RELIGIOUS AND HISTORIC COMMEMORATION
Two Hundred Years of St. Paul's Parish,
EDENTON, N. C.
OBSERVED IN THE PARISH CHURCH
MAY 22ND AND 24TH
A. D. 1901.
BOOK AND JOB PRINTERS,
GOLDSBORO, N. C.
RELIGIOUS AND HISTORIC COMMEMORATION
Two Hundred Years of St. Paul's Parish,
EDENTON, N. C.
OBSERVED IN THE PARISH CHURCH
MAY 22ND AND 24TH
A. D. 1901.
BOOK AND JOB PRINTERS,
GOLDSBORO, N. C.
THE CORPORATION, 1901.
RECTOR, The Rev. Robert Brent Drane, D.D.
WARDENS, Senior, Mr. William Blount Shepard, Junior, Mr. Frank Wood.
VESTRYMEN, Secretary, Mr. Minton Hughes Dixon, Mr. Metrah Makely, Mr. William Dossey Pruden, Mr. William Skinner Summerell, Mr. Louis Frederick Ziegler.
COMMITTEE OF ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE COMMEMORATION, The Rector, Mr. Dixon, Mr. Pruden.
THE RELIGIOUS AND HISTORIC COMMEMORATION OF THE Two Hundred Years of St. Paul's Parish, Edenton, N. C.
The two hundredth anniversary of St. Paul's Parish, Edenton, N. C., fell on December 15, 1901, but the Vestry thought to have the help of members of the Diocesan Council of East Carolina, met here in May, and therefore anticipated that date, somewhat after the example of the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, which was founded in 1701, and which is keeping its whole 200th year as a jubilee.
At the opening service of the Council May 22d, the Rt. Rev. Alfred A. Watson, D. D., Bishop of the Diocese, preached the following sermon:CONCILIAR SERMON.
Psalm 87.1. “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion,” etc.
I do not see how we can help finding in these words the expression of a special regard on the part of the most High God for a certain locality, a local regard, for the place known as Zion—“The Hill of Zion”—Why this should be, why the Almighty Lord of the Universe should have or express any peculiar attachment to any one locality, any one spot on this Earth, may not at once seem plain to man's finite and wilful understanding. But the fact that it is so, we who accept the Bible as the word of God, must admit, would we be consistent. And we may understand the reason for this preference, so emphatically expressed, to be the establishment at that point of His own worship. Jerusalem was the Capital of what was then God's Earthy Kingdom, and Zion the fortress of God's Capital. It was at the time the only place in the whole earth where He was officially approached by the chosen officers of His own Divine Court. It was the place where as he tells us “His Honor dwelt.” We may
therefore take it on general principles as true, that where now God's worship is established and His temples built, thither the special regards of the Sovereign of the Universe are attracted. The very hills surrounding Jerusalem were holy in His eyes. Jerusalem was built “upon the Holy Hills.” And so to this spot where we are now gathered, whence for so many years the praises of God and the prayers of His children have ascended, we may believe there is directed a personal regard from the Lord of the Universe. Not to this spot alone it is true, for there are many others. But also here. For these many years this spot has had its special link to Heaven.
I have been asked to speak on this occasion with some reference to the history of the Parish of St. Paul. Let it be understood that the Festival we are keeping is the Bi-Centennial of the Parish, not that of the building in which we are worshipping. That was not in existence 200 years ago.
I have been aided in the fulfilmment of the duty you have asked, by the opportunity given me by the Rector to examine a copy of the vestry minutes covering the last 200 years. The Record includes, however, so much unimportant matter, in the nearly 400 pages laid before me, as to make the search for what is important difficult, and their report more or less is unsatisfactory. I have been also largely indebted to two valuable pamphlets prepared by Mr. J. R. B. Hathaway, kindly sent me by the author, from which I have freely copied facts and dates, and to which I refer those who desire a more accurate knowledge of the Parish history. For myself, I make no claim whatever for any original knowledge of either facts or dates. I am absolutely indebted for both, to the two sources of information I have mentioned.
As I have said, the work you expect from me is not easy of performance. It is to be neither altogether a lecture nor a sermon, but a difficult mixture of both. You desire to hear somewhat of the history of the Parish, but you wish such a presentation of that history as will make it a suitable part of the opening sermon of a Religious Council.
I fear that I may not be able entirely to meet your wishes. But God is in history as well as in personal life. The first books of His Revelation, those of the Old Testament, are largely historical matter, as indeed are also the Gospels and
the Acts of the Apostles. They are word pictures of the footsteps of His Divine Providence. They reveal to us God in action in the story of the World, and every picture is a disclosure of some portion of the will of God, whether He is dealing with nations or with individuals.
And so we may regard the planting of this Parish of St. Paul as one of His Acts of Providence. It was the planting of a seed of such Divine nature, that notwithstanding all the obstacles which have hindered its growth, and they have been great and continuous, it has not only survived for these two centuries in the face of them all, but has borne fruit and has resulted in the present Churchly Temple and the work that clusters about it.
In the year of our Lord 1701, the Colonial Government of the Province of North Carolina, by act of Assembly dated November 12th of that year, appointed twelve gentlemen vestrymen for the Parish of St. Paul, in the Precinct of Chowan and Colony of North Carolina.
It was the first Parochial organization in the then Colony, now State, of North Carolina. To us the appointment of a church vestry by the Civil Government seems strange.
But before the Revolution of 1776, the Parishes were parts of the national structure and the vestries were for certain purposes representatives of the Government. It was not inconsistent with this that certain minor details in the conduct of the Government should be placed in their hands. The care of the poor, with power of taxation for that and other purposes, was given to them, as well as the administration to some extent of justice. Connected with this was the power to impose fines and other penalties, to levy upon property for the support of the ministry, and to distrain (where payment was refused). Fines were imposed by them for Sabbath breaking and profane swearing. In the Parish of St. Paul there is even a case in which one Thomas Smith was fined for neglecting to vote.
And so it is not strange that when the Revolution of 1776 came, the members of the vestry took an active part. There is on record in the Parish book of St. Paul's a very bold and pronounced declaration of independence of date June 19, 1776.
On the 12th day of the next month (December, 1701), the
persons thus appointed met at the house of Thomas Gillam and organized the vestry.
One of the first acts of the newly appointed vestry was the erection of a house for the worship of the Almighty. But the population was sparse and the congregation scattered and small. And that the religious and churchly zeal of the community was not very great, may be inferred from the size and style of the projected temple of God. It was to be 25 feet in length, to be built of posts set in the ground, held together at the top by a collar or plate, and to cost not more than £25 money of the Province.
Edward Smithwick, a member of the vestry, offered an acre of land on his plantation for the site, subsequently giving a deed for 70 yards square, and stipulating that the building should stand in the centre of the plot.
His offer was accepted and the work was committed to one John Porter, who put up the building and delivered the key to the vestry the next year, on December 15, 1702. The building was little more than a roof upon posts, a bare shelter from the weather, having none of the usual accommodations or appoinments for a church.
At first, the windows were without glass and there was no pulpit for the Minister or pew for the Reader, or Clerk.
In the parochial arrangements of that day, the Reader, or Clerk, as he was called, was almost as necessary for the conduct of public worship as was the minister, being indeed for much of the time the more permanent officer of the two.
It was his duty to make the responses when the clergyman was present and in his absence to read the service and the sermon. Even when the Parish had no minister there was generally a reader. He acted also as sexton, taking charge of the building and keeping the key, providing the elements for the Holy Communion, the water for baptism and the materials for fire. There were many gaps in the lines of officiating clergy, but the reader's office was generally filled. He received a salary, and there is on record in the Parish minutes the exaction, in one instance, that he should “lead a sober and exemplary life.” He was, of course, only a layman and did not meddle with the Spiritual work of the ordained minister.
He usually occupied a sort of pew or reading desk, before
and below the pulpit, facing the congregation. Behind and a little above it was the desk from which the minister, when present, read the service, and above and behind that again the pulpit, the last frequently against the wall, the altar or Communion table being placed on the East side of the room surrounded by a rail, thus constituting the chancel. Such was the arrangement in the old church across the sound in Washington county, built by Parson Pettigrew, and known as Pettigrew's Chapel, where sixty years ago I worshipped when I first came to North Carolina.
It was not till the next year, at a vestry held March 9, 1903-’4, that a pulpit and a Reader's desk and pew were ordered for the new Chapel, and the windows provided with glass.
At first, the building was without any floor, except that of the earth upon which it stood. Nor was there any till 1708.
Yet action was almost immediately taken to provide (for the better support of the Minister), a glebe of 500 acres at a cost of £100.
In the vestry minutes we find repeated reference to the little chapel, to the ministers appointed, or called to serve in it, to the services held there, and to the vestry—action taken from time to time to keep it always in charge of an ordained minister of the Church of England.
Strange as it may seem, it has become impossible exactly to locate this, the original building, except negatively, so far as to say that it could not have been within the limits of the present town of Edenton. And what will seem as strange, for nearly or quite thirty years there was no church edifice of any kind in Edenton.
As late as 1729, Col. Wm. Byrd, appointed to run the boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina, wrote of Edenton in his Journal that he believed it the only place in the Christian or Mohammedan world, where there was neither church, chapel, mosque or synagogue, or other place of worship of any sect or religion. He speaks of the chaplain of his surveying party returning from Edenton, after preaching in the Court house for want of a consecrated building.
In a document cited by Mr. Hathaway the original Chapel is spoken of as situated on the “Hayes farm.”
Edenton itself was not known in the earlier days of the Parish by its present name or perhaps by any name as a town.
It was probably only a country neighborhood until in 1712 the Legislature of the Colony directed a Court house, and a building for the meeting of the Assembly, to be erected there. Nor was it even then known as Edenton, but was at first called Queen Ann's Town, being situated on Queen Ann's (formerly Mattacomack) Creek. In 1722 it was incorporated by the Legislature under its present title, the name being given in honor of Governor Chas. Eden.
It would seem to follow that the original St. Paul's, erected in 1702, could not have stood where the present Parish church is standing. The venerable and beautiful building, in which we are worshipping to-day, must therefore bear a later date; but we are keeping the Bi-Centennial of the Parish and not of the Parish Church.
The original St. Paul's was evidently not constructed for perpetuity. Its frame of posts in the ground could not last long. Rev. John Urmstone, the missionary of the Ven. Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in charge in 1711, writes at that time of it, that it had never been finished, and described it as having neither floor nor seats, but only a few loose benches upon the sand.
It is hard to believe that our ancestors could have been so indifferent to the house of their God and to the things of religion. But Mr. Urmstone writes that it was almost impossible to get a meeting of the vestry, the gentry caring so little for their religious interests that rather than meet the expenses of keeping up divine worship, they stayed away from the vestries. Had it not been for the help given from England by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel the clergy would have been starved out of the country. Perhaps the fault lay as much in Mr. Urmstone as in the people.
Nevertheless the country congregations were often large. Rev. Mr. Rainsford speaks of vast crowds attending his services and of having on one occasion been obliged to leave the building and preach under a large tree.
There is again something strange about the disappearance of the original building. I have found no record in the Parish minutes of its demolition, abandonment, or removal, nor any intimation thereof, except a resolution in which the old
chapel is described as out of repair and incommodiously situated. In the same minute, action is proposed toward the erection of another building. But I have failed to find any evidence that the proposition was carried out.
Meantime, other chapels more or less distant from St. Paul's, were built and served by the Clergy of the precinct. In the vestry minutes we have mention made of Chapels on the North Shore, at Indian town, at Knotty Pine Swamp, at Sandy Pine (or Sandy Run), some of them apparently of no more permanent type than that of St. Paul. That at Sandy Run or Sandy Pine was sold at Public Vendue bringing only £19. There were also chapels served by the clergy of the precinct at Sarum, (which seems to have been in Gates county), at Farless, and elsewhere. At one of the vestries, as vestry meetings were then called, order was taken for the erection of two chapels each of 35 feet by 22½, for which a tax was levied. One to be near the place of James Constans or Costin's, as sometimes called, and the other near James Braddy's. Some steps too were taken toward the repair of the original St. Paul's, or the substitution of another building of 40 feet by 24, and £45 allowed for its erection. There is no discoverable evidence that the purpose was ever carried out.
From data collected by Mr. Hathaway, it may be gathered that the present venerable and beautiful edifice was begun in 1736, when the ground on which it stands was cleared and materials accumulated for its erection. With many interruptions the work was carried on until on the 10th day of April, 1760, a vestry was held within its walls.
St. Thomas’, Bath, built in 1734, is supposed to be the oldest church edifice in the State now standing.
But that building after its 170 years shows evident signs of decay. Its walls are not secure, while that in which we are holding the festival of to-day is still strong and beautiful.
In consequence of the sparseness of the church population, or the small supply of clergy, or of the meagreness of their support, the clergy were obliged then, as in many parts of the diocese now, to supply groups of congregations with alternate services.
The first minister whose name I have met in the Parish records was Rev. John Blair, of whom it is said that he gave
all his salary to the poor. I have found no date attached to his ministry.
He seems to have been succeeded by Rev. Henry Gerrard.
In 1711, we find the Parish occupied by Rev. John Urmstone, who remained for six or seven years.
While Mr. Urmstone was in the Precinct, the Parish was visited by Rev. Giles Rainsford, whose stay, however, seems to have been short. Mr. Taylor, who followed, came in 1717.
We find Rev. John Hall here in 1717, but in what part of the Parish or the Precinct I have not discovered.
After this there is an interval till Rev. Clement Hall was engaged by the vestry in 1744. He mentions four chapels as in use within a compass of sixty or seventy miles and reports 4,221 persons, adults and children, white and colored, baptized by himself.
Rev. Daniel Earl was in charge in 1759. His appointment being at Edenton March 4th, at Constants March 11th, at Farless Chapel March 18th, at Knotty Pine March 25th.
In 1811, October 8th, Rev. F. W. Hatch was elected Rector.
At what time or times Rev. Chas. Pettigrew ministered here, I have not learned. In the vestry minutes he is mentioned as one of the former rectors of the Parish. He was afterwards the first Bishop-elect of the Diocese, but owing to untoward circumstances was never consecrated.
He built Pettigrew's Chapel and left it for the worship of those who came afterwards, but excepting those who denied baptism to children.
It was said of him that if through stress of weather his congregation remained at home, yet he was always at his post, and rode around the appointed place of meeting that his horse tracks might bear witness to his own punctual attendance.
Later and within the memory of some of us, we find the names of John Avery, Wm. D. Cairns, Samuel Johnston, D. D., Chas. Maison, C. M. Parkman, Francis W. Hilliard, Angelo A. Benton, D. D., and that of its present beloved rector, Robert B. Drane, D. D.
It would be invidious to speak personally of those who have filled the pulpit and desk of St. Paul's. I will not attempt it.
Yet how can I forget—I who have lived among them—the succession of Godly men who maintained the Christianity of old in the Parishes which lay around the Albemarle, or the churchly circle of hospitable and delightful homes, and high toned gentlemen and women by whom the work of the Church of God was upheld and beautified, or the pleasant and profitable gatherings of the first Convocation of the Albermarle, Edenton and Plymouth, Elizabeth City, Hertford, Williamston and Scuppernong, the liberality, the open handedness of the people, the church-building contributions alone of the organization amounting annually to the cost of a country church. I count it a privilege to have lived at that time and in that portion of the vineyard and in that earnest company, Forbes and Johnston and Snowden and Shepherd, and others of like type who still survive and with me look back sadly, but lovingly, to those days of old.
I rejoice to bear witness to the soundness of theology and of churchmanship maintained in this old fortress of the church at Edenton and in its neighboring Parishes. When sermons were needed for the use of vacant Parishes, Tillotson's sermons in twenty-four volumes were purchased.
I have mentioned Rev. Mr. Pettigrew as one of the rectors of St. Paul's. Rev. Chas. Pettigrew, known as Parson Pettigrew, and mentioned in the minutes of the vestry of this Parish, labored on the south side of the sound also. His residence is still standing near St. David's (formerly Pettigrew's chapel) and for some years after my coming to the Diocese it was occupied by his descendants.
At that time many of the older inhabitants of the country side or their representatives were living. They made an important part of the congregations, dwelling in their old houses, exercising their old hospitality, and maintaining much of their old family religion—a religion not so exuberant as is much nowadays, but warm and steadfast. I well remember a large plantation in which the master ruled with a strong but considerate hand, governing with absolute authority, dispensing law and justice, but tempering them with judgment and mercy. A Churchman and a Christian, the children of his servants (several hundred in number), were all baptized in their early infancy, he and his wife standing sponsors. All were trained up in the catechism, most of
them came of their own accord to Confirmation and to the Holy Communion, and enjoyed regular (and generally daily) opportunities of divine worship. As regularly as the Lord's day came, the congregation of the neighboring chapel gathered for devotion and instruction in righteousness and for growth in grace. Very much of this sort has been the worship in this old Church of St. Paul.
Many years ago I remember how this present edifice was beautified by some of its loving congregation, who brought oak from old England to adorn its sanctuary.
We are hardly aware of the full meaning of the Psalmist, when we sing “O Worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness.” The margin of King James’ version reads “In His Glorious Sanctuary.”
Who shall doubt that these old houses of God were loved of God, homely though they were, loved by those whose prayers and praises went up from them to Heaven, loved as the house of their Heavenly Father, and loved by the Father himself as was the great and beautiful House on the Hill of Zion.
All that is good grows. And all true beauty is of God, whether in Nature or in Art, in the tree temple of the forest, or under the arches of temples made with hands.
And wherever the true love of God dwells in the hearts of men, there dwells also the love of His holy temple.
“The Lord loveth the gates of Zion.” And we as loving children of the Lord should love them also, the places where “His Honor dwelleth.” The Psalmist's heart-burst—“If I forget thee O Jerusalem” is the natural exclamation of the true loving child of God.
The two hundred years of life which belong to this Parish have not been in vain. The acorn of two hundred years ago has grown into an oak. The beautiful grove which surrounds this house of God, drawing its nourishment in part from the bodies which have been baptized, confirmed, and have worshipped, and have been buried here, is an emblem of how Almighty Love and Power transmutes base metals into gold. The prayers which have been offered here have not altogether gone up on high. Their odors have tarried to consecrate the place where so many true and loving hearts have breathed them.
Is it quite impossible that with us this day rejoicing have been the spirits of the righteous past, of some who sleep in yonder graves, who also loved the gates of Zion as God the Lord loves them? O Brethren, let us love these gates too well to allow the entrance here of things displeasing to our Father, whether of wordliness, or vanity, or vain music, or irreverent conversation. Especially let us banish from these walls, during our present gathering, all enmity, all contention, all jealousy and strife and evil speech.
Let us remember that it is the house of God. Of our blessed Saviour it is written that the zeal of God's house consumed Him, and that one of the first, as also one of the last, actions of His human life was to drive out of it all irreverent things and irreverent men. God grant to these sacred walls even greater blessings than those which have heretofore rested upon and within them.
FRIDAY, MAY 24th—3 O'CLOCK EXERCISES.
On Friday, May 24th, the Council having taken a recess for the purpose, the following exercises were held at 3 o'clock p. m., in the church, under the presidency of the Bishop.
COMMEMORATION OF THE TWO HUNDRED YEARS OF ST. PAUL'S
Parish, CHOWAN PRECINCT.
(1.) Hymn 491, “The Church's One Foundation.”
(2.) Prayers, by the Bishop.
(3.) Reading from the Old Vestry Book, by Mr. M. H. Dixon, Secretary of Vestry,
(4.) Reading of a Paper, by Dr. Richard Dillard.
(5.) Reading of a Paper, by Mr. J. R. B. Hathaway.
(6.) Reading of a Paper from Rev. F. W. Hilliard, by Rev. F. N. Skinner.
(7.) Hymn 296, “Jesus! Where'er Thy People Meet.”
(8.) Rev. B. D. Tucker, D. D., St. Paul's, Norfolk, Va., a letter read by Rev. R. B. Drane, D. D.
(9.) Rev. Charles A. Maison, D. D., St. James’, Kingsessing, Phila.
(10.) Rev. T. M. N. George,, Christ Church, New Bern, N. C.
Mr. Dixon read a selection from the first minutes:
“In obedience to an Act of Assembly, made November 12, 1701, appointing a Vestry for this Precinct, consisting of the Hon. Henderson Walker, Esq., Col. Thomas Pollock, William Duckenfield, Esq., Mr. Nicholas Crisp, Mr. Edward Smithwick, Mr. John Blount, Mr. James Long, Mr. Nathaniel Chevis, Mr. William Benbury, Col. William Wilkinson, Capt. Thomas Leuton, Capt. Thomas Blount, who being all present at the house of Mr. Thomas Gilliam December ye 15, 1701, it being debated where a church should be built, Mr. Edward Smithwick undertakes to give one acree of land upon his old plantation and to give a conveyance for the same. * * * It is appointed that Coll. William Wilkinson and Capt. Thomas Leuton shall be church wardens for
the following year, who shall agree with a workman for building a church 25 feet long, posts in the ground. * * * It is agreed that Nathaniel Chevin shall be clerk of the Vestry.”
The following document also was read. It has been called the “Declaration of Independence by St. Paul's Vestry.” That it did not originate with the Vestry appears from its identity with the “Test” prepared by a committee of the Provincial Congress of North Carolina and signed by the members of that Congress at Halifax, N. C., August 21, 1775:
“We, the subscribers, professing our alegiance to the king and acknowledging the constitutional executive power of Government, do solemnly profess, testify and declare that we do absolutely believe that neither the Parliament of Great Britain nor any member or constituent branch thereof, have a right to impose taxes upon these colonies to regulate the internal policy thereof; and that all attempts by fraud or force to establish and exercise such claims and powers are violations of the peace and security of the people, and ought to be resisted to the utmost, and that the people of this Province singly and collectively are bound by the Acts and Resolutions of the Continental and the Provincial Congresses because in both they are freely represented by persons chosen by themselves. And we do solemnly and sincerely promise and engage under the sanction of Virtue, Honor, and the Sacred Love of Liberty and our Country, to maintain and support all and every the Acts, Resolutions and Regulations of the said Continental and Provincial Congresses to the utmost of our power and ability.
“In testimony whereof we have hereto set out hands this 19th of June, 1776.
“Walton, Pelatiah Walton,
These were the Vestrymen of the Parish.
EDENTON LONG AGO.
BY RICHARD DILLARD, M. D., OF Edenton, N. C.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is written that Selim, the son of Soliman, was accustomed to eat every day a certain cereal, which grew in Turkey, the effect of which was to erase from the mind every disagreeable circumstance, every painful emotion. Unfortunately I have no such extravagant nepenthe to serve you for this Attic feast.
Edenton, and its environs, was the focal point of civilization for North Carolina, and the history of St. Paul's Parish is but the history of the early struggling colony. The exact date of the settlement of Edenton is not known, but as early as 1658 there was considerable development about this point, bearing the name of Chuwon Precinct. The beauty and fertility of the country, the mildness and equability of the climate, together with the religious liberty, and the ease of access by land and water lured the adventurous settler. So that in 1710 it had grown so rapidly that it was a borough of considerable importance, the capital of the colony, and the home of the royal governors. It is sometimes alluded to as the “Towne in Queen Ann's Creek,” the “Towne in Mattercomock Creek,” and “Port of Roanoke.” Upon the death of Governor Charles Eden in 1722, it was called Edenton in his honor.
In 1708 Lawson wrote of us: “The fame of this new discovered Summer country spread through the colonies, and in a few years drew a considerable number of families thereto who all found land enough to settle themselves, and that which was very good, and commodiously seated, both for profit and pleasure. They are kind and hospitable to all that visit them, and as for the women, who do not expose themselves to the weather, they are often very fair, and have brisk and charming eyes, which sets them off to advantage. They marry very young, some at 13 or 14, and she that stays till 20 is reckoned a very indifferent character. The young men are commonly of a bashful and sober behavior. The easy way of living in this new and plentiful country fosters
negligence. The women are the most industrious sex in the place, and by their good housewifery make a good deal of cloth of their own cotton, wool and flax, some of them keeping their families, though large, very decently appareled with linens and woolens. So that they have no occasion to run into the merchant's debt, or lay out their money in stores for clothing.”
These copious extracts from our first historian will tend to give you some idea of the life in this new and undeveloped country then.
Our historic field is extensive, but of course I can only give here a sort of coup d'oeil, or momentary glance like that obtained by passing on a train at lightning speed through some beautiful and everchanging landscape.
That curious compound of learning, and good natured facetiousness, Colonel William Byrd, of Virginia, who was here in 1729, on the commission to run the boundary line between North Carolina and Virginia, wrote that Edenton contained then forty or fifty houses, most of them small and inexpensive, and that a man was called extravagant if he aspired to a brick chimney for his house. “Justice itself,” says he, “is but indifferently lodged, the court house having much the air of a common tobacco house, and that this is the only metropolis in the Christian, or Mohammedan world where there is neither church, chapel, mosque, synagogue, or any other place of worship, of any sect of religion whatsoever. This much, however, may be said of the inhabitants of Edenton, that not a soul has the least taint of hypocrisy or superstition.”
Bishop Spangenberg, of the Moravian Church, wrote in his diary while at Edenton in 1752: “Edenton is one of the oldest towns in America, and yet it is hardly one-quarter as large as Germantown, although it has a beautiful situation. There are other cities mentioned in the Law Book, but there are no houses—they are only created cities by act of assembly.”EDENTON IN 1777.
In 1777 a young man named Watson, about 19 years old, from Providence, R. I., made a tour through this section, and left a valuable account of his trip. He said that “Edenton
contained then about 135 dwellings, a brick court house, and was defended by two forts.” There were few roads here then. An early minister of the S. P. G., (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel), wrote to England: “I was obliged to buy a couple of horses, which cost me £14, one of which was for a guide, because there is no possibility for a stranger to find his road in that country, for if he once goes astray, it is a great hazard if he ever finds his road again.” Edenton was at this time the court end of the Province, hither had gathered the wealth and refinement of the colony, who constituted for themselves a sort of social oligarchy.
Edenton before the Revolution manufactured harness, hats, nails and rope. The incorporation of the town included 420 acres. It had a good foreign trade. During one year there were forty-three arrivals of vessels from foreign ports, and about the same number of departures.
Those principally engaged in the foreign trade were John Campbell, Robert Armistead, Richard Brownrigg, Benjamin Russell, Alexander Miller, John Little and Messrs. Collins, Allen and Dickinson. The names of the largest vessels were the Stering, Roanoke, Providence, Betsy, Liberty, Two Brothers, the Mary and the Mary Anna.
The first steamboat ever in our waters was the Albemarle. It was used as a ferry boat between Edenton and Plymouth, and carried the Raleigh mail. The trial trip was made in two hours and five minutes. It was tendered President Monroe as a pleasure boat when he visited our town in 1819.
Bancroft, the father of American history, wrote: “Here was a colony of men from civilized life, scattered among the forests, resting on the bosom of nature. With absolute freedom of conscience, benevolent reason was the simple rule of their conduct. Are there any,” says he, “who doubt man's capacity for self-government, let them study the early history of North Carolina.”EARLY SPIRIT OF LIBERTY.
I wish you to note, and history confirms the fact, that resistance to British authority existed here 100 years before the Revolution, for the many early disturbances and frequent rebellions, such as those of Culpepper, Cary and Eastchurch, were nothing more than resistance to illegal and usurped authority, and a contest for political and religious freedom.
These were the long shadows cast before the mighty Revolution. This little colony might therefore be styled the birthplace of American Independence.
In the history of all governments the oppressed are long tolerant of their oppressors, and a revolution is of progressive development. It took nearly 500 years to free France of its despots. Brazil, I believe, presents a singular exception, when, as if by magic, the empire ceased to exist, and a virgin republic sprang full-panoplied upon the scene.
The early history of this church will be ably presented to you in another paper, and I must press on to my theme. Nine ministers officiated in this church up to the time of the Revolution, the last one being the Rev. Daniel Earle, D. D., familiar to tradition and history as “Parson Earle.” He was a man of such strong points of character, and was so typical of the ministers of those old days, that it is interesting to study his life. Oliver Wendell Holmes has limned his prototype in that matchless poem, the “Wonderful One-Horse Shay.” We can see him now as he passes along the highway in his old stick gig, working his Sunday text and “drawn by his rat-tail, ewe-necked bay.” He was the much beloved parson of all this section—baptizing all the children and ministering at all the death beds and marriages, he thus became the welcome guest of every fireside. He was in striking contrast to some of the earlier ministers, who cared but little for their Parishioners.“PARSON” EARLE.
“Parson” Earle was born in the town of Bandon, province of Munster, Ireland, and was the younger son of an Irish nobleman. His family was one of prominence and distinction. One of his ancestors was General Earle, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in the reign of Queen Anne. In early life he was an officer in the British army, but his marriage with the daughter of a church official changed the whole tenor of his life, and he soon resigned his commission to take holy orders. The exact date of his emigration to America is not known, but he was first sent by the Bishop of London to that part of Virginia now called Gloucester county.
In 1757 he came to the Albemarle section to act as curate
for the venerable Clemment Hall, rector of St. Paul's, then in very feeble health, and upon his death was made full rector. His charge not only included Edenton, but many mission stations scattered at great distances throughout the section now known as Chowan, Hertford and Gates counties. His wife, who had died before his departure for America, left him with two little daughters. These he committed to the care of relatives in England to be reared and educated.
When he first came to this section he settled fifteen miles above here on Chowan river, and named his residence Bandon, after his native town. He was soon afterwards married to a Welch lady, a widow, Charity Jones, of Smithfield, Va., by whom he had no issue. As soon as he was well established in his new home he sent to England for his two daughters.
Parson Earle was full of energy, public spirit and enterprise, and established at Bandon the first classical school in North Carolina for boys, in which he was assisted by his daughter, Nancy. He instructed in Latin, Greek and Mathematics, and numbered among his pupils the children of the Baron de Poelnitz, placed there at the suggestion of James Iredell. The Baron, who was Grand Chamberlain at the Court of Frederick the Great, and his wife, who was Lady Anne Stuart, were spending some time in travel through America.
Parson Earle made improvements in the cultivation of flax, and taught the people of this section the proper method of preparing it for the loom, and the manner of weaving toweling, tablecloths, etc., a domestic industry still pursued in rural districts.
He was an active sympathizer in the struggle of the colonies for independence, and was on that account debarred from preaching in his church at Edenton during the Revolution. Several attempts were made by the British to capture him. Upon one occasion he was informed by a messenger that some scouts were coming to take him prisoner. He immediately buried his silver and treasures in his cellar and dispatched a servant to his plowmen in the fields to fly to the woods, and secrete the horses, but his servant was too late, and four of his best horses were captured, the parson himself barely escaping.
A STUDY PATRIOT AND ZEALOUS PASTOR.
Some, following the beaten track of predecessors, have claimed that he was a Tory, because he received his stipend regularly during the revolution from the S. P. G. This society, as its name indicates, was a religious organization and not a political one. Organized about the beginning of that century through the untiring zeal of Dr. Thomas Bray for the dissemination of the Gospel in foreign lands, it took no cognizance of political differences; as a proof of this, when the infamous “Church Act” was passed in South Carolina through the chicanery of Sir Nathaniel Johnston, this society finding that it was for his political advantage, and not for the good of the church, held a special meeting in London, and resolved to send no more missionaries until it was repealed. And then, too, it is hardly rational to suppose that he would have espoused the British cause for the sake of the paltry stipend, when he owned such large interests here exposed to the revolutionists, and it is not probable either that he would have antagonized himself to his dear ones, his daughter and grandson, respectively, the wife and son of Charles Johnson, an ardent apostle of liberty, and Mr. Johnson would hardly have been so intimate with a family whose feelings were so inimical to his in a day when political lines were so closely and so dangerously drawn.
Some stress must also be laid upon the tradition and local history concerning him. Parson Earle's memory is still held in great veneration through all this section, and but a few years have passed since there were old people living in this county who bore testimony to his patriotism and virtues. The life of a Tory in this liberty-loving section could hardly have had such a glorious sunset. He was the exponent of the popular sentiment here then, and was selected to preside over a revolutionary meeting of the freeholders and other citizens of Chowan county in the court house at Edenton, August 23, 1774, among whom were such patriots as Joseph Hewes, Samuel Johnston and Thomas Benbury, and who passed resolutions condemning the Boston Port Act and the unjust imposition of tax upon the colonies.
He was also unjustly accused of being a Tory because he did not sever all connection with the Church of England and
establish an independent church, but he held that the church was a unit; that it was of Divine origin; that he was a simple priest, and that the Bishop of London, then the head of the church, alone had that power. He was a man of the highest educational attainments, verily a learned Theban in its broadest sense, and possessed great wit and humor, blended with the kindest of hearts.
- “True to his country, bounteous to the poor,
- In all things temperate, sober, just and pure.”
The house which he built at Bandon was large and commodious, considering comfort more than beauty of exterior.
HIS LAST RESTING PLACE.
- “Built in the old Colonial day,
- When men lived in a grander way,
- With ampler hospitality.”
This old manse stood until 1860, though it had been for many years unoccupied. Parson Earle was not only an able and faithful minister, but grew to be a successful farmer and fisherman. He was one of the pioneers in the shad and herring fishing in this country. About the time of the revolution his church at Edenton became somewhat dilapidated, and the worshippers few in number. One Sunday morning, tradition has it, when the parson arrived at Edenton to preach to the faithful, he was shocked and surprised to find that some village witling had placarded upon the church door the following doggerel quartrain:
- “A half built church,
- And a broken-down steeple,
- A herring-catching parson
- And a dam set of people.”
He was ever afterward styled the “Herring-Catching Parson.”
- “Only the actions of the just
- Smell sweet, and clossom in the dust.”
He died in 1790, and was buried near the site of his old home, but the modest slab, which once marked his resting place, has long since been covered by the drifting sands, and the tall pines which surround this lonely spot sigh out to every passing zephyr their sad requiem for the repose of his soul:
ST. PAUL'S WAR CANNON.
- “The breezy call of incense—breathing morn,
- The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
- The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
- No more shall rouse him from his lowly bed.
- No farther seek his merits to disclose,
- Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
- There they alike in trembling hope repose,
- The bosom of his Father, and his God.”
The original bell of this church was taken down in response to Beauregard's call to melt the church bells of the Confederacy and cast them into cannon, which incident inspired the beautiful Southern war lyric “Melt the Bells.” It helped to form the “Edenton Bell Battery,” which was organized in the winter of 1861-’62, by that cultured gentleman and gallant soldier, Captain William Badham, of this town. The name of the gun was the “St. Paul.” It was in numerous actions, and did efficient service throughout the war and was finally surrendered to General Sherman at Greensboro. It is to be hoped that the vestry of this church will take appropriate steps, through our Representative in Congress to have this priceless relic returned to the Parish.
This venerable edifice is the admiration of the stranger; to us it is the sacred shrine of our religious liberty, the radiance from whose Shekinah shall pervade—shall live on through all the eons of eternity. Half clad in ivy, Time's green uniform, it stands a majestic, but not a voiceless sentinel of the Past, and as the sun in his eternal flight traces the shadow of its tall spire upon the sacred glebe below, unerring as the “Dial of Ahaz,” which only the finger of God could turn backwards, its aereal gnomon points almost every hour of the day to the grave of some distinguished citizen. Its
gilded cross, silhouetted in bold relief against the crimson evening sky, suggests the vision of the Emperor Constantine.
Live on thou mighty instrument of good! Live on thou granary of God's eternal harvest! Oblivion shall not blur, nor Time's remorseless hand can alter, one single page of thy history. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Edenton, N. C., May 24, 1901.THE HISTORIC CORNER STONE OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IN NORTH CAROLINA.
MR. JAMES R. B. HATHAWAY, OF Edenton, N. C.
THE FIRST VESTRY ORGANIZED IN NORTH CAROLINA—THEIR WORK IN BUILDING THE FIRST CHURCH IN THE COLONY AT HAYES, NEAR EDENTON, AND THAT OF THEIR SUCCESSORS IN ERECTING ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, EDENTON, N. C.
Accuracy is the intrinsic value of history. It demands patient and diligent investigation. To write history accurately, under the most favorable circumstances, is a very difficult task, rendered much more so, when those in whom the events centered have all passed from the stage of action to the silent cities of the dead.
We may repair to the cemeteries and pressing close to the portals of the tomb, ears acutely tuned to catch the faintest whisper that falls from human lips, ask the sleepers there, who they are? Whence they came? What they did? But, alas! the oppressive silence is broken only by the echo of our words, wafted back by the wind, as it sings through the waving grass and rustling leaves a requiem for the repose of those who sleep beneath.
For our only source of information, we must turn to the dusty pages of the centuries, the faded ink and moth-eroded paper must, with miscroscopical examination, be carefully inspected and closely scrutinized that every fragment may
be utilized in forging link by link the historic chain that binds together the events of the past.
In the preparation of this paper, access has been had to every repository, whose archives shed any light upon the events we have undertaken to chronicle. The results of our research appears in the following condensed statement:
Lossing, in his “Field Book of the Revolution,” states that the first church erected in North Carolina, was located in Chowan County in 1705. While he was correct as to the location, it will be found that he was in error as to the date.
On December 12, 1701, the first Vestry organized in North Carolina met at the house of Thomas Gilliam, who lived on his 560 acre grant of land patented in 1697, about two and one-half miles from the present site of the town of Edenton, and corresponds now to Cherry's Point and Spruell Farm plantations, both of which were included in the original grant.
The Vestry consisted of the following members, viz.: Governor Henderson Walker, Colonel Thomas Pollock, William Duckinfield, Nicholas Crisp, Edward Smithwick, John Blunt, James Long, Nathaniel Chevin, William Benbury, Colonel Wm. Wilkinson, Captain Thomas Leuten and Captain Thos. Blount. At this, their first meeting, they enterprised the building of a church. After debating upon its location, Mr. Edward Smithwick “undertakes to give one acre of land upon his old plantation, and to give a conveyance for the same to the Church Wardens hereafter appointed; for the use and service of the Precinct, to build a church upon and for no other use and to acknowledge the same in open Court.” This is the exact language taken from the records of the Parish. Further, “It is appointed that Col. Wm. Wilkinson and Capt. Thomas Leuton shall be Church Wardens for the ensuing year, who shall agree with a workman for building a church 25 feet long, posts in the ground, and held to the Collar Beams, and to find all manner of Iron work, viz: Nails and Locks, &c., with full power to contract and agree with the said Workman as to their discretion shall seem meet and convenient, and the said Vestry pledged themselves, to protect the charges for building the church first by raising the same contribution, and in case of failure, then to be levied by the pole upon the Tythables of the Precinct.”
On April 7, 1702, Edward Smithwick executed to the Church Wardens a deed for the above-mentioned acre of land. The deed is recorded in Book W, No. 1, page 30, office of the Register of Deeds of Chowan County, at Edenton, and conveys as follows: “Seventy yards square of land for to build and arect a church and the church to stand in the middle of said land, for the use of said Parish forever, the said land to be on the road or the highway from Thomas Gylliam's in the woods, joining on the old field of the said Edward Smithwick.” The location of this acre of land will demand our attention after we shall have finished with the building of the church.
The Vestry met at “Thomas Gilliams October 15, 1702.” At this meeting the following items appear of record: “To building the Chapel to Mr. John Porter 25£ the list of Tythables in the Precinct being taken is found to be 283. Ordered that the Vestry meet to-morrow morning to view the Chapel.”
Oct. ye 14, 1702, the Vestry met and viewed the Chapel and a majority declared their dislike of the ceiling of the Chapel by reason of defaced boards.
Ordered, that Mr. Edward Smithwick and Mr. Nicholas Crisp, on behalf of the vestry, do choose one indifferent man that is skilled in building, and Mr. John Porter shall choose another, who shall meet at the Chapel the second Saturday in November to give their “judgment whether the boards be fit for ceiling such a house, and if these two persons chosen as aforesaid cannot agree in their opinions, then they shall choose an umpire, and what opinion he the said umpire shall give shall be a full and final determination of the matter about the ceiling and boards, and the agreement between the Church Wardens and Mr. John Porter shall be thence.” (Col. Rec., vol. I, pages 558-9 and 560.)
The next meeting of the vestry was held at the house of Mrs. Sarah Gilliam ye 15th December, 1702. Capt. Thos. Gilliam, the husband of Mrs. Sarah Gilliam, having died since the preceding meeting in October, from the minutes we extract the following item:
“The Chappel being this day viewed by all the vestry here present, and are satisfied therewith and do receive the House and Keys from Mr. John Porter, he promising to provide so
much Lime as will wash the ceiling of the Chapel, and the Vestry to be at the charge of a workman to do the same.” (Col. Rec., vol. I, pages 560-1.)
Here we have the exact date when the Chapel was finished. On Oct. 6, 1703, it was ordered “that the Church Wardens shall with all possible speed, have the windows of the Chappell finished and that Glass may be sent for or purchased here if possible.” This order was renewed on the 9th day of March, 1703-4, and a pulpit and pew for the Reader with Desk fitting for the same were also arranged for by the Vestry.
May 11th, 1708, at a vestry held at the Chapel:
“It having this day been debated for the better encouragement of a minister (for this precinct only) which is the most proper place to purchase for a Glebe, it's unanimously agreed upon that the plantation now belonging to Mr. Frederick Jones, whereon the church now stands, is the fittest place can be thought on for that use: the tract of land in quantity containing five hundred acres.
“It is therefore the humble Request of the Vestry that Edward Moseley, Esq., (having now business into Virginia) will please to treat with Mr. Frederick Jones concerning the purchase of the said land and agree with him for the same, provided he exceed not an hundred pounds in country commodities.”
From the above evidence taken from the records, we have the church commenced upon the land of Edward Smithwick in 1702 and received by the Vestry Dec. 15, 1702; it was, however, not completed as late as 1708, when it still required a floor, at which time we find the plantation upon which it was built had changed from the possession of Edward Smithwick to that of Fred'k Jones, who seems from the record to have been in Virginia at the time; he had probably just purchased it, and afterwards removed to it. In order to locate the exact tract of land “whereon the Church now stands” in 1708, we propose to introduce the original grant to Edward Smithwick and the deeds on record in the office of the Register of Deeds for Chowan County, and trace the title to the present date. Grant to Edward Smithwick (recorded in
Book I, page 308, Secretary of State's Office, Raleigh, N. C.) reads as follows:
Three hundred and eighty acres lying on southeast side of Mattacomack Creek, “Beginning at a red oak at the mouth of said creek, then down the bay of the said creek various courses to a red oak, an old marked corner tree; then east 6½ degrees north 300 poles to a white oak; then north 3½ degrees east 147 poles to an old marked hickory by the creek side; then down the creek by various courses to first station. Jany. 1, 1694.”
Smithwick's deed calls for the acre of land (given the Church Wardens upon which to “arect a church”) to be upon the road leading from Thomas Gilliam's house in the woods, and here follows the grant made to Thos. Gilliam Apl. 16, 1697, (recorded in Book I, page 76, Office of the Secretary of State, Raleigh, N. C.) for 560 acres land:
“Beginning at a red oak standing by the River, then N. 84 degrees E. 300 poles to a Gum, S. 36 degrees E. 170 poles to a white oak, south 45 degrees W. 320 poles to red oak standing on the Bank of the River, then up the River by various courses to first station.”
This tract of land lies back of the Smithwick grant, and was sold by Thos. Gilliam to Edward Smithwick in 1702, and by Smithwick to Jeremiah Vail, and corresponds to what is now called Cherry's Point, formerly Collins’ Point. The deed from Thomas Gilliam to Edward Smithwick cannot be found on the records, but the following deed from Edward Smithwick and wife Sarah to Jeremiah Vail, dated July 2, 1709, (recorded in Book B, No. 1, page 367,) conveys “a tract of land containing 560 acres, which was formerly granted by the Lords Proprietors to Thomas Gilliam as by ye Patent dated Apl. 17, 1697.” Then follows the same description as found in Grant to Thomas Gilliam above. The last call speaks of the line dividing it from land of Edward Moseley.
The deed from Edward Smithwick to Frederick Jones is also not to be found on the records, but a deed from Thos. Jones and Harding Jones of New Hanover Co., N. C., to John Rieussett, dated Julye 11, 1757, (recorded in Book H, No. 1, page 274,) conveys “388 acres land more or less (except
one-eighth part of an acre of the aforesaid land, including in the middle or centre thereof the burying place or graves of the Ancestors or Family of the said Thomas and Harding Jones) situated, lying and being near Edenton, in Chowan County, on the opposite side of Queen Ann's formerly called Mattacomack Creek.”
Then follows an exact copy of the boundaries mentioned in the Smithwick grant; and also a conveyance of 163 acres of land adjacent the said 388 acres. Which said lands were granted by Patent from the late Lords Proprietors of Carolina, to Edward Smithwick, dated in the year 1694, and were sold and conveyed by the said Smithwick to Frederick Jones, father of the said Thomas and grandfather of the said Harding Jones, and by the last Will and Testament of the said Fred'k Jones, bearing date 1722, were devised to his son Wm. Harding Jones, and by the said William Harding Jones by his will, dated in 1730, were vested after the death of his wife Ann now deceased, in the said Thomas Jones and Frederick Jones brother of the said Thomas, and to whom the said Harding Jones is heir-at-law, containing in the whole 543 acres of land.” 380 acres and 163 acres make 543 acres. The 380 acres tallies with the Smithwick grant.
Deed of David Rieusset of Jamaica by John Harvey and John Campbell, attys. to Samuel Johnston, dated Oct. 30, 1765, (recorded in Book M, No. 1, page 307) conveys “All that plantation in Chowan County near Edenton, N. C. 543 acres whereon John Rieusset, late of the Province of N. Carolina, did lately dwell, being all those two tracts of land which the said John Rieusset purchased of Thomas and Harding Jones, deed being dated June 18, 1757, and the said John Rieusset by his last Will and Testament, dated 8th July, 1763, bequeathed and devised to his brother David Rieusset. (See John Rieusset's will recorded in Book A, pages 162, 3, 4, and 5, Office Clerk of the Sup. Court of Chowan County) in which he says, “I do bequeath and devise to my said dear brother David Rieusset my plantation called Hayse with the appurtenances lying and being in Chowan County, containing by the Patents and Deeds 543 acres.” Will bears date 18 July, 1763. This is the first time we find the tract called “Hayse.”
Upon tracing the title of the Smithwick grant of 380 acres to the present, we find it to be a part of the Hayes plantation now owned and occupied by Jno. G. Wood, Esq., as a family residence.
From a careful review of the facts produced from the records of both Church and State in this article, the conclusion is inevitable, that the first church built in North Carolina was located on the 380 acre grant of Edward Smithwick, dated in 1694, the title to which has been traced down to the present. The exact spot where it stood on this tract of land is not known, and will probably never be ascertained, but it was certainly erected at some point between one-eighth of a mile and a mile from the site of Edenton, N. C.
We find mention made in the minutes of a resolution to build a larger church 40 feet long, 24 feet wide and 14 feet from tenent to tenent in height, but the evidence cannot be produced that it was ever built, while there are some circumstances tending to show that the first church was beautified by being enlarged and repaired yet this we are unable to state as a positive fact.
There was no incorporated town in the Precinct, except Bath, until 1712, at which time the Legislature passed an Act “to build a Court House and House to hold the Assembly in, and for such persons as were minded to do so to build in the forks of Queen Ann's Creek, the place taking the name of “Queen Ann's Town,” and retaining it until 1722, when an Act was passed to “incorporate the Town of Edenton,” in honor of Gov. Charles Eden. The first lot sold at “Queen Ann's Town,” was conveyed by Nath'l Chevin to Charles Foster, Sept. 1, 1715, probably one-half acre, known as Lot A, taken out of his one hundred acre farm which he owned on Queen Anne's Creek. Later Nath'l Chevin and Thomas Peterson conveyed to Edward Moseley Lots 1 and 2 at Queen Anne's Town. There is no evidence among the records that there was any church in Queen Anne's Town or Edenton, or other place of Public Worship, up to Mch. 31, 1729, but there is evidence to show there was one about that date.
Col. Wm. Byrd of the surveying party on the part of Virginia to run the “Boundary Line” between Virginia and North Carolina visited Edenton March 29, 1729, and in his
Manuscripts, vol. I, page 59, states: “I believe this is the only Metropolis in the Christian or Mohamatan World, where there is neither Church, Chapel, Mosque, Synagogue or other Place of Publick Worship of any Sect or Religion.” Again, in the same volume, page 63: “Our Chaplain returned to us in the evening from Edenton in company with the Carolina Commissioners. He had preacht there in the Court House for the want of a consecrated place, and made no less than 19 of Father Hennepin's Christians.”
By way of parenthesis we must say that if we are to judge the witty Colonel by his “Westover Mss.” there is considerable doubt as to the sincerity of his lamentations over the non-existence of a church in the community, but none whatever as to the fact that he stood in daily need of the ministrations of his Chaplain.
Of the twelve members of the Vestry, Gov. Henderson Walker, Col. Wm. Wilkinson and William Duckinfield died without issue. Five of the number, Nicholas Crisp, Edward Smithwick, John Blount, William Benbury and Capt. Thos. Blount are represented here to-day in the person of some of their descendants. Among the gentlemen who represent them are Col. W. F. Beasley, Hon. Thos. W. Blount, W. B. Shepard, Esq., and Mr. Smithwick, of Bertie County, quite a number of ladies, several youths and lassies, and yet others of more tender years, and possibly Nathaniel Chevin, James Long, Col. Thomas Pollock and Thomas Leuten may be represented by some of their descendants, but of this fact we are not positively assured.
There are a number of interesting items relating to the history of this church which it would be our pleasure to incorporate in this paper, but time forbids, as we must hasten to a brief review of the history of this St. Paul's church, in which we are now assembled.
With possibly the exception of the church at Bath, this venerable and venerated edifice, consecrated for the worship of Almighty God, with its ivy covered walls and tower, is the oldest church now in existence in North Carolina. It was founded and completed by the successors of the Vestry, who in 1701 and 1702 founded and built the first church in the Colony of North Carolina at Hayes, within a short distance
of Edenton. All the original members of the Vestry had passed to their reward, we hope, in another and higher life, before the building of St. Paul's Church, Edenton, had been enterprised. Col. Edward Moseley appears as a vestryman in 1708, but he had removed to New Hanover County, where he died July 11, 1749.
From the record evidence we shall introduce in this article, and from the absence of any to the contrary so far appearing, it will be apparent that no church edifice had existed in the town of Edenton until the completion of St. Paul's, which was probably used for the first time for any religious purpose in 1760. Frequent references appeal to the use of the court house for Divine services, and on one or more occasions it is stated that it was used for the “want of a consecrated place.”
No deed is of record in the office of the Register of Deeds of Chowan County for the lots upon which the church stands, nor are they numbered on the plat of the town, indicating that the authorities in the early settlement of Edenton, allotted and set apart these lots for a church and burial place, as were the lots for the court house and other public buildings. This conclusion is confirmed by an Act passed by the Assembly held at Edenton August 21, 1740, which recites “that 420 acres of land lying in the Fork of Queen Ann's Creek, in Chowan County, was purchased by the Public and hath been laid out for a Town, called Edenton and Part thereof divided into lots of half acres, with convenient streets, passages, place for a Church, Governor's House, Court House, burying place, market place, and Council Room and other purposes,” etc. (Compilation of Laws by James Davis, 1752, page 103.)
From a paper, which seems to be an account rendered by some one not named therein, for “Money disbursed on acco't of the Church,” we find these items: “May 10, 1736. To money for clearing lots 12£. Aug't 6th, 1736. To paid for 215 Bushels of Shells @ 1s. 6d. 18£. 7s. 6d. Same date paid in part of Bricks 100£. Sept. 22nd, do., 100£. Jan'y 4 do. to Mr. Bonnor 36£. In 1737 the following items appear: Paid for 3874 bushels Shells, ½ Ton Iron 95£, (to make nails), for scaffolding rope 4£ 16s., for Hydes for the
scaffolding 9£, a hogshead to fetch water 1£, the Bricklayer 561£, 3½ Days labor 2 negroes each 3£ 10s., To money pd. for the Gabbd work on the East end window 20£. The total expenditures amounting to 1240£, 17s. 4d.” It is evident from the above items that the work of building was commenced with the clearing off the Lotts May 10, 1736, and continued to Dec. 5th, 1737, when there were 561£ charged as paid the Bricklayer. The date fixed by these items, is earlier than that mentioned in the records of St. Paul's Parish and may be easily accounted for by the fact that the money expended prior to Dec. 5th, 1737, had been provided for by voluntary contributions made by private individuals, with the exception of 195£ received from the Parish. The records of the Parish commence when the tax or levy was made by them upon the Tythables of the Parish, for the completion of the building, in the first instance the fund was controlled by commissioners selected by the contributors to the fund, in the latter being money collected by law from the people of the Parish, it was taken in hand and disbursed by legal authority.
“On April 26th, 1736. Being Easter Monday, the Vestry and Parishners having met proceeded to chuse a new Vestry agreeable to Law and by pole chose William Smith, Esq., John Montgomery, Esq., Robert Forster, Esq., J. Hodgson, Esq., Henry Bonner, Thos. Luten, Edmund Gale, Abraham Blackall, Joseph Anderson, Henry Baker, John Sumner, Sam'l Padgett. Duly qualified themselves vestrymen by taking the oaths by Law directed, and chosed Abra'm Blackall & Henry Bonner Church Wardens for the ensuing year, then the vestry by plurality of vote chose Henry Bonner, Jr., Clerk of the Vestry who was duly qualified by taking the public oaths by law directed. Ordered that a Vestry be held this day fortnight, &c. Abraham Blackall, Warden.” (Rec. St. Paul's Parish, Vol. I, page 75.)
At a Vestry held for the No. East Parish of Chowan Precinct at Edenton, the 10 May, 1736, “Ordered that to contribute towards defraying the expenses of building a Church at Edenton, for the support of the poor and other contingent Charges of the Parish a tax or levy of Twenty Shillings p pole
be levied on each Tythable in the Precinct for the Ensuing year.” (Idem, page 76.)
On the 19th August, 1736, the vestry:
“Ordered that the Church Wardens do demand and receive of Mr. William Badham and Mrs. Penelope Little Executrix of Wm. Little dec'd, the Several and Respective sums lodged in him the sd William Badham's hands as alsoe Mr. Little deceased, Towards building a Church at Edenton, &c. (Idem, page 81.)”
April 27th, 1737:
“Ordered that Towards defraying the Expenses of a Church at Edenton, repairing the Indian Town Chappell & other Conting't charges of the Parish a Tax or Levy of ten shillings pr pole be levyed on each Tythable of the Parish for the ensuing year.” (Idem, page 83.)
Again at a Vestry held for the Parish of Chowan at the Indian Town Chaupel the 1st of July 1738. “All present but John Sumner, Charles King and John Blount. Mr. Edmund Gale being by an order of a former Vestry appointed a Committee to receive and call in Severall Sums of Money that was due towards Building a Church at Edenton & by the same order the same Committee is obleeged to acoumpt with the C. Wardens, call upon the sd Committee to render to him or them an accot of all sums of money Rec'd by him and how he hath apply'd ye same.”
“Ordered that all the moneys that is properly Parish moneys after the Just debts that is now dew is payd except ye Levy for the present year, be payd into the hands of Thos. Leuten to be by him applyd towards completing a Church now begun at Edenton he giving security to ye Church Wardens in the behalf of ye Parish to render to the Vestry an acct thereof when Required.” (Idem, page 87.)
At a General Assembly held at Edenton the 21st day of August, 1740, An act was passed to enable the Commissioners hereinafter mentioned, to finish the church already begun at Edenton. From that act we extract as follows: “Whereas, several well disposed persons have voluntarily subscribed and contributed several sums of money, to build and erect a Church in Edenton for the Advancement of Religion,
and thereby appointed several Commissioners to manage and carry on the same and to apply such charitable Subscriptions and Contributions to the Purpose, which said Commissioners have carried on and in part built the same; but some of the Commissioners being dead and there not being a sufficient sum raised to compleat the said Work, and the Vestry of the Parish refusing to assist therein, the said Building may become ruinous and all the money already expended will thereby be lost, to the great discouragement of religion, and of such good and pious intentions, therefore to prevent the same, and to promote so laudable a work, and in order to raise a sufficient Fund for finishing the said Church. Be it Enacted by his Excellency Gabriel Johnston Governor, by and with the advice & Consent of his Majesty's Council and the General Assembly, &c.
That a Tax of Two Shillings Proclamation Money, for two years, next ensuing be laid on each and every Tithable Person within the said Parish, or County of Chowan, to defray the expence and charge of Compleating and finishing the said Church; to be paid yearly, in such Commodities as hereafter rated &c. That when the said Church shall be fit to celebrate Divine Service in all meetings of Vestries for the said Parish being first duly summoned, shall be held at the said Church, and at no other Place in the said Parish under the Penalty of Ten Shillings, Proclamation Money, besides costs for each and every Vestryman so refusing or neglecting; to be levied by Warrant, &c. (Compendium of Laws by James Davis 1752, pages 111 & 113.)
At a vestry held at Edenton, Feb'y 25th, 1744. Ordered that the Reverend Clement Hall be allowed sixty pounds Proclamation Money per annum for officiating two Sundays in three at Edenton and the next Sunday at one of the Chapples above & to Preach every Monday at Thomas Waltons, Junr., at Katharine Creek that he preaches at the Knotty Pine Chapel on the Sunday.
Ordered that Mr. John Wilkins and Wm. Hoskins be impowered to agree with any Person for a Plantation and to employ any Person or Persons to repair the same if need require to be fit to receive Mr. Clement Hall to live on and charge the same to the Parish and likewise to hire Persons
and Craft or Vessels to remove the Goods & Chattels of the said Clement Hall to the place, he is to live in this Parish.” (Rec. St. Paul's Parish, page 115.)
Rev. Clement Hall was the first Rector of St. Paul's church. All historians speak of him as a Godly, zealous man, fully imbued with the spirit of his Master's work.
In a letter dated North Carolina, Perquimans, Feb'y 27th, 1744-5, written by Rev. Clement Hall to the Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, he writes: “However, I have very lately agreed with the Vestry of Chowan Parish for 45£ Pr. Annum & to settle near Edenton; & to officiate in the Court House there in Town, two Sundays (till the Church is built) & every third at 30 or 40 miles distance, the Parish being of vast extent and the Tythables about 1200 & few Dissenters or Sectaries among them tho’ many are Perquimans & Pasquotank Counties &c.” (Col. Records of N. C., Vol. IV, page 753.)
Again Rev. Mr. Hall writes to the Secretary, “No. Carolina, Chowan County, Edenton, June 19th, 1746. * * * “Our Church at Edenton has ye roof raised but ye work is at a stand at present, because (as'tis said) the Commissioners do not agree about.” (Col. Rec. N. C., Vol. 14, page 794.)
This letter interprets the figures 1745 cut in the bricks in the wall of the church. They evidently point to the date when the brick work was finished and ready to receive the roof.
From another letter from Rev. Mr. Hall to the Secretary dated North Carolina, Chowan County, near Edenton, Augt. 23rd, 1746. We extrat the following, to-wit.: “Our Church at Edenton is yet at a stand still for the reasons aforesaid tho’ some of the Commissioners say that the roof will shortly be covered. I have baptized by my accounts about 1235 White children & 29 white Adults, 13 Black children & 30 Black Adults. In all about 1307 persons, &c.” (Col. Rec. of N. C., Vol. IV, page 794.)
In the same Volume on page 872 is another letter from Rev. Mr. Hall to the Secretary dated North Carolina, Edenton, July 9th, 1748. “The Church is covered but not finished.” (Col. Rec. of N. C., Vol. IV, page 872.)
Another letter from the Rev. Mr. Hall to the Secretary
dated Edenton, Sept. 11th, 1749, in which he writes: “Our Church at Edenton is yet unfinished, but one is lately built in Edgecombe Co., where Mr. Moir resides. Col. Edw'd Moseley, Earl Granville's Agent & one of our Council is lately deceased, (viz) the 11th July past. * * * Total No. of ye Bapt'd is 3922 persons.” (Col. Rec., Vol. IV, page 924.)
One other letter appears from Mr. Hall to the Secretary which is dated North Carolina, Edenton, Dec. 27th, 1749. We quote from it as follows: “The State of our Church is as before, but Mr. Corben Earl Granville's Agent, says that he will do his true endeavors to have it finished, and there is another Chapel now building in the Parish, which will make 4 places of Publick Worship in the Compass of 60 or 70 miles. I have baptized 3945 white & 139 Black Children; 45 White and 92 Black Adults in all 4221 persons.” (Col. Rec. of N. C., Vol. IV, page 925.)
The Vestry met at the Court House in Edenton, May 3rd, 1749. (Rec. St. Paul's Parish, page 142.)
Mr. William Hoskins in his account deducts 492£, for which he says: “I am to account for with the Commissioners of the Church.” (Idem, page 185.)
In 1757, several deeds appear of record in the office of Register of Deeds of Chowan County from the Commissioners of Edenton to Peter Henly et als for lots in which this language occurs: “Whereas by an Act of the General Assembly of N. Carolina passed at Newberne at a session held on the 30th day of Sept., 1756, for establishing the titles of freeholders in Edenton and for laying a tax for finishing the Church begun in the sd Town, &c. (Book H, No. 1, pages 193, 194, 195, 196 & 197, Register's Office, Chowan County.)
January 20, 1757, the Vestry “Ordered, That the Rev. Mr. Clement Hall shall take the Church Plate, Pewter & Linen at Edenton in his care, &c.” “Ordered that Mr. Daniel Earl be appointed Reader at Edenton and that he be allowed Forty Shillings per annum for the same.” (Idem, page 187.)
It appears from the records that all the members of the Vestry elected in 1755, except John Luten and Henry Bonner, were members of the Congregations worshipping at the three
Chapels in the upper part of Chowan County. John Luten did not qualify and Mr. John Gordon was appointed in his place. He lived in that part of Chowan now known as Gates County. Mr. Bonner qualified and attended the first meeting, but his name does not appear afterwards among those who were present. From 1755 to Easter Monday 1767, there was not a single member of the Edenton Congregation elected as a vestryman except John Luten & Henry Bonner, as before stated. Nor does the name of any member of the Edenton Congregation appear in the records as being present at any vestry meeting during this period of time. Up to 1760, the most of the Vestry meetings were held at Constant's Chapel, this taken in connection with the order to Rev. Mr. Hall to take into his keeping the Church Plate, &c., would seem to indicate there was some division in the Parish, but no mention appears in the Records of the existence of any dissensions.
“Rev. Daniel Earl allowed 100£ for preaching and officiating in the Parish the ensuing year at Edenton, on Sunday March 4th, at Constants on Sunday 11th, at Farlee's Chapel on Sunday 18th and at Knotty Pine the 25th March & so in the order thro the year.” (Feb'y 24th, 1759.)
At a Vestry held at the Church in Edenton the 10th day of April, 1760, pursuant to a late Act of the Assembly. Present Maj. Demsey Sumner, Timothy Walton, Josiah Granberry, Richard Bond, Jacob Hunter, John Gordon, Luke Sumner, Jethro Benton, William Walton.” (Rec. St. Paul's Parish, page —.)
If we will recall the act of the Assembly passed in 1740 requiring the Vestry to meet in the Church in Edenton as soon as it was ready for Divine Worship, under a penalty of 10 shillings & costs for each member refusing to comply with the act, and that this was the first meeting held by the Vestry in the Church, and so held pursuant to a late Act of the Assembly, we have the date fixed when the Church was ready and in condition to be used for Divine Service, and that date was about the time this meeting occurred, April 10th, 1760.
On April 27th, 1767. Sam'l Swift, Thomas Nash, John Benbury, Timothy Walton, Wm. Walton, Jacob Walton and Wm. Hinton met and took the Oath, Repeated and Subscribed
the Test for Vestrymen and on May 20th, 1767, Elisha Hunter, Richard Brownrigg, Sam'l Johnston & James Sumner qualified. Sam'l Swift & Jacob Hunter were elected Church Wardens.
Ordered that Mr. Swift send to Philadelphia for a quantity of Glass to glaize the Church at Edenton. (Idem, page 236.)
In this Vestry appear Samuel Swift, Thomas Nash, John Benbury and Sam'l Johnston of the Edenton Congregation as Vestrymen, it being the first time a representative from the Edenton Congregation had appeared in a Vestry meeting since 1755, and this perhaps accounts for the entire absence of any reference being found in the records to the Church in process of construction in Edenton during the period from 1755 to 1767.
May 9th, 1772. “Ordered that Mr. Hoskins be allowed £10 17 shillings & 3d for glass received from Lowther Hardy & Little for the Church.” (Rec. St. Paul's Parish.)
April 12th, 1773. Ordered that Thomas Benbury, Church Warden, proceed to finish the inside of the Chapel in Edenton in a workmanlike manner. (Idem, page 265.)
May 18th, 1773. Thos. Hunter agrees to repair and finish all the wooden work of the inside of the Church and Doors in a good workmanlike manner, to the Satisfaction of the Vestry & find all the material for the same, for which he is to have 40£, the same to be completed in three months. (Idem, page 267.)
Augt. 28, 1773. Thomas Eggleston undertook the inside work of the Church to finish it in a decent manner by Christmas day for which he is to receive £26 17s 6d. (Idem, page 266.)
Thomas Eggleston died in November, 1773, and did not live to complete his contract and we find where the Vestry paid a short time thereafter Agnes Eggleston, widow of said Thomas, the sum of £10, which was probably for that portion of the work he had done up to the time of his death.
Augt. 24th, 1774. Ordered that Thomas Hunter be allowed 41£ for finishing the inside wooden work of the Church, he having done it to the satisfaction of the Vestry. (Idem, page 269.)
From the above excerpts of record evidence, we find that the work on building was commenced on the 10th day of May, 1736, and the Church had attained a degree of Completion, which permitted its use about April 10th, 1760, for Divine Service, but the inside woodwork was not finished until some time in 1774. It is difficult to fully estimate in this age, the great difficulty and cost of erecting an edifice so substantial as this. At the time the work was done the cost cannot be approximated, but over $6,200 were spent prior to 1738, when we recall the nails cut about 70c per pound, shells for lime 36 cents per bushel, that the lumber was sawed by hand, and the bricks probably imported, with ordinary labor at $2.50 per day, it would not be at all surprising should the amount expended in building St. Paul's Church, reach a total of 25 or $30,000. Up to 1774, we have been unable to find any record fixing the date of its consecration, hence that event in its history will probably never be known.
By way of parenthesis we will add that Rev. Clement Hall purchased a tract of 346 acres of land about two and a half miles from Edenton, where he lived and died in 1758. The property is now owned by Mr. F. A. White, of Edenton, N. C.
Nearly two centuries have passed since the organization of the first Vestry in North Carolina. Those who composed it, with several generations of their descendants, as well as their successors in office for a number of decades, have entered the gateway to life, and are now quietly sleeping in the bosom of the mother who nourished them in life and opened wide her arms to embrace them in the hour of dissolution.
Sleep on, freed from all care. Take your well-earned rest and sweetly dream of pearly gates and jasper walls, golden streets and cloudless skies, crystal streams and sea of glass, golden harps and crowns of gold, the tree of life with its luscious fruits, the smile of the Lord and the feast of the soul, perfect peace, extatic bliss; after the night will come the morn, the dawn of God's Eternal Day. His springtime, when those who wrough well in life will awake “from out the dust of death's long-silent years,” to a full realization of every dream and behold their highest ideals fade away before the
splendor and glory of the things “eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive; for while reason falls impotent and helpless beside the open grave, the eye of faith not through a glass darkly, but through the open windows of the soul, with clear, unobscured vision looks out into God's Acre, to find it radiant with the bow of Promise spanning its tombs, its arch luminous with these words of the Blessed Master.” “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. Whosoever liveth and beliveth in Me shall never die.”
REMINISCENCES BY THE REV. FRANCIS W. HILLIARD, OF OXFORD, N. C.
READ BY THE REV. FREDEICK N. SKINNER.
In the Spring of the year 1856, I landed at the Edenton wharf, and was received by a youth with the manners of a gentleman of the old school (no other, by the way, than your honored visitor* from his Majesty's Dominion of Canada), and by him escorted to the home of his father, the Rector of old St. Paul's.
Seldom or never has a young Deacon found his lines fallen in more pleasant places. As for the Rector, if the relation between us afterwards became something nearer than that which was at first established, yet I may be permitted to allude to his great heart, his great soul, the winning, as well as subduing charm of his presence, his absorption in his holy work and in sympathy with his people, and that “genius for theology,” which a neighboring clergyman, who knew him well, pronounced more remarkable than he had known in any other man. Many that knew him are gone, but those who remain, whether they were of his flock or not, need not to be told, that his labors, his preaching, nay his mere presence were a benediction to the town of Edenton and all its neighborhood.
And so the priest, so the people of the ancient Parish and of the town, as it was in the days before the Civil War, seem, as I look back upon those days, invested with a charm that is all their own. I know how a new life has taken hold of Edenton. I know how dull and still it would now seem, not to have even a railroad, but there was something, an aroma, an atmosphere, or what not, about those old days that these more bustling times will never know, and which those who knew it will find nothing to replace.
Again in September, 1865, I landed at the Edenton wharf. The dear old church was there, just as ever. Everything[note]
was sufficiently familiar as I passed up to the house where the Rector had lived. But he had gone to his rest. And as from the thought of this sad difference, I turned to see what others there might be, the change that gradually unfolded itself was such as could hardly have been wrought by anything less than that experience, through which the whole Southern land had just been passing.
A priest of the church, himself a seeker for support through such means, distinct from his appointed work, as St. Paul did not despise, meets a people, many of whom were returning from exile, with fortunes impaired, or even shattered, and is requested first for the time, and then as Rector, to find what is still remaining of the “personnel” and the resources of the Parish, and bring them into due shape and order.
They are heroes, some of those who had cherished and cheered his first ministerial efforts. But those strong men, who had once stood behind the Rector and his assistant, and had gone forth in the prime of their manhood to the defence of their own and her sister States, where are these friends of but a few years since?
But regrets must cease. The church must go forward. For a time the very books, the register and that old vestry book, which is one of the precious relics of the past, whether in Church or State, seem to have been lost in the confusion of recent years. At length, though not until after many months, they are recovered from their hiding place.
But what of the support of the Parish? Old as its very existence is, the system by which a certain pew has been rented by a certain family, year after year, until it has seemed its very home for sacred uses. The day of renting comes (say nothing), but the pews cannot be rented. We must change the plan. But thank God, if this change is sad, it is not altogether bad, for it puts us in line with that forward movement, which recognizes the equal right of rich and poor in the house of God. So at one stroke, by way of advance, the church is made free and still they sit where they did in the other days.
And this movement set one off in pursuit of other charitable ways, which might be adopted, when so much was to be
begun anew. The tithe, recommended to individuals and actually adopted for the Parish, was one of these. A tenth of all offerings and no more, goes outside the Parish.
What can the church do for the poor white children, left, for the time, absolutely without schools. A room is offered. The call for volunteers is answered by the young women of the congregation, and day after day each takes her turn in this humble, but blessed work.
What can be done for the colored people? A building could and would have been bought if the funds raised by the church at large for that people had not been tied up for the support of teachers. But in the church we had service and Sunday School, fairly well attended. I had been their pastor, when most of them were slaves, and they knew and loved me, and those who had been their masters and mistresses knew me. And, so far as we went, not a murmur of disapproval was heard.
It was not long (about five years) that I remained in Edenton, after my second coming. But lapsed communicants had returned. Not a few had been confirmed. Weekly eucharists and daily services had been established. A new bell had been procured to take the place of the one that had gone to equip the Chowan battery. A tablet in Dr. Jonhston's memory had been placed in the church. The convention of North Carolina (the whole State) met in Edenton in May, 1870, and during that convention the youth who had met me at the wharf in 1856 was presented by me to Bishop Atkinson and ordained to the Diaconate. Old St. Paul's was on her feet again.
And now, thank God, under another long rectorship, like that of Dr. Johnston, with a wide-awake and growing town, she moves steadily onward in the old paths to new victories for Christ and His Church.
F. W. Hilliard.
DR. TUCKER'S LETTER.
St. Paul's Rectory,
Norfolk, Va., May 24, 1901.
My Dear Doctor Drane:
It would give me great pleasure to bring the greetings of St. Paul's, Norfolk (1642 beginning of the congregation, and 1739 present building) to St. Paul's, Edenton. An imperative pastoral duty has intervened, however, at the last moment, to prevent my leaving.
I send my congratulations and those of my people to your congregation and yourself. May God make his grace to abound more and more toward you, and may St. Paul's Edenton, be preserved for many generations as a House of God and a center of Christian influence.
These old churches stand as links between the present and the past, and as witnesses to the continuity of the church which first on Roanoke Island and at Jamestown claimed the land for Christ.
Beverly D. Tucker.
DR. MAISON'S REMINISCENCES.
Since leaving Edenton in 1850, I have often thought of revisiting it, but have been hindered by the thought that few, if any, of the persons whom I knew would be living and that I would be a stranger here. But the kind invitation of your Rector that I should be present at the meeting of the Diocesan Council and at the 200th anniversary of the Parish presented an opportunity which I could not allow to pass unimproved. Instead of finding myself an entire stranger here, I have met some who knew me in those far-off days, and others who had heard of me from their parents, and on every side I have met with cordial greetings, which have proved that the old-time courtesy and congeniality of the Southern land have not disappeared.
In returning to Edenton, I expected to see again the Rectory in which I was a guest on my first coming here. That pleasure was denied me, but I found a larger and more commodious Rectory, and was gratified to see the great improvements which had been made in the church property, and generally through the town. In giving some personal reminiscences I cannot avoid speaking of myself more than I would like to do; I trust that you will pardon me for this. The interior of the dear old church has been greatly improved. While I was here as assistant to the Rev. Dr. Johnston, I was asked by members of the Collins family to aid them in improving the appearance of the church. By the services of Mr. Wills, a New York architect, the oak work in the apse and chancel was completed, adding greatly to the beauty of the church. I think that the marble font was placed in the church while I was here. *During a part of the time while I was assistant to Dr. Johnston, I resided in the family of Mr. Joshua Skinner, at Athol, and on Sunday afternoons held services in a chapel which had just been built for the colored people of the neighborhood. I also officiated[note]
occasionally in a school house not far from the residence of Mr. Paxton.
I remained a Deacon longer than the required time that I might have the advantage of the companionship and instruction of the Rector, a noble, learned and Godly man. Having come here as Deacon in 1847, I was ordained priest in St. Paul's church in 1849, and in the following year left Edenton to take charge of the Parishes of Windsor and Williamston.
During the time of my residence here a convocation was formed by the name of the Albemarle Convocation—the first Convocation, I believe, that was ever formed in the United States. Of the clergymen belonging to it only your venerable and beloved Bishop and I remain. The meetings were held in the Parishes of the Convocation in succession, and were continued several days, including a Sunday, in the hope that the Parishes might be benefitted by the repeated services.
As the clergymen present will understand by their own experience, a peculiar interest is felt in the places where our work was begun with hearts filled with new zeal, and in the people among whom we first acted as ministers of Jesus Christ. That interest I still feel, and to remembrances of the distant past will be added thoughts of the courtesy and cordiality which have made my present visit a time of great pleasure.
May those who have worshipped God in this beautiful temple unite in worshipping Him hereafter in the Temple made without hands, eternal in the heavens.
Chas. A. Maison.
Abstract of address made at the commemoration of the 200 years of St. Paul's Parish, Chowan Precinct, Edenton N. C., May 24, 1901, by the Rev. T. M. N. George.
Although I have been able to make but very inadequate preparation for an address on this occasion, I felt that I could not decline the invitation of the Rector of St. Paul's to bring the greetings of another old colonial Parish, not quite so old
as this, the mother Parish, yet following close behind her in the date of her organization in 1715.
Christ Church, New Bern, has a history running parallel to that of St. Paul's church, Edenton, in many respects. In the preservation, however, of those things which give evidence of age you have been more fortunate than we. Our colonial church was destroyed to make room for the new church which was consecrated in 1825. Had it been left undisturbed we should have had a church building, in its completed condition at least, older than yours. We can, however, trace in the church yard the foundation of side walls, chancel and porch, and this old foundation reminds us that, in the things for which the two churches were built, our foundations are one and the same.
Again our old Vestry records were destroyed by fire late in the last century, so we cannot consult authentic documents in tracing the life of the Parish.
Tradition says that an ivy-covered tomb in the old church yard covers the remains of the Rector, Rev. James Reed, who was in charge from 1757 to 1777, and so during and before the Revolution. Unlike your Parson Earl of the same period, he was a Tory, and persisted in using the prayer for the king. The tradition is that his people, being patriots, took means to drown his voice during the saying of that prayer, but he was permitted to proceed unmolested in the rest of the service. His character and his labors were, however, highly honored and appreciated, and though his Vestry took his salary from him on account of his politics, some of his most influential vestrymen, notably Mr. Abner Nash, did what they could to alleviate his troubles out of respect for his conscientious scruples.
This will also serve to illustrate the important part that was taken by the churchmen both in Virginia and North Carolina. The most influential churchmen were leaders in opposition to British tyranny. Note the declaration of St. Paul's Vestry, which has just been read, and recall the action of the men of Wilmington, where at the head of six hundred men from the Cape Fear section the churchmen, Ashe and Waddell, marched to the Governor's Mansion and prevented his officer from executing the penalty upon two ships
which had been seized because their papers were not stamped. And this was done in open day, and eight years before the tea was thrown overboard in Boston harbor, by men disguised as Indians.
Let me recount two or three acts in which Christ Church Parish, New Bern, has stood side by side with St. Paul's, Edenton. First, the New Bern Academy in its inception and work ran parallel to that of Edenton. Both were institutions projected and carried through by the church, through the efforts of clergy and laymen, for the benefit of the community where each was located, and both were important factors in educating many of the great men of the State.
Again, New Bern and Edenton were associated intimately in the earliest conventions of the church held at Tarboro in 1790 to 1794, when the Rev. Chas. Pettigrew was elected the first Bishop of North Carolina. It was largely through the efforts of Rev. Mr. Pettigrew, Rector of St. Paul's, seconded by the earnest efforts of Rev. Solomon Halling, Rector of Christ Church, New Bern, that these meetings were brought about. Again we find Edenton and New Bern, and with them Wilmington and Fayetteville associated in the convention held at New Bern in 1817, when the present Diocese of North Carolina was organized and started on its work for all time to come. So that we may say of St. Paul's Church, Edenton, and of the other colonial Parishes in the State, that they have stood for civil and religious freedom for the highest intellectual culture and refinement; for apostolic order and for the missionary spirit.
Those old missionaries report a wonderful amount of work done for all sorts and conditions of men, large numbers of chapels and missions served. Parson Reed had no less than nine or ten in Craven and Carteret counties, and Rev. Clement Hall and others in St. Paul's Parish baptized hundreds and thousands of children and adults, and travelled thousands of miles. The reorganization by the four Parishes in 1817 meant the survival of this spirit, and the church then girded herself to meet the new conditions, and, founded on the faith once delivered to the saints, to give to this land the treasures which she has ever kept in store for the salvation of men.
T. M. N. George.