returned to Mr. Dickson's.” On Sabbath, 28th, he preached at John Miller's, about two miles distant. The people seemed all very hearty in giving him a call, and making a proper support for him.
On Monday, the 29th, he set out from Mr. Dickson's homeward; tarried that night at Mr. Gaven's, twelve miles: next day crossed Neuse, and tarried with Joshua Herring, about thirty miles. This man was out early in the morning, and assembled his neighbors, and detained him to preach to them at noon. In the evening, rode to Mr. Herring's Senior, about twelve miles. “The next morning, set out upon my journey for Pamlico, and rode about ten miles, to Major McWain's, where I had opportunity of seeing and conversing with Governor Dobbs, who is a very sociable gentleman.” That night he lodged at Peter's Ferry, on Cuttentony, about twenty miles, it being too late to go farther. The next day, he rode about forty miles, to Salter's Ferry, on Pamlico. The next day, being Saturday, he come to Thomas Little's, where he remained over Sabbath, April 4th. This man had not heard a Presbyterian minister in the twenty-eight years he had lived in Carolina, and took the opportunity of sending round for his neighbors, and collected a congregation; and kept Mr. McAden till Wednesday, to preach again. “I found some few amongst them, that I trust are God's dear children, who seemed much refreshed by my coming.”
On the 7th day of April, Wednesday, after sermon, he rode to Mr. Barrow's, about five miles; and the next day, about five or six miles, to the Red Banks, “where I preached to a pretty large company of various sorts of people, but few Presbyterians. In the evening, rode up the river, ten miles, to Mr. Mace's, who is a man of considerable note, and a Presbyterian.” Here he remained till Sabbath, the 11th, and preached in the neighborhood.
On Tuesday, April 13th, he set out homeward, and rode twenty miles, to Mr. Toole's, on Tar River. On Wednesday, he rode thirty miles, to Edgecomb court-house; the next day he reached Fishing Creek, about twenty-five miles; and on Friday, he rode about ten miles up the creek,
“He insisted very hard upon me to stay at Nut Bush, and give them a sermon, as they were very destitute and out of the way. I went home with him, about twenty-two miles, it being pretty much in my way, and preached.” He found them a cheerful people, without the regular preaching of the gospel, and in a situation as might be expected, with abundance of wealth, and full leisure for enjoyment.
On Wednesday he reached Captain Hampton's, about 35 miles; and on Thursday got to John Anderson's,—“who seemed very joyful to see me return so far back again;” tarried till Sabbath, and preached. On Tuesday, 27th, he preached at Hawfields; on Wednesday at Eno; on Thursday rode down to Aaron Vanhook's; and next day to McFarland's, on Hico; and there preached, Sabbath, the 2d of May.
“Got ready to take my journey from Carolina, Thursday, the 6th of May, 1756; that day rode in company with Solomon Debow, who came to conduct me as far as John Baird's, on Dan River, twenty miles from Hico.” From thence he set off alone. Passing through Amelia, we find him, on Sabbath, the 9th of May, at the house of Mr. Messaux, on James River. Here the journal abruptly closes.
The time, and distances from place to place, have been given for the purpose of enabling those in the region of his route to trace his track. These data are left with those who may feel interested in searching out the “beginning of things.”
Mr. McAden returned to Carolina, and became the settled minister of the congregations in Duplin and New Hanover. He was ordained by the Presbytery of New Castle, in 1757; and in 1759 was dismissed to join Hanover Presbytery, which then included a greater part of Virginia, and extended indefinitely south. He presented his credentials at a meeting of the Presbytery on Rockfish, July 18th, 1759, having previously sat as a corresponding member.
With these people he remained about ten years; when, believing that the influence of the climate upon his health was too unfavorable to justify his remaining longer in the lower part of the State, he removed to Caswell county, and there finished his days.
In the year 1744, in compliance with a “representation from many people in North Carolina—showing their desolate condition, and requesting the Synod to take their condition into consideration, and petitioning that we would appoint one of our number to correspond with them,—Mr. Thompson, of Donegal Presbytery, was appointed by the Synod to correspond with them. He was at this time on a visit to these petitioners, and others in Carolina.”
Providence, 26th April, 1758. Petitions for supplies were considered. One from Hico—“formerly under the care of the Philadelphia Synod—particularly for Mr. Pattillo.” Calls came in for him also from Albemarle, Orange and Cumberland. The Presbytery agreed to give him till the next meeting to consider them.
Cumberland, 12th July, 1758. “Rev. Henry Pattillo and Wm. Richardson have been set apart to the work of the holy ministry, by fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands,”—a certificate ordered. At the same meeting he was appointed Stated Clerk.
Hanover, Sept. 27th, 1758. Mr. Pattillo accepted a call from Willis, Bird and Buck Island. With these congregations he remained about four years. At a meeting of Presbytery, Providence, Oct. 7, 1762, he was dismissed from this charge, the people “being unable to give him a sufficient support.” In 1763, May 4th, at Tinkling Spring, he agreed to supply Cumberland, Harris Creek and Deep Creek. With these congregations he continued about two years. At a meeting of Presbytery, Hico, 2d October, 1765, a call for his services was presented from Hawfields, Eno and Little River. This call he accepted, and removed to the State of North Carolina, and there served the church about thirty-five years in Orange and Granville counties.
At a meeting of Presbytery, Buffalo, Rowan county, N. C., March 8th, 1770, Messrs. David Caldwell, Hugh M'Aden, Joseph Alexander and Henry Pattillo, and Hezekiah Balch and James Criswell, united in a petition to Synod to be set off as a Presbytery by the name of Orange,—“where two of our ministers reside,” is given as the reason for the name. This year the counties of Guilford, Wake, Chatham and Surrey, were set off to counteract the influence of the regulators.
Mr. Pattillo continued with the congregation of Hawfields, Eno and Little River, till the year 1774, when he removed.
In the year 1775 he was selected for one of the delegates for the county of Bute (now Warren and Franklin) to attend the first Provincial Congress of North Carolina. Its sessions commenced August 20th, in Hillsborough.
The last resolution on the first day was, “that the Rev. Henry Pattillo be requested to read prayers to the Congress every morning; and the Rev. Charles Edward Taylor every evening during his stay.”
On the 29th of that month Rev. Mr. Boyd presented to the Congress 200 copies of the Pastoral letter of the Synod of Philadelphia on the subject of the war. They were distributed among the members, and a sum of money appropriated to the use of Mr. Boyd, by an order on the treasures, from the public funds.
It will be borne in mind that Mr. Pattillo lived in the midst of the Regulators; that some of their largest assemblages were in the bounds of his field of labor. And while there was more ignorance, than he wished to see, among his charge, could they be an ignorant, uninformed people?
In the year 1780, Mr. Pattillo became the pastor of Nutbush and Grassy Creek, in Granville county, and gave to them his last labors, ripened by age and experience. These two congregations were composed at first of emigrants from Hanover, New Kent, and King and Queen, in Virginia, converts under the preaching of Rev. Samuel Davies and his coadjutors. Howel Lewis, Daniel Grant, and Samuel Smith, were the leading persons in Grassy Creek. Mr. Lindsey, Mr. Simms and Mrs. Gilliam, the leading ones in Nutbush.
It is the tradition that the first sacramental occasion held by Presbyterians in Granville was in 1763, by William Tennant, Jun. By order of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia the Presbytery of New Brunswick ordained him for a southern mission in 1762. His reasons for not going that year were sustained. He made a visit the next year, 1763, in obedience to the direction of Synod—“to go and supply in the bounds, and under the direction of Hanover Presbytery six months at least.” The place in which the ordinance was administered was an unoccupied house belonging to Howel Lewis, about one mile and a half from where Grassy Creek Church now stands. The congregation were, it is said, regularly organized by James Criswell, who was licensed by Hanover Presbytery in 1765, and supplied these congregations for some years. Mr. Pattillo was his successor.
Settlements of the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians began along the Eno and the Haw rivers, about the time that the colonies settled in that part of Lunenburg county, Virginia, now called Charlotte, on Cub Creek and the adjacent streams, which was about the years 1738 and 1739. It is posed that these settlements, and those in Duplin and New Hanover,
Mr. John Thomson, who was appointed to correspond with the supplicants, a member of Donegal Presbytery, visited them in person in 1751. On his journey to Carolina, the arrangement was made with Mr. Pattillo and another young man, to return with him to Pennsylvania, and commence their studies in preparation for the ministry. Mr. Thomson made a long stay, and in the meantime the young man relinquishing his design of study, and Mr. Davies giving Mr. Pattillo an invitation to his house, the design of going to Pennsylvania was abandoned. There remain no memoranda either of the correspondence of Mr. Thomson with those desirous of ministerial labor, or of his visit to them. Neither is there any document that may give any particular account of the visits that were made by the various missionaries sent out by the two Synods of New York and Philadelphia, till the years 1755 and 1756, when Hugh M' Aden, a licentiate of New Brunswick Presbytery, made a tour of a year, a concise journal of whose journeyings and preaching is still preserved, and makes part of another chapter.
These congregations on the Eno and the Haw appear to have been not altogether regular in their ecclesiastical matters, for, according to the statement of an old elder of the Eno church, Mr. James Clark, who died a few years since, Mr. Spencer and McWharter, in their mission to Carolina to organize and regulate the congregations, attended to the organization of Eno. However, this might refer only to their boundaries and separate action. The first elders were Thomas Clark, John Tinnier, and Carus Tinnier. The names of the first elders of Hawfields have not been preserved. Mr. Pattillo was the first settled minister of these two congregations, which have been the mothers of those now surrounding them, Little River, New Hope, Fairfield, and Cross Roads. He came in 1765, and left them in 1774.
The second pastor, the Rev. John Debow, from the Presbytery of New Brunswick, began to preach in these two congregations, as a licentiate,
The next regular minister that remained with these congregations for a time, was Jacob Lake, the brother-in-law of Mr. Debow. During his ministry the congregation of Cross Roads was organized, being made up of parts of Hawfields, Eno, and Stony Creek. He left the congregation about the year 1790.
His successor was the Rev. William Hodges, who is said to have been a native of Hawfields. Becoming hopefully religious under the ministry of Mr. Debow, he commenced preparations for the ministry. After the death of his spiritual father, he became discouraged, turned his attention to other things, and married and settled in the congregation of Hawfields. During the excitement which prevailed under the preaching of James M'Gready, on Stony Creek, and along the Haw River, in 1789, 1790, and 1791, Mr. Hodges felt his desire to preach the gospel revive and spring up with greater force than ever. Being licensed by the Presbytery of Orange, he went heart and hand with Mr. M'Gready in the work; differing, however, so much in his manner of preaching, that the people styled him the “Son of Consolation,” and M'Gready, Boanerges. In 1792 he was ordained pastor of Hawfields and Cross Roads, by Orange Presbytery. During his ministry many were gathered to the church. About the year 1800 he removed to Tennessee, and was there an active agent in the “Great Revival” that spread over the South and West.
The Eno and Hawfields congregations, extending from Hillsborough to the Haw River, were the scene of many of the doings of the Regulators. Not a few of the people were engaged in the proceedings of these slandered, yet brave men. Understanding their rights of person and property, they could not restrain their indignation under the complicated and long-continued impositions of those who, acting under the protection of the crown, exacted unheard of taxes from honest, unsuspecting men; selling the same piece of land to different individuals, and receiving the pay from all, without redress; exacting pay over and over again from the same individuals for the same tract, under various pretexts; and setting at defiance all law and order. If these people had not resisted, they would have been unworthy of their ancestors and the religion they professed. That many base and unprincipled men took advantage of the disturbance and distress, to commit heinous offences
Tryon's march the day before the Regulation battle, was through these congregations; and the heavy oath of allegiance was exacted as the price of their property and lives, after the governor's victory. Upon the conscientious part of the community, that oath sat with a galling weight; although many felt themselves relieved by the fact that the king could neither enforce his laws nor defend his subjects; yet some suffered under its influence during the whole war—not daring to take arms for their country, and not disposed to enlist among her enemies. Such people often suffered the ill-deserved odium of being tories, and felt the ill-effects of a bad name. Few real tories were found in the Presbyterian population of Orange. The most vehement enemies that Cornwallis met, had been under the instruction of Presbyterian ministers. The first settled minister of Hawfields and Hico sat in the first Provincial Congress of Carolina, and on alarms, met with his people, to encourage them by precept and example, to defend their country and their religion. Cornwallis found Hillsborough and its neighborhood little less inviting than Charlotte, which he named “the Hornets' Nest;” and very few grown men from Hillsborough to the Haw, were unacquainted with service in the camp, and marches, and plunderings, while his lordship remained in Orange. And in the future history of Carolina, the war of the Regulation will stand prominent as the struggle of liberty and justice againt oppression, not less glorious than Lexington or Bunker Hill, for the principles displayed, though less honored for the immediate effects.
The congregations of Buffalo and Alamance, the two eldest and largest of the Presbyterian denomination, and probably of any other, in the county of Guilford, have had the singular privilege of enjoying the regular ministrations of the gospel, with little intermission, for more than eighty years in conjunction with each other, dividing the Sabbaths—and from two men. The time of the ministerial relation of the Rev. Messrs. David Caldwell and Eli W. Caruthers with these congregations, extends from about the time of the organization of Alamance, in the year 1764, to the present day; an incontestible evidence of their stability, and the irreproachable lives of their pastors.
After supplying various vacancies in the bounds of the Presbytery, from the time of his licensure till the following summer, Mr. Caldwell visited North Carolina. The records of the Synod of New York and New Jersey have the following minute at their meeting in Elizabethtown, May 23d, 1764: “Several supplications from North Carolina were presented, earnestly praying for supplies, which were read and urged with several verbal relations representing the state of the country.” After speaking of the appointment of Mr. Charles Jef. Smith and Mr. Amos Thompson as missionaries, the minute proceeds—“Mr. David Caldwell, a candidate, of New Brunwick, is appointed to go as soon as possible, but not to defer it longer than next fall, and supply under the direction of the Hanover Presbytery.” The Presbytery at that time was the only one south of the Potomac in connection with the Synod, and its boundaries on the south were indefinite. There was an independent Presbytery in South Carolina.
While Mr. Caldwell was in the course of his preparatory studies for college, a company of his friends emigrated to North Carolina, and took their residence on Buffalo Creek and Reedy Fork; and before their departure from Pennsylvania, made overtures to him, that, upon his being licensed, he should visit them in their new abode for the purpose of becoming their preacher. In about a year after he commenced preaching, he was sent as a missionary by the Synod to the south, and passed through the congregations and settlements in the upper part of Carolina, and, among others, the settlements of his old friends. The emigration had been continued, and many pious people having come to the wilderness, the congregation of Buffalo, whose place of worship is about three miles from Greensborough, had been organized according to the rules of the Church. Settlements had been formed on the Alamance, and in 1764, the year of his visit, the Rev. Henry Pattillo, who was afterwards the minister of Hawfields and Little River, organized a church called Alamance, whose preaching-place is about seven miles from Greensborough, and about the same distance from Buffalo.
These two congregations united in desiring Mr. Caldwell for their minister; though of different sentiments about the late divisions in the Presbyterian church, both were orthodox in their creed, and firmly attached to the Presbyterian forms; but the Buffalo church was composed of members that were of the Old Side, as they were termed, and the Alamance of those who sided with New Light or New Side, or as they sometimes distinguished themselves, followed Whitefield.
Mr. Caldwell's appointment as a missionary was renewed next year by the Synod. Philadelphia, May 20th, 1765. “In consequence of
As the congregations had promised him but two hundred dollars salary, he felt the necessity, from the first, of making provision for his family, and accordingly purchased a small farm, on which through life he depended in part for the comforts of his household. He commenced, too, at his house a classical school, which, with some few short interruptions, he continued till the infirmities of age disqualified him for the duties of teacher. This was the second classical school of permanence, and perhaps the first in usefulness, in the upper part of Carolina; that in Sugar Creek being probably the first; and that of Mr. Pattillo, in Granville, being the third. Delighting in the employment of teacher, having a peculiar tact for the management of boys, and being thorough in his course of instruction, his school flourished, and was the means, during the long period of its continuance, of bringing more men into the learned professions than any other taught by a single individual or by a succession
The first Presbyterian minister that took his residence in Western Carolina, and the third in the State, was Alexander Craighead. In what part of Ireland he was born, or in what year he emigrated to America, is not a matter of record. The named of Craighead is of frequent occurrence in the history of the Church of Scotland and of Ireland, and holds an honorable place among the ministry. The tradition in the family of Mr. Craighead, as related by Mr. Caruthers, was, that his father and grandfather, and perhaps his ancestors further back, were ministers of the gospel, strongly attached to the church, and reputed as truly pious. A Mr. Thomas Craighead was among the first ministers of Donegal Presbytery,—a native of Scotland, ordained in Ireland,—emigrating to New England, and there remaining from 1715 to 1721,—uniting with the Presbytery of New Castle in 1724,—he finished his course in 1738.
His name does not appear on the list of either Synod of New York or Philadelphia until the year 1753, when he appears upon the roll of the Synod of New York as an absentee. From the records for 1755, he
Previous to the time that Mr. Craighead's name appears upon the roll of the Synod of New York, 1753, he removed to Virginia, probably about the year 1749, and took his residence in the county of Augusta, on the Cow Pasture river, in the bounds of the present Windy Cove congregation. There is upon the minutes of the Philadelphia Synod, in the year 1752, a mention of a Mr. Craighead, the Christian name not given, and the Presbytery with which he held his connection not mentioned.
Mr. Alexander Craighead's name was enrolled among the members set off for the formation of the Presbytery of Hanover, as appears from the following extract from minutes of the Synod of New York for 1755: “A petition was brought into the Synod setting forth the necessity of erecting a new Presbytery in Virginia, the Synod therefore appoint the Rev. Samuel Davies, John Todd, Alexander Craighead, Robert Henry, John Wright, and John Brown, to be a Presbytery under the name of the Presbytery of Hanover, and that their first meeting shall be in Hanover, on the first Wednesday of December next, and that Mr. Davies open said meeting by a sermon; and that any of their members settling to the southward and westward of Mr. Hogge's congregation, shall have liberty to join said Presbytery of Hanover.”
Owing probably to the troubles in the country, Mr. Craighead did not meet with the Presbytery for some two years after its formation.
The defeat of Braddock on the 9th of July, 1755, had thrown the frontiers of Virginia at the mercy of the Indians. The inroads of the savages were frequent and murderous. Terror reigned throughout the valley. Mr. Craighead occupying a most exposed situation, his preaching-place being a short distance from the present Windy Cove church, and his dwelling on the farm now occupied by Mr. Andrew Settlington—in a settlement on the Virginia frontier, and open to the incursions of the savages, fled with those of his people who were disposed and able to fly, and sought safety in less exposed situations, after having lived in Virginia about six years. Crossing the Blue Ridge, he passed on to the more quiet regions in Carolina, and found a location among the settlements along the Catawba and its smaller tributaries, in the bounds of what is now Mecklenburg county. Mr. Craighead first met with Hanover Presbytery at Cub Creek, Sept. 2d, 1757. At a meeting of the Presbytery in Cumberland, at Capt. Anderson's, January, 1758, Mr. Craighead was directed to preach at Rocky River, on the second Sabbath of February, and visit the other vacancies till the spring meeting. At the meeting of the Presbytery in April, a call from Rocky River was
He was ahead of his ministerial brethren in Pennsylvania in his views of civil government and religious liberty, and became particularly offensive to the Governor for a pamphlet of a political nature, the authorship of which was attributed to him. This pamphlet attracted so much attention, that in 1743 Thomas Cookson, one of his Majesty's justices, for the county of Lancaster, in the name of the Governor, laid it before the Synod of Philadelphia. The Synod disavowed both the pamphlet and Mr. Craighead; and agreed with the Justice that it was calculated to foment disloyal and rebellious practices, and disseminate principles of disaffection.
In Carolina, he found a people remote from the seat of authority, among whom the intolerant laws were a dead letter, so far divided from other congregations, even of his own faith, that there could be no collision with him, on account of faith or practice; so united in their general principles of religion and church government, that he was the teacher of the whole population, and here his spirit rested. Here he passed his days; here he poured forth his principles of religious and civil government, undisturbed by the jealousy of the government, too distant to be aware of his doings, or too careless to be interested in the poor and distant emigrants on the Catawba.
About the time the emigration from Ireland, through Pennsylvania, began to occupy the beautiful valley of Virginia, and the waters of the Roanoke, some scattered families were found following the Indian traders' path to the wide prairies on the east of the Catawba, and west of the Yadkin. These in Virginia were commenced about the year 1737; those in Carolina must have been soon after. By means of the memoranda preserved by the Clark family, that have lived more than a century along the Cape Fear river, it is ascertained that a family, if not a company, of emigrants went to the west of Yadkin, as all the upper country was then
The emigrants from Ireland, holding the Protestant faith, the first to leave the place of their birth, for the enjoyment of freedom, in companies sufficient to form settlements, sought the wilds of America by two avenues, the one, by the Delaware River, whose chief port was Philadelphia, and the other, by a more southern landing, the port of Charleston, South Carolina. Those landing at the southern port, immediately sought the fertile forests of the upper country, approaching North Carolina on one side, and Georgia on the other; and not being very particular about boundaries, extended southward at pleasure, while, on the north, they were checked by a counter tide of emigration. Those who landed on the Delaware, after the desirable lands east of the Alleghanies, in Pennsylvania, were occupied, turned their course southward, and were speedily on the Catawba: passing on, they met the southern tide, and the stream turned westward, to the wilderness long known as “Beyond the Mountains;” now, as Tennessee. These two streams, from the same original fountain, Ireland, meeting and intermingling in this new soil, preserve the characteristic difference, the one, possessing some of the air and manner of Pennsylvania, and the other, of Charleston. These are the Puritans, the Roundheads of the South, the Blue-stockings of all countries; men that settled the wilderness on principle, and for principle's sake; that built churches from principle, and fought for liberty of person and conscience as their acquisition, and the birthright of their children.
Previous to the year 1750, the emigration to this beantiful but distant frontier was slow, and the solitary cabins were found upon the borders of prairies, and in the vicinity of canebrakes, the immense ranges abounding with wild game, and affording sustenance the whole year, for herds of tame cattle. Extensive tracts of country between the Yadkin and the Catawba, now waving with thrifty forests, then were covered with tall grass, with scarce a bush or shrub, looking at first view as if immense grazing farms had been at once abandoned, the houses disappearing, and the abundant grass luxuriating in its native wildness and beauty, the wild herds wandering at pleasure, and nature rejoicing in undisturbed quietness.
From about the year 1750, family after family, group after group, succeeded in rapid progression, led on by reports sent back by the adventurous pioneers of the fertility and beauty of those solitudes, where conscience was free, and labor all voluntary. By the time that Mr. McAden visited the settlements in 1755 and 1756, they were in sufficient numbers to form a congregation in the centre spot. The pious and moral united in the worship of God, and formed the congregation of Sugar Creek, which knew no other bounds than the distance men and women could walk or ride to church, which was often as much as fifteen miles, as a regular thing, and twenty for an occasional meeting.
About the year 1765, by order of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, the congregations that surround Sugar Creek were organized by the Rev. Messrs. Spencer and M'Whorter, as appears from the Records of Synod as follows:—viz., Elizabethtown, May 23d, 1764,—“Synod more particularly considering the state of many congregations to the southward, and particularly North Carolina, and the great importance of having those congregations properly organized, appoint the Rev. Messrs. Elihu Spencer and Alexander M'Whorter, to go as our missionaries for that purpose; that they form societies, help them in adjusting their bounds, to ordain elders, administer sealing ordinances, instruct the people in discipline, and finally direct them in their after conduct,” &c. On the 16th of May, 1765, this committee reported to the Synod that they had performed their mission; this report, however, has not been preserved. But we are not left at a loss for the names of part of the congregations whose bounds they adjusted, as, in that and the succeeding year, calls were sent in for pastors from Steel Creek, Providence, Hopewell, Centre, Rocky River, and Poplar Tent, which entirely surrounded Sugar Creek, besides those in Rowan and Iredell.
These seven congregations were in Mecklenburg, except a part of Centre, which lay in Rowan (now Iredell),—and in their extensive bounds comprehended almost the entire county. From these came the delegates that formed the celebrated convention in Charlotte.
The immediate successor of Mr. Craighead was Joseph Alexander, a connexion of the McKnitt branch of Alexanders, a man of education and talents, of small stature, and exceedingly animated in his pulpit exercises. Licensed by New Castle Presbytery in 1767, in October of that year he presented his credentials to Hanover Presbytery at the Bird church, in Goochland, and accepted a call from Sugar Creek. His ordination took place with that of Mr. David Caldwell on March 4th, 1768, at Buffalo. He read his lecture on John, 3d chapter, 3d to 5th verse, on the third of March, and also his trial sermon on the words—“There
A fine scholar, he, in connection with Mr. Benedict, taught a classical school of high excellence and usefulness. From Sugar Creek he removed to Bullock's Creek, South Carolina, and was long known in the church as a minister and teacher of youth for professional life. A volume of his sermons was given to the public after his death.
While the Presbyterians were laboring in vain to get a charter for a college, in Charlotte, confirmed by the king, the notorious Fanning offered to get a university of which he himself should be chancellor, and Mr. Joseph Alexander, who was noted as a teacher, should be first professor. But much as the people desired a college and loved Alexander, they could not take one with such a chancellor.
Hopewell and Sugar Creek are cotemporaries in point of settlement, though, in church organization, Sugar Creek has the pre-eminence. The families were from the same original stock in the North of Ireland; some were born in Pennsylvania, and some only sojourned there for a time; they were connected by affinity and consanguinity; and more closely united by mutual exposures in the wilderness, and the ordinances of the gospel, which were highly prized.
Scattered settlements were made along the Catawba, from Beattie's to Mason's Ford, some time before the country became the object of emigration to any considerable extent, probably about the year 1740. As the extent of fertility of the beautiful prairies become known, the ScotchIrish, seeking for settlements, began to follow the traders' path, and join the advanturers in this southern and western frontier. By 1745, the settlements, in what is now Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties, were numerous; and about 1750, and onward for a few years, the settlements grew dense for a frontier, and were uniting themselves into congregations, for the purpose of enjoying the ministrations of the gospel in the Presbyterial form. The foundations of Sugar Creek, Hopewell, Steel Creek, New Providence, Poplar Tent, Rocky River, Centre, and Thyatira, were laid almost simultaneously: Rocky River was most successful in obtaining a settled pastor. The others received the church organization and bounds during the visit of Rev. Messrs. McWhorter and Spencer, sent by the Synod of Philadelphia for that purpose, in the year 1764. Missionaries began to traverse the country very early, sent out by the Synod of Philadelphia, and the different Presbyteries of New Brunswick, New Castle, and Donegal.
The enterprising settlers, inured to toil, were hardy and long lived. The constitutions that grew up in Ireland and Pennsylvania seemed to gather strength and suppleness from the warm climate and fertile soil of their new abodes. Most of the settlers lived long enough to witness the dawning of that prosperity that awaited their children. They sought the union of liberty, and property, and religious privilege for their posterity. Year after year were “supplications” sent to Pennsylvania and Jersey for ministers, or missionaries, and effort after effort was made to retain these visitors as settled pastors, but all in vain, previously to 1756; when the troubles from the Indian war, called Braddock's war, united with the wishes of the people, and three Presbyterian ministers were settled in Carolina in that year, or preparations were made for their settlement—Craighead, and M'Aden, and Campbell. Those were days of log cabins and plain fare, when carriages were unknown, and the sight of wheels was an era in the settlements. “That man was the first that crossed the Yadkin with wheels,” designated the man in whose house the first court in Mecklenburg was held.
About twelve miles south of Charlotte, on one of the routes to Camden, you will find in a beautiful oak grove, through which the great road passes, the place of assemblage for the worship of God, of the church and congregation of New Providence, or Providence, as it is now commonly called.
Settlements in the bounds of this congregation were made about the same time as those in Sugar Creek, and Steel Creek, and Rocky River, and by the same kind of emigrants. The first ministerial labors the settlement enjoyed, beside what they could receive from Mr. Craighead, were from the Rev. William Richardson, who was licensed by Hanover Presbytery, at a meeting at Capt. Anderson's, in Cumberland, Virginia, Jan. 25th, 1758. On the 18th of July following, at the first meeting of the Presbytery after the union of the Synods of New York and Philadelphia, held in Cumberland, Mr. Richardson and Mr. Pattillo were ordained. He was appointed to attend at Rocky River on the 27th of the September following, to perform the installation services for Mr. Craighead, being on his way to the Cherokees. How long he remained with the Cherokees is not known. In 1761, he is reported as having left Hanover Presbytery, and joined the Presbytery in South Carolina, not in connection with the Synod. In 1762, the Presbytery sustained his reasons for joining that Presbytery without dismission from his own, with which he was in regular connection.
Mr. Richardson was the maternal uncle of the famous Wm. Richardson Davie, so noted in the southern war, adopted him as his son, super-intended
Rocky River congregation is prior in point of time to Sugar Creek, and the first of all the churches of Concord Presbytery. Poplar Tent was organized about the year 1764 or 1765, when the resolution of Synod was carried into effect by Messrs. Spencer and McWhorter, and the boundaries of the congregations ascertained and agreed upon.
Poplar Tent Meeting-house may be found about seven miles from Concord town, in Cabarrus, on the road leading to Beattie's Ford, and about fourteen miles eastwardly of Davidson's College. From the papers of a venerable old lady, who was born, lived all her days in the bounds of the congregation, and died at the age of 90, in the year 1843, the following is an extract: “I had a brother born April 25th, 1764, and I was ten years old on the March before he was born; and I do not remember of hearing, at that time, of any other place of public worship but at Rocky River.” (Rocky River Church is about 9 or 10 miles east from P. T.) “But I had another brother, born October 25th, 1766, and I remember very well of being at a meeting at Poplar Tent the summer before he was born; and at that time there was a more elegant Tent than I ever saw on that ground since, but no meeting-house. But between '66 and '70, there was a good meeting-house built and tolerably well seated. And the Rev. Hezekiah (J). Balch was a placed minister between Rocky River and Poplar Tent.”
Another tradition related by Dr. Robinson, adds to this account without contradicting it—and says a Tent was erected and an occasional service was obtained from the missionaries and other ministers, for some years before regular preaching was obtained.
By tent, was meant a place for the preacher to occupy during public worship, very similar to the stands that are erected for the convenience of congregations in summer, in places where there are no church-buildings, or where the conveniences for seating a congregation in summer are not sufficient.
The name of the Ridge, the meeting-house, and the congregation, originated in the following manner, according to the manuscript of Mr. Alexander:—“That hill, on which the meeting-house now stands, was called Poplar Ridge, long before there was any tent there, from some very extraordinary large trees, that grew a small distance west from where the meeting-house now stands. But after the tent was built some time, there were some men collected, for some purpose, at that place, and, as I understood, there was some proposition made, ‘what are we to call