ByCHARLES CROSSFIELD WARE1960
By CHARLES CROSSFIELD WARE
Box 1164, Wilson, N. C., Sept. 26, 1960FOREWORD
A good part of the definitive history of North Carolina Christian Churches, (Disciples of Christ), is involved in the career of the Hookerton Union, their oldest institution. The primary group of 126 years ago was known as The Union Meeting of Disciples of Christ in North Carolina. Later it was identified as The Central Christian Cooperation; yet later, called The Second Evangelical District; and from 1885 to date as the Hookerton Union. In eastern North Carolina it consists of 21 Christian Churches, including the three in Greene County, and the eighteen others in parts of Craven, Lenoir, and Pitt Counties.
As the reader sees, these churches are first sketched separately in alphabetical order, and then the warmly human story of the Union itself is told for its long life of service. Documentation is from materials extant in The Carolina Discipliana Library, in Atlantic Christian College, Wilson, N. C. The writer is curator of this special collection. At the quarterly meeting of the Hookerton Union at Eden Church, Greene County, on April 20, 1960, the author was requested to prepare this monograph.
In our extensive archives of North Carolina Disciples, as touching their ministry, there is no tabular pin-pointing of respective pastorates with continuity prior to 1911. Responsible publicists may have considered such information as valueless. Much preaching of the period was intermittent, or protracted in evangelism. Wherefore what is presented here, regarding the preachers’ regular appointments before 1911 is consequently fragmentary.AIRY GROVE
About seven miles north of Kinston, N. C. is Airy Grove Christian Church. During horse and buggy days this distance was called “an easy drive”. The location is east of the Kinston-Snow Hill highway, (Federal, 258) and near Wooten's Crossroads. Enrolled by The North Carolina Christian Missionary Convention on Oct. 28, 1897, the initial membership was 45, which was increased to 67, within the first year. The first clerk was W. T. Moseley; later it was O. Taylor, of Hugo.
Their first trustees were: R. F. Hill, W. T. Moseley, Lemuel Taylor, J. W. Moseley, and J. T. Harrison. State Convention records in 1899, year of Airy Grove dedication, lists the Church property valuation at $800, and total giving to missions that year, $12.86. Their first Sunday School of record began in 1898, with Mrs. Blanche Moseley as superintendent, succeeded by George Rouse, of Hugo, when enrollment was 48, including 8 teachers.
A short distance east of Airy Gove is the site of the historic Little Sister Meeting House, (1828-1843). This small congregation pioneered the new Christian Church at Kinston, Jan. 21, 1843. At Little Sister gathered the
first Convention of North Carolina Disciples of Christ on March 28-30, 1834, originating the Union Meeting, first organization in the annals of the State's Disciples. Also very close to Airy Grove is the site of the old Lousan Swamp Union Baptist Church, a part of whose membership, after the church had closed, came to Airy Grove in 1897, and afterward.
Samuel W. Sumrell, (1854-1921), was a country preacher, “faithful and true”. His evangelizing in the Airy Grove Community laid the foundations for the Church to which he ministered for several years, from 1897 onward. He elicited support in the Hookerton Union for the erection of their plant. The Union met there in Quarterly session on Oct. 29, 1899, when the high event was the dedication of the building. On this Lord's Day the offering to the Union “was so large it was decided to pay the $24 now due on Airy Grove Church, and let the Union take up some other point”.
A local auxiliary of the C. W. B. M. was organized in January, 1900, the state organizer saying: “We hope with Mrs. Blanche Moseley and Mrs. Mary Taylor as leaders that they may prove a beacon light to others.” The following May it was reorganized with a membership of 10, and with 8 subscribers to Missionary Tidings. On July 11, 1902, Mrs. W. G. Johnston, wife of the Kinston pastor, reported for the new group: “at their first meeting they paid up for the entire quarter ending, June, 1902”. Further, Mrs. Johnston said: “Now all of you auxiliaries that have the least disposition to be stingy, or to shirk, please profit by the example of your young sister, Airy Grove.”
In August, 1907. Dennis Wrighter Davis held their annual revival with 22 additions. He said: “Airy Grove is one of the splendid congregations of N. C. These additions will add greatly to the Lord's cause in that community. The prominence of the members gives stability to the work they have undertaken.”
The church has consistently favored the pastoral unity plan and for long seasons has had the service of a resident minister at the near-by Hookerton parsonage. Cooperating with the group, in the spring of 1938, the church gave $190 toward procuring a new automobile for R. Paul Parker, their pastor.
In 1955 there was marked improvement of building utilities in the erection of Sunday School rooms with accessories. It was reported: “We have completed payments on the annex to our building and plans are being made for work to be done inside the church”. The next year many other improvements were made. Home-Coming was observed on April 29, 1956, when “the Educational Building, new pews, choir chairs, communion table and chairs, baptistry and carpet were dedicated”. Ross J. Allen brought the dedication message. Special music was by Burnice Smith, and Hope Shackelford. In the afternoon the pastor, T. J. Morris, Jr., baptized seven candidates.
In May, 1959, a beautiful steeple was erected, a gift of misses Eugenia and Vivian Scarborough, and their brother, William, in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Franklin Scarborough, Sr. The steeple was dedicated on Oct. 18, 1959, at their annual home coming. The sermon was by C. C. Ware. Assisting was the pastor, Robert E. White.
At the Easter Week of Prayer, 1960, the C. W. F. leaders were Miss Doris Taylor, and Mrs. Earl Wooten. It was also reported: “now our church is freshly painted and the yard drainage greatly improved.”
Membership at Airy Grove is 196.
Roll of ministers at Airy Grove:
|1897-1902, 1907||S. W. Sumrell||1918, 1919||W. O. Lappin|
|1903, 1904||D. H. Petree||1926, 1927||W. C. Greer|
|1908||C. M. Morton||1928, 1929||R. F. Bristol|
|1909, 1910||C. F. Outlaw||1930-1954||R. Paul Parker|
|1911-1914; 1920-1925||C. W. Howard||1954-1956||T. J. Morris, Jr.|
|1915||J. W. Lollis||1957-1959||J. D. Kitchin, Jr.|
|1916, 1917||S. Lee Sadler||1960||Robert E. White|
The Pitt County village of Arthur, (population, 181), is a station on the Norfolk Southern Railroad approximately midway from Farmville to Greenville. As the highways course it is a few miles north of the intersection at Ballard's Crossroads of the east-west Federal 264. Its post office name is Bellarthur. This rural trade center arose and began developing at the completion of the rail line to Norfolk, Va., from Raleigh, N. C. Incorporated in 1911 the name was given for L. C. Arthur, a man “of large agricultural interests,” who had from 1897 operated extensively here. He was from Bedford County, Va. It was said of him: “Few men have been more useful to Greenville and Pitt County than he and the people so regard him.”
The Community was friendly to the Disciples from the beginning, when at near-by Smith's Schoolhouse, eastward from the village, they began preaching in 1907. There were only “two or three” persons committed to their cause at first. They said that they were “beginning with the town”; their intention was “to grow up with the town”.
During the week following March 25, 1908, Samuel W. Sumrell evangelized in the aforementioned schoolhouse. This resulted in 10 baptisms, “all good young people” said the preacher. He arranged to give them monthly preaching and confidently asserted, “We can organize there soon”.
Following a church extension pattern of long standing, it was arranged to have the Hookerton Union to meet with them on Nov. 29, 1908. Mrs. Charles E. McLawhorn, an active correspondent for them, reported on the preceding Oct. 8: “We are very anxious to build a Church. Our band of members is small.” In the spring of 1909, G. Hinton Crumpler, student in Atlantic Christian College, was preaching there each third Sunday. He reported that their church school was “well organized, with Charles E. McLawhorn as Superintendent”.
In November, 1909, a church lot at the station was bought and the present name assumed for the new church. The Hookerton Union contributed $50.00 for the bourgeoning work. An Arthur currespondent added: “it is to be hoped that this Union will stand by the work until it is completed”. R. E. Willoughby was the Arthur treasurer. G. Hinton Crumpler visited them on Oct. 28, 1909, at which time $280 was pledged toward the erection of a building at the station.
In October, 1910, Sumrell, and Cecil F. Outlaw held their revival. Their plant was “well on the way”, and they “hoped to occupy it soon”. They thought it would “be much better than the Schoolhouse, although the Schoolhouse is a very nice place”. Further: “Our members at Arthur are good and faithful workers and other good people are ready to come in with us when we get in the new Church”.
At the quarterly meeting of the Hookerton Union on March 31, 1912, it was agreed by the Union to refund the $100 advanced for Arthur's building
by the Nash-Edgecombe Union, (now the Coastal Plains Union). This reciprocity by the Unions was a helpful feature in building new churches.
On Nov. 21, 1912, Arthur, having 27 members, was enrolled by The North Carolina Christian Missionary Convention. The property valuation was $1500.00.
The Arthur plant was dedicated on May 31, 1914, when their Union met with that congregation. J. C. Caldwell, President of Atlantic Christian College, preached the dedication sermon. It was recounted that a very few had begun the church, which however grew “faithfully from the very first,” and the common voice of the community said of the Disciples, “they love each other”. The dedication was followed by a revival, resulting in 18 additions, led by Sumrell, and John H. LeGrand, Ayden pastor.
The church was revitalized and increased by the annual revivals. In 1925, it was led by G. H. Sullivan, with 8 added; and in 1936, by T. W. Bowen, 33 added, with 133 enrolled in a Bible Drill. John L. Goff held the 1938 meeting, with 13 baptisms; the Farmville baptistry being used. These are but a few of the many recurring “seasons of refreshing,” at Arthur.
It was reported in December, 1938, that Paul R. Rasberry, local layman, had given the foundation materials for the projected religious education rooms to be constructed at the rear of the church. These were opened in March, 1939. Two rooms are each 14 X 16 feet; one room, 10 X 16, and two small rooms 8 X 12 each. At the same time Mark H. Smith gave a two-story eight-room parsonage in the village.
On March 8, 1942, the church made heartening response to E. K. Higdon for the Emergency Million Campaign. That fall, Nixon A. Taylor held the revival with 13 additions. The next year Newton J. Robison held it; 11 added.
On Nov. 7, 1943, their service flag was dedicated, C. B. Mashburn bringing the message, recognizing the 29 from this church in the “Service,” (World War II). The next year the church advanced to a half-time pastorate, and the Church treasury had a balance of $192.93, after all debts were paid.
Their Crusade Goal was paid in full by June 30, 1950. And in the summer of 1951, the religious education rooms were remodeled, and a kitchen added.
Other plant improvements were figured in April, 1954. They had “replaced the steeple, underpinned the church, insulated the walls, and had painted the inside of the sanctuary and Sunday School rooms and kitchen. The project cost over $1,000.00 plus the labor given by men of the Church.”
Frank Wibiral organized their local C. M. F. in April, 1955.
On Oct. 2, 1955, ground was broken for their new brick parsonage, in Arthur, to have six rooms. By March, 1956 it was completed. At this time, Arthur had entered the pastoral unity with Grimesland.
Their 1959 revival was held in June, with 19 additions by Jack M. Daniell, Farmville pastor. Charles Carraway is their C. Y. F. President. Many of their families are participating in the “Lord's Acre Plan,” to assemble funds for an enlarged religious education plant.
Membership at Arthur is 144.
Roll of Ministers at Arthur:
|1907, 1908, 1911||S. W. Sumrell||1915-1918||W. T. Mattox|
|1909, 1910||G. Hinton Crumpler||1919||C. E. Lee|
|1912||Ben F. Oden||1920||F. F. Grim|
|1913, 1914||C. B. Mashburn||1921||M. B. Brinson|
|1922-1924||Paul T. Ricks||1945||H. G. James|
|1925-1930||G. H. Sullivan||1946||R. J. Bennett|
|1931, 1932||Nixon A. Taylor||1949||G. A. Hamlin|
|1933||Kermit Traylor||1950-1952||Z. N. Deshields|
|1934, 1935, 1947, 1948||L. B. Bennett||1953-1955||Ivan Adams|
|1936||T. W. Bowen||1956, 1957||Billy Bennett|
|1937-1944||G. D. Davis, Sr.||1958-1960||Carlton Best|
A judicious widely-travelled Carolinian has said: “Ayden, North Carolina, is decidedly one of the friendliest small cities in America.” The town, (population, 2282, in 1950), was incorporated in 1889. In that era of railroad expansion it had arisen as an opportune commercial center on the Kinston-Weldon spur of the Atlantic Coast Line Ry.
At the opening of Carolina Christian College there on September 18, 1893, the Ayden Christian Church was organized. This was effected in the College building by Peter Stephen Swain, a newly matriculated ministerial student, at the school. Dennis Wrighter Davis holding an early revival there took occasion to say that the community was “headquarters for the dissemination of knowledge among the Disciples in N. C.”.
The post office was established there in 1894, and the town was incorporated in 1890. The Bank of Ayden was organized April 4, 1903, and the officers: Dr. Joseph Dixon, president; Jesse Cannon, vice president; John R. Smith, cashier; and J. H. S. Hodges, assistant cashier, were all Disciples. The first four years this bank operated they made a profit of 58% for the stockholders. The firm of J. R. Smith and Co. was chartered in May, 1906, with an authorized capital of $100,000. The head of the firm had started business in Ayden in 1891, and it was first known as J. R. Smith and Brother.
At the beginning, in 1893, the Ayden Christian Church had 32 members. Among the charter members were: Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Hart, Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Hines, Mr. and Mrs. M. F. Sumrell, Mr. and Mrs. B. F. McGlohorn, Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Smith, and Caleb Worthington. A large portion of the early members came from Rountree four miles west. At Rountree there developed one of the earliest groups of Disciples in the State, as that old church, founded as a Baptist church of the Neuse Association in 1827, was led to the Disciples by the ministrations of General William Clark and John Patrick Dunn, two of their founding fathers.
By the time of the Disciples’ State Convention in 1894, at Kinston, the Ayden Church had grown to forty members; L. T. Rightsell was clerk, and the sum of $5.00 was reported as given during the year to local church expenses. Stewardship at Ayden was just beginning to bud. Dennis Wrighter Davis held a revival for the Ayden Disciples in July, 1895. It continued nine days and there were eight additions. He reported: “We confess our utter surprise at the strength of the Ayden Church. In our judgment we have few churches in North Carolina stronger financially than this one . . . For State Missions the Church pledges $27.” For a long while the church services were held at the school, and then in the upper room of the store of S. A. Jenkins. The Ayden Disciples grew in liberality for causes local and missionary, and were giving largely to “others” before they had a building of their own. B. H. Melton, Wilson pastor, visited them in 1900, and reported:
The Ayden congregation has in it all the elements for a strong and representative church. The members are refined and cultured and they
are blessed with this world's goods . . . The people of Ayden are justly proud of their educational advantages. In fact I saw but two bad things in Ayden—goats and bar-rooms . . . I hope the good people of Ayden will get rid of these two nuisances.
Announcement with Ayden date line in The Watch Tower, April 15, 1904, said: “Timber is being collected for the building of the Disciple Church here. Also the brick are expected to arrive every day with which to build this elegant structure.” The church property was first listed in our State Convention Minutes in 1904, at the amount, $4,000. This building on Second Street had been occupied for about three years, when it was dedicated on April 7, 1907. It was announced: “Having paid their church debt, the Ayden congregation are planning for a big dedication. C. W. Howard and D. W. Davis will do the preaching. A big crowd and a glorious time is expected.”
A contemporary brief announced that they had “paid off the entire debt—that's good, and they have a handsome brick church, a credit to the congregation.”
In 1915 while Samuel B. Waggoner was pastor, six church school rooms and a balcony was added to the front of the old building. This doubled the value of the plant. In 1925 with W. H. Brunson, pastor, $10,000 was borrowed from endowment funds of Atlantic Christian College accruing from the Carolina Enlargement Campaign, and used in 1927 to erect a substantial and commodious religious education plant with sixteen class rooms and church school auditorium, at the rear of the church auditorium.
Ayden entertained Disciples’ State Conventions in 1900 and 1911; Hookerton Union and other regional Disciple gatherings, a countless number of times.
Ayden's plant and its equipment have been consistently improved and enlarged as expediency required. The initial parsonage, only a door from the church had a new living room suite installed in May, 1937. Fourteen special windows at completion were dedicated on June 26, 1938. These memorialize: Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Brunson, R. C. and Sudie M. Cannon, Joseph Foy Barwick, E. L. and Lena Brown, A. W. Ange, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Darden, Sr., Loyal Men's Class, Loyal Women's Class, Larry W. Smith, C. J. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Gardner, Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Johnson, J. R. and Mary Smith, and S. A. and Florence Jenkins. Three other memorials dedicated at this time: new baptistry for Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Cannon, new pulpit set, lectern, and communion table for Mr. and Mrs. George Worthington, and the new choir loft accessories for the father and mother of R. L. Johnson. Memorials reported in March, 1949: five chandeliers in sanctuary by Mrs. Allen Johnson for her father, J. R. Smith; and Hammond Electric organ by Mrs. J. H. S. Hodges and daughter Myrtie Gray Bilbro, for J. H. S. Hodges. Also in January, 1958, a “lovely pulpit Bible” was given by Mrs. John H. Coward, in memory of her husband.
The church was host to the first local interdenominational Daily Vacation Bible School held there, which was in the summer of 1939; enrollment 115.
On Jan. 3, 1943, C. C. Ware, assisted by W. H. Brunson, pastor, ordained the following 29 officers: Elders, J. D. Cannon, J. L. Tingle, P. R. Taylor, T. G. Worthington; Deacons, Leslie Stocks, Jamie Dail, Paul Smith, Larry Tripp, Dalton Gardner, R. H. Worthington, J. R. Taylor; Junior Deacons, Steward Tripp, Joe Dixon Tripp, Charley Tripp, Jr., Robert Lee Tripp, Berry Brown, Shelton Cannon, Royce Alligood, Frank Kilpatrick, Jr.; Deaconesses, Mesdames: P. R. Taylor, J. L. Tingle, W. W. Salsbury, Leon Cannon, J. H.
Coward, J. D. Cannon, Clay Stroud, Jr., Jack Collins, P. L. Jenkins, and Miss Virginia Bell Cooper. Sitting with this ordained group were 22 other Ayden officers who had previously been ordained. On their “Service Flag,” (World War II), at that time were 22 stars.
There had been a debt on their religious education plant. For their “Home Coming” worship on Oct. 3, 1943, it was reported: “J. H. S. Hodges and R. L. Johnson stood at the pulpit and burned the mortgage, the building debt having been paid in full. J. Dixie Cannon read the names and respective amounts of the 125 individuals who had paid the total cash, $6,001.33 which had completely cared for the remainder of the original $10,000 loan from the Atlantic Christian College endowment fund.”
In 1947 a steam-heat system was installed in the church, and ten years later the sanctuary was air-conditioned.
The 25th anniversary of W. H. Brunson in the Ayden pastorate was observed on April 20, 1947. Deceased in 1951, he still holds the record as “dean of all full-time pastorates” within the State among Disciples. He had previously ministered in S. C. for 13 years at St. Stephens, and for 11 years at Charleston. Achieved in his quarter-century at Ayden were: an educational plant costing $14,000 constructed and paid for; parsonage debt cleared; new baptistry installed and sanctuary redecorated; four pianos and a tower system of chimes installed, officiated at 114 weddings, and more than 200 funerals, and there had been many accessions to the church. In addition he had held more than a score of revivals away from Ayden in the Carolinas. In January, 1952, new officers for the Church Board were elected as follows: Dr. H. W. Gooding, chairman; J. R. Taylor, vice chairman; W. B. Phillips, secretary, and Leslie Stocks, treasurer.
In May, 1954, construction was started on their modern six-room brick parsonage on the lot given by Robert N. Johnson. First to occupy the new parsonage in September of that year was their pastor F. F. Beach and family.
The John L. Goffs have led in a prosperous ministry since Jan. 1, 1956. At his first Easter with them he led their revival resulting in 31 additions, and their Church School exceeded goals of 250 in attendance and $100 offering. At this time their Fellowship Hall was remodelled.
Early in 1957, the parsonage debt of $2100 was liquidated, and their worship and religious education facilities were improved costing “several thousand dollars.”
The Ayden congregation has given four young men to the Christian ministry, namely: Billy Adams, E. L. Davidson, James Hemby, and Goodwin Moore.
Membership of Ayden is 323.
Roll of Ministers at Ayden:
|1893||J. L. Winfield||1914, 1915||S. B. Waggoner|
|1894-1897||L. T. Rightsell||1916-1918||Fred B. Powell|
|1898-1900, 1902||C. W. Howard||1919, 1920||J. Flem. Atkins|
|1901, 1903||D. W. Davis||1921||W. J. Shelburne|
|1904, 1905||S. W. Sumrell||1922-1951||W. H. Brunson|
|1906, 1907||R. H. Jones||1952-1954||G. D. Davis, Jr.|
|1908-1910||C. M. Morton||1955||Franklin Beach|
|1911, 1912||C. B. Mashburn||1956-1960||John L. Goff|
|1913||John H. LeGrand|
As a local Church designation Bethel is most appropriate. The name has sacred association. To Abraham, whose caravan rested twelve miles north of Jerusalem, it was the “House of God”. Later to the wrestling Jacob with his vision of the heavenely ladder, Bethel was the consecrated place where God spoke to him. Bearing this lovely title is the Christian Church in Contentnea township, Lenoir County, N. C. It is three miles south of Grifton on Federal Highway 11.
At its origin, prior to 1860, this church was of Union Baptist faith. These were led originally by James W. Hunnicutt of Fredericksburg, Va., who edited their paper at that place from 1848 onward, called The Christian Banner. He was born in 1814 in Anderson County, South Carolina, but removed to Virginia where he founded the Union Baptist denomination, whose leading objective was to unite all open-communion Baptists into one aggressive body. He planted several churches of this faith in North Carolina, which grew slowly until the War Between the States necessitated their reorganization and consequent decline under Bushrod Washington Nash, who led until their last surviving congregation perished several decades ago at old Lousan Swamp near the present Airy Grove Christian Church. From this group of believers came many sturdy accessions to the Disciples, among whom were some of their preachers, namely, Curtis W. Howard, Samuel W. Sumrell, James Latham Winfield, Jesse T. Davis, Isaac Lamar Chestnutt, Irvin Jones, and J. T. Grubbs.
Hunnicutt, in his 454-page book published in 1863, entltled The Conspiracy Unveiled, The South Sacrificed, Or The Horrors of Secession, said: “In the month of October, 1860, we were sent as a delegate to the Grand Council of the Union Baptist denomination of Christians which met at Bethel meeting-house, Lenoir County, North Carolina.” His book reveals at great length conditions as he viewed them in this State in the year before the outbreak of the great civil conflict. He was a violent “Southern Union man,” despising the Confederates and all of their works, and had to flee suddenly from Fredericksburg in August, 1862, when General R. E. Lee's veterans marched in.
The old Bethel (accent on “el”), Union Baptist Church stood directly across the highway from the present Bethel Christian Church. The old church record book, which is an item in the Carolina Discipliana Library, gives the account of their reorganizing on Saturday, November 5, 1870, at which executive session Elder C. C. Stilly “came down from the stand and made a long address upon the unsettled state of the Union Baptist Church.” On December 3, 1870, they entertained a Union meeting at which H. D. Cason, a Disciple, and C. C. Stilly did the preaching. A minute of this meeting in this old church record reads: “On motion it was agreed to discard the name of Union Baptist and take that of Disciple by which name we would be known in future, whereupon the members organized themselves into a Church of Christ at Bethel meeting-house.” It is thus to be observed that this church literally began in a quarterly Hookerton Union Meeting. Some of the descendants of these pioneers still consider Bethel as a kind of home for the Hookerton Union. The charter members, numbering 13, were: William H. Rountree, Washington Sumrell, Bryan Ives, Charles L. Rountree, I. L. Chestnutt, C. T. Barwick, Barney Brooks, Mary Brooks, Peggy Phillips, Lucy Sumrell, Susannah C. Rountree, Almeda Chestnutt and Louise E. Rountree. First officers elected: Deacon, Washington Sumrell,
and clerk, Charles L. Rountree. Jesse T. Davis was their first pastor. The church was first enrolled by the Disciples’ State Convention meeting at Farmville, October 5-8, 1871, reporting 40 members, and represented by delegates: Jesse T. Davis, C. T. Barwick, and Washington Sumrell. W. B. Hartsfield and C. P. Gaskins were their delegates in 1872. John J. Harper held them a “big meeting” with 35 additions in the summer of 1874, so at the State Convention that year, they reported a total of 98 members enrolled.
Following is a quaint entry in their old church record book:
Disciples met at Bethel on Saturday night before the 2nd Sunday in July, 1873. Preaching by Elder C. C. King. After services Sisters Willie Hartsfield, Ida Taylor, and Mary Chestnutt came forward as candidates for baptism. Sister Willie Rountree gave in at the water on Sunday. Meeting closed by singing. C. L. Rountree, Clerk.
The old Union Baptist Church was used until their own building was erected, the dedication of which was reported as follows by Jesse T. Davis:
For about nineteen or twenty months, there has been a desire, accompanied with an effort by the congregation, worshipping at Bethel, Lenoir Co., N. C., to erect a house in which to worship God. We are now permitted to announce through the Watch Tower, that there is a house of worship here in which the Disciples of Christ can meet in quietness and peace. And that according to previous arrangement it was opened on Saturday, April 12, 1873. Preaching on Saturday and Saturday night by Dr. Walsh. On Lord's Day morning a very large congregation assembled, not more than three-fourths of which could gain admittance, so closely packed was the house. The congregation was first entertained by vocal music followed by prayer by Elder A. C. Hart, and then a discourse delivered by Dr. J. T. Walsh. This was followed by a recess, during which we were pleasantly engaged and thankfully employed in partaking of refreshments. At the appointed signal we again entered the house and listened with interest to Eld. J. H. Foy, who delivered a very fine discourse—then the Saints partook of the Lord's Supper, and all were dismissed in peace.
This building served exactly 51 years until it was burned. C. C. Ware preached the last sermon in this old church, on April 13, 1924 and the succeeding Sunday morning, Easter, 1924, he preached the first sermon in the Disciples’ new building at Rocky Fork in Lee County, where the Hookerton Union had put an investment of $150, cash.
The congregation worshipped in the Rountree Masonic Hall across the road in the interval before dedicating their present plant on July 19, 1925. Then the sermon was preached by J. R. Tingle, a beloved minister living at Ayden.
For the Women's work, Mary Irene Orvis, State Organizer visited Bethel on May 20, 1900, when their auxiliary began with 17 members; Officers: Miss Cynthia Rountree, president; Miss Jennie Abbott, vice president; Miss Maude Sumrell, secretary and treasurer.
William Hart Rountree, (Dec. 7, 1820—Oct. 2, 1900) grandson of Jesse Rountree, was a prominent layman at Bethel. He lived in a beautiful home near the church. S. W. Sumrell said of him: “He was like a father to me. He loved the church with all his heart and was faithful to its needs and calls.”
Bethel is figured as having given to America the first dedicated missionary from the North Carolina Disciples. Almeda (“Miss Meta”) Chestnutt, sister
of Isaac Lamar Chestnutt, and granddaughter of Wiley P. Nobles, pioneer Disciple leader, was the daughter of Almeda Nobles Chestnutt, charter member at Bethel, Dec. 3, 1870. “Miss Meta”, the missionary was born on the plantation of her father, Lemuel Allen Chestnutt, on Sept. 8, 1863, and died on Jan. 12, 1948, at Chickasha, Okla., and there buried by the side of her husband, J. Alba Sager. At Bethel, her home church, she was baptized on August 11, 1876, by Dr. H. D. Harper. Her early training was at the local Bethel Academy and Greenville, N. C. Institute. Later, on a scholarship, she received her master's degree at the University of Nashville. There in Tennessee she met the remarkable Disciple Evangelist, Theophilus Brown Larimore, (1843-1929), who advised her to go west to teach with her new Disciple friends, Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Erwin, of Oklahoma, to whom she was introduced by Larimore.
Meta taught in the Greenville, N. C. Institute, 1886-1889. Then on Sept. 1, 1889 she left Kinston, N. C., for Silver City, Indian Territory, to teach the community school at the home of the Erwins. Reaching the five-months-old, raw, but mushrooming Oklahoma City on Sept. 4, she spent her first night there in the makeshift “Grand Avenue Hotel”, which also housed a wolf under the floor howling all night. Next day she went 30 miles southwest across Canadian River with W. J. Erwin in his trail wagon to Silver City in the Chickasaw Nation.
She started her Silver City school, on Sept. 9, 1889, with seven pupils, increasing to 37 within the year. The settlement shifted seven miles to Minco on the railroad in 1890. In 1892 Meta went with Mrs. J. H. Bond on a successful pioneering mission to the old Chickasaw capital, Tishomingo, securing scholarship aid to the growing school at Minco. This Indian school grew steadily. In Sept. 1895, its extension, El Meta Bond College opened in a three-story building, with extensive accommodations for boarding pupils.
On May 6, 1906, Meta married J. Alba Sager, an associate at the College. Mr. Sager died in 1928.
The improved public school system of Oklahoma in 1920 necessitated the closing of El Meta Bond College. During Meta's thirty-two years of administration, about 2500 persons had been trained under her supervision including many who became prominent in the affairs of the new state. The Sagers removed to Chickasha, and served on the faculty of Oklahoma Woman's College.
The fiftieth anniversary of Meta's Western educational mission was given a rousing celebration. Meta had given early training to Judge Reford Bond, an eloquent lawyer of Chickasha, “of Indian lineage” who addressed the large assembly. As herewith briefed he said:
In 1889 Meta Chestnutt sacrified family ties and civilization's comforts to cast her lot with the pioneers of Oklahoma. She saw Oklahoma when its prairies stretched to the horizon, untouched by the plow or the barbed-wire fence, when the forests lifted their tree-tops to the skies untouched by the saw or the ax, when the only home was the wigwam, the cow camp, and the ranch house. She saw the old stage coach supplanted by the steam engine, the teepee village transformed into the modern city. She saw the subjugation of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache. She saw the coming of the plainsman, and the mountaineer, the Puritan and the Cavalier, and now she beholds the composite Oklahoman.
She was the first woman educator to appear before the Chickasaw legislature, the first to win tuition from the Chickasaw law-makers, the first to convince the Chickasaws that co-education was beneficial, the
first to receive recognition from the department of the Interior, the first among us to fight for higher education for women, and that it should be the heritage of every daughter as well as the birthright of every son of our Republic.
No human plummet can sound the depths of her devotion. No surveyor's chain can mark the limits of her faithful, patient endurance, and only the wings of an archangel can transcend that pinnacle to which the sublime principle of self-sacrifice exalts her soul. She was an educator strong in purpose, and pure in strife, thereby making our lives stronger and purer, an inestimable influence. She taught that botany should point to the Rose of Sharon, geology to the Rock of Ages, and astronomy to the Star of Bethlehem.
On a reminiscent pilgrimage Meta visited her old home church at Bethel on Oct. 11, 1942, a few years before her heavenly home-going.
Bethel's Service Flag (World War II) in June, 1943, had 25 stars. Officers in their young people's work then, were Lenore Phillips, Grace Braxton, Nina Bette Rouse, and Clara Gilbert.
C. C. Ware, assisted by R. Paul Parker, the pastor, on April 29, 1945, ordained at Bethel the following officers: Elders: J. W. Gilbert, Clyde Braxton, Sr., Floyd M. Hughes; Deacons: F. M. Gilbert, Clyde Braxton, Jr., Robert Phillips, C. R. Humphrey, B. Alton Phillips, M. R. Phillips; Deaconesses: the wives of the above named six Deacons.
In November, 1956, it was reported for Bethel: “Our church has been rebuilt, and our Sunday School roms and bath rooms have been completed.” Two years later the women made several improvements to the plant's utilities, including venetian blinds, primary class chairs and church bulletin board.
Membership at Bethel is 152.
Roll of Ministers at Bethel:
|1870-1873||Jesse T. Davis||1919||Joel E. Vause|
|1882||Gideon Allen||1922, 1923||J. T. Moore|
|1883, 1884||C. W. Howard||1928||J. H. Edwards|
|1888||I. L. Chestnutt||1929-1932||Perry Case|
|1889||J. L. Winfield||1933-1953||R. Paul Parker|
|1900||D. W. Arnold||1954-1956||T. J. Morris, Jr.|
|1909-1915; 1920, 1921||J. R. Tingle||1957-1959||J. D. Kitchin, Jr.|
|1916, 1917; 1924-1927||E. E. Moore||1960||Jerry Burton|
|1918||O. T. Mattox|
It appears that in numerical dimension at least, a banner church extension year for North Carolina Disciples was 1871. Notwithstanding the hurts and hazards of current Southern Reconstruction their zeal for the cause waxed rewardingly. For in that year thirteen newly-planted churches were enrolled at the Farmville State Convention. Four of these then novitiate congregations are functioning to-day in the area of the Hookerton Union, namely: Eden, then known as Taylor's Schoolhouse, Greene County; Riverside, (Chapman's Schoolhouse, Craven County); Red Oak (Berea, Pitt County); and Bethel, Lenoir County, (formerly Union Baptist). At that time three Disciple ministers were resident in Greene County, all receiving their mail at Hookerton. This was within easy horse-and-buggy reach of Eden, a small church in the open country, eight miles west of Snow Hill,
near Shine. The trio of Hookerton preachers: Alexander Campbell Hart, Irvin Jones, and Jesse T. Davis.
A summer revival at Eden in 1871 netted 37 baptisms and 10 accessions otherwise for a chartered membership. Of those old enough to join, these consisted of 16 families, each entire and 8 others, as follows: Mr. and Mrs. James Wright Taylor, and daughter Heppie; Mr. and Mrs. Charley Vaughn, and daughters, Mirinda, Liza, and Hazie Ann; Mr. and Mrs. William Howell, and daughter, Pattie Taylor; Mr. and Mrs. William Taylor, and sons, Sherman and Berry; Mr. and Mrs. Abram Swinson; Mr. and Mrs. Mark P. Taylor; Mr. and Mrs. William Frazier; Mr. and Mrs. Joe Frazier; Mr. and Mrs. Jim Jones; Mr. and Mrs. David Smith; Mr. and Mrs. John Hodges; Mr. and Mrs. Jack Taylor; Mr. and Mrs. Absalom Taylor; Mr. and Mrs. Rufus West; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Radford; Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Vaughn; Mrs. Ella Peacock Smith; Miss Bettie Peacock; Henry Swinson; Mrs. Jackie Ann (Taylor) Barrow; Mrs. Becky West Webber; Doc Frazier; Bob Howell, and Tom Howell.
The first plant was erected in 1873, and named Eden. Before this they had worshipped in Taylor's Schoolhouse on Lord's Days, while public school was seasonably conducted on week days in the building.
A full roll of Eden's early ministers is not of record. Yet we know that Dr. John T. Walsh of Kinston, served them in 1882. About them he said: “Eden is not large or wealthy but they are true and faithful. They agreed to pay me $75, salary for the conference year, 1882, and they have made good every cent. All honor to the brethren at Eden. May they never lack for anything needful. They paid me $87.50 for 14 months. God bless all of them!” Some active laymen there in early times were: William Frazier, J. A. Frazier, Mark P. Taylor, and J. W. Taylor. In the 1880's while the State Convention's “District Plan” was in vogue, Eden was grouped with Hookerton, Wheat Swamp and Hebron (now defunct); salary $400 per annum.
In October, 1900, the pastor, J. R. Tingle reported: “Eden is now preparing to buy an organ.” In September, 1901, L. T. Rightsell supplying for D. H. Petree there, said that he had promoted a “Basket Collection” of $2.50 cash for the Hookerton Union.
Eden, always a small church, has had many yearly soul-saving revivals. One among the best was in 1908 with 15 baptisms and 7 added otherwise. It was led by Cecil F. Outlaw. Each of the 22, with one exception, were over 21 years of age. It included 7 entire families; in fact, Eden seems to be notable for inclusion of entire families of enrollment age. An unusual event of the Outlaw meeting—he baptized a man, 71, whose daughter and granddaughter were at the same time baptized.
In 1928 the plant was removed southward a mile to a site on the Snow Hill-Goldsboro Highway, 102, on land formerly owned by Mrs. Fannie Pauline Smith.
The pastor's wife, Mrs. Lester Jones, led in organizing their Women's work, with 15 members, in 1933. R. A. Phillips has held the longest pastorate there, 14 years. At their September “Home Coming” in 1946, $4000 was raised on construction of a new plant, work on which was started two years later. Meanwhile John L. Goff held a revival resulting in 9 baptisms, in which “he brought effective, enthusiastic, inspirational, messages, and the church was greatly strengthened.”
During the building program in the 1940s, Eden's services were held at
the Davis Grove Missionary Baptist Church, four miles north. Eden's new building was opened on April 10, 1949. The new $10,000 brick plant was dedicated without debt on Sept. 11, 1949. The plant is 47 X 27 feet, providing two church school rooms, and it has “four tasteful windows” on each side. It is a radical improvement.
On June 8, 1947, C. C. Ware, assisted by R. A. Phillips, pastor, ordained the following officers: Elders: Roland Taylor, Ernest Sauls; Deacons: James Taylor, James Albert Smith; Deaconesses: Mrs. Edgar Lee Smith, Mrs. Ernest Sauls; Junior Deacons: Nelson Joyner, Joe Ben Sauls, Kenneth Taylor, and Lester Herring, Jr. Five years later the church school superintendent was J. A. Smith, and the Church Treasurer was Mrs. James Taylor.
In 1954, it was reported: “The Sunday School has increased during the past year to a point where we need an addition to our building. Before we go further we must build.” Plans were proposed for three new church school rooms, convertible when required into a fellowship hall.
While Ivan Adams was pastor, in 1955, there was held the “first Easter Sunrise Service in the history of Eden Church”.
Membership at Eden is 80.
Roll of ministers at Eden:
|1882||Dr. J. T. Walsh||1918, 1945-1947||R. A. Phillips|
|1883||Josephus Latham||1925||L. J. Bickers|
|1884, 1888||I. L. Chestnutt||1926, 1927||J. F. Pipkin|
|1889, 1920-1924||J. R. Tingle||1928-1931||J. H. Edwards|
|1897-1900, 1907||S. W. Sumrell||1932-1934||S. L. Jones|
|1901-1904||D. H. Petree||1948, 1949||W. I. Bennett|
|1908||C. M. Morton||1950-1952||Zeph N. Deshields|
|1909, 1919||J. A. Saunders||1953-1955||Ivan Adams|
|1911, 1912||J. T. Saunders||1956||J. M. Moudy|
|1913-1915||Joel E. Vause||1957||Byron Welch|
|1916, 1917||James M. Taylor||1958-1960||Carlton Best|
The second largest urban center in Pitt County is Farmville, (population 2942 in 1950). It is near the Greene County line. Previous to its incorporation in 1872 it had been known as New Town. This was at the crossroads midway from Marlboro on the south to Joyner's on the north, about a mile from each. The second building at the place was the Christian Church. It was known as Antioch Church from 1854 to 1910. It stood as the only church of the community for its first 34 years. The village grew slowly. In the census of 1880 it had but 111 persons and in 1890 just 140. At the introduction of large-scale growth of tobacco in the highly fertile hinterland it became a prosperous trade center.
Old Antioch really began at Tyson's Meeting House, located a few miles east of Farmville near the present Arthur. John P. Dunn of Lenoir County, an outstanding evangelist of the Disciples, held a revival at Tyson's Meeting House, beginning November 2, 1850. The meeting resulted in 123 baptisms. This new Disciple congregation was represented at the State meeting of Disciples in 1851, at Oak Grove Church, Greene County, which stood at the present Willow Green crossroads, by Josiah Barrett, Sherrod Tyson, and S. Hines, Jr. They were received as given in the following minute: “Friday, Oct. 17, 1851. On motion agreed that the Church of Christ
at Tyson's M. H., Pitt County, be received into this Conference, and that her delegates be invited to take seats and participate in its proceedings.” Her delegates in 1852 at Elm Grove were G. W. Barrett, T. King, and A. Bynum; in 1853 at Wheat Swamp, John H. Hines, who in 1872 had named Farmville. By the time of the Wheat Swamp Convention in October, 1853 their membership had been reduced to 96.
In the summer of 1853 there was a bitter strife at Tyson's due to the organized temperance movement. Intemperance throughout the country had become such a growing evil that an order had arisen called the Sons of Temperance to avert the rising tide of alcoholic drink. Less than a dozen of Tyson's members took the position that unrestrained use of strong drink was a Christian's inviolable privilege, to be defended by exclusion from the church of the Sons of Temperance who were of contrary opinion. They would make it a test of fellowship. They wished to form an organization under the title of “Old-side Apostolic Christian Church,” of which one of the tenets should be: “No Son of Temperance is to be admitted as a member of this church.” The Disciples never recognized this apostate church in any of their State Meetings; in fact their divisive idea never became an issue within the Disciples’ cooperative order.
With a reduced membership and dissension over temperance in the air at Tyson's, it was desirable that a new site be found. James W. May owned much land at the crossroads which became Farmville. On December 12, 1854, he deeded one acre to the Antioch “Christian Baptist Church,” “to have and to hold . . . in fee simple . . . to occupy, use and enjoy said church as a house of Christian worship for the worship of Almighty God.” The trustees named in this original deed of 1854 were: Peter E. Hines, Richard A. Bynum, Sherrod Belcher, and Josiah Barrett. It is apparent from the deed that the frame plant of Antioch had already been erected. This stood for 56 years until 1910, on the original site, fronting eastward at the southwest corner of Main and Church streets. Seasonal heating of the one room wooden structure was by a central stove. Victorian segregation of the sexes, men on the right, women on the left, obtained until 1892. The practice was facilitated by the three feet high median partition from front to rear.
In 1854 at the Disciples’ State Meeting, James W. May, Sherrod Belcher, and W. Stancill, represented this resurgent group and reported an enrolled membership of 95. It was not considered as a new church at the Disciples’ State Meeting in 1854, but it was enrolled under the new name of Antioch. Josephus Latham, a strong advocate of temperance, was the first Antioch pastor, and held her first revival, beginning on Saturday, September 8, 1855. He said the revival continued for several days and resulted in fourteen baptisms “a goodly number of whom were lovely young ladies, two of whom were natives of Maine, who had bidden farewell to the loved ones at home and had come to the far ‘Sunny South’ to teach.” He concluded: “May Heaven guide these dear young converts through this waste-howling wilderness to the haven of sweet repose”.
In 1904 the church known as Corinth, located east of Farmville at Lang's Crossroads, transferred their fellowship to Antioch. Much of the blood of the 400 persons presently enrolled in the Farmville Church was native at Corinth, originally.
Corinth was first known as Oak Grove and their building stood in Greene County above seven miles southeast from Farmville at the present Willow Green. This Oak Grove started in 1830 as a member of the Toisnot Association
of Regular Baptists. Toisnot soon merged with Nahunta Association and was known as Contentnea. On October 24, 1835, following the lead of Kehukee, the Contentnea adopted an anti-missionary policy. This was against the feelings of the Oak Grove Church, and after drifting for eleven years, the church became connected with the Disciples in 1846, under the evangelistic leadership of John P. Dunn. It then had but 16 members.
Abram Baker represented Oak Grove in the Disciples’ State Meeting of 1846 and 1847, and Daniel McArthur in 1849. They entertained the State Meetings in 1851, 1860, 1867, and 1875. The Carrs, the Moyes, the Langs, and the Dardens, were leading families in this old church, and they contributed much gain, actual and potential, to this merger at Farmville in 1904.
In 1863 the place of worship for Oak Grove was removed a short distance over the line into Pitt County and a new building erected. It was then named Corinth, as there was already another Oak Grove Church of like faith in Pitt County. Alfred Moye, (1793-1863), prominent layman in the Oak Grove church, was a son of Joel and Sarah Darden Moye, and lived six miles east of the present Farmville. He married Orpah Tyson in 1818. Two of their sons were pioneer Disciple leaders of Wilson and Greenville, respectively, and several other descendants became active Disciples at Farmville and elsewhere. In 1850 he was the first president of the Greenville-to-Raleigh Plank Road, (memorialized for him in the public monument at Lang's Crossroads); 1828-29, state representative; 1831-44, state senator; and served admirably in various other community activities. Preachers called his home an “hospitable mansion”. George Joyner said of him: “The character which he sustained for wisdom, stability and judgment was appreciated by the whole community.”
Farmville Church has been outstanding in her furtherance of the Disciples’ cooperative life in North Carolina. Six annual State Meetings have been entertained here, namely: 1857, 1871, 1883, 1893, 1912, and 1929, aside from innumerable conferences and inspirational gatherings of smaller groups. Two of these State Meetings, namely 1857 and 1883, are of epochal importance. In 1857, at Farmville, the first State Constitution for the Disciples’ group was adopted, and in 1883 the constitutional system, known as the North Carolina Christian Missionary Convention, was adopted.
Looking back, after a bit more than 40 years, J. R. Tingle reminisced:
“I remember the first State Convention I ever attended. It was at Farmville, 1883. I remember F. M. Green was there, helping to complete the organization of The North Carolina Christian Missionary Convention. They met from Wednesday to Sunday, Oct. 10-14. A large crowd there was from the beginning, and it increased to the close. There were no automobiles but the people came from far and near. I was entertained at a country home, and there nine men slept up-stairs on cotton beds and mattresses. We had a good time and everybody enjoyed it.”
J. J. Harper held their revival in 1887, with 11 additions. He commended their “zealous and diligent workers.” C. Manly Morton in his pastorate there, 1908-1910, led in building their brick plant, which was dedicated Nov. 13, 1910, President J. C. Caldwell preaching the sermon. Morton said that his two years there represented “the most earnest, prayerful, and pleasant work” he ever did.
Farmville's first Sunday School was reported in 1873, along with only 6 other Disciple Schools in North Carolina, with enrollment of 68, including 6 teachers. E. P. Edwards was Superintendent. In 1879, however, they
reported but one teacher, and 12 “pupils.” 1887 report: W. R. Parker, Superintendent; average attendance 25, with 65 on roll, and to their joy it was an “Evergreen School”;—it ran “12 months” in the year. The next year A. J. Moye was superintendent, and the enrollment had grown to 89, including 9 teachers. The present church school of Farmville Disciples has enlarged equipment for resurgent growth. It has a strong teaching staff, is departmentalized, and functions vitally in the outreaching church.
Farmville was fortunately situated within ten miles of Mrs. Sally Rasberry Dixon's residence at “Holliday Hill,” where the State's cooperative Disciples’ Women's Work began parochially, in 1871, rising to state level in 1876, and organically to their national association in 1891, known officially then as the Christian Women's Board of Missions. Jesse T. Davis, a Farmville pastor, was their state field promoter in 1877, and another, I. L. Chestnutt, was the first state missionary, supported the same year, by their aggregate funds. In 1892, Mrs. Estelle Hardy Moye, of Corinth Church, served on their State Board of Managers.
Antioch's C. W. B. M. officers in 1901 were: president, Mrs. S. R. Hines; vice president Mrs. D. W. Arnold; secretary Miss Alice Hines; treasurer Mrs. W. J. Turnage. Mrs. Turnage has the distinction of having held the treasurer's “office faithfully for 38 years”. In 1902, Antioch had 12 active members in their local auxiliary, with two subscribers to their national paper, The Missionary Tidings. By 1959 the participating members of Farmville in the Christian Women's Fellowship, modern equivalent of their old C.W.B.M., has grown to 106 and their offerings that year, totalled $1,267.33. Mrs. Howard D. Moye, Sr. of Farmville was elected State president of the C. W. F. in 1959.
Farmville youth in Christian Endeavor and Christian Youth Fellowship have long been a vital force in the Church, under worthy sponsors. The church took a generous part in the building of Camp Caroline, 1953-54, giving $1,886.
The Christian Men's Fellowship, a recent organization, functions well, and has given to North Carolina Disciples in this field a state leader in Sam D. Bundy. The Church plant has been blessed with extensive remodelling. In 1953 Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Moye gave to the church a lot cut from their farm for a parsonage, a capacious, modern brick home, costing $15,000, and dedicated in December 1953.
At their annual Home Coming, Nov. 21, 1954, the Church celebrated its Centennial, issuing an elegant 29-page booklet, illustrated, to grace the occasion. A part of it is transcribed herewith.
Eleven memorials in the church are as follows: Triple window facing east for Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Lang; triple window facing north for Mr. and Mrs. M. T. Moye; window in pastor's study for Mrs. Sallie R. Hines.
Communion table and chairs for Annie Laurie Lang; pulpit chairs for Mrs. Jessie Bynum Harris; pulpit Bible for James R. Lang; Hammond organ and church hymnals for Mr. and Mrs. J. Y. Monk, Sr.; offering plates for J. R. Lang and C. B. Mashburn, Sr.; pastor's office desk for Fred G. Smith; front entrance lights, and pastor's office stove for Mrs. Nan Wilkinson. Marble plaque for pastor, C. B. Mashburn, Sr.
Their decision was announced in 1955 to build a $90,000 Religious Education accessory to be erected beside their main plant. Plans were drawn in consultation with Rollin V. Mosher of the Church Extension Board of Indianapolis, Ind. Ground was broken on July 14, 1957, and the building was
dedicated on July 12, 1959; guest speakers: Ross J. Allen, Bernard Meece, and Pete Warren.
Early in 1959, five new Deacons were elected, namely: R. D. Rouse, Sr., B. Edison Moore, Fred C. Darden, Frank Allen, and C. B. Mashburn, Jr. Likewise officers of the Board: Chairman, L. A. Moye; secretary, Joe Melton; treasurer, B. S. Smith, Sr.
On May 10, 1959, Jack M. Daniell, pastor, held a “Parental Baby Blessing Service”. Twenty babies were presented, each receiving a certificate and a red rose. That summer, their Fellowship Hall was redecorated, and their new parish paper, The Christian Caller was being sent to each church family.
In April, 1960 the church broadcasted their morning worship over the two Farmville stations.
Membership at Farmville is 400.
Roll of Ministers at Farmville:
|1854, 1855, 1858-1861; 1864-1880; 1888||Josephus Latham||1905||I. W. Rogers|
|1906-1907||J. T. Moore|
|1856, 1857, 1862, 1863||George Joyner||1908||H. H. Ambrose|
|1881-1887; 1889, 1890; 1892-1895||I. L. Chestnutt||1908, 1909||C. M. Morton|
|1910-1915, 1931-1945||C. B. Mashburn|
|1891||J. J. Harper||1916-1919||W. P. Jordan|
|1896||Jesse T. Davis||1920-1924||Olin E. Fox|
|1897, 1898||M. T. Moye||1925, 1926||D. C. Gordon|
|1899||J. B. Greenwade||1927-1930||R. S. Tandy|
|1900||J. W. Tyndall||1946-1958||Z. B. T. Cox|
|1901-1903||D. W. Arnold||1959, 1960||Jack M. Daniell|
|1904||A. F. Leighton|
The municipal history of Greenville, on the Tar, began on Dec. 11, 1771, when the Colonial Assembly at New Bern passed a “Bill for laying out a town on the land of Richard Evans in Pitt County by the name of Martinborough.” The State Assembly on Jan. 6, 1787, changed the name to Greenesville, honoring the national hero, Nathaniel Greene. It is likely that scribblers with a sense of euphony almost immediately shortened the name to Greenville, and thus an orthographic heritage has descended for 173 years. As of record, Greenville in the 1790's had “about fifty houses”, and was on the early national post road, 445 miles from Philadelphia. President George Washington visited it to dine on April 19, 1791, and called it a “trifling place”. He went on to “one, Alllan's, 14 miles further”, near the present Ayden, where his horses “were obliged to stand without a cover.”
A Gazetteer of 1818 states:
“Greenville, post town and capital of Pitt County, N. C.: on south side of Tar River, 35 miles above its entrance into Pamlico sound, 53 miles southwest of Edenton, 291 miles from Washington, D. C. It contains, a court house, a jail and an academy.”
The Pitt Academy was founded in 1786, without privilege to grant degrees. In 1874, Greenville had 601 population, and one newspaper. Moreover, “The neighboring forests yielded large quantities of tar.”
In the early 1830's, General William Clark, who had formerly lived at his rural mansion near Pactolus, removed to Greenville and opened a tavern on
Cotanche Street, said a century later to be the oldest dwelling in Greenville. The site is in the rear of the present postoffice. Here Thomas Campbell came to start his six weeks’ visit in the Greenville and Hookerton communities, February 14, 1834. Mrs. William Clark, whose maiden name was Louisa Pearce Lanier, from one of the most prominent families of the county, gave prompt adherence to the plea of the Campbells, and in that sense was the first of all North Carolina Disciples. The General eventually came wholeheartedly to the Disciples, and became the pivotal man for their early development in Jackson, Miss., to which southern capital he shortly removed. To some points in Campbell's faith he did not at first accede, as, for instance, the weekly observance of the Lord's Supper. After a few years to think that idea through, he gladly made it his own. He owned seventeen acres in the heart of Jackson, Miss., dying there in 1859. He fathered our Jackson Church in 1835, which today is by far the strongest church of Mississippi Disciples. During his 45 years in Carolina, he came originally out of the Kehukee and Neuse Associations. Cushing Biggs Hassell, of the Kehukee, wrote bitterly about the General's leaving that faith and order to join with the reformatory movement of the Disciples.
From 1834 onward there were some Disciples living in Greenville for most or all of the time, until their formal local organization there sixty-six years later. These scattered Disciples in Greenville, however, maintained their fellowship in Hookerton, Corinth, Rountree, Mt. Pleasant, Red Oak, Oak Grove, Salem, Timothy, Ayden, Grifton, Grimesland, or Farmville. These twelve churches were all within a radius of sixteen miles of Greenville. There had been a sermon in Greenville as early as October, 1830, by John Patrick Dunn, a later Disciple. Through the years, prominent Disciples had served in the county offices at Greenville, as Josephus Latham in Education, and Elbert A. Moye, Sr., in Superior Court. Alfred Moye, father of Elbert A. had presided over the Greenville-to-Raleigh Plank Road, and is thus memorialized in the great stone at Lang's Cross Roads today, at the meticulous curve in the concrete.
In the late 1890's it was freely talked on the streets of Greenville and in Disciple Convention sessions, that there should be a church of this faith in this growing center where mammoth warehouses mushroomed. It was after the coming of the golden weed, making Pitt one of the top agricultural counties of America, and eventually making Greenville the second largest flue-cured tobacco market in the world. It was also becoming an attractive educational center, which in time would have the East Carolina College, a far cry from the pioneer Pitt Academy. The Weldon-to-Kinston rail line, opened in 1892, stepped up transportation facilities, and was followed fifteen years later by the Norfolk Southern Railroad, marking the era of steam in Pitt County.
At the Washington State Convention in 1896, the state secretary reported:
The Greenville mission was before the Board and duly considered. Our President, J. J. Harper, was requested to visit this point and ascertain the number of Disciples there; arrange for monthly preaching and for a series of meetings to be held during the summer months. Bro. Harper visited Greenville as requested and reported the result of his investigations, which the Board considered very satisfactory, and decided to push the work at once.
In 1897, Ben H. Melton held the revival in Greenville which definitely brought to focus the elements for effective founding of the local church. In
that year also a lot was secured and there was the first substantial appropriation from State Missions for pastoral leadership at Greenville, which help was continued until Greenville became self-sustaining. Significant in beginnings at Greenville is the fact that there was an active Woman's Missionary group, known as the local C. W. B. M. Auxiliary, before there was an established church. An earnest worker in this was Mrs. Pattie Rountree Hooker, lineal descendant of Jesse Rountree, founder of Rountree Church, 1827. Mrs. Hooker had moved in from Hookerton. She lived from 1844 to 1907 and was for fifty years a loyal Disciple, leaving six children: Mrs. H. L. Coward, Mrs. J. L. Wooten, Mrs. E. G. Flannagan, and Travis E., Thomas M., and Will E. Hooker. Another outstanding leader in these beginnings, who might truly be called the father of the new church was Elbert A. Moye, Sr. He lived from 1842 to 1914, presided at five of our State Conventions, was a highly useful citizen, and a devoted Disciple. Another was W. R. Parker, mayor of the city.
Greenville was 129 years old in 1900, and had long been full to overflowing with churches, some of which were hoary with age. The local Presbyterians, relative newcomers, were especially friendly to the Disciples. Even now, deep into the twentieth century, they carry on in that noble tradition. However, it was felt strongly by local Disciples, and their friends, that the Disciples had a rich and distinct contribution to make to the community's religious life, and that there was every reason for their effecting speedily an established local fellowship.
Dennis Wrighter Davis was the pioneering pastor. In December, 1899, he visited Greenville and reported: “Greenville is the most inviting mission point now before the State Board. The first thing to be done is to build a house.—A lot has been bought and paid for.—What the Disciples now need in Greenville is a leader, a man who is not afraid of work.”
Some sixty days later Davis again visited them. He reported:
We decided to make a trip to Greenville and view the situation and ascertain whether or not the Disciples there wanted a church. A lot was purchased and subscriptions taken to the amount of $650, but on account of having no one to look after the work, nothing more was done and the interest waned. We know that there were several influential members living in Greenville, but it never once entered our mind that we were so strong. In numbers we have forty-one; in influence, wealth and intelligence we compare favorably with any church in town.
The opera house has been secured for services and, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather we had splendid audiences both morning and evening. At the morning services we invited the members to meet us in the afternoon at the residence of Mrs. T. E. Hooker for consultation regarding a church building.
Sometime during last year plans for a building to cost about $2,000 were drawn, and as no serious objection was raised, it was decided to build according to the first plans drawn. A committee of four ladies was appointed to wait on the entire congregation and secure subscriptions. As we had eleven members present it was decided to start the work at once by having them head the list. The result was $550.00 in pledges, with the understanding that if more is required it will be forthcoming.
While Disciples in Greenville are by no means in a helpless condition, it should be remembered by our brotherhood that building material is very high and the brethren in Greenville have responded to many calls during these years that they have been without a house. Now upon the principle that one good turn deserves another, we trust that many of the brethren will come to their assistance. If people love to
help those who help themselves, now is the time to show it by helping Greenville. We have no doubt but that at our next appointment, the second Lord's Day in March, (1900) we shall see the lumber on the ground and the work moving along.
Davis led in the formal organization of the church in a service held on October 18, 1900, in the Dickinson Ave. home of Mr. and Mrs. Travis E. Hooker. The 32 charter members were:
Dennis Wrighter Davis, pastor, Mr. and Mrs. Travis E. Hooker, Josiah Dixon, E. A. Moye, Sr., Robert M. Moye, Mrs. Gertrude Coward, Mrs. Pattie R. Hooker, Mr. and Mrs. H. Bently Harris, Mrs. Neta Smith, W. R. Parker, Miss Ellen G. Parker, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Tunstall, and Mrs. Lilly Wooten, these sixteen being present at the meeting, and the following 16 likewise enrolling later as the record was promptly made for charter membership: Miss Mollie Dudley, E. A. Moye, Jr., Miss Mary A. Moye, Thomas M. Hooker, Mrs. Rosa Flannagan, Miss Lena King, Mrs. J. M. Barrett, Mrs. Pattie B. Parker, Miss Mamie Tunstall, S. M. Johnston, Mrs. S. V. Johnston, Miss Lucy C. Johnston, Miss Nannie E. Johnston, Mrs. Zeno Moore, and Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Outterbridge.
The opening service in the frame building, which was erected on Dickinson Ave., at Pitt Street, near the Norfolk Southern Station, was held on June 2, 1901, with Davis as the State Missionary pastor. First officers: Elders: E. A. Moye, Sr., Josiah Dixon, and W. R. Parker; Deacons: Joseph S. Tunstall and H. Bently Harris; clerk, Robert M. Moye; treasurer, Travis E. Hooker; First trustees: E. A. Moye, Sr., W. R. Parker, and Joseph S. Tunstall. A Church school, (“Lord's Day School,” on the record), was organized on June 23, 1901, with W. R. Parker, superintendent, and E. A. Moye, Sr., secretary and treasurer. It enrolled 42, and the first year's total offering was $22. The first five recorded baptisms, uniting with Disciples at the new church were: Mrs. Neta Smith, Miss Ellen G. Parker, Miss Nannie E. Johnston, Miss Alice Lang, and Henry T. King. Wednesday evening prayer meetings were led by E. A. Moye, Sr.
Some early revivals adding much strength to the new church were held by Ben H. Melton, Daniel E. Motley, D. W. Davis, J. Boyd Jones, the Martin family, and S. D. Colyer. Pastor W. E. Powell, reporting the J. Boyd Jones’ meeting in May, 1904, which nearly doubled the membership, said: “The town is stirred from center to circumference.” As would logically follow the church was early imbued with friendly spirit toward all brotherhood cooperation and particularly toward State Missions. However, this was not as easy as it reads. They were surrounded with an entrenched and tenacious antimissionism. A news-letter from pastor, H. H. Moore, dated Feb. 3, 1905, glimpses the kind of leadership Greenville Disciples had fifty-five years ago. Condensed, we quote Moore:
January 29 we celebrated “State Missions Day”. We raised $18, or about twenty-four cents per capita. They have not yet been made to feel the needs of the State. Everything possible was done in advertising and announcements right down to the minute. We endeavored to construct a large canvas map showing the number and location of our churches throughout the state. I only had 35 minutes. We must educate our people. This is a mighty task.
Mrs. Travis E. Hooker favored us by singing a solo: “Thy Duty's Call,” written by the pastor, and set to the sweet music of “Face to Face”. Mrs. Hooker's singing is always richly enjoyed. At night we preached on “Our Plea” to a large audience. Mrs. Moore sang a beautiful solo: “In the Secret of His Presence.”
During Moore's ministry electric lights were installed in the church. He said that they were “glad indeed to say adieu to the dim light of the kerosene lamps.” He proposed to give them to a rural church, namely “the Edgecombe brethren when they rebuild at Bethany.”
The Disciples’ Church Extension Board loaned $1,000 in 1901, for completion of the original Greenville plant, which was fully paid in January, 1911. In 1916, during the pastorate of J. J. Walker, the new site at 126 West Eighth Street, was acquired, and a handsome $20,000 building erected. This was cleared of debt in 1919, while Lee Sadler was serving the first of his three terms there. A debt of $7,300 was later accumulated for parsonage and other current objects, which was paid in 1934 during the pastorate of W. A. Ryan. Their beautiful organ is a gift from the Thomas M. Hooker estate. They have entertained Disciple State Conventions in 1903, 1914, 1918, 1921, 1934, 1941, 1946, and 1956. It is the geographical center for eastern North Carolina Disciples.
Two Disciple authors at Greenville were: Henry T. King, and Mrs. James L. Moore. King wrote “Sketches of Pitt County—A Brief History of the County—1704-1910.” It was published by Edwards and Broughton Printing Company, Raleigh, N. C. in 1911; pages 263. It was widely acclaimed and is now a $10 item among the rare books. As of the present this is Pitt County's only published history.
Mrs. Moore, (Nov. 26, 1843-Oct. 12, 1914), a granddaughter of Jesse Rountree, wrote “Family Record”, a genealogical account of certain Brown and Rountree families. This 32 page pamphlet published about 1912 is of unique heraldic value to a host of Greenville Disciples and others in that connection. Mrs. Moore was an active, devoted Disciple. On the flyleaf of her Bible she inscribed: “This book contains the mind of God, Christ is its grand subject. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy.”
Before the sixteen-years’ pastorate of H. Glenn Haney began, the church was blessed with the ad interim ministry for four months, by R. H. Crossfield, of Birmingham, Ala. He left them with a unified congregation, and a $2,000 current expense debt fully liquidated. He returned in 1945 to lead their short revival with 12 additions, giving them “strong Bible sermons mingled with the presentation of his many world-wide travels.”
Steady improvements were effected. In 1945 came the successful project for the new parsonage at 1042 West Rock Spring Road. From Nov. 10, 1947 to the following Easter their sanctuary was vacated congregationally while the $10,000 structural repair was made to the dome. Twenty new choir chairs were given by Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Woolard.
In 1945, Vere H. Rogers, of Roanoke, Va. assisted the pastor for a period of Visitation Evangelism adding 52 to the membership. Three years later 51 more were likewise added. During the first five years of Haney's pastorate, 300 were added, of whom 132 were baptisms. An accession on April 23, 1950, completed a membership roll of 800. G. Curtis Jones assisted the church in a meeting for “Membership Cultivation”.
On June 1, 1952 their educational forces moved into their “recently purchased property next door to the church, giving additional space much needed for our growing church school and other youth activities”. A student center was also opened in this “spacious building,” rearranged as required. Mollie Hester and Peggy Nichols volunteered and prepared for full-time religious education service.
Officers of the Christian Women's Fellowship in 1954, were: president,
Mrs. Robert S. Moye; 1st vice president, Mrs. James D. Walters; 2nd vice president, Mrs. Preston Cannon; treasurer, Mrs. W. H. Woolard, Jr.; recording secretary, Mrs. W. A. Tripp.
In 1955 “an expansion program to meet present and future needs” found expression in a “series of rooms built in a motel effect,” including modern accessories of ladies’ parlor, pastor's study, church office and younger children's class-rooms. The whole cost was about $24,000, and all financially cleared within twelve months. It was dedicated on July 8, 1956. Roy G. Smith was contractor, and Milo H. Smith Chairman of the Building Committee.
It was proposed in 1958 to sponsor a new Disciple congregation in the city, projected from the Eighth Street Church. Chairman Robert S. Moye sent ballots to the members resulting in the plans to form the Hooker Memorial Church.
On Feb. 22, 1959, at the closing of their pastorate,” friends in the church and in Greenville presented the H. Glenn Haneys with a cashier's check equal to the amount of their mortgage on their home in Greenville amounting to $5,477.75.” The local C. W. F. also gave them “handsome luggage.”
Greenville has given five young men to the Christian ministry, namely: Arturo Andrade, Henry Fleming, L. A. Mayo, Jr., Drury Settle, and William E. Tucker.
Membership at Greenville (8th Street) is 786.
Roll of Ministers at Greenville Eighth Street:
|Nov. 4, 1900 to Nov. 2, 1902||D. W. Davis||Feb. 1, 1920 to Oct. 1, 1923||W. P. Shamhart|
|April 5, 1903 to Oct. 16, 1904||W. E. Powell||Sept. 1, 1925 to June 22, 1926||A. R. H. Miller|
|Oct. 30, 1904 to June 24, 1906||H. H. Moore||Oct. 1, 1926 to Dec. 1, 1929||R. J. Bamber|
|Nov. 4, 1906 to April 24, 1910||D. W. Arnold||Feb. 1, 1931 to Sept. 1942||W. A. Ryan|
|Oct. 21, 1910 to Oct. 21, 1911||C. C. Ware||Jan. 15, 1943 to Jan. 15, 1959||H. Glenn Haney|
|Nov., 1912 to Aug., 1918||J. J. Walker||March 1, 1959 to Date||W. J. Hadden, Jr.|
|Aug. 1918 to Jan. 1, 1920; Oct. 1, 1923 to May 10, 1925; and Jan. 1, 1930 to Dec. 28, 1930||S. Lee Sadler|
Warmly sponsored by the Eighth Street Congregation of Disciples in Greenville, the Hooker Memorial Church there is the youngest in the Hookerton Union. Ross J. Allen, State Secretary, visited Eighth Street on Oct. 27, 1957, to assist the pastor, H. Glenn Haney. At morning worship that day, 45 Eighth Street members signed a Charter Membership Covenant to go with the new church. First of these to sign was Mrs. Travis E. Hooker, in whose home the original church was organized 57 years before. A steering committee serving preparatory to the activating of the new fellowship were: Chairman, Elbert Bennett; secretary, Mrs. L. E. Ward; treasurer, Lester Turnage, Jr. Functionally constituted the heads of various Committees
were: finance, S. E. West; pulpit supply, James L. Harris, Jr.; worship, Mrs. Travis E. Hooker; evangelism, Lester Turnage, Jr.; education, James D. Walters; house and grounds, Milan Brickhouse; membership development, Milton Williamson; missions, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Laughinghouse; publicity, Dr. Elizabeth Utterback.
From the mother church they were to “be undergirded financially and otherwise” until they became self-sustaining. First sermon to the new group was by Byron Welch of Atlantic Christian College on Nov. 3, 1957. Next the church was to be named. In the preceding sketch it is seen that the Pattie Rountree Hooker family, lineal descendants of Jesse Rountree, (1765-1831) have been a substantial part of the Greenville Disciple constituency for two generations. Moreover one of this connection was first on the new roll, who also made a substantial gift to the evocative venture. Wherefore it was decided unanimously to assume the name, Hooker Memorial. Travis E. Hooker, (died June 6, 1935), was long the treasurer of the original church, and a faithful member of the State Missions Board. William E. Hooker was the church school superintendent for 30 years, and served well as trustee of Atlantic Christian College, and likewise on functional committees of his American brotherhood. Mrs. Gertrude Hooker Coward bequeathed a generous sum to the Wilson College and to the Eighth Street Christian Church. The Thomas M. Hooker estate provided the church organ. Likewise a growing number of others in this family line have been steadfast supporters of the Disciples’ work and worship.
A desirable lot of 5.7 acres was acquired in a residential development in east Greenville on the Federal Highway 264 by-pass, and fully paid for by October, 1958. On April 27, that year, their fellowship dinner was enjoyed on this dedicated site.
In June, 1958 they counted 95 members. Their place of worship was in the new Elmhurst Elementary School. Here their new full-time minister, Henry Thomas Money, preached first for them on June 22, 1958. This pastor is a native of Louisville, Ky. His higher education was at Northwestern University, and at Transylvania, (A.B., 1955) and at The College of The Bible, (B.D., 1958). He had ministered in Kentucky at New Castle, at Ewing, and as associate pastor at Richmond. On June 15, 1957, he married Miss Suzanne Silverman, of Louisville, Ky. Their Greenville home is in the Hooker Memorial's recently purchased parsonage at 1723 Beaumont Street.
At close of their first year, 117 members were enrolled, and the various functional Fellowships “had all been put into operation.” And they had given Lester Turnage, Jr. to be president of the Hookerton Union Christian Men's Fellowship. The Women's Bazaar netted $800 to swell their building fund to $7200. Their official board was regularly established on Nov. 11, 1958.
In the spring of 1959 came their building fund drive. The goal in pledges and cash was oversubscribed. The final total, $42,700 is to be paid within three years. In addition an expedient drive for short-term pledges had responses totaling $16,500. Thus the 129 members at Hooker Memorial are to provide an aggregate building fund total of $69,200, within the years, 1959-1962. It was enthusiastically reported: “This is a tremendous response and indicates what can be done when Christians work together.”
By October, 1959, construction plans had been congregationally approved. On May 8, 1960, ground was broken accordingly. President A. D. Wenger,
of Atlantic Christian College, brought the message, and led the prayer at the turning of the earth. Initially there are to be two structures, dimensioned altogether 13,295 square feet. “The front building is to be a fellowship hall, and will be used as a temporary sanctuary, and a rear building of two stories, with 13 rooms will be for use of the church school.”
The membership at Greenville, (Hooker Memorial) is 129.
Minister at Greenville, (Hooker Memorial):
|1958-1960||Henry Thomas Money|
This town in southern Pitt County, on the Contentnea, is over two hundred years old. On April 1, 1756, Hugh McAden, first itinerant Presbyterian missionary to the deep south lodged there overnight. The place was then known as Peters Ferry; later, in 1764, as Blount's Ford. The famous Blount Hall stood nearby. In the mid-Nineteenth Century, Warren Bell lived at this site, managing his chair factory and the Contentnea Ferry. Whereby it was long known as Bell's Ferry which in 1877 was one of the ten postoffices in the County. A little northward on higher ground a village gathered and was incorporated as Grifton in 1883. The Federal Census of 1880 records a total of but 75 persons living there.
It was named Grifton after the pioneer merchant C. M. A. Griffin, who had, also, the largest local realty holdings. The first Grifton blacksmith was F. Bell, and the first maker of coaches and wagons there was J. H. Hellen. The first mayor was Dr. S. B. Wood. Before the coming of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1891, the town had advantages of shipping on the Contentnea. It was blessed, too, with good artesian fountains and an early system of eight deep wells. There was a fertile prosperous country-side which in the old cart-and-buggy days had the urge of convenience to traffic with the accessible and obliging merchants of the rising town. In 1906, Grifton had about 700 people and Rob F. Jenkins was mayor, and C. E. Gardner, I. E. Jenkins and W. H. McCotter were the three aldermen. The town marshal was D. G. Beddard. Dr. W. W. Dawson headed the Masonic Lodge and G. T. Gardner was its treasurer. The store of J. R. Harvey and Co. was established in 1895. The proprietors of this firm, John R. Harvey and Laurie J. Chapman, were Disciples and added much in activity and influence to the local church. They came from Maple Cypress and Centerville, neighboring places, eastward down the Neuse Valley.
About five miles east of Grifton at the crossroads beyond Johnson's Mills stood an original church of the Disciples. It was Fellows Chapel called Elm Grove later by the Disciples. It was a church historic for the new faith. There in 1839 was a vigorous showdown projected to sift their emerging faith from some old encrusted customs that were passing. The postmaster at Johnson's Mills that year, 1839, was Allen Patrick; compensation, $6.96.
Here, also, in March 1852 John Tomline Walsh, the able recruit from the far-flung brotherhood without the state, preached his first sermon on Carolina soil. Four annual state meetings of the Disciples from 1852 to 1869, were held in old Fellows’ Chapel. Then in 1876 it died, but passed vigorous life into the churches of Timothy, Salem, and Riverside, which arose in the community to take its place. These churches are all near Grifton on the east, while Bethel is very near on the south and Rountree and Hookerton on the west. Naturally Disciples would promptly participate in peopling this rising trade center.
Henry C. Bowen, state secretary in 1890, reported at the Hookerton State convention that year that he had visited Grifton as a “new field”, and that a building for Disciples was “soon to be erected” there. The Grifton Church, however, was not enrolled until the New Bern State Convention, 1891, when the membership was reported as 76 with C. P. Gaskins as clerk. A pledge of $20 was reported for State Missions, and the convention voted $50 help for the year, for a regular ministry at Grifton. They had the State convention to meet with them in 1892, as they had a brand new plant and following an ordinary impulse, wanted representatives of the brotherhood to see and appreciate the new building. The “Committee on Grouping,” in the 1892 convention made up the following pastoral group: Grifton, Bethel, Hookerton, and Eden.
Sam W. Sumrell of the old Bethel community, a few miles south of Grifton had been the earliest missionary to his people at Grifton and superintended the building of their first plant, which was dedicated by John J. Harper, on July 19, 1891.
Harper said that people came to the dedication from ten counties by train and private conveyance. He preached the sermon; other participating ministers: J. L. Burns, J. B. Parsons, J. L. Winfield, M. F. Haskett, S. W. Sumrell, and James F. Sumrell. Portions of the Kinston and LaGrange choirs assisted the local singers, while the Kinston organist, Mrs. N. J. Rouse, “gracefully presided.” To cancel the indebtedness a “right liberal amount was realized,” but “many seemed to have with them nothing but their small change”. Thus the giving was “not commensurate with the crowd”.
He concluded, “nothing occurred to mar the enjoyment of the occasion. They now have a substantial, neat, well arranged building that would do credit to any village. It has an auditorium, I would say, about 30 X 50 feet, with high pitch and such proportions as to give almost faultless acoustics. The vestibule is eight feet wide across the entire end of the building. The steeple is about 80 feet high. The carpets and bell had been ordered, but did not arrive in time for the dedication. The church stands on a well-elevated site, and makes a good appearance from the depot.”
It was said by an attendant at this dedication that the crowd numbered “one thousand or fifteen hundred—a large crowd for a rainy day.” The same observer said that at the revival held by Dennis Wrighter Davis, July 20-30, “the average attendance was about 350.” Further: “Those who had not been to church for forty years came out and united with the Lord's host.” There were 37 baptisms at close of the meeting, and these with 38 Disciples already living in the community, who agreed to affiliate, gave the church a start with 75 members. John J. Harper said: “This is a very hopeful beginning.” And Davis was careful to see that it was “set in order with the proper officials”. Sam Sumrell and James Latham Winfield gave Davis excellent assistance in the meeting.
On May 22, 1900, Grifton women started their first C.W.B.M. Auxiliary with nine members. Miss Mary Irene Orvis, as state “organizer,” visited them on that date. Their first officers: Mrs. Annie Dawson, president; Mrs. Sarah Hellen, vice president; and Mrs. John R. Harvey, secretary and treasurer. Mrs. Sallie Rasberry Dixon was state secretary for the C.W.B.M. that year, 1900, and in making her annual report at the State convention said: Last year we had eight active societies; this year we number thirteen. Last year our membership was 100; this year we are happy to claim 195. The
number of subscriptions to Tidings are thribble.” Missionary women of the North Carolina Disciples were moving up.
During J. J. Harper's pastorate in 1900, a better church organization was effected, with improvement in certain worship facilities.
W. Graham Walker, state evangelist gave them a roving visit, on April 3, 1906, preaching to a sermon-tasting crowd a super-rousing message. About this a conscience-stricken hearer flamboyantly said: “He preached one of the best sermons that ever fell from the lips of man. He unloaded his artillery of eloquent thunder upon the congregation and literally peeled the form off our poor souls until we didn't feel like we had ever been a Christian at all. The more of my hide the preacher took off, the better I liked him.”
The old frame building served the congregation for 37 years, and was sold at auction on June 5, 1928. It was replaced by a modern brick plant costing about $20,000, opened in 1928. It is on a corner lot, 120 X 160 feet. The building committee for the new plant: G. T. Gardner, John R. Harvey, and H. A. Hart; church clerk, W. C. Smith. The auditorium has nine beautiful memorial windows. The flooring is of gum and the ceiling of metal. There are handsome pews and an appropriate pulpit set. Back of the pulpit is the baptistry. The basement together with the auditorium provides ten or more church school rooms.
A building obligation of $5000, borrowed from the Atlantic Christian College Endowment Fund, remained for sixteen years. However in January, 1944, with a joy tinged with drama, “W. C. Smith and W. I. Bissette walked into the College office and threw cash on the table to the last remaining dollar accounted in the mortgage, and walked out with a debt-free Church.” There followed the dedication on April 16, 1944. Perry Case, the pastor, preached the sermon, and W. C. Smith burned the mortgage. Many Disciples and friends came from round-about to enjoy the day. While it had been 53 years, 1891-1944, since the dedication of the initial plant, on the same site, there were eleven persons attending both dedications. These were: C. E. Gardner, John Barwick, John R. Harvey, Mrs. Julia Garris, Mrs. J. A. Jarrell, J. Pet Dawson, Elias Garris, Mrs. Nannie E. Quinerly, Clyde Braxton, W. C. Smith, and Mrs. Linsey Bell Taylor, daughter of F. Bell, first Grifton blacksmith.
Nine memorial windows in the church are ascribed to: G. T. Gardner, W. H. Patrick, Mr. and Mrs. John R. Harvey, Mary E. McCotter, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Gardner, C. M. A. Griffin, (after whom the town was named), John Z. Brooks, Alice M. Spier, and Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Chapman.
The pastor, R. C. Brisson, led their revival in October, 1948, with 39 additions. At the close, for a heating plant and other improvements, $2400 in cash was raised. Both church and parsonage plants were made termiteproof.
Ross J. Allen, state secretary, made his first official visit to them on Nov. 1, 1953, installing their newly-elected church board.
In November, 1957, at their Home Coming, $3400 was raised at which time a new religious education plant costing $33,000 was projected. Meanwhile, a preliminary $12,000 remodeling of the plant was completed in May, 1960.
Membership at Grifton is 219.
Roll of ministers at Grifton:
|1891||J. J. Harper||1905||I. W. Rogers|
|1899||D. H. Petree||1906, 1907||R. H. Jones|
|1900, 1903, 1904||J. J. Harper||1909, 1910||Jack R. Rountree|
|1911, 1912||J. C. Caldwell||1947||L. B. Bennett|
|1913||James Moore||1948, 1949||R. C. Brisson|
|1914||Wright T. Moore||1950-1953||H. G. Quigley|
|1915-1919||W. O. Lappin||1954-1958||J. L. Roberson|
|1920-1925; 1928-1946||Perry Case||1959, 1960||W. E. Edge|
|1926, 1927||W. C. Greer|
Two-hundred and forty-six years ago, Carolina colonists, survivors of Indian massacres, opened a wilderness port on coastal waters, known later as Boyd's Ferry. It was on Tar River, one-half mile from the business center of the present Grimesland. Pioneer voyagers coming up the Pamlico-Tar from Bath saw at that site the first “bluffs” on the river. Boyd's Ferry was said to be the head of deep water navigation, a fact used later in an improvised press release boosting the location as “a most inviting opportunity for business men or home seekers.” The beginning of this colonial port was two generations ahead of the settlement of “Washington the Original”, seven miles downstream. Raleigh was distant from Boyd's Ferry, 95 miles; on to Norfolk, it was 127 miles. The Ferry was on the earliest Williamsburg-Charleston stage route.
The modern Grimesland is in the midst of a fine farming section, on relatively high land, south side of the Tar, “with prevailing winds from the piney woods.”
Locating there in 1887 were the brothers, J. O. and W. E. Proctor, and the drab crossroads so close to the arterial waterway became commercially alive. They developed their business into a “large general merchandise store, a saw mill, and wood works, a large ginnery, an iron working establishment, and several minor industries.”
Boyd's Ferry had a postoffice in 1862, and by the census record of 1880, a tiny population of 15. It was named Mt. Calvert for a period, then Nelsonville in 1885, when it had a postoffice, and eight other Nelsonvilles were then in the States from Alabama to Wisconsin. Since 1887 the village, (population 414) has been called Grimesland, for General J. Bryan Grimes, on a part of whose ante-bellum estate of five thousand acres it was eventually planted. There were fifty residents there in 1890, growing to 277 in 1900, of whom 157 were white. The Norfolk Southern Railroad came in 1907. Merchants there in 1896 were: J. O. Proctor and Brother; H. H. Proctor and Brother; T. M. Moore and Co.; J. J. Laughinghouse; and J. B. Grimes.
A clerk in the J. O. Proctor and Brother store in 1891 was McD. Holliday, a sterling Pitt County youth of 19 years. It was a churchless place in the pre-automobile day. For all there were no concerted religious privileges with accompanying social outreach for the long and lonely Sundays. Holliday, the lone Disciple, was challenged by a business man to do something. When assured of initial backing he gathered a community congregation. So the church had its lowly beginning. However when Holliday relocated in Dunn, early in 1892, where he was an active Disciple for 30 years, there was not a Disciple left in Grimesland.
In 1899 the Disciples’ State Convention appropriated $15 for evangelizing at this point, where a nucleus of nine was inspired to be enrolled by their State Convention, Oct. 27, 1899.
J. R. Tingle was a father to them, long serving as their itinerant pastor for the monthly pittance of $2.50. Reporting in November, 1901, he said of
Grimesland, “This is a mission point and I feel a strong interest in it. The congregations are much larger than when I began my work. We have a house enclosed and seated but it needs to be painted and ceiled.” The Hookerton Union had “voted unanimously to help finish” the building. Soon he reported: “The house is now closed in and the material for painting has been purchased.” The little frame building was valued at $750..
Elizabeth Tesh, state worker for the C. W. B. M. organized their first Auxiliary in July 1907. Their officers: President, Mrs. J. O. Proctor; secretary, Mrs. W. S. Galloway; treasurer, Mrs. Jennie W. Proctor. Miss Tesh commented: “These women are working faithfully, holding up the cause, where with a good building, they have not enough men to organize a church.”
Early in 1908, their pastor, C. M. Morton, “had won the love and respect of the entire community.” J. J. Walker supplied for him on a fourth Sunday in February. About this, correspondent, Mrs. Jennie W. Proctor reported: “if you continue sending us such good bright preachers from Atlantic Christian College you will surely have to enlarge your buildings for we have lots of boys that will soon be old enough to crowd you out.” This was testimony from “our little band of twenty.” Nevertheless their Auxiliary numbered 13, Mission Band, 21, and Little Light Bearers, 5. Their church school enrolled 77, W. S. Galloway, Supt., and their teacher training class, had 25.
Municipal development was apace in 1908. The village streets had been changed, so local Disciples paid $60 “to have our church house turned so as to face the street.” Their $200 steeple had then been completed.
There were 23 members in 1909. The pastor said: “The cause is in a fair way to prosper as Grimesland Disciples have discerned and we are making use of the opportunity to reach the young through the Bible School.”
A new $35,000 brick plant was opened in April, 1923. It is the most imposing structure in the village, has nine church school rooms, commodious basement, folding doors, elevated floor, balcony, and overall seating capacity of 500. Three beautiful windows memorialize: J. R. Tingle, Myrtie B. Holliday, and James J. Proctor. A wall plaque is in memory of McD. Holliday, youthful founder of 1891, brave and true.
There was a $16,000 building debt, which on December 21, 1924, was paid in full by the brothers, W. E. and J. O. Proctor. On Oct. 19, 1952 the congregation named it the Proctor Memorial Church, and dedicated a marble plaque inscribed to that effect. For this occasion, G. H. Sullivan presided as pastor with C. C. Ware as guest speaker.
Approached in 1927 by John M. Waters, veteran Crusade general of Atlantic Christian College, Mrs. J. O. Proctor and Mrs. W. E. Proctor gave $20,000 to the College endowment at Wilson.
John L. Goff held their revival in November, 1934, with 24 accessions. This made nearly a fifty percent gain in their resident membership. There was an interesting scene one evening, “when the entire front pew was filled with Grimesland youth who had come forward to confess Christ.”
Names of 24 on their service roll, (World War II) in July, 1944, were: Jimmie Brooks, Carlton Williams, Ben Proctor, Douglas Elks, Joe Caton, Francis Proctor, William Hudson, Marion Heath, Wilbur Caton, David Proctor, Richard Jackson, Virgil A. Jackson,, Jr., Adrain Proctor, Elmo Heath, Lloyd B. Whichard, Jodie Spain, Woodrow Heath, Stephen B. Caton, Ralph Brodie, Brooks Dixon, Joe Griffin, Jesse Cannon, Jr., Dan Proctor White, and Sylvester Fleming.
On June 17, 1951, C. C. Ware assisted the pastor, G. H. Sullivan in ordaining 11 officers, and installing 15 others who had previously been ordained. The 26 were: elders: J. L. Williams, Rufus Galloway, J. Heber Brooks, Lloyd Whichard, Jamie Dail, T. R. Rouse, and W. B. McLawhorn; deacons: R. V. Howell, Fodie Hodges, R. H. Galloway, Billy Tucker, Paul D. Magette, Jr., Elmo Hodges, and Grover Manning; deaconesses: Mesdames: W. A. Hudson, Lloyd Whichard, Ethel Tucker, W. F. Galloway, T. R. Rouse, R. H. Galloway, J. Heber Brooks, Dalton Heath, Jamie Dail, John Lewis, Jim Maury, and Rufus Galloway.
In February, 1957 it was announced that the basement had been adapted for a large recreation hall, which as an expediency also provided for class rooms. Adequate wiring of the entire building was completed. Bath rooms were installed. Two laymen, Bruce McLawhorn and Victor Howell led in this work and also in laying needed sidewalks around the property.
Their C.W.F. officers in 1958, were: president, Mrs. A. H. Tucker; first vice president, Mrs. Elijah Heath; second vice president, Mrs. Victor Howell; secretary, Mrs. Hugh Elks; treasurer, Mrs. Jim Maury.
Membership at Grimesland is 113.
Roll of Ministers at Grimesland:
|1900-1902; 1905, 1907||J. R. Tingle||1924||Felix L. Fox|
|1903, 1904||Thomas Green||1925-1931, 1933||W. A. Davis|
|1906||John B. Respess||1932||W. I. Bennett|
|1908||C. M. Morton||1934-1940||D. W. Davis|
|1909, 1911, 1912||J. R. Tingle||1941-1954||G. H. Sullivan|
|1910||Thomas Green||1955, 1956||J. M. Moudy|
|1913-1915||J. M. Waters||1957||David Blackwood|
|1916-1923||Perry Case||1958-1960||F. T. Riley, Jr.|
A backward look at the Christian Church in Hookerton may be framed in the shadows of long ago. Enveloped in the entire history of North Carolina Disciples of Christ, vibrant background included, is the 130 years’ life of this local church. Here in this Contentnea village was effected on May 2, 1845 the Christian Union of Disciples and the reforming “Baptist Churches of Christ” of the Bethel Conference. Here also, as an ecumenical challenge “in the good work of uniting the Lord's people” was held the Union Convention, Dec. 27, 1867, when Disciple leaders conferred seriously with delegates from their religious neighbors on the prospects of a common religious front. At Hookerton, too, was launched on Nov. 17, 1870, the missionary reconstruction of the Second Evangelical District, (old name for Hookerton Union). There was untold good in this for the state-wide advancement of the cause. And in October, 1871, local women here began for the “Old North State”, their organized women's Missionary work. Five State Conventions entertained here, were: 1844, 1861, 1864, 1873, and 1890.
The hamlet's earliest name was Hookerstown. There followed colloquially, and then officially, the two-letter deletion to Hookerton. Thus it is orthographically unique for the whole table of American postoffice listings. The Hookers in 1790 were prominent in the Community. Nathan with a family of 4 and holding 3 slaves; William, 2, and 11 slaves; Samuel, 8, and 5 slaves; and Hymeric, 7, and 5 slaves. Altogether these 4 Hooker families had 21 whites and 24 slaves. Hymeric Hooker represented the county in the State
Senate, 1801 to 1807, and in the House, 1821. Thomas Hooker was in the House, 1835, 1836. Nathan Hooker was Hookerton's postmaster in 1834, compensation, $30.42; and again in 1835, compensation $52.33—an indication of community growth. T. E. Hooker and W. B. Hooker each conducted a “corn, flour, and saw mill,” there in 1884. The village was incorporated in 1817.
It is thus cited in a gazetteer of 1818:
“Hookerton, village, Greene Co., N. C., on Great Contentney Creek, 40 miles from New Bern, 80 miles from Raleigh. Here is an academy.”
Its population in 1870 was 163. This had decreased to 127 in 1900, of whom 54 were white and 73 were colored. Presently with the fabulous Dupont plant only nine miles away the residents are far more numerous and prosperous.
From the time of the roving surveyor, John Lawson, to the present, Greene has been essentially rural. In 1890, when Snow Hill's population was 510, Hookerton ranked second with 179. All others each had less than 100, from Appletree, (10), to Willow Green, (25), if we make an alphabetical sweep.
Three preachers, James Moore, Levi Braxton, and Jesse Heath, organized the “Free Will Baptist Church of Christ” at Hookerton on March 20, 1830—a Disciple heritage. They worshiped in the red-painted “Union Meeting House” on the public square. Numbered among their ante-bellum laymen were: Winsor Dixon, Jacob Parrott, William Ormond, James T. Albritton, Jesse Hart, William Dail, Barham Hart, Hymerick Hooker, James A. May, Thomas Taylor, Elias Albritton, and Dr. Frank W. Dixon.
Early ministers licensed by their fellowship were: Jesse Vause (1830), and David Hartsfield, (1831). Thomas Campbell from Bethany, visited them, dating a letter to his wife, “Hookerton, N. C., March 11, 1834.” In their old church record a significant minute for May, 1834, reads:
Elder David Hartsfield upon being charged with some connexion with Elder Thomas Campbell's system, or his preaching moved to take the vote of the conference whether their feelings were hurt with him, after giving his statement of the case, voted that their feelings were not hurt with Elder Hartsfield.
While the church at its beginning in 1830 was “The Free Will Baptist Church of Christ,” in August, 1838, the Clerk designated it, “The Baptist Church of Christ.” In August, 1853, it was named in the Minutes, “The Church of Christ at Hookerton”, while in August, 1868, it was called “The Christian Church at Hookerton.”
Ceremonial feet-washing at Saturday night worship had been a practice among this people. As of record, Feb. 18, 1837: “The brethren and sisters met to commemorate the Lord's death, and wash feet as usual.” This however is the last such entry in their book. Taught here by John P. Dunn, Robert Bond, and Benjamin Parrott, the custom passed. It was continued however some years by other ante-bellum Disciples not so well taught. Moreover the mourner's bench, so beloved by emotionalists, was eventually cleared away. Hookerton observed open communion. August 18, 1838: “The brethren of other churches were invited to the Lord's table with us.”
Ideals of the advancing Disciples like unto the pearl of great price had to be held and used by vigilance and sacrifice. Their influence permeated the Bethel Conference in the early 1840s. Hookerton laymen had been
valiant leaders in this at a heavy cost. The membership of the local church was cut from 135 in 1842 to 28 in 1843|
Their Minute Book for May, 1843, explains:
This church has experienced the most difficult trials for the last year known to the church since its origin. From Divisions, misrepresentations, and persecutions, from some unfounded objections to the minutes of the annual conference, of 1841 (Nov.) in regard to a local name reassumed by that conference, there were certain brethren in the ministry, who commenced this operation in the churches which compose said conference by misrepresentations of the conference, and their brethren, taking exception to the doctrine of those who profess to take the word of God for their only rule of faith and practice. In 1842 they succeeded in drawing off a few churches and to form a new annual conference, which is commonly called the Luzern (Lousan) Swamp Conference but they have claimed the name for it the old Free Will Baptist Conference. Since then, it is to be feared they have propogated party feelings and their efforts have been to rend, split and pull down the churches of the Bethel Conference, to build up this new conference.
Previously, on Feb. 18, 1843, the congregation had definitely aligned with Disciples on an important tenet, as follows: “Owing to some division in regard to a church Discipline the pastor, [Robert Bond] moved to take the voice of the church to know which the church would take, the written discipline or the word of God, upon which it voted to take the word of God.”
There is a recorded “list of the attending, communing members at Hookerton, July, 1864.” These were 22 as follows: Men: James Albritton, William Dixon, Elias Albritton, Erastus Albritton, James L. Murphy, Thomas Albritton, F. W. Dixon and J. S. Jackson. Women: Clary Dixon, Peggy Albritton, Susan E. Grimsley, Nannie E. Murphy, Fannie M. Faircloth, Nancy Dixon, Sally R. Dixon, Addie Mewborne, Emilyn Albritton, Winnifred Powell, Pattie Hooker, Clary M. A. Dixon, Pattie Albritton, and Alice E. Rountree.
Some three years ahead of the start of the National C. W. B. M., Mrs. Sally R. Dixon pioneered at Hookerton an organized Women's work. L. D. Summerlin, a young Newton Grove, N. C. preacher visited the Dixons in June, 1873. He then reported: “Sister Dixon is a live working Disciple; has a society organized called ‘The Sisters Beneficent Society’; and which we were pleased to learn is succeeding beyond their first expectations. It is a noble work to aid the cause of Christ, and their example should be followed by those of other sections.”
For 34 years the Disciples used the “Union” house on the public square. Then on Nov. 14, 1877, Jesse T. Davis, one of their three preachers resident in the vicinity, wrote this letter to Dr. J. T. Walsh, for publication in The Watch Tower:
“Owing to the opposition the Disciples meet in this neighborhood they have to worship out doors so far, or not at all, as a congregation. Now in view of this, and with an eye single to the glory of God and the salvation of our souls, we respectfully ask every Disciple in the name of Jesus, if you love Him, to send $5 to us, or at least $2.50 apiece, for the purpose of building a house for the Lord in this community, for His people to praise His name. We do not ask for a palace, but a place. Think, brethren, and act immediately as we are out doors, and it is near winter.
Wherefore the Disciples’ building with classic dignity occupies in ample depth the front of an entire block in the residential heart of the storied village.
Refreshing spiritually the church was the founding and progress of the women's missionary service led by Mrs. Sally R. Dixon and Mrs. Maria May Taylor. Its first benevolence was for the community's poor, then for Disciples missions within the State, as it spread; and in its final flowering for Christian world missions. Mrs. Dixon, “endowed with a strong mind,” lived from May 20, 1838 to July 1, 1908. She was the only daughter of Robert and Hannah Rasberry of Okolona, Miss. She is remembered as “the mother of the C. W. B. M. in N. C.,” who “until the last loved the work and gloried in its growth.”
Their pastor, C. B. Mashburn, in 1909 said: “We now have our windows repaired and the church is quite comfortable.”
In May, 1921, Grady Spiegel, Atlantic Christian College student ministered there. At the monthly worship, assisted by several talented persons from the College, “the house was taxed to the fullest capacity,” and “the seats up in the old balcony that had not been used for years had to be dusted and used.”
Robert F. Bristol serving them in 1930, said: “I think that my best efforts have been challenged in this rural field. I do not expect to find a better people anywhere.”
John Barclay, of Wilson, in 1936, assisted the pastor, R. Paul Parker, in their revival, when “five of their fine young people” were baptized, providing a nucleus for a live C. E. Society, and inspiring the organizttion of their first Church School.
In the old church are these eight memorial windows:
1. Josephus Latham, 1828-1889.
2. Alexander C. Hart, 1836-1903.
3. John Jones Frizzelle, 1836-1897.
Susan Rebecca Frizzelle, 1830-1887.
4. Winsor Dixon, 1802-1858.
Clara Dixon, 1808-1869
Dr. Frank W. Dixon, 1832-1882
Sally R. Dixon, 1838-1908
Fannie May Dixon, 1874-1904.
5. Barham Hart, 1824-1894.
Mary E. Hart, 1833-1926.
6. Fannie May Dixon Faircloth, 1838-1908.
Clara A. Dixon Grainger, 1848-1927.
James S. Dixon, 1840-1910.
Penelope L. Dixon, 1842-1924.
7. J. G. Worthington, 1829-1904.
Mary M. Worthington, 1827-1894.
8. John Erastus Albritton, 1835-1876.
There is a marble tablet for Irvin Jones, (Feb. 6, 1816-March 29, 1887.)
In 1948, the plant, with the unique bell tower beside it, was brick-veneered, and the handsome pastoral-unity parsonage, across the street from the church was builded. Expended on these improvements was $27,000, of which Clarence L. Hardy gave $16,000. Hardy, (Sept. 7, 1877-Oct. 27, 1950) was a Hookerton Disciple living at nearby Maury. He was publicized in 1940 as “a big man in a little town,” and, authentically, “the world's largest producer of raw tobacco,” selling over a million pounds a year of his own raising.
His substantial gifts enabled the College at Wilson to build their present Library and Dining Hall, which are memorials respectively to him and his nephew Bert Hardy.
Membership at Hookerton is 70.
Roll of Ministers at Hookerton:
|1830-1837||James Moore||1907||S. W. Sumrell|
|1838||William McGounds||1909-1914||C. B. Mashburn|
|1839-1843||Robert Bond||1915-1920||W. O. Lappin|
|1844-1847; 1850-1855||Benjamin Parrott||1921||Grady Spiegel|
|1922||Paul T. Ricks|
|1848||Nathaniel Weeks||1923-1925||W. T. Mattox|
|1849||Thomas J. Latham||1926, 1927||W. C. Greer|
|1856||William R. Hughart||1928, 1929||R. F. Bristol|
|1862-1867||George Joyner||1930-1953||R. Paul Parker|
|1868, 1869, 1881 1882||Josephus Latham||1954-1956||T. J. Morris, Jr.|
|1957-1959||J. D. Kinchin, Jr.|
|1883, 1899||Dr. H. D. Harper||1960||Robert E. White|
|1884, 1888, 1889||C. W. Howard|
Historical presentation of this church in printed, mimeographed, typed, and hand-written form is voluminous. Wherefore what is offered here is considerately a supplemental brief, based in part on sources not hitherto used.
Kinston, colonial town on the Neuse, is within two years of its Bicentennial. One hundred and fifty acres of the plantation of William Heritage at Atkins Banks, an outpost of trade since 1740, was cited by the Assembly for this “town” development in the Carolina wilderness of 1762. First known as Kingston, it was a “pleasant and healthy situation, and commodious for trade and commerce.”
Fifty acres were to be reserved for the “Commons”, and the remaining one hundred were to be divided into two hundred half-acre lots. These were to be sold by subscriptions at 45 shillings per lot, or $6.30, as translated into American currency of 1950. Freely calculated thus, it makes the original area of the city, marketably worth a total of only $1260, in the primary official valuation of 1762. This may well intrigue any realtor knowing Kinston, the “World's Foremost Tobacco Center”, of to-day.
The settlement grew slowly and in 1784 when patriotically incorporated as Kinston it assumed certain civic responsibilities. All chimneys must be of brick; no hogs or geese were to run at large; and the residents must keep the streets clean and unobstructed. Dobbs Academy was set up in 1785, since “the proper education of youth is essential to the happiness and prosperity of every community.”
Erelong came the Revolution to scourge the hamlet. In 1780, a “body” of 250 Tories with British officers made it their camp ground. They soon left, and Major General Richard Caswell, of Kinston, apprehended five Tory criminals “taken at New River in Onslow County”, who were hanged at Kinston upon his order.
Francis Asbury, famous itinerant Methodist bishop recorded in his diary for April 11, 1785: “Preached in the court house at Kinston. I was entertained very kindly by Governor Caswell.”
On the national post route in the 1790's, Kinston was listed as being 522 miles from Philadelphia.
A gazetteer published, June, 1798, in Boston, Mass., has:
“Kingston, a post town in Lenoir County, Newbern district, N. Carolina, situated in a beautiful plain on the north side of Neus River, and contains a court-house, gaol, and about 30 houses. It is 40 miles west of Newbern, and 24 from Waynesborough.”
The Transcript Messenger, a local newspaper of 1885, reviewing Kinston's past, said:
In its earlier days Kinston was distinguished as a village of remarkable beauty and sterling business integrity—of locality and design, and that business integrity, always the sure concomitant of fertile environs, and which, being ingrained, remains a marked feature in connection with the town in its onward progress. Successful farmers make merchants reliable. Looking back to the time when what now constitutes the northern half of the town was a black-jack thicket, and much of the eastern portion a chinquapin orchard, when the steamboats coursing the waters of the Neuse between Kinston and Newbern furnished the only means of transportation, and the wooden structures of antiquated style were prized as unique mansions, a forcible contrast introduces itself as one now figures the bustle at the depot, and scans the length and symmetry of the streets and sidewalks, the beautiful shade trees and luxuriant shrubbery adorning the many aesthetic residences, the blocks of brick stores on Queen street, the Opera House, the spacious new Court House, with its mammoth four-faced town clock on its tower, all having partaken largely of the modern style of architecture.”
Eighty years after its founding the village contained some 400 souls having no established church there except Episcopal. Rountree church in Pitt County which came to the Disciples in 1832, had in 1828 given some of their members to open a mission at Little Sister having a chapel seven miles north of Kinston. The building also served as a community schoolroom. The mission had a small, scattered membership, some of whom soon removed closer to Kinston. Nine persons met at Little Sister on Jan. 21, 1843, and covenanted to form a congregation henceforth to have their regular worship at Kinston.
Their charter roll: Men: Jacob Parrott, Sr., Robert Bond, Walter Dunn, Sr., and John A. Parrott; Women: Cynthia Dunn, Patsy Dudley, Elizabeth Bond, Lany Jones, and Persis Parrott. Thirty others were added within a year. In 1943 at the end of their first century, the original 9 had increased to 1514.
Dr. John T. Walsh came to reside with them in April, 1855, and during most of his 31 remaining years he lived in their midst. He led their revival in the fall of 1855 with 30 additions. He reported: “Many of our most influential citizens men of family, young men and ladies, have bowed to the authority of Christ.” In 1859 he was the only resident minister in Kinston.
First building of the local Disciples was a small frame structure on the northern shore of the Neuse at the corner of Gordon and Heritage Streets. Repairs were made in 1859. Officers then were: Elders: Reuben Barrow, James W. Cox, and James M. Harper; Deacons: Green Taylor, and Moses W. Campbell. In 1849 Disciples had the first Sunday School in Kinston, which was also the first among North Carolina Disciples.
From the beginning the church has been greatly concerned about their general brotherhood's cooperative work. Thirteen of their State Conventions
have met with them in 1849, 1855, 1872, 1879, 1894, 1901, 1908, 1916, 1927, 1935, 1943, 1951, and 1960.
The plants of Kinston Disciples have occupied but three sites. First the West Gordon lot on the banks of the Neuse from 1843 to 1870; second, on Caswell Street from 1870 to 1915, first in their removed original frame building, and then in the brick plant from 1892 to 1915 and lastly from 1915 onward at 118 East Gordon Street. The Caswell Street brick property was sold to the Primitive Baptists. Disciples officially began erection of this Caswell Street plant at 9:30 A.M., Wednesday, December 18, 1891, when John James Harper, the pastor, turned the first shovelful of earth. First section of the East Gordon lot was acquired in April, 1912, with erection of the main auditorium in 1915. In 1924, the recreational building materialized, which for sheer utility is unprecedented and as yet unmatched among Disciples of the state.
Kinston women had a local missionary society as early as 1876. The state-wide Woman's Missionary Service had five officers in their initial set-up, October 5, 1876, and four of the five were of Kinston, or immediate vicinity.
Dr. Walsh in March, 1877, named 15 Kinston women most active in this service as follows: Mesdames: E. J. Clayton, A. M. Dibble, Cynthia Dunn, Sallie A. Cox, Susan C. Nicoll, Theresa F. Chadwick, E. J. Walsh, E. J. Myers, Rachel A. Sutton, Hattie Lassiter, W. R. Tull, Nannie Pollock; and Misses Emily Hill, Cynthia Tull, and Josephine Savage. In 1913 The Missionary Tidings was in every home in the church.
Some facts showing the dynamic role of Kinston toward their general brotherhood might be put briefly as follows:
1. In 1834, at Little Sister, first general meeting of Disciples on record in the State, at which their Union Meeting originated.
2. In 1849, at Kinston, first open advocacy of Foreign Missions endorsed by the state-wide co-operation.
3. In 1851, at Kinston, first call of a general evangelist by the district co-operation.
4. In 1877, at Kinston, initial co-operative launching of the North Carolina Christian Missionary Society.
5. In 1901, at Kinston State Convention, initial authorization of Atlantic Christian College as a Disciple enterprise.
Many seasons of refreshing they have known in their recurring revivals. In the summer of 1899, their pastor, W. G. Johnston said: “We have had frequent additions at regular services. We like this plan but there are some that you have to preach to for weeks before you can move them to the Lord.” Johnston told about the sensational Sam Jones (interdenominational) meeting there in the spring of 1902. He said:
“The only original, inimitable, unavoidable, heavy-weight champion slugger, Sam Jones, swooped down on Kinston. He was loaded to the muzzle. He swept his audience with his field glass and then began a rapid discharge at the foibles, fashions, and sins of the community. He poured hot shot into the Christian Scientists. He opened fire on the dancers. The whiskey men and the deacons came in for their share. He did some of the hardest hitting I ever heard. He said he wanted to make himself understood. He closed with a very beautiful picture of the family being gathered home in heaven.
“People ask, do you think such rough preaching does any good. I think it is not the kind to build men as members of the body of Christ—men
who have repented of their sins—but it serves to blast hard hearts; it reaches down into the depths and produces moral earthquakes and moves people that nothing else would. In this work of soul-saving we need all kinds of men.”
The Richard S. Martin family in a sixteen-day meeting for the Disciples, in April, 1905, had 144 additions. About this the Kinston Free Press said editorially: “Not in recent years has Kinston experienced a wave of religious fervor like that which has just swept the city.” In a revival ten years later, Percy George Cross continued six and a half weeks adding 204. In later revivals Clifford H. Jope added 61 in 1943, and R. H. Crossfield, 48 in 1945.
Memorials placed in the church are as follows:
1. Cynthia Dunn (one of nine original organizers) 1804-1887.
2. David Reid Jackson, 1850-1892.
3. Susan C. Nicol, 1826-1903.
1. Dr. John T. Walsh, 1816-1886.
2. Dr. Henry D. Harper, 1847-1906.
3. Dr. James Madison Harper, 1809-1858.
Charlotte Eliza Harper, 1815-1879.
4. Wylie Thomas Moseley, 1830-1897.
Martha Eleanor Moseley, 1845-1919.
5. Charlotte Eliza Moseley, 1876-1881.
Lula Harper Mewborne, 1857-1890.
6. Dr. John J. Harper, 1841-1908.
7. Neva Padrick, 1887-1915.
8. Jessie Harper Moseley, 1873-1903.
9. Winifred Rountree Tull, 1840-1899.
10. George Joyner, 1823-1885.
11. Cynthia Loftin Rountree, 1831-1891.
1. Communion Bible and Pulpit:
Helen Rountree Kennedy, 1852-1925.
2. Pulpit and Communion Chairs:
Martha Ann Heath, 1840-1929.
3. Memorial Door: Daniel Worth Parrott, 1881-1921.
4. Fireplace (Educational Building): Ruth Howard Andrews, 1885-1923.
5. Bulletin Board: I. T. Haskins, 1862-1918.
IV. COMMUNION SERVICE:
Annie LaRoque, 1850-1915.
Lt. Robert H. Rouse, 1894-1937.
VI. BRASS VASES:
Annie F. Edwards, 1866-1934.
VII. CHOIR LOFT PANEL:
Vickie Sue Griffin, 1941-1957.
Approaching their Centennial Year the church adopted the slogan, “Debt-Free in ’43.” The building obligation stood at $57,327.06. Leland Cook, the pastor in 1936, teamed with John M. Waters, of Atlantic Christian College,
for a stewardship drive to liquidate the amount, a large part of which had been borrowed from the College endowment. In 1936 a fourth of it was realized in cash. Then at the last under pastor, J. Wayne Drash, the remainder was in hand in time for the mortgage-burning at the Centennial celebration. For full measure the debt on the new parsonage was also paid in full on Dec. 31, 1943.
Stars on their servioe flag, (World War II), in November, 1944, numbered 151 young men and women. To each one had been given a service Prayer Book by the home church. Two, Ronald Dawson, and Abe C. Harper, had been killed, and three others were held in Japanese prison camps.
In the summer of 1946 there was an extensive renovation of the interior of the plant, costing $15,000, and their total property assets were then conservatively listed at $186,852.83.
On Jan. 17, 1944, Kinston was host to the Disciples’ state assembly of the “Crusade For A Christian World”, with registered attendance of 824.
In 1952, within 15 days of each other, two former pastors passed away: Abram Edward Cory, on March 20, and Preston Bell Hall, on April 4.
In May, 1955 the church sent their pastor, J. C. Bradshaw and Mrs. Bradshaw on a 45-day “tour of Bible Lands.” After their return he lectured extensively on the high lights of the trip. In November of that year the church budget for 1956, amounting to $59,641.88, was adopted.
After an adequate survey the church agreed on Oct. 29, 1956 to sponsor a new brotherhood church in the city. Accordingly, requested letters of transfer were presented respectively on the following Nov. 25. It was “to be a cooperative venture in which Gordon Street and the new church will work together with the new congregation until it is completely self-supporting.” In April, 1957, this new church opened its church school.
Gordon Street Church has always ranked high in their world-wide brotherhood in annual total missionary giving. For the 38 years, 1922 to 1959, inclusive, this giving in the aggregate, as of official record was $307,994.47. This is an average of 8,105.11 per year, ranging from $2,711.05 in the depression year of 1933, to $19,413.73 in 1957.
Membership at Kinston is 1494.
Roll of Ministers at Kinston:
|1843-1863—Robert Bond, John B. Gaylord, John P. Dunn, E. S. F. Giles, William Rhem, Henry Smith, John Jarman, John T. Walsh.||1882-1883||E. E. Orvis|
|1886, 1887||H. C. Bowen|
|1898-1902||W. G. Johnston|
|1902-1908||P. B. Hall|
|1909||A. A. Ferguson|
|1864-1866; 1884||George Joyner||1910-1922||B. P. Smith|
|1867-1868||Amos J. Battle||1922-1929||A. E. Cory|
|1870-1871||J. H. Foy||1930||Miner Lee Bates|
|1872; 1888-1894||J. J. Harper||1931-1939||Leland Cook|
|1873-1901—H. D. Harper, M. T. Moye, C. W. Howard, William Huffman, J. C. Clemmons, D. H. Petree, Virgil A. Wilson.||1940-1945||J. Wayne Drash|
|1946-1950||R. B. Hurt|
|1951-1956||J. C. Bradshaw|
|1957-1960||D. A. Bell|
This new church in the northwest section of Kinston has grown rapidly. Starting with 111 members, it has increased in number nearly 200 percent
within its first two and one-half years. By their own version this is “far above expectations.” At Fairfield Community Center, their temporary place of worship, their charter was signed on the evening of Nov. 25, 1956. Presiding at this “extremely impressive service,” were J. C. Bradshaw, pastor at Gordon Street, the “mother church,” and Ross J. Allen, state secretary.
Initial officers appointed for the Church Board were: chairman, Roy Robinson; vice chairman, Dan Lilly; secretary, Mrs. John Quinn; treasurer, John Charlton; the choir director, Mrs. Morton Rabhan. As a cooperative expedient, three from the new church board were to serve on the Gordon Street board, and likewise three from Gordon Street were to participate on the board of the new fellowship.
It was named Northwest Christian Church, (Disciples of Christ), in March, 1957 and a regular full-time minister was called. Thus William Oldham Haney located as their pastor, June 1, 1957. Then a young man of 35, he is a native of Richmond, Va., son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Glen Haney, who have recently concluded a sixteen year pastorate at Greenville, N. C. Bill Haney as he is familiarly known gave himself to the Christian Ministry in 1941, getting his A.B. at Lynchburg College, Va., in 1944; his B.D. at Lexington, Ky. College of the Bible, in 1947, and during the next year he continued a graduate course at Yale Divinity School. His student ministries at Christian Churches in Virginia were at Gretna, Liberty, and Crewe Churches; and in Kentucky at Bridgeport and Harrodsburg, (associate minister); and in Connecticut at Niantic, (Congregational). At Lexington he was a member of Alpha Theta Ze. In 1942 he directed the West Virginia State Daily Vacation Bible School, and in 1945-47 he was Mercer County, Ky., Youth Director. For his Lexington degree he wrote his thesis in the field of Christian Doctrine.
In November, 1957, after Bill's coming to Northwest the membership numbered 169, and the church school enrollment was 252. The year's current expense budget, set at $11,000, was “adequately subscribed”. The initial building fund goal of $20,000 was enthusiastically adopted and soon nearly half of it had been assembled in cash and pledges. Seven functional departments were arranged. They had “definitely expanded” beyond the facilities at the Center, and so they longed “for the time when we can take up our residence in our own Church building.”
At the beginning of 1958 the following 27 officers were ordained: elders: Leslie E. Davis, Daniel T. Lilly, Roy R. Robinson, Grover W. Smith, E. Walker Sugg, and H. Arnold Walker; deacons: Garland F. Bailey, Ashton D. Bruton, B. G. Bunn, Jr., Archie L. Burcham, John D. Charlton, E. Merle Edwards, Roger Dean Evans, R. Berlin Fields, Jr., Kearney W. Harper, Myron T. Hill, Wesley Hines, Linwood T. Hill, Wesley P. Rouse, Robert S. Stroud, and T. Walker Stroud, Jr.; deaconesses: Mesdames: Hugh Cox, Horace R. Quinn, James W. Sanderson, Grover W. Smith, T. Walker Stroud, Jr., and John E. Weyher.
A Church library was organized in February, 1958, with Mrs. Werner G. Smith, chairman, and Mrs. W. O. Haney, librarian, of which the local C. W. F. gave $40 for the first order, amounting to 27 books. A building site committee was appointed, Dr. Grover W. Smith, chairman. They had their own Easter evangelistic services, and cooperated with Gordon Street in a joint Evangelistic Visitation program. Over $17,000 was reported in their building fund. Their Constitution and By-laws adopted May 25, 1958, states: “In program planning, reporting, and support, this church shall be a part of the
North Carolina Convention of Disciples of Christ and the International Convention of Disciples of Christ.”
On a historic “red letter day”, Sept. 28, 1958, the congregation voted to purchase the four-acre site at the southeast corner at the intersection of Cary Road with Jones Road. This was bought from Ely J. Perry, Sr., Mrs. J. W. Carey, and Dr. C. F. West, for $24,000, with the final net price to the church, $19,000. In December of that year, their special fund stood at $17,214. Wherefore the lot was acquired debt-free early in 1959.
At their second anniversary, Nov. 23, 1958, they reported 226 members, and their annual budget had increased to $12,500.
On their church agenda for 1959 the Bayne Driskill Program of Evangelism was of great importance. They declared: “This program was preceded by the making of 1000 telephone calls and the typing of some 440 letters.” All departments gave full untiring support. Mrs. John Charlton, president of their C. W. F., was specially efficient with a fine working organization. There was gratifying success. By October, 1959, with enrollment of 365, it was said: “Our church school runneth over”.
Jack Carey, local I. P. A. architect, was employed to prepare blue prints. These were to follow suggestions of the brotherhood's architect, Charles Betts, of the Board of Church Extension, Indianapolis, for a “campus type” plan. As reported: “Our first building units will include one fellowship hall, (serving also as a temporary sanctuary), and two educational buildings. Each will be an independent unit joined together by an outside covered walkway overlooking an interior patio.”
A sum of $2500, added to their building fund, was realized from their Christmas Bazaar, attended by 1250 persons.
Average church school attendance was over 200, and at morning worship their quarters regularly overflowed. Ground breaking for the new plants was held on the afternoon of May 29, 1960, with participating local and state representatives. It was reported:
This special service marks the beginning stage of a long-range construction period which shall ultimately see six buildings erected when finally completed. At present the initial stage of construction calls for erection of three of these six buildings, that is, first, a fellowship hall, which will also serve as a temporary sanctuary, air-conditioned and with a seating capacity of 312; second, a church school building for pre-school and elementary grade children; and third, a church school building for older children and youth. The buildings will accommodate a total of 260 in church school classes. The total cost of construction and furnishings of the three buildings is $107,326.80.
Membership at Kinston, Northwest is 315.
Minister at Kinston (Northwest):
|1957-1960||W. O. Haney|
This town has had four names, likewise its railroad. First, and most obscurely, it was Rantersville, then Moseley Hall. The railroad beginning to operate in 1858 drew the habitations a half-mile south, and when the village was incorporated in 1869 it became LaGrange. Its fourth name “Garden Spot” was popularized by Jim Shaw, a negro call-station-porter on the Norfolk Southern Railroad. It had spicy reference to his home town's richly agrarian situation. The rail line was first called Atlantic and North Carolina,
then Norfolk Southern, and presently it is Atlantic and East Carolina. Also in the Carolina vernacular, since it accommodates coastal fisheries and their up-state customers, it is nicknamed “Mullet Road.”
It is a notable fact that Lenoir County has furnished two “First Governors,” namely Richard Caswell, first of North Carolina after its independence, and William Dunn Moseley, first of the State of Florida. Moseley Hall derived its name from the Moseley plantation residence. Governor Moseley, (1795-1863) was born there, served in the Senate at Raleigh, 1829-1838, and removed to Monticello, Florida in 1839. Moseley Hall dating, as of record, from 1795, was later a stop on the antebellum stage route from Raleigh to Beaufort, scheduled 63 miles from Raleigh and 110 miles from Beaufort. Their postoffice starting in 1835 had John Moseley in charge with annual “compensation,” $5.17; in 1839, with business evidently growing, Thomas Waters was postmaster, receiving $28.28. From 1834 to 1862, it is of record, that a LaGrange postoffice in Randolph County, had precluded that name for any other such office in North Carolina. It must have been small, for in 1834 the combined pay for its two postmasters was only $8.24. However by 1869 the Randolph factor was oblivious, having shuffled off this postal coil. Wherefore there was freedom in Lenoir County to give another place name gracing the memory of General LaFayette whose French estate near Paris was called LaGrange. Now fourteen states each have a LaGrange, ranging from Maine to California, and from Arkansas to Wyoming.
In 1877 the village population was 300. Nine years later when Joseph Kinsey started there his famous Seminary for women, (moved to Wilson in 1897), he called LaGrange “a healthy and thriving village of 940 inhabitants.” Further, promoting the school, he said: “Our terms are low.” Overall cost for a “term of 20 weeks” was $75. This included “board, washing, lights, fuel, and tuition.” Extras were: uniforms, $12 each; music, vocal and instrumental, $15; painting and drawing, $10. During the first year it enrolled 91 students, of whom 55 were from Lenoir County. The outlook was so promising, an additional “large building to accommodate the increase” had to be erected. Contemporaneously the bourgeoning Davis Military Academy made the town a widely and favorably known educational center.
It was reported in March, 1886, that a local nucleus of 19 Disciples were looking to the establishment of a Christian Church in LeGrange. There had been subscribed $600 as a start for a building. In their behalf, Henry Donald Harper, preacher-dentist of Kinston, a friendly observer, appealed: “The brethren at LaGrange want to build this summer, and will, if helped, and then we may always count on them to help others.” Further he boldly commented: “in fifty years’ work in eastern North Carolina we have built only two churches in town, and none in cities, and there are but few in the villages.”
John J. Harper, of Smithfield, brother of the dentist, was their first pastor, preaching there each second Lord's Day. At his September, 1887, appointment there were nine accessions. The church reported a membership of 35 when enrolled by their State Convention, Oct. 21, 1887.
The initial building was a frame, costing $1389.11. It was erected on a spacious corner lot on “North Carolina's Main Street” (U. S. 70), for which they had paid $75 to the Scarborough family. Joseph Kinsey was their first clerk and church school superintendent, enrolling 63, growing to 94 within three years, when Lizzie Hodges was secretary. Other active laymen there
were: O. K. Uzzell, A. T. Kennedy, and M. C. Rouse. Disciples’ State Conventions met in LaGrange in 1889 and 1905.
This was long the home of L. T. Rightsell. He published a sixteen-page monthly there entitled The Adelphian, subscription price 25¢ per year. It was “a new literary monthly containing poems, stories, and general reading matter.” Rightsell had been the first president of Carolina Christian College at Ayden.
Dennis Wrighter Davis, their pastor, led their revival in July, 1907, with 17 additions. He said that he had been evangelizing for twenty years. Nonetheless this had been “in many respects the most difficult meeting I ever held.” Further, he reported: “There are more different kinds of religious beliefs in LaGrange than I have ever seen to the size of it.”
When Ben F. Oden, student minister from Atlantic Christian College, was preaching there in February, 1915, J. Fred Jones, state secretary, visited LaGrange and said of it: “This is a most intelligent body of excellent people and they enjoy the services of Bro. Oden greatly.”
The church school, boosted by Noah Hodges Williams, superintendent, had on Aug. 14, 1932, a total attendance of 240, of whom 108 were men, and 87, women. The pastor R. A. Phillips said: “I never saw such a sight for a church the size of LaGrange.”
At their “Home Coming” on Oct. 12, 1947, the church had cash in hand, $14,000, toward a new building, for which challenging blue prints were under study.
Ordinations to the Christian ministry were administered in the LaGrange church to the young men: Morgan C. McKinney on May 11, 1952, and to Glenn Savage on Dec. 29, 1957.
A. D. Barker began as their first full-time pastor on Nov. 14, 1954. They had recently erected a brick building valued at $100,000. This was dedicated at their “Home Coming” in October 1957. Its seating capacity for worship is 200, plus another 100 as adapted from their fellowship hall. The plant is unified with the religious education section, which provides ten church school rooms, part of which is up-stairs. There is a nursery and modern kitchen, and a social hall seating 200. It is the most impressive structure dedicated to religion in the town.
Their twenty-seven art glass windows honor or memorialize the following persons: (1) Miss Fannie Allen; (2) D. W. Wood, 1859-1938, and Florence C. Wood, 1864-1941; (3) Nannie L. Herring and Needham W. Herring; (4) Alonzo W. Kennedy, 1852-1917, and Mary E. Kennedy, 1859-1932; (5) Iredell Rouse Jackson; (6) Carl L. Pollard; (7) Nannie Frazier Taylor, 1869-1926; (8) Thomas R. Rouse, 1864-1939, and Lula Pell Rouse, 1869-1916; (9) Noah Rouse and wife Mary Harper; Effie Rouse, wife of J. Y. Joyner; and Bessie Rouse; (10) N. H. Williams, Sr.; Maude H. Williams; (11) J. Frederick Pulley, Sr.; (12) Emma Sue Suggs; (13) Rev. and Mrs. Charles W. Riggs; Angela and Kathleen; (14) Mabel T. Myers; (15) Annie D. Mooring; (16) Glenn Gray Mewborn, 1870-1950; (17) J. W. Fields; (18) Robert F. Mooring; (19) Arvil L. Suggs; (20) Charles Philip Smiley; (21) Flora A. Petree, 1864-1934; (22) Mabel Kaye Fields; (23) A. Randall Kornegay; (24) R. A. Croom and Wilson, and Velma Faulkner; (25) Joseph Kinsey, 1843-1929, and Fannie A. Kinsey, 1850-1941; (26) R. B. Kinsey, 1847-1907, and Sarah Kinsey, 1862-1897; (27) Ruth Rouse White and J. Hugh White.
At Easter of 1955 there were 18 accessions and the new organ fund totalled $1500. The church school moved into their enlarged quarters on Oct. 7,
1956. The annual giving in two years had increased from $4,500 to $12,000, during which time there had been 60 additions. In July, 1958, it was announced that they had given two of their young men to the Christian ministry, namely, Carlton Best and Robert E. White, both of whom were in College at Wilson. In October of that year, President Arthur D. Wenger held their revival. Choir robes were then first used; Mrs. Barbara Harper choir director, and Mrs. Stewart Wooten, organist. Average attendance in the church school was 94; Charles A. Jackson, superintendent.
A special honor came to their pastor, Glenn Savage in 1958. He received the year's Distinguished Service Award from the local Jaycees. Each Tuesday and Thursday he had driven the Disciples’ church activities bus to the Cliffs of Neuse for swimming lessons. The seating capacity was for 48 children. It was painted green and trimmed in black. This bus has served many such useful purposes.
In 1959 the church grounds were beautified by one of the women's circles. A newly organized prayer group met each Wednesday evening.
Members of this local church whose faithful lives and generous giving will long be remembered were: William Parrott Hardy, (1877-1932) and his wife, Nancy Elizabeth Williams Hardy, (1879-1954).
Will Hardy, as he was familiarly known, moved to LaGrange, N. C., in 1902, where he and his family became active workers in the local Christian Sunday school and church. He continued as a very successful farmer, owning and cultivating extensive lands in Lenoir and Greene Counties. Also he conducted a flourishing mercantile and livestock business in LaGrange and Institute in the firm name of W. P. Hardy, and in addition invested in the Hardy-Carr Drugstore in LaGrange.
His contributions to local charities were constant and generous. His final bequest provided liberally for his local church, and for the Children's Home Society of Greensboro, N. C., as well as the endowment fund at the Atlantic Christian College. He was a thrifty and useful citizen, a memorable supporter of worthy causes. He verified his faith in Christian education by his works.
Membership at LaGrange is 217.
Roll of Ministers at LaGrange:
|1886-1889||J. J. Harper||1926, 1927||F. F. Grim|
|1895-1904||D. H. Petree||1932-1934||R. A. Phillips|
|1907||D. W. Davis||1935||L. B. Bennett|
|1908-1910||Jack R. Rountree||1936-1943||C. A. Jarman|
|1911, 1913, 1914||Hayes Farish||1944-1946||H. S. Hilley|
|1912||G. E. Swarthout||1947-1950||Rabon A. Rose|
|1915||B. F. Oden||1951-1953||M. C. McKinney|
|1916-1918||D. W. Arnold||1954-1956||A. D. Barker|
|1919||M. E. Sadler||1957-1960||Glenn Savage|
|1920-1925; 1928-1931||Perry Case|
This rural church is three miles west of Greenville at the business by pass forks of Federal Highway 264. Josephus Latham, pioneer Disciple preacher, organized it on April 15, 1871. He lived about seven miles away on the opposite side of Tar River in the Mount Pleasant Christian Church community. The charter members were eleven, as follows: William H. May, Theophilus
Smith, Joshua W. Smith, Benjamin W. Tyson, Elizabeth W. Smith, Elvira A. Tyson, Mary E. Tyson, Lemicey A. C. Nichols, Judia A. Corey, and Clemmie Watford. The first clerk was Theopilus Smith, then Mrs. Alfred Nichols, J. J. May, and Miss Ella V. May.
During the first fourteen years the church name was Berea. The Pastor, Gideon Allen on Sept. 19, 1885, suggested their new name, Red Oak, which was adopted by the congregation. For their initial church plant he had preached the dedicatory sermon. First church wedding there was that of Peyton A. Allen and Sarah McArthur. It was represented in the Disciples’ State Convention in 1871 by delegates Theophilus Smith, Benjamin Tyson, and John Tyson, when they reported thirteen members and gave one dollar to the general fund. Growth was slow, but steady, for in 1874 they had 25 members.
The first preacher to whom they paid any amount worthy of record was Gideon Allen; $12.90 for the whole year, 1878. This was increased to $50.00 for the year 1902 to D. W. Arnold, and to $100 per year for the years 1912, ’13 to Horace H. Settle and Lee Sadler respectively. In 1929 they paid $240.00 per year to their pastor, Raleigh L. Topping. These figures throw an interesting light on pastor's salaries at different periods at Red Oak.
Some active laymen during the first ten years of Red Oak were: Benjamin W. Tyson, John Tyson, Moses W. Tyson, Theophilus Smith, J. W. Smith, J. J. May, W. H. May, Alfred Nichols, P. A. Allen, and J. A. Briley.
In the early 1880's the church was in a pastoral unity, or “Evangelical District,” as it was then called, with Farmville,, (Antioch), Corinth, and Rountree. The minister, Isaac Lamar Chestnutt, then living at Farmville, was paid $400, by the year, from the four-church unity.
In 1887, first of record, for their church school, Moses W. Tyson was superintendent; the enrollment was 36, of whom three were teachers, but the average attendance of teachers was only one per Sunday. The school was held only three months during the year, attended each Lord's Day on the average by only 16. Twenty-one papers were taken and distributed. By 1900 the school had grown to 56 enrollment, of whom 6 were teachers, and L. A. C. Nichols was superintendent. The church membership was then 54. In 1907, the church with 66 members, was paying $75 annually for quartertime preaching. Their property was valued at $1,000. They had raised for all purposes during the year, $322.37, including $36.50 for missions.
J. J. May, one of their most useful laymen from the beginning, passed away Jan. 9, 1926. Section Three of a memorial resolution congregationally adopted by the church, stated concerning him: “In his going Red Oak Church loses one of its most faithful and loyal members and a most efficient clerk.”
Erected on their grounds before 1936 was an auxiliary cabin, in which Mrs. Bessie James taught the Sunshine Class of 25 “enthusiastic attendants.” Hazard H. May was then church school superintendent. A Community Center building was erected in 1940. Red Oak was moving up.
The Diamond Anniversary of the church was observed on April 21, 1946. Two years later the plant was extensively remodelled, providing: a redecorated worship auditorium, two new church school rooms, vestibule, steeple and bell, choir loft, stained glass windows, rest rooms, new lighting system, log kitchen, large recreation building, electric water system, and baptistry. The cost, conservatively managed was $7,500. The current expense budget adopted for 1949, was $1,200.
The year, 1953, was indeed a “red letter” one. Further improvements
effected were: The renovation of their Community Building, and the organization of a nursery, “whereby the mothers may attend church in peace.” Then came a signal honor. Red Oak was adjudged to be the year's outstanding rural church in North Carolina, receiving the prize of $500. This came from the “Town and Country Church Development Program,” sponsored by Emory University and the Sears Roebuck Foundation. Then in the contest for the “South's Rural Church of the Year,” thirteen states participating, Red Oak tied for second place with Montgomery Presbyterian Church near Savannah, Ga. A $200 prize came to Red Oak with this honor. Mrs. B. Leon Tyson, of Red Oak said these prizes were offered “for the purpose of waking up sleepy rural churches and helping them to be a force for good in making a better church, a better community, and a better world.” In 1954 it was again reckoned among the second division prize winners for the same honor.
In 1952 the church advanced to half-time preaching service. On August 23 of the next year they employed H. L. Tyer for full-time ministry, this being in the sixth year of his pastorate there. The church had been 81 years coming to this. Improvements were: new pews; altar furniture; floor carpeted from wall to wall; interior painted, (appropriate green); modern kitchen, and a beautiful Wurlitzer organ.
Memorials have been dedicated as follows: Communion table by Mrs. John Crawford for her husband, and for her son Dewey Crawford who was lost in World War II; on March 30, 1958, Brass Lighted Cross in memory of Travis Crawford; and Velvet Drapes for baptistry and chair lofts by Mrs. B. Leon Tyson, for her husband, dedicated on October 4, 1959.
Ground was broken for their new $25,000 educational building in March, 1955. It is a two-story structure of solid masonry with central heating, tiled floor, and providing eight church school rooms. There is class room space to accommodate 250 persons, and minister's study. Charles J. Betts, brotherhood architect, of Indianapolis, submitted plans for the educational building, also for the remodelling of the old building. The building committee in 1955, were, chairman, Amos Evans, Jarvis Allen, J. T. Manning, Jr., Robert Allen, and Willie Pate. The finance committee were: chairman, S. O. Winchester, Jarvis Allen, Burton Evans, J. T. Manning, Jr., Willie Pate; and Mesdames: F. L. Allen, Robert Allen, L. W. Edwards, Jarvis Tripp, Amos Evans, and B. Leon Tyson. Chairman of the church board was H. Milton May; church school superintendent, F. L. Allen; president of C. W. F., Mrs. Travis Crawford; president of C. M. F., S. O. Winchester; president of C. Y. F., Don Manning; president of Chi Rho Fellowship, Anne Page.
On April 15, 1956, Clifford Lanman was installed as the first full-time resident pastor, in the 85-year history of Red Oak. Ross J. Allen, state secretary, preached the installation sermon. Work was started on their new parsonage, April 23, 1956. This is erected on land given by Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Allen. It is immediately in the rear of the church, facing the by-pass highway.
Howard G. James was installed as pastor on October 20, 1957, Ross J. Allen preaching the sermon. Other ministers participating were: John L. Goff, Arthur D. Wenger, H. Glenn Haney, and Robert Crawford, President of the Greenville Ministerial Association.
Their new church library was opened on March 16, 1958, and their parish paper “The Red Oak Christian News” began to go to all of their church families. At their Easter home-force meeting in 1958, there were 27 additions. A 20% gain in membership was effected from October, 1957, to June,
1958. Twenty-eight tithers were enlisted, “resulting in a remarkable increase in the stewardship of time, talents, influence, and money.”
Red Oak is blessed with young people of talent, beauty, and consecration. A leader among them is Betty Lane Evans, an organist and soloist at the local church. She is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Amos Evans. In 1958 she was chosen “Miss Greenville,” in June; and “Miss North Carolina” at Charlotte, N. C. in July, to represent solely her state, for a possible “Miss America”, at Atlantic City, N. J., Sept. 1-6. The Evans family of four are active members at Red Oak. The father is a building contractor and farmer. To share with her glowing honors, an appreciative reception was given her by her church and church school, more than 300 persons attending it.
Red Oak had eight students in college, 1958-1959. In 1959 the sanctuary was redecorated in “a lilac and gold color scheme.”
From this church, S. O. Winchester serves on the executive committee of the Disciples’ State Convention; Mrs. Amos Evans is a Disciple representative on the North Carolina Council of Churches, and the pastor, Howard G. James serves on the Disciples’ National Benevolent Board.
Membership at Red Oak is 193.
Roll of Ministers at Red Oak:
|1870-1875, 1889||Josephus Latham||1915||John H. LeGrand|
|1876-1882; 1885-1888||Gideon Allen||1916||J. J. Walker|
|1883, 1896||I. L. Chestnutt||1917||Joel E. Vause|
|1884||D. W. Davis||1920||R. A. Phillips|
|1889||Jesse T. Davis||1921, 1922, 1928||Joseph A. Saunders|
|1890-1895; 1899-1901; 1906, 1907, 1921||S. W. Sumrell||1923-1925, 1929||R. L. Topping|
|1926||D. Guy Saunders|
|1896-1898||Joseph D. Waters||1927||Losker B. Bennett|
|1902, 1903, 1918, 1919||D. W. Arnold||1930-1932||L. B. Scarborough|
|1904, 1905||John T. Grubbs||1933, 1934, 1948-1955||H. L. Tyer|
|1908||Eber E. Moore||1935||W. A. Davis|
|1909||Jesse F. Moore||1936||T. W. Bowen|
|1910, 1911||Ben F. Oden||1937-1942||G. D. Davis, Sr.|
|1912||Horace H. Settle||1943-1957; 1957-1960||H. G. James|
|1913||S. Lee Sadler||1956||C. R. Lanman|
The immediate background of the three churches long known as Riverside, Salem, and Timothy, is in old Fellow's Chapel of the Bethel Conference. The Chapel dissolved in 1876, to transfer its large but scattered membership to the three new churches as named above. Fellow's Chapel was in the Johnson's Mills community, approximately five miles east-northeast of Grifton, and seven miles southeast of Ayden. Johnson's Mills in 1880 had population of 80, and Quinerly (the Salem location), nearby to the south counted 40 souls as late as 1950.
Historically important is Fellow's Chapel. There on Nov. 7-10, 1839, the majority of the Bethel Conference reached a decision potentially charged for their forthcoming alignment with the “Current Reformation” as represented in North Carolina by the five-year-old Union Meeting of Disciples of Christ. Jeremiah Heath threw down the gauntlet to their leaders by a point-blank resolution declaring their loyalty to their old creedal order. Of the 28
preachers present, 20 voted against the Heath motion. Article nine of their Constitution provided for majority rule on all such issues. Time was on the side of the reformers, so the union was effected with the Disciples on May 2, 1845. Not however until 1847 was the minority group reorganized.
From 1849 to 1859 Fellows Chapel was known as Elm Grove, the old name being restored in 1860. They had monthly preaching which was better for frequency than most of their sister churches. Ten of their leading laymen from 1846 to 1855 were: G. S. Blount, Churchill Moore, G. Murphy, L. Gardner, Charles Gardner, Sylvester Gardner, Dr. J. A. Hartsfield, W. F. Butler, J. E. Witherington, and Asa Edwards.
The home of Churchill Moore was ever open to the traveling ministers. They sometimes preached there. On May 6, 1855, J. Parks Neville, Disciple itinerant evangelist, expounded the scriptures in this genial surrounding. About a prominent hearer of another faith who listened on this occasion, he reported:
I was much pleased with the noble act of an aged man who came to me and remarked that he had never heard that subject and text. (Acts 2:38 compared with Acts 3:19) explained in that way before. Said he, you have made it so plain that all must have understood it, and I can say that I can receive the discourse with all my heart.
The old church gave 25 families to start the new church a few miles south at Quinerly. Here Salem was organized on Nov. 19, 1876, by Dr. H. D. Harper and Gideon Allen. The twenty-five charter members, naming heads of families, were: William Pate, Thomas Stokes, Thomas W. Stokes, John W. Witherington, Edmond Stokes, George B. McCotter, Theophilus Bland, Sr., John C. Bland, Jesse P. Quinerly, Samuel Quinerly S. S. Quinerly, Spencer Brooks, Thomas E. Brooks, James Brooks, Jr., Coast Patrick, James G. Witherington, E. A. Wilson, F. M. Kilpatrick, Lewis Edwards, J. E. Spier, Theophilus Bland, Jr., W. C. Butler, N. H. Hathaway, Joseph Cannon, and W. A. Quinerly.
It was at Salem in the Disciples’ State Convention of 1877, that their annual meeting was reconstituted, assuming its permanent missionary character. Also at Salem in 1898 the Disciples held their last annual State meeting in the open country. The era of urbanization had come. Salem now does not exist, since its founding fathers are dead, and their scattered descendants worship with ready access to new centers of their faith. It is herewith appropriately remembered because it is interlinked historically with Riverside and Timothy.
The beginning of Riverside was at Chapman's Schoolhouse in 1871, with 24 members, represented in the Disciples’ State Meeting of that year by J. K. Witherington. Its location is in the community of Maple Cypress, listed as a tiny village of 20 inhabitants in 1880. The church is east of Quinerly, a few miles, across the county line in the extreme northwestern bulge of Craven County. Its first location was on the Neuse, near Maple Cypress, hence the name, Riverside. Later it was removed two miles north to its present site within two miles of Timothy Christian Church. In 1872 an evangelist came to the Schoolhouse, to whom they paid $20.55, and their membership grew to 58, and Witherington again represented them in Convention accompanied by W. H. Clark. There must have been serious lack of cultivation since it was not heard from again until 1876. Then the name had been changed to Riverside. J. B. Gardner and J. D. May represented them in Convention, reporting a membership of 50. W. B. Moye, of Maple Cypress, was their first
Clerk. Other leading laymen in their early years were: J. L. Gaskins, L. J. Chapman, J. L. Murphy, Calvin Kirkman, Charles J. Atkinson, and John R. Harvey.
As of record the first general brotherhood meeting at Riverside was on July 28, 1877, when the “Christian Sisters Mission” held their quarterly executive session there, Mrs. S. R. Dixon, president. This was in the second year of the state-wide woman's work. The local unit at Riverside was called “The Dorcas Society”; contribution, $5. Only four churches, Riverside, Salem, Hookerton, and Eden were represented, whose combined offerings were $29.35. A balance on hand with the new offerings made a grand total of $56.85. This was all disbursed in a division between Jesse T. Davis for evangelizing in “destitute places,” and Virgil A. Wilson, to do “requested” preaching.
In 1881, Riverside was in a pastoral unity with Salem, Timothy and Bethel, Josephus Latham, minister. It is said, that altogether C. W. Howard gave 24 years to the Riverside pulpit. In 1882, Gideon Allen had served this group, unitedly pledged to pay him $400.
Their first church school of record was in 1887, with L. J. Chapman, superintendent. The church had 45 members then, and paid their preacher $55 annually. The next year J. L. Winfield ministered to their 48 members, and they averaged $1.18 per member in paying him for the year. Winfield taught the community school and his preaching circuit was Timothy, Old Ford, Salem, and Riverside. Henry C. Bowen reporting this, said: “We know from experience that any one who attempts this eats no idle bread.”
In 1900 the church had grown to 88 members. L. J. Chapman, then living at Quinerly, had long been their clerk. Their church school, J. L. Causey, superintendent, enrolled 57, including 7 teachers. Their church property valuation was $1,000; seating capacity, 250. Their year's giving to current expenses totalled $178.73, and to State Missions they gave $20.
In 1911 they paid their minister, C. W. Howard, $100; Edgar W. Causey was clerk; their membership, 137.
Their first “Home Coming” was on June 23, 1929, and “all were satisfied with its success.” One, L. J. Chapman, attended who had also been present at the organization of the church more than fifty years before. Joel E. Vause held their revival of 1929, with 21 additions.
R. A. Phillips held their “home force” meeting, Sept. 19-25, 1938, with 15 added, of whom 6 were baptized in the Neuse River. An up-to-date revised roll carried names of 151 resident, and 69 non-resident members. A budget of $400.00 was subscribed. This included enough to reroof the building.
Aug. 24, 1947 was their “Home Coming” day. The plant had been renovated; and four new church school rooms provided, of which two were on the lower floor and two in the balcony. B. Eugene Taylor assisted the pastor, Harold F. Brown, in the revival, adding 13.
The frame plant was destroyed by fire on Feb. 21, 1953. Fortunately the pews which were new and other movable facilities were saved. There was no insurance, but an undaunted congregation planned an early rebuilding. Meanwhile they worshipped in the old frame building at Timothy, a few miles away. It was announced later that the rebuilding program would be completed in the fall of 1954.
In November, 1955, it was reported: “Riverside is enjoying their new church now. The sanctuary is complete and they hope to complete the class rooms in a short time. They have built on the pay-as-you-go program and
rejoice in that they have no indebtedness.” The baptistry was built in the center of the sanctuary, with the communion table in front.
On Jan. 13, 1957, twenty newly elected officers were installed and a church constitution and by-laws adopted effecting a functional organization. Leatherette folding doors were placed in the educational plant. W. E. Roberts was serving both Riverside and Timothy, for the first time bringing the Riverside pastorate forward to half-time. The church school attendance had reached 89.
In May, 1959, they were planning the dedication of their new plant. Edward L. Mercer was their student minister. The C. Y. F. beautified the church lawn, marking it with white posts. Mrs. Odell Foy organized a prayer group.
Membership at Riverside is 141.
Roll of Ministers at Riverside:
|1881||Josephus Latham||1934||B. Eugene Taylor|
|1882, 1883||Gideon Allen||1935||Selz Mayo|
|1889-1911, 1929||C. W. Howard||1936, 1937||J. T. Forrest|
|1884||J. L. Burns||1938-1941||R. A. Phillips|
|1888||J. L. Winfield||1942-1944||W. I. Bennett|
|1892||M. F. Haskett||1945-1949||H. F. Brown|
|1912-1914||Hayes Farish||1950-1953||M. C. McKinney|
|1915-1919||Joel E. Vause||1954, 1955||James Hemby|
|1920||J. T. Moore||1956, 1957||Billy Bennett|
|1921-1928||John R. Smith||1958||W. E. Roberts|
|1930-1933||C. E. Lee||1959-1960||Edward L. Mercer|
Let us see this church through the periscope of history. Thus it may be to North Carolina Disciples of Christ a sanctuary of heritage. Within this sphere of interest, its primacy joined with its concrete continuity is unique. Its earliest handwritten records may be read. These long lost minutes of their monthly “Saturday before the fourth Lord's Day,” 1827-1840, business meetings are the most primitive documentation of Carolina Disciple emergence hitherto retrieved for preservation. Blandly written, they yet show clearly their congregational trend to the acceptance of a foremost reforming tenet of the times—the alone sufficiency of the Bible for the faith and practice of the Christian. This acceptance was affirmed at Rountree on Oct. 5, 1832, as introduced and advocated by their pastor, General William Clark. This was about a year and a half before the organization of the Union Meeting of Disciples of Christ at Little Sister, March 28-30, 1834. By then other ministers who had joined with Clark in the movement, were: Abraham Congleton and Wiley P. Nobles, of Rountree; John P. Dunn, of Little Sister; and Jeremiah Leggett of Tranters Creek. Within five years twenty other preachers, all in Bethel Conference, were of like mind with these Disciple pioneers. In 1851, Clark, aged 61, then living in Jackson, Miss., wrote about his reforming career in Carolina. He recalled that in 1832, “we sent a copy of what we had done to some of the churches adjoining us and I think seven adopted them”—resolutions affirming that the Bible was their only creed. Scanning extant records a count of the “seven”, located in four Counties, follows: Grindle Creek and Rountree in Pitt; Little Sister in Lenoir: Tranters Creek, Old Ford, and Unity, in Beaufort; and Smithwicks
Creek in Martin. Grindle Creek, near Pactolus, languished to extinction after the passing of Clark to Mississippi; Little Sister merged with the foundation of Kinston; others eventually disappeared from the perennial roll of participating brotherhood churches. Of the original seven, only Rountree to-day may trace its conventional lineage unbroken from 1832.
Thomas Campbell, (1763-1854), author of “The Declaration and Address,” (1809), visited eastern North Carolina, from November 1833 to April, 1834. During this six month's tour he was in Greenville, visiting General Clark on Monday, Feb. 17, and preached at Rountree on Feb. 22. The local church clerk, Allen Blount, made the simplest entry possible: “Sermon to-day by Elder Campbell an aged man.” In a letter written at this time, Campbell stated to his daughter, Dorothea, (“my dear Dora”), that he had been “preaching occasionally as I had opportunity to small audiences,” on this trip. However this hand-written document is the only such record of an actual sermon by Campbell while on his Carolina mission.
Site of this Church is in the midst of a fine agricultural area, at the Rountree Crossroads, four miles west of Ayden. It is near the stream of Little Contentnea. An early postoffice for that community was Ridge Spring, which was one of the five in Pitt County in 1851. However, as one of 26, in Pitt, in 1894, Rountree had its own office.
Two native Rountree sons first recognized there as becoming ministers were: George Washington Wallace in June, 1829, and Wiley P. Nobles, grandfather of I. L. Chestnutt, in March, 1834.
On Aug. 24, 1828 they gave seven of their members to start the Little Sister mission in adjoining Lenoir County. These were: Mr. and Mrs. Walter Dunn, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Tull, Charles Tull, Polly Farmer, and Louisa Wiggins.
Sixteen active laymen representing Rountree in the frequent fellowship meetings of kindred churches, 1827-1840, were: Jesse Rountree, Charles Jenkins Rountree, Allen Blount, John Vinson, John Ringgold, Walter Dunn, James L. Warren, Joseph McGerman, James Ringgold, Arthur Tull, Charles Tull, Paul McGerman, Joel McGerman, Gideon Fulford, Isaac Baldree, and Luther Fulford. Likewise twelve other laymen here prior to 1861, were: Charles Joyner, Caleb Cannon, Sr., L. H. Rountree, Joseph Dixon, Willis Dixon, Benjamin Brown, Jesse L. Jackson, J. Hart, S. Nobles, C. Carson, W. J. Brown, and Robert Hart Rountree.
At the union with Bethel Conference in 1845, Rountree was reported as having 40 members. John P. Dunn was their representative that year at the annual state meeting, first under the new regime. Entertained by Rountree have been annual state meetings of Disciples, in 1850, 1865, and 1885. The membership as listed Nov. 1, 1851, had grown to 68, comprised of 31 men and 37 women. Officers: elders: John P. Dunn and Wiley P. Nobles; deacons: Jesse L. Jackson and Caleb Cannon, Sr.; treasurer, Benjamin Brown; clerk, Joseph Dixon. Slaves enrolled in 1851, were nine, namely: Tom Blount, Jacob Rountree, Jack Rountree, Sucky Blount, Rose Rountree, Mary Rountree, Sucky Brown, Martha Brown, and Ann Brown.
John T. Walsh, a young man of 36, fresh from Virginia, first appeared at Rountree on March 28, 1852, and preached from John 3:1-14. His “principal subject was regeneration, its nature, evidences, objects, and utility”, as briefed by the clerk.
An important recruit to Disciple leadership, Amos J. Battle, came forward at Rountree on May 22, 1852, “desiring to unite with us as a member and
minister of the gospel.” His had been a distinguished career in another communion, and he was from a famous eastern Carolina family.
In the 1850s the advocates of Spiritualism were abroad in the land. Probably to some extent their illusions had infiltrated eastern Carolina. On May 22, 1853, John P. Dunn preached at Rountree on Acts 3:23,24, adapting to it a discourse adverse to “the living holding communications with Spirits of the Dead.” The clerk figured that he “proved to the satisfaction of All present” that “to practice it would be an insult to God,” and “concluded by Admonishing the followers of Jesus to turn a deaf ear to the delusions of spiritrapping.”
To the life and spirit of Rountree, the incredible losses and dislocations of the great civil strife of the 1860's dealt a devastating blow. On Sept. 23, 1866, their pastor, Gideon Allen, resigned, and the church in business session, “declined to proceed to call or elect a pastor of the ensuing year.” Further: “thro the coldness of the members caused by non-attendance of church and Strictly complying with their christian dutys, Preaching at Rountree's church has ceased”. It was indeed “traveling as it were in the wilderness,” as the clerk relates. This dire inertness continued until a rally promoted by the faithful brought a spiritual awakening. On Sept. 25, 1869, they met “to counsel together and adopt some plans whereby the Church of Christ at Rountree could again meet in a church capacity and worship God as in days passed by.” Their revered former pastor, Gideon Allen, wearied shepherd, lingering in the offing, was recalled with such insistence that he returned to their spiritual guardianship and retrieved their candlestick. Amos Evans was the newly elected clerk who listed 134 reactivated men and women in their rejuvenated fellowship. Their steadfast maintenance in spiritual service has ensued to the present.
They were in a pastoral unity in 1882 with Red Oak, Corinth, and Farmville. The pastor, I. L. Chestnutt, received a salary of $400. Their initial frame building stood on the present site for 56 years. It was then remodelled and enlarged, as a “new house of worship,” and dedicated Oct. 28, 1883, by J. T. Walsh.
As of record their first church school began in 1887, with E. C. Carman, superintendent. Enrollment was 53, including 3 teachers. Average attendance was 20, and the school was held only six months of the year; total offerings for the year, $5.77. John Pierce and Jesse Cannon were Sunday School delegates to their State Convention (Disciples) in 1887.
J. L. Winfield held their revival in July, 1888. He reported: “A neat and commodious church has been built and a respectable number of the best people of the community are enrolled.” There were 18 additions, said to be of “most excellent material.” Moreover, Winfield added: “the outlook is more encouraging than ever known in its history”.
D. W. Davis was their revivalist in 1891, with 23 baptisms. He was paid $20 for his five days of intensive evangelism there. J. L. Winfield was their pastor, when their “Board” met on October 18, 1891, and “raised his wages to $150,” for 1892, and their annual giving to State Missions from $25 to $30.
For the year 1903, D. W. Davis was employed at double his former salary there. Joseph D. Waters, editor of The Watch Tower, said: “This church is simply doing its duty by paying Bro. Davis a reasonably salary. His work cannot be estimated in dollars and cents.”
C. Manly Morton came on a gala Union Meeting occasion in August, 1908, and said of Rountree: “They are a fine lot of true Christian workers, earnest
in their Christian duties, zealous to go forward, and hospitable to the very limit.”
While their church school was in session on Feb. 13, 1941, the plant caught fire. It was destroyed. However the pews, piano, and other furnishings were instantly salvaged. Rebuilding was planned, and for the interval the usual worship and educational functions were carried on in the nearby Pierce Community Building. On February 22, 1942 the new plant, valued at $7,500 was opened. Provided are: an adequate auditorium; four church school rooms, and a fellowship hall up-stairs; a modern lighting system, celotex ceiling, and fourteen art-glass windows. At their 115th anniversary, April 26, 1942, it was dedicated, H. S. Hilley preaching the sermon.
A long 59 years had intervened since their first dedication in 1883. Yet it was recognized that nine persons had attended both Rountree dedications namely: Robert Worthington, Levi Pierce, Irvin J. McLawhorn, H. C. Rogers, J. P. Dawson; and Mesdames: Minnie McLawhorn, Alice Allen, Mary Ellis, Lorenzo McLawhorn.
In the 1940's the Jesse Rountree Reunion on the 4th Sunday in October became an annual affair at the old church. Here also a plaque at the church memorializing Jesse Rountree was unveiled on April 27, 1947, designed by Miss Jesse Rountree Moye, of Greenville. The founder, Jesse Rountree, (1765-1831) married Winifred Jenkins (1765-1840), in January, 1782. They had four sons and four daughters, 52 grand-children, and 156 great-grandchildren. In this mid-Twentieth Century their living descendants in recurring generations are legion. In 1947 it was known that twelve of their great-grandchildren were yet living, namely: Mrs. Sallie Richard Short Spruill, of Raleigh; Robert B. Dunn, of Kinston; Mrs. Minnie Emma Belcher Brown, of Wilson; Mrs. Martha Eliza Belcher Congleton, of Robersonville; James Henry Benjamin Moore, of Greenville; Mrs. Sally Rountree Crisp, of Durham; Mrs. Rosabel Rountree Cowper, of Kinston; Mrs. Mattie Rountree Stephenson, of Abingdon, Va.; Mrs. Cynthia Hart Rountree Winfrey, of Richmond, Va.; David Rountree, (88 years old), of Gainesville, Fla.; Samuel Rountree Dunn, of Richmond, Va., and F. M. Rountree, of California.
In 1959, an annex to the plant, 24 X 60 feet was erected, providing a dining room and kitchen, which have been well furnished.
On Jan. 30, 1960, new officers and the functional leadership were elected, as follows: Carroll Humbles, board chairman; Heber E. Cannon, treasurer; Mrs. Willis Carman, secretary and clerk; Mrs. Heber E. Cannon, evangelism; Mrs. Milton Worthington, sickness and charity; Darrell Jackson, finance and pulpit; Mrs. Jack Allen, special days; Frank Pierce, house and grounds; Ray B. Sumrell, communion; and pastor, H. Glenn Haney, bulletin.
Membership at Rountree is 134.
Roll of Ministers at Rountree:
|1827, 1831||Abraham Congleton|
|1828-1830||Thomas D. Mason|
|1832, 1833||General William Clark|
|1834-1840||John P. Dunn||1896||I. L. Chestnutt|
|1841-1891—During this period, Gideon Allen ministered about 40 years, interspersed by A. C. Hart, John P. Dunn, Jesse T. Davis, J. L. Burns, George Joyner, I. L. Chestnutt, D. W. Davis, and J. L. Winfield.||1900||S. W. Sumrell|
|1903, 1904, 1906||D. W. Davis|
|1907-1909||C. B. Mashburn|
|1910||J. C. Caldwell|
|1911||C. E. Lee||1931-1951||G. H. Sullivan|
|1912, 1913||H. H. Ambrose||1952||Z. N. Deshields|
|1914-1919||J. R. Tingle||1953-1959||Perry Case|
|1920||W. O. Winfield||1960||H. Glenn Haney|
|1921-1930||W. A. Davis|
This church is in Pitt County, at Gardner's Crossroads, ten miles east of Ayden, and five miles south of Shelmerdine, near the headwaters of Swift Creek. Hard-surfaced highways approach the site from four directions. Fellows Chapel had been affiliated with the Disciples for 32 years, when in 1877, some families from this mother church, scattered eastward from it, decided to initiate a new congregation to be known as “Timothy Chapel.” Mrs. Alicia Gardner Moore was a leading spirit in its organization. Amariah Gardner was the first clerk. They were enrolled by the Disciples’ State Convention meeting at nearby Salem, Oct. 11-13, 1877. Their delegates reported 41 members. During the first ten years of this church fourteen laymen representing it in the Disciples’ State Convention, were: James Wall, J. Stokes, B. Moore, Isaac Moore, Edward Stokes, Job Moore, J. J. Moore, Israel Moore, Amariah Gardner, Josephus Causey, J. K. Wetherington, J. G. Wetherington, James A. Stokes, and J. E. Moore.
The next year after organizing, their membership grew to 56. While at that time Salem had 25 in their church school, and Riverside, 24, Timothy had no church school of record. However in 1880, they did enroll 25, of whom 3 were teachers. That year only 15 Disciple church schools were reported in the entire State, enrolling 702, of whom 75 were teachers. The next year's report of the State Convention's committee on “Lord's Day Schools,” J. L. Winfield, chairman, had this to say:
1. The meagre and imperfect report from the churches does not furnish sufficient data to enable us in making a statement which will tend to increase the interest in our schools.
2. The cold lethargy that pervades our schools grows out in a large extent from a want of better system and order in our churches. We can have no successful schools unless they are cared for by the pastor or evangelist.
3. That in the sense of your committee we recommend to this convention the importance of organizing and putting in operation all of our Sunday School forces by calling together all of the friends of the movement in a Sunday School Convention. We must organize and draw out the talents of our teachers and superintendents, and this can only be done by holding annual Sunday School Conventions.
We earnestly hope this will engage your earnest attention.
Timothy was growing. At the end of their fourth year their membership had more than doubled. And in 1882 they entertained the State Convention of Disciples, J. J. Harper, presiding. Their pastoral unity was known as “Salem District”, comprised of four churches, each having monthly preaching. Unitedly they were pledged to pay their pastor, Gideon Allen, the annual sum of $400. J. K. Wetherington was clerk.
They had 32 additions in 1887, paid their preacher $50 for the year, and gave $3.15 to missions. Next year their membership was 139, J. L. Winfield, pastor, raised altogether $47.15 for current expenses, which was an average of 34 cents per member. Winfield was succeeded by C. W. Howard in 1889, when $26.40 was given for State Missions.
In 1897 their membership had reached 205, a twenty-years’ growth of fivefold. Their building was too small. Next year they erected a larger one, adequate for the times. Their church school, Edward Stokes superintnedent, enrolled 40, raising a total of but $8.05 during the year. The church property value was given as $700, increased to $1000, four years later.
J. R. Tingle, pastor in March, 1900, reported that Timothy “has just put in new seats,” and had raised in full their Foreign Missions apportionment. He led their next year's revival during which he assembled gifts for their new reed organ, and confessed: “this alone was well worth the meeting.” Then later that year referring to the use of the organ at worship service, he said: “Miss Myrtie Moon of Ayden gave it a trial on Dec. 7. Everybody is well pleased. The congregations are improving.”
Hookerton Union met at Timothy on Jan. 28, 29, 1905. W. R. Howell of Atlantic Christian College attended and spent Saturday night with Israel Moore. A very few preachers came. He was the only minister present on Sunday and was greeted by a “full house”. He said: “It seemed to me that I have never spoken to a finer crowd of people than that assembled at Timothy that day.”
Robert F. Bristol, pastor, held their revival in 1928, with 30 additions. His report: “A new spirit prevails with the church. They plan to undertake a stronger financial program than they have hitherto known.”
At Timothy on May 6, 1945, C. C. Ware, assisted by the pastor, G. H. Sullivan, ordained the following 26 officers: elders: J. E. Halstead, C. L. Stokes, Herman Stokes, L. A. Edwards, A. J. Whitford, Calvin Jones, Asa Jones, and J. R. Haddock; deacons: M. K. Smith, J. W. Buck, Roman Buck, Glenn Wall, Corey Stokes, E. G. Hardy, J. T. Stokes, Hugh H. Stokes, Gormon Stokes, and Alton Gardner; deaconesses: Mesdames: Herman Stokes, Hugh T. Stokes, Sam Buck, Corey Stokes, Alton Gardner, E. E. Moore, Sr., and Misses Gladys Stokes and Ruth Gardner.
Sixteen persons were added in their revival of 1947, held by Ramon N. Redford of Roanoke, Va. The church decided to group with Grifton, each church to have half-time service of a minister to live in Grifton.
They now had outgrown their second building. Whereupon Alton Gardner contributed a new site of one acre across the road from the old building, and also gave the millwork on the lumber for the new plant. Corey Stokes, chairman of the local church board, gave 10,000 brick for their $30,000 structure. It was opened Sept. 30, 1951. It has: a sanctuary seating 200; six church school rooms; 24 stained glass windows; baptistry supported by an overflow well; and modern foyer and steeple. The ensuing $5,000 debt was slated for early retirement by sacrificial giving of loyal constituents. The old plant across the road was retained for community functions.
Dedication of the new church was on Nov. 27, 1955, Ramon N. Redford, guest speaker. On this occasion also, the mortgage was burned by J. J. Stokes, Herman Stokes, John Buck, and Alton Gardner. A new carpet and choir rails had recently been installed. Their budget was worthily increased to include theif brotherhood's world outreach agencies.
In 1957 their old building was remodelled to provide in part some needed church school rooms, and also the pastor's study. Their new organ was dedicated on Oct. 5, 1958, gift of Dr. and Mrs. William Peacher, in memory of Mrs. Peacher's parents, Mr. and Mrs. P. W. Moore. Two weeks later their church budget which was adopted provided for their first full-time ministry, with W. E. Roberts, resident pastor.
Youth of the church worked together in 1959, to create a community recreational center to have supervised group play. Easter Sunday that year was to be a “pew-packed” day. Their church school enrollment then numbered 144, with average attendance of 125.
A gift for the church dedicated by the pastor on Oct. 4, 1959, was that of the cross and candlesticks given by Misses Gladys and LucyStokes, and Miss Clark.
Pastor W. E. Roberts moved into their new parsonage on May 3, 1960. This is valued at $16,000. Much building material was given. Also by reason of the home-force management of Robert Halstead, chairman of their Building Committee, and his loyal assistants, there was an actual cash outlay of only $6,000. It stands out as a low-cost-model of conservative construction for sister churches needing this prime accessory for a resident ministry.
Membership at Timothy is 221.
Roll of ministers at Timothy:
|1881||Josephus Latham||1924||Felix L. Fox|
|1882||Gideon Allen||1925, 1926||R. L. Topping|
|1883, 1889||C. W. Howard||1929||R. F. Bristol|
|1884||J. L. Burns||1931-1933||D. W. Arnold|
|1888, 1896||J. L. Winfield||1934, 1943, 1944||W. I. Bennett|
|1895-1903, 1911, 1927, 1928||J. R. Tingle||1935||J. T. Forrest|
|1936||T. W. Bowen|
|1906, 1913-1919||W. A. Davis||1937-1942||G. D. Davis, Sr.|
|1907||D. W. Davis||1945-1947||G. H. Sullivan|
|1908, 1909, 1923, 1930||E. E. Moore||1948, 1949||R. C. Brisson|
|1912, 1921, 1922||Joseph A. Saunders||1950-1956||Horace Quigley|
|1920||F. F. Grim||1957-1960||W. E. Roberts|
This small town in the northern part of Greene County is a mile south of Federal Highway 264. It is 16 miles east of Wilson and 8 miles west of Farmville. It is said to be named for the Walston family, three of whom, John, Phillip, and William, whose families had 20 persons, are of record in the Federal census of 1790. These three lived in Dobbs County, the present Greene, then being a part of the ancient Dobbs. The old postoffice name was Fieldsborough, a crossroads settlement, population, 25 in 1880. The number grew with the coming of the Norfolk Southern R. R. in 1907. The railroad retained the old name, Fieldsboro, to avoid clerical confusion with Stantonsburg and Washington stations on their line. But the growing village was incorporated as Walstonburg in 1908, and in 1910 their people numbered 127.
Ben F. Oden, a student in Atlantic Christian College, opened a mission of the Disciples of Christ here in 1912. His work “full of intelligent consecration” is remembered “kindly and gratefully” by the people of this hamlet. He conducted worship services on the lower floor of the vacant store of George W. Bailey. Later in the up-stairs room of this store, called Red Men's Hall, J. J. Walker, Greenville pastor, came on Thursday nights to preach for them, and also held revivals to build their congregation. This was marked by steady growth under a capable, experienced leadership. The young church of 67 members was enrolled Nov. 5, 1914, by their State Convention. Later Walker preached in the village schoolhouse, and then in a
tent on the present site of the church at the corner of North Pine and Church Streets.
This site was the gift of George W. Corbett. A later purchased addition makes it about equal now to three-fourths of an acre. The first trustees of the church were: George W. Corbett, A. J. Craft, Rufus Shackelford, and S. T. Tyndall. First officers: elders: John H. Dupree, J. M. Barfield, S. T. Tyndall; deacons: A. J. Craft, G. W. Corbett. Their first church school, reported in 1914, enrolled 50, and A. J. Craft was superintendent. Their first plant, erected in 1914, cost $3,000, on which there was a debt of $950. This was paid in full before 1920.
Their membership had risen to 106 in 1915. Over a hundred were in the church school. J. Walter Lollis preached there that year each fourth Lord's Day. They have strongly supported their annual revivals. Ben M. Edwards came for ten days in August, 1922; the results, 30 additions. This evangelist who had worked much in Carolina, declared: “In many respects this has been the greatest meeting I have ever held in the Old North State. The new converts are practically all adults. Among the number were just the finest citizens of the town, including the banker, the postmaster, three of the leading business men, and a host of others.” Next year their meeting was held by J. Boyd Jones.
On August 8, 1933, their plant which had stood for 19 years the only church in the village, was totally destroyed by fire. Their insurance had lapsed two months before—a disheartening experience. No reserve existed as a good token for a rebuilding program. Services were continued in the community school. They appealed to their self-sacrificing congregation, and to all of their friends known and accessible. From 1933 to 1939, came regular help from State Missions toward paying their pastor. Their new plant valued at $10,000, was dedicated by C. B. Mashburn, who ministered there intermittently.
Sam Jenkins was their church school superintendent in 1937. Their Christian Women's Fellowship at that time had 15 active members; officers: president, Mrs. A. J. Craft; secretary, Miss Lillian Corbet; teacher of mission study class, Mrs. W. B. Nix. On June 13, 1944, Mrs. H. H. Settle, executive secretary of the Women's state work, conducted an “all-day mission study,” at the home of Mrs. Roland G. Fields. About this, Mrs. Ivey Smith reported: “Our Society always enjoys the fellowship of these meetings with Mrs. Settle and we are sure to gain much inspiration from the study.”
A baptistry was installed below a beautiful mural painting. On “Home Coming Day,” Oct. 15, 1944, five young persons were baptized, “and with the rays of the sinking sun shining through the windows it was the inspirational closing of a perfect day.”
Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Adams were the first to occupy the new parsonage on Sept. 15, 1953, which was dedicated on Jan. 3, 1954. The Christian Men's Fellowship beautified the grounds, “by the setting of shrubbery and seeding the lawn.”
Their Visitation Evangelism in 1954 accounted for the 15 percent increase in the Walstonburg membership of that year. The next year, seeing the necessity of enlarged facilities, their educational plant was planned in consultation with their brotherhood's church architect from Indianapolis, Ind. There was in hand $4,500 in the building fund to apply to the $20,000 project. Their C. M. F. bought new mimeograph and typewriting equipment for the church.
A new pastoral unity with Wilbanks, (half-time each) was effected Nov. 1, 1955. By the rotation system new church officers were installed as follows: elder: D. D. Fields; deacons: Charles Letchworth, T. E. Lang, Cecil H. Rhodes; deaconess, Mrs. Paul Craft.
On August 6, 1956, their 15 stained glass windows were dedicated. These are in honor or in memory of the persons named as follows: (1) J. C. Gardner Family; (2) Ila Fields McKeel, 1897-1933, and Roland G. Fields, 1902-1952; (3) Mr. and Mrs. L. N. Shelton; (4) Dr. and Mrs. W. A. Marlowe; (5) The A. J. Craft Family; (6) George W. Corbett, 1873-1946, and Florence Corbett, 1873-1946; (7) Sam Jenkins; (8) The Cox Family; (9) Father and Mother of T. E. and W. E. Lang, Jr.; (10) Jesse Mercer, 1886-1937, and Emma Mercer, 1896; (11) Kilby Mann, 1859-1944, and Mattie Mann, 1862-1949; (12) C. B. Mashburn, former minister; (13), (14), and (15), anonymous.
Early in 1957 work began on their educational plant; the building committee: chairman, Sam Jenkins, D. D. Fields, and T. E. Lang. Their fundraising launched in 1954 had, over the three years, assembled enough to guarantee finished construction. The new plant was opened on Oct. 20, 1957. The church school was then departmentalized. It was reported: “All of the organizations of the church function well. The spirit is good.” In the summer of 1958 the C. W. F. insulated the church building, and the C. M. F. did likewise for the parsonage. In the spring of 1959 their sanctuary was remodelled from plans drawn by Professor Russell Arnold, of Atlantic Christian College. New pews and furniture for chancel and pulpit, costing $2,000 were installed in July, 1960.
Membership at Walstonburg is 142.
Roll of Ministers at Walstonburg:
|1912||Ben F. Oden||1932, 1933||W. A. Davis|
|1913, 1914||J. J. Walker||1934, 1935||C. B. Mashburn|
|1915-1917||J. W. Lollis||1936||T. W. Bowen|
|1918||J. M. Waters||1937||G. D. Davis, Sr.|
|1919||F. F. Grim||1938||C. J. Bradner, Jr.|
|1920||R. A. Phillips||1939||Ray G. Silverthorne|
|1921-1923, 1928||L. A. Mayo||1940-1947||W. I. Bennett|
|1924-1926||G. H. Sullivan||1948-1952||L. B. Bennett|
|1927||W. J. B. Burrus||1953-1955||Ivan Adams|
|1929||H. T. Bowen||1956-1960||H. C. Hilliard, Sr.|
|1930, 1931||L. B. Scarborough|
Nine miles northwest of Kinston is Wheat Swamp Christian Church. Historians say it has been there for two hundred and eight years, beginning as an independent Baptist congregation. It is on the old Hull road, near the village of Institute, and close to the stream whose name the church bears. In 1752 it was one of the 10 General, or Arminian Baptist Churches, which historians, with little documentation, say were in North Carolina, of that date. Later, (1754-1756) all of these 16 churches were raided by the Philadelphia Association Baptists who were Calvinistic in theology. Because the Philadelphia Baptists were much stronger in their organization and resources than these scattered Carolina Baptists in their primordial environment, they took over all but four of these original 16 churches. The four who held out against the all-but-overwhelming proselyting from Philadelphia,
were: (1) Wheat Swamp, which for the interval from 1765 to 1843 was Free Will Baptist, but aligned November 11, 1843, openly with Disciples of Christ, joining in the resolution abolishing human creeds, (2) Pungo, five miles east of Belhaven, likewise connecting with Disciples in 1843; the church is now dead, but considerable remnants were builded into our Pantego and Belhaven churches, (3) Gum Swamp, near Greenville, remaining Free-Will Baptist, and (4) Lousan Swamp near the present Airy Grove Christian Church, which eventually went to the Union Baptists, and is now but a memory.
Four pioneer preachers of the General Baptists in eastern North Carolina remaining steadfast in their Faith were: Paul Palmer, Joseph Parker, William Parker, and John Winfield. Joseph Parker, the founder of Wheat Swamp, lived from 1705 to 1791. Writing 115 years ago, Dr. S. J. Wheeler said that Joseph Parker had been described by an associate as “a squarebuilt man, with broad face, about five feet, eight inches high, and in his later years wore on his head a cap continually. His manner of preaching was full of animation.” Wheeler added that Parker “was buried in Robert Wyrington's burial ground on Wheat Swamp,” and “no monument marks the spot where his ashes repose.” He was remembered as a “consistent Christian, a zealous and successful minister.” Further, quoting historian Wheeler, “Here [at Wheat Swamp] he and his wife lived in limited circumstances supported by a few members of the Free-Will Baptist Church—In Dobbs County (since divided into Wayne, Lenoir and Greene Counties), Elder Parker was highly esteemed. It was to this county his labors were mostly confined, rarely preaching at any other place but at Wheat Swamp, near which church he settled. . . . James Roach a Freewill minister from Craven County took charge of the churches on Wheat Swamp and Loosing Swamp on the demise of Elder Parker and under his labors the churches were revived and greatly increased.”
Francis Asbury, (1745-1816), famous itinerating Bishop, came to the vicinity in 1799. The home of William Cox which he mentioned was a few miles southeast of the present Grifton. Rainbow Methodist is a neighboring church a short distance north of Wheat Swamp.
Quoting Asbury's Journal:
Thursday, Feb. 21, 1799. We came to Newbern, originally stttled by Germans, and called after old Berne in Switzerland. For sixteen miles of this road we had heavy rain; but I was well cased up, notwithstanding which I took cold. . . .
Monday, Feb. 25, 1799. It was cold to purpose, and we had twenty-four miles to ride to William Cox's, on Neuse, near the mouth of Contentney. . . .
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 1799. I did not attend at the Rainbow meeting house, in consequence of my illness, the effect of my riding in the cold the day before. . . .
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 1799. I was comforted in administering the sacrament.
A member of Wheat Swamp living through its transition to the Disciples was Jesse Kennedy, born Jan. 1, 1781; died May 25, 1856. Dr. John T. Walsh said of him:
“He was baptized in the year, 1809, and united with the church at Wheat Swamp. During his long membership, near half a century, no charge of any sort was ever preferred against him. He was honest and
upright in all his dealings. The hand of want was never stretched out to him in vain. He was benevolent to the poor, and liberal to the cause of Christ.”
Annual State Meetings of the Bethel Conference were held at Wheat Swimp in 1835, 1840, and 1843, and for Disciples in 1853, 1858, 1868, and 1884. The Convention of 1843 was truly epochal since the resolution which was adopted practically aligned 25 preachers and the most of 32 churches in 13 counties, enrolling 1856 members, in eastern North Carolina with the Union Meeting of Disciples of Christ, the formal merger being effected less than two years later.
The resolution was presented at Wheat Swamp by Thomas J. Latham, on Nov. 11, 1843:
Whereas: Division among Christians is a promiscuous evil—anti-christian, as it destroys the visible unity of the body of Christ, as if he were divided against himself, excluding and excommunicating a part of himself—Anti-scriptural, as being strictly prohibited by his Sovereign Authority; a direct violation of His express command—anti-natural, as it excites Christians to continue to hate and oppose one another, who are bound by the highest and most endearing obligations to love each other as brethren, “even as Christ loved” them. And whereas this Conference is desirous of removing every difficulty from the minds of such members of the church of Christ as are wishful to unite on the “faith once delivered to the saints.” Therefore:
Resolved that this Conference consider each church of Christ composed of its Elders, Deacons, and other members, as the highest ecclesiastical tribunal recognized in the New Testament, and therefore disclaims any ecclesiastical or controlling power over the churches of Christ as are willing to unite with us, on the Holy Scriptures, as the Rule of Faith and Discipline, reserving to themselves, respectively, the right to interpret the same, for their own regulations, and that they be affectionately invited to represent themselves by Delegates in this Conference.
Near Wheat Swamp the old farm-house of Benjamin Parrott yet stands in Falling Creek Township. Other preachers at the earliest period most influential, at Wheat Swamp, colleagues of Parrott, were John P. Dunn, and Robert Bond. Twenty-seven of their representative laymen of the ante-bellum period were: Thomas P. Hartsfield, William B. White, Parrott M. Hardy, Walter Kennedy, Drury A. Hill, Pitt Hardy, R. F. Hodges, Dr. J. A. Hartsfield, W. T. Hart, H. Suggs, Reuben Barrow, Calvin Hartsfield, Simon E. Hodges, Alexander Wilson, Hugh P. Sutton, William Sutton, J. A. Hodges, P. W. Hart, S. P. Hardy, W. Daley, L. J. Mewborne, J. Hartsfield, N. C. Sutton, M. B. Creech, J. D. Hall, Noah Rouse, and W. Canady.
Their primitive house having served many long years gave way to their new building which continues as a part of their greatly improved plant of to-day. It was dedicated on May 23, 1858 by John T. Walsh, with the “hope that other churches may profit by her example and that many of our old dillapidated houses may give place to such structures as will be more in harmony with the purity, zeal, and liberality of Christianity.” The contractor was John D. Hill; price $500. The site was then deeded by M. B. Creech to the first trustees of record, William B. White, Parrott M Hardy, Walter Kennedy, and Drury A. Hill, Jr.
John T. Walsh held their revival in September, 1855, resulting in 40 additions, “among whom there was many of the most respectable citizens of the community.” Four years later he came for seven days, baptizing 26. Closing his pastorate there in December, 1882, he said: “Having preached at
Wheat Swamp many years both before and since the war and having received so many favors from many of the brethren and sisters, I have left them with regret, though I deemed it best there should be a change.”
The state-wide women's missionary work of the Disciples was initiated at Wheat Swamp on October 5, 1876, during the annual State Meeting there. First officers: president, Mrs. S. R. Dixon; vice president, Miss Clara A. Dixon; corresponding secretary, Mrs. Sue Helen Draughon; recording secretary, Mrs. Winnie R. Tull; treasurer, Mrs. Noah Rouse. The original name was changed from “The Beneficent Society” to “The Sisters’ Mission Workers of Disciples of Christ”. Various names have followed until to-day it is called “The Christian Women's Fellowship.” In the local unit at Wheat Swamp 19 women were active in 1893, as follows: Mesdames: Elizabeth C. White, Julia M. Hodges, S. E. Hodges, Addie Moseley, S. A. Hill, Hettie M. Aldridge, Lanna Moore, Myrtle Wilson, S. E. Creech, Zadie Kennedy, Sue Hardy, Elizabeth Taylor, Martha Moseley, Trudie Dawson; and Misses: Hattie Wilson, Lizzie S. Hill, Clyde Sutton, Ruth Kennedy, and Lucretia Allen.
Some of their church clerks since 1869 have been: Reuben Barrow, E. L. Sutton, Franklin Dail, Paul A. Hodges, J. M. Creech, and J. Paul Hill. The church was grouped with Eden, Hookerton and Hebron, in 1881; minister Josephus Latham; salary, $400.
As of record their church school began in 1889, a late start. It then enrolled 35, including 3 officers and teachers; average attendance, 30; “paid for literature,” $1; “value of library,” $4.
On Oct. 1, 1944, G. H. Sullivan closed a long pastorate there, assembling that day $4900 with which to recondition the plant. Stained glass windows were installed, and new church school rooms were completed late in 1947, adding “materially to the uses of the old Wheat Swamp building for educational and social service.” However, two years later it was reported: “The large Sunday School rooms recently erected are now inadequate, making it necessary to use the Kitchen for an overflow class.” They sent Kenneth Rouse and Roland Jones as ministerial students to the college at Wilson. Mrs. Roscoe Herring was president of their C.W.F. The church elders were: Ray W. Jones, Troy J. Rouse, Roscoe Herring, Hugh Hardy, John Dail, and George Rouse.
C. C. Ware assisted their pastor, R. R. Miller, on June 1, 1952 in ordaining ten newly-elected officers as follows: elders: Gordon Aldredge, Jr., Jesse Earl Jones, Homer Hill; deacons: Lemuel Hardy, Jack Sutton, Pelt Worthington, Marion Rouse, Billy Emerson, William Jones, C. W. Rouse, Jr.
A Wheat Swamp ordination to the ministry was that of W. H. Montgomery, student at Wilson, on April 4, 1954. He then became their first full-time pastor. A six-room brick parsonage near the church was completed, and an early retirement of the $3000 debt thereby incurred was planned.
On Feb. 12, 1956 several new members of the church board were installed, when Ross J. Allen, state secretary, “delivered a very inspiring and challenging message.” Later the board was functionally organized. Morgan McKinney, their first full-time resident pastor, held their revival in September, 1958, with 16 additions. An organ was installed; a church constitution was adopted; a silver communion service was given by L. J. Sutton, oldest member; and choir robes and Christian Worship Hymnals were acquired.
It was decided that to meet the needs of steady expansion, the plant should be forthwith remodelled again and more church school rooms added. In
October 1959, their building committee, Harold Kennedy, chairman, assembled $7200 in cash and pledges with which to start an enlarging reconstruction.
Mrs. Floyd Gray, Sr. serves as the chosen local church historian. She hopes to get a proper and permanent marker erected there, memorializing the church for the general public.
Membership at Wheat Swamp is 294.
Roll of Ministers at Wheat Swamp:
|1765-1791||Joseph Parker||1920-1925||Perry Case|
|1792-1800||James Roach||1926, 1927||W. C. Greer|
|1843-1860—Robert Bond, Benjamin Parrott, John P. Dunn, J. T. Walsh.||1928||R. F. Bristol|
|1929-1931||F. W. Wiegmann|
|1932-1944||G. H. Sullivan|
|1881, 1882||John T. Walsh||1945, 1946||W. I. Bennett|
|1883||Josephus Latham||1947-1950||Rabon A. Rose|
|1884, 1888, 1889||H. D. Harper||1951||Horace S. Garris|
|1890-1901||S. W. Sumrell||1952, 1953||R. R. Miller|
|1903, 1904||D. H. Petree||1954||A. D. Barber|
|1908-1915||C. W. Howard||1955, 1956||W. A. Ballinger|
|1916, 1917||S. Lee Sadler||1957||Vere Rogers|
|1918||W. S. Martin||1958, 1959||M. C. McKinney|
|1919||Joel E. Vause||1960||James M. Mahoney|
Amos Graves Cox and his Manufacturing Company were the founders of this thriving Pitt County town. The Cox home, center of invention for a tide of farm implement output, was a half-mile west of the present Winterville. When the Kinston-Weldon Branch of the A. C. L. Ry. was put through in 1890, there were 50 inhabitants at the place. These increased nine-fold to 450 in 1900. Meanwhile the village had been incorporated in 1897, when but two stores were there: A. G. Cox, general store, and B. F. Manning, dry goods.
The Baptist church came to life there in 1887; the postoffice, named Winterville, in 1889. Three other States in America each have a Winterville; Georgia, Maine and Mississippi.
The swelling enterprise of local manufacture required adequate transport facilities. Out of the abounding forests on his land, Cox contracted to supply the railroad with wood at this point for their old-type engines. Stops by the trains at his woodrack led to the equipment of a regular freight station on the site—a foregleam of the rising trade center. The A. G. Cox Manufacturing Company was organized in 1894. Their village High School opened in 1899, “in a two-room house with 22 pupils.” The local bank was organized in February, 1906. Landowner Cox, conveying his town-site lots, put into each deed a reversionary clause militating against any sale of alcoholic beverages on the specified premises for 500 years. The world must know that he was a temperance man.
C. C. Ware paid a secretarial visit to Winterville in May, 1938. This was after his consultation with R. E. Boyd, a local merchant. Boyd was not a Disciple then, but with a realistic and friendly view of the relevant circumstances, he was solicitous that a church of that faith be planted there. Accordingly it was arranged by the State board to have C. B. Mashburn, Farmville
pastor, to conduct a revival and meet in conference with the Disciples there.
Without solicitation the local Methodist church was graciously tendered for their use of assemblage. At a congregational meeting attended there by 30 persons on July 1, 1938, as reported by Miss Lottie Ellis, secretary: “A motion was made and seconded that the organization be promoted, and the entire group pledged its loyal support and cooperation.” The following (35) families, in whole or in part, were the timely potential for the new church: Mrs. Mary Ellis, R. E. Boyd, A. W. Ange, R. L. Abbott, Mrs. Susan McLawhorn, Haywood McLawhorn, James Gaskins, Robert Worthington, Richard Worthington, Fred Worthington, Cleveland Worthington, Ben Forrest, Otis Forrest, Mrs. Sophia McLawhorn, Jerry Worthington, Frank McLawhorn, Will McLawhorn, Henry Smith, Jesse Rollins, Asa V. Moore, Wardell Worthington, Lloyd Worthington, Hazard H. May, Mrs. W. S. May, Ray Oglesby, Alfred McLawhorn, Wayland Hunsucker, Mrs. Woodrow Worthington, Amos Buck. Eugene Cannon, Miss Mattie Cannon, Mrs. Corine Williams, Janie Keeter, George Dewey Cox, and Ronald Carroll. Mrs. Asa V. Moore was appointed clerk. These all were of prior affiliation respectively with adjacent Christian Churches, (Disciples of Christ.)
When the church was formally organized in the home of Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Abbott on Oct. 13, 1938, there were 43 charter members. First officers: elder, A. W. Ange; deacons: Lloyd Worthington, R. E. Carroll, Laurie Ellis, George Dewey Cox; deaconesses: Misses Faye Gaskins and Lottie Ellis, and Mrs. Asa V. Moore. These were ordained on Nov. 13, 1938. They were to continue worship services, rent-free, in the local Methodist church offered on the friendly initiative of the Methodists. C. B. Mashburn continued his part-time pastorate there.
Four years later the pastor Perry Case reported from Winterville: “The interest of the members and the community holds up splendidly. Thus will be formed another link in a long chain of churches which have started out with little but faith and a promise from State Missions that they will not let them down, and have through the years become strong churches.” The State Service helped financially to sustain the pastorate there from 1938 to 1948, inclusive.
Miss Lottie Ellis reported in April, 1944, that the Methodist Church property where the Disciples had met for six years had been deeded to them for $1250. She further said: “Interest in our work is steadily increasing and the future is encouraging.” A rebuilding fund had been started. There was a plan to remove and remodel the old plant solely for educational and social purposes. R. E. Boyd inaugurated and carried through a project which provided three new church school rooms.
On March 2, 1947, an executive committee of the church met with an architect to mature plans for a new plant. Fifty thousand brick were already there on their large lot fronting the paved street. Two years later the building fund stood at $5,310.68. Construction began in 1950. The cost, approximating, $35,000 had been completely underwritten when the building was finished in 1953. The building committee: Chairman, Laurie Ellis, Lloyd Worthington, A. W. Ange, Miss Lottie Ellis, Mrs. Ray Oglesby, Mrs. R. L. Abbott, Mrs. Woodrow Worthington. It was said: “We have not permitted our offerings to brotherhood causes to lag because of this enterprise.” Prior to June 30, 1954 the church had given to Camp Caroline development a total of $850.
The Young Adult Class gave a copper-framed bulletin board to stand at the front, “well lighted and lettered as its first step in the beautification of the grounds.” Choir robes first were used here at Easter, 1955. An Easter scene hand-painted by Perry Case was installed at the rear of the baptistry. A valuable lot adjoining the church was bought in 1956, materially increasing the frontage. A constitution and by-laws for the church was projected, and was approved congregationally in 1957. At the “Home Coming”, June 2, 1957, all mortgage figures against the church were burned.
At their business meeting, Sept. 18, 1957, a functional organization was effected, and the following trustees were elected: Laurie Ellis, Asa V. Moore, and Lloyd Worthington. The budget adopted for the ensuing year totalled, $7,635. It was decided to dismantle the old building, using its materials for a “new educational and fellowship wing.” The site was cleared to facilitate the realization.
Sept. 21, 1958 was observed at Winterville as “Dr. Perry Case Sunday”—a special tribute to his eighteen years’ pastorate there. For the congregation Asa V. Moore presented him with “an engraved gold pocket knife.” Linwood Kilpatrick for the Case Bible Class unveiled a portrait of him to adorn their wall.
Early in 1959 their C. M. F. was organized, Linwood Kilpatrick, president. A committee was appointed to promote the building of a parsonage, the fund for which constantly grew, with A. W. Ange contributing a good building lot. The fund for this stood at $4401.07 in April, 1960, with Linwood I. Rouse, chairman of the Parsonage Planning Committee, and Mrs. Laurie Ellis, head of the Parsonage Finance Committee. Mrs. Alton Worthington is president of the C. W. F. Linwood Kilpatrick is chairman of the local church board.
In July, 1960, construction was well advanced on their parsonage. Their correspondent said: “We are extremely proud of the work which has been done so far and hope to find” a resident minister soon to “share in our fellowship.”
Membership at Winterville is 72.
Roll of Ministers at Winterville:
|1938-1940||C. B. Mashburn||1959||C. J. Bradner, Jr.|
|1941-1958||Perry Case||1960||H. Glenn Haney|
More broadly based initially as The Union Meeting of Disciples of Christ, the Hookerton Union is the oldest institution of their faith within their State. It has continued as the quintessence of their cooperative life at the grass roots. The four-page leaflet giving the account of their first Convention as reported by their “clerk,” B. F. Eborn, is reprinted herewith in facsimile. It is an object of interesting study. The document, discovered in 1951, has been in its entirety, lost for 117 years. John T. Walsh, in his “Life and Times,” (Cincinnati, O. 1885) refers to a portion of it, which evidently he somehow knew. Walsh, however, for the meeting, gives a mistaken date, we know not why. Cushing Biggs Hassell mentions it disparagingly, as a matter of course, since William Clark, leader of the current reform, and signer of the Little Sister Manifesto, had repudiated the Kehukee's predestination creed. Clark removed to Jackson, Miss. the next year, and in 1849 was elected a vice president of The American Christian Missionary
Society. He had served three terms in the House of Representatives at Raleigh, in the period, 1820 to 1830.
Likewise, B. F. Eborn, Clerk at the Little Sister meeting, served two terms in the Senate at Raleigh, 1846 and 1848. These Pitt County men were prominent citizens, in the group of able leaders for the conscientious reformers striving for a new and better order in the church.
Thomas Campbell, father of Alexander Campbell, must have been present at this first Convention, since he was then in the community, and we have his word written shortly before the meeting, that he planned to attend it. But the record is silent about Campbell, designedly so, one suspects, since these persecuted Disciples would give their harassing enemies no account of any personal association with Campbell. Their shyness is understandable.
Fifth Sundays were a practical time for these selective, parochial gatherings of rural people for social and religious fellowship. As a rule there was little or no conflict with regular appointments in this timing. It fitted well into democratic traditions and practices in a homogeneous society. Its essential features are perpetuated in flexible vogue to the present.
After the opening at Little Sister in March, 1834, other Quarterly Unions of this group were held as follows: in 1834: at Smithwick's Creek, June 27-29; at Rountree, Aug. 29-31; at Unity, (Beaufort County), Nov. 28-30; in 1835: at Tranters Creek, March 27-29, and Nov. 27-29; in 1836: at Rountree, Jan. 29-31; at Oak Grove, (Greene County), May 27-29; at Tranters Creek July 29-31; in 1837: at Grindle Creek, (Pitt County), April 28-30; at Oak Grove, (Greene County), Oct. 27-29. These were the focal points of Convention life for Tar Heel Disciples in their beginning years.
The big event for the Union Meeting in the 1840's was its merger with the Bethel Conference. Their spiritual energy henceforth was consecrated in making good the union. The Disciples were evangelical from the start. Of deep concern to them were the deaths of some of their effective preachers. Robrt Bond, of Wheat Swamp, passed in April, 1849; John B. Gaylord, of Kinston, in January, 1851. To the end of implementing their outreaching spirit a delegated “Cooperative Meeting” was held at Hookerton in December, 1850, and another, with like purpose at Kinston in November, 1851. Out of these conclaves came the call to their service of Dr. John T. Walsh, of Virginia. They wanted “an able preacher of the Ancient order to labor for the Lord in this most beautiful gospel field.” Walsh came and for a third of a century spent the last half of his life in this, his adopted State.
In the later 1850's the Union was called The Central Christian Cooperation. Participating were thirteen churches in Greene, Lenoir, Pitt, and Craven Counties. The last named then included the present Pamlico County. They met Nov. 27-29, 1857, at Rountree, reporting $232.40 in their treasury, plus pledges of $240.78. John R. Winfield had been employed at a salary of $450. Again they met at Rountree, January 30, 31, 1858, Peter E. Hines, moderator, and Joseph Dixon, clerk. Funds were raised “for an evangelist to attend the lower Churches.” H. D. Cason was thus appointed to begin April 15, 1858, and labor “so long as we have funds to pay his expenses.” Also, Gideon Allen was to make “one tour, provided we have funds.” Their “Evangelical Committee” in charge of promotion were: Alfred Moye, Caleb Cannon, James W. May, William Coward, and “Brother” Bennett.
No extant records appear for this cooperation throughout the 1860's. Communications were widely disrupted; religious work was suspended to a large degree. But in 1870 there was a pulling together after the vast wreckage of war.
During the water-navigation centuries, eastern North Carolina, for practical purposes, had a river-controlled geography. Thus Disciples in the area were apportioned in three “Evangelical Districts.” Churches located north of Tar River composed the First; those between the Tar and Neuse were the Second; and those south of the Neuse made up the Third.
Seven of the most aggressive churches of the Second District met in delegated Convention at Hookerton on Nov. 14-17, 1870. This was pursuant to an action of their annual State Meeting which had convened at Oak Grove, Pitt County, Oct. 6-9, 1870. At this November meeting at Hookerton, Gideon Allen served as moderator, and Moses T. Moye was clerk. An executive board consisting of one representative from each participating church called “Evangelical Committee” was appointed as follows: Wheat Swamp, R. B. Taylor; Kinston, S. H. Rountree; Hookerton, F. W. Dixon; Antioch, W. A. Brand; Corinth, William Joyner; Fellows Chapel, W. B. Moye; Rountree, Caleb Cannon. After 90 years these seven churches, either identically, or by their known successors, are in the Hookerton Union of to-day as obvious in the foregoing sketches.
Early in 1871, at the next Union, Bethel was added as the eighth church to participate. It was agreed that each church should be expected to send three delegates to each Fifth Sunday Meeting. A committee was appointed to ask W. H. Clemmitt, publisher of The Christian Examiner, a Disciple paper issued at Richmond, Va., to accept Joseph H. Foy, of Kinston as an associate editor. Clemmitt declined to do this which probably hastened the issuance next year of The Watch Tower, John T. Walsh, editor. The Union's board employed Virgil A .Wilson for three months, at $250 salary. Money in hand by close of their second meeting amounted to $245.75. Strictly they were paying as they went.
At their Wheat Swamp meeting, May, 1871, the churches at Bethany (Arapahoe), and Trinity, (Beaufort County) were respectively the ninth and tenth to join the participating group. Offerings at this Union totalled $152.80. Joseph H. Foy and Moses T. Moye were asked to submit proposals for publication of “a weekly Christian paper.” They had paid evangelist Wilson $200, leaving $46 on hand.
At Fellows Chapel, Aug. 18-20, 1871, Gideon Allen, Josephus Latham, and A. C. Hart were employed each for two months, and J. L. Winfield, a recent recruit from the Union Baptists, was engaged for one month. Offerings totalled $92.55, making the cash balance on hand $280.60. The November meeting that year was at Hookerton, with offerings, $115.75. It was at Corinth, February, 1872, paying their four evangelists, $272.50, and none were to be employed presently “on account of the generally inclement weather at this season of the year.” Albeit in September, 1871, Gideon Allen had baptized ten at Chapman's Schoolhouse, (later, Riverside), and had then organized the new church there with 24 members.
Fellows Chapel was host to the Union on May 17-20, 1872, when eight churches were represented with offerings, $79.90. Meanwhile their executive board had met at Hookerton on March 16, 1872, and had employed evangelist Josephus Latham for the general field; A. C. Hart for supervisory visits to the post-war churches of Colored Disciples, and had “aided J. L. Winfield to purchase a horse which had enabled him to do some very effective work.” F. W. Dixon, of Hookerton, delivered in writing a strong missionary exhortation—“Let us do our whole duty in this matter and send the Gospel and its joys into every nook and corner of our district.”
In the August Union, 1872, John T. Walsh reported that “the churches in the lower part of the district had organized another Cooperation Meeting and were meeting with much greater success than was anticipated.” This evolved into the present Pamlico Union. Eden, the eleventh participating church, joined the Union at this time. The cash amount of $320.46 was reported to be in their treasury. J. L. Burns, Josephus Latham, and Virgil A. Wilson were altogether paid a sum of $109.25. An executive board of ten was appointed as follows: Joseph Taylor, W. A. Brand, E. A. Moye, Caleb Cannon, W. B. Moye, William Frazier, J. W. Harper, S. E. Hodges, Jerry McLawhorn, and William Rountree. Four evangelists were paid $155. Two of them, Latham and Burns, were each to be continued three months.
At their Hookerton Union Nov. 15-17, 1872, their evangelist Josephus Latham reported his year's work as follows:
Dear Brethren: In making my report I hope you will permit me to go back a few years now past as a sense of deep gratitude causes me thus to speak. When the war ended our people were left in a deplorable condition and it was clear the preachers could not afford to preach for nothing but souls for their hire and I saw at once the danger of our churches in destitute places going down, and as the Yankees did not visit me I felt willing to do all I could to help keep the distant congregations “alive” until they could recover somewhat.
So for two years I preached more than fifty miles from home and added many to the cause of Christ. But for two long years I did not receive as much compensation as the harness upon my horse had cost, but I labored on, having funds of my own,, being sure that when all was spent my brethren would come to the help.
Soon Hookerton church called me to its care and with it some compensation and then Antioch so I labored on and in four or five years found that I had spent one thousand dollars and just as the future looked most gloomy. Through the zeal of our admirable brother Dr. F. W. Dixon and others the system of cooperation which last fall threw into my hands one hundred dollars just in time to pay a debt which was due. I baptized as a former report shows, some forty or more persons. One among the number baptized last fall was our excellent Bro. J. L. Burns who bids fair to be one of our most eminent preachers. If nothing more had been accomplished this would have compensated the Union Meeting. During the winter I taught school.
But when the evangelical committee met in March I was again placed in the field as Evangelist, but being at a time when but little good could be done, I did not travel much and received pay only for the time occupied in travelling.
At your last meeting I was again put in the field in order to be with the talented and beloved Bro. Wilson, but as he was taken to New Berne I thought best to fill an appointment already made in Hyde County, whither I started after spending a day or two at Fellows Chapel with brother Burns who is delivering some good discourses on Sunday night, Monday and Monday night, which resulted in confession of two persons whom I baptized before leaving.
From Fellows Chapel I started for Hyde County and met my appointment on Saturday before the 4th Lord's day in May and commenced in earnest to contend for the faith once delivered to the Saints. For a day or two the only appearance of success was the large congregation, so the preaching continued more than a week at Middleton, resulting in the confession of fifty-three persons. Could you my brethren, who have contributed to the noble cause of sending the Gospel to the destitute. have seen the joyfull success of the truth there, you would rejoice that you ever gave for so glorious an object. While in Hyde I preached at Tar Creek, Neals Chapel, Clarks School House and Middleton; at the latter place Brother Davis had organized a church of some twenty-five or
thirty members but they had no Hymn Books and I furnished them with a goodly number and circulated a thousand or two of the best of Franklin's and Holman's Tracts. Our cause is triumphant in that section as about thirty have united since I left. On the 2nd Lord's Day in June I preached at Old Ford, Beaufort County, to a goodly congregation, received six dollars, which with two raised down the country made eight dollars received up to this time. The people of Hyde have been very unfortunate, not having made more than one good crop since the war and as they depend upon Bro's Davis and Cason for preaching I told them to give what they could to them.
On arriving home, I found my crop in bad condition so I ceased to travel for a while, but attended Hookerton, 3rd Lord's Day in June and heard Bro. Wilson and with him went to Loosing Swamp, where he continued to preach to interesting congregations until Wednesday; he baptized two persons, then the meeting closed and I returned home.
On the fourth Lord's Day, I preached to a large congregation at Hancock's Meeting House. On Wednesday returned home and labored on my farm until the 1st Lord's Day when I preached at Mount Pleasant; had one confession, an interesting young lady whom I baptized the same evening. During the next week I preached a number of times at Forbes School House, without any success as far as I know. Bro. Allen came and gave us an excellent sermon one day. On the 2nd Lord's Day in July I attended at Antioch and returned home, 3rd Lord's Day in July attended at Hookerton and heard Bro. Burns preach. His sermon was listened to with much pleasure by most of the Disciples. The same evening I tried to preach at Harts School House, from thence I returned home.
On Saturday before the 4th Lord's Day in July we commenced a meeting at Taylor's School House, Greene County, and with the help of Bro. Burns and Bro. Hart, continued the meeting for five days and baptized five persons. I then took Bro. Burns in my buggy and brought him home with me and on Friday we commenced a meeting at Mt. Pleasant and continued for ten days, and considering the opposition in that section, the success was great, being ten added to our hand. From thence we went to Antioch and with our much loved and zealous Bro. Winfield who had commenced a meeting there. For a few days it seemed to be dull but before it closed a considerable interest was manifested and the result was ten added to the church there, and the church much revived. To-day, (Nov. 14, 1872), I am at home ready to depart on to-morrow to meet you at the Cooperation. With a heart full of gratitude to you for your confidence and the enabling of me to carry out my Master's cause without bearing all the burden myself, permit me to thank you.
To recapitulate, permit me to say that though it has been more than three months since I was appointed yet I only claim for services of two months, during which time I have delivered and heard if I mistake not about seventy five discourses. I have baptized sixty nine persons and received seven who had been baptized making seventy six in all. I have furnished many Hymn Books and circulated thousands of pages of tracts. I received eighty four ($84) from your treasurer. Sister Nannie Joyner, daughter of Bro. Allen, whose noble sympathy prompted her, gave me $10. Old Ford Church gave me six dollars ($6) which with two ($2) dollars received from the country, makes eighteen ($18) dollar evangelical money received, besides something for pastoral labor, and also two hundred dollars presented by my very dear friend, R. A. Bynum, which had been promised some months, to liquidate a debt, which bade fair to call me from the Evangelical field, but by the timely aid of Bro. F. W. Dixon, Sister Clara Dixon, L. J. Barrett, Turner May, and R. A. Bynum, I was saved the necessity of returning to the school room and farm to make the money. God bless them all. Having a very expensive family my way is not clear, but I shall labor on as God permits. I am now offered the school at Greenville which it is thought would pay a thousand or fifteen hundred per year but as my labors in the Gospel field would be crippled I have no idea of taking it, but as the funds of
the present meeting are so meagre would it not be better to employ men who have no family.
In addition to the presents received my dear Bro. Allen gave me a fine pair of boots and his son gave me a nice hat, and sister Nannie Joyner gave me a nice hat, as the Lord seems to be raising up friends in time of need.
At this Hookerton meeting in November, 1872, their three evangelists were paid a sum of $129.26. For the ensuing year, J. J. Harper was added, to work three months for $150; half of this amount to be advanced to him.
At the Corinth Union in February, 1873, offerings from six churches totalled, $118.10. Their two evangelists, Harper and Burns, were paid a total of $125.75.
Walsh in his Watch Tower reported the Antioch Union of August 1874. He was entertained in the home of James W. May, “who very hospitably provided for our wants.” Fourteen preachers were present. Further he said: “The Evangelical Committee employed Brother H. D. Harper for two months, and we think he will make a good report from the field.”
At their Wheat Swamp meeting in January, 1875, a restudy committee was appointed consisting of Joseph H. Foy, F. W. Dixon, and J. R. Dixon. They were to consider probable changes in their policies to meet shifting conditions militating against effective support of the Union. Their offerings were declining, only $45 being received at this time.
They met again at Hookerton on July 29, 1876. Offerings were meager; receiving $27.05, they paid it all to Allen and Latham who were to conduct revivals at Eden, and Nichols Schoolhouse in Pitt County. No doubt, the Union was temporarily in need of rehabilitation. The leaders had perhaps wearied in well-doing. A resolution currently in their annual State Meeting, said: “The cause of Christ is languishing from apathy and the great want of Missionary zeal.”
Thus arose in 1877, The North Carolina Christian Missionary Society, converted six years later into The North Carolina Christian Missionary Convention. This henceforth was to share largely in the load hitherto borne so heroically by this Cooperation Union.
April 28-30, 1882, The Union met at Eden, with cash in bank at Wilson to their credit, $251.15. There followed in December their meeting at Wheat Swamp where they were urged by Moses T. Moye in person, and by letter from R. Moffett, of The General Christian Missionary Convention, to work together to begin a mission in Raleigh. Moye was made Corresponding Secretary of the District to promote effective response to this appeal.
At the Riverside Union Sept. 28-30, 1883, a set of by-laws were presented and adopted. These required an annual election of officers, each to serve one year. Those elected were: president, I. L. Chestnutt; vice president, Willis R. Williams; secretary and treasurer, E. A. Moye.
The Rountree Union came at the close of 1883. “As the Union had been reorganized at Riverside on an orderly and sytematic basis, some were at a loss where to begin and how to begin.” The cumulative fund was $419.92. “There was a strong feeling to open a mission in Raleigh and to this end the Union agreed to cooperate with the State Convention and begin work as soon as possible.”
Funds accumulated while they cast about for a pioneering pastor at the State's capital. Meanwhile in January, 1886, they gave $200 to the mission
at New Bern. At the Antioch Union in May 1887 their entire funds were given to Raleigh. In 1888, when pastor-evangelist C. W. Martz had discontinued the Raleigh mission, “all of the furniture, carpets, etc. at Raleigh belonging to this Union were donated to the New Bern Church.” The new church at Dunn was considered. Reportedly they had “some means in hand to be devoted to the work at that place”.
Retracing our history for a few years, the Hookerton Union was officially set up in that name at the State Convention of 1885. Seven “Union Meeting Districts” which had been organized, were then recognized in their formal proceedings, namely: Mill Creek, Jones-Onslow, Hookerton, Pamlico, Pungo, Old Ford, and Albemarle. The Hookerton consisted of the fifteen churches: Kinston, Alpha, Wheat Swamp, Hebron, Bethel, Eden, Hookerton, Wilson, Antioch, Corinth, Red Oak, Rountree, Salem, Riverside, and Timothy. Alpha, Hebron and Salem were in time discontinued; Antioch and Corinth, merged in Farmville; and Wilson became attached to the Coastal Plains Union. The Hookerton had the largest number of churches, except Albemarle which had 17.
These Unions like everything human have ever been a target for criticism and caricature. Wherefore as expected, Claris Yeuell, a British-born itinerant evangelist, and withal a transcendental critic, visited eastern Carolina Disciples in 1903. As briefed he said this:
Our Union District meetings are not much better than mobs, mass meetings at best, generally swayed by some agitator gifted with gab in speech or prayer. Wind rather than work is at a premium. Sound rather than sense reigns supreme. We must have less blarney and more business; resolute less and operate more. The day for pow-wows is rapidly passing; the day for plans is here.
None of these meetings should be held over Sunday. Such interferes with the regular work of the pastors and gives too much opportunity for picnicking, frolicing, and courting. Fasting rather than feasting should prevail. More grace and less grub. Less munching and more meditating. We should have mercy upon the housekeepers, when help is so hard to get. Let more ginger and snap be put into all of our organizations. We are not living in the 18th century. To accomplish anything we must march to the music of the advancement of the age.
Through the decades the fortunes of the Hookerton has varied. Sometimes no preacher would attend. The Union met at Airy Grove on May 29, 1904, and no minister was there. A. J. Moye, layman, on Sunday, conducted the entire service by scripture reading and prayer. He wrote: “Brother ministers don't you think that something is wrong that the people come out to our Unions and no minister present to speak to them.”
At the Timothy Union in January, 1905, the time was changed for the gatherings to the first Wednesday and Thursday in May and October. W. R. Howell was at this meeting, and reported the lunch, typical of an age-old rural hospitality as follows:
The dining room whose carpet was dead grass of last summer, and whose walls were scattered pine forest and cotton fields, and whose overhead ceiling was the pure canopy of God's heaven, was just a little cool, but the dinner was all the more refreshing.
In 1905 they helped Macclesfield. They had previously helped Airy Grove, Greenville and Grimesland. The Women's Missionary Sessions were held in conjunction with the Unions. At Farmville on Dec. 28, 1907, Miss Ada
Tyson presided over the Women's session, featured by a recitation by Miss Henrietta Moye. The next meeting in March, 1908 was also held there, “and Farmville people covered themselves all over with glory in the entertainment of the Union.”
Meeting at LaGrange in January, 1909, each minister was asked forthwith to hold a revival at some destitute point. The August meeting that year was held at Hookerton, “the one” as C. Manly Morton said, “for which the District is named. It stood as a beacon when our churches were few, and whose name should be dear to every Disciple.” Fremont, Arthur, and Wendell were helped and with The American Christian Missionary Society the Living Links for Wilmington and Rocky Mount were sustained. At Fremont the church had been dedicated on May 30, 1909. A. G. Bogue, a son-in-law of John T. Walsh, assumed the Fremont debt, but through some misunderstanding the contractor sued the church, causing “a $25 lawyer bill.” This came to the attention of the Hookerton Union which generously ordered it paid by them. Their “treasurer had the pleasure of sending Fremont a check for this amount.”
In cooperation with the Jones-Onslow Union in 1915, Miss Frances Tuten was employed to serve as a Bible School worker in the joint area.
A summary in January, 1924, of Hookerton Union appropriations to ministerial salaries, showed recent helps to Raleigh of $600, and to Durham, $300. On buildings there had been given $200 to Deep Run: to Rocky Fork, $150. Also $50 had been paid by them for a revival at Deep Run. They had loaned a young preacher in training at Wilson the sum of $307. In 1927 they were yet helping at Durham, and in April, 1928, the Union met at Durham to see “that their money had been well spent.” Ten years later when the Durham plant was remodelled the Hookerton gave the first bricks. In full sympathy with the Disciples Youth Conference, $25 was given to help conferees travel, going and returning.
C. R. D. Whitfield of Kinston was “an aged and honored Colored Disciple leader.” He was in need. The Union at their meeting in November, 1941, gave to him their free-will offering of $15.35. His response: “I can't find words to thank you all as I wish to but I ask God to bless the brotherhood forever.”
A ministerial loan fund was projected by the Union in January, 1944. The administrative Committee: W. H. Brunson, Mark H. Smith, Hugh T. Stokes, J. F. Carr, A. J. Craft, and Mrs. Charles Jackson.
At the Red Oak Union on Jan. 26, 1949, the C. M. F. in the District was organized as “Men of Hookerton.” First officers: president, Guy Elliott, Sr.; vice president, Mark H. Smith; secretary, Arch J. Flannigan; treasurer, C. V. Cannon.
An edifying panel discussion on “Pastoral Unities,” was held at the Grifton Union in July, 1949, Sam Bundy, moderator. The ministerial scholarship fund had been regularly assembled and administered in cooperation with Atlantic Christian College. At the Grimesland Union, April 25, 1951, Thad Cox announced that four ministerial students were currently receiving tuitional aid.
The “Men of Hookerton” meeting at Greenville, Jan. 16, 1958, gave $75 to the State Missions office toward acquirement of a movie projector.
At the Eden Union, April 20, 1960, C. C. Ware was asked to prepare this monograph.
Membership in the 21 churches of the Hookerton Union totals 5835.
Francis Marion Green, (1836-1911), of Summit County, Ohio, travelled extensively for three weeks among eastern North Carolina Disciples in 1883. From his news-letter, The Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, carried his story in its issues of Nov. 24, Dec. 1, and Dec. 22, of that year. Green had been Corresponding Secretary of The American Christian Missionary Society, 1878 to 1882. It was a time when patterned executive boards of State Missions were being created, locally and constitutionally, wherever warranted respectively by Disciple strength and desire. His was a mission of consultation in fellowship to expedite that end in North Carolina, opportunely and effectively. John T. Walsh said of Green's visit: “He has helped and encouraged us much by his preaching and teaching, and also by his wise counsel. Wherever he has been with our churches and people he has endeared himself to thousands of hearers.”
Relating specially to the Hookerton Story are parts of Green's letters herewith briefed as follows:
I have rarely ever had a more interesting tour among the churches to “see how they do,” than that which I have just closed in North Carolina. I preached Thursday and Friday nights, (Sept. 20, 21) in Kinston. It is a thriving little city of about 2000 inhabitants in the center of a rich cotton-producing country. It has among its citizens several enterprising men, the effect of whose presence is seen in the rapid improvements that are going on. It has about the usual number of churches in such a town. In educational matters it is also quite active. It has a good graded school with over 240 pupils. Kinston College is located here with 105 students. I had the pleasure with Dr. John T. Walsh of once attending the opening exercises and I was pleased with the general arrangement of the school.
As Kinston is a growing town and on a railroad it is fast becoming a “preacher's retreat.” At present perhaps ten of our preachers get their mail from its postoffice. Besides E. E. Orvis, who is pastor of the church, Dr. John T. Walsh and Dr. Henry D. Harper have their residences here. The church numbers about 100 members. Bro. Walsh has been in the field as state evangelist during the past year, and Dr. Harper practices dentistry during the week and preaches on Lord's Days in the country around. Dr. Walsh has been a faithful worker in the State for a generation. He has a lovely family and a good home. I enjoyed myself without stint while I remained under his roof as a guest. Bro. Orvis has been preaching for the church at Kinston two or three years and has given satisfaction. Sister Orvis was away from home and Bro. Orvis was doing the honors for “Batchelor Hall” during her absence. I made my home while in the city, especially at night, in the family of Bro. N. D. Myers where I was delightfully entertained. I preached three times in Kinston, the last night to a crowded house. I shall not soon forget my visit there, and the names of Orvis, Walsh, Harper, Tull, Cox, Myers, Mewborn, and others will be remembered not only for their Christian characters, but on account of the interest they showed in the happiness of the pilgrim preacher while in their midst.
From Kinston we went to Wheat Swamp where we had a large audience for mid-week, and where I formed several new acquaintances; among them, William Sutton, now 89 years old; Noah Rouse, and J. M. Mewborn, both old subscribers of The Standard, Ed Sutton, and others. I was accompanied to this place by Dr. Walsh, D. W. Davis, and H. C. Bowen, all preachers, and several others from Kinston.
Hookerton, Greene County, was our next place, whither we went from Wheat Swamp, and found a pleasant home with Mr. Travis Hooker and his family. This is one of the old churches of the State. I had long known it, because for several years my old Hiram friend, Sister Mary Atwater Neely, had lived in its midst. I was glad to know that her name
was still held in grateful remembrance by the brethren and people of Hookerton. The church numbers about 70 members among whom I recall the names of Dr. H. D. Harper, who preaches for them, Barham Hart, Alex C. Hart, Irvin Jones, Mrs. Sally R. Dixon, and Mrs. Travis Hooker. The country about Hookerton is very pleasant. Mr. Hooker has one of the finest farms I saw while I was in the State. The attendance at the Hookerton meeting was good, though not as large as it would have been if there had been no high water.
From Hookerton we went to Salem, where Gideon Allen, one of the North Carolina veterans preaches. At this church I preached twice, putting in an extra sermon to celebrate my forty-seventh birthday, (Sept. 28, 1883). We had good congregations, especially at night. The church numbers about 100 members, of whom I remember W. C. Butler and wife, James Brooks, L. K. Weatherington, and F. M. Kilpatrick.
After Salem came Riverside with a membership of 25, presided over by Calvin Kirkman, and J. B. Gardner. Among its “chief men,” are J. D. May, John Gaskins, and Laurie J. Chapman. As this was a quarterly union meeting of a little group of churches, I was made “Presiding Elder,” and of course did all the preaching, and I did my best three times. My reception by the brethren was all that I could desire. After preaching on Sunday at Riverside, in company with Bro. James W. Hodges and J. L. Winfield, I bade farewell and started for Washington, 25 miles away.
The Annual State Convention was held this year at Farmville (Antioch) church. It began October 10th, and continued four days. It was an excellent meeting and largely attended. It fell to my lot to do more preaching than any other at the meeting, though Brethren J. L. Burns, H. C. Bowen, J. W. Trotman, D. W. Davis, and John T. Walsh did good service also. With great unanimity the Convention put itself into line with the General Christian Missionary Convention, and adpoted a simple working constitution to guide them in their business.
October 15th I visited Wilson. This is a beautiful and growing place. My home while here was with “Uncle Peter Hines,” as all call him, the elder of the church and the mayor of the city, and a good man. I left Wilson on Oct. 16th, and came on to Norfolk, Va., where I stayed one night with E. L. Powell. Then I started for home. I arrived just in time to spend two days before leaving again to attend the great Conventions (Disciples of Christ) at Cincinnati.
Summing up, I was gone some 36 days. During that time I preached 37 times and travelled by railroad and steamer over 2000 miles and 400 miles in a buggy. I did not miss a single appointment, neither was I a moment late at any point, save perhaps once. I was not sick for a moment, neither did I feel scarcely once a sense of weariness during the entire trip.
I look with great hopefulness to the brethren in North Carolina. Their giant state is striding forward with vigor. Educational institutions are springing up on every hand. Old methods are giving way to new and better ones; and the church can not and must not be laggard in the race. The winds of the “Old North State” must sing through her hoary pine woods another song than that of turpentine and tar. Her unbroken forests shall hear the thunders of a new anthem—the anthem of freedom and general intelligence and enterprise.TRAVEL OF LOUISE KELLY
In the fall of 1899, Mrs. Louise Kelly, of Emporia, Kansas, gave a month of field service for the Disciples’ National Women's work to the south. She was editor of the program department appearing in the monthly Missionary Tidings, and an organizer on special call for the general field. She spent ten days visiting the State Convention, (Oct. 24-27, 1899), at Wilson, and on an administrative mission to eleven other Tar Heel churches. Five of these were: Greenville, Ayden, Grifton, Kinston, and Wheat Swamp.
Writing for the Watch Tower, Washington, N. C., issue of Nov. 17, 1899, she reported as herewith briefed:
I have had the privilege of meeting many of you face to face, and my heart has been cheered and strengthened by your cordial Christian spirit. I have pulled the latchstrings of many homes to find it ever the same. As I have ridden through your pine forests and drank in deep breaths of your spice-laden air, I have yearned to see all the land redeemed for the service of man and your sons and daughters saved to a life of consecration for God.
I was much pleased with my visit to Ayden and your college there. Professor Asa J. Manning and his corps of earnest teachers are doing excellent work and need your sympathy and prayers, made effective by strong financial support. At Ayden a most promising auxilliary (C. W. B. M.) of 23 members was organized, with 12 subscribers to Tidings.
At Greenville I found an earnest band of brethren and sisters eager to begin some definite work for Christ, so an auxilliary was formed here with 14 members and more to follow; also six subscriptions to the Tidings received. With a little real encouragement a strong working church can be organized here.
May we all with one accord seek to make this year of our Lord, 1900, a year unto our Lord, with the priceless gold of our ministry made fragrant and acceptable by the frankincense of our prayers.TRAVEL OF J. L. WINFIELD, No. 1
At the Fellows Chapel Union in May, 1872, J. L. Winfield, who had been employed as a travelling evangelist by the Second District, (Hookerton Union), tendered his written report. From this an edited extract follows. It is to be figured that he led the “lower churches” to form on May 10-12, 1872, their own “Cooperation” Union Meeting. This was at Goose Creek in Pamlico County, which evolved into the present Pamlico Union. When it began the Pamlico enrolled 11 churches in the three counties of Carteret, Craven and Pamlico, having altogether 443 members as reported to their Kinston State Convention, Oct. 10-13, 1872. The largest church, (91 members), in this new fellowship, was Bethany (Arapahoe) which had formerly participated in the old Second District.
I have been devoting my time exclusively to evangelizing. My labors have been effectual. I received aid from your treasurer on March 24, 1872, which enabled me to buy a horse. My first efforts were at Taylor's Schoolhouse, (Eden), March 31. Found the church in a prosperous condition. On April 7, I was at Trinity, Beaufort County. Baptized one lady into Christ. Second Lord's Day in April visited Antioch, (Farmville). Josephus Latham preached. I preached at night to a large and attentive congregation. The prospect there is very encouraging. I received a call from Jones and Onslow Counties. This was out of the District but for the good of the cause I readily responded. Preached at Tuckahoe and Christian Prospect, (Apr. 20, 21) to near 400 people. I tried to strengthen the brethren. Gratifying to know they were considerably revived. Preached again at Tuckahoe. One lady made the good confession and was buried with Christ in baptism the same evening in the presence of a large assembly.
On May 4, I visited Mt. Pleasant and preached three discourses. May 10-12, 1872, visited Goose Creek, Craven County [later Pamlico] where we succeeded in organizing a new “Cooperation Meeting.” The new Union Meeting obtained the services of Bro. Jesse W. P. Holton to evangelize. By repeated solicitation I promised to labor twenty days in the new District by August 1, 1872.
Brethren our cause is progressive. May your efforts for spreading the gospel be crowned with success. Yours in Christian love. J. L. WINFIELD. evangelist.TRAVEL OF J. L. WINFIELD, No. 2
In the Watch Tower which he edited, issue of Jan. 15, 1883, J. L. Winfield narrated his visit to the churches of Riverside, in Craven; Salem, in Pitt; and Kinston, in Lenoir. With respect to his warm approval of Walsh's projected book, The Carolina Christian Pulpit, it is much to be regretted that this beautiful conception of Walsh was merely an evanescent dream. Since he had previously published his own volume of sermons and made a go of it, it would seem highly probable that twelve preachers might do the same for a similar work much improved in one handsome volume. The twelve preachers named in the published prospectus nearly all currently preached in the Hookerton Union.
However, to cover the cost, Walsh asked $80 from each preacher. For the local ministry who had mostly kept but a step ahead of starvation in the long-lasting ruin of the post-war economy, $80 per fellow in obligation-free money for a cultural object was checked by them as a mirage. So the grand idea was boycotted by poverty. The vision faded.
Following is a brief of Winfield's account.
We left our editorial sanctum in Washington, N. C., to meet an appointment at Riverside church on the 4th Lord's Day, (Dec. 24, 1882). We reached Sister Nanna Murphrey's late Saturday and sojourned with her excellent family. The congregation on Lord's Day was small; very small, compared to the number that formerly attended. But the small number were orderly, attentive and devout, and showed marks of faithfulness and loyalty to the truth. The church has been depleted by deaths, removals and a small degree of apostacy. The seat formerly occupied on the left of the pulpit by Bro. J. L. Murphrey, one of the elders, is vacant, having been called to his eternal home since my last visit to Riverside. We missed this noble man, and could not refrain from dropping a silent tear when we remembered the worthy place he filled and the warm Christian friendship that existed between us for such a long period.
The two years we labored at Riverside were indeed pleasant and harmonious. The church was united and zealous and gave us full assurance of their confidence. Bro. Gideon Allen, in 1883, will preach here, and we hope he will, both by public and private teaching, regain the lost, and add many to the flock. If those who have neglected the stated worship of the church, receive instruction at home from the minister, they will be constrained to be more punctual in their attendance and will thereby be more useful branches in the vine. It is unministerial to have select members in the congregation who receive all the private edification. A noble heart and prayerful life can be found among a large number who never entertain the minister, and oh, how strong would they be, if he would only make occasional visits, and reason with them out of the scriptures?
We sojourned with Bro. W. C. Butler and his excellent family at Salem on Sunday night, where we were entertained with as much pomp and splendor as could be desired. Christmas morning found us here; and after the usual distribution of the rich load brought by Santa Claus, we started for Kinston, where we arrived in time to take dinner with Sister J. R. Phillips. The table was bountifully loaded with the good things of life and for our hungry self there was a perfect agreement between eater and eatables. Kinston is looming up educationally and ministerially. Two of the finest schools in the State, The Collegiate Institute, and College are located here. They are liberally patronized.
We learned that Professor Joseph Kinsey opened here a graded school New Year's Day, 1883, with a respectable number.
Three representative ministers of the Christian Church are located here, Elders, Walsh, Orvis, and H. D. Harper. Bro. Orvis preaches for the local church; several have been added and the congregation has steadliy increased, until the attendance is the largest in town. Dr. Walsh is gathering material for the forthcoming “Carolina Christian Pulpit.” The Dr. is laying his foundation to get out a work that will be in every Christian family in the State. Twelve sermons from twelve representative Carolina ministers will be in the book; also a fine portrait of each, with a biographical sketch of the contributor. What a memento to have in every library! Dr. H. D. Harper has recently removed to Kinston and opened a dental office at his residence. We stepped in and found that he had his patients’ chair adjusted to all classes. If the patient is of an excitable or nervous disposition the chair is so adjusted that in one second it is lowered and the patient is as comfortable as if he was on the best bed. To facilitate his work he has an engine of the very best quality and the patient can go through the operation of cleansing or plugging with the greatest ease and comfort.
It was our intention to attend the Wheat Swamp Union, but the inclemency of the weather prevented us. Our visit was exceedingly pleasant, and we shall not soon forget the many happy reminiscenses connected with our trip.TRAVEL OF A. C. HART
At the Corinth Union in February 1872, A. C. Hart, of Hookerton, was employed by the Second District to visit the newly organized churches of Colored Disciples of Christ. It was conducted as an advisory, helpful mission. In his report dated May 14, 1872, presented at the succeeding Union at Fellows Chapel, he said:
I have discharged the duty entrusted to me. On April 14, I preached at Moseley Creek. The congregation was small. On the same day I went to Stoney Creek Church. Bro. Joseph H. Foy preached to a large audience, after which he and I and elder Samuel Rountree ordained three Colored brethren to the ministry, also the elders and deacons of both of the above named churches. On May 5, I preached at Southwest on the south side of Neuse River; congregation large and attentive. Here we set apart another brother to the ministry and ordained elders and deacons of two congregations. May 12, I went to Moseley Creek; preached to an attentive audience. Those brethren manifest a great zeal for Christ, and are very anxious to know the gospel truth. I have no doubt that great good will be the result of our labors.NOTICE.
Price per copy of this Booklet is $1.00.
Order from C. C. Ware, Box 1164, Wilson, N. C.
REPRESENTED IN CONVENTION.
"Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."
Beloved Brethren:--In consequence of the anti-christian course, most rigorously pursued towards us, by those with whom we have, heretofore, been associated, we met in convention, according to previous arrangement, at Little Sister Meeting-House, Lenoir County, North-Carolina, on Friday before 5th Lord’s day in March, 1834. After some explanatory remarks, relative to the necessity and object of the meeting, by Elder William Clark, Elder Abram Congleton was called on to preside, and Bro. Benjamin F. Eborn to register the proceedings of the Convention.
The following Churches were represented, viz:
|CHURCHES.||Where Situated.||Delegation Present.|
|Old Ford,||Beaufort County.||John Leggitt.|
|Tranter's Creek,||ditto.||Edwin Gorham.|
|Smythwick's Creek,||Martin.||Letter by J. Leggitt.|
|Grindale Creek,||Pitt.||Benjamin F. Ebron.William Clark.Charles J. Rountree,|
|Rountree's,||ditto.||Willie Nobles,Isaac Baldree.A. Congleton,Walter Dunn,|
|Little Sister,||Lenoir.||Orlando Canfield,Arthur Tull,James S. Desmond,J. P. Dunn.|
After mature deliberation, the above named brethren agreed to unite, taking for their bond of union, the word of God, recorded in the Old and New Testaments: in which is revealed, the only legitimate foundation for the faith and obedience of the disciples of Jesus Christ. They also concurred in rejecting every thing written since the canonical books of the New Testament, as of any authority in the kingdom of God, (which our Saviour informs us is not of this world-John xviii. 36): of which kingdom our Immanuel is the rightful Sovereign, and for the proper government of which, the New Testament contains
the only wholesome laws. By those, alone, they are willing to be governed in all things pertaining to their holy religion.
Done in Convention, Friday before 5th Lord’s day in March, 1834.
BENJAMIN F. EBORN,Clk.
Resolved,That Bro. J. P. Dunn be requested to prepare these Minutes for the press, have 500 copies printed and distributed among the churches composing the Convention and elsewhere.
B. F. EBORN,Clk.
Dear Brethren in Christ,
Feeling the responsibility necessarily connected with teaching the holy religion of our Redeemer. And knowing, at the same time, the calumny and abuse which have been aimed at our religious character, by denouncing us as hereticks, Campbellites, &c., we would beg leave to disabuse your minds, and those of the publick likewise, of the influence of all such unfounded and unhallowed charges, proceeding from the basest motives. Together with a few other brethren, we have expressed, in the minutes hereunto appended, our determination to be governed in the future, in matters of religion, solely by God’s holy and precious word. We are aware that the great and beneficent purposes for which the scriptures of divine truth were given to us by our Heavenly Father, have been in a great degree perverted, by making use of them to prove the religious dogmas of human invention, instead of using them as “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path,” to guide us safely to the mansions of that “rest which remains for the people of God.” Under the firmest conviction of the truth of this, we have resolved to give ourselves to the study of the holy scriptures, to prayer, to the ministry of the word, &c. Whatever, therefore, others may think themselves justified in saying, by way of slander and abuse, for the purpose of weaning your christian affections from us, and thereby destroying our usefulness among you, it shall be our highest aim to make known nothing among you save “Christ and him crucified.” It is true, there are but a few of us thus united upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; yet it is equally true, that this our high privilege, blessed as we are with the protection of our happy government from the bloody vengeance of religious tyrants, (though not from the calumnious tongue of religious bigots,) and likewise with the holy scriptures, which, Paul tells Timothy, “are able to make wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” 2d. Tim. iii. 15th. And, continues the great Apostle of the Gentiles, “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 unto all good works.” Firmly believing these plain and forcible declarations of the Apostle, we therefore recommend to the consideration of our dear brethren, the earnest, attentive, and
prayerful perusal and study of the holy scriptures, and “laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and evil speaking, as new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby”-1st. Pet. 2. And when you meet together, precious brethren, instead of turning aside from the spiritual worship of God, to slander, misrepresent, bite and devour all who may honestly differ in opinion with you, (as the manner of some is, who claim to themselves the privilege of being Lords over God’s heritage,)-endeavour to edify one another, by exercising yourselves unto godliness, in prayer, hymns, spiritual songs, exhortations &c.; thus adorning the high profession which you have made with a well ordered life, and a godly conversation.” Let the blissful assurance of this console and cheer us, while exposed to the bitter shafts of our vile calumniators; for “as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, (says Paul, 2d Tim. Iii. 8th.) so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” But they shall proceed no further, (continues Paul,) “for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” Let us take Paul then, brethren, for our teacher and guide in doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering , charity, patience, persecution, afflictions:” out of them all the Lord delivered him; and pursuing the same course, we have reason to believe that He will finally deliver us. “Yea,” continues the Apostle, “and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Seeing then that these things are plainly laid down on the sacred pages of the book of books, let us profit by Peter’s instructions, and, “giving all diligence, add to our faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in us and abound, they make us that we shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather brethren, let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure; for (says Peter) if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly, into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” What sweet consolation it affords the humble disciples of our Redeemer, “to be established in the present truth.” 2d Pet. 1st c.
Taking all these things into consideration, and casting our eyes over 3d chapter of Peter’s second Epistle, where he was reviewing the second coming of our Lord, let us apply the forcible language of the apostle to ourselves; “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth rightcousness.” (Not such righteousness, as our fierce persecuters have been endeavouring to force on us, consisting of human opinions, envy, and hatred, in opposition to the faith and obedience of the gospel.) “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that we look for such things, let us be diligent, that we may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless:” “Now we beseech you brethren, arm yourselves with the whole armour of God, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” Take the sword of the spirit which (Paul says) is the word of God, by which you will be able to put to flight the enemies of the cross of Christ. “Warn the unruly, comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, be patient towards all men. See that none render evil for evil to any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the spirit. Prove all things, hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and we pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul to Thess. 1st E. v. ch. Let us then all receive his gracious instructions. “Brethren, pray for us.”
In conclusion, dear brethren, we utterly deny being the disciples or followers of any human being on earth, in matter pertaining to the Christian religion; but on the contrary, take Christ and his holy apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, for our holy instructers and teachers under the direction of the Holy Spirit; entirely discarding every thing, as making any part of it, which we cannot find expressly written on the face of the sacred pages. We humbly recommend the same course to our beloved brethren, and all others into whose hands these few lines may happen to fall; earnestly praying that God may add a divine blessing for the Redeemer’s sake.-Amen.
WILLIAM CLARK,ABRAM CONGLETON,J. P. DUNN.
NORTH CAROLINA DISCIPLES OF CHRIST
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