Northampton ParishesHENRY WILKINS LEWIS
Copyright, 1951, by Henry Wilkins Lewis Printed in the United States of AmericaNorthampton ParishesHENRY WILKINS LEWISJACKSON, NORTH CAROLINA1951
The story of the Anglican Church in Northampton County falls into four segments: the colonial period, the years from the Revolution through the second decade of the Nineteenth Century, the history of the Church of the Saviour, and the history of St. Luke's Church. A part of this study has been assigned to each of these segments except the second. The reason for this exception will become obvious.
The record of the Church before 1776 lies in the ponderous Colonial Records of North Carolina and in the single remaining volume of the minutes of the vestry of St. George's Parish. The history of the Church of the Saviour had been compiled at three different times before this effort was started, once by Frederick Fitzgerald, once by Gilbert Higgs, and once by Mrs. Edmund Wilkins Lewis. When the parish register of St. Luke's Church was destroyed in a fire at Belmont plantation in the mid 1920's, Miss Edmonia Cabell Wilkins, realizing the loss, began gathering data on the history of that church, and in time she prepared valuable notes and memoranda on the subject. Diocesan records and these earlier parish histories furnished rich sources of information for the present study.
The advent of 1951 lent impetus to a work pursued fitfully for fifteen years. In this centennial year of the Church of the Saviour it seems appropriate to set before its members and the members of its sister parish, St. Luke's, the story of the life of these two churches, as well as the less familiar story of the efforts of the Church of England in Northampton before the American Revolution.ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Through the years in which I have been gathering the information presented in these pages a surprising number of people have given me assistance; occasionally they were not even aware of the leads I received from our conversations. Where that assistance came in the form of documents I have indicated the source in the text, but footnote references are inadequate in some cases. I must mention especially the patient counsel and the generous use of his own library given me by Dr. Lawrence F. London of Chapel Hill, the informative letters from Captain Philip Lightbourn of Bermuda, the Rev. Dr. Arthur Adams of Trinity College, Hartford, and the Rev. Charles F. Schilling of Augusta, Georgia, and the careful searching of the files of the Patron and Gleaner done by my sister, Miss Jane Crichton Lewis.
The photographs of the earlier Church of the Saviour reproduced here now hang in the vestryroom of the Jackson Church. Some years ago Mrs. T. W. M. Long, a member of the Burgwyn family, found these pictures and gave them to the parish.
My father and mother have for years listened to my ideas about this study and their suggestions have been invaluable. Both of them read the final manuscript. To Miss Mary L. Williams of Warrenton I am indebted for several hours of tiresome proofreading.
I am grateful to my brother, Philip Alston Lewis, for suggesting a title for this study.CONTENTS
The Church of England ..... 3
The Church of the Saviour ..... 43
St. Luke's Church ..... 97
A List of Clergymen Who Have Served in Northampton ..... 113
A List of the Parishoners of the Church of the Saviour in 1851 Taken from the Parish Register ..... 115
Vestrymen of the Church of the Saviour ..... 116
The Churchyard in Jackson ..... 118
Any record of the Anglican Communion in North Carolina must always begin with a reference to the attempts of Sir Walter Raleigh to colonize the area, beginning at Roanoke Island as early as 1587. But for the purposes of this account that story need not be retold. From the time of the disappearance of the colony on Roanoke Island until 1650, except for the charter of 1629 granting the colony to Robert Heath, there is little reliable record of happenings in the Carolina country. But in 1650 one Roger Green, a clergyman of Nansemond in Virginia, began to take an interest in exploring the area south of the Chowan River.1 In 1653 he received the promise of a grant of 10,000 acres for the first 100 persons who should settle “on Moratuck [Roanoke] River and on the land lying upon the south side of the Chowan River and the branches thereof” plus 1,000 acres for himself. This promise was made by the colony of Virginia.2 Whether anything came of the project is still a matter of conjecture. Ten years later, however, North Carolina history began to take on more positive characteristics. By 1663 it is clear that there were some settlements in the Albemarle area.
On March 24, 1663, King Charles II granted to the Lords Proprietors their first charter to the country of Carolina, to be held by them in many respects as their private lands.3 When it was discovered that the existing settlements in the Albemarle area had been excluded from the territory granted the Lords Proprietors, the grant was redrafted to include those settlements in the second charter of June 30, 1665.4 As soon as the first charter was granted in 1663, the County of Albemarle was organized, and in 1670 this county was subdivided into four precincts called Chowan, Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Currituck.5
While the story of the quarrels and bickerings between the settlers and their government in those early years has no place here, it is significant that the question of religious establishment and preference, which had been provided for in the charters, was almost consistently an element in the disputes.
From 1672 until 1730 the Quakers played an influential role in Carolina.6 They held their first meeting in 1680; the next year they established the Eastern Quarterly Meeting; and in 1698 they inaugurated the North Carolina Yearly Meeting. By 1683 the colonial governor himself, John Archdale, was a Quaker.
With the opening of the new century the Anglican missionaries sent out by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel began to make some progress in the colony, and the political power of the Quakers began to decline. The Cary Rebellion of 1711 practically ended them as a potent force in the colony. In1 Cheshire, Sketches of Church History (1892), p. 44. This book is cited hereafter as Cheshire.2 Henning, Statutes, I, p. 381.3 Connor, North Carolina, Rebuilding an Ancient Commonwealth (1929), Vol. I, p. 77. This book is cited hereafter as Connor.4Ibid, p. 79.5Ibid, pp. 85, 93.6Ibid, pp. 116, 174.
1699 North Carolina received a zealous churchman for its governor, Henderson Walker.7 Under his leadership, despite considerable opposition, the first Vestry Act was passed in 1701. When sent to England for the required approval, this act was vetoed by the Lords Proprietors for the interesting reason that it failed to make adequate provision for support of the clergy.
In 1704, when the total population of the colony was under 10,000 people, the Rev. John Blair, an Anglican missionary in North Carolina, reported to London that the religious denominations in the colony could be classified in four groups:
(1) Quakers who “stand truly to one another in whatsoever may be to their interest.”
(2) “A great many who have no religion, but would be Quakers, if by that they were not obliged to lead a more moral life than they are willing to comply to.”
(3) A class “something like Presbyterians” whose leaders “preach and baptize through the country, without any manner of orders from any sect or pretended Church.”
(4) Churchmen “who are really zealous for the interest of the Church [but who] are the fewest in number.”8
In all probability the people described by Blair as “something like Presbyterians” were really the early Baptists. These men were in many respects the most aggressive of the colonial missionaries. It is known that they were in Carolina as early as 1695 although their first congregation, Shiloh in Camden County, was not organized until 1727.9
In 1711 the Carolina colonists met their first Indian trouble of any consequence—the Tuscarora War. It lasted more than a year, and, while it served to drive the Indians out of the area, it left the colony in a weakened condition. On top of this came the calamitous winter of 1713-1714 which left want and distress throughout Carolina.10 The unifying forces of war, weather, and want, however, seemed to calm some of the colonists’ internal strife. When Colonel Thomas Pollok, the acting governor, released authority to Charles Eden in May, 1714, the colony was enjoying for the first time a decade of “peace and quietness.”11
Eden served as governor until his death on March 26, 1722.12 The significant religious legislation of his term was the passage by the Assembly in 1715 of another Vestry Act, the one that remained in force until 1741. It set up nine parishes, appointed vestrymen for each parish, and made provision for the purchase of glebes and general organization. Professor Connor felt that having carried their point by enacting this statute, the churchmen in the colony “forthwith lost interest7Ibid, p. 170.8Ibid, p. 119.9Ibid, p. 175.10Ibid, pp. 126-127.11Ibid, p. 129.12Ibid, p. 130.
in the Church and allowed it to languish and finally to die of indifference and neglect.”13
While it is difficult to dispute this analysis, before consigning the efforts of the Church of England to complete dissolution, however, there is a chapter in its life that opened in 1728 worth investigating.II
Two hundred and twenty-three years ago, in 1728, the most important political issue in the Albemarle country was the location of the line dividing the colony of North Carolina from the colony of Virginia. The Virginia House of Burgesses was alarmed because they feared their tobacco embargo was in danger, and North Carolina was alarmed because Virginia was granting tracts of land in territory Carolina believed was rightfully hers. There were grounds for both claims in the two charters granted the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. The charter of 1663 set Carolina's northern boundary at a line running through the center of Albemarle Sound, leaving a narrow strip in lower Bertie the only land north of the Roanoke in the colony of North Carolina. The charter of 1665, however, set this line some thirty miles north of the 1663 line, roughly along the present dividing line. All of what is today Northampton County was in the disputed territory.
By the spring of 1728, after a few abortive attempts, the two colonies appointed commissioners to survey the dividing line. The Virginia commission was under the direction of William Byrd of Westover, and it is from his detailed records of the group's day by day activities that the first account of the Northampton area can be obtained.14
When the Virginia surveying party was organized a chaplain was appointed to accompany them “because a good Number of Men were to go upon this Expedition” and also in order that “the People on the Frontiers of North-Carolina, who have no Minister near them, might have an Opportunity to get themselves and their Children baptized.”15 While Byrd may have put the religious destitution of North Carolina a little strong, it seems likely that he was accurate as far as the Northampton area was concerned.
When St. Paul's Parish, Chowan Precinct, was organized in 1701, the inhabitants of the “Southwest Shore” (later Bertie) were authorized to build themselves a chapel of ease once St. Paul's Church could be erected. By 1712 there still seems to have been no church in the region, but the Vestry Act of 1715 created in this Bertie area a parish called Southwest and named its vestrymen.16 In 172113Ibid, p. 132.14 Boyd, William Byrd's Histories of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina, Raleigh, The North Carolina Historical Commission, 1929. This book is cited hereafter as Boyd.15Ibid, Introduction, p. 14.16 Col. Thomas Pollok, Col. William Meade, William Duckenfield, Esq., Maj. Robert West, Capt. John Bird, Mr. John Hardy, John Worley, Esq., Mr. John Holbrook, Mr. Robert Lanier, Mr. Lend Sarson, Mr. Lewis Williams, and Mr. Lewis Bryant.
William Duckenfield gave this parish fifty-two acres of land for a church and glebe site. The next year, 1722, Bertie was made a county and the old Southwest Parish became Society Parish, Bertie. Nevertheless the religious condition of the people did not improve. In 1726 Governor Richard Everard wrote the Bishop of London,
I beg your Lordship favor us with a missionary for Bertie, now a most heathenish part of America and have no sect among us except Quakers, who daily increase. We want a sober and pious man.
The next year (1727) the part of Bertie north and west of Sandy Run was cut off from Society Parish and named Northwest Parish.17 Thus, while there was a legal framework for church work in the Bertie-Northampton region when William Byrd and the other surveyors came through, there was no minister and seemingly no church.
The clergyman selected to accompany the Virginia surveying party was the minister at Byrd's own parish church at Westover, the Rev. Peter Fontaine (1691-1757), then thirty-seven years of age.18
Moving inland from Currituck, the surveyors reached the banks of the Meherrin River on April 3, 1728.19 They crossed the stream and on April 4 stopped at the house of one Charles or Carolus Anderson “in order to christen one of his children.”20 This baptism is the first recorded service of any kind in the area of what is now Northampton County.
The Meherrin proved to be a nuisance to the surveyors. While Byrd paused with the Rev. Mr. Fontaine for the Anderson child's baptism the surveyors carried the line two miles and thirty-nine chains farther “in which small distance Meherrin River was so serpentine, that they crost it 3 times.” That night, April 4, 1728, the party moved south of the river about a mile to the house of William Kinchen, a former resident and vestryman in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Mr. Kinchen seems to have displayed qualities that pleased Byrd, for his remarks concerning Kinchen and his family are flattering in comparison with his usually acid descriptions of the people he called “borderers.”
. . . We went on to Mr. Kinchen's, a Man of Figure and Authority in N. Carolina, who lives about a Mile to the Southward of the place where the Surveyors left off. By the Benefit of a little pains, and good Management, the worthy Magistrate lives in much Affluence. Amongst other Instances of his Industry, he had planted a good Orchard, which is not common in that Indolent climate. . . .17 The foregoing information is taken from a manuscript history of the colonial church in Bertie County prepared c. 1950 by Mr. John E. Tyler, Historiographer of the Diocese of East Carolina, pp. 1-5. This manuscript is cited hereafter as Tyler.18Boyd, footnotes on pp. 14, 17. The Rev. Mr. Fontaine was one of the six children of James Fontaine, a Huguenot refugee who came to Virginia in the second decade of the Eighteenth Century. He was educated at Dublin, and had already served several Virginia parishes before taking the church at Westover. In his secret history Byrd calls Fontaine “the Rev. Dr. Humdrum,” a name which may or may not have been a serious characterization.19Ibid, pp. 106-109.20Ibid, pp. 108-111.
And writing in the “secret history” of the squire and his lady, Byrd reported that they
. . . did their utmost to entertain us & our People in the best manner. We pitch't our Tent in the Orchard, where the blossoms of the Apple Trees mended the Air very Much.21
Two days later, provisions having run low and fearing snakes and bad air, the commissioners ended what they called their “Spring Campaign” and agreed to meet again at Mr. Kinchen's plantation on September 10 to continue the line.22
Actually the line commissioners did not return to Mr. Kinchen's until Thursday, September 19, and did not start running the line again until the following Saturday.23 That day the surveyors could carry the line “no farther than 3 Miles and 176 Poles, by reason the Low-Ground was one entire Thicket. In that distance they crost Meherrin River the 4th time.” The rest of the party moved twelve miles west to John Hill's plantation to wait for the surveyors to catch up with them.24
The next day, September 22, “being Sunday,” Byrd wrote, “we had an Opportunity of resting from our Labours. The expectation of such a Novelty as a Sermon in these Parts brought together a Numerous Congregation.” More flippantly, Byrd added in the “secret history” that
. . . we had a large Congregation, & tho’ there were many Females, we saw but one Beauty bright enough to disturb our devotions. . . . When the Sermon was over our Chaplain did his part towards making Eleven of them Christians. . . .25
This service of Morning Prayer with a sermon, followed by eleven baptisms, was Mr. Fontaine's second religious service in the Northampton area.
On Monday, September 23, the surveyors crossed the Meherrin the fifth and last time. On Wednesday night the party pitched their camp on Beaver Dam Creek, one of the branches of Fountain's Creek. Westward from the last Meherrin crossing they found the country “very proper for raising Cattle and Hogs, we observ'd the Inhabitants lived in great plenty without killing themselves with Labour.”26 The camp on Beaver Dam was near the dividing line between the Virginia counties of Brunswick and Isle of Wight. In that area they found the soil rich, and Byrd wrote “as a Proof the Land mended hereabouts, we found the Plantations began to grow thicker by much than we had found them lower down.”2721Ibid.22Ibid, pp. 112-113.23Ibid, pp. 144, 145, 147.24 “In our way we crosst Fountain's Creek, which runs into Meherin River, so call'd from the disaster of an unfortunate Indian Trader who had formerly been drowned in it, and, like Icarus, left his name to that fatal stream.”25Ibid, pp. 148-151.26Ibid, pp. 150-153.27Ibid, pp. 152, 153.
The next day, Thursday, September 26, the surveyors moved about ten miles westward, and at about four o'clock in the afternoon the party set up its camp on “Caban Branch, which also discharges itself into Fountain Creek.”
We halted by the way to Christen two Children at a Spring, where their Mothers waylaid us for that good Purpose.28
On the 27th the party moved four miles from their camp to Pea Hill Creek, crossed it, and then moved on three more miles to Lizzard Creek. “Between these two Creeks a poor Man waited for us with five Children to be baptiz'd, and we halted till the Ceremony was ended” and then moved on to Pidgeon-Roost Creek where they stopped for the night. The next day, September 28, the surveyors crossed the Roanoke.29 Altogether, in the surveying party's trek from the Meherrin to the Roanoke, the Rev. Mr. Fontaine had baptized nineteen children in the Northampton area. To parents raised in the faith of the Church this must have been a great comfort. They still had no minister among them, but the seeds of the Church were there.III
Some four years after the Rev. Mr. Fontaine's missionary efforts (1732), according to Bishop Cheshire's researches, it appears that a Rev. Mr. Jones from Virginia was conducting services in the Bertie (Northampton) area once a month.30 And about this time, when the colony was being transferred from proprietary to royal control with George Burrington as governor, the first real sign of life for the Church in Bertie appeared. Dr. John Boyd, a physician in Bertie, applied to the Bishop of London for ordination.
Governor Burrington's letter to the bishop recommending Boyd, March 15, 1731/2, illustrates the kind of backing a colonial resident needed before he could obtain ordination. After reporting that there were only two Anglican ministers in the colony, one Presbyterian and four Quaker meeting houses, the governor continued:
Mr. Jno. Boyd, (the Gentleman who delivers this letter), was bred at the university of Glasgow; has practised Physic in the Colony of Virginia 7 years, is now desirous to take orders, several Gentlemen of my acquaintance in this Country give him the Charackt of a worthy, conscientious man, well qualified for the Ministry, they are desirous of having him for their Pastor, and earnestly requested me to recommend Mr. Boyd to my Lord Bishop for orders, a certificate and an allowance from the Society, the Better to support him, if your Lordship thinks him deserving; as I believe Mr. Boyd's designs are purely to do good in takeing the Ministry upon him and28Ibid, pp. 152-155.29Ibid, pp. 156-159.30Cheshire, p. 66.
not out of any view of gain. I humbly recommend him to your Lordship for Orders and a certificate. . . .31
Boyd's own petition is also interesting.
. . . That your petitioner hath lived for some time in North Carolina & is well acquainted with the Country & there is no minister residing of the Church of England in any part of that Government, for want of which many of the people are drawn away by Presbyterian anabaptists or other Dissenting Teachers, many of their children unbaptized & the administration of the Sacrament of the Lords Supper wholly neglected.32
Dr. Boyd's petition was received favorably, and he was ordained in London, the first candidate for holy orders from the Colony of North Carolina. Upon returning to the colony to begin his missionary work, he was asked to preach before the General Assembly on July 13, 1733, at Edenton.33 After reporting to Governor Burrington and delivering to him his letter from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, Boyd moved into the Northwest Parish of Bertie (the area that later became Northampton) and began work. In a letter headed “North West Parish, No. Carolina” and dated April 12, 1735, Boyd gave an account of his activities.
From thence [Edenton] I went up into the Country & agreed with the Vestry of North West parish in Albemarle County for 10 months reserving 2 months for visiting the other parts of the Country they were to pay me £ 400 of their currency, (which at 10 for 1 is not at par with sterling) & I have not yet received 50. The parish I live in is of a vast extent being upwards of 100 miles in length & 50 in breadth. I preached in 7 different places which obliges me to ride every month 260 miles. I have baptized about a thousand infants and 30 adults. The first time I administered the blessed sacrament of the Supper I had only four communicants the last time 20.
We have as yet no church or Chapel in this parish but since my coming the parishoners have raised by private subscriptions enough to build four. We are very happy in having no different sects or opinions in this part of the Country but I have great reason to complain of a Laodecean34 luke warmness immorality but lower down in the Country there are a great many Quakers and Anabaptists. In my last journey I had a great many of them as my Auditors & I baptized 5 adults that formerly professed Quakerism & I believe were there a minister settled among them they would mostly come31 3 Colonial Records of North Carolina, p. 339. This source is cited hereafter as Colonial Records.32 3 Colonial Records 394.33 3 Colonial Records 556, 584, 591.34 “I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Rebuke to the church of Laodicea) Revelation, III, 15 and 16.
over to the Church & a better way of thinking. . . . I never could get any of the library that was left here by Dr. Newnam.35
From this letter it would seem that the colonists were ready to support the Church and its ministrations and that Boyd had succeeded in getting his work organized. There is no hint in the letter that all was not well with Boyd himself. But as was the case with so many of the early clergymen, the records have a tendency to paint two pictures of Boyd and his work.
Two years after assuming office, Governor Gabriel Johnston reported in 1736 that divine worship was almost wholly neglected in the colony. When the Bishop of London's commissary, the Rev. Alexander Garden, inspected the Carolinas the following year (1737) he seems to have gained from Governor Johnston an unfavorable impression of Boyd, for the commissary wrote his bishop, quoting Johnston:
. . . this very missionary [Boyd] is one of the vilest and most scandalous persons in the government. I gave you some hints of his Idleness and inclination to drunkenness . . . but since that time I have heard such accounts of his behaviour as are really shocking, particularly that on a Sunday, this spring, at noon day he was seen by many persons lying dead drunk (& fast asleep) on the great road to Virginia, with his horses bridle tied to his leg this I have been assured of by several persons of the best credit. As he is under your inspection I hope you will take some notice of such horrid practices.36
The unfortunate clergyman may have been guilty of all that had been told Governor Johnston, but the times were such that it is also possible that he was the victim of uncharitable neighbors. Boyd died shortly after this episode while still a missionary of the S. P. G. The significant event of his ministry was the raising of money enough for the erection of four chapels in Northwest Parish by private subscription. This is the first indication of any effort to build Anglican churches in the area.
Boyd's successor in Northwest Parish was the Rev. John Holms, but almost nothing is known of his career.37
The colonial Assembly of 1741 passed another Vestry Act.38 It was considered much better than the one previously in force, and another passed in 1743 would have been better still had it not been disallowed because it permitted the parish vestries to hire their own clergymen. This was known as the right of presentation, and it deserves some explanation. In the established or state Church the right to present a minister with a parish (i.e. put a minister in charge of a parish) normally adhered to the colonial governor. Had it been allowed, the Vestry Act of 1743 would have permitted each parish vestry to select its own minister, a right35 4 Colonial Records 7.36 4 Colonial Records 263, 264. The Rev. Mr. Garden also quoted Johnston as saying that he had heard intimations to the same effect two years earlier while he himself was in “Berty.”37Tyler, p. 6.38Connor, p. 173.
that might possibly have bettered the general feeling toward the Church itself. It should be noted that subsequent Vestry Acts of 1758, 1760, 1761, and 1762 were similarly disallowed on the ground that placing the right of presentation in the hands of the vestries was “incompatible with the rights of the Crown and ecclesiastical jurisdiction.”39IV
Until the year 1741 the history of Northampton County is one with the history of the Northwest Parish of Bertie, but in 1741 Northampton became a county separate and apart from Bertie. The exact wording of the act of the colonial Assembly describes the boundaries of the new county as follows:
That part of Bertie County which lieth North and West of Sandy Run, and in a direct Line from the Head of the said Run, to the Head of the Beaver Dam Swamp, and down the said Swampt and Meherrin Creek and River. . . .40
One familiar with local geography will immediately recognize this territory as roughly identical with the Northwest Parish of Bertie and will also know that Northampton County, as laid out, included within its borders a fair-sized part of what is today Hertford County, the part called Maney's Neck. This, of course, is exactly correct.
For about seventeen years after Northampton County was established its one parish continued to bear the name of Northwest. The records during this period shed little light on religious activity among the people in the new county. In reading wills written in this seventeen-year period one will occasionally find testators identifying themselves as being “of Northwest Parish,” but that is the only hint of ecclesiastical organization in the records. Of course it is not unlikely that an occasional minister from one of the surrounding counties visited the county, and if any of the churches promised under Boyd had been erected it is possible that they had lay services from time to time.
One of these visiting ministers deserves mention. The Rev. Clement Hall of St. Paul's, Edenton, did much to keep the Church alive in the backcountry parishes with no priests. Bishop Cheshire wrote of him this way:
From the old settlements of Perquimans and Pasquotank to the distant frontiers of Granville, this eager messenger made his annual or semiannual tours, baptizing infants and adults, catechising the children, churching the women, and administering the Holy Communion to the rude folk, who learned to love and trust this holy man. . . . Upon one of these tours during the pleasant weather of September and October, 1753, he reports that in 35 days he traveled39Ibid.40State Records of North Carolina, Vol. XXIII, p. 205, and quoted in Corbitt, The Formation of the North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943, (1950) p. 163.
536 miles, officiated in 23 congregations, baptized 467 white and 21 black children and 2 white women.41
It is well to keep in mind that all religious activity, or what there was of it, was not confined to the work of Anglicans. The early growth of the Quakers has been mentioned already, but by 1750 they had ceased to spread to any marked degree. As early as 1739 George Whitfield visited North Carolina, but the idea of Methodism as a separate sect was still unborn at that time.42 Alexander Garden mentioned the presence of a sect “something like Presbyterians” in North Carolina as early as 1704, and it has been assumed that he was referring to some of the early Baptists. Thus, while the Anglican Church was predominant among the gentry of the coastal plain,43 it certainly was not the only religious body with an interest in the Carolina people. Beginning in 1742 the New Light Baptists became increasingly active, and the year 1755 saw the arrival in the colony of an important religious individualist whose teaching became increasingly important. Shubal Stearns came from New England with a band of followers who called themselves Separatist Baptists. Pascal's history of the Baptists quotes Morgan Edwards as saying that when Stearns arrived “the neighborhood was alarmed & the Spirit of God listed to blow as a mighty rushing wind.”44 Preaching the necessity to “feel conviction and conversion,” the Separatist Baptists within three years’ time had built three churches and claimed a membership of 900 persons. Even before the arrival of Stearns and his group, however, the Baptists in Bertie had organized a congregation in 1750.45 The colony, nevertheless, remained officially Anglican. The colonial laws were designed to assist the clergy of the established Church as much as possible. For example, they alone were permitted to perform marriage ceremonies. The Act of 1741, however, permitted justices of the peace to marry persons in parishes in which no minister was residing. If there were a minister in the parish a justice of the peace could marry a couple only after receiving the minister's permission, and even then the fee went to the minister.46V
In 1758 Northampton County was divided into two parishes. One, comprising all of the area north of Potecasi Creek and east of a line from Gumberry to where Jack's Swamp crosses the Virginia line, continued to bear the name of Northwest. The remaining territory in the county became a new parish by the41Cheshire, p. 70.42Connor, p. 177.43 Johnson, G. G. Antebellum North Carolina, (1937), p. 18. This book is cited hereafter as Johnson.44 Pascal, A General History of North Carolina Baptists, p. 271.45 This congregation was called Bertie Chapel; today it is known as Sandy Run Baptist Church.46 By 1766 Presbyterian ministers could perform marriages, and by 1778 all regular ministers of any denomination and all justices of the peace could do so. See Johnson, p. 204.
name of St. George's. At the time of this division the Assembly named the following persons as vestrymen for the two parishes:47
|For Northwest Parish|
|William Murfree||Joseph Sykes||Benjamin Deberry|
|James Washington||Charles Skinner||Robert Warren|
|James Turner||William Battle||James Maney|
|Samuel Thomas||James Smith||John Figures|
|For St. George's Parish|
|William Cathcart||Thomas Barrett||William Pace|
|John Jones||William Winborne||Thomas Winborne|
|William Allen||Green Hill||William Short|
|Harwood Jones||John Dukes|
This two-parish division of Northampton County lasted for only one year. In 1759 the colonial Assembly passed an act setting up a new county called Hertford containing a new parish called St. Barnabas's. Hertford was formed from parts of both Northampton and Bertie, and when the area of Northampton was thus reduced the Assembly combined its two parishes into one under the name of St. George's Parish. Northwest Parish ceased to exist.48
This action closes the foggy years of the colonial Church in Northampton. Just how many of the four chapels started in Boyd's time were left in Northampton when it lost some of its territory to Hertford can only be a matter of conjecture. There is a strong possibility that two or even three of them fell in the Hertford County area—old St. John's between Rich Square and Ahoskie, one called Wiccacon in lower Hertford, and one in Maney's Neck where Buckhorn Baptist Church now stands. Some of Boyd's work must have survived in Northampton, however, for even before St. George's Parish was established another minister had come to reside in the area.
This first rector of St. George's Parish was William Fanning, and he deserves special consideration. Born at Riverhead, Long Island, New York, on October 26, 1728, the son of Captain James and Hannah (Smith) Fanning, William Fanning was ordained priest by the Bishop of Gloucester in England at the age of twenty-six on March 10, 1754. Seventeen days later he set out on his voyage to North Carolina at the direction of the Bishop of London. He did not come as a missionary of the S. P. G. He seems to have come directly to Northampton upon his arrival in the colony. Certainly he was already living there in 1758 and apparently had well-formed intentions of making it his home. The Northampton County land records show that on January 3, 1759, one Joseph Thomas, “Gent.,” of the Parish of St. George conveyed to “the Revd. Doct. William Fanning of the Parish of St. George” three hundred and fifty acres on the north side of Roanoke River47Tyler, pp. 6, 7.48State Records of , XXIII, p. 503; see also Corbitt (footnote 40). pp. 122-123, 163-164.
and on the east side of Mill Creek Swamp. For this land Dr. Fanning paid £ 200.49 It is interesting to note that the witnesses to this deed were Joseph Dancey, Joseph Reynolds, and Edmund Fanning. This Edmund Fanning must have been the minister's brother who later became such a storm center in North Carolina affairs, and who later still became a general in the British Army.50
A year later, March 6, 1760, Dr. Fanning purchased three hundred acres adjoining his first purchase from Blake Baker of Halifax,51 and on June 9, the same year, he bought seventy-five more acres in the same neighborhood from Robert Dukes.52 Thus, while there is no record of Fanning's religious work in the county, it seems plain that this minister was eager to establish himself among his flock. This makes it somewhat surprising to find that around the first of 1761 Dr. Fanning left St. George's to take a parish in the rapidly developing Albemarle region of Virginia. Soon after he left North Carolina (March 4, 1761) the records show that William Fanning “present minister of the parish of Tilletson” in Albemarle County, Virginia, sold his entire holdings of 725 acres in Northampton to William Simmons of Surry County,Virginia, for £ 400.53
While his active connection with St. George's Parish ended at this time, it is interesting to follow Dr. Fanning's subsequent career for the light it throws on his character, if not on that of the colonial clergy in general. How long he continued in Albemarle County has not been determined, but the probabilities are that he did not remain there longer than four or five years, for on October 3, 1765, he again purchased land in Northampton County. This time he paid Chaplin Williams, Jr., £ 20 for thirty-nine acres on the north side of Meherrin River beginning “in the old county line” then west to the line of Chaplin Williams, Senior, and to “the new county line.” This deed was recorded in November, 1766.54 Bishop Meade mentions the tradition that Dr. Fanning became rector of Meherrin Parish in what is now Greensville County, Virginia, and when it is known that in 1772 he married the widow of Littleton Tazewell (Mary, daughter of Joseph Gray of the White House, Southampton County, Virginia) it becomes fairly certain that he arrived in Greensville about the time of his 1765 purchase. It is known definitely that he was living in Greensville during the Revolution,49 Northampton County Deed Book 3, p. 25 (recorded July, 1759). The tract in question had been granted originally to William Pope, April 1, 1723, and by him sold to William Evans who, in turn, sold it to Thomas, Fanning's grantor.50 Edmund Fanning, according to the Dictionary of American Biography, was born April 24, 1739, and died February 28, 1818. He graduated from Yale, where he had won a Berkley scholarship, in 1757. The next sight of him is when he began the study of law in Hillsboro, North Carolina, in 1762. The appearance of his name on the Northampton County deed in 1759 certainly seems to support the conclusion that he first came to North Carolina with his older brother.51 Northampton County Deed Book 3, p. 49 (recorded November, 1760). The description in this deed places the land as adjoining Fanning's earlier purchase, the Mill Gut, the Mill Waiste, Dr. William Cathcart's land, and Roanoke River. Baker had purchased the property from Henry Pope, and it is interesting to observe that Baker specifically reserved a road through the property to reach his mill.52 Northampton County Deed Book 3, p. 50 (recorded November, 1760). Dukes had received a patent for this land from Lord Granville on February 21, 1760.53 Northampton County Deed Book 3, p. 118 (recorded at Halifax Court, September 3, 1761).54 Northampton County Deed Book 3, page 461.
for it was then that he wrote a letter to Governor Thomas Jefferson asking a passport for one John Wickham, a loyalist who was a prisoner of the patriots, to let him get to Portsmouth and then to New York, then in British hands. In reply Jefferson wrote that Wickham must be considered an enemy and prisoner of war, and continued:
They [i.e. the Governor and Council] are at the same time as thoroughly satisfied of the decided principles of Whigism which has distinguished the character of the Rev. Mr. Fanning that they shall think the young gentleman perfectly safe under his care so long as he stays in the State. To him they therefore remit him until a flag daily expected from New York . . . shall be returning to that place, when they shall expect him to take his passage back.55
As a sort of footnote for those with a romantic tendency it should be added that the young Mr. Wickham was actually a cousin of the Fannings and that he later married Fanning's daughter.
On August 25, 1779, the Rev. Dr. Fanning, by then “of Brunswick County, Virginia,” sold his thirty-nine acres on the Meherrin to John Wilkinson of Southampton,56 and not quite three years later, in the early part of 1782, this clergyman died in Brunswick at the house of his wife's sister, Mrs. Edmunds.
Just how far the efforts of the Church progressed under Dr. Fanning would be difficult to say. Two rather astonishing things should be remembered about this first rector of St. George's. First, this missionary sent out by the Bishop of London was somehow able in the course of a few years to obtain £ 300 to invest in Occonneechee Neck river lands—an amazing sum of money for a poor clergyman. Second, despite Fanning's well-known family and political connections with the loyalist cause, he was able to receive from Thomas Jefferson a clear testimonial of that “decided character of Whigism” which he was known to have.VI
When Dr. Fanning left the county in 1761 St. George's found itself without a minister. The vacancy lasted for about one year, although there is some evidence that the chapels in the county were the scene of occasional services during this year by the Rev. James Moir. In the spring of 1762 this clergyman moved his residence to St. George's and became its second rector.57
Bishop Cheshire made a study of Mr. Moir's career in the colony and wrote some rather interesting comments about him. As early as 1741 this clergyman, who had come to from , was serving St. James's in New Hanover County.58 From St. James's Moir moved to St. Philip's, Brunswick County,55 G. MacLaren Brydon, “The Clergy of the Established Church in and the Revolution,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XLI, No. 2 (April, 1933), pp. 123-143.56 Northampton County Deed Book 7, p. 3 (recorded March 11, 1780).57Cheshire, pp. 72, 73.58Cheshire, p. 69.
and, despite his repeated requests for a transfer to a northern parish to get away from fevers,59 remaind there until Easter, 1747, when he removed to Edgecombe County upon the invitation of the inhabitants of that parish.60 For a while Moir traveled and preached extensively in Edgecombe which at that time included all of present Halifax County as well as the present county of Edgecombe. In 1756 while Moir was there (and much to his disgust) the lower part of Edgecombe County was cut off and given the name of St. Mary's Parish, while the upper part of the county (that part which was soon to become Halifax County) was called Edgecombe Parish. Mr. Moir was placed in charge of St. Mary's. In 1760 he was among those appointed to lay out the site of the town of Tarboro, and Bishop Cheshire has suggested that his association with this work might be traced in the names Tarboro's old streets still bear: St. George's, St. Patrick's, St. David's, etc.
Having been in the colony more than twenty years at the time, and in all probability being well on in middle age, Mr. Moir removed from St. Mary's Parish, Edgecombe, to St. George's, Northampton, in the late spring of 1762. In Northampton he found a parish church and three chapels already built. In addition to his work in Northampton, he still gave occasional services to his old parish in Edgecombe.61
Bishop Cheshire has characterized the Rev. Mr. Moir as the incarnation of “the Establishment idea” as applied to American colonial life. In the bishop's opinion Moir illustrates the reasons for the basic failure of the Anglican Church in the province. He did not lack ability, and his worth is unquestioned, but he continually vexed himself and railed at the circumstances and conditions he faced because he could not make the established English system work in this frontier country.62 Today we would say he lacked imagination. Why he chose to leave Edgecombe and move to Northampton is not completely clear, but it is not hard to piece together enough clues to indicate that as he grew older he began to look for a parish more advanced in organization than St. Mary's, one in which there was a more peaceful population. Contemporary letters both from and about this clergyman tell his story effectively.
Despite the fact that Moir had been making regular reports to the S. P. G. about his work in Edgecombe as late as August, 1761,63 on March 30, 1762, Governor Arthur Dobbs wrote to the Secretary of the S. P. G. that “Mr. Moyer” was “an abandoned missionary who does little or no duty, without a Parish & totally neglects his mission.”64 This was before Moir left St. Mary's, Edgecombe. Some months later (November 10, 1762) the clergyman wrote the Secretary as follows:59 4 Colonial Records 791, 795.60Cheshire, p. 70, 4 Colonial Records 872.61Cheshire, pp. 72,. 73.62Ibid.63 6 Colonial Records 233, 316, 552, 578.64 6 Colonial Records 709 at 710.
Since my last of 15 April, I have officiated in Northampton County for the most part and in that and some other Counties have baptized 340 white children, and upwards of 50 Black. The Communicants are generally from 20 to 40; Summer and Fall having been much hotter than usual, the intermitting fevers with which I was so much pestered at Cape fear attacked me with such violence at the beginning of Septr, that for the space of 5 weeks my life was despaired of, But (thank God) I am much recruited, since the weather begun to grow cold, Physicians assure me it would mightily restore and strengthen my constitution, were I to spend a summer in the northern Colonies, but I should choose (would the Venble Society permit) to do it at London, where I might point out the real causes of the unhappy state of this Province in a much clearer light than I can think it would be expedient for me to do in a letter.65
Probably as a result of Governor Dobbs's complaint, the S. P. G. wrote Mr. Moir inquiring into his activities and asking that he get affidavits or certificates attesting his character from people in the area acquainted with his work. This letter seems to have been delayed, but when Moir finally answered the Society's request he took the opportunity to pour out his version of the whole controversy. This letter dated April 6, 1763, is an interesting document.
Your letter of July 16, 1762, not coming to hand till the end of Jany when all the Vestries of the Province were dissolved, I could not apply to any vestry of the Parishes, wherein I have or do now officiate, for a certificate of my behaviour. As there was no prospect of vestries being soon re-established I laid your complaint before the former churchwardens, as I chanced to meet with them, they assured me that as soon as they could conveniently meet, [they would] undeceive the venble Society by transmitting a true account of my behaviour attested before a Justice of the Peace, this they did on Good Friday, when assembled to celebrate the Sacrament of the Lords Supper & I now send it enclosed, the Revd Dr. Bearcroft signified to me several years ago, that Govr Dobbs complained against me: So that I make no doubt his being the author of the Present complaint, upon his arrival I waited on him & he soon convinced me he would act quite contrary to what was reported of him. Among other things I told him I was well assured that the deputy secretary & deputy auditor had been guilty of abomnible frauds & forgeries in the Kings Land office; upon which he was seized with a violent passion & I withdrew, the deputy auditor was his countryman & without any other thing to recommend him, his excellency has ever since been loading him with Power & dignity, he appointed him an assistant judge & has also recommended him to a seat in the council. His excellency seems to have a natural antipathy to every one that acts uprightly in a public office. . . . when his excellency & the deputy65 6 Colonial Records 735.
auditor, with their confederates found it was impossible to get a vestry in Edgecombe that would not employ me, they divided the parish in a most ridiculous manner, & by a notorious act of injustice, threw the expenses of the 2 preceding years upon the Parish they expected I would settle in. . . . It would be an endless task to enumerate all the little dirty tricks, they have used to drive me away. In short I have been so persecuted by the Govr & his accomplices, that I have several times laid down my office, with a resolution to settle in Virginia but have been diverted from it, even after I was on the road, by the importunities of the people & were it not to oblige them, they are so fond of me, I would not stay one day in the Province where Fraud, injustice & oppression are triumphant; if Govr Dobbs complains against me for great misbehaviour, why did not he take the law of me? he never can have greater advantages this way. I have told 2 Chief Justices to their Faces how grossly they misbehaved in suits, for the recovery of Parish Taxes from Sheriffs who had squandered them away. when the Captain of the above mob being put into the commission of the peace stood candidate at an election of Burgesses in Edgecombe, with all the influence of the Govr's Faction in these parts & had got the huzzah on his side, I painted the scoundrel in his proper colors & overset his election, ’tis true he came up to me with his myrmidons & began to chatter, but I soon stop his mouth by telling him I was ready to prove again, what I had charged him with. I have been offered as good security as I could desire for the payment of my salaries here, if I would cease inspecting the vestry accounts & rejected it with indignation: after these and many such instances, no wonder the tools of Power should look on me with an evil eye; But all the ill natured ridiculous stories they invent make no impression on the people, who when they have a chance, vote in such vestrymen, as they think will employ me. Is it to be supposed that the people think I neglect my duty when they have several times offered me a better maintenance by subscription, than I had on the Establishment; In the Parish of St. George N. Hampton where I reside, there is a church & 3 chapels. There are 2 places besides, where I preach now and then on a week day. I officiate monthly by subscription in Bertie county on week days & have thrice administered the sacrament there last year. I have also officiated in Hertford County. Since my last of Novr I baptized 286 white children, and one adult, & 54 Blacks, the communicants are generally from 20 to 30. I am
Revd Sir, your most humble servant
James Moir6666 6 Colonial Records 978.
The S. P. G. seems to have taken no action against this clergyman. On October 20, 1763, about six months later, Mr. Moir again addressed the S. P. G. from Northampton:
Since my last of April, at the earnest request of the people of Edgecombe (there being no vestry in the Province) I officiated in that Parish in the months of May and July and baptized 283 white and 6 black children. Before the expiration of my year in No. Hampton the Parishoners insisted on my continuing to officiate among them, and assured me they would give me full satisfaction either by subscription or by voting in a vestry to do it by the first opportunity, to which I consented and have baptized in this and the neighboring counties of Bertie and Hertford 238 white and 56 black children, the communicants are often from 10 to 30, and seldom above 30 as I administer the Sacrament in the different Chapels and sometimes in private houses when the Church and Chapels are inconvenient to the aged and infirm. . . . I have not drawn for my salary this last year, hoping the venerable society will give me leave to come to London next Summer.67
These letters seem to belie the conclusions generally drawn about Moir, but in all fairness to those conclusions the documents presenting a different point of view must be examined. Some months after the last quoted letter was written, on March 29, 1764, Governor Dobbs wrote to the Secretary of the S. P. G. as follows:
. . . Mr. Moir who lives at a distance from me [he was writing from Cape Fear] as I am informed by Gentlemen who live in the neighborhood, has no parish performs very little casual service; he has been endeavoring to procure a certificate of his good behaviour, but I am informed with very bad success from any men of rank or character, he lives upon a plantation penuriously & inhospitably; and lays out his salary as missionary in England to retire to & live upon when he loses his support as a missionary; his character as I am informed is to stir up and make divisions in the neighborhood instead of Promoting Peace & love; having observed that he made a return to the Society of great numbers of negroes & others baptized by him, I enquired into it & was informed by gentlemen in his neighborhood that they never heard of any number baptized by him. . . .68
Despite this complaint and report by the governor, the Rev. Mr. Moir still continued in St. George's. On April 4, 1764, a short while after the governor's letter, Moir again reported to the S. P. G. secretary:
Since my last of Octr I baptized in No. Hampton, and the neighboring counties 136 white children & 46 blacks, I baptized also in67 6 Colonial Records 994.68 6 Colonial Records 1039.
Edgecombe 171 white children 2 adults & 16 Black children. By the vestry act passed last March; the minister is made President of the Vestry, the election of which is put off to the beginning of August, and it is to continue 3 years, Dissenters are still admitted into it, and which is worst of all, the Sheriff takes the Poll. Hoping the venerable Society would have permitted me to take a passage for London I did not draw for my salaries from Michs 1762 to Ladyday 1764. But there being now very nigh 7 years salaries due to me, in Edgecombe & N. Hampton counties, which I cannot recover till the new vestries are qualified next fall, obliges me to draw now for the forsaid Salary of 1½ year.69
When he reported to the Society on October 2, 1764, Moir described Northampton as having a parish church and three chapels at which he officiated alternately. Once a quarter he made it a habit to preach on a week-day for those persons unable to attend church on Sundays. He also mentioned the fact that he was called upon to preach a large number of funeral sermons, sometimes as many as three a week. As for baptisms, he stated that since the preceding April he had performed 207 white and 50 black. He then turned to his own relations with the parish.
. . . I have also had the pleasure to see the vestry of N. Hampton, after unanimously agreeing to employ me, order citations for all that had Parish money in their hands; They declared also that at their next meeting they would lay tax sufficient to pay off the Parish debts, when I consider how well disposed the people are towards our Church, and what might have been done for a decent public worship through my influence with them, it grieves me that I cannot make the proper use of either because of the difficulty of making collectors refund under the present administration. . . .70
Early in 1765 Governor Dobbs died and in reference to this fact, Mr. Moir wrote the Secretary of the S. P. G. on April 10 that he had not “been the only one in the Province that had a most contemptible opinion of his morals and politics, as far as I can learn the news of his death were received with the greatest joy throughout the Province.”71 But apparently Moir did not consult with his fellow missionary, Daniel Earl of Chowan, who three days later wrote the Secretary bewailing the death of Dobbs as the “great Patron of Religion.”72
Just which side the S. P. G. decided to credit with the correct version of Mr. Moir's activities cannot be determined. It must have been a hopeless task to determine what to believe.69 6 Colonial Records 1042.70 6 Colonial Records 1050.71 7 Colonial Records 7.72Ibid.
Governor Dobbs's successor, William Tryon, qualified as governor on April 3, 1765. By July he had made a survey of the Church situation in the colony and on July 31, 1765, reported to the S. P. G. that Mr. Moir was an itinerant missionary.
As this country is now settled more than 200 miles to the westward of Mr. Moir's residence [presumably Tryon referred to Northampton] I do not think the province receives any benefit from him as an itinerant missionary; for under that general license of preaching everywhere, he seldom preaches any where; this report I have from some gentlemen in his neighborhood near the Town of Halifax. I do not represent him as an immoral man, but should think it advisable he might be fixed to some parish. . . .73
The rest of the story is found in Moir's last letter to the S. P. G.74 This he wrote from Suffolk, Virginia, October 13, 1766. It appears that he left St. George's Parish in November, 1765, after asking the vestry to secure the services of another minister. His complaint was that the sheriff refused to sue for the taxes out of which he was to have been paid his salary for the preceding two and one-half years. The following April, 1766, Moir returned to St. Mary's Parish, Edgecombe, and in May went to New York for his health. In July he went from New York to Boston, and in August he went to Rhode Island, and five weeks later sprained his back painfully. He then took a packet-boat back to New York where he remained a fortnight before returning to the south. When he wrote this letter Moir had been in Suffolk for three days. Whether he ever returned to North Carolina is not known. He died in February, 1767.VII
From Moir's own letter it appears that he left St. George's in November, 1765. On January 9, 1767, the Rev. Andrew Morton wrote from Northampton that he had been serving St. George's since the preceding August, 1766, at the governor's direction.75 As far as can be determined then, St. George's seems to have been vacant from November, 1765, to August, 1766.
When the Rev. Mr. Morton was sent to Carolina in 1766 he was destined to serve St. Martin's in Mecklenburg County, but he soon wrote the Society that upon inquiry he had learned that the inhabitants of that parish were all “Covenanters” and “Seceders,” and that, therefore, with Governor Tryon's consent, he had agreed to take St. George's Parish “in Bertie.”76
Mr. Morton was not a healthy man, and he complained bitterly of “the sickliness of the Climate” and told the S. P. G. that “I have had a very severe73 7 Colonial Records 102.74 7 Colonial Records 265.75 7 Colonial Records 424.76Cheshire, p. 78.
seasoning in so much that I was given over by my Physicians and my life despaired of, but it has pleased God to raise and restore me to a tolerable state of health again.” And he made it clear that had not “that aimable and Good Man Governor Tryon who may be justly called the Nursing Father of the Church in this province” given him every encouragement he would certainly have left the colony. But in spite of his health and general dislike of the climate he seems to have made himself popular enough among his parishoners during the early months of his ministry in St. George's, for he was able to inform the S. P. G. that “the good people in order the more effectually to settle me among them have petitioned his Excellency to induct me into St. George's Parish.”
In those first five months of his term in Northampton, Mr. Morton baptized 121 white children, thirty-eight black children, three white adults, and eight black adults “after proper Instruction.” On Christmas Day, 1766, he administered the Holy Communion to twenty communicants. Thus apparently all was going well. On April 30 that year Governor Tryon reported to the S. P. G. that Mr. Morton was already established in St. George's “by letters of Presentation from the Governor”—evidently in compliance with the parishoners’ petition.
We have some statistics left us from the year 176777 that shed light on St. George's Parish in comparison with the other parishes in the colony. The number of white people subject to taxation in the parish that year was 1,600, a figure that placed it as one of the two most heavily populated parishes east of Rowan and Mecklenburg counties, both of which were then extensive areas of 3,000 or more taxables. Society Parish in Bertie had 930 white taxables and was described in the official report as being “Capable to Maintain & willing to receive a Minister.” St. Barnabas’ Parish in Hertford had 900 taxables and was also without a minister, but was considered able to make provision for one. Edgecombe Parish, by that time in Halifax County, with its 1,500 taxables had for three years been under the ministrations of the elder Mr. Burges. But for St. George's, Northampton, was reserved the one truly interesting remark in all the statistics in this governmental report. The entry reads as follows:
Northampton, St. George's, 1600. Intended for the Revd. Mr. Barnett,—Good Parish.
This is certainly a significant comment. At least in the eyes of officialdom, St. George's was a desirable field for the Church. Apparently the dissenting followers of the new sectarian Shubal Stearns had not penetrated too deeply into Northampton, although he and his followers, the Separatist Baptists, travelled widely in lower Virginia and upper North Carolina from 1766 on.
Referring again to the official report on the Church made in the summer of 1767, it should be noted that Mr. Morton is not listed as the incumbent at St. George's, but rather that the parish is “intended for” the Rev. Mr. Barnett. This needs some explanation.77 7 Colonial Records 541.
It will be remembered that from the first Mr. Morton complained of the climate and its effect on his health. Apparently it eventually outweighed the encouragements he received in his work from Governor Tryon, for on September 17, 1767, we find Mr. Morton writing to the S. P. G. from “Caroline County in Virginia” as follows:
I take this first opportunity of acquainting you that I have been obliged to leave Carolina on account of a bad state of health. In every other respect I was as happy there as I could expect to be. . . . I have therefore a few weeks ago accepted of a parish in Caroline County, Virginia. . . . The honourable Society may be assured that nothing but the immediate danger of life could have prevailed on me to desert my mission—This will be the more evident to them when they know that since I have been in Carolina I refused a living in Maryland of £ 300 ster per annum out of an unshaken attachment to their service.
I have not drawn on the Society's Treasurer since last Christmas and as I am in no want of money they are humbly requested to accept of my last half years salary as my mite towards carrying on their benevolent design of propogating the Gospel. . . .78
While these protestations and explanations from Mr. Morton must have been somewhat comforting to the Society, they must still have been keenly aware of a basic problem in the colony of Carolina, one much detailed in a letter written them in June that year (1767) from another of their missionaries (the Rev. Mr. Alexander Stewart):
The duty is so much less, and the Salaries so much better in all the provinces round us, that they [the Society's missionaries in Carolina] are held but for a season and quickly take their flight, Nay, some of the Missionaries (Mr. Morton lately) have removed for those very reasons.79
Regardless of which version of his resignation we accept, the fact remains that in the summer of 1767 the “good parish” again became vacant, and the governor had decided that it was the place to put the Rev. Mr. John Barnett. In the meantime, services were continued by lay readers, at least one of whom, William Knight, did not receive payment until 1773 when the vestry paid him £ 5 Proclamation money for “Reading at the School House for the year 1768.”80
It has not been settled as to just when Mr. Barnett actually arrived in Northampton, or, for that matter, exactly how long he remained, but certainly he had left the parish some months before August, 1771. Thus at most he did not serve St. George's more than three years. It is difficult to understand what change took place in this minister. Governor Tryon, a zealous guardian of the78 7 Colonial Records 520.79 7 Colonial Records 492.80 See minutes of Vestry of St. George's Parish, October 29, 1773.
Church's welfare, apparently held Barnett in high esteem. He first assigned him to the large parish of St. Philip's in Brunswick County, and then, as we know, he indicated that he reserved the “good parish” for him—certainly indications that no question as to his character had become known to the governor. And yet we also know that things did not go well with him in Northampton on the evidence of his successor, who wrote the Society in August, 1771, that Mr. Barnett “has fled into Virginia, being charged with crimes too base to be mentioned.”81VIII
With the advent of the Rev. Charles Edward Taylor in the summer of 1771 the affairs of the parish took on a much better outlook, and St. George's resumed its role as one of the best parishes in the colony.
Since Mr. Taylor played such an important part in the development of the parish, it is pertinent to examine his career in some detail. From his letters there is some indication that he was a native of Chowan County, but this has not been conclusively established.82
It is clear, however, that on May 3, 1771, the newly ordained Mr. Taylor landed at Edenton after a voyage from England that took eleven weeks and two days—a slow passage even for 1771. He arrived to find the whole colony in an uproar. The seeds of rebellion were sprouting.
The political history of North Carolina throughout the period of royal rule had been a story of constant struggle between representatives of the people and the representatives of the Crown. In the “back-country” extortionate fees, excessive taxes, and the oppressive manner of collecting them had by this time brought about a popular uprising known as the Regulation. Violence had followed the refusal to pay taxes, and in September, 1768, Governor Tryon was forced to lead a military expedition against the Regulators. They, however, had not been prepared to withstand the governor's forces and had submitted without bloodshed. New outbreaks in the fall of 1770 provoked the second military expedition of the governor, and on May 16, 1771, with a force of about 1,000 men and officers, Tryon met about twice that number of Regulators on the banks of the Alamance, where, after two hours of fighting, with losses on each side nearly equal, the ammunition of the Regulators was exhausted and they were routed. About fifteen were taken prisoners, and, of those, seven were executed.8381 9 Colonial Records 20.82 The assumption is principally based on the fact that Taylor reported that Daniel Earl, long rector of St. Paul's, Edenton, claimed to have examined Taylor before he went to England for ordination, and while Taylor denied the examination, it is unlikely that Earl would have even made the allegation had Taylor not been in or near his parish before he was ordained. See 9 Colonial Records 20 et seq.83Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., 1929, article on North Carolina.
Thus when the Rev. Mr. Taylor first wrote the Secretary of the S. P. G. in August, 1771, he explained that he had been unable to make the customary call on the governor upon arriving in the province, for he discovered that Tryon “was gone to Suppress a set of Rebels, who I make no doubt you have heard resided in the Western parts of this Province, for they, principally instigated by one Husbands a Quaker resident among them, despised Government, and refused to pay their Taxes. As I imagine you have already received Authentic Accounts of His Excellency's Engagement and victory over them it would be needless for me to say anything on that head.”84
In all respects here we have the comments and interpretation of the Regulation movement of a proper British official experiencing what may have been his first encounter with colonial life. His tone is one of righteous indignation at rebels who hate government and who refuse to pay their taxes. This first evidence of Taylor's political ideas should be kept in mind in examining his subsequent career.
Having found the governor away on business of state, the young clergyman had to decide whether to stay in the coastal area and wait for Tryon's return or go out and seek work. He seems to have made his decision without much delay.
I adjudged it expedient for me to seek a parish for myself, and to wait on His Excellency with your letter on his arrival at Newbern but his sudden Embarkation for his new Government, prevented my purpose, I have therefore settled myself for a while in St. George's Parish Northampton County, void by the resignation of Mr. Barnett one of the Society's Missionaries.
Mr. Taylor was profoundly disturbed by the low state of ecclesiastical discipline in North Carolina. Twenty years before his arrival the saintly Clement Hall had written the S. P. G.: “We have the pleasure to hear that a Bishop (who is much wanted & by all good men earnestly desired) is about to be sent over & settled in Virginia—Please to let me know whether it be true or not.” Mr. Hall had been disappointed, and when Mr. Taylor learned of Barnett's behavior in Northampton he wrote the Society:
It is a great pity but an American Episcopate were established, if it tends to no other purpose than to take cognizance of the behaviour of the Clergy, some of whom (I am sorry to say) are the greatest scandal to religion we have.
This was a matter that gave Mr. Taylor great concern, and in a tremendous zeal for his work, he did not hesitate to inform the Society of the conduct of other missionaries whom he felt were not properly representing the Church. The first person to incur his criticism was the Rev. Daniel Earl, long known as the “Fishing Parson” of Chowan County.84 9 Colonial Records 20.
Mr. Taylor was particularly annoyed when some inhabitants of Edenton asked Earl to permit the new minister to preach in St. Paul's and Earl refused on the ground that he had examined Taylor before he went to England for ordination and that he had found Taylor unqualified. In reporting the incident to the Society, Mr. Taylor did not conceal his feelings. He called Earl's excuse “a palpable falsehood” and added that Earl “has reported it in the public houses in Town (his places of Rendezvous) in all companies. Things of this kind have great weight with the people in this Country, who may from hence be induced to think that the Bishop of London would ordain any one that made application, and from hence must consequently proceed a total disrespect to all the Clergy. . . . I would not have it thought to proceed from any private pique, that I mention his misbehaviour, for I look upon it the indispensible duty of every professor of the Christian Gospel to endeavour to suppress immoralities of every kind, but more especially those which proceed from the root from whence true religion ought to branch and spring up.” So Northampton came under the care of a man willing to fight immoralities, and most especially within his own Church.
“This misbehaviour in the Clergy has induced the people to be very cautious of having a Minister inducted to their parishes, as they see so much misconduct and no remedy easily to be obtained since everyone of them dislikes being the first complainant.” This is a significant comment on the Carolina character, and gives a proper background for an understanding of the arrangement that Mr. Taylor worked out with the Northampton vestry upon his arrival. He was to stay in the parish until Easter, 1772, “at which time, (provided we unite in approbation) they are desirous of having me inducted.”
But what did Taylor think of his new parish? His first letter after his arrival is so interesting and so well-expressed that it is best to let him speak for himself:
It is as wealthy a parish as any in the province, but rather too large. I have 4 churches to attend which in the course of every month, lays me under the necessity of travelling very near 200 miles, exclusive of my Journies to visit and baptize in cases of necessity. I suppose (God willing) to administer the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper next Sunday; which has not been administered but twice in this parish in the space of 7 years. It is my intention to order my affairs in such a manner as to administer it 8 times in the year, which will be twice at each church in the parish. I have communicated this plan to the church wardens and several orderly people who seem very much rejoiced at it, and are very desirous of receiving.
The people in general seem very fond of coming to church and my congregations are very much crowded. I have been in this parish exactly a month, and have baptized 66 white and nineteen black infants besides 18 black adults. I purpose to take a Journey yearly through some parishes which are greatly in want of a minister and but poor, who I understand have scarcely ever an opportunity of having their children baptized yet preserve some sparks of religion
among them. I should be very happy in my parish were it not for some Sectaries who call themselves New Light Baptists, and harbour in the skirts of my Parish85 and are very troublesome, but with the blessing of God I hope to eradicate them by convincing them that the Old Light is the only true one. I have talked with some of them and find them to be in general a very ignorant set of people yet notwithstanding that they busy themselves with the most mysterious parts of Scripture and believe they are absolutely bound to understand them. There is yet no Glebe in my parish but the vestry purpose buying one immediately, if I am inducted into the parish and the reason they give why there is none, is, because they never had a Minister they would like to settle among them. There is a great want of Books in this parish as there were never any distributed here. The Vestry have desired me to write home for three prayer Books and Bibles for three of the churches, one being provided. I told them I would write and enquire if the Society were willing to send them, and if they are not must beg the favor of you to give my respects to Mr. Rivington and desire him to send them, as I shall direct, and should desire he were paid for them out of my Salary the Society allow. . . .
If the Society are desirous of making any enquiry into my conduct, I hereby humbly beg leave to acquaint them that Willie Jones and Howell Edmunds, Esquire, are the two Representatives for this county, and Howell Edmunds and Mr. Samuel Lockhart the present church wardens, who I hope can never give me any other than that character which I have hitherto preserved untainted, and I pray that the Almighty may always afford me his assistance to discharge the trust reposed in me, and to grant that after I have preached to others, I myself may not become a castaway.86
The concluding paragraph of this letter carries special interest, and is the first record of the names of any of the churchwardens of St. George's Parish.
The period of probation proved satisfactory to both priest and people. After ten months the people unanimously petitioned the governor to induct Mr. Taylor into the parish as rector. The winter of 1771-72 was a hard one, and there was a great deal of sickness in Northampton. Mr. Taylor was so busy visiting his ailing parishoners that he let another year elapse without paying a call on the governor, and he informed the Society that since His Excellency planned to come through Northampton in October, after spending the summer of 1772 at Hillsboro, he had decided to pay his respects at that time.87
It was at about this time that the Methodist movement within the Anglican Church was beginning to make itself felt in North Carolina. Led by Joseph Pilmour who had been sent to America to preach Methodism, a number of85 Probably a reference to the congregations at Meherrin and Bertie Baptist Chapels.86 This and the preceding quotations are from 9 Colonial Records 20 et seq.87 9 Colonial Records 325.
English lay preachers began to work in the colony. Pilmour preached first at Currituck Court House on September 28, 1772, and from then until the following December went to Edenton, New Bern, and Wilmington. He was followed by Robert Williams who organized the Methodist Society in North Carolina, and by Devereux Jarratt, rector of Sapony Church in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Later William Meredith, William Glendenning and Robert J. Miller continued the work. None of these men ever left the Anglican Church.88
Between September 29, 1771, and August 24, 1772, the Rev. Mr. Taylor baptized 112 white infants, forty-six Negro infants, two white adults and fifty-five colored adults in Northampton. Of the Negroes in general he remarked that they were “very desirous of instruction in their duty.” In reporting the two white adult baptisms Mr. Taylor was careful to point out that one of them had been a Quaker and that the other “had been brought up a New Light Baptist, but never initiated into their profession by their method of plunging.”89
During the same period Mr. Taylor celebrated the Holy Communion twice in each of the four churches in his parish. The first series of celebrations brought a total of fifty-one communicants, and the second round saw sixty-three make their communions.
Not content with working in his home parish alone, during the unusually hot summer of 1772 Taylor left Northampton for a week in which he travelled 219 miles around St. Mary's Parish, Edgecombe, then vacant by the resignation of the Rev. John Burges. During that six-day journey he preached four times, and in the first three days alone baptized 159 white and four black children.
On August 24, 1772, Mr. Taylor wrote the Society as follows:
I am extremely happy in my Parish having the united affections of the people. The Vestry have not yet purchased a Glebe as they have been at great expense in building 2 new churches and repairing and enlarging the others since my coming here. I have rented a Plantation in the centre of the parish that I may be as convenient as possible to my churches.90
It will be remembered that in his first report to the Society Mr. Taylor had remarked that there were some New Light Baptist on the “skirts” of St. George's Parish. After having seen more of them, his 1772 report is not quite as optimistic about the chances of winning them over.
I don't know what they call themselves, some term them Anabaptists, some New Light Baptists, and others Baptists. I have talked with88Johnson, pp. 343, 346. This statement is not completely accurate. Miller accepted Lutheran ordination but was active in the efforts to organize the North Carolina diocese and was eventually ordained deacon and priest on the same day by Bishop Richard Channing Moore in Raleigh on May 1, 1821. See Cheshire, p. 396.89 9 Colonial Records 325.90Ibid.
some of their preachers,91 who are surprisingly ignorant, and pretend to Illumination and assurances, they are so obstinately and wilfully ignorant themselves and teach their fellows to be so too, that they will hearken to no reason whatever, but are obstinately bent to follow their own absurd Notions. They increase surprisingly in Virginia, and in some parts of Carolina, but I bless God they rather decrease in my parish. Multitudes of them having left their Teachers are constant attendants at my Churches. We have a few Quakers in this Parish but they are no way troublesome.92
The Baptists were not the only troublemakers in the “skirts” of Mr. Taylor's parish. One of his brother clergymen of the Church of England was causing a stir of considerable proportions. The Rev. Devereux Jarratt of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, had already made excursions into North Carolina preaching “a peculiar doctrine in a peculiar manner.” His theme was the necessity of a new birth to be gained through the “knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins.” “Day and night in private house and in chapel, in Virginia and in North Carolina, he went about ‘testifying the gospel of the Grace of God’. It was his custom ‘to descend from the stiff and formal services of the church, and conduct the exercises in a familiar conversational manner; addressing plain and searching questions to various individuals; and encouraging all present to ask him questions that they might feel necessary to their better acquaintance with spiritual things, or for the removal of their doubts and fears.’ ”93
Between 1763 and 1775 Jarratt claims that revivals of religion rewarded his effort, but there is no evidence that he came into Northampton during that period. On the contrary, in May, 1774, Mr. Taylor, disturbed by Jarratt's disregard of parish boundaries, reported to the S. P. G. that “he has not yet been in my parish, neither would I suffer him to preach in it could I hinder him, which I understand he says cannot be done, and that he has authority to preach where he pleases—of which I should be glad to be made acquainted.”94
Beginning in 1776, however, and from then until 1783, Jarratt went regularly into Northampton, Halifax, Warren, Franklin, and Granville. Charles Edward Taylor's active ministry in Northampton and his clear distrust of Mr. Jarratt's methods unquestionably account for Jarratt's not coming into the county until after the establishment had been abolished.
In closing his 1772 report to London, Mr. Taylor again reminded the Society of the parish's desperate need for books for the four churches:91 Thomas Pope is the first known Baptist preacher at Bertie Chapel. He was followed by James Abingdon, a Bertie native, who served until 1772. From 1773 until his death thirty-four years later, this Baptist congregation was served by the well-known Lemuel Burkett. See Tyler, “History of Sandy Run Baptist Church,” News and Observer, Raleigh, N. C., July 16, 1950.92 9 Colonial Records 325.93Johnson, p. 374, citing Lee, Life and Times of the Rev. Jesse Lee, pp. 37-38; see also Devereux Jarratt's Autobiography, pp. 89-94.94 9 Colonial Records 1003.
I presumed so far upon the Society's good nature as to request the favor of them for the parish, as I imagine they would be made as good use of here as in any parish that has been favored with such a present. For my own part a few Books would be of great utility as you know my circumstances in England would not admit of my procuring many.95
This personal reference is interesting. Taylor's interest in books must have been a characteristic of the man, for there are in existence today at least two theological works that were once in his possession.96IX
Beginning with the year 1773 the history of St. George's Parish must be drawn from a source other than Mr. Taylor's letters. With its first entry dated March 12, 1773, the only known Vestry Book of the colonial parish begins.97
This book records an election held at the Northampton County courthouse on March 12, 1773, at which William Eaton, Esq., Sheriff of Northampton, certified that the following persons had been selected as vestrymen of St. George's Parish:
|Lewis Williamson||William Bennett|
|Joseph Smith||Soloman Pace|
|Hezekiah Hough||Joseph Wood|
|Bartholomew Figures||Charles Thompson|
|Bennitt Hill||Drury Gee|
|Jeptha Atherton||Howell Edmunds|
These names still have a familiar ring to Northampton ears. Upon the day of their first meeting, the vestry chose James Edmunds as their clerk for the year 1773 and elected Lewis Williamson and Bartholomew Figures as churchwardens. The clerk and sexton for the parish church that year was George Berkley who served for £6 a year.
Some three months later, at its regular meeting on May 1, 1773, the Rev. Mr. Taylor was finally enabled to present to his vestry the document his letters indicate he had been seeking for over two years:95 9 Colonial Records 325.96 In an appendix to Cheshire, pp. 434-435, there is a list of books exhibited at the joint convention of the Diocese of North Carolina and the Diocese of East Carolina at Calvary Church, Tarboro, May, 1890. Among these books were two that had belonged to the Rev. Mr. Taylor, University Sermons by the Rev. Henry Adams, published in London by Henry Sacheverell, 1716, and Bishop Barlow's Remains, published in London in 1793, and printed by the famous John Dunton.97 For years this valuable book lay unnoticed in the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Northampton County. It was discovered during the county records survey conducted by the Works Progress Administration; subsequently it was transferred to the library of the State Historical Commission in Raleigh where it is now preserved.
This day the revd. Charles Edward Taylor produced Letters of Presentation from his Excellency the Governor and also a Commission for Colonel Allen Jones to induct the said Mr. Taylor which together with the certificate [was] ordered to be recorded.
Having worked in Northampton more than two years he had finally been presented with “the living” of St. George's. For salary the vestry agreed to pay Mr. Taylor £153,6s,8d, per annun. This figure was somewhat larger in money than the usual clergyman's stipend, because St. George's still had no glebe on which Mr. Taylor could live, and the vestry felt that he should receive some additional compensation for the hardship of having to provide himself with a house. In addition to the salary, Mr. Taylor was also allowed the sum of £1,8s “for providing elements for the Sacrament and washing Surplasses [sic] for the year 1772.”
The effectiveness of Mr. Taylor's ministry in Northampton can be judged from his reports to the Society, but it can also be seen in the laconic financial records of the vestry. From letters to the Society, both from Mr. Taylor and others, it has been seen that St. George's boasted a substantial parish church and a number of chapels, and that during this clergyman's rectorate regular services were conducted at all of them.
The names of the parish church and the chapels as well as their possible location are matters of interest. The Vestry Book never refers to the parish church in any way except as “the church,” but from a study of the early maps of the area, especially the well-known Mouzon map of 1775, it seems almost certain the parish church was known as “Cherry Chapel” and that it was located near the center of the county, not far from what is now Mount Carmel Baptist Church. That this was the location of an early Anglican Church is further attested by deeds transferring land in that area and by older residents there who have heard it as a tradition.
The names of the various chapels, on the other hand, can be learned from the Vestry Book itself:
(1) St. John's Chapel at which William Gardner served as clerk and Henry Clark as sexton.
(2) Bridger's Creek Chapel at which G. Ewing served as clerk and Catherine Boddie as sexton.
(3) St. Paul's Chapel at Dawson's Mill at which Abraham Stevens served as both clerk and sexton.
(4) In addition to the parish church and these three chapels, the vestry records indicate that there was at least one other chapel in the county in 1773. This one, called “the old chapel at Meherrin,” the vestry ordered Bartholomew Figures and Howell Edmunds to sell to the highest bidder. Apparently this entry meant that this old chapel site had been abandoned, because an entry dated October 29, 1773, states that Richard Figures, Charles Thompson, and
Howell Edmunds, appointed commissioners “to view the chapel which Benj. Roberts built, do agree to receive the said work.” The inference is that the vestry had Roberts build St. Paul's Chapel at Dawson's Mill and, that building having been completed and accepted, they ordered the old building at Meherrin sold. The Baptist Church at Pendleton still bears the name Roberts Chapel.98
It might be assumed that in an established or state-supported Church there would have been little evidence of private donations to religious causes, but that assumption is at least partially refuted by another notation in the Vestry Book ordering that
The thanks of the vestry be given Dr. Samuel Pete of this county for his Generous present of a chalice and salver for the use of the parish.
This entry makes it interesting to speculate about the appearance and furnishing of Northampton's colonial churches. Unfortunately there are no records giving even a slight clue to the architecture or ornamentation of these structures, but certain generally accepted theories can be applied to the speculation about them.
First, it would seem reasonable to suppose that by 1773 there were at least four substantial church buildings in the county. Without much dispute it can be assumed that the largest and best furnished would have been the parish church itself, situated in the middle of the parish, near which the rector resided.
As for the building itself, it can reasonably be assumed that it was a wooden structure, since it is unlikely that a brick building would have been completely eradicated within the course of time from the end of the Revolution to the early 1830's, nor is it probable that a brick structure would have been as completely forgotten as have been all the chapels that originally stood in St. George's.99 On the other hand, the parish itself having been established for a fairly long time, and remembering that there had been churches in it since the time of William Fanning or before, remembering also that it had been officially recognized as a “good parish,” and adding Mr. Taylor's own testimony that the vestry had decided to put money into churches rather than in purchasing a glebe, it can be said with some degree of accuracy that the parish church itself, if not all the chapels, was of a substantial construction and suitably furnished. As for furnishings, the98 A member of Roberts Chapel furnished the writer with the following memorandum in 1949: “Some say that Roberts Chapel Baptist Church was named after the carpenter who built the first house away beyond 100 years ago. They say he fell off the building and died. Some say the first building was a mission station given by Lord Granville to his subjects settling in this section of the county and that the name came from a family who lived nearby—that all denominations worshipped there. Gradually the Baptist faith outgrew when the Methodists went to Zion, to Providence and Sharon Methodist churches. The land was deeded to the Baptists by Silas Edwards. Nicholas Tyner was said to own all the land around and he was said to have given the chapel.”99 There were some traditions about old churches still known when the Rev. Frederick Fitzgerald came to Jackson in 1851. See Fitzgerald's history of the Church of the Saviour in the Parish Register.
Vestry Book and Mr. Taylor's letters show that the parish church was furnished with Prayer Books and that Dr. Peete had donated vessels for the sacrament.
If the parish church was of frame construction, and realizing that it was built between 1740 and 1770, it is not improbable that it was something like the original building erected for St. John's, Williamsboro, the only colonial church building standing in the Diocese of North Carolina. The churches at Bath and at Edenton, both brick, probably represent a more elaborate style, although it is quite possible that Cherry Chapel was built in frame much along the same lines as St. Thomas's, Bath. Both St. Thomas's and St. John's are plain rectangular buildings. The church at Williamsboro had a barrel ceiling, that in Bath, a tiled floor. Both had rectangular windows with large clear panes, typical Eighteenth Century buildings. Box pews, a high pulpit placed either against the left wall or at the altar end, and a communion table behind a simple rail, probably constituted the basic features of the building.
As for the usual furnishing of the colonial churches, there is unusually good evidence of what was considered desirable in the questionnaires submitted by the Church of England to its Virginia clergy about the provisions made in their parishes for such things.100 The Holy Table and the Pulpit were considered “essentials” and were, of course, to be found in all the churches. The other furnishings were usually called the “Ornaments,” and parishes varied in their ability to have all of them. The list which follows will give some idea of how the Northampton churches might have been furnished.
(1) There was to be a copy of the Holy Bible to be used in reading the Lessons.
(2) Each church was to have at least two copies of a large-size Book of Common Prayer, one for use by the minister, and one for the parish clerk who led the responses, the chanting, and the singing of the Psalter.
(3) There were to be vessels for celebrating the Holy Communion—a flagon, one or two chalices, and a paten. St. George's was furnished with at least one chalice and one paten.
(4) The Holy Table was to be furnished with a “Carpet” or heavy cloth of silk, velvet, or damask, to go on the table under the communion linen and vessels.
(5) There was to be Communion linen—“fair white linen cloth” upon which the vessels were placed, and “a fair linen cloth” to be used in covering them.
(6) Oddly enough, the next item in the list of church ornaments was the surplice to be worn by the minister when conducting the services of Morning and Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion, and also at baptisms, marriages, and funerals. Before preaching the sermon, it was customary for the priest to remove the surplice and put on a black scholastic gown, as the sermon was not a liturgical but scholastic function. The parish vestry was expected to provide the minister with a surplice, but every minister was expected to have his own100 George MacLaren Brydon, Virginia's Mother Church, (1947), pp. 381-385.
gown and bands. The vestry of St. George's provided surplices for their rector and, furthermore, made provision for having them laundered, facts that appear in the vestry records.
(7) The Pulpit Cloth, a hanging used to cover the reading-desk of the pulpit and hang downwards from it as an antependium.
(8) The Cushion, to be placed upon the pulpit, and upon which the sermon was laid as the minister preached. Whenever possible it was covered with rich silk or velvet.
(9) The font. This ornament was usually placed in one of the box pews immediately inside the west door, although there were cases in which it was placed in different locations, for example, some were placed within the chancel rails.
Whether the parish church of St. George's was furnished with all the ornaments cannot be proved, but in view of the known fact that the surplice was provided and that vessels were provided for the Holy Communion, and that there were Prayer Books, it can probably be presumed that most, if not all, of the ornaments were provided.
With this picture of the church buildings and their furnishings in mind, a few words can be added about the services of the Church. Where a minister was resident in the parish it was customary for him to hold regular services of Morning and Evening Prayer at the parish church on Sundays, the Evening Prayer service being in the afternoon, not at night. These daily offices were read by the minister at the chapels on week-days and occasionally on Sundays, but generally they were read by the chapel clerk on Sundays. The sermon was an important part of the Sunday services, and was seldom dispensed with. In the absence of the minister, the clerk usually read a homily approved for such use. The Prayer Book was strictly adhered to, and there was no Hymn Book as we know it today. Instead, the Psalter was sung or said under the clerk's leadership. There is little reason to suppose that the churches were provided with musical instruments.
The Holy Communion was normally celebrated at Christmas, Easter, Whit-sunday, and the feast of St. Michael and All Angels. These celebrations were, of course, repeated in each chapel in Northampton, so that the persons at each place of worship had the opportunity of receiving the sacrament.
One of the principal duties of the minister, there being no church school in colonial times, was to instruct the children and slaves in the Catechism. It was customary in most places for the minister to conduct regular catechetical instruction during Lent each year. Funerals and weddings were not commonly celebrated in the churches. People lived on plantations, often at some distance from the church, and the custom of the times was for these services to be celebrated in private homes. Baptisms, however, were usually held at the church in conjunction with Morning or Evening Prayer.
This will give some idea of the normal operations of the Church in St. George's during Mr. Taylor's rectorate. The tranquil minutes of the vestry reflect a growing Church in a fairly stable community, and to some degree North Carolina was less stirred by the times than were some of the other colonies. But the year 1773 saw all of this change.
In 1773, under the leadership of Massachusetts and Virginia, the thirteen American Colonies set up Committees of Correspondence to serve as channels of communication and coordination for colonial action against the series of legislative irritations that England was attempting to enforce.
On May 17, 1774, the Rev. Mr. Taylor made what is his last remaining report to the S. P. G.
I presume you have heard of the calamitous situation this Country has long been involved in for want of civil law, of which it has been deprived by the difference of his Majesty's instructions to the sentiments of our Assembly, which has put an entire stagnation to all public business, and falls particularly heavy upon the Clergy who have had no money collected for them for the year past.
We have been much perplexed of late with sectarists, who sometime ago called themselves Anabaptists, but of late have assumed many different denominations, and have great influence over the weak part of the world, by persuading them that they possess a more extraordinary share of divine grace and favor than the rest of mankind accompanied by extraordinary influence of the holy Spirit, and pretend to a familiar intercourse with the Son of God.
Never was the body of the blessed Jesus more torn by the cruelty of the Jews, than his Church is now rent by these people, who take judgment out of his hands, and anathematize every one who conforms to the doctrine of the Church of England, but at last they cannot erase nor break a pillar of that Church against which the Gates of Hell shall not prevail. . . .
I have the pleasure to acquaint the Society, that under all these disadvantages there are yet a large number in my parish who despise these Innovators, and continue steadfast in their faith. The number of my communicants are greatly increased to whom I administer the Sacrament twice a year in each Chapel. We have two more churches lately finished and have repaired and enlarged the two others at a considerable expence.101
Governor Josiah Martin insulted the North Carolinians by refusing to call a meeting of the Assembly, and, in defiance, the first Provincial Congress was called and met in New Bern on August 25, 1774. It sat for three days and committed North Carolina to the support of the American cause. One of the principal acts of this Congress was to provide for an executive authority for enforcing its policies. This took the form of five-man Committees of Safety for each county in101 9 Colonial Records 1003.
the colony. Northampton County duly chose a committee and named its rector, the Rev. Charles Edward Taylor, to serve as chairman of the committee.102
The next year, when Governor Martin called the Royal Assembly to meet at New Bern on April 4, 1775, John Harvey infuriated the governor by calling the Provincial Congress to meet at the same place. The two bodies met there in the same hall, the Congress at 9 a.m., the Assembly at 10 a.m., both presided over by Harvey. Seeing that nothing was to be accomplished, Martin dissolved this last Royal Assembly on April 8, and soon fled from the colony.
A month later in May, 1775, the pot boiled over. The Massachusetts farmers fired on the British troops at Lexington, and the Revolution began. In August when the Provincial Congress met in Hillsboro, the delegates chose two chaplains for the meetings, one the distinguished Presbyterian from Granville, Henry Patillo, the other St. George's rector, Charles Edward Taylor.103 Selection as chairman of the Northampton Committee of Safety and as chaplain to the Provincial Congress are proof enough that the rector of St. George's Parish was no Tory but an ardent supporter of the colonial cause.
In spite of all the political excitement and the coming of actual war, Church affairs ran smoothly in St. George's. The vestry continued to meet regularly. Mr. Taylor went about his dual political and religious duties and found time to buy some more land in the county. On April 8, 1776, he purchased for £ 145, 10s, from Arthur Hart and his wife Martha, 219 acres on the South side of Fountain Creek, bounded partially by the run of Cypress Swamp and partially by the county line.104
But this orderly existence was not to last. Meetings of the vestry stopped abruptly on October 16, 1776, a few months after Mr. Taylor had bought the land. The Revolution had become a hard fact. North Carolina adopted a Constitution for itself. In its adoption churchmen joined with dissenters in inserting a section prohibiting the “Establishment of any one religious Church or Denomination in this State in Preference to any other.” The establishment was gone.X
The vestry meeting of October 16, 1776, needs careful examination. Present were Abraham Stevens and James Ingram, the churchwardens, William Eaton, Howell Edmunds, Hezekiah Hough (Hoof), George Berkley, and William Bennitt, vestrymen, together with the Rev. Charles Edward Taylor, the rector. Business proceeded as usual. The rector's salary for the coming year was approved for payment as well as his allowance in lieu of a glebe.
No vestry meeting was recorded after that date. Almost two years passed before the Vestry Book received its next entry. This next entry reads as follows:102 10 Colonial Records 140.103Cheshire, p. 435; 10 Colonial Records 169.104 Northampton County Deed Book 6, p. 232 (recorded June Court, 1777).
At an election of the [illegible] poor of the sd County the 20th of April 1778 Persuant to an act of Assembly made and provided in that case, the free-holders being duly summoned met and elected the seven following persons as by the return of Drury Gee Esqr Sheriff of sd County appointed (to Wit)
|Howell Edmunds||Hezekiah Hoof||Thos Parker|
|Richd Veal||George Berkley||Saml Cryer|
Three of the seven elected to be wardens of the poor had been vestrymen. Edmunds and Parker were appointed “county wardens” for the coming year. John Edmunds was named clerk. The collectors of parish taxes from the year 1769 were ordered to meet at the next Court of Overseers to settle their accounts with St. George's Parish. No ecclesiastical matters were mentioned.
When the Court met on June 2, 1778, however, we find several significant entries in the minutes:
Ordered that the Rev. Charles Edward Taylor be paid the sum of thirty Eight pounds six and eight pence in full of an order obtained by the sd Taylor vs. the parish Oct. 16, 1776—38.6.8.
This was a reference to the old vestry's approval of the rector's salary and glebe allowance from October, 1776, to October, 1777. The amount paid indicates that the Rev. Mr. Taylor continued to draw salary until about January 1, 1777.
Another entry of June 2, 1778, ordered that George Berkely be allowed £ 6 as clerk at the parish church, the usual annual fee—an indication that he was still serving in that capacity. Still another entry is of more interest:
Ordered that the revd Chas Edward Taylor deliver the surplasses, Callace & Salver to the County Wardens.
These entries show beyond question that the Rev. Mr. Taylor continued to serve as rector of St. George's until the first of January, 1777. They seem also to indicate that regular Anglican services were maintained until at least the time of this vestry meeting, June 2, 1778. Since Mr. Taylor did not dispose of his Northampton land until September 8, 1779,105 it is possible that he continued his ministrations until that time or even later. In his case it is difficult to take the traditional view that he was simply an unpopular Anglican clergyman. The fact that the authorities paid his salary after disestablishment is some evidence that he was not turned out peremptorily. The fact that he was required to turn over church property to the civil authority can be explained as a result of the county wardens’ interpretation of an act of 1777 making them answerable for old vestry debts. Possibly they felt that these items had become state property and should be subject to sale for meeting obligations of former vestries.106105 Taylor and his wife Sarah conveyed 219 acres to William Peterson for £ 1200 on that date. The deed was recorded in Northampton Deed Book 7, p. 9, March 20, 1780.106Cheshire, p. 263, commenting on similar action in Edgecombe as a result of Chapter 7, Acts of North Carolina General Assembly, 1777.
If the records give a true picture of Charles Edward Taylor it is almost inconceivable that he ceased to exercise his priestly functions. Whether he remained in Northampton after 1778-79 is more questionable. The court records disclose no will and no administration of his estate in the county—an indication, if not proof, that he left Northampton before his death. There is some evidence that he was alive as late as 1793, and Bishop Cheshirehints that he moved to Halifax County.107 The court and land records there, however, fail to disclose any evidence to substantiate the bishop's statement. It is fairly certain that he was dead or had removed from the state by 1795.108
Even if Mr. Taylor moved to Halifax it is not improbable that he continued occasional services in Northampton. The number of clergymen immediately after the Revolution was cut almost to the vanishing point, and the few who remained could afford to pay only slight attention to parish boundaries.
Contrary to the usual notions, much the same situation was true with respect to the Methodist preachers. All of them, with the exception of Francis Asbury, left America when the Revolution started. Asbury lived in what amounted almost to hiding in Delaware. The work of the Methodists was at a standstill.109 With almost no Anglican clergymen in the country, “the members of the Methodist societies found themselves totally deprived of the sacraments, which they had been accustomed to receive from them; and for their children they could obtain no baptism. . . .”110 Immediately after the Revolution, however, Devereux Jarratt began work in Northampton, work that prepared the ground for the Methodist revival a few years later.
Toward the close of the Revolution, Asbury wrote John Wesley asking for more preachers. By that time Wesley was an old man. He called Thomas Coke, an Anglican priest working with the English Methodists, and in February, 1784, in Wesley's own words, “Judging this (namely, the peculiar condition of the societies in America after the war) to be a case of necessity, I took a step which for peace and quietness I had refrained from taking many years. . . .”111 He then “set apart” Coke as a “Superintendent.” The words of Coke's ordination scroll are significant:
To all to whom these presents shall come, John Wesley, late Fellow of Lincoln college in Oxford, Presbyter of the Church of England sendeth greeting.
Whereas many of the people in the Southern provinces of North America, who desire to continue under my care, and still adhere to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, are greatly distressed for want of ministers to administer the sacraments of baptism107Ibid, p. 434.108Ibid, p. 416.109 Samuel Drew, The Life of the Rev. Thomas Coke, LL.D., New TYork (1818), p. 54.110Ibid, p. 59.111Ibid, p. 62-65. See also Nolan B. Harmon, The Organization of the Methodist Church, Nashville (1948), pp. 1-25.
and the Lord's supper, according to the usage of the same church: and whereas there does not appear to be any other way of supplying them with ministers—
Know all men, that I, John Wesley, think myself to be providentially called at this time to set apart some persons for the work of the ministry in America. And therefore, under the protection of Almighty God, and with a single eye to his glory, I have this day set apart as a Superintendent by the imposition of my hands and prayer, (being assisted by other ordained ministers) Thomas Coke, Doctor of Civil Law, a Presbyter of the Church of England, and a man whom I judge to be well qualified for that great work. And I do hereby recommend him to all to whom it may concern, as a fit person to preside over the flock of Christ. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this second day of September, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, seven hundred and eighty-four.
The Methodist Church as such was formed at a conference held in the city of Baltimore in 1784.113 Under Coke's leadership the first Methodist Conference for North Carolina was held at Green Hill's plantation in Franklin County, April 19, 1785. About thirteen years later Rehoboth Methodist Church in Northampton was organized in 1798 by Richard Whitaker, a deacon ordained by the Methodist Bishop Asbury. This church is still active in Northampton, and in 1948 its congregation celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding.114
The records disclose nothing to indicate what happened to the Anglican Church in Northampton after the departure of the Rev. Charles Edward Taylor. In 1790, 1793, and 1794 conventions were held in Tarboro in an effort to revive the Church in this state. At the last of these the Rev. Charles Pettigrew was elected to be bishop of North Carolina, a position he never lived to fill. It was Mr. Pettigrew, however, who drew up a list of Anglican ministers living in North Carolina in 1795. That list contains the name of the Rev. Stephen Johnston, and states that he was then living in Northampton. It also mentions the Rev. Joseph Gurley in Hertford County.115 This is the only reference to Mr. Johnston that has been discovered. When he came to the county, how long he stayed, and whether he served actively, are all unknown facts. He attended none of the Tarboro conventions. Certainly he was the last Anglican minister to live in Northampton until the late 1840's—a period of some fifty years.112Drew, (footnote 109) p. 66.113 Harmon, The Organization of the Methodist Church, pp. 3-4.114News and Observer, Raleigh, N. C., September 8, 1948. The statement in the newspaper article that the church was organized in 1793 is probably a misprint.115Cheshire, p. 416.
Speaking before the Convention of the Diocese of North Carolina in Henderson in 1916, Bishop Cheshirereminded his listeners that
An attempt was made to effect a diocesan organization of the Church in North Carolina during the last decade of the eighteenth century; and conventions with this purpose met in Tarborough in 1790, 1793, and 1794. At the last of these the Rev. Charles Pettigrew was chosen to be Bishop, deputies were appointed to attend the General Convention to be held in Philadelphia in 1795, and a Standing Committee was elected. But the Church throughout the United States was so weak and widely scattered that only during the session of the General Convention could three Bishops be gotten together for the consecration of another Bishop. Mr. Pettigrew was prevented from reaching Philadelphia to attend the General Convention of 1795 by quarantine regulations incident to an outbreak of yellow fever. Before another opportunity occurred his failing health disabled him from undertaking so arduous a work, and his death soon after brought to an end this first effort to effect diocesan organization.116
During Mr. Pettigrew's life religious awareness in North Carolina was rare. When Joseph Caldwell, that stern Presbyterian, came from New Jersey in 1797 to teach at the infant University at Chapel Hill he was profoundly shocked.
In New Jersey [religion] has the public respect and support; but in North Carolina, particularly in that part that lies east of us, every one believes that the first step he ought to take to rise into respectability is to disavow, as often and as publicly as he can, all regard for the leading doctrines of the Scripture.117
At the opening of the new century religion was not fashionable. The French Revolution, following closely on the heels of the American Revolution, made doubters in North Carolina as it did elsewhere. The writings of Volney and Voltaire, of Hobbes and Thomas Paine, supplanted the Bible in popularity among men of education. While it is doubtful that those with less of this new “enlightenment” had completely deserted Christian principles, the leaders, as a class, did little to foster religion. In 1809 an Edenton resident wrote:
I have remarked on inquiring for a bible, in opulent and respectable families, that they have, without any apparent confusion, confessed116Journal of the 100th Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of North Carolina, 1916, pp. 61, 62. Citations in the remaining portions of this study to diocesan convention journals will be numerous; often the citation will be used to refer to more than one part of a particular journal. Since the context will almost invariably indicate the part of the journal to be examined in order to confirm the reference, no page numbers are used. The year for which the journal was issued will appear after the word Journal in such cases.117 Quoted in Johnson, pp. 330-331.
they never possessed one. Others, with no small degree of self approbation, have declared they never, in the course of their lives, read the bible.118
But all religious life was not dead. The seeds of Methodism sown before, during, and immediately after the Revolution by Joseph Pilmour, Robert Williams, and Devereux Jarratt and later by William Meredith, William Glendenning, and Robert J. Miller, had not all fallen on unfavorable soil. Nor had the spiritual descendants of Shubal Stearns's Separatist and New Light Baptists faded from the North Carolina scene. While the Great Revival slept for some twenty years after the Revolution, the evangelicals were not dead.
As early as 1783 John Wesley suggested the probable necessity of forming a separate church in America. Less than two years later the members of the Methodist societies in North Carolina held their first conference near Louisburg and in their wisdom and understanding of the needs of the people declared:
Our call is to save that which is lost. . . . Now we cannot expect them to seek us. Therefore we should go and seek them. . . .119
This was the ethic of the Great Revival that was to come. Circuit riders ranged the country in southern Virginia and North Carolina. Northampton was soon a center of revival.120 In 1788 the indefatigable Asbury found “life” among the people in Northampton. “Preaching and prayer is not labour here,” he wrote, “their noise I heed not; I can bear it well when I know that God and Christ dwells in the hearts of the people.”121
Between 1801 and 1803 the four Baptist churches in Bertie, Hertford, and Northampton baptized 600 people.122 By 1804 the Great Revival had reached its climax in North Carolina, but at intervals it continued until the Civil War. The effect on the people was astounding. Sometimes the results were boisterous. In advertising his coming revival in Northampton in 1808, Elder Phillip Bruce said:
We trust that every gentleman and lady who may be at this appointment for worship, will endeavor to set good examples, and promote decorum; and if any are accustomed to behave bad at other places of worship, we pray them not to attend here.123
But the lasting result of this missionary work was a great evangelical awakening. The most graphic account of a Northampton revival runs this way:
John Easter was preaching . . . to a large assembly of people. . . . A large cloud drew near. A few drops fell and the crowd began to leave the grounds. With solemn authority Easter commanded them118Ibid.119Ibid, p. 374.120Ibid, p. 375.121Ibid.122Ibid, p. 387.123 Edenton Gazette, August 25, 1808, quoted in Johnson, p. 407.
to stop. He knelt and fervently prayed that God should withhold the rain until after the service and then send a heavy shower, for rain was much needed, ‘and it happened according to his petition.’124II
Without a single clergyman, pitifully weak in numbers, deserted by the people from whom it would normally have expected support, and shackled with an unpopular British tradition, the Episcopal Church was very slow to organize its forces. From the time of the Tarboro Convention of 1794 until 1817 the number of clergymen and active congregations dwindled almost to the vanishing point. Shortly before 1817, however, two northern clergymen arrived in North Carolina, Adam Empie and Bethel Judd. Starting with only one operating congregation, they began the work that led to the convention held in Christ Church, New Bern, on April 24, 1817. That convention was attended by clergymen and lay delegates from four parishes.125 That year for the first time in the state's history a bishop, the Rt. Rev. William Channing Moore of Virginia, began to minister to the scattered churchmen in North Carolina.126 This Bishop Moore continued until the election of the first bishop of North Carolina in 1823, John Stark Ravenscroft.127
Even before the bishop was chosen, parishes near Northampton were organized. Emmanuel Church, Warrenton, was admitted to the Convention of 1821, and St. Mark's, Halifax, was admitted in 1822. In 1828 Bishop Ravenscroft sent a missionary to Halifax, Scotland Neck, and Windsor.128 Trinity Church, Scotland Neck, was admitted in 1833, and St. Thomas's, Windsor, in 1843. Bishop Ravenscroft left no record of having visited Northampton, but the county was not without some clerical ministrations. A history of the parish written in 1878 states that the first services in Northampton were held at the courthouse in 1830.129 On November 24, 1831, the Roanoke Advocate published at Halifax carried an interesting notice:
The Rev. William Norwood, an Episcopalian, will preach at Jackson, Northampton County, on Sunday the 27th, instant; on Sunday the 4th of December at Turner's Cross Roads, Bertie County; and on Sunday the 11th of the month at Windsor and thereafter statedly at those places for a twelvemonth.124 A report by the Rev. James Patterson quoted in Johnson, p. 375.125 In 1817 there were fewer clergymen and congregations in North Carolina than there had been in 1794, but, to quote Bishop Cheshire, “they were of a more hopeful and confident spirit.” See Journal, 1916, pp. 61-62.126Journal, 1817.127Johnson, p. 335.128Journal, 1829.129 The Rev. Gilbert Higgs wrote a history of the Church of the Saviour in 1878 and inserted a copy in the Parish Register. Hereafter this manuscript is cited as Higgs.
The Rev. Mr. Norwood, a native of Hillsboro, graduated at Chapel Hill in 1826 and came to the Roanoke country as a bachelor of thirty. In Bertie he soon found a bride, Winifred Blount Hill. How long he actually stayed in the area is hard to determine, but his ministry elsewhere was long and distinguished.130
Bishop Ravenscroft was succeeded by the Rt. Rev. Levi Silliman Ives. From the first he seems to have concentrated his efforts on the establishment of new churches. Soon parishes at Elizabeth City, Clinton, Pittsboro, Chapel Hill, Henderson, Plymouth, and in Washington County, were admitted into union with the diocese. When the bishop visited Windsor in 1841 he found St. Thomas's growing. In the summer of the same year the bishop had sent a young deacon, Charles Disbrow, to work in Murfreesboro and Maney's Neck, but after a promising beginning in Hertford County the work lapsed in 1844 when the diocese could no longer afford to pay the missionary.131
The little spark kindled by the Rev. Mr. Norwood's services at Northampton courthouse in 1831 was fanned occasionally until 1848 by visits from the Rev. Joseph Saunders from Warrenton and the Rev. John M. Robinson from Windsor. These clergymen held services from time to time at the courthouse and at the residence of Mr. Samuel Calvert in Jackson.132 In 1843 the Rev. Cameron MacRae, then rector of Emmanuel Church, Warrenton, reported to the convention that at the request of the late J. Collinson Burgwyn he had been to Alveston plantation in Northampton County and baptized thirty-two colored children.133 Again in 1847 Mr. MacRae reported having baptized fourteen infants in Northampton,134 and in 1848 the Rev. Samuel Iredell Johnston, rector of St. Paul's, Edenton, and his assistant, the Rev. Charles A. Maison, reported the baptism of twelve adults and four infants “at Mr. T. P. Burgwyn's plantation on the Roanoke.”135
On November 13, 1844, accompanied by the Rev. Mr. MacRae, Bishop Ives visited the village of Gaston on the Roanoke in the upper part of the county. There the bishop preached and confirmed the first person to be confirmed in Northampton County.136
The occasional visits from neighboring clergymen increased as the years passed. More and more people with Church ties were moving into Northampton. Some like the Tuckers, the Lockharts, and the Exums, had been in the county all the time, but they were scattered and had been without the guidance of ministers for so long that they saw little hope for the Church. Some of them, however, participated as actively as possible in neighboring Virginia parishes. It130 For more detailed information about the Rev. Mr. Norwood consult the typewritten manuscript volumes of genealogy and local history compiled by Stuart Hill. These volumes are filed in the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina, in the Warren County Memorial Library, Warrenton, North Carolina, and in other libraries.131 See Journals, 1842, 1845.132Higgs.133Journal, 1843.134Journal, 1847.135Journal, 1848.136Journal, 1845.
was the arrival of men like Thomas Bragg, the Burgwyns, Samuel Calvert, and Dr. William Barrow that spurred the work of the Episcopal Church in Northampton.III
Bishop Ives spent March 16 and 17 in the year 1848 in and around the town of Jackson. He preached and baptized an infant, and later at a private house he baptized and confirmed an adult person.137 This marked the opening of a year of progress. The Rev. William H. Harison came to North Carolina about this time from Ogdenburg in the Diocese of New York and was sent by the bishop to serve St. Thomas's, Windsor, and to do missionary work in Northampton County.138 This young clergyman was unmarried, and during his work in the area he lived with the Henry K. Burgwyn family in Occoneechee Neck.139 The results of Mr. Harison's first year of work at what was called “Missionary Station at Jackson” must have been cheering:140
|Baptisms—Infant 22, Adults 15||37|
|Collections—For Valle Crucis||$15.00|
On the Third Sunday after Easter, 1849, Bishop Ives again visited the county. At the courthouse he confirmed two persons and administered the Holy Communion. His report to the following convention contains the first record of the plans for a church in the county.
The friends of the Church here are making what, I trust, by God's blessing, will prove a successful effort to build a Church.
On the evening of the same Sunday, I officiated at the house of Henry K. Burgwyn, Esq., and confirmed 7 colored persons. Mr. Burgwyn is making very laudable efforts to christianize his slaves which thus far have proved eminently successful.141
By the time of the Convention of 1850 the Rev. Mr. Harison was able to report forty-seven more baptisms and communion alms of $86.08.142 Mr. Samuel Calvert137Journal, 1848.138Journal, 1849. Much of the information concerning the Rev. Mr. Harison used here was furnished the writer by the Rev. Charles F. Schilling, rector of St. Paul's Church. Augusta, Georgia, September 15, 1950. Mr. Harison's life and work are discussed in a brochure, “Episcopal Church of the Atonement,” compiled by the Rev. F. W. B. Dorset, and in an article, “The Organization of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America,” by Edgar L. Pennington, Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Vol. XVII, No. 4, December, 1948.139Higgs.140Journal, 1849.141Ibid.142Journal, 1850.
presented the congregation with half an acre of land for the new church building,143 and a carpenter named Rose144 started the work. Before the building was well underway Mr. Harison received a call to become rector of a new parish, the Church of the Atonement, in Augusta, Georgia.145 He left Northampton, and on May 4, 1851, held the first services in his new parish church.146 His friends in Jackson must have followed Mr. Harison's subsequent career with interest. He remained in Augusta for many years. When the first General Council of the Confederate Church met there in 1862, he was elected secretary of its House of Bishops, and in 1865 at its second and last meeting he served in the same capacity.147IV
In 1851 Easter fell on the 20th of April. Nine days later in St. Paul's Church, Edenton, Bishop Ives ordained three deacons.148 One of these men was twenty-seven year old Frederick Fitzgerald, an Englishman raised in the family of Josiah Collins, Esq., at Scuppernong. Mr. Fitzgerald, who was educated at Valle Crucis, had been a candidate for holy orders in the diocese since 1847.149 The bishop sent him to Northampton immediately after ordination. On the following Sunday (the Second after Easter), May 4, 1851, the Jackson church was consecrated even though it was not completely furnished. Both Bishop Ives and the Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald left accounts of the day.
Mr. Fitzgerald described the building as “a small neat Gothic Church. . . . The nave 25 feet by 30 feet, the Chancel 14 feet by 13 feet. A vestryroom attached. In a small neat Bell-Cote above was hung a clear toned bell of sufficient size to gather together the little flock of worshippers.”150 Bishop Ives wrote:
I consecrated to the Worship of Almighty God, in the town of Jackson, Northampton County, a neat and commodious building, by the title of the Church of the Saviour. I preached on the occasion, and143 The deed was dated May 3, 1851, and under its terms Mr. Calvert conveyed the land in trust to the Rt. Rev. L. S. Ives, George W. Mordecai, and John W. Wright, trustees of the diocese, and their successors in office, for a congregation worshipping in a building on the lot according to the liturgy established by the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America. See Northampton County Deed Book 34, p. 321, and Higgs.144 The carpenter's name appears in the accounts kept in the Parish Register.145Journal, 1849.146 Parish Register of the Church of the Atonement, Augusta, Georgia. It is interesting to observe the coincidence in dates here: on the day Mr. Harison held the first services in his new parish the building started while he was in Jackson was consecrated by Bishop Ives, see infra IV.147 See supra, footnote 138.148Journal, 1851.149 Much of the personal information concerning the Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald can be found in two obituaries. One of them, published in The Church Intelligencer, September 13, 1866, was furnished the writer by Dr. Lawrence F. London, historiographer of the Diocese of North Carolina. The other, published in the Church Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 3, October, 1866, was furnished by the Rev. Arthur Adams, librarian of Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.150 This is a quotation from a history of the Church of the Saviour written by the Rev. Frederick Fitzgerald while serving as rector. It can be found in the Parish Register. Hereafter this paper is cited as Fitzgerald.The Church of the Saviour, JacksonExterior —1851-1885
administered the Holy Communion,—being assisted in the services by the Rev. Messrs. [Joseph Blount] Cheshire and [Charles A.] Maison, presbyters, and the Rev. Messrs. [James G.] Jacocks and Fitzgerald, deacons. The friends of the Church here are entitled to due encouragement and aid for this liberal effort in behalf of Christ's kingdom.151
Mr. Fitzgerald added that “notwithstanding the rain which poured in torrents, there were 71 persons present.” He might also have added that the collection at the service amounted to $7.05.152
It was a singular happening for a congregation to be able to present a debt-free building for consecration even before the congregation itself was admitted to union with the convention of the diocese. Yet that is what happened, for only on the following day, on Monday after the building was consecrated on Sunday, did the minutes of the vestry show that “the friends of the Protestant Episcopal Church assembled at the house of Henry K. Burgwyn, Esq., in Jackson” and petitioned the diocese for admission as a parish. Thirteen people signed the petition:
|Henry K. Burgwyn||Morgianna M. Randolph|
|Samuel Calvert||Caroline B. Calvert|
|William Barrow||Virginia A. Bynum|
|John B. Bynum||John Burgwyn|
|David A. Barnes||Thomas P. Burgwyn|
|Samuel J. Calvert||John Randolph|
|Anna Greenough Burgwyn|
The congregation then proceeded to elect vestrymen and delegates to represent them in the Diocesan Convention of 1851.153 The first vestry named was composed of eight men:
|Dr. William Barrow||John B. Bynum|
|John Randolph||Henry K. Burgwyn|
|Thomas Bragg||Samuel Calvert|
|Thomas D. Sterling||Edmund Wilkins|
The convention delegates were:
|John Burgwyn||John B. Bynum|
|Henry K. Burgwyn||David A. Barnes|
The eight men chosen to lead the infant parish as vestrymen merit more than mention. To them the parish owes a lasting obligation.
Dr. William Barrow,154 the senior warden, was just thirty years old. Born in Halifax County, the son of Thomas Barrow, Jr., and Mary Duke Lawrence, Dr. Barrow attended the University of North Carolina in 1837 and 1838, and received a doctorate in medicine from the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1839. Two years later, October 2, 1841, he married Eliza Rebecca, daughter of Samuel and Margaret (Proby) Calvert. In politics an ardent Whig, Dr. Barrow served in the House of Commons in 1850, and after the Civil War, like many other Union Whigs, he joined the Republican Party and served in the state legislature and as a trustee of the University.
Dr. Barrow was elected senior warden in 1851 and served in that capacity until his death in 1881. He and his wife advanced the money with which the parish purchased a rectory. His reports to the diocesan conventions when the church had no rector demonstrate his zeal in making sure the parish kept its pledges and shared in the work of the whole communion.
Resolutions of the vestry at the time of his death at the age of sixty-one attest his character:
He was a good physician in whose skill and honor his patients and professional brethren had implicit confidence. He was wise and prudent, honest and brave, gentle and kind, charitable and generous, and an earnest Christian worker. In public and private life, his chief characteristic was firmness and unswerving integrity.155
Today Dr. Barrow's great grandson, the Rt. Rev. William Jones Gordon, is the Church's youngest missionary bishop, serving the whole of Alaska.
Thomas D. Sterling,156 first junior warden of the parish. It has proved almost impossible to find any information about Mr. Sterling. That he was employed in some capacity by the Burgwyn family in connection with their agricultural operations in Occoneechee Neck is reasonably well-established. That he was held in high regard is attested by the fact that the congregation in Jackson elected him to serve as a vestryman and that his fellow vestrymen named him their first junior warden. Mr. Sterling remained in Northampton for only one year after his election to the vestry, and when he left David A. Barnes was elected to replace him.
John Randolph,157 secretary of the first vestry, was still a young man in 1851. After two years at the University of North Carolina, 1837-38, as a classmate of154 Dr. Barrow's family background was furnished the writer by Miss Evelyn Barrow of Portsmouth, Virginia, the first senior warden's granddaughter.155 Minutes of the Vestry of the Church of the Saviour, April 25, 1881.156 Information concerning Thomas D. Sterling is found in the Parish Register, the Minutes of the Vestry, and in Fitzgerald.157 This information was taken principally from the Parish Register, from the Alumni History of the University of North Carolina, and from the Minutes of the Vestry.
Dr. Barrow's, he returned to Jackson and, like Dr. Barrow, married one of the daughters of Samuel and Margaret (Proby) Calvert, Morgianna Moseley Calvert, the widow of Mr. James Goosley. Mr. Randolph (usually remembered as Captain Randolph) was a native of Northampton and a Confederate soldier. When the Civil War broke out he raised a company of volunteers and became their captain.
Both Captain and Mrs. Randolph were present at Mr. Burgwyn's house and signed the petition for admission of the Jackson congregation to the diocese in 1851. The vestry records indicate that he was active in parish affairs from the beginning, but military service kept him away from church matters during the war, and in 1866 he died.
Mrs. Randolph, one of the true founders of the parish, lived to the age of eighty-seven with the family of her son-in-law, William Wallace Peebles, and her grandson, Calvert Goosley Peebles, both loyal churchmen. Mrs. Randolph's “amiability and gentleness of disposition, her buoyancy and cheerfulness of spirits, her fondness and talent for giving pleasure to others—especially the young; her generous unbounded hospitality . . . endeared her to the hearts of all those whose privilege it was to be honored by her intimacy. . . . With this Parish her affections were entwined for many long years of her useful life, always doing her part cheerfully in every measure that could contribute to its prosperity. She but seldom failed at her attendance at Divine Worship until prevented by the infirmities of age, and was always present at the Celebration of the Blessed Sacrament.”158
Thomas Bragg.159 At the time of his election to the first vestry Mr. Bragg was forty-one years old. He was born in Warrenton, November 9, 1810, the fourth child of Thomas Bragg, a carpenter-contractor, and Margaret Crossland Bragg. Although not in the best financial circumstances, his parents were determined to give all of their children160 a thorough education. Thomas Bragg first attended the Warrenton Academy under the Rev. George W. Freeman, later Bishop of Arkansas. At sixteen he was sent for three years to a military school in Middletown, Connecticut.161 He then returned to North Carolina, studied for a time at Chapel Hill, and then studied law under Judge John Hall of the state supreme court. Upon being admitted to the bar, he went to Jackson to practice. Four years later, October, 1837, he was married to Miss Isabelle M. Cuthbert of Petersburg, Virginia. Ashe's biographical sketch of Bragg contains an interesting comment on the young lawyer's habits:158 Minutes of the Vestry, April 24, 1907.159 For information on Thomas Bragg consult Ashe, Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. 6, pp. 94-101, North Carolina Supreme Court Reports, Vol. 66, p. 502 et seq., the Parish Register, the Minutes of the Vestry, and Fitzgerald.160 The other Bragg children were John, an Alabama judge and member of Congress, Alexander, an architect, Dunbar, a Texasmerchant, William, a resident of Chattanooga, and Braxton, distinguished Confederate general.161 There he studied under the celebrated Capt. Allen Partridge and was a classmate of another distinguished North Carolinian, Paul Carrington Cameron.
In those early days so closely did Governor Bragg confine himself to study and to the preparation of his cases and to his delightful home life that he seemed almost estranged from his community.
Despite his retiring habits Mr. Bragg took an active interest in Democratic Party politics. In 1842 he defeated Thomas J. Gatling, a Whig, for a seat in the state legislature, but at the next election David A. Barnes, another Whig and Bragg's fellow churchman, defeated Bragg. Nevertheless that same year Bragg defeated William W. Cherry of Bertie (“the most brilliant orator of the state at that time”) to become a presidential elector on the Polk and Dallas ticket. Four years later he defeated Kenneth Raynor for the post of presidential elector, and the same year that David A. Barnes was elected to the parish vestry with Bragg, Bragg defeated him in still another presidential elector race.
In 1854 the Whigs nominated General Alfred Dockery to run for governor. Mr. Bragg happened to be attending the Gates County court term at which the general made his first campaign speech. Mr. Bragg arose and replied. The same thing happened at Edenton. Shortly afterwards the Democratic Convention met in Raleigh and unanimously nominated Bragg to run against Dockery. After what Ashe called “one of the most remarkable campaigns ever conducted in the State,” Bragg was elected. After serving one term he ran against John A. Gilmer and defeated him by 12,628 votes. He proved to be an able chief executive. At the end of his second term he was elected to the United States Senate to succeed Asa Biggs.
In the Senate Bragg was quite active and soon became highly respected. In 1861 he made earnest efforts to avoid civil war by taking an active part in the Peace Congress of the Central States held in Washington. While he did not oppose the war openly, he did not believe that the South could establish her independence. “He thought the odds were too great against her.”
When North Carolina seceded Bragg resigned his seat in the Senate and returned to Raleigh. On November 21, 1861, Jefferson Davis appointed him Attorney General of the Confederacy. He served for only about four months, and on March 16, 1862, he was succeeded by Watts of Alabama.162
At the end of the war Bragg resumed the practice of law in Raleigh. In February, 1867, he appeared in the famous Johnston will case and made probably his greatest speech. When the General Assembly of 1870 impeached Governor Holden, Bragg, former Governor Graham, and Judge Merrimon were selected to conduct the trial. On January 19, 1872, Bragg was forced to stop work on account of illness, and two days later, January 21, he died. On Tuesday, January 22, funeral services were conducted in Christ Church, Raleigh, and he was buried in Elmwood Cemetery there.162 Although the reasons for Bragg's resignation are “unrecorded,” to quote Ashe, there is some reason to believe that, as a Democrat, Bragg saw the advantage of placing an old Whig in Davis's cabinet and resigned to leave a vacancy for such an appointment.
John Bowen Bynum,163 son of Thomas Bynum and Eliza S. Nicholas, was born September 6, 1827. He was educated at the University of North Carolina where he played a prominent role as a student. At the University commencement of 1847 when President Polk, accompanied by his Secretary of the Navy, John Y. Mason, returned to their alma mater to receive honorary degrees, young Bynum served as a student marshal. The following year (1848), at his own graduation, Bynum delivered a speech on “The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina,” obviously a subject drawn from his legal studies.
Upon admission to the bar he returned to Northampton County and began to practice in Jackson at the age of twenty-one. He married Virginia A. Smith.
When elected to the parish vestry in 1851 John B. Bynum was not yet twenty-four years old, but his position in the community was established.
In December, 1851, Mr. Bynum and his wife moved from Jackson to Chestnut Hill plantation in Gaston Township near the Warren County line. There on October 2, 1856, at the age of twenty-nine this promising young man died of tuberculosis. On October 5 his body was placed in the churchyard of the Church of the Saviour, the third to be buried there.
Henry King Burgwyn.164 When the Church of the Saviour was organized in 1851 Mr. Burgwyn was thirty-eight years old. The second son of John Fanning and Sarah Pierrepont Hunt Burgwyn, he was born January 7, 1813. After studying engineering at the United States Military Academy for three years, he married in 1838 Anna Greenough of Jamaica Plains near Boston. Mrs. Burgwyn was the daughter of David Stoddard Greenough and the step-daughter of General William Hyslop Summer. After Henry K. Burgwyn and his brother, Thomas Pollok Burgwyn, inherited large tracts of land on the Roanoke, they moved to Northampton in 1840. Mr. and Mrs. Burgwyn lived first at a plantation known as Hillside. At the time the parish was organized they were living in Jackson. When the house at the Hillside was burned sometime later they moved to another plantation, Thornbury. Later still they moved to Richmond where Mr. Burgwyn died February 2, 1877.
Henry K. Burgwyn and his brother Thomas were known throughout the country for the wheat crops grown at Thornbury and Occoneechee Wigwam. When they inherited their river land cotton was the staple crop grown there. They set themselves at once to study agriculture. When he first came to Northampton Henry Burgwyn was eager to use Irish labor instead of slaves, and he163 Information concerning John B. Bynum has been drawn from his tombstone, from Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, from the Parish Register, and from conversations with collateral descendents.164 The data on Henry K. Burgwyn and his family has been compiled from several sources: Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South, (1929) pp. 253-254, Ashe, Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. 8, pp. 58-66 (John Burgwin), pp. 67-72 (Colonel Harry Burgwyn), letter to the writer from his grandson, Judge W. H. S. Burgwyn, October 2, 1949, and from a bound volume of Henry K. Burgwyn's letters in the Southern Historical Collection of the University of North Carolina.
imported a number of Irishmen for work on the plantations. By 1860, however, he had entirely reversed his position. In that year he even wrote a pamphlet on the necessity of slavery.165
The summer and fall of 1851, following the consecration of the Church of the Saviour, Mr. Burgwyn spent studying agricultural methods in Europe. By October that year he was in Florence with the idea of taking a house there for his wife and family the next year. On Sunday, October 19, he wrote his wife:
I went to the English Episcopal Church today that I might report to you and was much pleased, the service is like ours only longer—it is quite a neat church and there were about 1000 people, almost all English and Americans.
By November 3 he had reached Paris, and with affection he wrote again:
Paris even has no charms in comparison with Jackson with you there.
In August, 1852, the Farmers’ Journal wrote of the Burgwyn brothers:
They have done more to show what our state might be in an agricultural point, than any other gentlemen with whom we are acquainted. . . . Upon these farms we saw land that this year, even with the dry season, is estimated to average from ten to twelve barrels of corn, and twenty bushels of wheat per acre, which ten years since would not have made that of corn per acre, and scarcely any wheat.
Their improvements consisted chiefly in draining the bottom fields, ploughing deeply with three-horse plows, sub-soiling, and using lime and clover as fertilizer. In 1854 the brothers had fifteen reaping machines. One threshed his wheat by steam power: the other, by water.166 In 1855 Solon Robinson, traveler and writer on agricultural subjects, called Thornbury and Occoneechee Wigwam the best plantations between Canada and Louisiana. That year Henry K. Burgwyn had 900 acres in wheat which he estimated would yield twenty bushels to the acre and be worth about $50,000, and Thomas Pollok Burgwyn had 700 acres in wheat. In addition, Henry Burgwyn had 450 acres in corn and 500 in clover, besides minor crops.167
Visitors frequently mentioned the excellence of the slave quarters on these plantations. “We were particularly struck with the provisions made for the comfort of the negroes on the plantations. Their houses are all good framed buildings with a garden attached to each.”168 Both brothers had “regular hospitals for the sick”169 and at Thornbury Henry Burgwyn erected a chapel for religious services for the slaves.165 “Considerations Relative to a Southern Confederacy,” State Journal, Raleigh, December 5, 1860.166Johnson, p. 485.167Arator, July, 1855, p. 121.168Southern Weekly Post, quoted in the Raleigh Register, July 4, 1855.169Johnson, p. 527.
Samuel Calvert.170 Born in Norfolk County, Virginia, in 1792, Mr. Calvert moved to Northampton courthouse in the late months of 1823 at the age of thirtyone. There is a well-attested story that at the age of eleven one of his seafaring uncles took him on a voyage to South America, probably with the notion that the boy would want to follow the sea. Instead, he moved with his father to Southampton County, Virginia. In 1814 he married Louisa Collins Glenn who bore him one child then died in 1816. In 1817 Mr. Calvert married Mrs. Margaret (Proby) Wynans of Hampton. She became the mother of five children. In North Carolina Mr. Calvert became a large landowner and for a number of years operated the hotel in Jackson. At the time of Nat Turner's Insurrection in late August, 1831, people in the areas near-by became alarmed. “It was rumored that Nat was headed toward Northampton County. The militia was quartered in the old Clerk's office for the protection of our people. The signal was to be the firing of a gun should Nat be coming this way. That night the soldiers were frolicing and accidentally fired a gun. The people near enough to hear it rushed to town in a panic, and more came as the rumor spread.” Something had to be done to house these frightened people. Mr. Calvert's hotel was the only place big enough to take care of them. At the time Mr. Calvert was staying near Warrenton with some of his “sporting friends,” and, according to his grandson, Mrs. Calvert felt she had better send for him. He made the trip home in record time. Most of Mr. Calvert's hospitality on this occasion turned out to be free. When the legislature met, Dr. Godwin Cotton Moore of Hertford made an attempt to have the state compensate Mr. Calvert for sheltering these refugees but was unsuccessful.
When General Lafayette made his triumphal tour of the country, he entered North Carolina near Murfreesboro. In the course of his trip from there to Halifax, and later to Raleigh, he and the escorting party passed through Jackson. Mr. Calvert's hotel served to welcome the distinguished Frenchman.
Mr. Calvert made each church in Jackson a present of the land on which to erect its building. When he died at the age of eighty-nine in 1881, the vestry adopted resolutions memorializing his long service:
. . . One who will be sadly missed by those who so often shared his hospitality, and by the poor, the helpless and the needy. He was a representative man in business and in public affairs — possessing quick perceptions, good judgment and conservatism. He made a large fortune which was mostly lost by the result of the war, and being surety for his friends. He was a member of the House of Commons from Northampton in 1833 and in the Constitutional170 Information concerning Samuel Calvert has been obtained primarily from letters to the writer from his great-granddaughter, Mrs. Sallie Calvert Parker, October 25, 1949, and November 1, 1949, from the Parish Register, the Minutes of the Vestry, Fitzgerald, and Higgs.
Convention in 1835. His wonderful devotion to the old Whig Party and its principles showed him to be a man of the strongest conviction.171
Edmund Wilkins,172 the son of William Wyche Wilkins and Elizabeth Judkins Raines, was born in Greensville County, Virginia, October 2, 1796. At the age of sixteen in 1812 he was sent to the University of North Carolina from which he received a B.A. degree in 1814. During this period Mr. Wilkins's father purchased Belmont plantation on the Roanoke River in Gaston Township and moved there to live. The elder Wilkins died in 1840.
From Chapel Hill Edmund Wilkins went to Yale where in 1817 he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and won the coveted Berkley Prize. From Yale he went to study law in Litchfield, Connecticut, at the celebrated school established by Judge Tapping Reeve. When he completed his legal studies Mr. Wilkins settled for a time at Scotland Neck and practiced in the surrounding counties.
In 1847 Mr. Wilkins purchased Belmont from his brother, Dr. William Webb Wilkins, and moved there to live. In addition to his legal and farming interests, Mr. Wilkins, an ardent Whig, became interested in the development of the Raleigh and Gaston and the Greensville and Roanoke railroads.
Edmund Wilkins was a serious student of theology and a staunch churchman. He was living at Belmont as a bachelor when elected to the parish vestry in 1851 at the age of fifty-five. He served the Jackson church as vestryman until he began the organization of the mission at Gaston in 1858-59 that became St. Luke's Church. Mr. Wilkins died at Belmont on January 20, 1867, and is buried in St. Luke's churchyard.VI
The youthful Church of the Saviour was admitted to the diocese at the Convention of 1851, and its youthful clergyman set about his work in earnest. Since there was no rectory, Mr. and Mrs. Burgwyn took Mr. Fitzgerald to live with them at Thornbury. On three Sunday mornings in each month, making his way to Jackson on “the parish horse,”173 the rector held services in the new church. The afternoons of those days he devoted his attention to instructing a colored congregation. The attendance by both races was remarkably good, and the rector reported, “there is great cause for heartfelt thankfulness that God has manifestly blessed his Church in this place.” He soon had a flourishing Sunday School, and on two evenings each week there were services of Evening Prayer. On the fourth Sunday171 Minutes of the Vestry, September 11 (or 12), 1881.172 The information concerning Edmund Wilkins is taken from the Wilkins family Bible, from a sketch of his life written by his great-niece, Miss Edmonia Cabell Wilkins, now in the writer's possession, from the alumni records of the University of North Carolina and Yale University, and from the diocesan journals. Mr. Wilkins's interest and influence in the development of the Gaston church is dealt with in the portion of this study devoted to St. Luke's Church.173 Accounts in the Parish Register.
in each month Mr. Fitzgerald remained at Thornbury where Mr. Burgwyn had erected “a plain Chapel” for the Negroes.174
Under their minister's leadership the congregation of the Church of the Saviour turned their attention to procuring furnishings for the sparsely adorned building in Jackson. In the year following the consecration $61.00 in cash was contributed toward “finishing the building.” The parish records show that this money was given by Mrs. Frank Lockhart, Miss E. A. Collins of Edenton, the Rev. Dr. Francis Vinton of Emmanuel Church, Brooklyn, New York (a friend of Bishop Ives's), a Mrs. Greenough, and an unidentified “lady in Boston.” To this list should also be added the Church in Middletown, Connecticut, and $13.00 of the total came from a special collection taken at Shocco Springs in Warren County. In the same year Mr. John Burgwyn contributed $5.00 for the purchase of a Prayer Book for the altar, and Miss M. A. Exum gave $20.00 to be spent for a lectern Bible and for Prayer Books. Mrs. H. K. Burgwyn gave $2.00 for Prayer Books and $5.00 for a vestment case to be placed in the vestry room. With some other members of the parish, Mrs. William Barrow collected and presented $18.50 to be used for purchasing a stove. Lamps were a necessity, and they proved hard to procure. Mrs. “General” Sumner, Mrs. William Beverley of Brooklyn, and Mrs. George Devereux of New Haven contributed $45.00 for lamps, but the lamps did not arrive until January, 1853.175
In that first year the lectern Bible, chancel Prayer Books, and the Parish Register were purchased and neatly lettered in gold to show the parish name. A lectern, “curtains,”176 and a pedestal for the font177 were also purchased. The building itself was plastered and painted, and a chimney was added. The congregation purchased a Sunday School library for $10.00 and installed a vestment case in the vestry room. A melodeon was purchased to furnish musical accompaniment for the services, and a sun dial was placed in the churchyard.178
Material improvements do not tell the whole story. When the Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald came to Northampton he found six white and twelve slave communicants of the Church, a total of eighteen. In exactly one year the number of white communicants had doubled, four by way of confirmation. That same year Mr. Fitzgerald baptized six white and forty-nine Negro children, a total of fifty-five baptisms, the largest number in any single year of the parish's existence. The offerings amounted to $229.00, and the congregation met its three diocesan obligations, $6.00 for the Episcopal and Contingent Fund, $9.00 for the Missionary Fund, and $2.40 for the Relief Fund. The Sunday School was ministering to twenty white children and five Negro children.179174Journal, 1852.175 Accounts in the Parish Register.176 This probably refers to hangings for the altar and lectern.177 The font itself was a marble bowl, and the pedestal was painted wood. It can be seen in photographs of the interior of the church.178 Accounts in the Parish Register.179Journals, 1851, 1852.The Church of the Saviour, JacksonInterior —1851-1885
The Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald's salary was supplemented by diocesan funds, and it was clear that Northampton could have little hope of having his services exclusively. Shortly before the Convention of 1852, Bishop Ives instructed Mr. Fitzgerald to give the lapsed church in Halifax one Sunday each month. There were still seven communicants there, and almost as soon as this remarkable man began work on the other side of the Roanoke he reported that “active measures have been already taken towards the erection of a house proper for God's holy service.”180
Another year passed, and the work in Jackson, Halifax, and Occoneechee Neck progressed steadily. There was no episcopal visitation to the parish in 1853, and consequently there were no confirmations. The baptismal record is a different story, for the rector baptised two white and six Negro adults, and seven white and fourteen Negro infants, a total of twenty-nine persons. The Sunday School had grown by a leap. Thirty white children and forty Negro children were being instructed from “ Mrs. Sherwood's Tales.”181
Late in 1852 Bishop Ives made his decision to resign the bishopric and join the Roman Catholic Church. Strangely, the effects on the struggling Church were of no consequence. Perhaps the only unusual thing to happen locally was that when it came time for Mr. Fitzgerald to be ordained to the priesthood, there being no bishop in the diocese, the Standing Committee requested the Assistant Bishop of Connecticut, the Rt. Rev. John Williams, to officiate.182 Mr. Fitzgerald went to Philadelphia and in Christ Church in that city was ordained on September 4, 1853.183
In March, 1854, the newly consecrated Bishop of North Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Atkinson,184 made his first visitation to the northeastern counties. On Thursday, March 9, he was in Scotland Neck planning to proceed to Jackson, but the Roanoke River changed his plans.
In consequence of a flood in the Roanoke obstructing the direct road to Jackson, I returned to the Wilmington Rail Road, which I reached at Enfield, and thence proceeded to Garysburg, and procuring a conveyance there went down to the residence of H. K. Burgwyn, Esq. On Friday, the 10th., at a little Chapel on his estate, after Evening Prayer, I preached to his slaves, who attended most numerously and with a gratifying appearance of interest and devotion. The Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald who lives at Mr. Burgwyn's, gives much of his time and labor to this important and often neglected part of our population; and with the efficient aid which he receives from Mr.180Journal, 1852.181 Parish Register (record of baptisms and accounts); Journal, 1853.182Journal, 1854.183 Obituary, Church Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 3, October, 1866.184 Born August 6, 1807, died January 4, 1881. See National Cyclopaedia of Biography, Vol. VI, p. 52, Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. I, p. 411, and Hugh Lefler, “Thomas Atkinson, Third Bishop of North Carolina,” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Vol. XVII, No. 4, December 1948, p. 422 et seq.
Morrell,185 now a candidate for Orders, who resides as a Tutor in the family, and from the excellent mistress of the household, the good work seems to make gratifying progress.
On Sunday, March 12th, [at Jackson] I was gratified to enjoy the assistance, not only of Mr. Fitzgerald, but of the Rev. William G. Jackson, who had come on to the Diocese with the expectation of transferring his residence to it, which I am happy to say, he has since done. In the morning, I preached, and assisted by these brethren, administered the Holy Communion. In the evening after prayers, Mr. Jackson preached.
On Monday, March 13th, I returned to Mr. Burgwyn's, where, in the evening, at his Chapel, after prayers, I preached and confirmed thirteen of his slaves.
Tuesday, March 14th, I went, accompanied by Mr. Fitzgerald, to Murfreesborough, where, at night, we held service in the Methodist Church, which had been courteously offered to our use. On that occasion I preached. Mr. Fitzgerald officiates at Murfreesborough on each fifth Sunday, but as the village is growing and the number of persons attached to the Church increasing, there is a demand for more services, which I trust he will be able to provide for them, and there is also an earnest desire on the part of many and a hopeful effort for the erection of a Church.
On Wednesday, I went with Mr. F. to Mr. Stephen Norfleet's, where we remained on Thursday.
On Friday, we held service at Woodville, in Bertie County, where I preached. In this place also, there are preparations making to build a church.186
Now sharing the ministrations of Mr. Fitzgerald with both Halifax and Murfreesboro, the Church of the Saviour was having services on only the first and third Sundays each month. The church was out of debt, an excellent fence had been placed around the churchyard, and several improvements had been made to the building. More important, Mr. Fitzgerald reported that the Sunday School continued to prosper and that services were better attended than ever before. In addition to his regular parochial work Mr. Fitzgerald was giving services whenever possible at the county poor house, and he continued to spend every Thursday evening and every fourth Sunday with the Negroes at Thornbury. By the spring of 1855 the church at Halifax was almost completed and the congregation in Murfreesboro had collected funds for erecting a building.187
Shortly after the Convention of 1855 Mr. Fitzgerald resigned and went to the new church in Goldsboro.
Having been called to a larger sphere of labor, and forced to seek an adequate support, I resigned this Parish on the 17th of last June,185 See infra, footnote 229.186Journal, 1854.187Journals, 1854, 1855.
deeply sorrowing that circumstances called for a separation from it, which, from four years of peaceful and prosperous labor, together with constant tokens of strong affection had become very dear to me.188
This was Mr. Fitzgerald's report to the Convention of 1856 meeting a year after his resignation. He continued:
To my great regret the Parish is still without a Pastor. By a recent resolution of the Vestry, I learn that a Rectory will be erected during the ensuing year,—without which no parish can reasonably expect permanent pastoral ministration.
I have performed several services in this Parish since my resignation.189
Just before the 1856 Convention Bishop Atkinson spent two days in Jackson and at Thornbury in company with the Rev. Peyton Gallagher, then rector in Halifax, and shortly after the convention he sent a newly-ordained deacon, Thomas Goelet Haughton, to serve in Northampton.190 The Rev. Mr. Haughton served the Church of the Saviour from July, 1856, until he became assistant at St. Luke's, Salisbury, on January 1, 1857. His laconic report of his service in Northampton contains this interesting statement:
I deem it due to the zeal of the Parish to state, that they have taken the necessary steps toward securing regular and permanent Ministerial services. They have purchased a neat and comfortable Parsonage, with 15 acres of land, and are disposed to pay their Minister liberally.191
In July, 1857, the vestry voted unanimously to recall Mr. Fitzgerald. Although he felt that he could not leave Goldsboro at that time, he agreed to give the Jackson church two Sundays a month. This arrangement continued from November, 1857, until November, 1858. At the bishop's request Mr. Fitzgerald then resigned the Jackson charge so that the congregation might seek a resident priest.192
Few people associated with the history of the Church of the Saviour occupy the honored place accorded Frederick Fitzgerald. His work in Goldsboro was as successful as it had been in Jackson. He was largely responsible for the erection of St. Stephen's Church there.193 In 1859 Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, awarded Mr. Fitzgerald a Master of Arts degree, honoria causa.194 Shortly after the188Journal, 1856.189Ibid.190Journal, 1857. Mr. Haughton was ordained deacon at the Convention of 1856 at St. Peter's, Washington, and priest in 1857. The Journal of 1870 states that Bishop Atkinson deposed Mr. Haughton that year at the minister's own request.191Journal, 1857. The rectory purchased at this time is still standing about three quarters of a mile beyond the church on the highway from Jackson to Seaboard.192 Parish Register.193 Obituary, The Church Intelligencer, September 13, 1866, and a letter from a correspondent published in the same periodical, September 27, 1866.194 Letter from the Rev. Arthur Adams, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, to the writer, April 13, 1949.
Civil War broke out he went to Raleigh where he occupied the dual position of assistant at St. Mary's School and editor of the Church Intelligencer,195 one of the three Church papers being published in the Confederacy at the beginning of the war. Mr. Fitzgerald edited the first issue published on March 14, 1860, a large folio of eight pages.196 On June 6, 1861, he resigned as editor to become one of fifteen clergymen the Diocese of North Carolina sent as chaplains to the Confederate Army, stating that he felt that “no higher sphere of usefulness can be found for the good of our beloved country than that of chaplain.”197 When the war ended, having “neither occupation nor revenue,”198 Mr. Fitzgerald accepted a call to Trinity Church, Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1865.199 In about a year's time he received a call to the Church of the Advent in Nashville, Tennessee, and was preparing to accept when he suffered a heart attack in late August, 1866. He was buried from Trinity Church, Hoboken, on Sunday, September 2, 1866.200
After Mr. Fitzgerald's resignation in the fall of 1858, and perhaps occasionally before that time, a newly-ordained deacon at Windsor, the Rev. Benjamin Swann Bronson, gave the Jackson congregation services from time to time.201VII
When Bishop Atkinson made his regular visit to the parish on March 23 and 24 in 1859 the picture was cheerful. The entry in the bishop's journal for March 24 states that “the Rev. Mr. Lightbourne, who has recently taken charge of the Parish, although not yet transferred to the diocese, read prayers, morning and evening. I preached on both occasions, confirmed one person, and administered the Holy Communion.”202
This Mr. Lightbourn was Frederick Lightbourn, a twenty-four year old graduate of the General Theological Seminary who had recently been ordained deacon by the Bishop of New York. Born in Bermuda, Mr. Lightbourn came from a family of clergymen. The younger son in a family of eleven, he was educated at a private school in Bermuda before his father, rector of Pembroke and Devonshire Parishes there, sent him to the seminary in New York.203
Mr. Lightbourn arrived in Jackson on February 1, 1859,204 and like his two predecessors continued regular services for both races at Jackson and at Thornbury195Journal, 1860.196 Lawrence F. London, “Literature of the Confederate Church,” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episopal Church, Vol. XVII, No. 4, December 1948, pp. 350, 351, 359.197 London, supra, p. 372, quoting Fitzgerald's report to the first annual Council of the Diocese of North Carolina at St. John's, Fayetteville, May 14, 1863.198 Letter published in The Church Intelligencer, September 27, 1866.199 Obituary, The Church Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 3, October, 1866.200The Church Intelligencer, October 11, 1866.201Journals, 1857, 1858.202Journal, 1859.203 Letter from Major Philip L. Lightbourn of “Sunny Gleam,” Cut Road, St. George's, Bermuda, to the writer, March 28, 1949. Major Lightbourn is the Rev. Mr. Lightbourn's son. This letter is cited hereafter as Lightbourn.204Journal, 1859.
where he lived.205 In addition, he began to hold a service once each month at Gaston.206 As early as 1844 Bishop Ives had visited the little river town and confirmed one person, but no effort had been made to establish a church there. Although the distance from Gaston to Jackson was difficult to cover, two members of the Church of the Saviour's first vestry lived in the Gaston community, Edmund Wilkins, and later John B. Bynum. Mr. Wilkins was especially interested in establishing a church in the town adjoining his plantation. He purchased an old cocoonery building the Methodists had been using in the village,207 and on July 7, 1859, Bishop Atkinson made the mission a visit.
I preached and administered the Communion at Gaston, in a building recently purchased, and appropriated, according to the usages, to the worship of God, and in which a congregation has been organized, and is ministered to by the Rev. Mr. Lightbourne. We owe this advance mainly to the Christian zeal and liberality of a gentleman in the neighborhood, whose benefactions had been previously very useful in encouraging the building of Churches in other places, and who now thought it his duty to provide one for himself and his neighbors.208
The Rev. Mr. Lightbourn continued to serve the parish. But just when the peaceful work of the Church was beginning to show gains the country was thrown into the Civil War. A training camp called Camp Advance was set up at Garysburg, and soldiers stationed there required the ministrations of the local clergyman. Things were disrupted. In 1861 Bishop Atkinson reached Gaston for a visitation but did not come to Jackson.209 In 1862 he managed to visit both churches.210 In 1863 he was unable to visit either place. During these years parish reports were fragmentary. Mr. Lightbourn held to his post, not living in the rectory but staying at Thornbury where he served as tutor, first for the famous Colonel Harry Burgwyn, and then for his two brothers, Alveston and Collinson. Years afterwards he told his children of how one one occasion he was forced to hide all night in a ditch to escape capture by the Union soldiers.211 One note of cheer and hope from Northampton was reported to the convention of 1863. The Rev. Israel Harding of St. Timothy's, Wilson, wrote acknowledging contributions of $37.85 from Jackson and $26.50 from Gaston toward paying off the debt on St. Timothy's Church.212205Lightbourn.206Journal, 1859.207 T. J. Miles, article on old town of Gaston, News and Observer, Raleigh, N. C. (date?).208Journal, 1860. The “gentleman in the neighborhood” was Edmund Wilkins.209Journal, 1862.210Journal, 1863.211Lightbourn.212Journal, 1863.
From December 11 through December 14, 1863, a convocation of the clergy was held in Warrenton, and at that time Bishop Atkinson advanced Mr. Lightbourn to the priesthood.213
When the Convention of 1864 met at Williamsboro, Bishop Atkinson reported that the Rev. Robert A. Castleman was residing in Halifax, and that in addition to his work there he was engaged in missionary work in both Halifax and Northampton counties. This work was centered at Gaston, where he relieved Mr. Lightbourn for one Sunday a month.214 Under Mr. Castleman's leadership $250.00 was raised at Gaston for the construction of a church in Weldon in 1864, the first indication of such a move there.215
Mr. Lightbourn remained in Jackson until September 1, 1865, when he returned to Bermuda216 for about one year during which time he was married.217 During this time he did not relinquish the parish,218 and with his wife, returned for a short period in 1866-67.219 He then returned to Bermuda and served churches there until his death from a fall at the age of eighty-one, January 20, 1916.220
Just a few years ago the clergyman's son wrote this about his father:
He was beloved by his parishoners—particularly by the poorer people. The coloured people especially were devoted to him and the older ones among them still speak with affection of him. He had a powerful voice which remained strong all his life. He was fearless and did his duty as he saw it. He was a good preacher, but there was nothing showy about him. He did not extemporize and he did not philosophize. He was of the old conservative school, neither high church nor low. Briefly, I should describe him as a manly man whose religion was just naturally a part of his life. His hobby was gardening in which he was quite a local authority. I should not call him a student, although he had quite a good theological library.221213Journal, 1864.214Ibid.215Ibid.216Journal, 1867 (Parochial report by Dr. William Barrow, senior warden of the parish.)217Lightbourn.218 See clergy lists in Journals, 1866, 1867.219 Parish Register and Lightbourn.220Lightbourn.221Ibid.VIII
Addressing the Diocesan Convention of 1868, Bishop Atkinson spoke of 1867-68 as “a time of great agricultural and commercial depression.”222 This was a conservative description. In Jackson the Church had been sustained through the crisis of war by a faithful minister, but when Mr. Lightbourn returned to Bermuda hope almost faded. From 1865 through 1868 the parish sent no delegates to the diocesan conventions. “Prostrated by the effects of a cruel war,” to quote a later minister, “this parish was unable to secure the services of a rector from 1865 to 1868.”223 And the full blast of Reconstruction was yet to come.
Early in the spring of 1868, however, the Rev. Nielson Falls, a priest from the Diocese of Maryland, became rector of St. Mark's Church, Halifax, and the Church of the Saviour. He officiated in Jackson on the first and third Sundays each month until the spring of 1869 when he resigned to accept the church in Morganton, Burke County.224 Another year elapsed without regular services, but in the spring of 1870 the Rev. Edward Winslow Gilliam,225 a native of Oxford, came to this diocese from Kentucky. He served St. John's Church, Wilmington, for a few months and then came to live in the rectory at Jackson and take charge of both the Church of the Saviour and St. Luke's, Gaston. For three years Mr. Gilliam served well. In the summer of 1873 he resigned to accept a parish in Denison, Texas. It was during his ministry in the county that Brigadier General Matt W. Ransom was baptized in Weldon, December 11, 1870.226
During the Reconstruction years Mr. Charles Fetter,227 the local schoolmaster, devoted much time to the affairs of the church. Born in Chapel Hill in 1845, the son of a University professor, Mr. Fetter taught school in a number of places in North Carolina and Virginia. Some years after he left Jackson, at the age of forty-eight (in 1893), he was ordained deacon and two years later was ordained priest. He served churches in Wadesboro, Ansonville, Rockingham, Rocky Mount, and in Kentucky and Southern Virginia. In 1908 he returned to Wadesboro where he lived for a short time until his death on September 26, 1908. In Jackson he served on the vestry and was elected as a delegate to the diocesan convention on several occasions.
Two other men associated with this parish before 1900 also entered the ministry. In 1869 Augustus Flythe, a native of Northampton County, and an 1859 alumnus of the University (A.M. 1866) was admitted as a candidate for Holy Orders. On June 18, 1871, he was ordained deacon at New Bern and sent to serve St. Thomas's Church in Craven County. His early death in 1875 cut short his222Journal, 1868.223Higgs.224Journal, 1869.225 Ordained deacon at Warrenton, July 11, 1859, priest (date unknown). Upon becoming a Roman Catholic, Mr. Gilliam was deposed by Bishop Lyman on September 26, 1881.226 Parish Register.227 See Journals, 1870-1908, passim.
ministry.228 Earlier still, Mr. Daniel Murrell, a tutor at Thornbury, was ordained deacon during the Convention of 1856 at St. Peter's Church, Washington. He first served as assistant to Mr. Fitzgerald at Goldsboro, and for a number of years after that he served St. Paul's Church, Wilmington, and a Negro congregation there.229
Beginning on November 30, 1873, the Rev. Edward Wooten, a zealous missionary, rector of St. Thomas's Church, Windsor, began holding services for the Jackson congregation once each month on a weekday, and on Sunday about once every three months. This arrangement continued unchanged until November, 1877.
At the diocesan convention held in Fayetteville in 1873 Theodore B. Lyman was elected first assistant bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. On Septuagesima Sunday (February 1), 1874, he made his first visit to the Church of the Saviour and later reported:
This Parish possesses quite a neat Church building, while the adjacent graveyard is cared for in a most commendable way. I could not but lament that we have no resident clergyman in this pleasant town, and where an active laborer could scarcely fail to achieve most encouraging results.230
Bishop Lyman took an immediate interest in the parish. When he returned to spend the night a month later (March 12, 1874) he found the town saddened by the death of Mr. Matt Calvert.
I officiated next morning, in company with the Rev. Mr. Wootten, at the funeral of a young and attached member of our Church who had been very suddenly called to his account.231
The following February, while Mr. Wooten was still serving Jackson as best he could from Windsor, Bishop Lyman set out to visit St. Luke's (February 28, 1875). When he reached the Gaston railway station on the south side of the Roanoke on Saturday he found the river so swollen no one could cross. He promptly decided to go on to Jackson where, in his words, “they rarely enjoyed the advantages of a Sunday service.”232
Upon my unexpected arrival there, about sunset, I was very warmly welcomed, and notice was given at once of service the next day. . . . It is very sad that this Parish should be so long without a Rector. . . . There is quite a neat Church, a number of zealous families and a very excellent field for work, if only a clergyman can be found to undertake the duty.233228 See Journals, 1869-1876, passim.229Journal, 1856, and subsequent years, passim.230Journal, 1874.231Ibid.232Journal, 1875.233Ibid.
It was apparent that the assistant bishop was eager to see a priest settled in Northampton.IX
At this point in the parish history one of its truly devoted servants first appears in the records. On November 25, 1875, Mr. William Thomas Picard began holding regular lay services in the Church of the Saviour three Sundays in each month.234 Some years later the new rector wrote that Mr. Picard was “a layman whose daily walk and zealous labors for the welfare of the Church has truly won the esteem and highest regard of the whole Parish.” In the absence of a minister, Mr. Picard continued the services until the first of November, 1877. On that day another devoted man entered the history of the parish. The Rev. Gilbert Higgs accepted the rectorate “at the hands of the Rt. Rev. T. B. Lyman, Asst. Bishop of the Diocese.”235 Like the earlier rector, Mr. Lightbourn, the Rev. Mr. Higgs was born in Bermuda.236 Immediately prior to coming to North Carolina he had served in the Missionary District of Dakota.
The arrival of this fine clergyman galvanized the parish into action. Under the arrangements with Bishop Lyman, Mr. Higgs occupied the rectory in Jackson, and from there he served the local church, St. Luke's, and Emmanuel Church, Warrenton. Within a few months after his arrival he was able to report that the Jackson “church building is being put in thorough repair. A mission is springing up at Sea Board, eight miles from the Parish Church.” On the second Sunday of each month he went to St. Luke's where he found “the attendance is very good.”237 In the winter of 1877-78, while Mr. Higgs was living in Jackson, both railroad bridges at Weldon were washed out by the Roanoke.238 This seems to have hindered his getting to Warrenton for a time, but by February 23, 1878, he was able to start regular services there every fourth Sunday.239
The next year (1879) Mr. Higgs moved his residence to Warrenton so as to give that church two Sundays a month, giving Jackson and Gaston one Sunday each. The presence of Mr. Picard as lay reader in Jackson undoubtedly made Mr. Higgs more willing to make the change. At this time there were two services each Sunday in the Jackson church, and a service every Wednesday evening. In Lent there were services every Wednesday and Friday, and during Holy Week, every evening. The mission at Seaboard was continued.234Journal, 1876.235Higgs.236 Lizzie W. Montgomery, Sketches of Old Warrenton, p. 185.237Journal, 1878.238 See the parochial report of the Rev. Aristides S. Smith of St. Clement's, Ringwood, Journal, 1878. That year the Roanoke rose fifty feet, the highest flood on record until the fifty-eight-foot rise in September, 1940. See Eric W. Rodgers, “Roanoke, ‘River of Death,’ Due New Helpful Role under Control.” News and Observer, Raleigh, N. C., September 28, 1947.239Journal, 1878.
By the time of the 1880 Convention the Jackson church had been repainted inside and out, the vestry room had been carpeted, and a new silver paten and alms basin purchased. In the same year arrangements were made to hold services for Negroes in the church one Sunday evening each month.
On January 4, 1881, Bishop Atkinson died at the age of seventy-three, and Bishop Lyman succeeded him as diocesan. That same year the Church of the Saviour lost two of its original vestrymen, first Dr. William Barrow and then Mr. Samuel Calvert.
1881 witnessed the beginning of still more improvements for the Jackson church. A new credence table was installed, a complete set of lamps were bought and paid for, and at Christmas “a handsome memorial chair was presented to the church by a lady now at Patapsco Institute, whose memory we all hold dear—one of the Church's women,” to quote Mr. Higgs.240 Another significant purchase was a new organ.241 Mr. Higgs's love for music and the great efforts he and his sisters made to improve the calibre of church music in his parishes is traditional.
He controlled and also improved the Order of Divine Service by making it more beautiful and ornate, especially the musical portions, being greatly aided by his knowledge of ecclesiastical music and by the richness, strength and melody of his own voice.242
In July, 1882, the old rectory purchased before the Civil War was sold to Mr. J. A. Weaver, and the proceeds were invested to be used for building a new one later. The same year, at a cost of $100.00, the vestry purchased land for an addition to the burial ground. But the most significant event of 1882 was the organization of a Ladies Aid Society, the first organization for women in the history of the parish. Their first Lenten work was making “handsome altar and lectern cloths.”243
1883 saw the enlarged churchyard completely enclosed with a new fence. The Ladies Aid Society's second project was a new carpet for the church. To the Convention of 1884 Mr. Higgs stated that his faithful lay reader, Mr. Picard, was seeking ordination to the permanent diaconate, and in due course he was admitted as a candidate for Holy Orders.244
In the fall and winter of 1884-85 the parish began planning a project involving the energies of its entire membership. It was decided that the church building should be enlarged and that “an open ceiling” should be installed.245 To the annual convention held in Tarboro in the spring of 1886 Mr. Higgs made this interesting report:240Journal, 1882.241Ibid.242 Minutes of the Vestry, 1911.243Journal, 1883.244Journal, 1884.245Journal, 1885.
On the 8th of July, 1885, this Parish began the work of extending and remodeling the Church building. It is now finished and paid for. A tower has been erected and 12 feet added to the length of the Church; also a gallery with capacity for seating fifty persons.
The interior now presents an exceedingly pleasant and attractive appearance. The roof is open, ceiled with pine, oiled. The new chancel organ room is divided by Gothic arches; the walls are a pleasant drab tint; the lighting is by four double lancet windows on each side of the nave, filled with figured and colored glass. The chancel and front lights are each a triplet of lancet windows, filled with stained glass. The nave is further ornamented by two choice memorial windows.
The work of this year has been full of sacrifice and perseverance. The moneys given for this work have been carefully and judiciously expended.
I do not know where to go to find more satisfactory results for such a sum as the cost. The Ladies’ Aid Society has been largely instrumental in accomplishing this noble work.
The congregation of ‘the Church of the Saviour’ esteem it a privilege to place on record in the Diocese their grateful appreciation of the generous kindness of Mrs. H. K. Burgwyn of Richmond, Va., for enhancing the comfort and convenience of worship by alteration and extension of the Church at her own expense, the benefit of whose generous liberality and fervent Christian spirit is felt and acknowledged by pastor and people.
The extension of the church building is a memorial to the late H. K. Burgwyn, Esq.
A school building to cost about $400 is to be built this year.
It is due this parish furthermore to say, that considering the financial embarrassment of most of its members during the past year, through short crops, from which this hamlet has exceptionally suffered, the above is a remarkable report.246
Rejoicing with the Jackson people, on April 28, 29, and 30, 1887, the Convocation of Tarboro held its meetings pin the Church of the Saviour.
At the opening service of the 71st Annual Convention of the Diocese of North Carolina, May 11, 1887, in the Church of the Good Shepherd, in Raleigh, the Rev. Mr. Higgs presented Mr. William T. Picard for ordination as deacon. After public examination, he was ordained by Bishop Lyman.247
Improvements to the Jackson church property continued. In 1886 the twenty-six Sunday School children presented the parish with a brass hanging lamp for the choir and a brass “hood-lamp” for the lectern. A new chandelier was installed to light the nave. But the most important event Mr. Higgs reported246Journal, 1886.247Journal, 1887.
in these words: “A school building, in keeping with the church, and well furnished with all the modern improvements, has been erected. A flourishing school is in operation.” Miss Lucretia Whitfield, long associated with the parish, took charge of this work.248
On April 12, 1887, Bishop Lyman arrived in Jackson for his annual visitation:
We were all made very sad the next day, by the tidings of the death on the very evening of the visitation, of Mrs. Henry Burgwyn, a former member of this parish, and who had during the last two years shown her deep and abiding interest in it by contributing liberally to those improvements in the Parish Church, which have added so much to its beauty and attractiveness. She had been looking forward with special interest to being with us at this visitation, and had left Richmond with that purpose, but tarrying a few days in Henderson, she contracted a severe cold, which soon assumed an alarming form, and proved fatal only a short time after our evening service had closed. Her death is not only a great loss to that Parish, but to her own immediate family, and to that large circle of friends, who so honored and loved her.249
The activity of the parish during Mr. Higgs's rectorate was remarkable. Mr. Picard and Miss Whitfield were able assistants, but much of the energy must be credited to Mr. Higgs's leadership. His report to the Convention of 1888 was another chapter in progress:
This has been a red letter year for our little church.
In memory of the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry King Burgwyn, her [sic] children have placed, at a cost of $1,032, a handsome window, black walnut communion rail on brass standards, and a steeple and in it a Seth Thomas clock. The clock will be of untold benefit to the church and the whole community. It strikes on the church bell and has been heard at a distance of six miles from the church.
A pretty reredos of native woods has been erected in memory of the late Anna Greenough Burgwyn by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. George P. Burgwyn.
The Easter gifts embrace an Altar Service and polished brass altar desk, black walnut chancel chair, a handsome brass cross, urns, and candlesticks.
The debt on the school house has been paid and there is on hand $470 towards a rectory.250
That same year, when the memorial windows were installed in the Church of the Saviour, the parish gave the three stained glass windows replaced to St. Luke's Church, Gaston, where work was progressing on a new building.251248Ibid.249Ibid.250Journal, 1888.251Ibid.The Church of the Saviour, JacksonInterior —1887-1895
All of this growth and interest at Jackson Mr. Higgs repeatedly attributed to the efforts of Mr. Picard of whom he wrote:
I am more than ever convinced of the importance of having weekly services kept up by a deacon or lay reader in small parishes where it is possible only to have the rector once a month. It is but just that the credit should be largely given to the Rev. W. T. Picard, the earnest and energetic assistant who has labored diligently to fulfil the requirements of the canons in every respect.252
By 1889 Mr. Higgs himself was filling an impressive number of important posts. The Journal of the Convention of that year lists him as rector of Emmanuel Church, Warrenton, the Church of the Saviour, Jackson, Grace Church, Weldon; missionary at St. Luke's, Gaston; Dean of the Convocation of Tarboro; and Secretary and Registrar of the Diocese.
Despite the discouragement of great agricultural failure in 1889 the offerings continued to be good. The rector and Mr. Picard began concerted missionary work in other sections of Northampton. At Rich Square and at Margaretsville small parochial missions were started. “Great interest is shown in [Mr. Picard's] services held at these points. Steps are being taken for the erection of a church at Rich Square, and a Lay Reader [Dr. Robert Henry Stancell] has been appointed for Margaretsville.” In Jackson Mr. J. Alveston Burgwyn became lay reader. At the parochial school Miss Whitfield was busy teaching three boys and fifteen girls. The Ladies Aid Society was working to procure wire screens to protect the church windows.253 In December, 1889, Mr. Higgs was able to relinquish his work at Weldon when the Rev. W. Lawton Mellichampe, a deacon from East Carolina, came to serve Weldon, Halifax, and Littleton. Soon Mr. Mellichampe was also holding services once a month at Garysburg and Pleasant Hill.254
This is the story of what happened “in Mr. Higgs's time,” an expression known to every member of the Jackson congregation. The story of material improvements is easier to tell than the story of baptisms, confirmations, and Christian service, but it does show something of the spirit of the parish under his leadership. Statistics from the convention journals tell an equally encouraging story.
At the height of his usefulness, on August 1, 1890, Mr. Higgs resigned and was transferred to the Diocese of Florida. For some time he held a church in Key West, then in 1903 he returned to the Diocese of North Carolina and became rector of Calvary Church, Wadesboro.255 He stayed there for only a short period and subsequently took a church in Atlanta where he died in 1911. At that time men who had known him intimately in Jackson wrote:
He came to us unheralded and unknown but by the urbanity of his manners, his winning personality and zealous interest in all matters252Journal, 1889.253Journal, 1890.254Ibid.255Journal, 1903.
concerning the Church—soon made friends of everyone with whom he was thrown in contact. . . . Dr. Higgs was an excellent and impressive preacher. His sermons were well thought out, well preached and well expressed, and he lovingly taught the Catholic truth. . . . As a pastor he was unexcelled, especially in his work among the men and with the poor and those under affliction and bereavement. Not only was he loved by his own flock, but those of other religious faiths held him in high esteem. . . . As a man he was genial, companionable, loyally true in his friendships, and always took great interest in all matters for the betterment of those communities in which he lived.256X
When Mr. Higgs left the parish Mr. Picard, of course, continued to hold regular services in Jackson. From time to time the Rev. Aristides S. Smith, an elderly clergyman at Ringwood, Halifax County, came to administer the Holy Communion. Mr. Mellichampe continued his missionary efforts at Pleasant Hill and Garysburg. On January 1, 1891, the Rev. Frederick Towers of the Diocese of Florida took up his duties as minister for Warrenton, Jackson, and Gaston, living in Warrenton.257 This clergyman served these churches for eight months and then became rector of the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill.
The Journal of the Convention of 1892 lists the Rev. Edward Benedict as living in Warrenton and serving the church there as well as those at Jackson and Gaston. Mr. Picard maintained regular services in Mr. Benedict's absence in Jackson and also held a monthly service at Rich Square. From Weldon Mr. Mellichampe continued his work at Pleasant Hill, but he seems to have given up services at Garysburg.258
In the early weeks of the year 1893 the congregation of the Church of the Saviour experienced a season of extraordinary sadness. On Sunday, January 22, Mrs. May Calvert Jordan, wife of Mr. Douglas A. Jordan, died at the age of thirty-nine. Mrs. George Burgwyn, one of her closest friends, wrote almost immediately:
Her life was remarkably illustrative of the charity which ‘thinketh no evil, suffereth long, and is kind.’ Endowed by nature with choicest gifts of person, mind, and heart, and eminently qualified by birth and association to adorn the most elevated position, she dispensed kindness with a radiant smile, and ‘word fitly spoken’ to her fellow man. . . .259256 Minutes of the Vestry, 1911.257Journal, 1891.258Journal, 1892.259 This and the two following obituaries were found as clippings in the Bible of Mrs. Henry W. Lewis (Sally Ann Ridley), a member of the parish at the time of these deaths. It is impossible to identify the publications in which these pieces were printed, but they probably appeared in the Southern Churchman.
Early on Wednesday morning, three days later, Mrs. Josephine Southall Bowen, wife of William C. Bowen, died at the age of forty: Mr. John MacRae wrote:
Again the pall of deep grief has fallen on our village, and our little church mourns once more the loss of a devoted daughter. Only ten days ago, alone she sung at Evening Prayers the beautiful hymn, ‘Brest the wave, Christian.’ A consistent, pious Christian woman, she was early attached to the services of the Church. . . . None of us whose privilege it was to listen to the exquisite tones of her sweet, sympathetic voice can ever forget its melody, as she sang the chants and hymns of the Church she loved so dearly. Loving, gentle, affectionate, she easily won the hearts of all who knew her. . . .
Mrs. Bowen was buried in the churchyard on January 26, and that evening Mrs. Emma Ridley Burgwyn, who had written with such feeling of Mrs. Jordan's death, died in her forty-sixth year. Again Mr. MacRae, her husband's cousin, wrote:
The heart of him who writes these lines is so full that he cannot speak as he would of the great loss her family and friends, the Church and the entire community have been called on to sustain. . . . Bright and cheerful, fond of the society of her friends, she was the soul of hospitality and kindness. . . . She was truth's own mirror. . . . None of those who privilege it was to know her intimately can ever forget her kind, generous, loving disposition and beauty of character. Only a few short days before two amongst her dearest of friends in this village were taken from her. Little did we then think that so soon she would be with them. . . . ‘Let us therefore remember and love and follow them, our dear ones who have gone before; that when our last change is over, we with them may “sleep in Jesus.” ’
At Mrs. Burgwyn's funeral Mrs. Caroline Brown, faithful churchwoman and faithful sexton of the Church of the Saviour, tolled the bell in accordance with the practice in the parish. About a week and a half later the parish register shows this good woman's death and burial in the churchyard. She died of pneumonia from exposure at Mrs. Burgwyn's funeral. When the present church building was erected the congregation paid tribute to Mrs. Brown's devotion by erecting a memorial window in the nave in her honor.
The Rev. Mr. Benedict, from July, 1892, until he gave up the parish, came to Jackson for week-day services only. The Rev. Mr. Picard and Mr. Alveston Burgwyn, the lay reader, maintained services in the church twice each Sunday. The Rev. Walter J. Smith of Scotland Neck came occasionally to administer the Holy Communion. At Rich Square five communicants worshipped regularly once a month, and Mr. Picard collected “the nucleus of a fund to be used in building a small chapel” there.260260Journal, 1893.
On October 15, 1893, the Rev. Joseph Blount Cheshire, Jr., was consecrated assistant bishop of the diocese. Two months later on December 13, 1893, Bishop Lyman died at the age of seventy-eight. On Palm Sunday (March 18), 1894, the new bishop visited Weldon and the following day, Monday in Holy Week, he made his first visitation to the Church of the Saviour. Assisted by Mr. Picard he celebrated the Holy Communion.261 Many years later Bishop Cheshire wrote:
I . . . was entertained by Mr. Alveston Burgwyn, Senior Warden. At the time there was no rector of the parish. . . . During the long vacancy in the rectorship . . . services were regularly maintained by the Rev. William T. Picard, Deacon. . . . It seems to me that the life service of this godly and faithful man forms one of the most beautiful episodes in the history, not only of this parish but of the Diocese. . . . I must also mention that in piety and in all the graces of the Christian life and in their faithful devotion to the Church, Mrs. Picard and his children, seconded his good works. . . . When I first knew the parish Mr. Alveston Burgwyn was Senior Warden, the leader of a notable body of laymen, among whom I may mention his brother, Mr. George Burgwyn, Mr. W. W. Peebles and Robt. B. Peebles, Dr. Stancell, John B. MacRae, and a number of younger men.262
The bishop's recital of this visit to the parish refreshes the memory of the staunch laymen who worked with Mr. Picard.
To the Convocation of Tarboro the absence of a rector for Jackson was a matter of real concern. The dean wrote that “the Convocation is anxious to see a good, earnest man, unmarried if possible, placed at Jackson, and another at Weldon. With each of these points as a center the right kind of man could do very effective work.”263
In May, 1895, Bishop Cheshire suggested that Weldon and Jackson together call the Rev. Norman B. Harris of the Diocese of Florida. This was done, but Mr. Harris served these churches for only a few months, and resigned in August, 1895.264 Mr. Picard continued alone.XI
On the night of September 29, 1895,265 the parish church on which so much effort had been spent was burned to the ground in a fire that swept through the neighborhood. Fortunately almost all the ornaments and furniture were saved.261Journal, 1894.262 Letter from Bishop Cheshire to Mrs. Edmund Wilkins Lewis, undated, but probably written in 1928-29.263Journal, 1894.264 Minutes of the Vestry.265 The Minutes of the Vestry record the date as October 29, but this seems to be an error.
The little school building behind the churchyard was made to serve as a church in addition to its usual functions. Almost immediately the congregation began to plan for a new church. Two committees were formed to solicit contributions.266 The committee of men was composed of
|The Rev. William T. Picard||George Pollok Burgwyn|
|Henry Wilkins Lewis, M.D.||Robert Bruce Peebles|
|William Wallace Peebles||Calvert Goosley Peebles|
|John Burgwyn MacRae.|
The committee of women was composed of
|Mrs. Eliza Calvert Barrow||Mrs. H. W. Lewis|
|Mrs. W. T. Picard||Miss Julia Southall|
|Mrs. W. Paul Moore||Mrs. Samuel Simpson|
|Miss J. W. Whitfield.|
When Bishop Cheshire visited the parish in March, 1896, he held services in the courthouse.267
By October 1, 1896, the foundations of the new church had been laid, and a Mr. P. Burke came from Henderson to superintend the stone work.268 The stone itself came from the quarries at Graystone in Vance County. On the first of December work was discontinued on account of bad weather.269 The work moved slowly and funds were hard to collect.
In February, 1897, the women of the parish began arrangements for what the Patron and Gleaner called a “pleasing entertainment” to be given on March 1 for the benefit of the building fund. The same paper carried the announcement:270
Come to the Entertainment
Under the auspices of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Episcopal Church, an entertainment will be given in Jackson on the evening of March 1, in which
will appear with her famous waxworks, which has been exhibited in all the leading cities of the United States. Also that sparkling comedy
will be given on the same evening.
Admission: Adults, 25c; Children, 15c
Something must have gone wrong with the ladies’ plans. The next week's paper announced that the entertainment had been indefinitely postponed.271266 Minutes of the Vestry.267Patron and Gleaner, Lasker, North Carolina, March 26, 1896. This newspaper is cited here-after as Patron and Gleaner.268Ibid, October 1, 1896.269Ibid, December 3, 1896.270Ibid, February 11, 1897.271Ibid, February 18, 1897.
Later in the spring, work was resumed on the church building, and by June 24, 1897, the stone work had been completed.272
In the meantime the congregation, led by Mr. Picard, continued services in the school house. From time to time the Rev. Walter J. Smith from Scotland Neck, or the Rev. Girard W. Phelps, came to celebrate the Holy Communion.273 The year the old church was burned witnessed the formation of the first branch of the Women's Auxiliary in the parish to supercede the Ladies Aid Society. There were thirteen members in the senior branch, a junior department with fourteen members, and a Babies Branch with one member. The first “United Offering” from the senior branch was $10.00.274 This was the situation in the Church of the Saviour when the Spanish-American War began.
On September 15, 1897, the Rev. James Taylor Chambers from the Diocese of Indiana, came to Weldon as rector of Grace Church there and of the Jackson church.275 Mr. Chambers remained in the parish throughout the Spanish-American War and through the remainder of the building period.
In March, 1898, the memorial windows for the new building began to arrive, and the people looked forward to its completion.276 But that same month the congregation suffered “a great loss in the death of Mr. J. Alveston Burgwyn. . . . A loyal son of the Church, his last public act was the discharge of his duty as Lay Reader within a week of his decease.”277 The Patron and Gleaner reported that his death “cast a gloom over the entire county.”278 The next month Mr. John J. Long was elected to fill the vacancy on the vestry created by Mr. Burgwyn's death.279
On Palm Sunday (April 3), 1898, Bishop Cheshire visited the parish for confirmation. In the afternoon he went to Margaretsville and preached “in a Public Hall.”280 Later the same year the bishop returned and held confirmation services at both Jackson and Margaretsville. The work at Margaretsville, started in Mr. Higgs's time under Mr. Picard's ministrations, received tremendous support from the Stancell family living in that neighborhood. The elder Dr. Stancell281 and his wife282 were people of piety and influence. Their son, Dr. Robert Henry Stancell, Jr.,283 was one of the most promising men in the county. His death in 1896 was a blow to the community and to the Church. The Jackson correspondent of the Patron and Gleaner wrote at the time that272Ibid, June 24, 1897.273Journal, 1897.274Journal, 1896.275Journal, 1898. Mr. Chambers was ordained priest on June 11, 1865.276Patron and Gleaner, March 17, 1898.277Journal, 1898.278Patron and Gleaner, March 10, 1898.279Ibid, April 28, 1898.280Journal, 1898.281 Born 1842, died 1917; buried in the churchyard.282 Annie Summerell, born 1844, died 1874.283 Born 1872, died 1896.
His body was brought here [from Southern Pines] on Sunday and interred in the Episcopal Church yard by the side of his mother who fell a victim of the same disease [consumption] several years ago. His burial was attended by a larger number of people it is said than ever assembled here before on a similar occasion. A large number of friends and acquaintances deeply sympathize with his devoted father in the great loss he and the county has sustained in the death of this bright and highly esteemed and beloved young man. In him were happily combined the elements that go to make up a manly character of rare excellency and usefulness. He was about 25 years old and grew up in a house of deeply pious parents. . . . He graduated in medicine before he was 21 years old and passed his examinations before the State Board before he was old enough to receive license to practice medicine.284
On November 17, 1898, the Patron and Gleaner reported that the “Episcopal Church is now about completed . . . the furniture having been put in place. We believe it to be one of the finest church edifices in any town in the state.” Three days later, Sunday, November 20, 1898, although the building could not yet be consecrated, the first services were held in the new Church of the Saviour. It was a great occasion. There were services on the following Monday and Tuesday evenings in addition to those held on Sunday. The Weldon newspaper account has been preserved.
The choir of Grace Church of this place united with the choir there, and the excellently arranged musical programme was beautifully rendered.
On Sunday morning the Rev. Mr. Chambers, preceding the sermon, made a short address in which he welcomed the worshippers present, and thanked all who by their offerings had made it possible to build such a House in the name of the Lord. He said, in part, that the contractors, builders and laborers were entitled to thanks for the faithful work done; that it was generally admitted that to the Rev. Mr. Picard, more than to anyone else, thanks were due for his earnest, patient faithfulness in having erected such a handsome Church. . . .
Shortly following this address was his sermon being most appropriate to the occasion; his text from Genesis 28:17 was ‘This is none other but the House of God.’. . .
He exhorted his people to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only; and concluded by saying: ‘God be praised that ye have builded this House; and may God not forget your work and labor of love and reward all who have aided it with gifts and prayers, sevenfold; and may it gather many souls into the Church Militant on earth and284Patron and Gleaner, January 30, 1896.The Church of the Saviour, JacksonExterior since 1898
the Church Triumphant in Heaven, for His sake who is the cornerstone of the one and the capstone of the other, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’
At the suggestion of the Rector the offerings were given to the ladies to help cancel the remaining debt on the church carpet.
During the collection Miss Kate Cohen of Weldon sang ‘One Sweetly Solemn Thought.’. . . At the night service she sang, in her usual sweet style, ‘There is a Land Mine Eye Hath Seen.’
On Monday night the Rev. H. S. Lancaster, rector of St. Thomas’ Church, Berkley, Va., preached an excellent sermon suited to the occasion. Following this Dr. W. Paul Moore, in his sympathetic style, sang ‘I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say.’ On Tuesday evening the Rev. Mr. Lancaster preached again to a large and interested congregation. During the collection at this service Dr. Moore sang ‘Jesus The Very Thought of Thee.’. . .285
To the Convention of 1899 Mr. Chambers and Mr. Picard reported that the new church had cost to that time about $3,800. With the exception of $16.50, this amount was raised within a two-year period.
The church has a handsome reredos, altar, and chancel rail, put in to the memory of our late esteemed lay reader, Mr. J. A. Burgwyn, and many handsome memorial windows; notably a chancel window by General M. W. Ransom to his son Thomas R. Ransom, and a triplet window by Capt. R. B. Peebles in memory of his wife, niece, and nephew.286
On November 5, 1899, Bishop Cheshire visited the parish and in the afternoon went to Seaboard and preached in the school house there.287 With the exception of a brief period early in 1903 when Mr. Picard's health forced him to give up services, he and Mr. Chambers continued their joint ministrations.
In 1903-04 the parish purchased the marble font still in use, and, in addition, had the interior walls of the new building painted. Gradually the decoration and furnishing of the church were completed.288 Ornaments from the altar, the chancel and sanctuary furniture, and the little reed organ purchased in Mr. Higgs's time had been saved from the old church and were placed in the new building. The little organ took a lowly place, however, upon the acquisition of a pipe organ, the first in the county. The remaining debt was paid off and the day for consecration arrived.285 A reprint of this article was found in 1950 by the Misses Harriet and Ellen Bowen in their old home in Jackson and given by them to the writer.286Journal, 1899.287Journal, 1900.288Journal, 1904.The Church of the Saviour, JacksonInterior since 1898
On the Third Sunday after Trinity, June 19, 1904, Bishop Cheshire came to Jackson to consecrate the new church. His report of the occasion reads as follows:
I consecrated The Church of The Saviour, Jackson. The Petition for Consecration on the part of the Rector and Vestrymen was read by the Rev. Wm. T. Picard, and the Sentence of Consecration was read by the Rev. Gilbert Higgs, D. D., who also preached the sermon. The Rev. J. Taylor Chambers, rector of the parish, also joined in the service.289XII
Nine months after the new church was consecrated (March 15, 1905) Mr. Chambers resigned and was transferred to the Diocese of Oklahoma. On the following June 1 the Rev. Francis Joyner, then Archdeacon of Raleigh, accepted a call to the parish.290
Mr. Joyner, aged fifty-two at the time he accepted the parish, had come to the Diocese of North Carolina from East Carolina where he had served at Beaufort and in Pamlico and Craven counties. In 1901 he became rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Ridgeway, and priest-in-charge of St. Alban's, Littleton, and the Church of the Heavenly Rest, Middleburg.291 In October, 1902, he became archdeacon of the Convocation of Raleigh,292 a position he continued to hold for several months (until November, 1905) after he accepted charge of the church at Jackson.293 In addition to his responsibilities at the Church of the Saviour, he served Littleton, Gaston, and the mission he was working to establish in Roanoke Rapids. By January 30, 1908, he was able to relinquish his work in Roanoke Rapids.294
During this period in the Jackson church's history the records make it very clear that the communicant strength declined sharply on account of a large number of deaths and removals. The Sunday School dwindled almost to the vanishing point. The minutes of the vestry mention particularly the loss of Mr. George Burgwyn and Mrs. Randolph in the spring of 1907. Both of them had been strong pillars in the parish. The vestry resolutions spoke of Mr. Burgwyn's valued counsel, “always looking foremost to the welfare of the Parish and contributing freely and liberally to its support. . . . Those in this community who were in need or distress have lost a generous friend. It was characteristic of the man never to turn a deaf ear to the appeals of the needy and suffering—and we may also add—that his good offices were tendered with such grace . . . that the recipient was left without sense of obligation.”295289Journal, 1905.290Ibid.291Journal, 1901.292Journal, 1903.293Journal, 1906.294Journal, 1909.295 Minutes of the Vestry, February 17, 1907.The Rev. Francis Joyner
By early 1914 Mr. Joyner's health forced him to resign all his charges except Jackson and Littleton where he continued to reside. Both Mr. Joyner and Mr. Picard were ill at the time of the convention that year, but their missionary work continued.296 When Bishop Cheshire made two visits to the parish that year he went to Caledonia to confirm prisoners on both occasions.297
On March 1, 1916, Mr. Joyner resigned the rectorate of the Church of the Saviour to take St. Bartholomew's, Pittsboro, in conjunction with Littleton.298 Three years later he retired and continued to live in Littleton until his death on February 28, 1942, at the age of eighty-nine.299
Shortly after Mr. Joyner's resignation the Rev. Norvin Cornelius Duncan became rector of Grace Church, Weldon, and the Church of the Saviour. Mr. Duncan had come to the Erwin (then called Duke) and Smithfield missions from the Diocese of East Carolina on November 1, 1914, and from there he came to Weldon and Jackson.300 The nation was involved in the first World War during his ministry in Northampton. Mr. Duncan was particularly interested in the development of Christian social relations and rural missions, fields the Church was just beginning seriously to explore. He served as chairman of the Diocesan Committee on Social Service during the war years.301XIII
On December 31, 1917, Mr. Picard died, only a month less than seventy-nine years of age. Some months later, when the convention met at Salisbury, a committee of clergymen presented the following memorial which was adopted by the convention:
In Memory of / Rev. William Thomas Picard / Ordained Deacon, May 11, 1887 / Coming into the Ministry late in life, he remained a Deacon to the end of his earthly pilgrimage, serving in that office more than thirty years. Supporting himself and his family by the pursuit of his secular business, he served the Church whenever and wherever he could, and without financial remuneration. To him this was a labor of love. / Modest, humble, and pious, his life was an inspiration and benediction to the community in which he lived. / He finished his work in quietness and confidence and has entered into his reward.302
At about this time Mr. George Pollok Burgwyn, Jr., was appointed lay reader for the parish.303 Mr. Burgwyn, like his father and grandfather, served the296Journal, 1914.297Journals, 1914, 1915.298Journal, 1916.299Journal, 1942.300Journal, 1915.301Journals, 1917, 1918.302Journal, 1918.303Ibid.
Church faithfully. In the conventions he took an active part and served on a number of diocesan committees.
On February 1, 1919, a few months after the Armistice, the Rev. Mr. Duncan resigned the rectorate to become archdeacon of the Convocation of Raleigh.304 Later Mr. Duncan served parishes in South Carolina and in the Diocese of Western North Carolina. In 1932 he retired and since that time has lived in Asheville.
Mr. Duncan was succeeded at Jackson and Weldon by an English priest, the Rev. Frederick Cousins, from the Diocese of Keewatin in the Province of Prince Rupert's Land.305 He remained in the parish a little more than a year. On October 3, 1920, he was canonically transferred to the Diocese of Michigan. For many years he served in Darien in the Diocese of Georgia where he still lives.
Within a few months after Mr. Cousins left, on February 3, 1921, the Rev. Charles Frederick Westman, a priest from the Diocese of Northern Indiana, took the two churches,306 and served until canonically transferred to the Diocese of Massachusetts on November 1, 1923.307 The parish suffered from the fact that it seemed unable to procure the services of a man who could remain in the area for a substantial period of time.
When Mr. Duncan resigned as archdeacon in 1921 he was succeeded by the Rev. Morrison Bethea,308 and when the Rev. Mr. Westman left this parish Mr. Bethea took over its supervision.309 Mr. Pollok Burgwyn held lay services and Mr. Bethea came from time to time to preach and administer the sacraments.
In the years following the first World War the church property fell into bad repair. Honeysuckle and brambles choked the churchyard, and ivy crept up the walls of the church and pushed its way inside. Boys with sling shots and air rifles pecked holes in the windows, and after Mr. John MacRae's death, the old school house which he had occupied rotted away untended. In these difficult years when interest lagged, when there was no regular minister and no active vestry, a few devoted men and women determined to keep the parish alive. Most of them are active members of the congregation today, but two of them who have died will always stand high in the history of this church, Mr. Calvert Goosley Peebles and Mrs. H. B. Hardy. The parish has had no more faithful members than these two. Mr. Peebles worked hard with the Sunday School and in almost every other lay capacity. Almost as if the responsibility of her father, Mr. Picard, had fallen to her, Miss Mabel, as Mrs. Hardy was known, served this church without stint as organist, Sunday School teacher, canvasser, parish visitor, and, if necessary, as sexton. Children remember how she worked to insure that the304 Journal, 1919.305Journal, 1920.306Journal, 1921. See also Parish Register of Grace Church, Weldon. The Rev. Mr. Westman was ordained priest, June 18, 1905. He died November 22, 1944.307Journal, 1924.308Journal, 1922.309Journal, 1925.
traditional egg hunt was held on the courthouse square each Easter Monday. But chiefly Mr. Peebles and Mrs. Hardy are remembered for their examples of Christian living.
At the convention of 1922 the Rev. Edwin Anderson Penick was chosen bishop coadjutor of the diocese and placed in charge of the Convocation of Charlotte.310 Bishop Cheshire continued his regular visits to both Northampton churches, and Bishop Penick made his first visit to the county on April 24, 1924, when he went to St. Luke's but did not come to Jackson.311
On January 1, 1925, the Rev. Clarence Henry Jordan came to live in Weldon and take charge of the church there and the Church of the Saviour.312 He was the first minister to occupy the new rectory in Weldon.313 When Bishop Cheshire visited this parish on December 14 that year Mr. Jordan presented five persons for confirmation, one of the largest classes in many years.314 In 1926 Mr. Jordan assumed charge of St. Mark's, Halifax, in addition to his work at Jackson and Weldon.315 In the following spring (1927) the whole Episcopal Church undertook an evangelical mission known as the Bishops’ Crusade.316 For a week the Rev. Isaac Wayne Hughes of Holy Innocents’ Church, Henderson, held services in Jackson. On November 6, 1927, Bishop Penick made his first visit to Jackson. At an evening service conducted by Mr. Jordan, the bishop coadjutor preached.317
The number of children in the parish increased considerably between 1919 and 1927. For a time parents gave them religious instruction at home. Then Mrs. Henry K. Burgwyn, Mrs. S. B. Boone, Miss Lou Balmer, Mrs. Frank Harris, Mrs. Wilkins Lewis, and other women began to work toward re-opening the church school. The results of this work appeared first in the parish report to the convention of 1928. A Sunday School with five teachers and fourteen pupils was operating under the direction of Mrs. Lewis as superintendent.318
In 1928 the Rev. Mr. Jordan resigned his charge without accepting another assignment immediately, “desiring,” as Bishop Cheshire reported, “a brief season of rest before resuming pastoral work.”319 Later he moved to Florida where he died.310Journal, 1922.311Journal, 1925.312Ibid. See also the Parish Register of Grace Church, Weldon.313Journal, 1926.314Ibid.315Journal, 1927.316Ibid.317Journal, 1928.318Ibid.319Journal, 1929.XIV
At the convention in Henderson in 1929 Bishop Cheshire, by then eighty years old, announced that he had requested Bishop Penick to take over the administration of the whole diocese.320 Nevertheless, the venerable bishop did not stop all visitations. He visited Jackson on October 27 that year and confirmed two persons, the first class presented by the new deacon in charge at Weldon, Halifax, and Jackson, the Rev. deSaussure Parker Moore.321
Mr. Moore had been ordained deacon by Bishop Penick in St. Paul's Church, Winston-Salem, on June 16, 1929, and had come immediately to his three churches.322 A year later, June 15, 1930, Mr. Moore was ordained to the priesthood.
Both bishops visited the Church of the Saviour in 1930. Despite his age Bishop Cheshire continued annual visitations to the parish as late as October 16, 1932.323 On December 27 that year he died.324
As diocesan, Bishop Penick conducted his first confirmation in Jackson on the afternoon of December 10, 1933. After the service he met with the vestry to consider the possibility of giving consent to the erection of a community house for general use on the old parochial school lot behind the churchyard.325 By this time the school building had been demolished. This project never materialized.
For thirteen years the Rev. Mr. Moore had charge of the parish. During the second World War, on November 11, 1942, having accepted a call, Mr. Moore was canonically transferred to the Diocese of Southern Virginia where he took charge of a church in Petersburg, and two churches in Dinwiddie County,326 one of which was old Sapony from which Devereux Jarratt had conducted his evangelical mission in the Eighteenth Century.
The military service record of the Church of the Saviour in World War II was remarkable. A fourth of its communicant strength saw military or naval service.237
For slightly less than a year after Mr. Moore left, the Jackson, Weldon, and Halifax churches had no regular ministerial care. Then, after his ordination as deacon on September 19, 1943, the Rev. Robert Eugene Cox took charge of the320Ibid.321Journal, 1930. The Rev. Mr. Moore was born in Sumter, South Carolina, July 19, 1892, the son of DeVeaux and Carolina Parker Moore. During the first World War he served as a line officer for three years. Later he attended Clemson College and the Virginia Theological Seminary. He was married to Miss Nina Tresvant.322Ibid.323Journals, 1931, 1932, 1933.324Journal, 1933.325Journal, 1934.326Journal, 1943.327 The following members of the parish entered the armed forces of the United States: Bartlett Roper Burgwyn, William Hyslop Sumner Burgwyn, Jr., Henry King Burgwyn, Henry Boone, Rogers Jordan Boone, Henry Peebles Harris, William Exum Harris, Edward Bolling Duke Jones, Henry Wilkins Lewis, Philip Alston Lewis.
three places.328 On June 20, 1944, Mr. Cox was ordained priest by Bishop Penick in Grace Church, Weldon.329 He held the three churches until May 31, 1945, when he became rector of Holy Trinity, Greensboro.330 Mr. Cox was succeeded by the Rev. Robert Lansing Hicks who had been ordained deacon on February 21, 1945. Mr. Hicks was ordained to the priesthood in Grace Church on November 21 that same year.331 Some months afterward he resigned to continue his theological studies. Both Mr. Robert Cox and Mr. Hicks subsequently became members of church seminary faculties, Mr. Cox at Virginia and Mr. Hicks at Sewanee.
On October 1, 1946, Mr. Hicks was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas Lawson Cox, brother of Mr. Robert Cox. He had been ordained deacon on June 9, 1946.332 In St. Mark's Church, Halifax, he was advanced to the priesthood on July 9, 1947.333 Mr. Lawson Cox held the three churches until March 1, 1948, when he took a parish in Blacksburg, Virginia.334
The old difficulty of retaining a minister for a reasonable time was again with the parish. For a period of nine months the church had no rector. Then on December 15, 1948, for only the second time in the history of the parish, a former rector returned to serve the church. The Rev. deSaussure Parker Moore again took charge of the Weldon and Jackson churches.335 Mr. Moore did not again take charge of St. Mark's, Halifax, but when the Rev. Edmund Berkeley left Roanoke Rapids and St. Luke's in May, 1949, Mr. Moore agreed to serve St. Luke's in addition to his work in Weldon and Jackson.336 On July 9, 1950, Bishop Penick visited the Church of the Saviour and Mr. Moore presented two candidates for confirmation.337
On September 14, 1950, a special diocesan convention met at St. Mary's School in Raleigh for the purpose of electing a bishop coadjutor. Immediately after the convention was called to order, Bishop Penick announced that he had just been informed that Mr. Moore died that morning in a Roanoke Rapids hospital.
Mr. Moore served the Church of the Saviour slightly more than fifteen years altogether, the longest rectorate in the church's hundred years. No man in the history of the parish was more beloved.328Journal, 1944.329Journal, 1945.330Journal, 1946.331Ibid.332Journal, 1947.333Journal, 1948.334Journal, 1949.335Ibid.336Journal, 1950.337 North Carolina Churchman, Vol. XL, No. 1, September, 1950.
At the regular diocesan convention in 1951, one hundred years after the convention at which the Church of the Saviour was admitted to the diocese, with the whole convention standing, Bishop Penick read this tribute:338
We record with a sense of personal loss the death of the Reverend deSaussure Parker Moore on September 14, 1950. Mr. Moore was born in Sumter, S. C., in 1892. After studying at Clemson College he engaged in the dairy business for several years. He was trained for the ministry at the Virginia Theological Seminary, and was ordained Deacon in 1929. He became Priest in 1930.
For thirteen years he served as Priest in Charge of Grace Church, Weldon, St. Mark's Church, Halifax, and the Church of the Saviour, Jackson. After leaving this diocese in 1942 he had three short rectorships in Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina, and then returned to his first charge in the Weldon field where his hosts of friends were happy to welcome him back.
I have never known any minister who was more generally beloved by “all sorts and conditions of men.” During the hour of his funeral, the stores in Weldon were closed as a tribute of respect. The secret of his popularity and far-reaching influence lay, not in his possession of any brilliant gifts, but in a simple love for ordinary people, combined with a sincere desire to minister to them in homely, unpretentious ways. He had a pastor's heart, a shepherd's care for his flock, the humility of a child, a tender sympathetic friendliness that regarded the world as his neighbor.338 Excerpt from the address of the Rt. Rev. Edwin A. Penick, D.D., to the annual convention of the Diocese of North Carolina, May, 1951, kindly furnished the writer by the bishop in August, 1951.St. Luke's CHURCH
On November 13, 1844, Bishop Ives, accompanied by the Rev. Cameron MacRae of Warrenton, visited the town of Gaston and there he confirmed one person.339 This was the first episcopal visit to Northampton County and represents the opening event in the history of St. Luke's Church.
The little town named in honor of Judge William Gaston stood on the north bank of the Roanoke River near Wilkins Ferry. It became the eastern terminus of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad. For many years passengers and freight were ferried from the railroad station on the south bank of the river to the village on the north bank where passengers could spend the night at the Wainwright Hotel or change to the Greensville railroad leading to Petersburg. Later a covered wooden bridge supported by stone pillars was erected to span the river at the town, and a large brick depot was built in Gaston. Merchandise from Petersburg, Richmond, and the north was brought to Gaston for transshipment to Raleigh by rail and to Clarksville, Danville, and the adjacent plantations by boat. The main street of the little town ran parallel to the river. At one end near the bridge stood the hotel; at the other stood a little cocoonery building which had been erected by William Wyche Wilkins in connection with his experiments with silk worms.340
Sometime after the death of Mr. Wilkins in 1840 the Methodists purchased the little cocoonery and used it for religious services. On November 12, 1858, Mr. Edmund Wilkins, one of the first vestrymen of the Jackson church, purchased this building from the trustees of the Methodists’ Greensville Circuit.341 Mr. Wilkins lived at the Belmont plantation adjoining the town. While he was the only communicant of the Episcopal Church in the Gaston community at that time, Mr. Wilkins intended to exert his energies in starting a mission there. It was for this purpose that he bought the little building.
When the Rev. Frederick Lightbourn took charge of the Church of the Saviour, February 1, 1859, he agreed to hold services once each month at Gaston.342 The bishop began to take interest in the work also. Zealous in his efforts to get the mission started, Mr. Wilkins must have been happy when Bishop Atkinson notified him that he would make a visitation. One of the letters Mr. Wilkins wrote to people in nearby Virginia and North Carolina is still in existence:
. . . I now avail myself of the opportunity by Mr. Benjamin Lewis to inform you that Bishop Atkinson will hold service at Gaston at 11 A.M. o'clock on Thursday, July 7th next A.D. 1859. If convenient339Journal, 1845.340 T. J. Miles, article on old town of Gaston, News and Observer, Raleigh, N. C. (date ?). Some valuable information about the town has been obtained from unpublished manuscript notes made by Miss Edmonia Cabell Wilkins now in the possession of the writer.341 See deed from Henry A. House, William Miles, and Nathaniel Mason, Sr., to Edmund Wilkins, Northampton County Deed Book 37, p. 433.342Journal, 1859.
we should be glad to see you and your friends at church at that time or on the Sunday after the 7th of July being the 2nd Sunday in July when Mr. Lightbourne, our regular pastor, will preach.343
To the following annual convention Bishop Atkinson reported his visit as follows:
I preached and administered the Communion at Gaston, in a building recently purchased, and appropriated, according to the usages, to the worship of God, and in which a congregation has been organized, and is ministered to by the Rev. Mr. Lightbourne. We owe this advance mainly to the Christian zeal and liberality of a gentleman in the neighborhood, whose benefactions had been previously very useful in encouraging the building of churches in other places, and who now thought it his duty to provide one for himself and his neighbors.344
Slowly the little mission took root. Mr. Wilkins continued to be its leading spirit. With no organ to accompany the music, he procured a tuning fork and manfully “raised the hymns” for the services.345II
The Gaston congregation had hardly started its organizational work when the Civil War began. It is remarkable that the mission was able to survive. Much of the credit for survival must go to the Rev. Mr. Lightbourn's loyalty and continued service. He and his successor maintained regular services throughout the war, and each year from 1860 through 1864 they presented confirmation classes to Bishop Atkinson at the time of his visitations. The 1864 class was composed largely of people who had taken refuge at Mt. Rekcut, Mr. Thomas Goode Tucker's plantation in the community.346 An evidence of the spirit of this congregation is the record of how it raised $26.50 in 1862 to help St. Timothy's, Wilson, another struggling parish, to pay off a debt on its church building.
In 1863 Mr. Lightbourn was relieved of his work at Gaston by the Rev. Robert A. Castleman who came to serve the church at Halifax and the mission at Gaston jointly. He gave Gaston one Sunday service each month. During his first year in the community the Gaston congregation contributed $250.00 of an $800.00 total raised to erect a church in Weldon.347
While Mr. Castleman seems first to have resided in Halifax he soon brought his large family to live in a house at a railroad stop called Summit near the town343 Letter from Edmund Wilkins to Mrs. Alexander John Brodnax, June 3, 1859, now in the possession of Mrs. H. Stuart Lewis of “Woodlands,” Brodnax, Virginia.344Journal, 1860.345 Letter from Mrs. Lucy Goode (Capehart) Oertel of Washington, North Carolina, to Miss Edmonia Cabell Wilkins, February 20, 1948, now in the possession of the writer. Both Mrs. Oertel and Miss Wilkins were intimately associated with St. Luke's Church for many years. This letter is cited hereafter as Oertel.346Journals, 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864; see also Oertel.347Journal, 1864.
of Gaston.348 From there he continued his work in Weldon until September, 1865, when the railroad company withdrew the pass on which he travelled back and forth. The Civil War had ended, and the minister had no money with which to pay the fare, so he resigned the care of Weldon. The congregation there, realizing that the $800.00 in Confederate money would be of little help toward building a church, gave it all to Mr. Castleman. With this money the poor man was able to purchase one barrel of flour.349 As if poverty were not enough, tragedy fell on the little congregation. To the Convention of 1866 Bishop Atkinson reported:
Of the Clergy, we have lost by death, one valued and beloved member of our body, the Reverend Robert A. Castleman. He was foully assassinated in the month of October last [October 12, 1865350], near the village of Gaston, by some wretch, as yet unknown, who either bore him a grudge, the existence of which he himself did not suspect, or mistook him for another person. It is not creditable to the administration of justice in this State that the murderer has so far gone unpunished. The true criminal was either not arrested, or if so, was dismissed. The whole matter seems to have been followed up with little zeal or public spirit.351
A former resident in the community wrote of the incident many years later:
I know that Grandmother [Mrs. Thomas Goode Tucker of Mt. Rekcut] got the news as breakfast was brought in, and she had it put in her carriage and went right down to Mrs. Castleman and brought her and the children (five or more in family) to Mt. Rekcut where they stayed until they went back to Virginia.352
In the spring of 1865 before Mr. Castleman's death, on orders of a Confederate officer stationed at Weldon, the river bridge at Gaston was burned. This was a death blow to the little town. The war ended; Mr. Castleman was murdered; the bridge was burned. The winter of 1865-66 was a severe strain on the whole community. It was bitterly cold, and an eye-witness later recalled how loaded wagons were driven across the Roanoke on ice near the burned bridge.353III
With the Gaston bridge gone, Mr. Wilkins and the other members of the congregation felt that the church should be moved from the dying town to a spot on higher ground nearer the homes of its members. Not long before Mr. Wilkins died on January 20, 1867, the old building was moved two miles to a place on Mr. Wilkins's land near the Belmont gate on the Lawrenceville road, the spot the church occupies at the present time.348Oertel; see also Miss Edmonia Cabell Wilkins's unpublished notes in the writer's possession.349 Unpublished manuscript notes of Miss Edmonia C. Wilkins.350Ibid.351Journal, 1866.352Oertel.353 T. J. Miles article in News and Observer, see footnote 340.
On May 31, 1867, in the midst of the “great agricultural and commercial depression,” Bishop Atkinson visited the congregation at its new location and reported:
The Church building has been removed from the village to a site considered more convenient, two miles distant, and although the congregation has lost one of its most useful and efficient members, in the person of the late Mr. Edmund Wilkins, yet there seems to be full determination on their part to secure their regular religious services. . . .354
On January 1, 1868, the Rev. W. C. Hunter took charge of a girls school in Warrenton and assumed temporary care of the Gaston mission where the rector of Emmanuel Church also performed some parochial functions.355 Later in 1868 the Rev. Neilson Falls of Jackson also held services at Gaston. This work was effective, for when Bishop Atkinson again visited the church early in 1869 and late in 1870 there were candidates for confirmation.356
In the spring of 1870 the Rev. Edward W. Gilliam came to serve the Jackson church, and at the same time he took charge of the work at Gaston. He was a diligent worker and achieved good results until he resigned in 1873.357
Accompanied by the Rev. M. M. Marshall of Warrenton and the Rev. Mr. Ward of Virginia, Bishop Lyman made his first visitation to the Gaston congregation on January 30, 1874. In his report he refers to the mission as “St. Luke's Chapel,” the first time it appears under that name in the diocesan records.358
For several years after the Rev. Mr. Gilliam's resignation the church had no regular minister. Bishop Lyman reported that on May 1, 1877,
In St. Luke's Church, Gaston, I read the service, baptized an infant, confirmed one person, and administered the Holy Communion. This Parish has been for a long time without any services. I found here much anxiety on that account, and a cheerful readiness to unite with some other adjacent Parish in the maintenance of a clergyman. By such an arrangement a comfortable support would be assured.359IV
Anxiety for the life of St. Luke's was allayed when the Rev. Gilbert Higgs took charge of Jackson and Warrenton on November 1, 1877, for he also became priest-in-charge of St. Luke's.360 To the Convention of 1878 meeting in Wilmington354Journal, 1868.355Ibid.356Journals, 1869, 1871.357Higgs.358Journal, 1874.359Journal, 1877.360Journal, 1878.
the Rev. Mr. Higgs reported the following statistics concerning St. Luke's at the time his ministry there began:
|Number of families||14|
|Number of persons||65|
|Number of baptisms (infant)||1|
|Number of communicants||10|
|Number of burials||1|
|Number of services||7|
|Number of Holy Communions||2|
|Value of Church property||$300.00|
To these statistics he appended these remarks:
This Mission has been connected at various times with Warrenton, Ringwood, and Jackson. Now with Jackson and services on 2nd Sunday each month. The attendance is very good. The energies of the congregation are now being directed to repairing the Church and purchasing a small organ.361
Mr. Higgs was a determined builder. He seemed to feel that “the energies of the congregation” should always have a positive objective, and his philosophy worked well in Northampton. When Bishop Lyman came to St. Luke's on April 22, 1879, he wrote, “I was much pleased by the decided improvement made in the Church building and the evident signs of increased life and activity in the Parish.”362 The organ was purchased, and most importantly, a Sunday School was opened with seventeen male and seven female scholars, together with five teachers and five “other officers.”363
The following year Mr. Higgs reported that
An acre of land, on which the Church is standing, has been given by deed to the Bishop and Trustees of the Diocese of North Carolina, in accordance with the desire of the late Edmund Wilkins, Esq., deceased, by Edmund W. Wilkins, Esq., M.D., and Mary D. Wilkins, his wife364. . . . Arrangements have been made to enclose at once a portion of this land for the protection of the Church and for burial purposes.365
This plan for the churchyard was soon accomplished. For some time both the members of the congregation and the minister had felt that the old cocoonery building had seen its best days. Under Mr. Higgs's leadership a vigorous effort was initiated “to secure the erection of a new, commodious and more churchly361Ibid.362Journal, 1879.363Ibid.364 The deed was dated April 10, 1880.365Journal, 1880.
edifice” than the converted cocoonery.366 The area around the building was laid out in burial lots, and shrubs and flowering plants were set out. Before long $235.00 had been subscribed toward building a new church.367
For the next few years the people continued to work toward getting the new church. In the meantime attendance at services at St. Luke's was very encouraging. By the time of the Tarboro Convention of 1886, as had been feared, the old Gaston church was not considered safe for use. This was an added spur to the efforts for a new building. “The people are united in earnest in an endeavor to build a new church. . . . With a little aid from outside friends, this much needed work can soon be accomplished.”368
A year later Mr. Higgs reported that
It would be difficult to find anywhere a more earnest and reverent worship. The interest in the new church building is not only unabated, but is increasing with the growing interest felt in the church, as manifested by the larger congregations attending Divine Worship. The report of the Building Committee is most gratifying to all, and is an earnest that the church will in all probability be built this year. The amount now subscribed is $695.31. Of this sum $438.86 has been paid.369
By the time of Bishop Lyman's visit on April 14, 1887, “active steps” had already been taken toward erection of the new building.370
Up to this time in its history St. Luke's status in the diocese, like that of a good many other churches, was somewhat ambiguous. It was only partially self-supporting; officially it was spoken of as a mission station, a parish, or simply as a chapel. At the Convention of 1888 held in Salisbury, St. Luke's was admitted into union with the diocese as a mission, and became one of the earliest congregations to receive this status.371 To the same convention, in reporting events in his field, Mr. Higgs wrote that
On the 17th April  work was begun on the new Church. The style is Gothic, open roof, finished in native wood (pine oiled). A pretty stained glass window has been placed in the Chancel, a gift of the Parish of the Church of the Saviour, Jackson. The work is going on as fast as means will allow, and we hope to have it ready for consecration at the next visit of the Bishop. About $1,030.00 has been expended at this date.372
Describing St. Luke's long effort for a new church, a former parishoner has written that366Journal, 1881.367Journal, 1882.368Journal, 1886.369Journal, 1887.370Ibid.371Journal, 1888.372Ibid.St. Luke's Church, GastonExterior since 1889
The present new building was built in Mr. Higgs’ time, and all of us gave pledges for several years to pay a certain amount each year toward its erection. I was teaching by that time, but all our family sent in or met their pledges. . . . Grandmother373 was at that time the moving spirit, [your] uncle Edmund [Wilkins] being dead. She sold quilts (works of art) and had tableaux and cultivated an acre of land for the benefit of the parish. Everybody was very poor in money after the war.374
The construction continued. Outside friends of the parish gave what help they could. Bishop Lyman gave pews for the church,375 and the Rev. Bennett Smedes of St. Mary's School presented a chair for the sanctuary.376 But the principal burden remained on the local people. By the late spring of 1889 the work was completed.
Wednesday, June 12, 1889, was the date set for the consecration. The little congregation made careful preparations for the service and for the entertainment of the visitors from other parishes invited to join with them in celebrating the occasion. Bishop Lyman officiated at the service. The request for consecration was read by Mr. Ashley Wilkins, and the sentence of consecration by the Rev. Mr. Higgs. The Rev. Aristides S. Smith assisted in the service. Writing about the event, Bishop Lyman described the new church as “beautiful . . . one of the most chaste and attractive of any of the rural churches in the Diocese, and reflects great credit upon the refined taste and untiring watchfulness of the Rector. . . .” The bishop also remarked on the number of visitors who had come from considerable distances. “After the service, a very elegant and bountiful collation was provided under the trees near the Church, to which all who came to the service were most cordially invited.”377
When the new church was consecrated the congregation had paid off its entire cost—$1,500.V
Mr. Higgs continued his work at St. Luke's for a year after the new church was consecrated. On August 1, 1890, however, he resigned his three churches, Warrenton, Jackson, and St. Luke's. For about six months there were no services at Gaston. Then on January 1, 1891, the Rev. Frederick Towers came from the Diocese of Florida to take the churches left vacant upon Mr. Higgs's departure. Two months later Bishop Lyman joined Mr. Towers at Warren Plains and together373 Mrs. Thomas Goode Tucker of Mt. Rekcut.374Oertel.375Journal, 1889.376Journal, 1890.377Ibid.
they went by train to Gaston. There, at St. Luke's, on Sunday, March 8, they celebrated the Holy Communion. Of this visit Bishop Lyman wrote:
I found that Mr. Towers had been very warmly welcomed here, as he had also at his other congregations at Warrenton and Jackson, and had already secured the warmest confidence and affection on the part of his entire flock.378
Unfortunately for these congregations, Mr. Towers did not remain with them long. On September 1, 1891, he left to become rector of the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill.379 There were no services at St. Luke's from the time he left until early in 1892 when the Rev. Edward Benedict from the Diocese of Newark took charge of Warrenton, Jackson, and Gaston.380 Mr. Benedict served until August 1, 1892, when the Rev. W. Lawton Mellichampe who had been rector of Grace Church, Weldon, since December 15, 1889, took charge of St. Luke's. He held regular services there until March 1, 1893.381 Mr. Mellichampe felt that the Gaston church was “one of the most inviting points for Mission work in this portion of the Diocese.”382 But for some time after he gave up the work St. Luke's again had no services.
At an adjourned session of the Diocesan Convention in June, 1893, the Rev. Joseph Blount Cheshire was elected assistant bishop of the diocese,383 and on October 15, the same year, he was consecrated in Calvary Church, Tarboro. On December 13, 1893, Bishop Lyman died, and the new assistant bishop became the diocesan.384 Accompanied by the Venerable William Walker, Archdeacon for Colored Work, the new bishop made his first visitation to St. Luke's on Tuesday in Holy Week, March 20, 1894. On the following morning he baptized and confirmed an adult person and, assisted by Mr. Walker, administered the Holy Communion. In reporting this visit, Bishop Cheshire wrote that he was trying to get a minister for St. Luke's and several surrounding churches then vacant.385
Despite the fact that the congregation had no priest to lead them, St. Luke's continued to work on its Sunday School. Mr. Ashley Wilkins reported to the Convention of 1894 that together “with some noble and self-sacrificing ladies” he had been conducting this work and was “thankful to say that we believe St. Luke's Sunday School is now on a stable foundation.”386 The children in this Sunday School contributed $2.36 for diocesan missions in 1894.387
While the congregation had no minister of its own at this period, all services were not discontinued. Under the convocation system then employed in378Journal, 1891.379Journal, 1892.380Ibid.381Journal, 1893.382Ibid.383Ibid.384Journal, 1894.385Ibid.386Ibid.387Ibid.
the diocese, the Rev. Walter J. Smith, rector of Trinity Church, Scotland Neck, served as dean of the Convocation of Tarboro. From time to time he came to St. Luke's for services.388VI
On December 1, 1895, the Rev. Girard W. Phelps, carrying the title of “Evangelist of the Convocation of Tarboro,” came to live in Littleton to serve as rector of St. Clement's, Ringwood, and as priest-in-charge of the missions at Littleton, Gaston, and in Edgecombe County.389 This was an enormous field for one man, but at least it gave St. Luke's some claim on the services of a priest.
During the first year of Mr. Phelps's ministry at Gaston the women of St. Luke's formed a Women's Auxiliary and made their first “United Offering” of $1.25.390 Despite this evidence of renewed vigor, Mr. Phelps was very pessimistic about the church in his 1897 report.
I wish I could say something encouraging as to the future prospect of St. Luke's. But thus far I have found little to encourage much hope for us in the future. If we can hold on for a while, there may be developments in our favor, at least I so hope, in a few years. In a little more than a year we have lost by death a gentleman and his wife, who were ever liberal helpers at St. Luke's. And we sorely miss them. Another obstacle to us is, that several of our members live at such a distance from the church as seldom to be able to get there. And to add to all this, last year the farmers on the Roanoke river suffered great losses by freshets and therefore find it no easy matter to meet their obligations.391
As if to multiply these woes, the country soon found itself involved in a war with Spain. In 1898 Mr. Phelps again detailed the situation at St. Luke's.
I have found this place much as an old field, run down and unproductive. It is not impossible to revive this work. There is a good church building, erected perhaps twelve years ago. There has been no increase in membership for a long while. The membership is confined mainly to two families, living within a few miles of the church. Two other families live at a distance, one at about five miles, the other seven, and in Brunswick County, Va., and they rarely attend, being poorly provided with means for that purpose. There are not a great many white people, but mostly negroes in the immediate neighborhood of the church. Yet I think the work should be maintained, since it is quite possible that a change for388Journals, 1894, 1895.389Journal, 1896.390Ibid.391Journal, 1897.
the better in the vicinity, and consequently in the Church, must come at no distant day. Patience is the word to use for work like this, for haste and fret can do nothing.392
Poor Mr. Phelps seemed to think that Gaston was the last outpost of civilization, and, of course, in 1898 it was remote. The roads were very poor and the population was sparse. The old town of Gaston had gone out of existence.
After the Convention of 1898 the Rev. Mr. Phelps moved from Littleton to Scotland Neck where he became rector of Trinity Church. While he retained charge of Ringwood and the Edgecombe missions, Mr. Phelps relinquished both Littleton and St. Luke's. At the bishop's request the Rev. Mr. Picard, long the assistant minister in Jackson, assumed the care of St. Luke's upon Mr. Phelps's departure.393 At this time Mr. Picard's health was not very good, so when Bishop Cheshire visited St. Luke's for confirmation on November 14, 1899, he relieved Mr. Picard of responsibility for the Gaston church.394
On April 1, 1901, the Rev. Francis Joyner of the Diocese of East Carolina came to live in Littleton and became rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Ridgeway, and priest-in-charge of St. Alban's, Littleton, the mission at Middleburg, and St. Luke's, Gaston.395 In October, 1902, Mr. Joyner became archdeacon of the Convocation of Raleigh in addition to his other duties, and Bishop Cheshire wrote, “It is hoped that some arrangement may soon be made whereby he may receive assistance in the care of these congregations.”396 But this help was slow in materializing. Nevertheless, with all his duties, the archdeacon found time to develop the beginnings of a mission in Roanoke Rapids that has now grown into All Saints Church.397 Both before and after he resigned as archdeacon, Mr. Joyner was able to give St. Luke's services on fifth Sundays only.398
On November 1, 1905, the Rev. George M. Tolson became rector of Grace Church, Weldon, and succeeded Mr. Joyner as archdeacon.399 The following year Mr. Tolson visited St. Luke's, held four services there, and administered the Holy Communion.400 While the number of services Mr. Joyner could give the church remained few, the Sunday School and Women's Auxiliary were392Journal, 1898.393Journal, 1899.394Journal, 1900.395Journal, 1901.396Journal, 1903.397Journal, 1904. On April 20, 1905, this mission was organized with Dr. Augustus C. Hoyt as warden and Mr. William Francis Joyner as treasurer. See Journal, 1905. On January 30, 1908, the Rev. Mr. Joyner gave up the supervision of the work in Roanoke Rapids. Journal, 1909. In the summer of 1909 the Rev. Hardy Hardison Phelps became rector of Grace Church, Weldon, and also assumed charge of the work at Roanoke Rapids, Ringwood, and Enfield. Journal, 1910. On January 9, 1911, Mr. Phelps died at the rectory in Weldon. Journal, 1911. About a year later, under the direction of Archdeacon Hughes, the work at Roanoke Rapids was placed under the care of Mr. Arthur W. Taylor, a lay worker. Journal, 1912.398Journals, 1905, 1906.399Journal, 1906.400Journal, 1907.
stoutly maintained. By the time of the 1914 Convention in Raleigh Mr. Joyner's health forced him to resign the care of St. Luke's as well as the care of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Ridgeway.401 From December, 1914, until the time of the 1915 Convention the new archdeacon, the Venerable N. Collin Hughes, gave St. Luke's a monthly service.402VII
Within a few months after the 1915 Convention the Rev. Henry Clark Smith became priest-in-charge of All Saints, Roanoke Rapids, and St. Luke's.403 This marked the beginning of the union of these two congregations in the support of a minister. The Rev. Mr. Smith's report to the 1916 Convention names Mr. Reginald H. Joyner as warden and treasurer of St. Luke's,404 a position he held for many years.
On April 1, 1917, Mr. Smith was succeeded by the Rev. Lewis Taylor, a native of Oxford, who, since his ordination as deacon on March 30, 1913, had been serving the churches at Townesville, Stovall, and Middleburg.405 Mr. Taylor was sincerely interested in the development of rural churches,406 and St. Luke's offered fertile ground in which to work out his ideas.
Just as the first World War was closing Bishop Cheshire came to St. Luke's for his annual visitation on October 6, 1918. The time is significant. The great influenza epidemic that swept the country was at its height. After his visit to St. Luke's the bishop suspended further visits that year. Five days later the Armistice was signed.407
With a regular minister living nearby, the life at St. Luke's began to quicken. In 1919 Mr. Taylor held twenty-five services at the church, the largest number there in many years. The same year the Convocation of Raleigh allocated $2,200.00 toward the work of Mr. Taylor and two lay workers in Roanoke Rapids and Gaston.408 Similar contributions were continued for several years. The Journal of the Convention of 1921 contains some interesting statistics about St. Luke's: the value of the church was set at $3,000.00, the land, $100.00, the furniture, $300.00, and the insurance on the property, $1,000.00401Journal, 1914.402Journal, 1915.403Journal, 1916.404Ibid.405Journals, 1913, 1914, 1915. Mr. Taylor was born October 29, 1889, ordained deacon, 1913, priest, 1914. On May 14, 1914, he married Miss Adelaide Henrietta Trehon. In 1925 he became rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Columbia, South Carolina, where he served until his death.406 At the Convention of 1918, on motion of the Rev. Mr. Duncan (rector of the Jackson and Weldon churches), the Rev. Alfred S. Lawrence, the Rev. Mr. Taylor, Mr. Thomas H. Welch, and Mr. George Pollok Burgwyn were appointed a committee on the Country Church and Rural Life. See Journal, 1918.407Journal, 1919.408Journal, 1920.
On October 11, 1921, Bishop Cheshire visited St. Luke's and confirmed six persons presented by Mr. Taylor, a very large class for this congregation.409
Under Mr. Taylor's leadership the Gaston congregation began work on a parish house. By 1923 it was completed and valued at $1,500.00. The building proved very useful throughout Mr. Taylor's ministry.
On October 10, 1923, the Women's Auxiliary of the District of Edgecombe held their annual meeting at St. Luke's with Bishop Cheshire attending.410 This was symbolic of the way in which St. Luke's was assuming a stable position in the work of the Church.
On April 24, 1924, the bishop coadjutor, the Rt. Rev. Edwin A. Penick, made his first visit to Northampton and confirmed one person at St. Luke's.411VIII
The Rev. Mr. Taylor continued to serve Roanoke Rapids and St. Luke's until March 18, 1925, when he was canonically transferred to the Diocese of Upper South Carolina.412 He was succeeded by the Rev. Henry deChartignier Mazyck who had formerly served at Mayodan.413 Mr. Mazyck remained in charge for only about one year.414
On January 14, 1926, Bishop Cheshire turned supervision of St. Luke's over to Bishop Penick, but the old bishop made a final visitation to the church on November 5 that year for the confirmation of three persons.415
When the 1928 Convention met Mr. Mazyck's place had not been filled. Shortly thereafter, however, on June 4, 1928, the Rev. Joseph Nicholas Bynum of the Diocese of East Carolina took charge of Roanoke Rapids and Gaston.416
Under Mr. Bynum services were held regularly for a ten-year period. On October 29, 1937, the Women's Auxiliary of the District of Edgecombe held its annual meeting at St. Luke's for the second time in the parish's history. On February 24, 1938, the Rev. Mr. Bynum was forced to become inactive on account of his health.417
The Rev. Charles Upchurch Harris, Jr., of Raleigh, was ordained deacon on June 13, 1938, and came to Roanoke Rapids as Mr. Bynum's successor at All Saints and at St. Luke's. Mr. Harris served these churches until his ordination to the priesthood on October 2, 1939, when he went to New York for work at409Journal, 1922.410Journal, 1924.411Journal, 1925.412Ibid.413Journal, 1926.414Journal, 1927. On November 7, 1933, Bishop Penick received notice that the Bishop of Kentucky had deposed Mr. Mazyck from the priesthood, see Journal, 1934.415Journal, 1927.416Journal, 1929. Mr. Bynum was born at Farmville. North Carolina, December 4, 1885, ordained deacon, 1916, priest, 1917. On December 24, 1920, he married Miss Grace E. Potter. Before coming to St. Luke's he served in Gatesville, Southport, Wilmington, and Belhaven.417Journals, 1930, 1937, 1939.
Union Theological Seminary.418 During the ensuing vacancy, the Rev. deSaussure Parker Moore of Weldon and Jackson gave St. Luke's occasional services. On December 1, 1940, the Rev. Edmund Berkeley from the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia assumed charge of Roanoke Rapids and Gaston.419
Mr. Berkeley served these churches throughout World War II. On May 13, 1945, Bishop Penick made his regular visit to St. Luke's and, as was fitting for the time, said special prayers for V-E Day.420
On October 30, 1948, Bishop Penick issued a lay reader's license to Mr. Breedlove Shaw for use at St. Luke's Church, the first record of authorization for lay services in this parish.421
On May 1, 1949, the Rev. Mr. Berkeley left the diocese to become rector of Gallilee Church, Virginia Beach.422 Again the Rev. Mr. Moore volunteered to give services at St. Luke's. When the Rev. Marshall McCormick Milton assumed the rectorate of All Saints, Roanoke Rapids, in November, 1949, it was decided that he should serve that church only. The Rev. Mr. Moore then assumed charge of St. Luke's and held regular services there until his death.418Journal, 1940. The Rev. Mr. Harris was born in Raleigh, N. C., May 2, 1914, ordained deacon in 1938, priest in 1939. On June 17, 1940, he married Janet Carlile. After leaving Roanoke Rapids he served as assistant at St. Bartholomew's, New York, 1939-1940, and as rector of Trinity, Roslyn, N. Y., 1940-46, and Trinity, Highland Park, Illinois, 1946—.419Journal, 1941. The Rev. Mr. Berkeley was born at Mayodan, N. C., June 28, 1910, ordained deacon in 1936, priest in 1937. On May 1, 1937, he married Mary Louise Fuller. He served in Natural Bridge Parish, Buena Vista, Virginia, 1937-40; Roanoke Rapids and St. Luke's, 1940-49; and Gallilee Church, Virginia Beach, 1949—.420Journal, 1946.421Journal, 1949.422Ibid.APPENDIX
A LIST OF CLERGYMEN WHO HAVE SERVED IN Northampton
The Colonial Clergy
|Clement Hall*||c. 1753|
|Charles Edward Taylor||1771-1778|
|Stephen Johnston||c. 1794|
The Clergy of the Episcopal Church
|1. At Jackson|
|William Norwood||November 27, 1831—November (?), 1832|
|Joseph Saunders*||These clergymen from Windsor, Warrenton, and Edenton held services in Jackson, at the Burgwyn plantations, and at other places in the county between 1832 and 1848.|
|John M. Robinson*||These clergymen from Windsor, Warrenton, and Edenton held services in Jackson, at the Burgwyn plantations, and at other places in the county between 1832 and 1848.|
|Samuel Iredell Johnston*||These clergymen from Windsor, Warrenton, and Edenton held services in Jackson, at the Burgwyn plantations, and at other places in the county between 1832 and 1848.|
|Charles A. Maison*||These clergymen from Windsor, Warrenton, and Edenton held services in Jackson, at the Burgwyn plantations, and at other places in the county between 1832 and 1848.|
|Cameron MacRae*||These clergymen from Windsor, Warrenton, and Edenton held services in Jackson, at the Burgwyn plantations, and at other places in the county between 1832 and 1848.|
|William H. Harison||January (?), 1848—May, 1850|
|Frederick Fitzgerald||May 1, 1851—June 17, 1855|
|Thomas Goelet Haughton||July, 1856—January 1, 1857|
|Frederick Fitzgerald||November, 1857—November, 1858|
|Frederick Lightbourn||February 1, 1859—Fall, 1867|
|Neilson Falls||Spring, 1868—Spring, 1869|
|Edward Winslow Gilliam||Spring, 1870—Summer, 1873|
|Edward Wooten*||November 30, 1873—November 1, 1877|
|Gilbert Higgs||November 1, 1877—August 1, 1890|
|William T. Picard||August 1, 1890—January 1, 1891|
|Frederick Towers||January 1, 1891—August 31, 1891|
|William T. Picard||August 31, 1891—Winter, 1891-92|
|Edward Benedict||Winter, 1891-92—(?) 1893|
|William T. Picard||(?) 1893—May, 1895|
|Norman B. Harris||May, 1895—August, 1895|
|William T. Picard||August, 1895—September 15, 1897|
|James Taylor Chambers||September 15, 1897—March 15, 1905|
|William T. Picard||March 15, 1905—June 1, 1905|
|Francis Joyner||June 1, 1905—March 1, 1916|
|William T. Picard||March 1, 1916—Spring, 1916|
|Norvin Cornelius Duncan||Spring, 1916—February 1, 1919|
|Frederick Cousins||Summer, 1919—October 3, 1920|
|* Indicates clergymen who served at the places indicated without being officially assigned.|
|Charles Frederick Westman||February 3, 1921—November 1, 1923|
|Morrison Bethea*||Winter, 1923-24—December, 1925|
|Clarence Henry Jordan||January 1, 1925—(?) 1928|
|deSaussure Parker Moore||June 16, 1929—November 11, 1942|
|Robert Eugene Cox||September 19, 1943—May 31, 1945|
|Robert Lansing Hicks||Summer, 1945—September 1946|
|Thomas Lawson Cox||October 1, 1946—March 1, 1948|
|deSaussure Parker Moore||December 15, 1948—September 14, 1950|
|2. At Gaston|
|Cameron MacRae*||c. 1844|
|Frederick Lightbourn||February 1, 1859—(?) 1863|
|Robert A. Castleman||(?) 1863—October 12, 1865|
|Frederick Lightbourn||(?) 1865—Fall, 1867|
|W. C. Hunter||Early months of 1868|
|Nielson Falls||(?) 1868—Spring, 1869|
|Edward Winslow Gilliam||Spring, 1870—Summer, 1873|
|Gilbert Higgs||November 1, 1877—August 1, 1890|
|Frederick Towers||January 1, 1891—August 31, 1891|
|Edward Benedict||Early 1892—August 1, 1892|
|W. Lawton Mellichampe||August 1, 1892—March 1, 1893|
|Walter J. Smith*||(?) 1893—(?) 1895|
|Girard W. Phelps||December 1, 1895—Spring, 1898|
|William T. Picard||Spring, 1898—November 14, 1899|
|Francis Joyner||April 1, 1901—Spring, 1914|
|N. Collin Hughes*||Spring, 1914—Spring, 1915|
|Henry Clark Smith||Spring, 1915—April 1, 1917|
|Lewis Taylor||April 1, 1917—March 18, 1925|
|Henry deChartignier Mazcyk||Spring, 1925—Spring, 1926|
|Joseph Nicholas Bynum||June 4, 1928—February 24, 1938|
|Charles Upchurch Harris, Jr.||June, 1938—October 2, 1939|
|deSaussure Parker Moore*||October, 1939—November, 1940|
|Edmund Berkley||December 1, 1940—May 1, 1949|
|deSaussure Parker Moore||Spring, 1949—September 14, 1950|
|* Indicates clergymen who served at the places indicated without being officially assigned.|
|David A. Barnes||Margaret (Proby) Calvert|
|Dr. William Barrow||(Mrs. Samuel)|
|Eliza Calvert Barrow (Mrs. William)||Samuel Calvert, Jr.|
|Mrs. Virginia Bilbro||Mrs. Nathaniel Eaton|
|Thomas Bragg||Martha A. Exum|
|Isabelle Cuthbert Bragg (Mrs. Thomas)||Mrs. George Kee|
|Henry King Burgwyn||Frank Lockhart|
|Anna Greenough Burgwyn (Mrs. H. K.)||Mrs. Frank Lockhart|
|Thomas Pollok Burgwyn||John Randolph|
|John Bowen Bynum||Morgianna Calvert Randolph|
|Virginia A. Bynum (Mrs. J. B.)||(Mrs. John)|
|John Calvert||Charles Smith|
|Caroline Betts Calvert (Mrs. John)||Mrs. Charles Smith|
|Samuel Calvert||Thomas D. Sterling|
The minutes of the vestry of the Jackson church record elections to the parish vestry from 1851 through 1916. Members elected during those years are listed here in the order of their election. The date of their retirement or death is also recorded. Members elected since 1916, the dates of election not being recorded, are listed alphabetically without regard to the initial date of service.
|Dr. William Barrow||1851-1881|
|Captain John Randolph||1851-1866|
|Thomas D. Sterling||1851-1852|
|Henry King Burgwyn||1851-1858|
|John B. Bynum||1851-1854; 1855-1856|
|David A. Barnes||1852-1858|
|James William Newsom||1854-1890|
|Henry Benjamin Hardy||1855-1858|
|John Burgwyn MacRae||1876-1916|
|William Thomas Picard||1876-1918|
|Charles Fetter||1876-1880; 1881-1884|
|William Wallace Peebles||1876-1899|
|Robert Bruce Peebles||1876-1907|
|Dr. Virginius St. Clair MacNider||1876-1880|
|George Urquhart||1878-1880; 1883-1890|
|Douglas Alexander Jordan||1880-1895|
|Dr. Robert Henry Stancell||1881-1895|
|George Pollok Burgwyn||1884-1907|
|John Alveston Burgwyn||1886-1898|
|Dr. Henry Wilkins Lewis||1890-1914|
|Calvert Goosley Peebles||1895-1915; also after 1916|
|Samuel M. Simpson||1896-1899|
|John Joseph Long||1898-1901|
|Thomas Ridley Burgwyn||1900-1908|
|Etheldred John Peebles||1906-1916|
|George Pollok Burgwyn, Jr.||1907-1930|
|Henry Benjamin Hardy||1912-1916; also after 1916|
|Erskine Ehringhaus||1914-after 1916|
|Edmund Wilkins Lewis||1914-after 1916|
|William Hyslop Sumner Burgwyn||1916-after 1916|
The following laymen were serving in 1916 or have served subsequently:
|Rogers Jordan Boone||Erskine Ehringhaus (see above)|
|Bartlett Roper Burgwyn||Henry Benjamin Hardy (see above)|
|George Pollok Burgwyn, Jr. (see above)||William Exum Harris|
|George Pollok Burgwyn, III||Edmund Wilkins Lewis (see above)|
|Henry King Burgwyn||Philip Alston Lewis|
|John Griffin Burgwyn||Frank Meacham|
|William Hyslop Sumner Burgwyn (see above)||Eric Norfleet|
|Calvert Goosley Peebles (see above)|
|William Hyslop Sumner Burgwyn, Jr.||Joseph N. Selden|
When Mr. Samuel Calvert presented the congregation of the Church of the Saviour with one-half acre of land their first efforts were directed toward building a church. But shortly thereafter the vestry and rector laid off as a burial ground the portion of the property not needed for the building itself. In the minutes of the vestry can be found a plat of the half-acre carefully drawn by the Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald to show how it was laid off in lots.
The frontage on Church Street (the East side of the property) was 132 feet; the depth was 165 feet. Just inside the boundaries and running around the entire property was a strip, 13 feet deep on the front and back and 7 feet deep on each side. This border was planned and subsequently used as a place for the burial of individuals without family lots.
Just inside this outer strip was a 5-foot walk running around the whole property. Two similar walks running East and West divided the remaining area into three rows of burial lots. Four 5-foot walks running North and South at right angles to the East-West walks separated the lots.
The original church building (nave: 30 feet by 25 feet; chancel: 15 feet by 14 feet; vestry room: approximately 8 feet square) occupied the Southeast corner of the property.
In the exact center of the half-acre, bordered on all four sides with walks, was a rectangular area 34 feet wide (North-South) and 45 feet long (East-West). The central part of this rectangle was marked out by a circular walk. The portion of the rectangle inside the circular walk was designated as the “Rector's Lot”; the remaining portions of the rectangle were plainly intended for shrubs and grass. Both Mr. Daniel Murrell and Mrs. Fitzgerald contributed funds for the purchase of a sun dial for the churchyard, and it was purchased in 1855.* It is possible that this ornament was placed in the Rector's Lot, but since the sun dial disappeared long ago it is impossible to say with certainty where it was located.
Just behind or West of the church, and South of the Rector's Lot, and lying beside it, was a similar rectangle (32 feet by 45 feet), Lot Number 1. On February 5, 1854, Mr. Samuel Calvert, the donor of the half-acre, purchased this lot. To the North of the Rector's Lot, corresponding with the Calvert lot, was Lot Number 10 (32 feet by 45 feet) purchased by Mr. Henry King Burgwyn on May 8, 1854.
Behind the Calvert lot were lots 2 and 3, each 32 feet by 16 feet. On April 4, 1855, Lot Number 2 was purchased by Mr. Henry B. Hardy. Lot Number 3 had not been sold when Mr. Fitzgerald left the parish.
Lot Number 5 lay immediately West of the Rector's Lot. Its dimensions were 34 feet by 16 feet, and it was purchased by Mr. John B. Bynum, the third* See accounts in the Parish Register.
person to be buried in the churchyard. Lot Number 4 of the same dimensions lay West of Lot Number 5, but it had not been sold at the time of Mr. Fitzgerald's departure.
Lot Number 6 (34 feet by 16 feet) lay immediately East of the Rector's Lot and was purchased by Dr. William Barrow, the first senior warden, on November 16, 1853. Lot Number 7 (of the same dimensions) lay East of Lot Number 6 and was purchased by Governor Thomas Bragg on May 8, 1854.
Lot Number 11 (32 feet by 16 feet) lay immediately East of the Burgwyn lot and was purchased on May 8, 1854, by Captain John Randolph. Lot Number 12 (of the same dimensions) lay East of Lot Number 11. It was in this lot that Miss Virginia Newsom, aged fifteen, was buried on July 9, 1853, the first burial in the churchyard recorded in the Parish Register.
Lots 8 and 9 (each 32 feet by 16 feet) lay West of the Burgwyn lot but they had not been sold at the time Mr. Fitzgerald left the parish.*
The size and shape of the original lots have been somewhat changed through the years. This has resulted from the fact that the Rector's Lot as such was not retained in the plan, from the fact that the present church building occupies more ground than did the original, and from the fact that the burial ground has been enlarged.
From the first the congregation and its vestry cared for the churchyard with affection. Box bushes, crepe myrtles, rose bushes, cedars, magnolias—all the trees and shrubs found in southern gardens—were set out, and grass was planted. Entries in Mr. Fitzgerald's meticulous accounts tell of sums paid the early sextons, Solomon, Joe, and Wade, and other “hands,” for “keeping the churchyard in order.” One entry mentions the purchase of a watering pot.
An early concern was the construction of an appropriate fence around the entire property. For $25.00 the first vestry purchased the necessary posts, from Mr. T. P. Burgwyn they acquired the necessary lumber, and for $2.50 the smith on Mr. W. J. Capehart's place made four hinges for the gate. Mr. Bragg was paid $187 for “carpentry work” on the fence. Not long after it had been erected there was a severe electrical storm during which one post was struck by lightning and had to be replaced. This original fence can be seen in photographs of the first church building.
All through the Civil War period the members of the church seemed to take good care of the property. At one time during the war several Union soldiers killed at Boone's Mill were buried in the churchyard.
When Bishop Lyman first visited Jackson in 1874 he wrote that he noticed the “graveyard is cared for in a most commendable way.”
During the rectorate of Mr. Higgs the vestry bought adjoining land at the rear of the property for an addition to the graveyard. For this land they paid* The information concerning the location and dimensions of these lots is taken from the plat prepared by the Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald in the Minutes of the Vestry. The sale of lots is recorded in the accounts in the Parish Register.
$100.00. The next year, 1883, the whole churchyard as enlarged was enclosed with a new fence. A glimpse of this second fence can be seen in photographs of the church after it was enlarged.
When the church was burned in 1895 the wooden fence must certainly have suffered considerable damage if not total destruction. After the present stone church was erected a strong wire fence anchored to iron posts set in cement was placed around the burial ground. This last fence stood the test of many years. Even when the churchyard was neglected and became overgrown in the years immediately after the first World War this fence stood up remarkably well.
The efforts to clean up the property and make it attractive which were started in the 1920's have been maintained to the present time. By the physical labor of members of the parish, by financial contributions from former residents as well as parishoners, and by the constant watchfulness of interested laymen, the churchyard has become the pleasant and dignified place envisioned by those who planned it a century ago.
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