The Church Bell
OF THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH
CHARLES CROSSFIELD WARE.
Sanctuary, First Christian Church, Wilson, N. C., erected 1954
The Church Bell
OF THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH
WILSON, N. C.
CHARLES CROSSFIELD WARE
FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH
WILSON, N. C.
PRINTED BY OWEN G. DUNN CO.
NEW BERN, N. C., U.S.A.
March 13, 1896—September 21, 1962.
|VIII.||College and Community||59|
|X.||Men and Women||74|
|XV.||Pastors, Battle to Davis||116|
|XVI.||Pastors, Melton to Wallace||124|
|XVII.||The Golden Roll||140|
|The Present Sanctuary||Frontispiece|
|Mrs. Genevieve Hackney||67|
|Pastors’ Group No. 1||81|
|Pastors’ Group No. 2||82|
|Pastors’ Group No. 3||83|
|Pastors’ and Missionaries’ Group No. 4||84|
|Pastors’ Group No. 5||85|
|The Brick Church, (1898-1954)||86|
|The Education Building, (1938)||87|
|The Carolina Room||88|
|Special Groups of Disciples||89|
|Group, additions, March 16, 1958||90|
|Vision of New Education Building||91|
Soon after the 90th anniversiary of the First Christian Church, Wilson, N. C., the pastor, James G. Wallace asked me to write the Church's history for publication. Being assured of extensive archival materials at hand for the purpose, I was pleased to give my assent. A nominal support for the project was embodied in the annual local church budget for 1962. At once a History Committee was named as follows: Mrs. W. D. Hackney, II, Chairman, (deceased, Sept. 21, 1962); Mrs. W. D. Adams, Sr.; Miss Sadie Greene; Bruce W. Riley; Mrs. J. R. Shannon, William E. Tucker, pastor, James G. Wallace, and President Arthur D. Wenger. Throughout, this excellent and highly talented committee has been for us a fortress of fellow-service.
A preliminary executive meeting of the committee with me on January 17, 1962, requested me to proceed with the required research and composition. Pursuant to this directive, I have, as far as practicable, used my active hours of 1962. Wherefore I am hopefully responsible for what herein appears.
Chiefly our sources:
1. The Carolina Disciplinana Library, serving cumulatively since 1924. It is housed in The Clarence L. Hardy Memorial Library at Atlantic Christian College, Wilson, N. C.
2. Five large scrap books deliberately and tastefully assembled through several years by Mrs. W. D. Hackney II, former historian and archivist of the local church—an abounding, variegated source.
3. Three clerk's record books of the local church with sparse but precious accounts mainly relating to the early years.
4. Minutes of pertinent official board, cabinet, and committee meetings inscribed in typed synopses over the
past few decades by secretaries: Mr. Jesse High, Miss Sadie Greene, Mrs. Marjorie Watson (Bill), Holland, and others.
5. Various factual reviews by the author mostly with members of long standing in the local fellowship, of the continuing events and objects in the life and activities of the local church.
A word as to the dedication. It is appropriate we think that with candor and gratitude, Mrs. W. D. Hackney, II, (nee Genevieve Holden), should thus be memorialized. We know that with exceptional devotion and dedicated diligence, springing purely from her loyal, loving heart, she gathered and safely preserved the volumes of historical lore so materially essential to a comprehensive story of the Wilson Church. She passed from us before she could see this publication, but the most of it she did see in manuscript and graciously pronounced it good. Surely this and later generations will rise up and call her blessed.
Conclusively this is our well-assisted effort to offer an authentic work at once readable and publishable. If the reader is held and helpfully served let him thank the Supreme Giver of all that is good.
CHARLES CROSSFIELD WARE
Wilson, N. C., Christmas, 1962.
Oddly this part of our story begins with a bird dog. His owner was Captain Thomas Jefferson Hadley of Wilson, North Carolina, known to his townsmen as Confederate soldier, pioneer banker, and original public school trustee. His home stood where the Colonial Apartments are today, at the northeast corner of Goldsboro and Vance Streets. Diagonally across Goldsboro Street sat the initial frame meetinghouse of the local Disciples of Christ. Calling seasonably to worship from its tower was the bell, weight 614 pounds. A wroughtiron fence enclosed the grounds of the Hadley residence across the way. To this whenever the church bell rang the dog would surge. Then braced against the firm metal, he would howl his dissonant accompaniment, shrill and quavering. His fond owner was disturbed. Opportunely he effected a mutual adjustment. For a generous help of $500 from this friendly citizen it was agreed that the bell was not to ring again. Cancelled was the incitement to the favored canine.
The incident reminds one of what happened at the First Christian Church, corner Fourth and Walnut Streets, Louisville, Ky. About a century ago they paid $4500 for their lot having potential metropolitan value; several decades later the church sold it for $365,000. In their acquirement deed was the explicit clause that “no bell larger than a dinner bell” should be rung from the church for “twenty-five years”. Touching this a Louiscille reminiscence added: “The neighbors were taking no chances.” (Melville O. Briney in Sketches of Old Louisville.)
At Wilson the Disciples’ bell was reinstated in the tower of their new brick structure at its opening in 1898. When their stone sanctuary was occupied in 1954, a block west of the old location, the brick building was dismantled. Skillfully taken down was the long unused
bell, and reconditioned by chief Tyrus Bissett, and his associates at the local Fire Station. This inscription was then revealed:
From a generous people
To the Disciples’ Church in Wilson
March 1, 1885.
For almost seventy years, it had served, or as circumstances decreed, it had been poised to serve, the community. It was venerable—so much so that Pastor C. A. Jarman made to his cabinet an “impassioned plea” that it “be permanently preserved as a part of our heritage.” To-day this is being officially done. Incidentally, James M. Moudy, then Dean of Atlantic Christian College, is recorded to have commented: “Many preachers have been saved by the bell, but this is the first bell I have ever known to be saved by the preacher.”
In line with the spirit generated by the late, but judicious orienting of their bell, the four-page parish weekly of the local church has since been known as The Church Bell. Excepting July and August it reaches the 510 “family homes” of the local congregation each week.
Pious reflection of many minds, it seems, has woven an aura about this churchly instrument. Thus a Kentucky poet sings:
- Though gone from earth and earthly things—forever passed away—
- The faithful ones who loved while here its summons to obey
- Now rest beyond the tide of Time, with rapture long to dwell,
- For there their footsteps guided were by the Old Church Bell.
—George W. Doneghy, in The Old Hanging Fork and Other Poems. 1897.
The story of Wilson, as village, town, and city, spans a hundred and fourteen years. In to-day's public relations parlance it is “Wide-Awake Wilson,” and “The City of Versatility.” It could well be the theme of a large, significant volume. I sketch here certain phases of its Nineteenth Century rise and development.
It was located primarily on the densely wooded plain of the Toisnot-Contentnea basin. This was apart from immediate access to travel-accommodative streams. Earliest plantations in the Province and State were better facilitated by situations upon navigable water-courses and their fertile valleys. Thus as a civic center, Wilson arrived somewhat tardily in the Coastal Carolina expansion. Albeit a new era opened for Toisnot Depot with the arrival of the first train on the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, (now the A. C. L.), on March 19, 1840. Also a few hundred yards distant had stood Hickory Grove, (Toisnot), church since 1803, at what became the southeast corner of Barnes and Tarboro Streets. Its “one acre of land”, was then said to be “on the public road from Tarboro to Smithfield.” In the community's mind was the forecast of coming events. The timely Plank Road from Greenville to Wilson, then a commercial artery of the first importance to the locality was pushed to early completion. Furthermore the crossroads hamlet became the capital of the new County on February 15, 1855, both named Wilson. Thus the stage was set for the birth of a city.
Senator Alfred Moye, (Jan. 19, 1793-Feb. 26, 1863) of Pitt County, served at the State capital, first in the House of Commons, 1828, 1829, and in the Senate there throughout most of the two decades to follow. He was a layman in the Oak Grove Christian Church, later named Corinth. Its building, (Corinth), yet stands at Lang's Crossroads, six miles east of Farmville, and near the
ante-bellum Moye home. As President of the Plank Road he is memorialized in stone at that site on Federal Highway 264, sponsored and erected by the general public. His son, Moses Tyson Moye, was a Wilson citizen, 1865-1900. His descendants have long been prominent in the social and economic life of the city.
Senator Alfred Moye on December 20, 1848, successfully introduced for “first reading” his bill to establish Wilson. It is recorded: “Mr. Moye presented a bill to incorporate Toisnot Depot and Hickory Grove, in Edgecombe, into a town by the name of Wilson.” The name is in memory of General Louis Dicken Wilson, (May 12, 1789-Aug. 12, 1847), Mexican War hero, native of the part of Edgecombe which became Wilson County. The designation Toisnot, derived from nearby Toisnot Swamp, is said to be an Indian word denoting “halting place.”
Since September 10, 1890, the city has grown to be “The largest flue-cured tobacco market in America.” Yet it has other nationwide distinction. Here in Maplewood cemetehy is the grave of the “Betsy Ross of the South,” Mrs. Rebecca Murphy Winborne, (Nov. 22, 1831-July 23, 1918.) She was born at Louisburg, N. C., but spent the last thirty-one years of her life with her daughter, Mrs. J. T. Webb, in Wilson. She completed making the Confederate flag at Louisburg on March 17, 1861, from her working design which had been officially adopted by the Confederate Government at Montgomery, Ala., on the preceding March 4. In recognition the U.D.C. on April 9, 1921, unveiled her marble memorial in Wilson's Maplewood. The simple legend there states that she was “The Maker of the Original Stars and Bars.”
In 1877 it was claimed for Wilson: “Few places combine so many advantages in the way of society, accessibility, health, and beauty as this enterprizing, and moral educational centre of Eastern Carolina.” The spirit of the community later encouraged Superintendent of Schools Charles L. Coon to institute his bus-carrying system for attending pupils, attracting wide attention of educators.
The local religious background deserves study. First itinerant evangelist of record serving in the area was Dr. Josiah Hart, a General Baptist. In 1748 he preached Arminian doctrine at the place three-and-a-quarter miles east of Wilson, now marked as the site of the original Toisnot Meetinghouse. There he baptized John Thomas, first recorded immersion in this immediate section. These Toisnot General Baptists were soon diverted to the Calvinistic persuasion by zealous missionaries of that faith. Wherefore to this creed the Wilson Primitive Baptists of to-day have adhered for 207 years. Threading these woods also in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries were the Sandy Creek Separates, and the Christian Baptist itinerants, William Guirey, and Joseph Thomas, “The White Pilgrim.” Guirey and Thomas incidentally, started the symbolic baptismal line reaching directly through Landon Duncan, and Dr. Chester Bullard to Virgil Angelo Wilson, and the founding of the permanent Disciple congregation at Wilson on April 27, 1871.
First Methodist sermon in Wilson was by Nathan Anderson in 1850, their first church being organized with 18 charter members in September, 1853. The Episcopal Church has been here since 1856; the Missionary Baptist since 1865. Wilson's First Presbyterian Church was organized July 25, 1885, with 24 charter members.
Representing the Disciples I sketch here five of their ministers and three of their laymen who shared as resident pioneers in the making of Wilson.
Evangelist Amos Johnston Battle, (Jan. 11, 1805-Sept. 24, 1870), united with the Disciples, in 1852, and located in Wilson, that year. He was proprietor of the Battle House, at corner of Lodge and Barnes Streets, now the site of the Imperial Tobacco Company. It was for many years, “the important hostelry of the town.” A fellow-townsman, Thomas Crowder Davis, said: “Mr. Battle was a bright, active-minded man, an omnivorous reader, and could devour the contents of an ordinary book almost in the time it would take some persons to examine and understand the preface. He was not a successful money maker and did not profess to be. He was a good farmer
and some of his most radical experiments and suggestions as an agriculturist have long since materialized and proven that he lived before his day.” Further, said Davis, Battle was “an old line Whig, deprecated the War, (1861-1865), but as a true man went with his people.” Shortly after the War, reported Davis, a train bearing General Robert E. Lee stopped at the station in Wilson. The “great chieftain” was called to the platform when “in silence with suppressed emotion Uncle Amos Battle took his hand and said: ‘God bless you, sir; God bless you;’ and was gone.”
William H. Hughart, (died in 1868), a Virginia preacher and teacher since 1845, came to Wilson in 1857. Mrs. Hughart was a teacher of “thirteen years’ experience as an instructress of youth.” Here she opened her school at once, teaching courses in English, French, Latin, and Music. She advertised the “second session” of her “Female School” to begin Feb. 1, 1858. This is the first such publicized account of a Wilson school which I have seen. She announced that “Dr. Hughart will deliver lectures before the School on Chemistry and animal and vegetable physiology.” Her highest charge was $15 for the five weeks of “Music.” The Hugharts returned to Virginia where in August, 1861, he reported about his evangelising: “I find the minds of the people so excited and disturbed by the war, that it is impossible to get them sufficently interested in religion to make any additions.”
Peter Edmund Hines, a minister of the Disciples, came to Wilson from Marlboro, N. C. in 1865. A leader in his church he presided at four of their State Conventions. His home was on the west side of Goldsboro Street, midway of the block between Greene and Vance, where the Varita Court Apartments are to-day. His wife gave the lot in 1871, on which the initial First Christian Church plant stood. He served Wilson as mayor from 1878 to 1885; a leading citizen here for almost three decades.
Moses Tyson Moye, (Oct. 27, 1827-Oct. 1, 1900), located in Wilson in December, 1865; a Disciple minister having graduated at Bethany College on July 4, 1858. In the War he was Captain of Company G. of C.S.A. Cavalry;
later, the long-time chaplain of the local Jesse S. Barnes Company of Confederate Veterans. His Wilson home was at the southeast corner of Tarboro and Greene Streets. He was a druggist, 1875-1883, in the firm of “Moye and Nadal,” later establishing “M. T. Moye and Company, Manufacturers and Wholesale and Retail Dealers in Havana and Domestic cigars.” He was a graded school trustee, a town commissioner, and was regarded as “one of Wilson's successful men.”
Joseph Henry Foy (1838-1917) came to Wilson in 1859; a Christian minister and brilliant teacher in the schools at Stantonsburg and Wilson. One observer said: “He requires his pupils to master their lessons so thoroughly as to be able to translate the Latin, Greek, French, and German, into English; and also the English into German, Greek, French, and Latin. His forte is teaching; he seems to love it. He is a superior teacher, and as such is deservedly popular.” Another contemporary said that in 1875 Foy had “accepted a professorship in the Wilson College (coeducational), in response to warm overtures from its friends and patrons.” Here he was associated with the notable schoolman Elder Sylvester Hassell. To concerned prospective students they announced: “Entire average expenses, $200 per year; music, $45 additional.” Later he was co-principal with J. B. Brewer in the “Wilson Collegiate Seminary for young ladies, a finishing school of the very highest grade.” In this he taught “Languages, Mental and Moral Philosophy, etc.” Ideally, the gate to learning was widely opened—“There were no arbitrary limitations to admission.” at this “Seminary”. Josephus Daniels was a student of Foy. He has reminded us that Foy inspired to great manhood such leaders as Governor Charles Brantley Aycock, Judge Frank A. Daniels, Rodolph Duffy, and James Williams Hines. As Daniels simply stated: “He could make the boy feel the call to bigger things.”
Willis Napoleon Hackney, (Jan. 26, 1823-Dec. 6, 1887), was an outstanding layman and charter member of the Wilson Disciples in 1871. Among these a fine proportion of his descendants are active to-day. His pastor
declared that Hackney was “a just employer, an honorable and useful citizen, and an humble and devout Christian.” He came to Wilson, as a wheelwright, in 1852, “when the town was a mere hamlet.” At first to meet grim necessities of the travelling public on the almost-forbidding roads he made wheels in his small shop. In war-time he made wagons. The business grew. His three sons, Thomas, George, and Douglas, joined him in 1878, in the firm, “Hackney and Sons.” After a time they were making annually 200 buggies and 100 wagons. The son, Thomas, removed to Rocky Mount, but George, (Sept. 19, 1854-May 16, 1948), in the Hackney Brothers’ firm continued the business in Wilson which eventually became the Hackney Brothers Bus Body Company. This is a highly successful enterprise serving many states, manufacturing motor facilities widely in use, and in some phases susceptible to a seasonable pyramiding demand. Douglas, (W. D. Hackney, Sr., March 28, 1858-Feb. 28, 1937), headed the Hackney Wagon Company in 1900. Here by the shifts of time the production has been well adjusted to variable sales potential, finally to such popular utilities as baggage trucks, tobacco trucks, bleacher seats, and the colorful “Sunburst” vehicles for circuses.
Joseph Kinsey, (Jan. 17, 1843-Jan. 12, 1929), descendant of the Palatines landing at New Bern, was a Disciple layman from old Pleasant Hill, in Jones County. After conducting his successful “Seminary” for two decades at LaGrange, N. C., he removed it to Wilson in 1897. From this Atlantic Christian College stemmed in 1902. Senator F. M. Simmons received his early training under Kinsey, of whom he said: “I regard him in all of the essentials of a great teacher, as one of the greatest teachers this State has produced. For me he did much to mould my future life, and I cannot think or speak of him except in terms of affection and reverence.”
Charles Edward Winstead, a centenarian, (1859-1959), Disciple deacon here for fifty years, was a contractor and was generally “considered one of Wilson's master craftsmen.” Among the homes he builded as supervisor were those of Jonas Oettinger, (now Elk's Club); Colonel John
F. Bruton; and Fred and Graham Woodard, in the 700 Block of West Nash Street. Likewise he was chief in construction of the Woodard-Herring Hospital, and in the installation of the pipe organ in the local First Christian Church in 1907.
The fifty persons who comprised all of the emerging Wilson of 1848, when one-acre building lots sold here for $30 each, have increased to the official count of 28,753 in 1960. This preponderantly rural State had but six cities, (urban, 2500 population), in 1850. This compares with its 125 cities of 1960, among which Wilson ranks as fifteenth in population. There are 47 North Carolina cities east of Raleigh; among these Wilson is fifth in size. At its first tax-listing in 1851, Wilson's entire property assessment, real and personal, was $15,600; as of January 1, 1961, it was $51,461,557. Its manifold growth, blended with increasing cosmopolitan quality, is factual and substantial.
Some Presbyterian immigrants from North Carolina to Kentucky settled to form churches of their faith in the early 1790's at Cane Ridge, in Bourbon County, and at Concord, in Nicholas County. These had been much influenced in the old colony by the ecumenical bent of Henry Patillo, (1726-1801), and by that of his brilliant mentor, Samuel Davies, (1723-1761). Both had clearly stressed the priority of the Christian name; in fact the latter declared in a sermon, that, first at Antioch, the title had been bestowed by “divine appointment.” With these bearings, Barton Warren Stone, (1772-1844), was progressively at home in his Cane Ridge-Concord pastorate dating from 1796. There on June 28, 1804, he severed his ties with Calvinism, and was signatory to the “Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.” This declared: “There is but one body and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.” Historically, this is a distinctive part, and chronologically the first, of the origins in the east-central Mississippi Valley, of what is organizationally known to-day as The International Convention of Christian Churches, (Disciples of Christ).
Another focal part of that beginning is represented in “The Declaration and Address of The Christian Association of Washington,” (PA.), written by Thomas Campbell, issued September 7, 1809, and most ably promoted by his son, Alexander Campbell. It also sprang from fervent ecumenical motive, declaring: “The Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one.” The fellowships of Stone and Campbell were conventionally united at Lexington, Kentucky, in January, 1832. Factional opponents called them “New-lights,” and “Campbellites”; militating nicknames befitting a tailored glossary for gainsayers. Albeit in this virgin land there were real yearnings for a people's church in which purity and reason in a new Christian order
would be Scripturally and freely articulated and practiced. Exigencies on the frontier had measurably emancipated its religion from certain stereotyped forms. It was a thrilling opportunity for various reformers. Forthrightly they used it.
A half-century before the Cane Ridge, Ky., and Washington, Pa., manifestos, the Separate Baptists at Sandy Creek, N. C. had precipitated an evangelistic awakening spreading promptly and widely over the old southeastern States. Their sermons had a captivating fervor resulting in a sweeping evangelical success. Nevertheless by the infiltration of zealous missionaries who proselyted indomitably they lost their primal integrity conventionally to the Regular Baptists, (Calvinistic), in North Carolina in 1777, and in Virginia in 1787. This did not happen however in Kentucky until 1801; yet as late as the 1820's many held in reserve their cherished principles. A new movement to welcome their adapted coherence with Disciples was in progress.
Noteworthy for study are certain beliefs of these Separates. They are briefly stated: (1) No creed in actuality but the Bible; (2) Baptism (immersion), administered promptly upon the candidate's sincere profession of faith in Christ, an overt commitment to Christian obedience, and the beginning of fulfillment of discipleship; (3) weekly observance with open communion of the Lord's Supper; (4) A developing ecumenical spirit questing for Christian union with whomsoever it could be effected in good conscience. This certainly is not the whole of the Separates’ ecclesiology. But it is obvious that these affirmations go far to parallel some paramounted tenets of the renascent Disciples of Christ.
In Kentucky's beginning there was a preponderance of Separates among the pioneer Baptist clergy. The Separate sentiment was tenaciously but quietly carried into the Nineteenth Century. In their time the rising Disciples on that frontier were remarkably helped by this condition. North Carolina Disciples however had no distinct beginning as a group until October, 1832. They
were given a rebound from the crusade in the trans-Appalachian States. Significant however was their union at Hookerton, North Carolina, on May 2, 1845, with a relatively large body of Reformed Free Will Baptists. These may consistently be identified as a modified continuation of the earlier Arminian Baptists with varied names in the area.
Led here specially by General William Clark, John Patrick Dunn, and Thomas Jordan Latham, the Disciples established a bridgehead in Pitt and other central coastal counties of the State. To Wilson, a new town, came some of their leaders in the mid-nineteenth century. After establishment of the Wilson church two of their outstanding pastors gave statements of the Disciple faith, John James Harper in 1887, and Joseph Henry Foy in 1900. These are positive, individual, constructions stating what each thought are characterizations of the beliefs and practices held by the people whom they served.
John James Harper on “Beliefs of Disciples”:
1. We hold to the name Christian Churches, (Disciples of Christ), or Churches of Christ.
2. We accept the Bible, Divinely given, as our only and sufficient rule of faith and practice; we are opposed to human productions serving as tests of fellowship. We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and in His supreme authority as Lord of all. We submit that all Christians may best unite on this universal principle.
3. We believe in the Holy Spirit and heartily recognize His perpetual agency in converting sinners, but we repudiate all theories of the Holy Spirit's operation which rule out the Word of God as instrumental to conversion. Faith is Christ we believe comes by hearing (or reading) the Word of God, and to be effective must be strong, active, full, issuing in overt acts of obedience, in loving service to Jesus.
4. We teach that all responsible persons are sinners and need to come to that repentance which changes life, and leads the faithful to final salvation through the “One Mediator”, Jesus Christ.
5. We require before witnessses a solemn confession of faith in Christ, before the respective administration of the ordinance of baptism; this confession rightly given by the individual, is expressive of his loving intention to serve Him. It must be understood that in these statements there is no compulsive relevance, no ultimate authority, as applies to an individual soul, save that which the enternal Spirit of Truth through His everlasting Word, sanctions for one's voluntary acceptance thereof.
6. We hold that baptism is an immersion in water of a believing penitent person into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It can only be valid for that person when done in the consistently strong faith and deep penitence which has truly led him to it. The water is but a means chosen by Christ, to test his loyalty; by His blood only are we cleansed from sin. There is no virtue or merit in the water, except as the divinely-appointed symbol of the appropriation of His blood.
7. We hold that when a person by faith based upon an intelligent conception of the Gospel, turns to Christ, genuinely, heartily, in faith, and in life, it may then be said of him that he is converted to Christ by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel as a means.
Joseph Henry Foy on “Practices of Disciples”:
(1) “That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” is the essential article of faith among Disciples, for believing, penitent, persons coming to them for baptism and church membership. This as well understood among Disciples includes not only a renunciation of whatever has been wrong in the past life of the confessor, but also his unreserved commitment to God to be built up anew after the glorious model left us in the character of Jesus Christ.
(2) In harmony with the custom of the Primitive Church they uniformly practice immersion as the only scriptural action of baptism.
(3) They observe the Lord's Supper, in connection with other acts of worship, on every first day of the week, and regard this solemn feast as open to the enjoyment of all believers in Christ.
(5) Respecting church government, they conform to the congregational polity, and the “ministry” is
composed of bishops (or elders), deacons, and evangelists.
(5) Their conventions, assemblies, State meetings, etc., are not legislative but deliberative bodies, and are held solely for co-operative work.
(6) The Disciples began their movement with an earnest plea for Christian union, and they have continued to urge that plea to the present time. They continue, therefore cordially to invite all Christians to unite with them on the pure word of God.
Wilson village grew apace and in 1853 had a total of 115 persons listed for poll tax. It then had four dry goods stores, three groceries at which alcoholic beverages were sold, and five turpentine stills in operation. The two hotels were those of A. J. Battle, and Major Gay, (Adams Hotel). About these hostelries, visiting Evangelist, Dr. John T. Walsh said: “Neither of them have a bar to supply their customers with ardent spirits, and yet both houses are liberally patronized.” A. J. Battle, after a distinguished career in another communion, had united with the Disciples at Rountree, Pitt County, N. C. As briefed from the old Rountree book:
May 22, 1852. Preaching by Elder A. J. Battle from Rom. 6:14. Conference opened by John P. Dunn, moderator. A. J. Battle presented himself desiring to unite with us as a member and minister of the gospel, and was received. He made statement of his position, and reasons for applying, and read documents to confirm what he had said. All proving satisfactory, resolved: That Elder Battle be received in full fellowship. Right hand of friendship extended. He has full authority to preach and perform all official duties of the ministry of the order of the Disciples of the Bethel Conference.
Battle lived in nearby Greenville, N. C. for a time, preaching frequently at Rountree, but next year as recorded at Rountree: “March 26, 1853. It was moved and granted that Bro. A. J. Battle have a letter of Dismission in order to join the brethren at Wilson.” This anticipated by a few months the formal start of the initial Disciple group at Wilson.
Dr. John Tomline Walsh, (Feb. 15, 1816-Aug. 7, 1886), had received his M.D. at the Eclectic Medical College of Pa., at Philadelphia, in 1848, and had later taught Anatomy and Physiology at that institution. He became a
Virginia Disciple evangelist, and in March, 1852, located in North Carolina. This was in response to an insistent call by leaders in this State for a sorely needed qualified recruitment. His residence at Wilson was apparently first designed, but could not be effected. Albeit he was the first in cooperation with Battle to hold a revival there, “embracing the third Lord's Day in August,” 1853. Moreover, beginning in June, 1853, he edited the first Disciple periodical of the State entitled “The Christian Friend,” and bearing the Wilson date line for its first five months. In this Walsh reported the Wilson revival, which he said “resulted in the baptism of ten persons, five husbands and their wives.” Further: “We have organized a small church here which meets in the lower room of the Masonic Hall; and may God grant that this little body may multiply and become a thousand.”
The five couples in this new local fellowship were those of A. J. Battle, Richard Fryar, John T. Daniels, J. F. Moore, and R. L. Ward. These attending at various times represented the church from the time of its enrollment in the Disciples’ Annual State Meetings at Wheat Swamp, Oct. 13-15, 1853, until its “erasure” from this roll at the Farmville gathering, Oct. 8-11, 1857. The Wilson group never exceeded 11 in number, who ceased formal activity when no place was available for their worship. Battle who was in financial toils much of his life could not sustain guaranty of a hall. He reported: “I preached for the little band until we had to give up the Masonic room, which is now occupied as a school room. We then moved to Temperance Hall until their meetings conflicted with my appointments to preach there. We very much need a house of worship here, and have been contemplating to build one, but at present we are all too poor to do much toward it.”
Battle died in 1870. Before then, three preaching colleagues had come; Foy in 1860, and Hines and Moye in 1865. These local preachers and visiting itinerants led Disciple worship in the Courthouse or in the home of Richard Fryar, until it was sold. They followed the gleam and dreamed of a “whitening” of the harvest.
The Central Christian Cooperation, a district project of the Disciples, later called Hookerton Union, was organized May 18, 1870. Chiefly inspired by Dr. Walsh and Dr. Frank W. Dixon, a dedicated Christian layman of Greene County, it became alive with missionary spirit. Within a year it had in hand over $500, half of which was designated for a three-months’ service by an evangelist in eastern N. C., the beginning of which was to be at Wilson. Dixon for the Union wrote to Virgil Angelo Wilson of Bethania, N. C., in Feb. 1871, giving him the call, and urging him to begin as soon as expedient. The evangelist accepted and dated the revival effort to start at Wilson on March 12, 1871. His letter indicated the approach of a modest, consecrated man. Said he: “I doubt not that Wilson is a hard place. We must sow in hope. I can only do the best I can as a laborer; the increase is the business of God.”
His style of preaching was original, conversational, magnetic. He reasoned and exhorted continually from literal Bible passages, which as he walked up and down in the aisles he would ask one by one of his auditors to read respectively and then he would quote the same from memory. This direct, personalized, and Biblicized presentation of an undoubted gospel was impressive in its effects. Among others it won Willis Napoleon Hackney and Robert J. Taylor, both of whom he baptized. This teaching evangelism went on intermittently at Wilson for 47 days. Then on Thursday, April 27, 1871, the congregation with 17 charter members was organized. Serving as elders, were: Hines and Moye; as deacons, Taylor and Hackney.
Attainment of a due perspective of the time and place here concerned requires some standardized statistical accounting. The census of 1870 credited Wilson with a population of 1036. A gazetteer of the period called it “a thriving agricultural place with three newspapers.” People of Wilson County numbered 12,258; Total cash value of its farms, $1,159,600; the year's products, $828,264; manufactures, $247,616. Twenty-six merchants were in the County, of whom 13 were in Wilson. The
town also had 6 physicians, 6 lawyers, and 5 manufacturers. Facts bearing on living costs were announced in 1872 by the Chief of the National Bureau of Statistics in Washington, D. C. Some items in his statement of North Carolina averages: wheat flour, $9.50 per barrel; milk, seven cents per quart; eggs, thirteen cents per dozen; rent on four-room tenements, $6.06 per month; six rooms, $8.56; board for men, $3.40 per week; for women, $2.90. Disparity in the last bracket is not explained, being relegated perhaps to the freedoms of a chivalric society.
Already sketched is Willis Napoleon Hackney, one of the aforementioned seventeen charter members. The three preachers, Hines, Moye, and Taylor, also on the charter roll, are to be more adequately presented in a collation on the 22 Disciple pastors at Wilson, (First), for the period, 1871 to 1962. This leaves 13 signers of the original covenant for accounting as follows:
1. Mrs. Amos Johnston Battle, (nee Margaret Hearne Parker), “received by commendation,” was the daughter of Weeks Parker and Sabra Irwin Parker. She had nine children, five sons and four daughters. Of these, Kate married Joseph Henry Foy; George, Confederate soldier was killed in the battle of Seven Pines; and Jesse Mercer was the youngest child. Her husband, the evangelist, Amos Johnston Battle, reported that for the year ending Nov. 1, 1856, his entire income from preaching was $319.90. She kept boarders. For awhile they lived on the Walnut Hill farm three miles north of Wilson near Toisnot swamp and close to the Wilmington and Weldon R. R. Mrs. Battle outlived her husband 17 years, going to St. Louis, Mo., in 1878, to live with her son, Jesse, where she died Jan. 4, 1887.
Her son Jesse said of her:
When she was young she had red hair. When I first knew her as mother her hair was streaked with white. Her face was very pleasant. She was reserved but kind and considerate to all; amiable at all times and could seldom be thrown off her usual composure. Her benevolence was well recognized; the
first one to be consulted in trouble. She lived in the presence of the unseen and her devotion to her religion made her a great source of consolation. She delighted in having a peaceful home, and was a living example of the highest type of womanhood.
2. Jesse Mercer Battle, (Nov. 10, 1850-Sept. 16, 1914), “received by baptism”, in 1867. He was born in Wilson. He related that in the bitter reconstruction year, 1866, at the age of 16 he taught school, and “collected in all, $17.65”, for his “five months’ work”. He married Laura Elizabeth Lee of Clayton, N. C. He was an early lightning-rod agent in the Carolinas and Georgia, having romantic experience. Later with his brother, Cullen, they conducted a pharmacy in Wilson. He said: “We sold out our drug store in October, 1875, and moved to St. Louis”. There he became a pharmaceutical capitalist creating and marketing a number of formulas including the lucrative Bromidia. After 1882 in partnership with Joseph Joshua Lawrence the firm, “Battle and Company Chemists’ Corporation,” established headquarters there with branch offices in America and distant lands. His “own building” in St. Louis, 1911, was at 2001 Locust St. He said in concluding an autobiographical account: “If my life has been an inspiration to others and my memory shall be a benediction to those who come after me; then I shall not have lived in vain.”
3. Joseph J. Bynum, “received by letter from Antioch”, (Farmville).
4. Mrs. Willis Napoleon Hackney, (nee Orpah Brown), “received by commendation.” She was from Tuckahoe Church in Jones County, N. C. She gave the first “President's Home”, at Atlantic Christian College.
5. Mrs. Mary M. Hearne, “received by letter”, from Antioch, (Farmville).
6. Mrs. Robert Williams Hines, (1836-1906), (nee Sarah Roxanna Jarman), “by letter” from Corinth Church, Pitt County, N. C. She was of a Tuckahoe Christian Church family, Jones County, N. C., daughter
of Furnifold H. Jarman, and Mary Polly Brown Jarman, (died April 28, 1880), and granddaughter of Emanuel and Sarah Jarman. The father of Sarah Roxanna, (Mrs. Hines), was a brother of John Jarman, (1816-1850), Disciple pioneer preacher, founder of Tuckahoe. The mother of Sarah Roxanna, the aforementioned Mary Polly Brown, had mental capacity beyond the ordinary. It is said that upon her returning from a preaching service she could repeat the sermon from memory. Her sister Leah Brown married Dr. Cyrus Thompson, prominent Onslow County physician. Another sister, Nancy Brown, married Joseph Brock Kinsey, (parents of the founder of Kinsey Seminary).
On Oct. 27, 1853, Sarah Roxanna Jarman married Robert Williams Hines, (Dec. 11, 1830-June 23, 1906). These were parents of James Williams Hines, (July 7, 1858-Feb. 13, 1928), benefactor of Atlantic Christian College, and Alice Johnston Hines.
7. Dr. Robert W. King, “by letter” from Corinth, Pitt County, N. C. He was one of the six physicians in Wilson in 1867.
8. John L. Kitchin, “by letter” from Antioch, Pitt County, N. C.
9. Mrs. John L. (Lucy A.) Kitchin, “by letter” from Antioch, Pitt County, N. C.
10. Joseph Joshua Lawrence, “by commendation”. He was born Jan. 28, 1836, of English descent, in Edgecombe County, N. C. His fourth-removed paternal grandfather came to America in 1642. The subject of this sketch was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett Barrow Lawrence. His mother was a daughter of Judge Jesse Cooper Knight. In 1868, Joseph Joshua Lawrence edited the first daily newspaper to appear in Goldsboro, N. C., named “Daily Rough Notes”. In Wilson on May 3, 1859 he married Josephine Edwards. daughter of Col. Benjamin F. Edwards of Greene County, N. C. He was a captain in the C.S.A.; afterward practicing medicine and with the Battle brothers conducted a drug store in Wilson. This only
provided a precarious living, so he located in St. Louis, whence fortune beckoned him. There in 1873 he founded the flourishing “Medical Brief”, which in 1904 “reputedly had the largest circulation and was financially the most prosperous medical publication in the world.” He developed the formula for Listerine which brought him great wealth. His drug firm had outlets in England, France and India. In addition to his St. Louis property he owned a Fifth Ave. residence in New York City.
Josephus Daniels who had been a fellow-townsman of Lawrence in their Wilson days wrote editorially about him in his News and Observer of May 16, 1929. He noted that “after the disbursement of several million dollars from the Lawrence estate, there was still between seven and eleven million dollars” for the executors’ distribution which was then being concluded. This said Daniels, “reads like romance.” A sketch in the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, James T. White and Company, N. Y., 1904, declares that Lawrence was “noted for his hopeful view of things, his universal good humor and for his practical business ability, which are qualities rarely combined in one person.”
11. Mrs. Moses Tyson Moye, (nee Penelope E. Whitehead), “by baptism.”
12. Mrs. William A. (Mary J.) Pearce, “by baptism”. In 1910 she and Robert J. Taylor were the only surviving charter members who were then living in Wilson.
13. Charles Jenkins Rountree, “by letter” from Rountree Church, Pitt County, N. C. He was a grandson of Jesse and Winnifred Jenkins Rountree, and son of Charles Jenkins and Susan Hart Rountree. His brothers were: William, Samuel, Robert Hart, Jesse, and Francis Marion; his sisters were: Hannah, Sallie, Winifred, Susan, and Charity. He was proprietor of the only drug store in Wilson in 1867.
At the church organization, April 27, 1871, the Charter members signed the following covenant:
Whereas, it being the duty of all baptized believers to assemble together on the Lord's day, to attend to
the ordinances, worship, and the fellowship of the Church, that the members thereof may attain to greater perfection in the Christian life and laborers together in the dissemination of the Gospel of God's dear Son, therefore, we, the undersigned, having faith in, and having been baptized into Christ, do hereby covenant and agree to form ourselves into a congregation of Christians, to be known as the Church of Christ, at Wilson, binding ourselves to the infallible Word of God, as our rule of faith and practice, and guide, believing with the Apostle Paul that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works. II Timothy 3: 16-17.
There was a year's delay in the enrollment of the infant Church at the “Annual Conference of Disciples of Christ in North Carolina.” At Kinston, however on Oct. 10-13, 1872, M. T. Moye and C. J. Rountree represented it in person, reporting 20 members and their contribution of $2 for the printing of the year's “Minutes”. Later delegates to their annual State Meeting until 1889, when there was no further printing of the delegates’ roster, were: Dr. R. W. King, (clerk 1889), R. J. Taylor, Peter E. Hines, George Hackney, (clerk after 1889), James W. Hines, Joseph H. Foy, W. A. Barbara, Robert W. Hines, W. W. Farmer, and Charles N. Nurney.
The 17 members of 1871 grew to 44 in 1889. These 19 inclusive years serve us here to bound the beginnings. The amount of their giving to causes beyond the local church had increased from a total of $2 given to the State Meeting, 1871, to $32.16 in 1889, for foreign, home and state missions; in addition the church gave $4.35 for “educating preachers”, its maiden offering to this vital cause. M. T. Moye, their pastor was paid $200 for his year's work, and upon their building had been expended $440.75 during that and the preceding year.
Meanwhile their struggles for maintenance and growth may be sensed from a contemporary statement. M. T. Moye writing on July 22, 1882 said that for “the last
three or four years” some “transient Evangelists and nomadic preachers” had visited Wilson and misrepresented the church afterward. By this reprehensible means it was talked about that the church “evidenced a condition of supineness bordering on decadence approaching dissolution.” He would put on record, to refute this, “a plain statement of its actual condition.”
1. The church worships harmoniously each Lord's Day with a commendable regular attendance.
2. Their prosperous Sunday School, regularly organized and officered, numbers 40 in average attendance. Most of the members’ children attend, also other children whose families are not affiliated with the congregation.
3. The meeting house is owned by the Disciples and is debt-free.
4. There has been for several years no occasion for summary discipline.
5. Deaths and removals have caused considerable losses in membership, which in time will be replenished.
6. The church then was at the point of calling an “accredited preacher,” (J. J. Harper). Meanwhile there has been faithful service of officiating elders.
Moye concluded: “Permit me to say that whether intended or otherwise it is both impolite and unjust to have this church published to the world as demoralized, or held together by the frail tenure of individual effort.”
J. J. Harper coming to the pastorate in November, 1882, praised both Moye and P. E. Hines, his “efficient and faithful coworkers,” for having competently “taught” the church, “both by precept and example.” The community to which Harper was called was marked openly and avowedly by a religious partisanship, and an entrenched anti-missionary tradition. He makes clear his stand on these crucial issues in the following briefs:
Harper, the ecumenical:
Some seem to think that owning the name Disciple gives them a passport to glory. It is my conviction
that if beyond bearing the bare Christian name there is no genuine love for sinners and saints; no sacrifice of time, talent, or money; no sympathy, no self-denial; no meek, trusting, working, persevering, praying spirit; then the name Christian for such person is worse than meaningless. I submit that I am heartily loyal to our professed name and plea, but while these are important they are but the index that points to our work. It is one thing to be a strict religious partisan, but it is quite another to be a Christian indeed.
Harper the missionary:
Let us all contribute of our means to foreign missions. Let no one refuse, or offer an excuse or apology. Remember this—an opposing church refusing to give to this sacred cause is not a church of Christ according to the New Testament. Also the preacher who opposes or neglects foreign missions in his leadership, is not a preacher of the gospel according to the Great Commission. Likewise an individual who wilfully withholds his support to world missions is not a Christian according to the New Testament standard.
Harper visiting the Wilson congregation in 1890, reported: “I received a cordial welcome from every one regardless of religious views. My pastorate here covering a period of five years, 1882-1887, was one of the pleasantest of my experience.”
Is a specially consecrated house or shrine respectively indispensable in worship? Evidently humanity throughout time has responded with an amplified affirmative. Hebrews had their Ark of the Covenant, and their adored Temple. Jesus once honored significantly the latter in His youth. Later when He prophesied its destruction His hearers were dismayed and confused. Freely the Son of God preached in synagogues and homes; likewise the Apostle Paul. Yet the sermon on the mount was in the open beside Gallilee, while the introduction of Christianity to the west was at the Philippian “riverside.” Early preachers of “The Way” used synagogues and household abodes, and when persecuted in Rome assembled in the Catacombs, foretokening today's Christian sanctuaries the world around. Albeit, worthy of open-minded restudy is the Lord's word to the woman at the well of Samaria, and Paul's philosophical speech at Athens. These voiced for Christians a fundamental devotional principle for all time. Articulated is the worshipper's precious freedom from inflexibly assigned place, or position, or other such factor of finite planning in assuring the Father's acceptance. It follows that crowned examples of divine services have been in jails, on scaffolds, or in battle-swept no-man's-land. What matters primarily and ineluctably in Christ-centered religion is the believer's communion “in spirit and in truth”—plenary qualification for the seeker of God. What a transscendent refinement of an age-old worship pattern!!
Still a “Meetinghouse” is popularly regarded as a proper exhibit, a concrete index of a particular people's strength and faith. Wherefore in 1857 the initial Disciples at Wilson, not having their own building, nor reasonable prospects therefor, had their Annual State Meeting that year to “erase” their entry on the published roll. Meanwhile two of their preachers, A. J. Battle and
W. H. Hughart continued to reside there. These were recruited ministerially before 1870 by P. E. Hines, M. T. Moye, and J. H. Foy. Preaching was occasional in the courthouse and after fourteen years the church was reactivated.
Three months after the permanent organization on April 27, 1871, a building site, then valued at $100, was acquired by gift at the southwest corner of Goldsboro and Vance Streets. The plat, 44 X 84 feet, was enlarged by the purchase of March 19, 1873, and October 24, 1895, yielding adjunctive room for the erection of their parsonage in 1898, and extension of educational rooms on the west side of their brick building in 1908, at the expense of $2800. A final facility at this site acquired August 1, 1913, completed the area for their $50,000 religious education plant opened 25 years later, the parsonage having been previously removed. As of record, this concentric land-dimensional expansion had altogether, to this date, (1938), cost the church only $3502. They had the vision to get progressively one compact lot adequate for opportune advance, and attractive in location. Their large scale development for the growing church, one block west, at the southwest corner of Tarboro and Vance streets, is a romantic story of the 1950's and ’60's. The sixteen trustees representing Wilson Disciples, 1871 to 1959, when these various ground accessories were conveyed to them, were, in sequence: Peter E. Hines, Robert J. Taylor, W. N. Hackney I, Moses T. Moye, W. W. Farmer, George Hackney, C. N. Nurney, John B. Deans, W. N. Hackney, II, T. J. Hackney, Sr., B. J. Forbes, A. D. Shackelford, W. D. Adams, Sr., J. Ernest Paschall, W. D. Adams, Jr., and Cecil B. Lamm.
In the original sanctuary, 1871-1898, according to a widespread custom of the times, women sat on the right side facing the preacher; the men on the left. The pulpit was in the center at the front of the rostrum raised in the alcove by two steps from the common floor. Under the pulpit was the baptistry flanked by two dressing rooms. First to be baptized at the Disciples’ new equipment was Kate Barnes. Prior immersions had been in
the nearby Toisnot stream, or in the Missionary Baptist facility kindly proffered. The choir was accommodated at the preacher's left. There had to be occasional repairs to the building. Once services were “suspended for two months” to meet this necessity, costing over $400, after which their pastor, C. W. Howard “filled his regular fourth Sunday appointment” with them on August 26, 1888. His Wilson salary that year was $100, and he lived then at Fountain Hill in Greene County. In 1897 the old church was valued at $4500. It was removed across the railroad down Vance Street, and remodelled for an apartment in which negroes now live.
The brick church to serve Wilson Disciples 1898-1954 was taking shape. Pastor B. H. Melton on April 1, 1898, reported:
Our church lot is almost covered with all kinds of fine lumber. Brick and sand and other building material is being collected rapidly. Contractor John B. Deans is completely master of the situation. He will push the work as rapidly as is consistent with first-class architecture. Every member of the church is expected to contribute. Let the offering represent real sacrifice. I have been appointed chairman of the begging committee. Very thankful for the honor I have already proceeded to business. Brother W. W. Farmer lives six miles in the country. We have put him down for $500 for our new church. Our ladies have paid for the new organ and have about $35 on the carpet. Our pews will be made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Last Sunday every seat at the Christian church including the gallery was taken. A deep interest was manifested.
Said a correspondent in the Baltimore Christian Tribune, “The Wilson brethren are preparing for a great day of dedication on September 25, 1898, with B. A. Abbott, minister of Baltimore's Harlem Avenue Disciples as guest speaker.” Briefed here is the report of the dedication of the new plant which appeared in The Wilson Advance, (weekly), of September 29, 1898:
It was an ideal day for the dedicatory service. The church was packed; every seat was taken and
people stood about the doors. The special singing by Mr. Bobbitt, Porofessor Mangum, and Misses Dewey and Rodgers had a profound effect. Introduced by Pastor Melton, Rev. B. A. Abbott, an exceedingly pleasant speaker gave the morning sermon; his subject, “The Labor of Love.” His attractive personality gave much power to his words; the atmosphere was suffused with the spirit of sacrifice and love.
Observance of The Lord's Supper at the church was in the afternoon. Visiting ministers, D. H. Petree and W. G. Johnston presided. There followed immediately a business meeting of the official board to dispose of the marginal building obligation of $806 yet due, that the church might be debt-free at the dedication that evening. This was sacrificially but heartily done until not a dollar remained unpaid. It was a great victory and gave real joy.
Many were turned away for lack of room at the evening service. Then in his eloquent manner Rev. Abbott in his dedicatory address dwelt upon the effect of the Christian religion in the world. There followed a summing up of the successful building effort by Rev. Mr. Melton. The plant had cost $9,000; of this the friendly citizens of Wilson had given $800; the congregation contributing the other $8,200. He said that $10 had been contributed toward a parsonage; its time of building indefinite. As he faced the vast gathering in a building of which any congregation might well feel proud and every cent paid on it, Mr. Melton said that it was one of the happiest times in his whole life. In an impressive ceremony the keys of the church were then presented to Professor Joseph Kinsey, chairman of the board, with the request that it be locked against all that was wrong, but thrown open to all that was pure. It was a day that will be long remembered.
As furnished it was valued at $12,000 at its erection; its appraisal with accrued improvements was $75,000 in 1927.
During the 27 years that their little frame church had stood, Wilson Disciples had not entertained one of their State Conventions. But with their new building, a goodly host to it they were on Oct. 24-27, 1899. At this J. J. Harper presided, giving their annual address on the second day, “full of sound and practical forethought.”
The first day had been “occupied with the C.W.B.M. sessions—a good day for the sisters.” Again it came in 1902 to the Wilson church a month after the opening of Atlantic Christian College. Pastor Melton had announced it the preceding July: “We shall prepare for 500 delegates and visitors. Our large church building has just been murescoed throughout. It is very pretty and we have arranged enlarged seating capacity. We are anxious for the Disciples from the mountains to the sea to come in large numbers and enjoy the Convention.” Others of these State Conventions have been in Wilson; in 1909; 1917; 1925; 1936; 1944; (Centennial); and lastly in 1954, (new Gothic sanctuary).
State Secretary W. Graham Walker reported in his Carolina Evangel early in 1908: “The Church at Wilson is enjoying a boom.” J. C. Caldwell was then pastor. Several class rooms to meet church school necessities, structurally joined to the sanctuary had been provided and opened on January 12, 1908. “The improvement was much needed,” said Walker. With the passing time repairs were necessary. Services were suspended for a month in the summer of 1928, to permit general repair of the plant, to have it so reconditioned as to add greatly to its service. “Walls and roof are to get special attention. The painting Christ in Gethsemane which has left deep impress on many worshippers is to be retouched that it may be more impressive.”
The local minister, Ben Melton, married Eva Kinsey, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kinsey on July 3, 1900, J. J. Harper and I. L. Chestnutt officiating. A parsonage was needed. Already provided next door was the vacant site. Ten days after the wedding it was observed: “the building is going up at a good gait and will be ready for the minister and his bride; house will cost about $1800.” This two-story preacher's home was later occupied by the families of J. Boyd Jones, J. C. Caldwell, W. S. Bullard, S. P. Spiegel, Richard Bagby, J. E. Stuart, and John Barclay, (1924). It served from 1925 to 1938 as a church school extension. Replacing it on the site is the religious education building with its beautiful Carolina Room. Its
opening was on September 12, 1938, John Barclay, pastor. Thomas Herman was the local architect, with A. F. Wickes, consultant, from the Brotherhood's staff at Indianapolis. On October 24, 1937, the congregation had authorized the construction. S. W. Richardson was chairman of the building committee and had recommended that the debt not exceed $10,000 at completion of the structure. The plan was followed, and the Woman's Council of the local church paid a fifth of the $10,000. A. D. Shackelford was treasurer of the building fund and with W. N. Hackney II, and W. D. Adams, Sr. served as trustee. It was said: “much credit” was due Shackelford, who was “likewise appointed by the church to handle the new sanctuary building program.”
The Wilson Daily Times said of the educational plant: “It is one of the finest, most complete, and adequate structures of its kind in North Carolina. Mr. George Hackney, chairman of the church board, praised highly the women of the church who first started the idea, making the initial gift of $1,000 toward its cost in 1931. It stands to-day as a symbol of the kind of values which are revered by Wilson people without which a community can not achieve greatness.”
Pastor T. T. Swearingen preached the dedication sermon for this plant on February 13, 1944. The formal presentation was by the board chairman, J. Ernest Paschall, and the response by Sadie Greene. Swearingen said:
This day marks a significant milestone in our history. Our education building is now free of debt and represents an investment of $50,000, plus an untold portion of sacrifice from both individuals and groups. Each of these may now feel a deep sense of satisfaction and joy. It was completed through that inner power which sees things through. Now we will go forward to the building of a new and beautiful sanctuary.
On April 15, 1945, the Woman's Council of the Church contributed $3200 toward the “more than $30,000” which had then been assembled in cash and pledges for the proposed
new sanctuary over the preceding thirteen months. Growth of the building fund was steady, to be accelerated after May, 1950, when the home site of George Hackney (1854-1948) was offered as a gift by his daughter Bess, (Mrs. W. D. Adams, Sr.), as a location for the new church. On June 4, 1950, the congregation gratefully accepted this site motivated by “love and affection,” as the deed records it. The site, a block west of the original plant, is at the southwest corner of Tarboro and Vance Streets. The lot is spacious. Street frontages are each nearly 140 feet, with depth of more than 215.
The Eightieth Anniversary of the church was observed on April 27, 1951, when “the erection of a new sanctuary was considered.” The decision: “after declining the contractor's lowest bid of $371,000, other bids are to be presented, which may, perhaps, not run so high in the hundreds of thousands.” At the congregational business meeting on September 16, 1951, the latest bid reported was $245,000 to cover construction, heating, plumbing, and wiring. If stone was used and steeple included the bid would be increased to $289,042. Preparing for due execution of the task a drive for $100,000 was approved with Vance T. Forbes and W. D. Adams, Jr. to lead in a swift fund-raising canvass to be concluded by the following October 1. Accordingly the Building Committee, Harold Seburn, chairman, made a fully detailed report on October 14. He said that for the projected operation there were “total assets” of $197,562.27. Building costs had more than doubled since 1948. Moreover, added Seburn, “the end is not yet in sight.” The specifications were for a building 147 X 70 feet, as compared with the 110 X 45 feet in the sanctuary of 1898. It would set back fifty feet from Tarboro Street, and forty-five from Vance. These offsets would “eliminate considerable traffic noise.” Beyond accounted assets at that time, there was needed $86,000. But since “one hundred or more families” were yet to be solicited, he expected “to hold our borrowing to less than $75,000.” The committee, whose report was accepted, expressed strong faith in the “ultimate success of the venture.”
Necessary for the project was the approval of the National Production Authorization of Washington, D. C. It came on March 20, 1952. Ground breaking was on May 18, 1952. Turning “the first spade of dirt” was Pastor Jarman; Harold Seburn, Building Committee chairman, standing beside him. Other representative participants were: Goodwin Moore for Youth; Mrs. W. R. Raper, children's division; T. L. Anthony, men; and Mrs. B. J. Forbes, women.
At the annual business meeting, September 28, 1952, there was accepted with “deepest gratitude” the gift of W. D. Adams, Sr. consisting of the building known as Adams Chapel. It is conjoined to the new sanctuary, of which it is a “miniature”; seating capacity, 100. It is equipped with Baldwin Electric organ and a set of MAAS tower chimes. Also accepted for the sanctuary, most thankfully at this time, was the forthcoming gift of the three-manual Moller organ by Mr. and Mrs. Willis N. Hackney, II.
Cornerstone laying ceremonies were on the afternoon of October 20, 1952. Ministers participating with Pastor Jarman, were: T. P. Inabinnett, D. Ray Lindley, and the guest speaker, T. T. Swearingen, who gave special recognition to those whose sacrifice made the day possible. “We grow up taking advantage of what has been done for us,” he said. Again: amid other specific purposes “the church exists to teach self-discipline; honesty for which there is no substitute; courtesy; courage; and compassion—spiritual values that hold life together.” Pastor Jarman, Harold Seburn, building committee chairman, and Bruce W. Riley, board chairman, “performed the historic cornerstone laying ceremony.” A “small copper box” was inlaid containing appropriate memorabilia along with the cherished media from the old box of 1898. Honored was the presence of a large group of living descendants of the seventeen charter members who were mostly of the fourth and fifth generations. Among the day's attendants who had also been present at the like ceremony fifty-four years before, were, Mrs. Bess Hackney
Adams, Mrs. Effie Winstead Eames, Mrs. Minnie Winstead Darden, Mrs. C. C. Rackley, Sr., Mrs. May Hackney Richardson, Mrs. Martha Hackney Lee, Charles Edward Winstead, G. I. Herring, James Hackney, J. B. Batts, W. T. Holden, Mrs. William Vick, Mrs. B. F. Tugwell, Mrs. W. D. Etheridge, and Mrs. E. L. Wynne.
Fifteen months later the opening sermon was preached in the new edifice by Pastor Jarman. And on the next Sunday, January 24, 1954, the dedication sermon was preached by Gaines M. Cook, executive secretary of the International Convention of the Christian Churches, (Disciples of Christ). Pastor Jarman said: “God has blessed us immeasurably. We enter here with a deepened sense of humility and gratitude. Its stately spire and commanding Gothic architecture call us to worship; its sweeping arches expand our spirits; its broad aisles invite us to communion; its inspiring chancel says ‘lift up your hearts’; and in glad response we lift them to the Lord.”
Stated value of this unit of the builded ensemble is $425,000. It has stain-glass memorial windows. Its seating capacity is 600. About it The North Carolina Christian said: “It is the considered judgment of many persons that the new Wilson church is not only a distinct credit to the cause of the Disciples in the Wilson community but will serve to ennoble the cause throughout the State.”
“Building obligations having been paid in full” there was a “Victory service” on December 7, 1958, led by Pastor Jo. M. Riley. The guest speaker was Cecil A. Jarman during whose ministry here, 1945-1955, the plant had been planned and completed. Bruce W. Riley spoke on the history of the building operations. The burgeoning fund had grown from $78.96, fourteen years before. More than a thousand persons had participated in the triumphant giving. Others speaking were: Roger Westmoreland, A. D. Wenger, and Bernard C. Meece. A. D. Shackelford, building fund treasurer, handed the mortgage bond to Vance T. Forbes, board chairman, and together they “lit the fire that burned it.”
At the coming of Pastor Riley it was decided at the congregational “Brotherhood Dinner” on January 9, 1956, to purchase a parsonage. For a period of thirty years the church had not owned a preacher's home. Approved was the buying of the Joe D. Wheeler home at 302 Lafayette Drive for $19,000. It is about two miles from the church. Financing it, $4,000 was allocated to this property from the building fund, and $15,000 was borrowed. It is indeed a far cry from their first parsonage housing D. W. Davis, sixty-seven years ago. Davis’ domicile had been the home of Adrian Daniel, now removed to eastern suburbs, having its original street number over its front door.
An “historic decision,” was reached on September 8, 1958. Within three months the church debt was to be cleared. Wherefore, sensing the need for expanded church school facilities the board recommended: “that an Education Building Fund be established as soon as the present indebtedness on the sanctuary is liquidated. Every Sunday we are reminded again and again of the desperate need of additional educational space.”
Next door to the church on Tarboro Street was the desirable apartment house property of C. C. Benton and Sons. An option on this was taken on July 27, 1959, due to the favorable report of the Expansion Planning Committee, J. Ernest Paschall, chairman. At a congregational meeting on August 16, 1959, the site was purchased for $42,500. Its financing involved a secured loan of $35,000 from the Atlantic Christian College endowment funds. In the summer of 1960, consultant Charles J. Betts from Indianapolis made comprehensive study of the projected development, reporting favorably on the adaptiveness of the acquired site. His sketch envisioned a two-storied “brick structure” with varied details of fitness and adequacy. The local architect, Atwood Skinner was engaged by the church. At a church cabinet meeting on February 26, 1961, he sketched a two-story structure, containing 22,000 square feet. In this the fellowship hall was planned to seat 350 at tables, or 400
in assembly, and church school facilities were provided for 600, equivalent to about one half of the prospective church membership.
Seven months later, september 20, 1961, the Building Committee, B. J. Forbes, chairman, presented revised plans which were adopted by the congregation with “no dissenting voice.” These provided for 24,000 square feet of floor space; the fellowship hall to be 72 X 46 feet; overall cost, with furnishings to be about $325,000. The hall, in addition to necessitated utilities, is expected to house an inspiring array of treasured memorabilia consisting of apt Discipliana. Accredited progress toward consummating happily this expansion is registered in the increasing resources consecrated to that end. Meanwhile on their present buildings there is carried a total insurance, (Institutional Plan), of $777,300.
Since the time of Barton Warren Stone on the Transylvania frontier the Disciples have had an enriched soulwinning tradition. At Wilson's First Christian Church their investment in evangelism is noteworthy. Extant records, covering its history, 1871 to 1962, show that a total of 2937 persons have been received into its local membership. Its total resident and non-resident members as of the latest registry in their International Convention Year Book is 1189; the apparent loss in number, 1748. It is thus a 59.5 per cent loss over the ninety years. This perhaps is typical as a studied unit in American Protestantism. Certainly the losses by death during four score and ten years would be naturally large. In this case the losses by geographical removal seem to be in greater proportion. Balanced migration may be as a mirage. As an educational center for the Disciples for two-thirds of a century, the Wilson Church has been subjected to numerical fluctuation. Incidentally adhering to a felicitous fellowship, a considerable part of a faculty and students periodically come and go here in exigences of time. Moreover, relevant precise figures must needs be in abeyance. Some few years in the harvest of souls do not appear; furthermore occasional clerical inaccuracies are of record. Nevertheless this compilation may offer a significant view of the church's progress by accessions over a period now approaching the century mark.
Obviously slow was the growth in the first decades. The seventeen souls gathered and organized in the Virgil Wilson meeting of 1871, had increased to but 23 in 1881; and only to 43 in 1891. After this the tobacco auctions assured here a greatening commercial center, and the Kinsey Seminary came to be a marked stimulus to education. These events matched with able church leadership, tended to accelerate the Wilson Disciple roll to 107 in 1901. There was meticulous nineteenth century discipline.
Five persons were “excluded”; two in 1877, one in 1881, and two in 1888. The old record books, some of which are falling apart, do not deign to tell the causes of these wayfaring declensions. It is evident that the general decorum of the body throughout these off-beat procedures was characterized by compassion, peace, and good will.
The many meetings here, each protracted to an extent, mount to a formidable total. Some representative accounts of them from original sources are given here.
During John Harper's pastorate, Edward Everett Orvis, (1826-1884), a native Pennsylvanian, who was then minister of Kinston Disciples, was invited to conduct a revival. He began at Wilson on July 22, 1883, delivering seventeen discourses. Pastor Harper observed:
His sermons were plain, logical and strong, and we trust results in removing much honest dislike of us as a people, arising from misinformation concerning our teaching. There were five additions, our accomplished organist being one of the number; all capable of making active, efficient and useful members. The local Methodist pastor, Mr. Guinn, participated with us on fifth Sunday evening; he is liberal in his views, of genial disposition, and deservedly popular. We are under obligations to the people of Wilson, generally, irrespective of religious predilections for many of the sweet civilities of life both before and during this series of meetings. They are an intelligent, generous, large-hearted, and whole-souled people.
Wilson's Disciples truly ecumenical in spirit, have cooperated in certain union revivals held infrequently in the city. One came in the spring of 1892, while Robert William Stancill was their minister. The Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Disciples arranged for it to hold forth in the local Planter's Warehouse, led by evangelist, W. P. Fife. Elaborate preparations were made. Timely appointment locally of representative functional committees on finance, management, program, and music,
were made to serve in duly coordinating and making effective the united crusade.
Pastor Stancill's enthusiastic report:
A thousand souls met on the evening of March 20, 1892, at the opening in our Planter's Warehouse. It was one of the grandest scenes since apostolic days. Evangelist Fife's sermon text was John 11:39. He is earnest, sincere, and all aglow with the love of God. He appeals to his audience to unite as did the early Christians and work together to glorify God; he is filled with the Word, impresses one that the Bible is the only authority. This meeting will help remove some of the stones that separate God's people.
Pastor Dennis Wrighter Davis began on May 19, 1895, a home-force revival at Wilson. He intended to continue it “three or four weeks”, hoping “to have a large ingathering.” For the preceding year the church had been without a pastor. Thus at the beginning, Davis said, “most of the church seemed despondent,” but soon “their interest revived.” Davis continued:
This congregation has had many dark days and disappointments, but to-day she seems to have a bright future, and we believe is destined to do a grand work for Christ. I know of no church in North Carolina with a purer membership than this one; only some 40 or 50, but most of their lives is in keeping with the gospel. Because of a sick man next door to the church, the meeting closed during its second week, with many expressions of regret. There were six baptisms and three transfers.
J. Boyd Jones located in the Wilson pastorate in 1902. He reported that during the first three months in 1904 the church had received “about 90 additions.” Jesse James Haley, (March 18, 1851-April 7, 1924), native Kentuckian, was then preaching at Seventh Street Christian Church, Richmond, Va. He was called for a twelve-day's revival at Wilson in March, 1904. Pastor Jones observed: “It was a feast to hear Haley's strong, logical sermons. He uses none of the modern methods of rousifying,
but preaches the Gospel in an earnest way. There were three additions.”
The Richard S. Martin Evangelistic Family of Chicago, Ill., closed a series of Disciple revivals in eastern North Carolina in the spring of 1905. They reported a total of 300 accessions to the five churches involved. Meetings were held at Wilson, Kinston, Greenville, Washington, and Rocky Mount. Special result: a new church of thirty charter members was organized at Rocky Mount on May 28, 1905. A correspondent said: “The gospel was presented in plain, penetrating, and persuasive words. At no place was the building large enough to seat all who wished to attend. The cause of Christ was in every way strengthened by visit, voice, and violin, of this whole Martin family of talented and devoted workers.”
In the Wilson pastorate, the two longest terms of service were those of John Barclay, seventeen years, and Cecil Albert Jarman, ten. As of record, throughout the tenure of the first, there were 898 additions, while those added by the latter during his term numbered 677. In each of four different years, more than 100 persons were received: 102 in 1924; 128 in 1948; 102 in 1954; and 108 in 1958. These figures indicate an inflow from home-instituted crusades, except 1924, the year of the Ham-Ramsey union revival. Pastor Barclay arrived August 24, 1924, after the warehouse meeting of the union revivalists in Wilson had closed. The former minister, James Edward Stuart had left on May 15. Engaged for the interval was the ministry of Mr. and Mrs. Paul T. Ricks. It was announced:
They threw themselves enthusiastically into the evangelistic campaign. As a climax more than a hundred have come into this Church. The entire membership has rallied; all departments show increased interest. Sixty have been baptized; the church school has more than doubled in attendance. The increase shows evidence of permanence. Thus Paul Ricks and his good wife have grasped the entire situation so well that they have been requested to continue until September and assist the new pastor in his beginning.
With Pastor Barclay the Church in 1925 instituted the annual “Palm-Sunday-To-Easter home force devotional evangelistic meetings.” These continued for eight consecutive years with marked success. In December, 1936, he and an assisting layman “contacted more than a hundred non-coming members and results were being seen already.”
Pastor Swearingen began here in January, 1942. At the first he said there were “350 homes in the church membership and that in five months he hoped to call in each of them.” Then in March, alone, he chalked up 119 of such visits. In November 1944 a city-wide survey in Wilson showed 392 persons unattached but “expressing a preference for the Christian Church.” Three years later, Newton J. Robeson, Raleigh pastor, conducted for Wilson their “visitation evangelism project” using 60 local laymen for four nights to carry it out. A membership development committee was appointed and charged to promote fellowship and enlistment of new members in church activities, and to aid the sick and shut-ins. “It was brought out” at the church board meeting on November 10, 1947, “That there were 140 families in the church completely inactive.” Chairman J. Ernest Paschall appointed the following “Committee To Study Inactive Membership”: A. D. Shackelford, chairman, B. B. Plyler, Jr., Jasper Davis, Herbert W. Taylor, and B. J. Forbes.
With Pastor Jarman, Wilson led in the State's Disciple records for number of accessions in the pre-Easter evangelism of 1948, reporting total of 116, made up of 58 baptisms and the same number of transfers. This was preceded by visitation in 294 homes by 45 volunteer laymen who found 110 persons to “signify their intention to become members of this church.” Adopted had been the church goal of 574 additions 1947 to 1950 in the “Crusade For A Christian World,” a general Brotherhood program. Carl Lane, chairman of the Evangelism Committee announced his beginning of a “Fisherman's Club” for soul-winning, and B. J. Forbes, chairman of the Membership Committee told of their newly inspired “Shepherd's Club“
for conserving worthy fellowship. Copies of Look Magazine's illuminating article on “Who Are the Disciples?”, by Craig, were sent to members along with The Church Bell, local parish publication.
In the Spring of 1956, Pastor Jo M. Riley “within five weeks made 235 calls”, and at Easter received 36 persons into fellowship. “The Year of Evangelism” program was approved for 1957, to be augmented the next year in the locally projected “Crusade for Christ.” Personal visitation was intensified. The climax was on March 16, 1958. when 76 came down the aisles at the invitation. Three-fourths of these were adults. Minister Riley said: “This is the greatest day in the history of our church.” Together more than 300 Disciples had worked specially to achieve this result. Directed by Mrs. Alton Bardin and Sadie Greene more than 200 persons had been activated in prayer relevant to the Crusade. There were three well organized calling committees, respectively for information, cultivation, and decision. For the special occasion various other committees served. It worked. For more than thirty years at Wilson selective classes have been seasonably conducted by the respective pastors for specific evangelistic ends. Enrolled in these have been likely prospects for initial church membership, thus implementing a fruitful guidance facility for effective spiritual response.
Led by Pastor James Gillespie Wallace, there was a “fireside evangelism” program in effect in the spring of 1961. Forty-six were added. At a cabinet meeting in July it was proposed to have “twelve women on the Pastoral Oversight Committee.” Also a need was then discerned for a “revitalized evangelism in our church.” This looked forward to the calling of an outstanding leader to conduct a preaching mission at Easter in 1962. This was accomplished through A. Dale Fiers, of Indianapolis, president of the United Christian Missionary Society. For a week he spoke to the edifying of the Church and the reception of thirty new members.
Inbred in the Wilson Church was the outreaching motive. Its founding had been initiated by the rising missionary spirit of the rejuvenated Hookerton Union in the early 1870's. This was a spontaneous cooperative venture grounded in a creative reciprocity, an age-old pattern for the spread of the gospel. Most of the seventeen Disciples beginning at Wilson had come from the earlier Antioch and Corinth churches in Pitt County, N. C., later merging as Farmville, a pivotal church in the Hookerton Union. Moreover Wilson's continuing pastors did their proficient outflowing share. J. J. Harper, in 1878, succeeding Dr. J. T. Walsh as State Missionary Secretary, urged enlisted supporters to make good their financial commitments. He said: “These pledges were made to the Lord Himself. To shirk out of paying them, unless impossible to do so, is robbing God.” Twenty-two years later, Ben H. Melton, Wilson pastor and state secretary said: “The work of preaching the simple gospel and establishing Churches of Christ in destitute parts of the State lies closer to my heart than any other. The thought of evangelizing the world for Christ is the most lofty and ennobling thought that ever entered the human heart.” Within John Barclay's lengthy pastorate came the economic depression of 1929. While he led in maintaining a comparable level in the church missionary budget, for the troubled period, yet he volunteered an adaptive, executed cut in his personal salary.
In accord with Wesley's view that the world was their parish, yet these Wilson preachers were alive to opportunities close at hand. J. Boyd Jones pioneered a revival at Macclesfield in the summer of 1905 resulting in a new congregation of 17. He commented: “We have planted a church in this very needy field, the only people trying to establish organized religion there. Their house of worship we hope to have ready by next May. A man
who can hold a successful meeting at Macclesfield can hold one in any place in N. C.”
J. J. Walker and Hayes Farish, members at Wilson, and students at the College, evangelized at Wilbanks, nine miles east of Wilson, as part of their continuing project at that new outpost. They reported ten additions—“a goodly increase”. Further, said Walker: “We are now erecting a church building at Wilbanks, and hope to have it completed by October, 1909.” Beset with many difficulties this mission languished, but was reopened by John Barclay in 1938. He helped decisively with semi-monthly afternoon preaching. A report said: “Sixteen window lights were restored, a new stove installed, a piano procured and paid for.”
J. C. Caldwell gave vital ministerial assistance in the early years of Rocky Mount Disciples. In their worship hour on February 21, 1909, he assembled $1,000 “as a start for erecting a neat, brick building which they expect to occupy next June.”
Richard Bagby gave Sunday afternoons to Saratoga. It was a struggling mission then, but now a half-century later, it enjoys a full-time ministry with well-equipped plant and parsonage. He has told the author that he sometimes wondered as he traveled to them whether the offerings there would suffice for his particular livery account in that horse and buggy day. Verily the times have changed.
Significantly out of these parochial missions came recruits to the ministry, to scatter blessings far and wide. These were: R. A. Phillips from Macclesfield, O. T., and W. T. Mattox, from Saratoga; and Thomas E. Morton from Rocky Mount. Moreover the fledgling preachers of the student body at Wilson found rewarding outlets nearby for practice preaching.
The city itself was to have its share of missionary venturing from First Church. Far out West Gold Street a virgin field invited. There 26 persons were enlisted. J. A. Taylor began as their local pastor and Wilson County evangelist on November 1, 1921. He occupied their parsonage on May 1, 1922; their brick house of worship was
completed the following July upon their lot, 60 X 200 feet. The lot was a gift sponsored through Thomas J. Hackney, Sr. Cost of the structures was underwritten by First Church, J. E. Stuart, minister. Taylor left in September, 1924, to be the state secretary for Georgia Disciples. With H. R. Diehl, chairman of the board, and J. R. Woodall, church school superintendent, the work continued with student preaching. The discouragements of the situation prevailed. After sixteen years the mission was permanently closed in August, 1937, the property being sold to R. A. Perry for $5,000.
A different story indeed is that of Westview, currently the local mission of First Church. Now worshipping at 505 Raleigh Road, it has an excellent building site farther out on that Road. Plans are well advanced for suitable construction. Charles J. Betts, Brotherhood architect, concluding a Wilson survey in January, 1958, said: “There is definite need of a second Christian Church in this community.” Prophetically at a previous Wilson survey in September, 1957, he had observed: “One of the most satisfying thrills of a church is to develop a new congregation as a very definite home mission project.” After thorough consideration, including a poll of the membership, the First Church board showed the desired green light. Lloyd Chesson was appointed chairman of the “New Church Committee,” in June, 1959. The signing of its 27 charter members was in Adams Chapel on January 17, 1960. These were ceremonially “commissioned” in the worship service of First Church on the following Lord's Day, James G. Wallace, minister. First assembly of this newly chartered group was in the Jack Forbes home; then on March 6, 1960, A. D. Wenger was their guest speaker at their first service in their “semi-permanent” location. On April 3, following, their church school was organized. A home force evangelism doubled their membership to 98 in early 1961. Church school enrollment grew to 117. The annual finance given locally totalled $14,079; of which $792 was for missions—a per capita of $8.08. First Church contributes substantially
enabling Westview to retain Henry Collins Hilliard, Jr. to be their pastor who has served them ably since January 15, 1961.
There have been six recruits to full-time Christian service from First Church members. Pastor Jo. M. Riley on April 4, 1957, gave them special recognition at a dinner in the Carolina Room featuring the “Year of the Ministry.” The six: Roy G. Barham, Mrs. Vivian Griffin Birnbaum, Griffith A. Hamlin, C. Manly Morton, Mrs. Allan R. Sharp, (nee Glynn High), and W. C. White. These are known for their work's sake, the Brotherhood over. Morton longest in the service in both home and foreign fields, responded to the author's current request for a reminiscence. This he gave:
I was baptized in the Wilson church under a Christmas tree, on the night of a Christmas program more than 60 years ago. This is the way I got started to the Christian Church after my family moved to Wilson in 1898. I was of another communion, and I first went to its local church, but could not feel at home, so stopped going to any church. A near neighbor, Stanley Overman, at that time superintended the local Disciples’ Sunday School. He saw that I was unattached so he invited me to go with him, but I had no intention of doing so, even though in my timidity I had promised it. I evaded him; I hid in the woods near our house. Again and again he came to invite me, tactfully making no mention of my repeated failures. This kept up for six months. At last in sheer admiration for the gentle, Christian, Stanley Overman, I redeemed my promise. To him I will ever be grateful. Another who had tremendous influence with me was George Hackney, Sr. His inspiring handshake made me feel that he was interested in me. It made me conscious that unless I did my best it would betray the trust of that great man of God.
I had to leave school after seventh grade and go to work. I had a growing desire to become a minister, and with only $7 of my own I decided to try. I went to our College President, J. C. Coggins, who kindly had me sweep floors for my tuition. On each week-end I worked 27 hours in Felton's Grocery for the total sum of $2. This I did for three years then
went to a job in New Bern. I returned soon to Wilson, and made a talk in our church at a Christian Endeavor Society meeting. After this little speech, J. Boyd Jones put his arm around me and said: “Manly, God needs you, don't try to run away from Him.” That word was sufficient—it confirmed my resolution.
Subsequent to due recommendations of the Committee on the Ministry of The North Carolina Christian Missionary Convention sixteen persons respectively have been ordained to the Christian ministry in Wilson's First Church, as follows:
December 24, 1904, J. Thomas Brown.
February 12, 1909, C. Manly Morton, Hayes Farish, Jesse Moore.
November 18, 1912, John M. Waters, T. Hassell Bowen, Raleigh L. Topping.
June 11, 1939, Griffith A. Hamlin.
August 4, 1943, Wade H. Everett.
August 28, 1949, Willie Lee Parker.
February 17, 1952, R. Worden Allen, Jr.
May 31, 1953, Mr. and Mrs. William S. Knight, June Holton, Roy G. Barham.
June 30, 1957, Leslie L. Wilkins.
Clement Manly Morton, (now retired), was Wilson's Living Link for a long period. He was born at Newport, N. C., February 25, 1884. He was an outstanding servant in educational missions, in Argentina, (1918-’29); in Paraguay, (1920-’23); and in Puerto Rico, (1923-’54). He married Selah Louise Beam, of Topeka, Kansas, in 1916, a capable and thoroughly dedicated helpmate. She translated a quaintly expressed evaluation of C. Manly by Puerto Rican natives at the Rio Piedras station in January, 1939. In part, it follows: “Senor Morton is one of these men that once you know him is to love him for all his life. He knows how to captivate by his fine
manner, the highest pitch in beautiful kindness. His presence in the island is a benediction.” His book, “Paraguay, the Island Republic” is an authority in its field. In it Morton concluded: “During our years in Latin America we have had the great privilege of living under three flags, there to study at close range the conditions, customs, and peoples. We are convinced that one of the mightiest challenges ever faced by the Church of Christ is to-day in Latin America.”
November 11, 1956, was Living Link Day at Wilson, when special recognition was given Claylon D. Weeks, sationed at Wema in the Congo. He had been chosen as Wilson's new Living Link on the preceding March 12. A Tarheel from Carr Memorial Church and graduate of Atlantic Christian College and Vanderbilt he had been commissioned by the U. C. M. S. in 1946. His wife, Helen, is from Winimac, Indiana. At their African station there were over 2400 baptisms in 1958, increasing membership there to 15,000. About this Claylon and Helen observe: “How important it is that they should have guidance and teaching to grow in their Christian way of life, which is so extremely different from what they had always known. Our purpose has ever been to build a strong Congo Christian Church—a church that can carry on alone.”
Stephen and Sharon H. Ginn, student members at the Church were recognized on August 10, 1959, as missionary volunteers. Both graduated at Atlantic Christian College the preceding May. Thereafter on June 17, they were duly accepted as candidates by the U. C. M. S., subject to the usual adaptive conditioning, for foreign service. They are to join the 245 missionaries and 2180 nationals of their faith already thus employed in eleven countries abroad.
Typical growth in Wilson's financial giving to missions, benevolence, and education, within its brotherhood, may be graphically seen. In 1959 the year's total amount given to these causes, ($13,763.89), is identical by less than a hairs-breadth with the whole of six years, 1918-1923, inclusive, ($13,749.14)—a sextuple gain, so to speak, but in the time of a mighty inflation. Meanwhile
a blessed and continuous pile-up of gifts, special and budgeted, precludes a readable enumeration here. Institutionally and individually it has been a vastly sharing church. Not until 1887 when it had 50 members is there a missionary gift of record to its specific credit. Then it was $10 for Home Missions; twenty cents per person. Seventy-five years later, (latest report, 1962), the annual total is $23,957, for “outreach”; a per capita of $22.64. Two and one-half times greater, however, in 1962, is its money given for “local purposes.” Albeit the spirited grapple with the Disciples’ “Decade of Decision” is currently “looking to an increase in our congregation's stewardship potential.”
COLLEGE AND COMMUNITY
The annual nationwide Convention of Disciples met at Indianapolis, Ind. in 1897. The Christian Standard of October 23, in a column, “Picked up at the Convention,” noted: “Kinsey's Seminary, one of the best boarding schools for young ladies in the South has been removed from LaGrange to Wilson, N. C. Professor Kinsey and family are devoted members of the Christian Church and they will greatly increase the efficiency of the Church at Wilson.” Coming with Kinsey to Wilson was Alice Johnston Hines, instructor in Latin and Mathematics, in his Seminary here until 1901. She also was a tower of strength in the local church by “the sheer force of her strong Christian personality.” She was the daughter of Robert Williams Hines and Sarah Roxana Jarman Hines, and a sister of James Williams Hines, benefactor of Atlantic Christian College. Later for eighteen years she presided with notable merit at the Disciples’ Hazel Green Academy in Kentucky.
B. H. Melton, Wilson pastor at the inception of A. C. College, when the Kinsey foundation was acquired, said: “The liberality of such souls as the Hackneys, the Moyes, Deans, Nurney, Kinsey, Hines, Harper, and a host of others, made possible the beginning of the College. It is fair moreover to say that the institution would probably have gone to smash in its first ten years had it not been for the sacrificial gifts and guidance of the First Christian Church of Wilson.”
Over the years many students of Disciple faith have affiliated with First Christian, making it indeed the “College Church”, headlined as “A friendly church that seeks to serve.” Typical is the roll of 41 on its “Student Membership” list of September 27, 1925, representing five states, namely: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Recently each September the Church has observed “Student Day”, at a morning
worship followed by intimate hospitality at lunch of student participants respectively in the homes of the Church. This is followed by a “fellowship period” for students and faculty in the parsonage, for “free discussion of the place of the Church in College Life.” Thus College and Church are drawn into fruitful relation. At meetings on Sunday evenings the three active groups in the Church include many from the College “finding expression” in the “Disciple Student Fellowship.”
Church and College have cooperated in bringing to occasional local conferences such speakers as Kirby Page and Sherwood Eddy. A matter-of-fact line in the official church minutes of August 9, 1943, reported: “Professor Perry Case made a very enlightening talk on religion.” The last five pastors of the church, Barclay, Swearingen, Jarman, Riley, and Wallace, have taught at the College; and in 1949-’50, Jarman was its acting president. Former pastors, Harper and Caldwell became presidents in 1904 and 1908, respectively. All eight presidents have been active members at First Church. An entry in the church minutes for June 11, 1956, records the Church's “going away gift” of a $70 watch to President Travis A. White for “his fine contribution to the church board and to the entire congregation.” It was said: “Dr. White has seen A. C. College make the greatest strides in its history. In his three-year period here, it has almost doubled its enrollment, has gotten well into its $2,000,000 building program, and has received the highest accreditation obtainable for an institution of its kind.”
When the College was bought at the Kinston State Convention in 1901, the Wilson church, as such, made a cash contribution of $100. For its maintenance, 1951-’52, the church budgeted $5,000, completing payment of this amount early in 1953. This is but an instance of its consistent support for sixty years. When a check for $3,300 was presented, applying to the above, the pastor made a significant remark. He called attention to the fact that the actual cost to the College for each student enrolled is $89.24 beyond what the student is required to pay. Wherefore the crucial need for adequate Brotherhood
support. The College from its endowment funds loaned $10,000 for construction of the first religious education plant of the church in October, 1937. Likewise $35,000 was loaned in August, 1959, to execute the purchase of the Benton property for the church.
Approaching the sixtieth anniversary of the College, the Trustees in October, 1961, unanimously adopted a fifteen-year expansion program, 1962-1977. It was announced by President A. D. Wenger appealing for a minimum of three and a half million dollars over the period “to place the College in a favorable position to assume its responsibilities effectively”. In this the local church is immediately and happily involved. Throughout these entire sixty years, the Hackneys, George and his son, Thomas J., Sr., both of the local Church, have served respectively as chairmen of the College Trustees.
Due quality and extent of service to the community at large must mark the church if it is to square with the Christian ethic. An accounting by Wilson Disciples on this score has interesting facets. A charter member was Dr. Robert W. King, practicing physician, and “Professor of Medicine” in 1873, at the local Wilson Collegiate Institute. His home was at the southeast corner of Pine and Green Streets where dental and optometrical offices are to-day. Since then an increasing number of such public servants have likewise been affiliated. In 1956 the church put copies of “The Secret Place”, a devotional booklet, into the two hospitals. Disciple pastors in recent years have provided the brief “Moments of Prayer” over local telephones, (Dial 237-3159), designed to meet spiritual need in quiet hours. At the polio onset in 1948, two trained nurses from the church family, Emily Morton and Elizabeth Winborne volunteered their aid. The men's Class has sent representatives to teach the Bible in a nursing home of the County. An official board minute of August 11, 1958, reads: “A Red Cross request was granted that in case of war disaster, our Carolina Room may be used as a Nursery.”
The church joined in city-wide religious surveys in 1942 and 1961. It has long been an active participant
in the Council of Churches, both of Wilson and of the State and Nation. Pastor Cecil A. Jarman served as president of the North Carolina Council in 1954. Having acquired the Tarboro Street lot adjoining the First Methodist Church property, it confirmed agreement with them on June 11, 1960, that advance information would be mutually exchanged in good faith relevant to any newly projected expansion of site. Disciples first used radio broadcast of their worship services in July, 1937, alternating with other churches of the city.
Embraced by the membership is an engaging cross section of the city's life. Anticipating Labor Day, Pastor Riley arranged an orderly occupational exhibit at the morning worship, September 7, 1958; 21 persons placed tools of their trade respectively on the pulpit section. The following were thus represented: banker, tobacco auctioneer, lawyer, policeman, fireman, mechanic, printer, filling station operator, gardener, municipal worker, office secretary, postman, sales clerk, nurse, farmer, housewife, bookkeeper, preacher, teacher, merchant, and restaurateur. Two members have served in the State Legislature, W. W. Farmer and S. G. Mewborn; four have been presidents of local banks, namely S. G. Mewborn, A. D. Shackelford, Bruce W. Riley and J. E. Paschall. The last named has been president of the North Carolina Bankers’ Association, and currently is a member of the N. C. Banking Commission. Among awards bestowed, civic and otherwise, is that of T. J. Hackney, Sr., by the local Exchange Club on February 14, 1958. They said of Hackney: “This native Wilsonian is a serving citizen whose life is an inspiration to his Community.” Furthermore other local Disciple laymen have individually achieved highest honors. Numerous awards during the past decade have been won by Russell W. Arnold, Professor of Art at the College. Paintings of his have been cited thus at the State Museum of Art at Raleigh, N. C. and Columbia, S. C., and at the School of Art at the University of Florida. Claude Anthony recently “won the highest award that can be given to a photographer in North Carolina”, with his “Pancho” in the “Men's colored portrait
division.” This was at the convention of photographers for both Carolinas, 1962, at Winston-Salem.
A typical school commencement speaker was Pastor Barclay. In a year he would sometimes deliver ten such addresses; in 1941 he declined ten such appointments but accepted six. In 1947 the board requested the pastor to limit such service to four occasions per season. An inspiring leadership has been provided the local boys and girls in scouting. Pastor Barclay made notable record as a scoutmaster. The first ones to whom he awarded Eagle badges were: Dick Brooks, William Cox, Nat Thompson, and Charles Ware. As an educational aftermath he took these four boys at once on a far-flung American and Canadian auto tour. A significant report noted that at a morning service in September, 1938, eight Eagle Scouts received their badges.
Aside from countless writers of manuscripts at least forty-one residents of Wilson have authored one or more book-length titles printed. First Christian personnel has supplied twenty-two of these, as follows: Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Mercer Battle, James Caswell Coggins, Glenn Gates Cole, H. H. (Bill) Cunningham, Arthur McKinley Depew, Joseph Henry Foy, Charles Hunter Hamlin, Griffith Askew Hamlin, Joseph Joshua Lawrence, Mr. and Mrs. Denton Ray Lindley, Clement Manly Morton, Cecil Foy Outlaw, Vere Hudson Rogers, McGruder Ellis Sadler, Robert William Stancill, Tilford Tippett Swearingen, John William Tyndall, Charles Crossfield Ware, Lena Pittman Weeks, and Robert Frederick West.
Reared in the church was Catherine Ware, (now Mrs. J. Dan McConnell of Charlotte, N. C.). E. R. Rankin, retired head of The Bureau of School Relations of the University of North Carolina Extension Division said on August 24, 1962, that for the fifty years’ history of the North Carolina High School Debating Union, Catherine Ware is the only entrant who went to three finals in their annual spring debates at Chapel Hill. She and her colleague, Fred Carr won both series 1924-’25, thus securing for “keeps” the Aycock Memorial Cup for the Wilson High School. She also went to the finals in 1926. Among
the 34,000 North Carolina High School contestants appearing within the half-century were Governors Kerr Scott and Luther H. Hodges. These debates, observes a recent feature writer, have tended “to produce articulate young men and woman who know how to use their powers of reason, alacrity, knowledge, and understanding, to produce either an affirmative or negative argument worthy of the debating tradition.”
During World War II Pastor T. T. Swearingen served as the efficient head of the U. S. O. in Wilson. Included in the list that follows are the names of the men from First Christian who were enlisted in the armed services. A few in this list were not members there at the time who are now thus affiliated, and a few were in the Korean War only. The service roll:
George H. Adams, Milton Adams, W. D. Adams, Jr., John Alphin, Willard G. Anderson, Alton Bardin, H. F. Barnes, James T. Barnes, Richard F. Barnes, Wade Barnes, William Barnes, Sam Bass, R. M. Beamon, Col. O. B. Beland, O. B. Beland, Jr., John Douglas Bell, H. P. (Red) Benton, F. M. Bissett, Jr., Bruce A. Bryant, J. W. Byrd, Jr., Bruce Conyers, Ralph Conyers, Bill Davis, J. D. Davis, Jr., Tom Davis, W. R. Dixon, Jr., Thurman Edwards, Herbert Etheridge, Sidney Forbes, Wiley Dew Forbes, Amos J. Gatlin, Joe Gold, Garland Grainger, David Graham Green, W. L. Green, Jr., Carl Hackney, George Hackney, III, Richard J. Hackney, Robert Hackney, T. J. Hackney, Jr., W. D. Hackney, III, W. N. Hackney, III, Bunn Hearne, Jr., John B. Hearn, T. J. Herring, Jr., Dr. L. A. High, Needham C. Holden, Needham C. Holden, Jr., John E. Horne, J. S. Howard, Jr., Robert Johnston, John W. Jomp, Jr., Z. B. Lane, Jr., Frank H. Lee, Jr., Warren L. Merritt, James Millhouse, Sammy Millhouse, Frank Narron, Jack Narron, Robert Nichols, E. O. Norton, Horace Overman, Jack Overman, Joe Overman, William F. Overman, Reuben Owens, James Paschall, James Peele, Thad Petway, B. B. PPlyler, Jr., Charles E. Riley, Jack Riley, (killed), John Riley, Henry M. Rogers, H. B. Ruffin, Jr., William H. Sharp, Jr., U. R. Simpkins, Jr., Ernest Edward Smith, Henry Eldon Sullivan,
David Taylor, Grey Taylor, Henry Tunstall, Herbert Walker, Jr., John M. Waters, Jr., Earl Weathersby, Bob Wilkins, George Woodall; Total, 87 men.
Liberal contributions by the church were made to the War Service Fund. A multitude of letters, first and last, went to the men in the armed services. In 1952, Pastor Jarman with Jesse Bader joined in a preaching mission at Fort Jackson, S. C., speaking four times daily to army men for a week.
Among First Christian's members have been some star athletes. May 9, 1957, was “Bunn Hearn Day” at the University of North Carolina, so proclaimed by Governor Hodges, and likewise announced for Wilson by Hearn's home-town mayor, John D. Wilson. Bunn had completed 46 years in professional baseball. After 13 years of his career, in 1924, he had been in the majors with the Giants, Cardinals, and Boston Nationals. He then held two World's records; had hit three home runs in one game, (two in one inning), and once had pitched twenty consecutive scoreless innings. His world tour in 1913-’14 was with the Giants and Chicago White Sox. The three Davis brothers, Jap, Tom, and Bill, each in turn made the “Varsity Team” in football at Duke University for their sophomore, junior, and senior years. The first two were backs; Bill was a guard. Jap, “considered one of the fastest men on the squad,” played in the Rose Bowl in 1939; so did Tom in 1942 when war emergency moved its gridiron from Pasadena to Durham. Tom also played in the Sugar Bowl. Red Benton starred at Chapel Hill, (U. of N.C.), in baseball, (pitcher), and in football, (center). Charley Taylor was a captain in Transylvania football.
Responsively the Wilson community has stood up well for the College and First Christian. Promoters in the Wilson Educational Association, chaired by George Hackney, after bringing Kinsey Seminary to Wilson, gave valiant support to its successor, Atlantic Christian College. The Association leaders, other than Hackney and
Kinsey, were: George D. Green, Jonas Oettinger, J. F. Bruton, F. A. Woodard, P. D. Gold, Haywood Edmundson, Silas Lucas, H. G. Connor, and Jonathan Applewhite. W. G. Johnston, Kinston pastor, reporting the annual state-wide gathering of the Disciples at Wilson in 1899, acknowledged: “Too much cannot be said of the admirable way in which the convention was entertained by the people of Wilson. Members of other churches threw open their doors, took us in and treated us like kings.” Generous local citizens of various faiths have participated in the several campaigns organized to bring the College to largest usefulness on a safely accredited basis. A summarized report in November, 1960, of the College's “Sixtieth Anniversary Development Program”, shows that of a total contribution of $587,442, Wilson is credited with $366,690, equivalent to 62% of the whole.
Mrs. Genevieve Hackney, 1896-1962
If a metaphor is in order here, may we have a coffee-break? It may occasion a pleasing interlude. We have been trying to articulate a church's life in a serious and busy day. A refreshment stand may serve acceptably.
The North Carolina of 1830 was in large part a romantic wilderness. The towns were few and far apart. Within the vast expanse of “piney woods” a folklorish people lived, labored, loved, attended church, and flourished in a provincial civilization. This was a decade before free public schools. A score of years thereafter the Wilson village gathered in Edgecombe's turpentine forests to frame its skylight athwart the languorous shadows of the great woods. Moreover it was two score years later when by the Lord's blessing the Wilson Disciples arose there to stay. Yet in the 1830's numerous schoolteachers and others from the north came south; some to stay for the sheer joy of life in a friendly, resourceful land while others returned to tell of colorful aspects in the “Down Home” state. Among the latter was a roving scribe who penned a humorous profile of a few preachers he had enjoyed in the wide-spread rustic scene.
This is something of what he heard. An example of pulpit apology as a preacher began his sermon:
“Last week my critter died, my children was sick, my crop's in grass. I ain't been able to give a moment's thought to this here sermon. I'll have to lean on the Sperit, and I expect it will be pretty poor stuff.” Then he besought the Lord to “wake them all up to a sense of duty and right then and there to come down upon them with all His ponderosity.” A fellowship conference followed in which an old lady was asked if she loved Jesus. Her reply: “I don't know that I have anything agin Him.” An aged man was asked if he was ready to die. He said: “I never took much to strangers, nohow. I'd rather stay if I can.”
Another of the exhorters had recently lost his wife about whom he spoke as follows with becoming pathos:
For six long months she suffered with divers diseases and torments. If she tuck medicine for one torment it was sure to interflict with another. Rheumaty pain and codicil of the brain tuck her off. She went a shouting clear through to glory. It was the worst lick I ever got. I still feel like an olphin and for one whole month after I put her away I felt like I could fall down and go to sleep anywhere.
Yet another preacher had lost his life companion and had remarried too soon for his congregation's sense of propriety. Defensively he confessed:
My grief was greater than I could bear. I turned every way for peace and comfort but none come. I searched the Scripters from Genisee to Riverlations and found a plenty of promises to the widder but nary one to the widderer. And so I took it that the good Lord didn't waste sympathy on a man when it was in his power to comfort himself; and having a first-rate chance to marry, I did so, and would do the same thing again. Besides I considered that poor Patsey was just as dead as she would ever be.”
Another trying to invest with realism for his solemn audience the redemptive sufferings of the Master emphasized it thus: “They traitored Him, they caught Him and beat Him. They spat on Him, boxed His jaws, and put an old purple rag on Him. They stuck on His head a litter of thorns and with cursed feelings snared Him on a crucifix. I tell you Brethren what they done to Him was a plenty.”
Two-thirds of a century after the above, Dennis Wrighter Davis was the Wilson Disciple pastor. Then departmentalized nurseries at church were non-existent. When audiences crowded at worship services children were decorously seated on the rim of the pulpit platform. Davis had numerous children of his own, and when any of them needed discipline for their outbreaking playfulness,
he administered it manually, all the while continuing his sermon with the alacrity of a Peter Cartwright. Also if any of the young hopefuls were nodding he would gently recline them for a less fitful sleep; again without losing a spell-binding accent in the magical fluency of his message. It is said that some of these favored children were: Effie and Minnie Wnstead, Cora, Fannie, and May Pearce, Nellie Ezzell, and Katy Snakenburg.
In the early years of the little frame church there were fire hazards. It contained a wood burning stove shaped like an “alligator” as Bud Batts recalled. It was replaced by a heating system below the floor, the vent being a “large square grill” with a damper control. One day some devout church women walked across the grill when the upsurging air was too much for modesty, and the gallant preacher “hurriedly kicked the damper completely shut and forgot to open it”. This almost created a fire. About this time an electric storm known to have been the most severe in their experience gave them a narrow escape from shock and flames. At evening worship, lightning flashed menacingly; thunder was deafening; the lights as usual went out. The well-poised Alice Snakenburg at the organ played “Nearer My God To Thee,” while the panicky group sang it with what courage they had. A bolt struck nearby. Men went out to investigate and returned to say they had indeed been nearer to God than all had realized.
At the beginning and long thereafter men sat on the left of the church assemblage and the women on the right. It was a habit of the times. Like some other customs, then and now, it was without supportable reason. A cuspidor always in place and much used in the left amen corner, and which was retained for a period in the brick church, may have indicated the needful practice of this exclusiveness.
Bess Hackney, (now Mrs. W. D. Adams, Sr.), helped individually in youthful fund-raising for the church. Accordingly she sold magazines and extracts; she assembled countless five-cent bags of peanuts which her brothers
Tom and Jim sold at play-time in the aisles of the old Opera House. She too would have helped in the actual selling, “but in those days young girls just didn't do those things.”
Inspiring music has long been heard at First Church. Tradition has it that W. D. Hackney, I, was so impressed with it in his youth that he decided to learn how to sing. Coached at length by Robert J. Taylor, they and the congregation finally gave up that “it was no use.”
In the old brick church at the turn of the century a hand-pumped organ was installed. When the employed colored boy was not on hand, Willis Hackney or Ernest Winstead took over, each of whom, it is said, occasionally napped at the wrong time. This once was a startling recurrence when C. Manly Morton volunteered for the job. As he tells it in a breezy reminiscence:
The incident is humorous now but tragical then. It was on the invitation hymn. I was hidden behind the organ. The signal for me to begin pumping as I well understood, was a little kick on the organ by the organist. The sermon was long that day. I was tired. The preacher announced the hymn and followed with an evangelistic rousement. The organist promptly gave the signal. I was sound asleep. She kicked again. The preacher alert to any musical shortcoming exhorted some more. Then the frustrated organist kicked mightily. The instrument literally rattled. This awakened me and thinking the service was over I started to leave. Just then the preacher stepped back and gave me a good shake. Within a second I was hard pumping and the service closed in dignity and order.
The story goes that George Hackney offered a prime incentive to his pastor, Ben Melton. He would give him a new suit if and when the growth of his Sunday morning audiences necessitated the raising of the partition in the brick church between auditorium and church school rooms. Soon thereafter in June, 1899, the preacher was rewarded. It is said that the church wedding of Melton and Eva Kinsey was generally regarded as one of the
most attractive social events in the calendar of this romance-minded community.
Sam Richardson, about whom people who knew him said, “he's a fine man,” married May Hackney in June, 1907. In the following January he became a proprietor in the Wilson Hardware Company, one of the three oldest stores in the city. This is what brought him to Wilson to live: he traveled from Richmond, Va. for Cottrell, (Hardware jobbers). In Wilson he once incidentally sat with the “Squatters Club”, a select conversational group which gathered on favorable evenings in front of Doane Herring's Drug Store. Here W. D. Hackney, I, told him of the local business opening, of which Richardson promptly took advantage. Before this hardware store was remodelled there was an iron post at the front with a half-inch hole in it. Through this aperture varied hands thrust notes, historical and otherwise, from time to time. By a hand of mischief, fire destroyed most of these, but among the retrieved was found the posting of the following dates: “April 14, 1924, began tearing down the old courthouse; June 24, 1926, 11:01 A. M., clock in the new Courthouse began working; September 21, 1926, excavation for the National Bank Building begins.”
An incident in the rendering of a certain youth program at a crowded church service is told with relish by Mrs. W. L. Wooten, (nee Maude Harrell). Maude was then about thirteen and it was her first time to take part in such an exercise. Four girls participated, the other three being Keron Dunn, Minnie Finch, and Lizzie Finch. The quartette with Bibles in hand were altogether to read the sixteen verses from Matthew 25:31-46. In fixed order Keron was to read first but in the march to the rostrum she lost her appointed place in the Scriptures. Without avail she tried desperately to relocate it; the others seeing her predicament clutched tightly their assignments. Keron not to be outdone opened excitedly at Matthew 1:1-16 and proceeded haltingly with the unpronounceable “begats”. Her unhappy venture brought an increasing ripple of merriment from young and old.
But significantly the bemused audience showed that it was better prepared to respond in the benevolence offering that followed than if all had gone as cut and dried.
Few remain who can remember the “poetry sermon”, of Hayes Farish. It was preached here on a Sunday evening long ago, early in his distinguished career. It consisted of an almost endless reciting from sacred poems captivating to his fancy. The sermon was monotonously long. It had verse but not diverseness. It was specially wearing on the Wilson congregation whose receptivity by a stretch of piety might have been more charitable. At length a few sighs of exhaustion, ominous and audible, escaped from the pews. Others of the restive crowd shored up their composure, mindful to maintain a respectable control of their risibilities. At last came the sweet benediction when psychic placidity was assured. Emphatically it must be said for Hayes that he grew to be an outstanding Brotherhood leader serving the great pastorate at Woodland, in Lexington, Ky., for more than three fruitful decades.
The mural painting, “Christ in Gethsemane,” appeared high on the interior right wall of the old brick church. It enriched countless meditative souls who worshipped in the pews below. An artist, Thurbell, passing through Wilson at the turn of the century, was in need of funds. He had been given a loan by George Hackney at his old Nash Street office. The impecunious painter now offered to repay it with service. He was thus quietly commissioned to do the work at the church. If it should be approved he was to receive added compensation. This all happened satisfactorily. Thus strangely the old church obtained one of its finest intangible assets. Regrettably by the rigors of time and circumstance it could find no place by transference into to-day's super-imposing media.
MEN AND WOMEN
The development of “Fellowships” among Disciple men and women respectively, as it relates to Wilson, is an interesting study. Elders, deacons, and junior deacons have been men exclusively among whom a spontaneous fellowship in common service has readily obtained. Moreover the recurring clerks or secretaries, with a pure sense of public relations, have been personal links of communication with those outside the parish. As of record, 1871-1962, thirteen persons at Wilson have thus served as follows: Dr. R. W. King, George Hackney, I, Calvin Woodard, J. R. Hardy, J. B. Batts, Paul Branch, W. H. Price, S. W. Richardson, Jesse High, T. J. Hackney, Sr., Mrs. James B. Fretz, Bruce W. Riley, and Mrs. Lula Hackney Ruffin. The last named has served for the last twenty years. As the men increased in numbers and religious aptitudes the opportunity was clear for a constituted inclusiveness of such personnel to activate properly the churchly potential.
In April, 1925, it was announced that a “Men's Social Club had been organized with a membership of about 45.” There had been three monthly meetings on first Monday evenings “for a supper and a program very much enjoyed and largely attended.” So far as records indicate, it was short-lived. Perhaps a better name was needed, or the time may not have been ripe. Indeed an effective movement in this category among the men was long in maturing.
Sam Bundy of Farmville, N. C. was invited to come and help organize their Men's Fellowship Club in the Carolina Room on January 24, 1951. Fifty-one men attended. The last Tuesday evening in each month was appointed for regular meeting, “except when greatly inconvenient or undesirable.” After the first six years the local name was changed to Christian Men's Fellowship. It was affiliated from the beginning with their national headquarters.
Twelve presidents have served in order as follows: B. H. Conley, B. B. Plyler, Jr., Mark Anthony, Garland Grainger, Noel C. Carr, Pat Goodman, P. W. Creech, Bill Batts, J. W. Jomp, (3 terms), Allen W. Harrell, K. D. Bennett, and Joe A. Batts.
Its stated objectives: “To enlist all men in the church, to promote church and church school attendance, worship, and church fellowship, stewardship, church school work and evangelism. To be a working force for the minister and the church board, and to accomplish special projects for the church.” For a distribution of specific services the body was divided into eight groups with five men in each. The Projects and Plans Committee, A. D. Wenger, chairman, named certain prospective doings. These were: to provide needed utilities for the nursery; to furnish suplemental clerical help for The Church Bell, parish paper; to distribute the devotional booklet, “Secret Place”; and to place an identifying sign on the new building site. Volunteers assumed respective responsibility for all of these. Some noteworthy gifts have provided photographing of building operations for the new sanctuary, and funds for Boy Scout campings, and Student Loan Funds.
Two significant entries in the record book preserved by J. W. Jomp, Sr.: first, “It was moved and carried that meetings be held in the Carolina Room if the women of the church would feed us.” And a later one: “A standing vote of thanks was expressed to the ladies for the fine meal served.” The executive committee upon whom the arrangement of these culinary climaxes largely devolved, were: Kermit Lamm, Wiley Forbes, A. D. Wenger, B. B. Plyler, Jr., and R. L. Stevenson. Later serving in this capacity: Bruce W. Riley, Beli Lamm, Harry Laing, and Red Benton.
Attendance at the monthly dinners has varied with an average of about 30 over the entire period. Aside from their hosting functions for the Coastal Plains District, their largest crowd perhaps was on a “Ladies Night,” Mark Anthony presiding, attendance 104. Throughout in
their regular meetings about 40 guest speakers have enlivened their programs. Among these have been four from the Brotherhood's National Association, namely: Bill McKinney, Mark Rutherford, Jack Sutton, and Fred D. Sawyer.
A longer story is that of the Christian Women's Fellowship at Wilson. There the first to speak a bold and cogent word in the press for women's work in missions was Mrs. William H. Hughart, pioneer schoolteacher and wife of a devoted Christian minister. She wrote a stirring appeal, dated, Wilson, N. C., February 15, 1858, which was published in Dr. Walsh's Disciples’ Advocate the following April. Briefed, she said this:
The present crisis, when our congregations seem so cold and careless, should induce each of us to make the inquiry, am I the cause? I fear we are the hindering cause. The sinner looks at us and says that if the Bible teaches what these people say, they are very indifferent about its success. It is true we are not half as much in earnest about the salvation of our fellow-beings as we are to lay up the goods of this life. If we are not more devoted our lamp will go out. Not only those in our happy country should have our aid, but the heathen also have claims upon us. Let it not be said of us, North Carolina has done nothing; as we love the truth, let us give. I do believe that if we would be more liberal in the cause of Foreign Missions, God would bless us more at home. As our interest increases, our zeal also will be increased, and we will see glorious results.
My dear sisters, I address you specially. We have our part to perform in the great work. We can give our mites; they will help—and we can pray—the throne of grace is accessible. We ought to feel for our much degraded and trodden down sisters in those lands where the light of the Gospel does not shine. Let us be faithful.
This was thirteen years before permanent establishment of the Disciples at Wilson, and fourteen years before the earliest cooperative benevolent work among Disciple women in the State at Hookerton. Thirty-three years later, (1891), their groups in the State became
administratively affiliated with their National Christian Woman's Board of Missions. Not until 1899, 27 years after the Hookerton institutional beginning was there a local auxiliary at Wilson. Meanwhile there had long been an active, resourceful Ladies Aid Society which had helped materially in buildings erection, 1871, (frame), and 1898, (brick), along with other local developments. In this, an outstanding worker was Mrs. W. D. Hackney, I. There was “a special service for members who had served two centuries”, (19th and 20th), at the church on April 24, 1938. At this, Mrs. Hackney received a “certificate of long and faithful service, March, 1886-April, 1938.” She was long a tireless worker for her church.
In 1897 when Alice Hines and Mrs. Joseph Kinsey came to Wilson, a build-up began for organized participation by local Disciple women in world-wide missions. Wilson was not listed among the ten Auxiliary units of the C. W. B. M. in North Carolina in 1897, nor was it with the fourteen in 1898. But in that period Miss Hines, state superintendent of Children's Work had organized a Junior Mission Band which flourished. Katie Snakenberg, a member, reporting for it in April, 1898, said it was “the most interesting and instructive society in the Christian Church.” Further she said that at each roll call each member paid a penny per week and recited a Bible verse. May Hackney was president. The Band had pledged $30 support for an orphan at Bilaspur, India.
With Miss Hines in the local auxiliary which soon followed, the general work at state level tended to centralization at Wilson. Some years later it shifted to Kinston. Their “advisory board” in 1899, had four Wilson women on it, a majority; the four: Mesdames, W. D. Hackney, I, Calvin Woodard, Joseph H. Kinsey, and Miss Daisy Herring. Moreover in 1904, Mary Kilpatrick, state organizer, was resident in Wilson, while on their executive board for the State were five Wilson women, a large majority, namely: Mesdames: J. Boyd Jones, president; W. D. Hackney, I, Calvin Woodard, Lillie Rouse Edmundson, and Miss Daisy Herring. In 1899 Wilson's first C. W.
B. M. offering, $4.12, was made to the state development fund. Not until May and September of 1900, did the first Wilson offerings, (total $36.93), reach their national headquarters at Indianapolis.
Louise Kelly, national organizer for the C. W. B. M. and editor of the program department in Missionary Tidings, (C. W. B. M. journal), spoke at the Disciples’ State Convention at Wilson, October 24-27, 1899. Here she led in strengthening the new Wilson auxiliary. She had visited widely, therefore stated this observation: “Organizaing work is sorely needed in our Southern States, where our sisters have so long been held back by tradition and custom from entering into the joys of fellowship with Christ in active service.”
In the winter of 1900 there were strong efforts to increase Wilson's membership. At their meeting on February 1, new women uniting with it numbered 26. Since they already had 16, the enlarged membership of 42 was indeed encouraging. Pastor Melton, on the sidelines, was so enthusiastic that he recommended to the lone group a plan to support a missionary. Their officers at this time president, Alice Hines; vice president, Mrs. Joseph H. Kinsey; secretary, Mrs. W. T. Holden; treasurer, Mrs. K. H. Watson.
The count in the summer of 1902 showed a net gain of only two members, but their 18 members still made it the third largest Auxiliary in the State. They experienced one of the sad incidents of history, a temporary radical erosion of interest. Nobody came to their May meeting, and for the next month, Mrs. Holden, the secretary, reported: “The June, (1902), meeting had only two present, the president and myself—I cannot tell you why this indifference.” Moored at low tide, Melton demurely noted: “There is intense opposition to missionary work in Wilson.” Paradoxically however the church with 107 members was steadily increasing its gifts to missions. In 1903 when their annual salary to Pastor Jones was only $1,000, their offering to Foreign Missions, $282, was the highest of any sister church in the State.
It was hard sledding to interest the local women in subscribing for Missionary Tidings. This was their own highly useful monthly journal, widely regarded in its time, (1883-1918), as one of the best balanced sources of missionary information and inspiration in all Christendom. In 1904 the Wilson Auxiliary reported 21 members; it had religiously observed “Woman's Day” with offering of $13, but had only seven Tidings subscribers. The vital exercise of their reading privilege seemed thus to have been below par. The passing years saw an improvement at this salient. In 1913 with 34 members the subscribers numbered 20, and their total offerings were $175. Also their Young Peoples’ Department, Mrs. Richard Bagby, superintendent, had 35 members giving $125 that year to the C.W.B.M.
In 1926 national polity in Disciples’ woman's work changed to the Woman's Council plan for each local group. Frances F. Harper became the first president of the Wilson Council; other local officers: Mesdames: Howard S. Hilley, W. D. Hackney I, Perry Case, Julius Hardy, and Miss Mildred Ross, secretary. This consolidated the strength of Missionary Society and Ladies’ Aid. Structurally in this plan each woman in the church was accounted a member. The total group then had 12 Circles, leaders of which were: Mesdames: W. D. Adams, Sr., W. A. Burton, Bertha Riley Crosby, T. J. Hackney, Sam Harrell, S. G. Mewborn, Z. Motzno, Sollie Winstead, Dave Woodard, and Misses: Sadie Greene, Myrtie L. Harper, and Bessie Rouse.
In May, 1934, Frances F. Harper declared: “This Wilson Council is numerically the largest organization of women affiliated in support of our United Christian Missionary Society in the State. Their offerings this past year [of depression] to the U. C. M. S. was $900. The task is not for the few but for all. The whole church must bring united forces to the whole task.”
World Call superseded Missionary Tidings as official journal for their National Woman's Work in 1919. Assigned in the day of the Councils was an Honor Roll
standard for each local group. Thus in July, 1944, the Wilson correspondent reported eleven new subscribers there, and added: “We intend to be on the Honor Roll for World Call every year; our goal for next year is a 25% increase in subscriptions.” About this time the Council recommended that the new local church library be named in honor of Francis F. Harper, (1870-1940). In October, 1946, the Council adopted a budget of $1800 for the forthcoming year, “a 20% increase over the previous year.”
On January 2, 1950, in conformity with their Brotherhood's plans, the Wilson Council changed its name to Christian Women's Fellowship. Retained was the system of enrolling every woman within the church. In 1952 the local C.W.F. contributed over $7,000 on the building of the new sanctuary. In 1958 its initial contribution to the building of the new educational plant on the Benton lot was $440.78. The National C.W.F. Retreat is held each Quadrennium at Purdue University at La Fayette, Indiana. Representative women from Wilson attending in 1957, were: Mesdames: Garland Granger, Boyce Preslar, Coy Smith, and Miss Sadie Greene; in 1961: Mesdames: Bernard C. Meece, and George Watkins.
Present membership in Wilson's C.W.F. is reportedly 458, with 15 Circles. The aggregate of its offerings to the U.C.M.S. for the past five years is $12,067.67. Their roll of presidents serving Council and Fellowship, 1926-1962 is as follows:
Mrs. W. D. Adams, Sr., Mrs. F. S. Hodges, Mrs. Frank Barnes, Mrs. F. A. Jefferson, Mrs. Ernest Batton, Mrs. E. B. Jordan, Mrs. Joe A. Batts, Mrs. J. H. Little, Mrs. H. F. Bell, Jr., Mrs. W. E. Minschew, Mrs. W. A. Burton, Mrs. Buck Rawlings, Mrs. O. P. Dickinson, Mrs. Bruce W. Riley, Mrs. Jack Forbes, Mrs. W. G. Spencer, Jr., Mrs. Vance Forbes, Sr., Mrs. E. C. Stallings, Mrs. T. J. Hackney, Sr., Mrs. H. A. Walker, Sr., Mrs. W. D. Hackney, III, Mrs. C. C. Ware, Frances F. Harper, Mrs. Sollie Winstead, Mrs. Howard S. Hilley, Mrs. W. L. Wooten.
Ministers, First Christian Church, Group 1. Upper left, A. J. Battle; upper right, P. E. Hines; center, M. T. Moye; lower left, J. H. Foy; lower right, R. J. Taylor.
C. W. Howard
H. C. Bowen
J. J. Harper
R. W. Stancill
R. D. Harding
Ministers, First Christian Church, Group 2. Upper left, C. W. Howard; upper right, H. C. Bowen; center, J. J. Harper; lower left, R. W. Stancill; lower right, R. D. Harding.
D. W. Davis
B. H. Melton
J. C. Caldwell
J. Boyd Jones
W. S. Bullard
Ministers, First Christian Church, Group 3. Upper left, D. W. Davis; upper right, B. H. Melton; center, J. C. Caldwell; lower left, J. Boyd Jones; lower right, W. S. Bullard.
S. P. Spiegel
J. E. Stuart
C. Manly Morton
C. D. Weeks, present Living Link Missionary
Ministers, First Christian Church, Group 4. Upper left, S. P. Spiegel; upper right, Richard Bagby; center, J. E. Stuart; lower left, C. Manly Morton, former Living Link Missionary; lower right, C. D. Weeks, present Living Link Missionary.
T. T. Swearingen
C. A. Jarman
Jo M. Riley
James G. Wallace
Ministers, First Christian Church, Group 5. Upper left, T. T. Swearingen; upper right, C. A. Jarman; center, John Barciay; lower left, Jo M. Riley; lower right, James G. Wallace.
The brick building, First Christian Church erected, 1898. (now dismantled).
An interior view of this brick church.
Upper: The brick building, First Christian Church erected, 1898. (now dismantled). Lower: An interior view of this brick church.
The First Christian Church Education Building, erected, 1938.
The Carolina Room, (Assembly Hall), in First Christian Church Education Building, erected, 1938.
A group, (1958), of descendants of the Charter members of the First Christian Church.
A group, (1958), of members of First Christian Church, who individually had been Disciples of Christ for fifty years or more.
Upper: A group, (1958), of descendants of the Charter members of the First Christian Church. Lower: A group, (1958), of members of First Christian Church, who individually had been Disciples of Christ for fifty years or more.
A group of seventy-six persons standing in front of the chancel, First Christian Church, March 16, 1958, who had responded that day to the invitation for new membership.
Architect's view of the projected new Education Building (Tarboro Street), of First Christian Church.
It has been said that the Church of Jesus Christ on earth is always just one generation removed from extinction. Granted the truth of this thesis, it follows that the corporate Christian teaching and development of the whole of its susceptible, voluntary adherents, particularly of its youth, is of first importance. Wherefore the relevant church application of this concept by Wilson Disciples is of interesting account.
John James Harper, regarded as the “Father of Atlantic Christian College,” began his Wilson pastorate on November 12, 1882, twenty years before the College opening. On January 15, 1883, he wrote:
“Our members at Wilson number about 25. It is a thriving town, with good schools, good water, a healthy, intelligent population. Our Sunday School meets every Lord's Day evening at 3 o'clock, Bro. M. T. Moye, superintendent. I am highly pleased with the field where there is more work and more self-denial than I have been accustomed to bestow, but I hope and pray for more grace and ability also.”
A Wilson correspondent in the summer of 1900 observed: “Our Sunday School is doing well. We recently changed its time of meeting from the afternoon to the morning. Our attendance is not quite as large but the interest is fully as good. Our Young Men's Prayer Meeting was organized in February, 1900, and has since been doing good work. We consider it one of our most important organizations.”
Tides of growth were experienced when the Richard S. Martin Family, with a corps of able musical assistants, closed their revival here on April 21, 1905, with 75 additions. Pastor J. Boyd Jones reporting it said: “A large number of these new members are young people whose parents are in no wise identified with the Christian
Church. Our future is full of hope. We have determined by the help of God to build up a large church here in Wilson.”
After M. T. Moye, of 1882, the first of record as superintendent of their chlurch school, was Robert J. Taylor in 1885. Enrollment was then 43, including 6 teachers. The annual offerings, $25.85, were the highest among the 22 Disciple schools in N. C. reporting that year. Fifty-three such schools responded with data in 1887, with T. J. Herring listed as the Wilson superintendent. Other superintendents for the next 42 years at Wilson until 1927, when superintendencies were departmentalized, in order of time, were: George Hackney, J. B. Batts, J. I. Thomason, S. P. Spiegel, T. P. Cobb, O. W. Johns, H. E. Barlow, J. Ernest Paschall, J. W. Jomp, Perry Case, and John Barclay.
Enrollment in 1900 had climbed to 94, including 9 teachers. A decided gain was registered in 1911, with 325 on the roll. Meanwhile a Young Peoples Department began to function in 1905 with 35 members, 30 subscribers to King's Builders, 7 conversions, and $37 in offerings that year. The Wilson Church school enrollment grew from 43 in 1885, to 629 in 1961.
Serving as earliest equipment at Wilson was the one room frame building so prevalent for such purpose in eastern N. C., 1871 to 1898, during the first 11 years of which no Disciple church school at Wilson is of record. The brick church of 1898 was an improvement for the average attendance of less than 100, but not until after 1908 when adjunctive rooms were added on the west side did the enrollment top 300. Then for thirty years it remained near this figure, actually registered only 250 in 1938. However at this time their new educational plant next door was opened and the enrollment shot up to 402. Then added to the staff were 14 new teachers and departmental officers to serve the increase, and 77 new members were added to the church that year. With the opening of the new stone sanctuary and Adams Chapel in January, 1954, some educational rooms were available in exchange
for the brick church which was soon razed, and the open space, (64 X 112), devoted to children's recreation.
Needs were piling up for a better housing of the resurgent school. A conference report by the Future Development Committee, Bruce W. Riley, chairman; Sadie Greene, secretary, on April 10, 1957, “pointed out that one of the major problems facing this church to-day is the need for expanded educational facilities. The available equipment is entirely too limited for the job to be done.” Charles J. Betts, Brotherhood architect, was called from Indianapolis, to make a thorough survey in this field in the summer of 1957. Early in 1958, a “Building Expansion Committee” was set up “to plan for enlarged religious education facilities.” There was still but 26 rooms, (7 departments), for 31 classes, after 8 of the classes had moved into the residence on the newly-purchased Benton lot in October, 1959. An elaborate report by Betts concluded by recommending that an educational plant adjacent to the church be constructed to provide for at least 580 persons. This is now in the offing, and a visualized plan adopted.
Provided in October 1946, was an adequate visual aid equipment, “not to be loaned in any event.” A “four-year plan for advance in education” had been adopted in April, 1942, early in the Wilson pastorate of T. T. Swearingen. A year later the official board set up an Educational Committee, to be a responsible executive group administering the church school. Cecil A. Jarman, then a resident member, and Director of Religious Education in the State was Chairman; later during Jarman's Wilson pastorate, Bruce W. Riley served as chairman.
Summarizing broadly and briefly the varied youth functions at First Christian entails many facets. We start with the babies where naturally our humanity begins. Bess Adams relates that her pastor, Richard Bagby, 1912-1918, visited her home after the gift of each of her new-born, and kneeling at the bedside asked a blessing upon parents and child, invoking for father and mother a sense of relevant Christian dedication. A quarter of a century passed and the idea came to flower in a
seasonal practice. Then Mrs. W. L. Wooten insisted to her pastor, John Barclay, that it seemed to her that the grandest providential gift to her had been the birth of her daughter; wherefore a dedicatorial recognition of this at the church would be highly appropriate. Thus the first such service called “Blessing of the Babies,” was held on March 31, 1940, and has since followed at due seasons. It was reported in 1939 that the annual Children's Day for Missions in the church school had been observed in June successively for 50 years, and that for each of the past 20 years the offering had not fallen below $100. Currently, three functional Fellowships are: Chi Rho Fellowship for those in Junior High School, Vance Forbes, president, enrolling, 72; Christian Youth Fellowship, Garland Grainger, president, enrolling 60, one of whom, Bill Cubberley, is State C. Y. F. president; and a selective group in United Campus Christian Fellowship, (interdenominational, meeting at First Christian), Scarlett Mills of Kinston, N. C., president.
Wilson Disciples have an excellent record in fostering the Scouts. The order is chartered directly by Congress and the President of the United States is its Honorary Chairman. Their individual vow: “I will do my best to build, to serve, and to achieve.” Currently hundreds are enlisted under various church auspices in the Wilson District. It was said of First Christian in May, 1933, that in this cause it “was taking a praiseworthy part in eastern N. C.” Further: “Troop No. 2, led by Scoutmaster A. D. Shackelford, and Troop No. 10 led by John Barclay are outstanding.” Chairman of the Scout Troop Committee in 1943 was J. Ernest Paschall. Four classifications are: Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Brownies. In 1950, Cecil B. Lamm leading Troop 10 was “honored in its 25th anniversary by the National Council.” In May, 1941, “the Girls’ Scout Troop was greatly encouraging.” Serving as leader was Bess Adams. Later a troop of 22 girls was sponsored by Mrs. Tyrus Bissette and Mrs. Estelle Walston.
The Daily Vacation Bible School held each June for a quarter-century at the church is an important educational
feature. It has generally been reported as “successful and effective.” These have been well staffed. A typical one perhaps is that of 1956, which Mrs. Allan R. Sharp supervised, when more than 200 were enrolled, instructed by 50 teachers. Youth Sunday is observed in the morning worship at First Christian on the national January date. In the one for 1959 members of youth groups had “complete charge,” serving as elders, deacons, ushers, and leaders in worship; Sharon Ginn and Jimmy Boswell brought the morning messages.
A Home Department functioned in the church school in 1952, headed by Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Grainger. Various organized classes in the school have inspiring records. An instance is the Fellowship Class, six of whose past presidents were presented awards at a banquet on November 21, 1957. These were: R. M. Beamon, H. P. Benton, Jr., J. S. Goodman, Jr., Mrs. Boyce Preslar, Lloyd Chesson, and John E. Riley. Guest speaker, Neil Lindley was moved to say: “We will be able to grow because people are talking stewardship more than ever before.” The Friendship and other classes and departments in the school deserve honorable mention.
Wilson personnel has consistently given vital support to the state-wide Youth Conferences from their beginning at Neuse-Forest, June 3-9, 1929. It is typical that five of the faculty at Neuse-Forest, including deans of men and women, director of recreation, instructor in “Christian Home,” and vespers speaker were from the Wilson church. The aggregate of Wilson's gifts to the construction of Camp Caroline in 1953-’54 was $1758.22. At Christmount also leaders and investors from First Christian have been in evidence since 1947.
There has been a vast and variegated voluntary supervision of the educational ensemble at the local church with its complex related activities. And there has been regular salaried service for nine successive full-time directors and four part-time, for the period, 1946-1962. For the initial venture in this intensified program, it was announced: “We welcome Mrs. Eloise Case Smith, (later,
Mrs. Ernest P. Batton) as our Director of Religious Education at the local church beginning June 1, 1946.” Pastor Jarman early in his Wilson ministry, Dec. 3, 1945, had been “empowered to employ a Religious Education Director at annual salary, $1200.” Mrs. Smith began the following June at an increased salary. She was of well-trained home talent, daughter of Professor and Mrs. Perry Case. She resigned on March 10, 1947, accepting a position at the Wilson County Library.
The next month, Vera F. Rogers, native of Roanoke, Va., was called at salary, $1800, representing no increase in pay. She is the daughter of Professor and Mrs. Vere H. Rogers, the father being on the faculty of Atlantic Christian College. A Lynchburg College graduate she had recently completed her Master of Religious Education degree at Duke University, and was “highly recommended for this new position.” She resigned on May 10, 1948.
In July, 1948, it was reported: “Robert M. Clarke, Jr., ministerial student at A. C. College has been called as director of Youth activities at our Wilson Church. He is from our Peachtree Church, Atlanta, Ga., where he has for two years received considerable experience and training in leadership of youth. For the summer only will he be with us. He will also promote a program of leadership training for adult counsellors.”
In succession Mae Louise Brown accepted the call to begin service on October 14, 1949. She had been a secretarial assistant at the U. C. M. S. rooms, Missions Building, Indianapolis. Her experience in leadership of youth had been at St. Joseph, Mo., and at University Church, Indianapolis. It was said: “Here she will direct the total educational program, including youth activities, and as such will be a vital factor in the administrative staff of the local church.”
After Miss Brown, Goodwin, (“Goodie”), Moore, was serving in January, 1952. He attended the December, 1951, meeting of the Executive Committee of the International C.Y.F. Commission at Indianapolis and was assigned the preparation of “Morning Watch” materials
to be used in Youth Conferences throughout our American Brotherhood.
In April, 1952, Ruby E. Craddock, native of Chatham, Va., was called as Director, who began at Wilson in the following July. She had in the preceding month received her M. R. E. degree at the College of the Bible, Lexington, Ky. In the Central Christian Church of that city, she had led in the Children's Division program, and had served in Laboratory Training Schools, Christian Education Institutes, and in Leadership Training. A Wilson announcement said: “She comes highly recommended and we look forward to an ever-expanding program of effective Christian education.” In October, 1955, she resigned, effective the following November 15; she went to a like position at Hopkinsville, Ky.
Part-time service at Wilson in this vocation was given by A. C. College Ministerial students in 1955, 1958, and 1959. These were: Bill Boswell, Gwen Stanley, Wayne Quinton, and Patsy May.
A graduate of A. C. College is Mrs. Jack Dennis Herndon, (nee Nan Mattox), of Wendell, N. C., who began as Director at Wilson on July 8, 1956. The month before she had received her M. R. E. degree at Texas Christian University. She had practical experience in Fort Worth, Texas, at Arlington Heights, and University Christian Churches. As announced locally: “Nan's special area of work will be in the church school and with the Youth Departments. She will supervise the school and assist in program planning for the church.” Having married in December, 1956, then removing to Raleigh, N. C., she resigned June 15, 1957. As reported: “she was with the church a little less than a year but her work has stimulated its educational program.” Albeit she was reemployed, July 21, 1957, at salary, $3600, inclusive of car allowance, and “led in setting up the program for the coming year.”
After part-time leadership by some college students, Richard Fay Rundell, was called and installed as Minister of Christian Education on July 3, 1960. A graduate of Lynchburg College he had received M.A. and B.D. degrees
at Hartford Theological Seminary, having majored in Religious Education there. He was ordained in his home church at Canton, Pa., on May 29, 1960. His experience had been with youth camps in Virginia and New York, and with the Virginia Council of Churches in weekday religious programs. He resigned, effective June 30, 1962, to accept the Bath, N. C., Christian Church pastorate. While an incumbent at Wilson he was appointed chairman of the Disciples’ Children's Work in the State.
On July 21, 1962, the official board called Richard Vance Ziglar to the local Ministry of Christian Education. A Tarheel and highly honored graduate of A. C. College, he had received his M.R.E. degree from Texas Christian University. Then from June, 1958, he had served Seventh Street Christian Church, Richmond, Va., in his chosen educational capacity. Also in his students days in the “Lone Star State,” he had served likewise in the churches at Fort Worth, and Paris. In his native state he was long an effective leader in youth activities, statewide and local. He now leads a varied area in the local church school, in programs of youth, adult education, missionary education, and other educational emphases.
Noteworthy contributions to Christian hymnody has been made by American Disciples. From the Cane Ridge, Ky. revival of 1801 came the words of three hymns by Barton W. Stone. Used widely in his generation was the best known of these, having ten verses, with the first line: “The Lord is the fountain of goodness and love.” Knowles Shaw, (1834-1878), composed the popular “Bringing in the Sheaves,” and produced two notable Sunday School hymnals in the 1870's, entitled “Sparkling Jewels”, and “The Morning Star.” James Henry Fillmore (1849-1936) of the widely-patronized Fillmore Brothers authored “Tell Mother I'll Be There,” marked by an endearing sentiment expressed in a memorable tune for the mind and heart of his generation. Jessie H. Brown Pounds, gifted poet, novelist, and dramatist, wrote “Beautiful Isle Of Somewhere”. Lovely in sentiment and used happily by many vocalists it yet incited some cynical caricatures. A remarkable production has come from Frank C. Huston, (1871-1959), singing evangelist. He wrote the music for a round hundred of his “Hymns and Gospel Songs,” composing the words also for 84 of these. To his best known “It Pays To Serve Jesus” he gave both words and music. It has been sung the world around and is translated into many languages. Several of his other effusions have seen general use. The foregoing is but a partial list. Other Disciple hymnists have served creatively and with distinction since Cane Ridge.
Specifically two Wilson Disciples have had a creative part in this area of worship. W. S. Martin and wife, (listed C. D. Martin in musical composition), lived in Wilson, 1916-1918, at 605 West Kenan Street. From them at an earlier date came both words and music for “God Will Take Care Of You”, (Hope Publishing Co.) It has been widely used, particularly by Homer Rodeheaver.
She (Mrs. Martin), wrote the words also to “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” The felicitous refrain to this which follows, is pleasantly remembered by many soloists who have used it:
- I sing because I'm happy. I sing because I'm free.
- For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
The First Christian at Wilson, having but 25 members in 1882, eleven years after its permanent organization, seems not to have had an organized choir with instrumentation in the interval. A general custom of the times was to have free congregational singing directed by an experienced leader. This the faithful fully enjoyed, using their well-worn pocket-sized tome, “Hymns and Spiritual Songs,” of Disciple vintage. First reference to a musical instrument is given by Pastor John J. Harper in July, 1883, when their “accomplished organist” was then among the five additions in their seasonal revival. How long their organ had been possessed is beyond our ken. Of the 1058 resident communicants currently enrolled, it appears as of record that Mrs. William T. Spillars is the oldest in point of membership. She was baptized by Pastor Dennis Wrighter Davis on March 13, 1895. At her baptism the four verses of No. 673 in an early song book was used by the congregation. The composers, (1872), were John Nicholson and William G. Fischer; the first line: “Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;” its title, “Whiter Than Snow;” the theme based on Ps. 51:7. Singers in an early mixed quartette at the church were: J. B. Batts, Florence Herring, Mittie Herring, and Robert J. Taylor. A slight impediment in the voice of the last named caused him ever and anon to trail by a word in the concerted cadence.
Extant records point to Mittie Herring, (Mrs. Graham Winstead), as probably their first organist. She was born January 20, 1867, thus was sixteen years of age at the time she played for their revival in July, 1883. Since she was twelve she had played. Her father, Thomas
James Herring, (Oct. 15, 1840-Jan. 26, 1897), native of Sampson County, N. C., had removed to Wilson in January, 1883. Mittie's sister, Florence, (Mrs. E. B. Stallings), born in 1875, also played, and was remarkably gifted. She practically began when she was eleven years old when her feet barely reached the pedals of the reed instrument. She never knew a note. Her instinctive ear and memory sufficed admirably for her part. Her father, an accomplished singer, who knew the notes well and led the choir, would often strike the key for her as she began a number. A loyal family in the service of song the Herrings have continuously made a large contribution.
In the church school some fifty years ago a small orchestra functioned. Participating were: Bertha Riley, (Mrs. Crosby), at piano; Ephraim Harrell, cornet; G. L. Herring, trombone, and Needham C. Holden, violin. Edward T. Stallings, Wilson's most gifted violinist, served the church choir for three years.
At the first vesting of the choir it was reported: “Beginning on Palm Sunday, March 20, 1932, our choir has been vested. This was done with the approval of the Woman's Council and the church board. The atmosphere of simplicity and dignity thus makes contribution to the worship hour.” At their Christmas programs in the 1930's the three choirs participated which drew audiences, “overflowing the building.” After the coming of the radio, on February 13, 1938, “a motion was passed to continue the solo during communion on the Sundays that broadcasting is from our church.” Ten years later “both of the Wilson radio stations were to be used in turn for our church worship.” For congregational singing, 250 new hymnals were provided in January, 1946. A Junior Choir was organized in October, 1947.
In January, 1954, the last anthem in the brick church was “Peace I Leave With You;” Mrs. H. M. Holliday gave the solo part. At the opening of the stone church, immediately following, the first solo was by Nancy Forbes; the title: “Bless This House.” At the Christmas
program, 1957, four choirs served, namely: Carol, Chi Rho, Boys, and Chancel, with combined personnel of 92. The 36 singing in the Chancel Choir then, were: 15 sopranos, 9 altos, 7 tenors, and 5 basses.
Reed and hand-pumped organs were used at First Christian for a quarter-century. The use of their pumporgan provided for their new brick church soon to be completed, dated from April, 1898, when it was stated: “Our ladies have paid for the new organ.” The pipe organ installed in February, 1907, lasted for 47 years. Impartially it was said to have the finest tone of any such instrument in the city. It was circumstantially subjected to neglect however, thus on certain occasions it was mechanically wild or dumb. This entailed costly repairs with which the patient choristers and congregation were tolerant, while the always accessible piano was used.
In June, 1952, for the planned new sanctuary, (stone church), there was appointed “a special organ committee;” its personnel: B. J. Forbes, chairman, Lee Howard, Russell Roebuck, C. A. Jarman, Mrs. W. N. Hackney, II, and Mesdames: Bertha Crosby, and Lula Ruffin. It was decided that the new memorial instrument should not be used promisciously, and that “every caution possible must be used to protect it.” The employed organist was to be in complete charge of it; “the schedule of organ practicing” to be “posted on a bulletin board in the lobby;” and “the organ chamber to be locked at all times.” Adopted was the specific statement giving eight “principles governing the use of the organ.” Its installation was completed on December 30, 1953; its sales number, 8541, from the M. P. Moller Company, Hagerstown, Md., said to be the “largest organ company in the world,” and which has now served for 84 years. The Company's workmen installing it were: J. H. Presgraves, E. E. White, and C. G. Stancill, whose “ability and genuine interest,” impressed observers. The instrument was given by Mr. and Mrs. Willis N. Hackney II.
First hymn used on it by Mrs. Crosby, was: “Hark The Herald Angels Sing;” then “He Leadeth Me.” On October 21, 1961, Mrs. Crosby became assistant organist, retiring after an exceptional term of 35 years in faithful, efficient service. On the preceding September 20th there had been “a fellowship dinner given in her honor,” at which Pastor Wallace as a token of appreciation, “presented her a wrist watch with appropriate inscription on the back.” In his tribute to her, he said: “Most of the people here tonight have come to maturity of faith under the leadership of your playing. Because music melts and molds the heart, you have indelibly influenced the thinking, feeling, and decisions of the church. As we have listened we have found healing for our hearts. We have returned to the world of noise and fear composed and ready to bring healing insight and faith to troubled times.” She had begun at an early day in John Barclay's pastorate who observed how dependable and punctual she was. Tradition has it that he offered her two boxes of candy for each delay of a “split second” in her appearance at the appointed time. A laconic chronicler said: “After four boxes he quit.”
Following is an alphabetical roll of the regular organists at the church, some of whom also doubled as choir directors.
|1. Burleigh, W. J.||10. Muilberger, A. E.|
|2. Cobb, James V.||11. Pierce, Mae (Mrs. T. B. Woodall)|
|3. Fontaine, John W.|
|4. Hackney, Martha.||12. Riley, Bertha (Mrs. W. L. Crosby)|
|5. Herring, Florence (Mrs. E. B. Stallings)|
|13. Settle, Harriet (Mrs. B. B. Plyler, Sr.)|
|6. Herring, Mittie (Mrs. Graham Winstead)|
|14. Snakenberg, Alice (Mrs. W. T. Holden)|
|7. King, Nora|
|8. Kinsey, Ina, (Mrs. Taylor)||15. Stuart, Blanche (Mrs. George W. Gates)|
|9. Mercer, Helen (Mrs. Mack Swindell)|
Following is an alphabetical roll of the regular choir directors at the church:
|1. Barnes, Rebecca||9. Holliday, Mrs. H. M.|
|2. Cobb, James V.||10. Howard, Lee|
|3. Druckenmiller, Elizabeth W.||11. Luke, Ray|
|12. Peery, William Wallace|
|4. Eller, Roscoe|
|5. Fulton, Harriet||13. Roebuck, Russell|
|6. Grove, Eugene F.||14. Settle, Harriet (Mrs. B. B. Plyler, Sr.)|
|7. Herring, T. J., Sr.|
|8. Hinton, Mrs. Nanelle P.||15. Yavorski, Mrs. E. E.|
Drama may be defined as a “series of happenings that seem like those of a play.” This meaning accepted, it becomes part and parcel of universal life as we are privileged to experience and envision it. It is thus an inherent factor of the Christian religion eternally relevant to the whole of life's issues. The dramatic element in the teaching career of Jesus is clear. The Old Testament is replete with the histrionic for those who have eyes to see. The story of Job is one of the sublime dramas of all time. The best in the plays of Shakespeare is essentially a dramatization of certain emphases in the English Bible. Our world is indeed in the context of storied treasure.
Beginning during John Barclay's pastorate, organized dramatics in the Wilson Church has been articulate for almost a quarter-century. Also informal practices of it have been interspersed. Pastor T. T. Swearingen once in a morning worship illustrated how sinners may wilfully do away with Biblically-oriented standards. Acting out the respective delinquents he took a copy of the Book and with clippers sheared away with precision the crucial passages, one by one which were to be actually nullified by the specified conduct of the impenitent. On thinking hearers it made a profound impression. His first pastoral message to Wilson, 1941, was entitled: “The Corridor to Christmas.” It was his story of a flowing fountain at the World's Fair, which “seemed to bring the peace and quiet of a countryside indoors.” It was an approach to where “beauty was supreme and souls were receptive.” Evoked was a spiritual preparation for a Christmas, in which one might not “miss so much”.
At a midnight watch service, December 31, 1950, the old church bell which had been silent for fifty years, rang in the new half-century. It had taken “seven good men and true to condition the bell for its sweet and timely service.” When Pastor Jarman's flock moved from the
brick to the stone church, on January 17, 1954, two honored elders Herbert W. Taylor and J. R. Woodall, carried the Bible in solemn procession to its new stance in the Gothic-embowered pulpit. A gavel was made from the wood in the old church and entrusted to Chairman Jack Forbes to strike the first parliamentary call in the stone-church era. When on December 7, 1958, their mortgage of formidable proportion had been paid, the burning of the cancelled papers in the sanctuary was a meaningful spectacle.
Sadie Greene, a qualified leader, who had a growing talent in public dramatic presentation was encouraged by Pastor Barclay to initiate, develop, and stage the first religious drama at the local church. She became an accomplished director. Briefed here is her account of the beginning of this well-accepted service:
Since 1926 we had in process a building fund for a much needed Education Building. In its planned assembly hall, known as the Carolina Room there was to be a stage with curtain. I had expected these facilities to offer great possibilities. The building was dedicated and put into use in September, 1938. I decided to attempt the production of a Christmas pageant that year. I selected the “Christmas Pageant of the Holy Grail” by W. Russell Bowie, with a cast of 26 and a reader. It required several changes of scenery, elaborate lighting, and so much depended on the music that the use of the organ was necessary. For this the Carolina Room facilities were inadequate. So our first pageant was produced in the sanctuary with surprisingly wonderful results.
There was a capacity crowd at the church an hour before our scheduled start. Mr. Barclay appeared just before we began and was visibly disturbed. He saw the overflow crowd; he knew that the cast had to enter down the various aisles; he was aware that our improvised lighting equipment was a fire hazard. He called Charlie Darden, of the Wilson Fire Department aside, who hurried out to return promptly with fire extinguishers to serve in an emergency. The audience never knew of this safety measure. John Thomas of the Wilson Daily Times staff attended and his unsolicited report was highly complimentary.
He said in the Times: “Several hundred people were turned away at the door and so the pageant is to be presented again for those who were turned away. The music perfectly blended was played by Mrs. Bertha Crosby and the choir did a fine job. To Miss Sadie Greene should go the credit which is truly hers for putting on the pageant so well.”
Miss Greene further says: “The success of this production did much to instill confidence in the director and the church as a whole. More than a hundred persons had some active part in making the pageant a success. All ages participated. The results obtained by our working together were most highly satisfactory. After this the interest in dramatics at the local church ran high. We decided to organize a dramatic club, and met on January 15, 1939, for that purpose.” It was named “The Christian Church Dramatic Club.” Its officers: president, Milton Adams; 1st vice president, Lula Hackney Ruffin; 2nd vice president, Joseph A. Batts; secretary, Julia Howard; treasurer, Bruce Bryant. The play of 1938 was repeated at Christmas, 1939.
A “One-Act Drama of the Crucifixion” was presented in the Carolina Room, March 22, 1940. Sadie Greene was director, assisted by Joseph A. Batts, stage manager; Carl Ross, assistant stage manager; Genevieve Highfill, consultant artist; Mrs. Raymond Morgan, costumer; and Elizabeth Ann Nall, prompter. On October 11, 1944, it was provided “that drama be made a part of the function of the Education Committee with Miss Sadie Greene as Director of Drama and that an amount not to exceed $25 be approved for materials.” This ceiling was raised to $100 per annum three years later. Meanwhile Miss Sadie Greene had taken a study course in the “Dramatics Workshop” at Denver University, Colorado.
Pastor Jo M. Riley had an inbred passion and capability for sacred pageantry. It marked strongly his spiritual leadership. For his first Christmas in Wilson the Worship Division, Mrs. Willis Hackney, chairman, announced a pageant to be given at vespers period, December 23, 1956. In his ministerial report for May, 1957, he reported that
during the seven weeks preceding Easter there had been in First Christian, 61 regular services, attendance 6785, and 18 special programs, including an Easter pageant, attendance, 1595. In the former, 306 persons had “places of leadership,” and in the latter, “more than 250”. He added: “The wide variety of programs illustrates how the church is seeking to provide various programs that can appeal to all the people.” The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was directed by Nan Mattox Herndon in 1957 with a cast of 35. Accompanying were “more than 90 persons in the four choirs.”
Early in 1958 the Wilson Council of Churches requested Pastor Jo M. Riley to produce and direct the pageant to be staged in the Recreation Building at Easter sunrise. This had a cast of 70. Riley said: “In many cases it would be easier for the minister to do the task himself but one of the purposes of the church is to help people to develop their abilities and talent.”
In April, 1958, Riley proposed a “Wedding Bells Service” for a morning worship hour in May, at which attending couples would “reaffirm their marriage vows.” By the official board it was “decided that this was unwise,” but an evening service for the unprecedented event was recommended if found advisable.
The Easter pageant authored by Riley was entitled “Triumphs of the Messiah.” The text had a porologue and twelve scenes in sequence as follows: He Taught Them; Parable of the Good Samaritan; Jesus Blessing the Children; the Prodigal Son; Teach Us To Pray; Entry of Jesus Into Jerusalem; The Lord's Supper; Gethsemane; Christ Before Pilate; Christ Bearing the Cross; The Crucifixion; The Resurrection.
The Wilson Daily Times of October 19, 1962, reported that Pastor James G. Wallace, current president of the Wilson County Ministerial Association and an active community leader, had been asked by the Wilson Chamber of Commerce through its “Wide-Awake Wilson” committee, Van B. Langley, chairman, to be chairman of the committee for the forthcoming Community Christmas Pageant.
It was presented “on a specially constructed stage in front of the Wilson County Courthouse during the second week in December.” Langley stated: “We received the support of our ministers and we are indebted to Mr. Wallace for consenting to serve as chairman of what we know is a significant event.”
An impressive drama written by Richard Vance Ziglar, and based on chapters 2, 4, and 5, of this history by C. C. Ware, was presented on November 12, 1962. Its title: “We Would Be Building”. It was staged with costumed choral accompaniment in the Wilson Community Building, the 600 persons in attendance giving it an enthusiastic acceptance. It stimulated interest in the forthcoming construction of the new education building. Its narration concluded: “Will we move into our new building on January 17, 1964; or will we be witnessing a ground-breaking service; or will we be in the process of construction? What date does the future have for this congregation? You are the ones who will continue to write the historical drama of this church. What will the next pages say to the future generations?”
At the conception and erection of the stone church there was spontaneous desire to adorn the spacious site and beautiful structure. Accordingly an advisory Memorials Committee was appointed who served; the members: B. B. Plyler, Jr., Chairman; Harold Seburn, (ex officio); Cecil B. Lamm, Jasper D. Davis; Mesdames: Ernest Batton, T. J. Hackney, and B. J. Forbes. The names of the persons memorialized with respective contributors, and of the makers of specified gifts are kept in the Memorial Room.
Following are these distinctive rolls, given alphabetically, and brought up to date, as of record.
I. Names of those memorialized, by respective media and by whom.
ANTHONY, T. L. (MARK). The chancel cross; by his wife, Mrs. Eunice Aycock Anthony, and sons, Claude and John.
BARNES, HOWARD FRANKLIN, SR., AND FULGHUM, JESSE CARL; exterior spotlights on steeple; by Mrs. Myrtle Fulghum Barnes, and other relatives.
BISSETT, C. H.; three front stairway light fixtures; by his daughter, Mrs. F. B. Eason.
BROWN, SYBIL; two silver communion trays; by the Mabel Case Class, (Friendship).
CLARK, MRS. HARRIET; the silver communion service; by Sidney P. Clark.
CLARK, MRS. HARRIET, AND FORBES, MRS. NAN; the stained glass windows; by their children and grandchildren.
DAVIS, IRA; the lectern, by his wife, Mrs. Eunice Davis.
FINCH, MR. AND MRS. BENJAMIN PERRY; a chancel chair, by their children.
GRIFFIN, K. FRANK; a chancel chair; by his wife and children.
HACKNEYY, MRS. BESSIE ACRA; the Maas tower chimes; by her daughter, Mrs. Bessie Hackney Adams.
HACKNEY, GEORGE, SR.; the memorial lot; (Vance and Tarboro Streets); by his daughter, Mrs. Bessie Hackney Adams.
HACKNEY, GEORGE, SR.; the memorial room; by Hackney Body Bus Company and its employees.
HACKNEY, MRS. SUE A. (W. D., I); the cross and candlesticks; by Miss Susan Hackney.
HACKNEY, W. D., I; the bronze plaque charter; by Mr. and Mrs. Willis N. Hackney, II.
HACKNEY, MR. AND MRS. W. D., I; The Moller Organ in the sanctuary; by Mr. and Mrs. Willis N. Hackney, II.
HACKNEY, WILLIS NAPOLEON, I; (1823-1887), memorial window originally given by his sons, transferred from brick to stone church by his grandson, W. N. Hackney, II.
HARDY, MRS. JULE R.; a side aisle lantern, (on left); by Mrs. Vazelle B. Batts.
HOWARD, MRS. J. S.; the painting, Madonna and Child, in Memorial Room; by William E. Minschew, Jr.
LANE, MRS. NETTIE; the Book of Remembrance; by her children: Mrs. Sybil Snouffer, Mrs. Janie Lane Wooten, Baynard Lane, and Raymond Lane.
LANE, ZEB.; a side aisle light fixture, (on left); by his wife, Mrs. Nettie Lane.
LITTLE, MR. J. H.; two silver communion trays; by his wife, Mrs. J. H. Little.
MILLHOUSE, JAMES IRVIN; the James Millhouse Youth Room; by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Millhouse.
MOYE, MOSES TYSON, AND WIFE, MOYE, PENELOPE E.; the balcony pews; by their grandchildren.
PETERSON, MISS MARY JANE; the vestibule light fixtures; by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. T. E. Peterson.
RICHARDSON, SAM W.; the lawn bulletin board; by his wife, Mrs. Mae Hackney Richardson.
RILEY, JACK O; the side aisle light fixture; (on right); by his mother and brothers and sisters.
RILEY, JOHN G.; the repository for the guest register; by his wife and children.
SHACKELFORD, A. D.; the organ grilles; by his many friends in appreciation of his services.
SMITH, MRS. LULA BELL; a nave pew; by Mrs. Thad Petway.
SPIEGEL, S. P.; SPIEGEL, EUNICE SETTLE; CALDWELL, J. C.; AND CALDWELL, MARY SETTLE; the silver offering plates; by Mrs. Harriet Settle Plyler.
STALLINGS, MRS. FLORENCE HERRING, (E.B.); a chancel chair; by Nora Stallings.
STRICKLAND, PEARL; two silver communion trays; by C.W.F. Circle 7, (Mrs. J. S. Goodman, leader).
SUTTON, MRS. ELIZABETH C.; a narthex light fixture; by Mrs. Harry Yarborough.
TAYLOR, HERBERT W.; a chancel chair; by a group of women.
TONEY, MR. AND MRS. EDWARD S., and TONEY, IDA; the concrete base for the walks; by Mr. and Mrs. Ben Royster.
TURNER, MRS. MARY MORTON; the Bible markers; by a friend.
TUTEN, CALVIN, AND TUTEN, MRS. MARY KATHERINE; the balcony lantern by Mary Katherine Jarman, and Cecil A. Jarman, Jr.
WALKER, JULIA; the flower vases; by the Mabel Case Class (Friendship).
WALSTON, W. L.; an outside light fixture; by his wife, Mrs. W. L. Walston.
WATERS, LUCIAN ALFRED; the dorsal curtain; by Waters Brothers.
II. Names of those making particular gifts applied to media as specified below:
ADAMS, W. D., SR. AND ADAMS, MRS. W. D., SR.; The Adams Chapel building with furnishings including the Baldwin Electric Organ in the Chapel.
BARDIN, MR. AND MRS. ALTON C.; a pew for the nave.
BARDIN, CLAYTON, JR.; front stairway light fixture.
BIRNBAUM, MRS. VIVIAN GRIFFIN; the minister's robe.
CHURCH SCHOOL CHILDREN AND YOUTH; 126 Church Hymnals.
CLASS, EVER READY; the hearing aid mechanism and public address system, the pulpit in the sanctuary, and the two seven-branch brass candelabra.
CLASS, MEN'S; the chancel pews given in honor of ministers: John Barclay, T. T. Swearingen, and C. A. Jarman.
CLASS, YOUNG ADULT; furnishings for the minister's study.
COLLINS, MRS. SADIE; the cornerstone.
COURIE, MR. AND MRS. GEORGE: the drinking fountain.
DANIELS, MR. AND MRS. MOSES, AND THEIR SONS: Barnes and John Hall Daniels; the silver chalice.
DAVIS, MRS. GEORGE, SR.; the pulpit Bible in the sanctuary in honor of her children.
GREEN, MR. AND MRS. W. L.; the lawn benches.
HARRIS, MRS. W. P.; the pulpit scarf.
HIGH, BERNICE, AND HIGH, JESSE; insulation for Youth Room.
HOFFMAN, MRS. RUBY: a light fixture for the narthex.
HORNE, ELMER: filing cabinet and desk.
HORNE, MRS. ELMER; a stair hall light fixture.
JAMES, MR. AND MRS. CHARLES; the lawn sun dial.
JOMP, JOHN W.; complete set of the Interpreters Bible for the church library.
JORDAN, MR. AND MRS. E. B.; a new piano in honor of their children.
PASCHALL, J. ERNEST; the spot-lighting equipment on the communion table.
SEBURN, HAROLD; the engraving on the gavel of the chairman of the official board.
SHARPE, MRS. W. H.: A side aisle light fixture, (on left).
STEVENSON MILLWORK COMPANY; the gavel made from wood in the old wood church.
TOMLINSON, CHARLES L.; the landscaping of the grounds.
WATSON, MR. AND MRS. HOWARD; the baptistry grille in honor of their four daughters.
WOOTEN, MRS. MAUDE HARRELL, (W. L.,) and WOOTEN, MISS KAY; a spotlight in the nave.
Many ministers, evangelists, and other religious leaders, ordained and unordained, have spoken in Wilson's First Christian pulpit. The men briefly sketched here are only those of the regularly employed pastors, the recorded shepherds of the flock. From 1853 when the local Disciples began their first worship group, to be discontinued for lack of due facilities in 1857, there were two pastors, A. J. Battle, a settled resident, and William H. Hughart, transient, who served the faithful, numbering less than a dozen. These two preachers have been presented in our chapters two and four of this monograph. Likewise, in the same chapters, two of the three serving from 1871 to 1876 and 1878-1880, namely M. T. Moye and P. E. Hines, have also been sketched. Moye served again in 1889, 1890.
Moreover during the earlier period, as stated above, Robert J. Taylor co-pastored the congregation with Moye and Hines. Taylor, a charter member baptized by Virgil A. Wilson, the pioneer evangelist in 1871, was a prosperous business man, who like many consecrated men of the period combined preaching with commercial pursuits. He supervised farms of Alpheus Branch. His home was in Wilson, but in 1884 he was proprietor of a planing mill at the village of Black Creek, seven miles south. The next year his name disappears from the state registry of Disciple ministers upon which he had been enrolled since 1872. He frequently represented his church at the annual state convention, at which representative assembly he sometimes preached. He served as a deacon in the local church from its organization April 27, 1871, to his death in July, 1912. In December, 1910, he and Mrs. Mary J. Pearce were the only two surviving charter members resident in Wilson.
The brilliant Joseph Henry Foy who ministered here in 1877 has also been previously sketched. While he was
pastor at Fourth Christian Church, St. Louis, Mo., he composed in 1889, The Christian Worker. This is an excellent “practical manual for preachers and church officials”, published by the old Christian Publishing Company of St. Louis. It has been widely used.
Biographical briefs of the later eighteen pastors of whom sixteen have been personally known by the author, at Wilson's First Christian, are presented as follows:
1882. HENRY CLEOPHAS BOWEN. Born July 26, 1858, in the Long Acre community, northern Beaufort County, N. C. He died at Cincinnati, O. in 1915, and was buried at Catherine Lake, N. C. His parents: H. H., and Ann Latham Boyd Bowen. His paternal ancestry was from England; his maternal from Scotland. He attended country schools and recalled “With delight his youthful pleasure in Peter Parley's History; Life of Franklin, and Life of Francis Marion.” He participated happily in school declamations and in the neighborhood debating society. In his public school the New Testament was used as a reader. His mind was turned to the ministry of the gospel. At seventeen he taught in his local school. Later he attended Plymouth, N. C. Academy. Baptized in May, 1875, he united with the Long Acre Chapel Disciples in his community. There he began to preach and was ordained in May, 1876. His ministry soon extended to churches in adjoining neighborhoods. He attended in 1878 the Farmville, N. C., Academy, Josephus Latham, principal, and much of his later achievement he attributed “to the spiritual nurture that he received during his personal fellowship with this godly man.”
He married Martha Josephine Sutton, of Hertford, N. C. in May, 1880. His first wife having died, he married Caroline Cox of Catherine Lake, N. C. on December 27, 1882. She was “an earnest and active helper in every department of church work and much of his success was due to her encouragement and assistance.” He evangelized successfully under the State Service in the Jones-Onslow (Southeastern) District, 1881-1884.
Beginning in June, 1885 he served the Kinston pastorate for two terms for a total of six years. At Williamston and Winston-Salem he led in building their first Disciple plants. Later he ministered to Belhaven and Wilmington, and edited The Carolina Evangel. Serving as Disciple State Secretary, 1890, 1891, he doubled and trebled their annual missionary gifts. In 1894 he was the Disciples’ State Superintendent of Christian Endeavor laboring “to give his people a correct understanding of the purposes, principles and methods of this great movement.” His life was filled with an energetic, tireless, work, and a constructive Christian ministry.
1882-1887. JOHN JAMES HARPER. Born at the Harper House, (now a Confederate shrine), April 10, 1841; died at Atlantic Christian College, January 17, 1908; the interment was at Smithfield, N. C. He was a planter, merchant, preacher, editor, statesman, and college president. Baptized by Henry Dennis Cason on July 29, 1860, he preached his first sermon, May 18, 1861, and qualified for enrollment in the Disciples’ ministry at their Pleasant Hill State Convention, October, 1862.
He was of English Quaker lineage; the immigrant, John Harper I, came with the William Penn settlement, arriving in Philadelphia, August 2, 1682. A grandson, John Harper III, (1762-1834), served under LaFayette and was present at the Yorktown surrender of Cornwallis. A great-grandson John Harper IV, (born February 18, 1803), and Amy Ann Woodard Harper, (1820-1900), were the parents of the subject of this sketch.
President John James Harper married Arrita Anderson Daniel of Pitt County, N. C., May 1, 1862. Serving as the Disciples’ State Evangelist, 1863-’65, his yearly salary of $1,000 was in “Confederate money.” Federal soldiers early confiscated his only horse; hence his foreshortened gospel travels for the duration was by “shank's mare.” When the movement in the Hookerton Union was launched to establish permanently the Disciples’ cause in the growing center of Wilson through the effective evangelism of Virgin A. Wilson of Bethania, N. C., Harper supported it
warmly. In his letter to Dr. Frank W. Dixon, of Hookerton, N. C., dated Bentonville, N. C., December 4, 1871, Harper said: “I would be delighted to see Bro. V. A. Wilson. I am grateful to learn that the Disciples in your region are becoming more active in evangelizing. It is high time for them to awake out of sleep. I trust this is the dawning of a brighter day. My heart sickens at seeing our Master's banners trailing in the dust.” Explaining his situation in the prevailing post-war adjustments, he added: “I am preaching regularly three times each month—twice for the whites and once for the colored. I am also doing considerate business in the way of merchandising which is greatly in the way of my preaching effectively”.
His home for a long period was near Smithfield, where he edited The Christian Visitor in the late 1870's and ’80's, and represented Johnston County in the State Senate. Among his pioneering pastorates were those at Wilson's Mills, Dunn, LaGrange, Wilson, Washington, and Kinston.
In 1908, a writer who said it had been his “pleasure to know Brother Harper very intimately”, declared:
When our State Convention undertook the work of building a College in this State, Brother Harper was a most important factor. He was the first chairman of its Board of Trustees and devoted his head and heart to that work. Persuaded by his fellow-trustees to become President of the College, he took it without any visible provision having been made to meet expenses. He worked without pay for some time; the interest grew; new students came; at his death he left the rooms there filled with students. He does not need a marble statue over his resting place. He has built one in the hearts of the people. The College is a monument to him.
Harper and close associates who shared his initiative and vision fashioned their State Constitution which was acceptable but unique. Dynamically administered it became a living shield for creating and maintaining a qualified ministry for North Carolina Disciples. This model
of democratic conventional control purposely saved many a Brotherhood headache from the sheer unfitness and incompetence of an intruding self-serving leadership.
Harper's personality for a quarter-century was perhaps the most outstanding and influential among his people of the State. By scrupulous care he preserved virtually intact the Disciples’ State Convention Records from 1841, onward, now appearing in that particular category to be incomparably the best in Discipledom for a like period of inclusiveness and continuity. He presided in eleven State Conventions. In his time he was the chief builder of their cooperative life.
1888. CURTIS WILLIAM HOWARD. Born in Lenoir County, N. C., October 28, 1853; died in Kinston, N. C. July 23, 1932. He is memorialized in the Howard Chapel on the Atlantic Christion College campus. Ordained in 1874 he gave 58 years’ ministry to a score of churches. With some he served long terms; at Armenia, 24 years; at Riverside, 23; at Salem, 19. At the time of his passing he was the dean of his fellow-ministers in the State. He was the resident founder of the Southwest Church which recently celebrated a unique and notable anniversary. He was state secretary for five years at a pioneering time. Moreover he was an active consultant on the State Board for a long period where his service was of inestimable executive value.
He attended his district school, and finally Wilson College in 1877, under the distinguished teacher Joseph Henry Foy. He taught mathematics for six years in the Kinston Collegiate Institute with R. H. Lewis. For a number of terms he was Superintendent of Lenoir County Schools which were greatly improved under his wise supervision.
He served a total of 32 years as Trustee for Carolina Christian College, at Ayden, (1893-1896), and for Atlantic Christian College, at Wilson, (1904-1932). He was in truth a founder of both institutions. Moving to
Kinston in 1915 he gave his entire time henceforth to religious work. Among a legion who knew him he was beloved. He loved the church and was like a father to many congregations in their prosperity as well as adversity.
His mantle fell on younger men commissioned of God to carry on looking to “the far-off Divine event toward which the whole creation moves.”
1891, (July to December). ROBERT DICKINSON HARDING. Born near Burkeville, Va., June 3 1861; died in Speers Hospital, Dayton Ky., June 26, 1935; the interment was in Burkeville, Va. He was of a highly esteemed Nottoway County, Va. family. He attended Louisa, Va. Male Academy, two years, and Randolph-Macon at Ashland, Va., one year. Associates in his youth nicknamed him “Bob Dick.” He graduated from The College of the Bible, Lexington, Ky. in June, 1891, coming at once to Wilson for a short ministry. Next his pastorates were at Somerset, Ky., three years, and at Bellevue and the adjacent Dayton, for a total of 41 years at the two places. He organized the Dayton Church and ministered there for 38 years. In point of continuous service he was the oldest Disciple minister in Kentucky at his passing. Meanwhile he gave exceptional church-building guidance, leading in erecting new houses of worship in Kentucky at Dayton, Fort Thomas, and Silver Grove; in his native Virginia at Roanoke, Jetersville, Ontario, Forest Grove, Rehoboth, and Church Roads; and in Ohio, at Moscow. He made his home with his sister, Carrie who cared for him tenderly in his last days.
1892-1893, ROBERT WILLIAM STANCILL. Born near Greenville, N. C., June 5, 1854; died, August 28, 1924; the interment was in Columbia Cemetery near Washington, D. C. He graduated at the College of the Bible, Lexington, Ky., 1883; his noteworthy oration there: “No Star Goes Down But Rises in Another Sky.” He then evangelized in Kentucky and Indiana; later was
the State Evangelist for a term in Virginia, and there in 1896, served the Hampton pastorate. At Troy, N. Y. he ministered 1885-1889, and led in completing the second plant of this historic New York church. While at Troy he wrote and published a book entitled: “The First and the Last Church”. In his native State he was the first located minister of the Winston-Salem Disciples, and was a founder of the New Bern Church.
He married Sallie Dixon, daughter of Dr. Frank W., and Sallie Rasberry Dixon, who lived on the old Winsor Dixon plantation near the present Maury, N. C. The Stancills had three sons and two daughters. Mrs. Stancill was “often called the model preacher's wife.” Ben Melton said of Stancill: “His fine sense of honor, his quiet devotion to the finest ideals of life, made his ministry a blessing to thousands.”
1894. No pastor. On the church roll were only 25 names; George Hackney, clerk. The reported total contribution that year, to “local work”, $15; to Foreign Missions, $7.50.
1895-1897. DENNIS WRIGHTER DAVIS. Native Tarheel, born near Jamesville, April 1, 1861; died at Washington, N. C., June 7, 1912; interment at Poplar Chapel, near Jamesville. Baptized by Joseph Grey Gurganus, in 1882, he attended schools taught by Henry C. Bowen at Catherine Lake, and by I. L. Chestnutt at Farmville. Further training he received at The College of the Bible, Lexington, Ky. He married Mary Cotten Johnson; there were nine children. He baptized thousands, fruits of his constant evangelizing. His pastorates in such fields as Wilson, where the membership was tripled during his term, and at Washington, and Greenville had profound and far-reaching effects. Nearly thirty years after the passing of Davis, J. Boyd Jones who knew him well, said: “I have heard great preachers in America, and also
some of the best beyond the seas, but in my opinion none could preach with greater power than D. W. Davis.”
The monument memorializing Davis erected at Poplar Chapel in 1923, the gift of grateful friends, is inscribed:
An advocate of “The Plea” building strong churches of Christ on his native soil
An evangelist for Christ in the “Old North State” serving effectually with self-sacrifice
A devout man of vision and noble initiative being a founder of the North Carolina Christian Missionary Convention and of Atlantic Christian College.
After DENNIS WRIGHTER DAVIS there have been twelve Wilson pastors as follows:
1897-1902. BENJAMIN HURON MELTON. Born at Pollocksville, N. C., September 20, 1868; died in Suburban Hospital, Bethesda, Md., October 8, 1944; the interment was beside his wife, Eva Kinsey Melton, in Washington, D. C. Surviving were their son and daughter, Joseph C. Melton, of Bethesda, Md., and Frances Melton, (E. H.), Leamon, of St. Petersburg, Fla. Melton was ordained by J. W. McGarvey at Lexington, Ky., on June 9, 1892. He graduated at The College of the Bible there in June, 1895, after attending New Bern, N. C. Collegiate Institute and teaching several sessions. Further study he had at Harvard University.
It appears that his five most important pastorates were: in North Carolina at Wilson; in Virginia at Hanover Ave., Richmond; in Maryland at Twenty Fifth St., Baltimore; and in Washington, D. C., at Columbia Heights, and Ninth Street. Finally before retirement in 1940 he served for eight years as West Virginia State Secretary. When he was pastor at Ninth Street, that church was said to have the largest enrolled membership of any congregation of like faith on the Atlantic Seaboard. He was directly instrumental in adding 2480 persons to the churches. He directed 34 young men to the ministry, including J. Warren Hastings of the National City Church. He made 24,880 pastoral calls. He served in many Brotherhood capacities. His final ministry, (ad interim), was at the Mirror Lake Church, St. Petersburg, Fla., where he preached his last sermon on August 14, 1944.
A Tarheel colleague said that Melton went to Lexington with but $5.00 in all to sustain him there. Thus “he did all kinds of work to stay in College until he was handed his sheepskin. His first pastorate was in Wilson, N. C.,
and it was here he showed his ability as an organizer and a real leader. He found a little frame church and left the field with a beautiful brick building and a seven-room parsonage all paid for. It was under his inspiring leadership that Atlantic Christian College was established and that College stands to-day as a monument to his vision.”
1902-1907. JOHN BOYD JONES. Son of Jesse Bond Jones and Emily Jones, he was born September 2, 1869, one mile west of Yeatesville, N. C., on the old Washington-Leechville highway, down which Thomas Campbell of “The Declaration and Address” made his way in the spring of 1834. Jones died at his St. Petersburg, Fla., home, January 23, 1946. He was baptized by W. O. Winfield, and induced by J. L. Winfield to attend the Lexington, Ky. College of the Bible, where he graduated in 1901. In the year of his graduation he married Hattie Ford of Mill Creek Church in Mason County, Ky., where Jones had held a student ministry. His first wife having died during their Asheville, N. C. pastorate, he married Mrs. Cornelia Alger of St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1934.
After his student preaching in Kentucky, including Lebanon, 1898-’99, his pastorates were: in North Carolina at Wilson, and Asheville, 1923-’27; and in Indiana at Marion, Anderson, Terre Haute, and Bloomington. At Asheville he led in building the beautiful stone church at 20 Oak Street— a monument to his vision and zeal. He had a summer home at Lake Junaluska. While at Wilson he served also as State Secretary 1905-’06, was involved happily in the early sacrificial development of the College there, and in fruitful evangelism at Greenville, Macclesfield, and numerous other fields. Some of his ad interim terms in his native State were with the churches at New Bern, Raleigh, and Charlotte.
He won many souls to Christ by his fervent, winsome appeals. There was fire and magnetic urgency in his gospel invitations, when congregations great and small sat and stood in his heart-moving revivals. He is gratefully remembered by hundreds whom he led to make the great commitment.
In the heartland of old Kentucky I was baptized by this pulpit Boanerges. It was on a rare day in June nearing the count down for the new century.
1907-1908. JESSE COBB CALDWELL. Son of Robert and Mildred Cobb Caldwell, born near Liberty, Mo., January 15, 1873; died at his Des Moines, Iowa home, February 22, 1941; the interment was in Des Moines. His grandfather, James C. Caldwell, pioneer Disciple preacher in central Kentucky, was according to an autographed inscription by Walter Scott, (1796-1861), his (Scott's) “Dear Brother and fellow laborer in the Gospel of Christ.”
Jesse married first, Mary Settle of Owenton, Ky., October 18, 1898, who died in 1926. Their children: Mrs. Elizabeth Caldwell Leatherwood, and Mrs. Mildred Caldwell Wright. His second marriage was to Ruth Wilkinson of Floris, Iowa, on August 10, 1927.
He was the first graduate of the Excelsior Springs, Mo. High School, and later attended the State Normal at Warrensburg, Mo. His A.B. he received at Kentucky University, (now Transylvania) in 1896, and the next year was given the classical diploma, from the College of the Bible, located then on the same campus. His B.D. was bestowed by Yale in 1903; LL.D. was conferred on him at Transylvania in 1916, which was followed at once by a graduate course in the University of Chicago. His educational career: principal of the Caldwell Academy at Owenton, Ky., 1900-’02; president of Atlantic Christian College, 1908-’16; dean of the College of the Bible at Drake University, 1916-’37, and from 1937 to the time of his passing, he was professor there of the “History of Religions”. He left obvious marks of his leadership upon many students going from these institutions.
Ordained to the ministry in 1897, his pastorates were: in Kentucky at Owenton, 1897-1902; in Alabama at Selma, 1903-’07, and lastly at Wilson where he led in adding the initial church school rooms before his call to the presidency of the College. Passionately identified with the Disciple movement, his preaching had inspirational quality. He generously gave his personal attention as far as
expedient to such churches of his faith as were struggling into life two generations ago, as Wilmington, Goldsboro, Rocky Mount, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte. His Tarheel friends sent him on a tour of the Holy Land in 1911-’12.
Here at Wilson a half-century ago he had the gruelling job of running a small college of high quality without endowment. Not only was there no endowment, but there was harassing debt; first the bulk of the original purchase price hanging on through the years like a self-perpetuating parasite; then the debt incurred by new building which followed the triumphant disposal of the original bonds. Yet during these nine years at Wilson, Caldwell put the soul of an artist into the institution and trained preachers to serve high places in a far-flung Brotherhood. Likewise he inspired leaders of excellent quality in other lines. He promoted in the school an atmosphere of culture, a high morale, a substantive ambition to “follow the gleam.”
1908 (June to November). WILLIAM STONE BULLARD. Born in Pulaski County, Va., November 22, 1847; died at Bluefield, W. Va., March 20, 1922. His father was Chester Bullard, (March 12, 1809-February 27, 1893), who in the 1860's baptized Virgil Angelo Wilson, a founder of this church in Wilson, N. C., to which his son came for a short ministry. The baptismal succession went back through Landon Duncan; Joseph Thomas, “The White Pilgrim”, to William Guirey, the Christian Baptist. The Bullard home at Snowville, Va. was called Humility, and the church there, (Cypress Grove), has been often referred to as the “Jerusalem of the Southwest Virginia Disciples.”
William married Sarah Bill in 1871, “who was in every way an excellent woman,” surviving him until August, 1938. Their children: Stella, Chester, Elsie, and Ralph. Stella married Daniel E. Motley, a state evangelist for N. C. Disciples, prime agitator for the start of Atlantic Christian College, and called to be its first president.
After declining this offer Motley founded Washington D. C. Christian College.
“Willie” Bullard as he was affectionately known, was baptized by his father in 1860 and preached his first sermon in Wythe County, Va. July 15, 1864. This is the locality in which Barton W. Stone, by his own account had in 1796 his first favorable experience in preaching. Bullard's pastorates were: in Virginia, at Snowville, Wytheville, Radford, and Tazewell; in Arkansas at Texarkana, (1900-1907), building their new plant, and from thence coming to Wilson; in New Mexico at Las Vegas; and in West Virginia at Bluefield.
He graduated at Bethany College, June 17, 1869. “He was a well and accurately read man, and had one of the best and largest individual libraries in western Virginia. No minister stood higher in the respect of the people.”
1908-1912. SAMUEL PICKENS SPIEGEL. His wisson pastorate began November, 1908; closed June, 1912. Born at Falkville, Ala., September 10, 1873; died at Mobile, Ala., July 4, 1941. He was a son of Samuel and Mary Eliza Spiegel, the sixth in a family of nine children. He married Eunice Settle of Owenton, Ky.; she died in 1923; there were no children.
He grew up at Piney Grove, Morgan County, oldest congregation of Disciples in Alabama, it was founded in 1839. By 1941, it had produced nine preachers, of whom five were Spiegels, namely: O. P., J. E., J. M., and finally S. P., and their nephew, Grady Spiegel, (born July 15, 1897). Another of their nephews, W. Otto Henderson, (born December 23, 1894), is also a minister of the Disciples.
“Uncle Pick”, as S. P. was familiarly known in intimate circles, had a course at Hartselle, Ala., College, for two years and a half, and graduated at The College of the Bible, Lexington, Ky., in 1896. Aside from Wilson, his other pastorates were: in Alabama at Decatur, Mobile, and Dothan; and in Georgia at West Point, where he organized the church and ministered for a long period. Some of the others which he helped to organize, were:
Decatur, Montgomery, Cullman, and Bragg's, all in Alabama. Over a wide field he won many souls to Christ. He was a trusted and beloved leader in Boy Scout, Rotary, and Masonic activities.
Richard L. James, Alabama Disciple historian, says: “The five Spiegel brothers who went out from Piney Grove have carved a noble path for the Master's cause in Alabama and throughout the South.”
1912-1918. RICHARD BAGBY. Born October 13, 1867, at the home of his maternal grandfather, Temple Walker, in King and Queen County, Va.; died at Ashland, Va., August 21, 1948; the interment was in the Smyrna Christian Church cemetery in his native County. He was a son of Captain A. F., and Fannie S. Walker Bagby. His brother E. B. Bagby was a Chaplain of the U. S. House of Representatives; his other brothers were: Drs. B. B. and A. F. Bagby, prominent physicians. Richard married Daisy Price of Hyattstown, Md., June 3, 1896; she died in 1962; there were no children.
At Smyrna, his home church, he was baptized while a youth by Robert Y. Henley, son-in-law of Alexander Campbell. His college training was at Milligan in Tennessee, 1886-’87, graduating at Bethany, W. Va., 1893; later he was graduate student at the University of Virginia. Ordained January 26, 1894, his pastorates were: in Maryland, at Rockville; in Virginia at Louisa and Clifton Forge; in Pennsylvania, at Scranton, and in North Carolina at Wilson and Washington; retiring on December 1, 1937, after eighteen and a half years at Washington. In World War I he was a Y.M.C.A. Chaplain overseas.
He was consecrated and watchful for God's resources. He had poise, patience, understanding, sympathy. He was alert and perceptive; when any would react to thwart the sacred ideals of the fathers in the futilities of provincialism and obscurantism, he towered as a spiritual giant toward restoring the Disciples’ order to the better angel of its nature. He was an effective fighter with the sword of the Spirit.
He knew by reason and experience the inclusive love of God. Christ he knew on the battlefields of Europe; in the coal mines of Pennsylvania; in the sedate countryside of Virginia and Carolina. Without consciously striving for it, and not being aware of it when he attained it, he became the most beloved citizen of the old historic city by the Pamlico.
1918-1824. JAMES EDWARD STUART. Born at Mechanicsburg, Va., July 26, 1869; died at Greensburg, Pa., April 2, 1926; the interment was in Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Ga. His daughter, Mrs. Blanche Stuart, (George W.), Gates, was resident in Atlanta, until her death a few years ago. His other child is Mrs. Margaret Stuart, (Eldred C.) Benton, of West Point, Ga. He married Margaret Garrett, a fellow student at Milligan College, Tenn., in 1892.
He decided to enter the ministry while a student at Milligan, was ordained in 1890, and graduated there in 1892, in a class of seven. Later he received an M.A. there. Aside from Wilson, his pastorates were: in Tennessee, at Rockwood, Harriman, (two terms), Jackson, (two terms), Union City, Nashville, (Woodland Street); in Washington, D. C., (15th Street); and in Pennsylvania at Greensburg.
During Stuart's six years at Wilson there were 298 additions to the church increasing the enrolled membership to 540. He was active here, with voice and pen in many good causes and was truly loved and revered for himself, his fruitful work, and his lovely family. At his passing in 1926, Louis Dudley Riddell who “had enjoyed the fellowship and friendship of this rare soul for nearly thirty years,” said of him:
He leaves the record of a faithful ministry. He was a preacher of rare ability; spoke with zest, and with a fervor and force that were compelling. He was endowed with an unusual appreciation of the beautiful in nature, art, and literature. This enriched his sermons with gems. He was well read and knew the best authors and the choicest books. He
was a man of broad vision, deep convictions, intense feelings, and the keenest sense of humor. These served well in his ministry.
1924-1941. JOHN BARCLAY. A son of J. J. and Sultena Todd Barclay, he was born January 17, 1893, at Kingston, Madison County, Ky., a village, (present population, 100), near Berea. He was reared in Lexington, his native State. He is currently the pastor of Central Christian Church, Austin, Tex., having served there for the past 21 years. He married Lydia Clark Todhunter of Lexington, Ky., June 30, 1924; she died the following April 27; was buried at Lexington, and simultaneous memorial services were held for her at Wilson and Lexington. “Blessed were those who came within the radius of her influence and felt the uplift of her gentle, charming personality.” In September, 1941, John was married to Mattie Belle Stewart, of Portsmouth, Va. Their children: John, Jr., (born 1943), now an eagle scout with palm, and Gayle, (born 1946); her pet name, “Bitsey.”
“Captain John” rose from private to Captain of infantry in World War I, following which he took special courses in the University of London in 1919. He worked his way through Transylvania College, at Lexington, at manual tasks, firing furnaces, and rising before day to wrap papers at the Herald office for out-of-town subscribers. He participated in all branches of athletics at High School and College; his basketball team in 1922 won the national championship at the Chicago Tournament. He has featured as scout master, playground director, gym instructor, and boys’ camp director. He received his A.B., (cum laude), at Transylvania, 1920; his B.D. at The College of the Bible there, 1922; his M.A. at Teachers College, Columbia University, N. Y., 1923. He was Resident Fellow at Union Theological Seminary, N. Y., 1922-’23. Transylvania conferred his D.D. in 1950.
He was ordained May 1, 1916. Aside from his seventeen years at Wilson, his pastorates have been: student ministries to three churches in Kentucky; at Bethany, W. Va., (1923-’24); and Austin, Tex. (Central). He was
vice president for a year of the International Convention of Christian Churches, (Disciples of Christ).
When Barclay left Wilson for Austin his pastorate here had been the longest of such incumbency of any man in the history of this city. He has traveled in 35 countries on four continents. He has presided at North Carolina and Texas State Conventions of Christian Churches, and has served in many other Brotherhood capacities; has lectured, preached, or spoken in more than twenty Universities and Colleges. For more than a decade he has been a personal friend of U. S. Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who is indeed one of his parishioners at Austin. Thus Barclay, representing Protestantism, led one of the four inaugural prayers for Kennedy and Johnson on January 20, 1961, with its global-interest telecast.
Reportedly during his term at Wilson there were 898 additions to the local church. He led in the building of the Vance Street educational plant with its popularly acclaimed Carolina Room. According to the official minutes, at his leaving, he said that “he intended to write a book within the next two years and dedicate it to the congregation of the Wilson Church.” That promised book is yet to be. At his tearful farewell service here on a “terribly hot night” in September, 1941, he stood in his Wilson pulpit for the 1700th time. “No one left and no one even moved as the minister spoke.” He said in part:
This is the freest pulpit in the South. Wilson as a whole is a thoughtful town. If I shall succeed in my new and other fields I shall know that I am indebted to you for it. If you will come to see us in Texas I will try to repay your thoughtfulness of me through my years here. I don't like this leaving. I think that two professions, doctors and ministers, should stay in one place all their lives. Yet I was married here only two hours ago and now I am preaching here for the last time.
He revisited Wilson in August, 1961, preaching to large and rapt audiences in the stone church; a reception being happily given him on an evening in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce W. Riley.
1941-1945. TILFORD TIPPETT SWEARINGEN. Born in a rural two-room log cabin in Howard County, Mo., May 9, 1902, son of Robert S. and Minnie Swearingen; now State Secretary of Texas Disciples, with office in Fort Worth. He married on December 25, 1924, a schoolmate, Elizabeth Earickson, also a Howard County native but of Kentucky and Alabama ancestry. Their child: Robert Kirk, (Bobby), born in Kansas City, Mo., 1929, namesake of his paternal grandfather, and of General Robert E. Lee. Both of Tilford's grandfathers were Virginians, Confederate veterans under “Marse Robert.”
At Glasgow in his native county he had one year in Pritchett College, and another at North Central College, Napierville, Ill. At Phillips University he received his A.B. in 1923; his A.M. in 1924; finally he was awarded his D.D. at Phillips in 1937. Meanwhile he had a succession of summer courses at the University of Chicago.
He was ordained in 1922. Aside from Wilson his pastorates have been: in Oklahoma, at Waukomis, (3 years); in Missouri, at Lathrop, (5 years), and three years at Kansas City, (Oak Park.) In 1928 he toured Palestine, and eight additional countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. From October 1, 1929 to January 1, 1942 he served in varied executive capacity in the National Department of Religious Education at the Disciples’ Indianapolis headquarters, finally in 1936 succeeding Roy G. Ross as the executive secretary. For nine years he was president of William Woods College, Fulton, Mo. Since March 15, 1961 he has been chief executive of Texas missions, (Disciples). He has authored these books: “Planning for Young People in the Local Church, (1933); Must A Man Live, (1941); and The Community and Christian Education, (1950).
His four-year pastorate at Wilson confronted shifting fortunes of the all-out American part in World War II. Significant gains were made. The total membership of the local church rose to 898. Church School attendance climbed. Final payment of $6,380 was made on the educational plant, and the mortgage was burned. The “new sanctuary” fund was launched in 1944, with $27,100
pledged on it that year. Religious dramatic presentations at the church were highly successful as directed by Sadie Greene. A year-round evangelism was achieved. Missionary giving was increased. Unprecedented budgets were underwritten. A six-department functional church reorganization was effected. Early in 1944 he submitted a list of twenty parish goals. His reiterated thesis: “Church work is the business of all the members. The minister is employed to give full time to such work as the members are unable to do.”
He left for Chicago to assume his new position with the International Council of Religious Education, but by special invitation returned seven years later for the laying of the cornerstone of the stone church, October 19, 1952. About the function of Christian worship, he said: “Each Lord's Day is a new chance to shut out for awhile the matter-of-fact, the routine, the noise, the unlovely. Thus to walk again in the quiet comradeship of other Christians; to leave behind all selfish pride of accomplishment; to be in the presence of true greatness.”
1946-1955. CECIL ALBERT JARMAN. Born December 8, 1906, at Richlands, N. C., (population, 445, in 1910), son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Z. Jarman. He currently serves as professor in the Department of Religion, Texas Christian University. An apparent trend among Disciples in mid-twentieth century is for a considerable Tarheel removal of leadership to Texas with a reciprocal flow of Texans to the “Old North State,” for the individually contemplated “greener pastures.” Cecil married Ina Rivers Tuten, (A.B., Atlantic Christian College, 1935), of Aurora, N. C. Their children: Cecil A., Jr., (Jack), and Mary Katherine.
He received his A.B. at Atlantic Christian College, 1928; his M.A., at Emory University, 1932; his B.D. at Yale, 1935; his Ph.D. at University of N. C., 1946; and was awarded his D.D. at Atlantic Christian College, 1952. For ten years he served ably on the faculty of Atlantic Christian College; in addition he was its Acting President, 1949-1950, when he led successfully in erecting and
equipping Harper Hall and Hardy Memorial Library at the College, and dedicating both buildings on May 27, 1951.
He began his ministry at Batesburg, S. C. in 1929. At Yale he held student pastorates. Aside from Wilson, (Jan. 20, 1946-Nov. 1, 1955), his other pastorates in North Carolina were: Plymouth, Wendell, LaGrange, Beulah, Bridgeton; and in Alabama, at Birmingham, (First). In his native State he was State Director of Religious Education, (Disciples), 1940-1945; President of the State's Disciple Centennial Convention, 1944; President of the State's Christian Ministers’ Association, President of the N. C. Council of Churches, (1954), and Chairman of its Leadership Education Commission. In wider Brotherhood activities he has served on the Board of Managers, U. C. M. S., and on the Board of Trustees of The College of the Bible, Lexington, Ky. He was a Lion and a member of the N. C. Education Commission.
During his Wilson pastorate, the stone church (a $425,000 property), was builded, equipped, and dedicated, whereupon Bruce W. Riley, Chairman of the official board “expressed appreciation on behalf of the entire church for Dr. Jarman's excellent planning and splendid leadership—a big job well done.” He returned from Birmingham to deliver the principal address at the “Mortgage Burning” Ceremonial at the church on the evening of December 7, 1958. Provided for him and Mrs. Jarman was a tour of the Holy Land for the period June 2 to July 15, 1955.
The Wilson Daily Times said editorially on August 31, 1955, as briefed:
All have read of Dr. Cecil A. Jarman's resignation with regret. For he is more than the pastor of the church he has been serving here—he belongs to the community; he has given so generously of his time and talents to every worthwhile civic endeavor. His contribution to character building can be measured by no yardstick. His decision to leave Wilson must have been a hard one to make since he and his family
have made a place for themselves here. His new field offers challenges that will be met with distinction and honor.
1956-1959. JO MERLE RILEY. Born at St. Petersburg, Fla., January 9, 1921; reared at Lexington, Ky.; son of Edgar Carlisle Riley, (1883-1945), and Mrs. Riley; now pastor at Central Christian Church, Decatur, Ill. Jo married in 1945, Rebecca Ann Matheny, of Stanford, Ky. Their children: Lucinda, Joetta, and Louis. Rebecca, a graduate nurse, received her academic training at the University of Kentucky. In Jo's pastorates she has taken consistently an excellent part in her share of church work. For one year she was chosen “Mother of the Year,” in Howard County, (Kokomo), Indiana. Edgar, the father of Jo, living at Lexington and Midway in Kentucky was widely known for his highly successful fund-raising for Transylvania College and Midway Junior College, (K. F. O. S.).
Jo in Lexington, Ky. received his A.B. at Transylvania, 1942, and his B.D. at The College of the Bible, 1945. His further graduate work was at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University in New York City, also at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis. For five years he taught in the Indiana University extension. In the Summer of 1952 Jo and Rebecca toured the Holy Land for seven weeks, travelling 15,000 miles in twelve different countries by air, bus, rail, and boat. Their personal word: “As we saw what the Protestant Churches in Europe are doing, we were convinced that they have a message for the whole world. They are coming to grips with the tremendous problems of the Christian people there.”
Aside from Wilson, Riley's work has been: in Kentucky, at Oxford, and Alton, (student pastorates), and as assistant minister at Lexington, (Central); in Indiana, at Kokomo, (Main Street), serving from September 8, 1947 to December 31, 1955; and presently in Illinois at Decatur, (Central). He was a chaplain in the U. S. Navy, 1945-’46, stationed at Washington, D. C., and at Pearl
Harbor, (Honolulu). In his Kokomo term the membership there increased from 600 to over 1,000, which included 141 confessions received on one Lord's Day. The annual budget grew from $14,000 to $38,000; and the church plant was renovated, and two new properties acquired. He wrote the centennial monograph of the Kokomo church of 90 pages, (1951), using dialogue for dramatic passages. F. E. Davison visiting this field in the fall of 1955, reported: “It is doubtful if any church in Indiana has accomplished greater things for the Kingdom than the Kokomo church under the leadership of Jo. M. Riley.”
During his Wilson pastorate there were reportedly 214 additions to the church. He wrote and directed the Wilson Easter Pageant, 1958, (interdenominational). He wrote and directed the communion ritual for the International Conventions of 1957, ’58, and ’59, held at Cleveland, St. Louis, and Denver, with registered attendance at each of 8441, (average). He participated in many other Brotherhood activities, at local, state, national, and international levels. Many of his sermons were made available in mimeographed leaflets, thus extending their helpfulness.
Beginning his Wilson pastorate, February, 1956, he observed: “I see the task of the local church as fourfold. We must be concerned in preaching the gospel and spreading the good news; in the worship of God; in providing a teaching program for others and ourselves; and in extending brotherly love to all.”
Leaving Wilson on June 21, 1959, he declared: “Rebecca and I appreciate all the support that you have given; loyalty that you have expressed; and work that we have done together. My ministry with you is not concluded this Sunday. It will continue as long as you seek to dream the dreams which we have dreamed, live the faith which we have discovered, and follow the ideals that we have upheld. Our ministry can only be fulfilled in your life. I only hope and pray that you will fulfill our ministry together by living the life that Christ would want you to live.”
1959—. JAMES GILLISPIE WALLACE. Now serving at Wilson. Born at Bluefield, W. Va., February 18, 1924; son of Mr. and Mrs. P. F. Wallace. He married Charlotte Ann McCloud, of Knoxville, Tenn., on September 4, 1945. She attended Butler University at Indianapolis, and the Jordan Conservatory of Music there. Their children: Rebecca Ann, Sarah Virginia, James Phillip, and Jonathan David. Living with the Wallaces at the First Christian parsonage at 302 Lafayette Drive is Mrs. Alice Cumming, great aunt of Mrs. Wallace.
He graduated in his native Bluefield, (Beaver High School), in 1941. At Johnson Bible College, Kimberlin Heights, Tenn., he received his A.B. in 1945; his B.D. at Butler's School of Religion, Indianapolis, Ind., in 1948; his thesis was in the field of church administration. At Butler he was elected to Theta Pi, an honorary theological society. In January, 1961, he attended a two-week refresher course at Yale Divinity Scrool.
Following is a chronology of his ministerial work. He did student preaching in West Virginia, at Calfee Memorial, (near Bluefield), and in Indiana at Kingman, Brook, and Vedersburg; in Alabama, a year-and-a-half pastorate at Decatur (1948-’49), and at Selma, over seven years, (1949-’56); in Florida at Sarasota, (Feb. 1956-Aug. 1959); and was installed at Wilson, N. C. (First), September 6, 1959.
While in Alabama, among other Brotherhood activities, he was president of the State Missions Society. During his three and a half years at Sarasota, Fla., (First), the membership grew from 330 to 660. He was president of the Sarasota Ministers’ Association, and an active member of the State Board. He led in acquiring new properties for First Church and in fund-raising campaign providing $75,000 to apply on a projected education building and fellowship hall, costing $130,000, for which groundbreaking was scheduled for October, 1959.
Harold Seburn was Chairman of the Pulpit Committee consisting of seven persons who recommended Wallace favorably, resulting in his call, and the arrival of his family
in Wilson on August 29, 1959. The Committee's report concluded: “It is our belief that Mr. Wallace will serve us with distinction to the church, and with honor to himself.”
Upon assuming his ministry here he gave this message in behalf of the local youth potential facing the church of to-morrow:
Someone has said that the church is only one generation away from extinction. This means we should be constantly aware, alert, and concerned that we are doing our utmost to provide an authentic experience for our children. It means at least three things: providing the best possible facilities and equipment; recruiting and training the finest possible teachers; constant prayer that we give our children and youth not facts alone but true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
THE GOLDEN ROLL
Pastor S. P. Spiegel in December, 1910, published an official membership roster of the First Christian Church, Wilson, N. C. Following is a list, as of December, 1962, of names and addresses of the 27 living members, now enrolled and resident in the city who also appear on the Spiegel list of 52 years ago. Exceptions are to be noted in two instances as given herewith. Mrs. Conyers now is enrolled with the local Westview Christian Church, and Mrs. Annie Deans Barkley passed from this life on December 1, 1962.
About the same number, (31), survive from the Spiegel catalog of December 1910, who are presently non-resident, as relates to Wilson. Obviously the summary below is simply an inclusive presentation, (1962), of local resident survivors of the recorded church fellowship of 1910. The First Christian in numerical expansion appears in the graphic comparison of the total of 231 resident members in 1910, with the 1058 of like status in 1962.
The following specific list of 1962 is intended to supply in detail a ready comparative identification with the names as given in the aforementioned publication of 1910.
1. Adams, Mrs. Bessie Hackney, (W. D., Sr.) 607 West Vance Street.
2. Barkley, Mrs. Annie Deans, (W. T.) 114 N. Rountree Street.
3. Bell, Mrs. Sudie Walker, (John E.), 509 Woodard Ave.
4. Conyers, Mrs. Anna Applewhite, (Spurgeon C.), 513 Broughton St.
5. Crosby, Mrs. Bertha Riley, (W. L.), 313 West Vance Street.
6. Darden, Mrs. A. L., 408 East Vance Street.
7. Eames, Mrs. Effie Winstead, (H.P.), 408 East Vance Street.
8. Granger, Mrs. Sallie Wiggins, 309 Lafayette Drive.
9. Griffin Mrs. K. Frank, 606 Whitehead Avenue.
10. Herring, Mrs. Elizabeth Wiggins, (T. L.), 198 Ward Boulevard.
11. High, Mrs. Otho, 313 S. Tarboro Street.
12. High Mrs. Lucy Polk Clark, 704 West Vance Street.
13. High, Miss Vermelle, 1001 Branch Street.
14. Lee, Mrs. Martha Hackney, (Frank Houston), 305 North Goldsboro St.
15. Little, Mrs. Callie Garner, (James H.), 405 Monticello Drive.
16. Plyler, Mrs. Harriet Settle, (B. B., Sr.), 707 Broad Street.
17. Privette, Miss Hattie, Hotel Cherry.
18. Richardson, Mrs. S. W., 1311 West Nash Street.
19. Riley, Mr. Charles E., 407 North Tarboro Street.
20. Riley, Mrs. John G., 701 West Kenan Street.
21. Rogers, Mrs. Jennie Boykin, (N. M.), Varita Court, Apt. J.
22. Shepard, Mrs. Mary Batten, 1115 Churchill Street.
23. Spillars, Mrs. William T., 701 Academy Street.
24. Tugwell, Mrs. Annie Morton Raulen, (B. F.), 615 West Lee Street.
25. Whitley, Mrs. Emily Morton, (L. G.), 615 West Lee Street.
26. Woodall, Mrs. J. R., 410 West Hines Street.
27. Wooten, Mrs. Maude Harrell, (W. L.), 1015 Branch Street.
Abbott, B. A., 37, 38.
Adams, W. D. Jr. 41.
Adams, W. D. Sr., 40, 42.
Adams, Mrs. W. D. Sr., 41, 70, 94, 95.
Anthony, Claude, 62.
Anthony, Mark, 75.
Arnold, R. W., 62.
Bagby, Richard, 53, 94, 129, 130.
Barclay, John, 40, 49, 95, 106, 107, 131, 132.
Bardin, Mrs. Alton, 51.
Barnes, Kate, 36.
Batten, Mrs. E. P., 97.
Battle, A. J., 15, 16, 25, 26, 35, 116.
Batts, Bud, 70.
Benton, Red, 65.
Bissette, Tyrus, 12.
Bissette, Mrs. Tyrus, 95.
Bowen, H. C., 117.
Brown, Mae Louise, 97.
Bullard, W. S., 127, 128.
Bundy, Sam, 74.
Caldwell, J. C., 39, 53, 126, 127.
Campbell, A., 20.
Campbell, Thos. 20.
Carr, Fred., 63.
Case, Perry, 60.
Chesson, Lloyd, 54.
Chestnutt, I. L., 39.
Church Covenant, 31, 32.
Clark, William, 22.
Clarke, R. M., Jr., 97.
Cook, Gaines M., 43.
Coon, C. L., 14.
Cornerstone Laying, 42, 43.
Craddock, Ruby E., 98.
Crosby, Mrs. Bertha, 102, 104.
Cubberly, Bill, 95.
Davis, Brothers, 65.
Davis, D. W., 44, 48, 69, 101, 122, 125.
Davis, Jasper, 50.
Dixon, F. W., 27, 119.
Dramatic Club, 108.
Dunn, J. P., 22.
Eagle Scouts, First, 63.
Farish, Hayes, 53, 73.
Farmer, W. W., 62.
Favored Children, 70.
Fiers, A. Dale, 51.
Fife, W. P., 47.
Forbes, B. J., 45, 50.
Forbes, Nancy, 102.
Forbes, Vance T., 41.
Foy, J. H., 17, 23, 36, 116.
Ginns, the, volunteers, 57.
Golden Roll, 140, 141.
Grainger, Garland, 95.
Grainger, Mr. & Mrs. H. G., 96.
Greene, Sadie, 10, 40, 51, 107, 108.
Guirey, William, 15.
Hackney, George, 18, 40, 61, 65, 71, 73, 122.
Hackney, May, 77.
Hackney, T. J. Sr., 54, 61, 62.
Hackney, W. D., I, 18, 71, 72.
Hackney, Mrs. W. D., I, 77.
Hackney, Mrs. W. D., II, 9, 10.
Hackney, W. N., I, 17, 27, 28.
Hackney, W. N., II, 40.
Hackney, Mr. and Mrs. W. N., II, 42, 103.
Hackney, Mrs. W. N., II., 108.
Hadley, Capt. T. J., 11.
Haley, J. J., 48.
Harding, R. D., 121.
Harper, Frances F., 79, 80.
Harper, J. J., 22, 33, 34, 38, 47, 52, 92, 101, 118-120.
Hart, Josiah, 15.
Hearn, Bunn, 65.
Herndon, Mrs. J. D., 98, 109.
Herring, Florence, 102.
Herring, Mittie, 101.
Herring, T. J., 102.
High, Jesse, 10.
Hines, Alice, 77.
Hines, J. W., 17.
Hines, P. E., 16, 26, 33, 36.
Hines, R. W., 59.
Hilliard, H. C., Jr., 55.
Holden, Mrs. W. T., 78.
Holland, Mrs. Bill, 10.
Holliday, Mrs. H. M., 102.
Howard, C. W., 37, 120, 121.
Hughart, W. H., 16, 36, 116.
Hughart, Mrs. W. H., 76.
Huston, F. C., 100.
Inabinnett, T. P., 42.
Jarman, C. A., 12, 42, 43, 49, 50, 62, 65, 94, 106, 134-136.
Johnston, W. G., 66.
Jones, J. Boyd, 48, 52, 56, 78, 92, 125, 126.
Kelly, Louise, 78.
King, Dr. R. W., 61.
Kinsey, Joseph, 18, 39, 59.
Kinsey, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph, 77.
Lamm, Cecil B., 95.
Lane, Carl, 50.
Latham, T. J., 22.
Lindley, D. Ray, 42.
Lindley, Neil, 96.
List, Memorials, Gifts, 111-115.
Martin, R. S., 49, 92.
Martin, Mr. & Mrs. W. S., 100.
Melton, B. H., 37-39, 52, 59, 71, 78, 124, 125.
Mewborn, S. G., 62.
Moore, Goodwin, 97.
Mortgage Burning, 43.
Morton, C. M., 55-57, 71.
Morton, Emily, 61.
Moudy, J. M., 12.
Moye, Alfred, 13, 14.
Moye, M. T., 16, 17, 26, 32, 33, 36, 93.
National, C. W. F. Retreat, 80.
Organ Committee, 103.
Orvis, E. E., 47.
Paschall, J. E., 40, 44, 50, 62, 95.
Pearce, Mrs. Mary J., 116.
Pioneer Laymen, 26.
Plyler, B. B., Jr., 50.
Pounds, Jessie B., 100.
Preachers in Parsonage, 39.
Richardson, S. W., 40, 72.
Ricks, Mr. and Mrs. P. T., 49.
Riley, Bruce W., 42, 62, 94.
Riley, Jo. M., 43, 44, 51, 62, 108, 109, 136, 137.
Robeson, N. J., 50.
Rogers, Vera F., 97.
Roll, Armed Services, 64, 65.
Roll, Authors, 63.
Roll, Charter Members, 28-31.
Roll, Choir Directors, 105.
Roll, Circle Leaders, 79.
Roll, Church Clerks, 74.
Roll, C. M. F. Presidents, 75.
Roll, C. W. F. Presidents, 80.
Roll, early delegates, 32.
Roll, early Quartette, 101.
Roll, History Committee, 9.
Roll, ministerial recruits, 53, 55.
Roll, ordinations, 56.
Roll, organists, 104.
Roll, S. S. supts., 93.
Roll, Church trustees, 36.
Rundell, R. F., 98.
Seburn, Harold, 41.
Separate Baptists, 21, 22.
Shackelford, A. D., 40, 50, 62, 95.
Sharp, Mrs. Allan R., 96.
Shaw, K., 100.
Spiegel, S. P., 128, 129, 140.
Spillars, Mrs. W. T., 101.
Stallings, E. T., 102.
Stancill, R. W., 47, 48, 121, 122.
Stone, B. W., 20, 46, 100.
Stuart, J. E., 49, 54, 130, 131.
Swearingen, T. T., 40, 50, 94, 106, 133, 134.
Taylor, Charley, 65.
Taylor, H. W., 50, 107.
Taylor, J. A., 53.
Taylor, R. J., 27, 71, 93, 116.
Thomas, Joseph, 15.
Walker, J. J., 53.
Walker, W. G., 39.
Wallace, J. G., 51, 54, 104, 109, 138, 139.
Walsh, J. T., 25, 26, 52.
Walston, Mrs. Estelle, 95.
Ware, Catherine, 63.
Weeks, C. D., 57.
Wenger, A. D., 54, 61, 75.
White, Travis A., 60.
Wilson, L. D., 14.
Wilson, V. A., 46, 116, 118.
Winborne, Elizabeth, 61.
Winborne, Mrs. R. M., 14.
Winstead, C. E., 18, 19.
Woodall, J. R., 54, 107.
Wooten, Mrs. W. L., 72, 95.
Ziglar, R. V., 99, 110.