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Full text of "A history of Alamance Church, 1762-1918"

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A HISTORY OF ALAMANCE CHURCH 
by 
E. C. Murray 







George Washington Flowers 
Memorial Collection 

DUKE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 



ESTABLISHED BY THE 

FAMILY OF 

COLONEL FLOWERS 



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&ev. W. <E. Murray, B. B. 










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25 'SYNOD OF 

was organized 
OCT- 7th 1813 




SYNOD'S CENTENNIAL MONUMENT 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 






http://archive.org/details/historyofalamancOOmurr 



A HISTORY OF 

ALAMANCE CHURCH 

1762-1918 



BY 
REV. E. C. MURRAY, D. D. 



COMPILED FROM 

Life of Rev. David Caldwell, D.D., by Rev. Eli. W. Caruthers, D.D. 
A Historical Address by Rev. Calvin H. Wiley, D. D. 
Historical Sketches by Rev. Wm. B. Tidball and Miss A. V. Scott. 
Centennial Addresses — Synod of North Carolina. 
Records of Alamance Church and of Orange Presbytery. 
Miscellaneous Sources. 



Dir.% 

' - ' IH 
History or Alamance Cnurcn 




HE character and life of a church, like that of an 
individual, is largely determined by heredity and 
environment. In both these respects the Presbyte- 
rian churches of the Piedmont section of the South were pe- 
culiarly blessed. 

Piedmont North Carolina. 

The hill country of North Carolina, when the forefath- 
ers of Alamance congregation settled in what is now Guilford 
county, is admiringly described by old writers. The climate 
was delightful and the air salubrious, the soil rich and adapted 
to a great variety of products, the forests supplied many 
kinds of valuable timber, numerous streams watered the land 
and furnished pasturage for cattle and power for mills, from 
the hillsides gushed springs of delicious water, and the woods 
teemed with game and the creeks with fish. To-day the whole 
Piedmont region is one of the most prosperous and promis- 
ing sections of the South. 

The Scotch -Irish Settlement. 

This land of promise was kept for a people of promise. 
"A vast country in the Piedmont regions of Virginia and the 
Carolinas was reserved by Providence for the planting of a 
race who were to be fixed in the morally strategic points of 



4 History op Alamance Church 

the continent, and thence to permeate a great coming nation 
with the outgrowth of their character. Hither they came, 
not as adventurers and hunters, not as outlaws and wander- 
ers, but intelligent immigrants with good worldly substance, 
with needed implements of industry, with the arts of civili- 
zation, and with the institutions of Christian society." — {Dr. 
C. H. Wiley.) 

The whole section was largely settled by Scotch-Irish 
Presbyterians, that is, Scotch who had peopled north Ireland, 
developed there a splendid type of character, and then mi- 
grated in multitudes to America to find a larger civil and 
religious liberty. Most of them settled in Pennsylvania; and 
thence many colonies moved southward. 

The first settlers of the Alamance neighborhood came 
about the year 1753, according to the earliest deeds. They 
purchased lands from Earl Granville in what is now Guilford 
county, but was then Rowan and Orange, the county line run- 
ning some miles east of this place. Soon they built comfort- 
able homes, cleared farms, erected mills, shops and stores, and 
were a self-supporting community. The rapidity of settle- 
ment, the secure possession of land by fair purchase, the im- 
munity from wars with savages, and the absence of border 
ruffianism, were novel experiences for a new settlement. 

About this time also many Germans came and located 
eastward of this community, and Quakers toward the west. 
These too were intelligent, industrious and pious folks; and 
the three communities by friendly intercourse saved one an- 
other from the narrowness, prejudices and bigotry of isola- 
tion. 

Character of the Colonists. 

The Scotch-Irish had a keen eye for good lands and cli- 
mate, and developed a country with such intelligence and 
thrift that wherever they settled prosperity followed. In 
this community the best lands and building sites for homes 



History of Alamance Church 5 

and mills were soon selected, and many of these sites are oc- 
cupied to-day. The mill successively known as Cusach's, 
Young's. Hanner's and Reynolds's," is nearly as old as the 
church. Well established on their own properties, these peo- 
ple were not rovers, and many of the earliest settlers are now 
represented by those bearing the same name or by lineal de- 
scendents. 

The three institutions dearest to their hearts were the home, 
the church and the school, and their intelligence, orthodox 
piety and zeal have made them the most potent factors in the 
promotion of learning, morality and religion. Illiteracy, pau- 
perism and flagrant wickedness were almost unknown among 
them. Their experiences in the old country made them most 
ardent lovers of civil and religious liberty ; but they were also 
deeply imbued with the spirit of law and order. 

They were loyal to God 's Word and devoted to its study. 
In 1879 when Bibles were abundant and cheap, Dr. C. H. 
Wiley testified that in over ten years' experience as represent- 
ative of the American Bible Society in three states he had 
found no connnunities better supplied with Bibles than this 
seems to have been at the beginning. It was an essential part 
of the pioneer's outfit. The word was the law, the text-book, 
their political and social economy. Many families had also 
adequate libraries of standard books, mostly religious, such as 
the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms, Pilgrim's Prog- 
ress, Fox's Book of Martyrs, the Balm of Gilead, and the works 
of Boston, Doddridge, Baxter, Watts and Henry. 



Early Industries. 

Agriculture was the chief pursuit, and besides our present 
staples were raised flax, indigo, and probably hemp. Cows 
found rich pasturage of native grasses and clover in the mead- 
ows and clearings, and over "the old butter road"' large quan- 
tities of butter were hauled to distant markets. Bees gather- 



6 History of Alamance Church 

ed honey from a great variety of native flowers, much of which 
was made into metheglin, and this beverage was mixed with 
stronger liquors. 

These pioneers M^ere largely dependent for all farm and 
home necessaries on their own industry and skill, and -many 
households made most of the common articles. Among the 
men there were smiths, millwrights, carpenters, joiners, coop- 
ers, tinkers, tanners, shoemakers, weavers, cloth printers, tail- 
ors, and hatters. The Sunday hats of men, made of fur, very 
high and broad at the top, were imported. Some real English 
broadcloth was worn, but the fine clothing for boys, and mostly 
for men, was of home-made fulled woolen. 

The women were equally accomplished, and made their 
rude houses homes of comfort and contentment. They 
sang to the music of the spinning wheel, wove fine linen for 
sheets., table-cloths, towels and clothing, and sewed everything 
by hand. Specimens of their needlework 100 years old testify 
to their artistic skill. 

Social and Church Life. 

The social gatherings were generally for both mutual help 
and pleasure, and whole families attended these house-raisings, 
choppings, corn-shuckings and quiltings. There were very 
few carriages, and families usually travelled in wagons. Steel- 
springed buggies and Jersey wagons were unknown, and the 
vehicle chiefly used by richer parents and newly married 
couples was the lofty stick gig or double-seated sulky, swung 
on leather straps. The young people mostly went horseback, 
mounted singly or by twos and threes. The stylish gallants 
and maidens rode spirited horses gaily caparisoned. The 
gift of a saddle was a token of manhood attained by the proud 
owner, and a side-saddle was a part of a bride 's dowry. 

As the community grew, Sunday mornings would witness 
lively and attractive throngs gathering about the big new 



History of Alamance Church 

church. Waiting till most of the congregation had clattered 
through the four doors and over the uncarpeted aisles to their 
seats, some of the young fops would ostentatiously march clear 
across the church, up the stairway, and around the galleries, 
with loud, creaking shoes, as was the fashion of the day. The 
high-backed pews, rented at five dollars a year to raise the 
pastor's salary, well-nigh hid their occupants, and afforded 
opportunity for easy slumber to children and drowsy old folks. 
The attention however was generally good; and the singing, 
swelled in melodious volume and touched with pathos by the 
voices of the negroes, was inspiring. Over all the services 
brooded an influence tender, sweet and solemn. 

The dispersion of the congregation was a picturesque 
and exciting scene ; the rumbling wagons, the cautiously driven 
gigs, the prancing and curveting steeds gracefully managed by 
young men and maidens in pairs and troops, the slowly jog- 
ging old hacks, one with father and a lad behind, another with 
mother and an urchin or two, and others with two or three 
boys mounted on blankets. The thronged highway was fringed 
with pedestrians, some of whom would soon stop by the way- 
side to take off their Sunday shoes and stockings. 

Organization of the Church. 

Many of the settlers in Alamance and Buffalo communi- 
ties had known a young Mr. David Caldwell in Pennsylvania, 
being from the same county, and had asked him to come, when 
licensed, to be their minister. It appears probable from the 
records of his Presbytery that in 1764 he visited the commu- 
nities, Buffalo church had been organized in 1756, and it is 
probable that Alamance was organized during this visit. An 
old member of the church told Dr. Caruthers that he dis- 
tinctly remembered the event ; that as Mr. Caldwell was only 
a licentiate, Rev. Henry Patillo was asked to organize the 
church for the purpose of uniting with Buffalo in the support 
of a pastor. Dr. Caruthers also says in relating the visit of 



8 History of Alamance Church 

Rev. Elihu Spencer as a missionary here in 1764 : "When the 
writer first came into this county some very aged people still 
recalled Mr. Spencer; and said that he had organized many 
of the churches in this region. He was present at the organi- 
zation of Alamance." (Life of Caldwell, pp. 24 and 96). A 
call from the two churches for the pastoral services of Mr. 
Caldwell was presented to the Presbytery of New Brunswick at 
Philadelphia in 1765 ; and a petition for his installation to 
Hanover Presbytery in 1767. He was installed at Buffalo 
over both churches by Rev. Hugh MeAden, March 3, 1768. 

The loss of the church records previous to 1820 leaves us in 
doubt as to who were the original congregation besides Mrs. 
Mary Mebane and the families of her sons-in-law, William 
Cusach and Thomas Wiley, and of Andrew Finley and Adam 
Lecky. It is very probable that there were some of the Alex- 
anders, Allisons, Hanners, Neeleys, Paisleys, Rankins, and 
Stewarts. 

The Presbyterians of that time were divided over the 
question of revivals, the New Side or New Lights sympathiz- 
ing with the great revivalist Whitefield. In their migrations 
those of similar views naturally associated and settled together ; 
and thus was formed the New Side colony of Alamance to- 
ward the southeast of the Old Side community of Buffalo. 
This divergence of views made trouble for some time, and 
called for much prudence and firmness on the part of the min- 
ister ; but united under the pastorate of one both zealous and 
moderate, the extreme ideas of both sides were gradually 
modified and blended into a fine type of conservative evangel- 
ism. 

The church derived its name from the Alamance creek 
flowing nearby. As to the origin of that name there has been 
much discussion but no satisfactory explanation. In the origi- 
nal grants for these lands dating back to 1753, the name is 
always Allemance or Allamance, and so in the oldest writings 
in the community. 



History of Alamance Church 9 

Area of the Congregation. 

The original congregation covered the territory lying be- 
tween South Buffalo and Great Alamance creeks, and between 
the present villages of McLeansville and Pleasant Garden, an 
area of about 14 by 14 miles, with some members living beyond 
those bounds. It included the present congregations of Bethel , 
Mount Pleasant, Shady Grove, Mount Moriah, Pleasant Gar- 
den and Tabernacle, and parts of others. Most of the present 
congregation live within three miles of the church in every di- 
rection. 

In 1812 Rev. Samuel Paisley, against the will of Dr. Cald- 
well, organized Bethel Church with members from Alamance 
and Buffalo, and it now has 160 communicants. Greensboro 
First Church was organized in 1825 with members from the 
two old churches. East of Bethel were Alamance members 
in the Gibson settlement, near the present Springwood church. 
Rev. Win. D. Paisley frequently preached there in a school- 
house,, protracted meetings were held, the interest grew, and 
finally they proposed the organization of a church. Presby- 
tery met there for that purpose, but Dr. Caldwell, now nearly 
100 years old, rode the 20 miles from his home to oppose it, 
and Presbytery yielded to his will. Thus, for a century and 
a half of otherwise glorious life, Alamance can claim but two 
half-daughters, and most of her original territory is occupied 
by churches of other denominations. Pleasant Garden Pres- 
byterian church was organized in 1915 by the pastor of Ala- 
mance, and is served by him. 

Ecclesiastical Relations. 

This church was under the jurisdiction of the Synod of New 
York and Philadelphia until in 1788 the General Assembly 
was organized and the Synod of the Carolinas set off. The 
Synod of North Carolina was organized in Alamance church 



10 History of Alamance Church 

October 7, 1813, with 12 ministers and 3 elders, representing 
the Presbyteries of Orange and Concord. Dr. James Hall 
preached the opening sermon on "Go ye into all the world, 
and preach the gospel to every creature ' ' ; and Dr. Robt. H. 
Chapman was elected Moderator. The Presbytery of Han- 
over embraced the whole South until 1770, when Orange Pres- 
bytery was formed, and this church has been under its juris- 
diction ever since. 

Alamance was a favorite meeting place for Presbytery in 
early times, and nine sessions were held here in fourteen years, 
1798-1811. But after that there was none recorded till 1879. 
These occasions were eagerly anticipated by the people. Elder 
Cusach, whose home was east of the old church, near the old 
spring, and who was a man of means and princely hospitality, 
would sometimes entertain the whole Presbytery, and they 
would hold night sessions at his house. The people thor- 
oughly enjoyed listening to the Highland Scotch brogue of the 
Cape Fear Presbyterians. "Their name here was long like 
the savor of ointment poured forth," says Dr. Wiley; "and 
my early recollections are associated with anecdotes and inci- 
dents the old people were wont to tell with glowing interest 
of the good Scotch preachers of broad accent, and broader 
sympathies, of quaint humor and fiery zeal." 

First Three Church Buildings and Cemetery. 

FIRST CHURCH BUILDING. Very soon after the 
earliest settlement the pious colonists prepared for holding 
public religious services. Land for a church lot was donated 
by William Cusach, a beautiful knoll, bordered on two sides 
by branches of the Little Alamance. It was centrally located 
for the future congregation, just six miles south-east of the 
present court house in Greensboro. The land was then cov- 
ered with a primeval forest of huge and stately trees; and one 
day. probably in 1762, two years before the organization of 



History of Alamance Church 11 

the church, a company of men gathered with axes to clear a 
space and erect a church on the plateau near the confluence 
of the two streams. 

Before a stroke was made, it was proposed by Andrew 
Finley, a devout man and a leader in worship, that they 
should kneel and invoke the divine blessing on their pious 
enterprise. Axes were laid down, heads bared, and canopied 
by the leafy boughs of a great tree, Mr. Finley led those sturdy 
pioneers in the first devotional service on that ground now 
consecrated by the worship of their succeeding generations. 
Tradition tells of the sublime simplicity and fervor of that 
prayer, and of how the saintly man pleaded that on the hill 
where they knelt a house might be reared where God should 
be worshipped and his word be preached so long as the world 
should stand. Thus those forest shades, which for centuries 
had echoed with the growls of wild beasts and the war-cries 
of savage men. became vocal with the sweet notes of prayer 
and praise. How often since then have earnest souls during 
seasons of reviving grace gone out into those woods to plead 
with God. 

Kneeling by the side of Mr. Finley was his little son John. , 
afterwards the enthusiastic Sunday School leader, and known 
as "Old Master Finley/' As they arose the father pointed 
to a small oak at whose foot they had knelt, and said, ''When 
I am gone bury me beside that tree. ' ' The little fellow never 
forgot, and a small slate tombstone marks that spot to-day. 
Over half a century after the father's death, the son, at his 
own request, was laid to rest in the same grave. 

The hush of devotion was succeeded by a busy, noisy 
scene as the swinging axes rang against the trees. The space 
was cleared, and soon a modest log house was erected. It was 
used, according to tradition, till the close of the century. A 
paper bearing subscriptions to pay for church repairs is dated 
August 23, 1800 : but this effort to repair probably ended in a 
decision to build a new church. 



12 History of Alamance Church 

SECOND CHUECH BUILDING. The log house was 
torn down, and a pulpit set up in a dense grove, where services 
were held till the new church was finished. It was a matter 
of comment then and thereafter that it rained no Sunday 
while they worshipped out-doors, but poured the first day 
they held service in church. 

We learn from the statements of Mrs. Anna McLean 
Donnell, who worshipped in both churches, that the second 
building stood on the same spot as the first : it was north of 
the graveyard and fronting it ; and remnants of some of the 
brick pilars have recently been found. Built entirely by the 
men of the congregation, it was the largest and handsomest 
church edifice in this section of the State and an interesting 
specimen of architecture. It was a frame structure, painted 
dark yellow and is commonly called the ' ' Old Yellow Church. ' ' 
There were two rows of large windows, the upper row light- 
ing the galleries; and four doors, two on the south side and 
one at each end. Over each door was an ornamental portico 
roof, supported by curiously-carved iron brackets. The aisles 
and the pulpit, which was in the middle of the northern side of 
the church, divided the main floor into five sections, that in the 
eastern corner being reserved for the negroes. Large galleries 
extended around three sides, reached by two stairways. 

The pulpit was a huge but elegant work of art and the 
pride of the congregation. It was three stories high and all 
of black walnut, profusely carved according to the fashion of 
the times. The desk was over ten feet above the floor, and 
the minister reached his lofty station, from which he could 
address the galleries, by a stairway with a balustrade. Just 
above his head and near the high ceiling was the hollow sound- 
ing board, a part of the pulpit and ornamented like it, with 
an oval front of carved wood. This splendid pulpit was 
made by Mr. John Matthews and presented to his pastor and 
teacher, Dr. Caldwell. Mr. Matthews was then a joiner, but 
afterwards became an eminent minister. 



History op Alamance Church 13 

In front of the pulpit was the desk occupied by the two 
precentors or clerks. The desk was five feet or more above 
the church floor, and yet the clerk's head, when he stood to 
sing, was below the pulpit desk. These clerks on alternate 
Sundays lined out the hymns and led the singing; and their 
position was one of responsibility and honor. The Donnells 
were generally good singers, and George Donnell was clerk 
for a long time. 

The whole auditorium with the galleries could seat about 
a thousand, and was sometimes well filled, although the church 
membership in 1830 was only 120. It had no fireplace, but 
it is said that they did not mind the cold, and that none were 
made sick. There was a log session-house nearby with a 
large fireplace where they sometimes warmed themselves be- 
fore going into church. 

It was in this building that the Synod was organized in 
1813. 

THIRD CHURCH BUILDING. To the regret of many 
the "Old Yellow Church," while yet in thoroughly good con- 
dition, was torn down. The next building was located east 
of the cemetery, and just across the road, northeast of the 
present church. It was made of brick, smaller than its pre- 
decessor, and was completed in 1844. The pulpit was at the 
north end and a gallery at the south. The materials and con- 
struction both were inferior, and becoming unsafe it was 
taken down in 1874-5, and the present building was erected. 

THE CEMETERY was laid off at an early date, but it is 
not known when it was enclosed with the stone wall. An old 
slate tablet at the gate bears this inscription : 

IN HAC AREA JACIT SEPULTUM 

CORPUS ADAMI LECCI, HUIC 

ECCLESIO AMICI, & PER EJUS 

PECUNIAM HIC MURUS ENCEPTUS ERAT. 

Feb'ry 9th, A. D. 1803. 



14 History of Alamance Church 

Thus it appears that "this wall had been begun with the 
money of Adam Leeky, " one of the original body of elders 
who died in 1800. The first headstones were of slate or soap- 
stone, engraved by hand, some bearing quaint inscriptions 
and devices. The most ancient names are here recorded 
before they become entirely obliterated. Samuel Hanna, a 
babe of 18 months died in 1762, and was probably the first 
person buried there. There are graves of 13 other children 
who died before 1797. Mrs. Mary Mebane (date lost) was 
probably the first adult buried; and others in their order 
from 1770 to 1807 are as follows : Mary Stuart, wife of Robert, 
aged 62; Mary Mayben (Mebane), wife of William; Agnus 
(Agnes) Armstrong, wife of William; James Blear (Blair) 
James Neely; Capt. Arthur Forbis ; Andrew Finley, aged 66 
Elizabeth McLean, wife of Thomas; Thomas Major aged 82 
Jane McLean, wife of John, aged 64 ; William Parkhill ; Mrs. 
Elizabeth Wiley, aged 84; Judith McAdow (McAdoo), wife 
of John; Adam Lecky aged 72; James McAdow, aged 94; 
David Kerr, aged 85 ; Catron Wiley ; John McLean, aged 83 ; 
and Mary McLean, wife of Marshall. 

The graves were not located according to any general plan 
until the area was enlarged about the year 1858, when elder 
C. H. Wiley drew a plan for the new part, with walks and 
family lots, which were drawn for and marked. 

Pastorates of Drs. Caldwell and Caruthers— 
1768-1861. 

EEV. DAVID CALDWELL, D. D., was installed at Buf- 
falo as pastor of both churches March 3, 1768. Two years 
before he had married Rachel, daughter of Dr. Alexander 
Craighead, the most distinguished minister of the Mecklen- 
burg section. She exercised such a beneficent influence in his 
home, school, and pastorate that the current saying was, "Dr. 
Caldwell makes the scholars, but Mrs. Caldwell makes the min- 



History of Alamance Church 15 

isters. " They reared a large family of preachers and promi- 
nent citizens, whose numbers have multiplied through suc- 
cessive generations. 

Als his people paid him only $200 dollars salary, Dr. Cald- 
well bought and cultivated a farm, and built a two-story log 
dwelling about two and a half miles southwest of the Guilford 
Battle-Gound. At his home he taught his famous classical 
school. He also prepared himself by private study for the 
practice of medicine, in which he became very proficient, thus 
ministering to both bodies and souls. He was the only prac- 
ticing physician in this section until one of his sons succeeded 
him. 

Enjoying robust health, sleeping but six hours a day, 
studying diligently in the early morning, exercising on the 
farm and in pastoral visiting, systematizing the work of a large 
school and two great congregations, "he performed his multi- 
farious duties as preacher, pastor, physician and teacher, in a 
manner which entitles him to a unique position among the 
makers of our commonwealth." He was a profound scholar, 
a strong preacher, a faithful pastor, a successful doctor, and 
the most famous educator in the South. He was also a leader 
of thought and action in that formative period of our coun- 
try's republican constitution. "The burning by the British 
of his great collection of books, manuscripts and letters was an 
irreparable loss to the church and country. Had they been 
preserved, the annals of early Presbyterianism would be far 
more complete and his own name would be noted in our his- 
tories among the most illustrious of American citizens." 

Dr. Caldwell continued the full and regular work of his 
pastorate for 52 years, until 1820; and died four years later 
in his 100th year. Thus he was present at the organization of 
Alamance church, led his people through the stirring years of 
the Revolution, witnessed scores of his scholars filling eminent 
positions in church and state, saw a splendid edifice rise where 
stood the little log church, was Moderator of the Synod of the 



16 History of Alamance Church 

Carolinas at its first meeting and host to the Synod of North 
Carolina at its organization, and rejoiced in several gracious 
revivals of religion among his people. He was buried at Buf- 
falo, a monument at Guilford Battle-Ground commemorates 
his services, and a memorial tablet, first placed in the wall of 
Alamance cemetery, is now in the vestibule of this church. 

REV. ELI W. CARUTHERS, D. D., was installed pastor 
in 1821, probably at Buffalo in November; and served both 
churches till the union was dissolved in 1846. then Alamance 
alone for 15 years. He never married, and devoted much of 
his time and means to the education of the children of others. 
A public-spirited man, he earnestly advocated general educa- 
tion. He was a thorough scholar, an authority on theological 
questions, and an earnest and instructive preacher. His 
specialty was the history of the Revolution in this State, and 
his patient and careful researches resulted in three valuable 
contributions to that literature : ' ' The Life and Character 
of Rev. David Caldwell, D. D.," "The Old North State in 
1776," and "Interesting Revolutionary Incidents and Sketch- 
es of Characters." 

Though broad and charitable in his views, he was a man 
of strong convictions strenuously maintained. He was op- 
posed to slavery as an ever-growing evil in the South, and de- 
plored the horrors of the war between the States. One Sun- 
day in July, 1861, he prayed that the soldiers of the congre- 
gation "might be blessed of the Lord and returned in safety, 
though engaged in a lost cause." A congregational meeting 
was held, his resignation was requested, and soon the ties were 
dissolved that had united loving pastor and people for 40 years. 
Dr. Caruthers was now infirm, and died four years after. He 
was buried at Alamance where a monument over his grave 
and a memorial tablet by the side of Dr. Caldwell's attest the 
esteem of his people for a "pastor faithful, honored and be- 
loved." 



History of Alamance Church 17 

Camp-Meetings, Revivals and Growth. 

Camp Meetings were a necessity of the times when the 
country was sparsely settled and when many families could 
not attend church all together. So annual encampments were 
held for protracted services. For a long time the people 
lodged in tents only, but afterwards built houses with some 
home comforts. There was as late as 1830 a union camp- 
ground for all the Presbyterians of the county, with pulpit, 
arbor and seats, in the woods south of the present County 
Home, where the meetings were attended by many ministers. 
The first out-door preaching stand at Alamance was under a 
great poplar west of the old yellow church, with seats arranged 
along the slope above toward the church. When the first 
brick church was built this stand was moved to the slope east 
of it, 

There was a protracted meeting every summer or fall, to 
which whole families gathered from afar, the great crowd 
quietly and reverently attending the daily services. "Fra- 
ternity and social amenities were promoted, barriers and pre- 
judices caused by isolation were broken down, sympathies 
were widened, and neighborly kindnesses developed and fos- 
tered. Old sores were healed, the pastor and all his people 
were made to feel as one family, the hold of the world was 
broken, and the entire community, severed for a time from 
worldly cares and scenes, became a band of pilgrims, with 
their faces toward the Heavenly Jerusalem, their hearts fed 
with its manna, and their mouths filled with the sweet songs of 
Zion. Prayer and praise were heard on all sides, day and 
night, a cheerful air pervaded all the solemnities, many pious 
souls were refreshed and edified, and many were the subjects 
of converting grace. " The last day was always a sad one, and 
people who came with little interest in each other parted with 
tears and affectionate embraces."' — Rev. C. H. Wiley, D. D. 

Long after other Presbyterian churches had discontiued 
the camp meeting they were held at Alamance, as late as 1860, 



18 History of Alamance Church 

generally on alternate years. The annual protracted service 
or "big meeting" in August is still a fixed institution, and 
almost the total ingathering of new members for the year is 
during and after this meeting. 

There have been many glorious revivals in this old church. 
One which pervaded several counties in 1791 beneficently af- 
fected this people. A most wonderful revival that began in 
1800 and lasted several years swept like "a rushing mighty 
wind" over a great portion of the South, and its influence was 
strongly felt here. The ecstacies and extravagances accom- 
panying this revival elsewhere were mildly but firmly re- 
pressed by Dr. Caldwell. Another gracious outpouring of the 
Spirit, which began in Mr. Finley's Sunday school, left a 
deep and lasting impression on the spiritual life of the church. 
"The entire community was moved, and for days and nights 
the church, the tents, and all the surrounding woods resound- 
ed with prayer and praise, and religion was the absorbing 
theme ; and about forty persons were added to the membership 
of this church. "(Dr. Wiley). The fall of 1858 witnessed 
another season of grace. After the first simple gospel sermon 
there was a marked interest which was sustained for a long 
season ; new families were brought in and the spiritual life of 
the whole church was deepened and strengthened ; and four of 
the young men then converted afterwards entered the minis- 
try. This revival seemed to be God's preparation of the peo- 
ple for the suffering and sorrows and deaths of the war that 
soon followed. Many protracted services since that time have 
been accompanied with special evidences of the Spirit's in- 
fluence and by large accessions of members. "Alamance has 
been so characterized by such gracious manifestations that 
persons have come here from distant places expressly to obtain 
good from the troubled waters. ' ' 

According to an old manuscript, probably written from 
memory and tradition, this church was organized with 22 
members. By the close of the century they numbered about 



History of Alamance Church 19 

80; after the revival of 1829 these increased to 120; and in 
1870 there were 181. Children were carefully reared and 
catechized in home and Sunday school, but before 1830, and to 
a great extent long after, were discouraged from making a 
public profession of faith. This partly explains the small 
number of communicants. The negroes received religious in- 
struction, were taught to read and furnished with Bibles, 
attending the church services in large numbers, and were re- 
ceived into its communion. 

Officers and Organizations. 

SESSION, TRUSTEES AND DIACONATE. The church 
was properly organized with a body of elders. There is no 
record of deacons being elected till 1844, and trustees pre- 
viously managed the business affairs of the church. We find 
the names of Adam Lecky, Jeff McComb, Robert llanner, 
Thomas Landreth, Marshall McLean, Robert Shaw, Andrew 
Magee (McGhee), John Thorn, David Wiley, Wm. Wiley, Sr., 
Rankin Donnell, David Stewart, Daniel Thorn, Thomas Ran- 
kin and Finley Shaw. The lists of elders and deacons will be 
given later. 

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS were held 
for about ten years (1855-65) in which all the affairs of the 
church were discussed, and which proved very beneficial. 

THE SUNDAY SCHOOL as a regular institution was 
organized about 1825, one of the evidences of new life infused 
into the congregation by the young pastor, Mr. Caruthers. On 
preaching days a Bible class, mostly for adults, was taught by 
the minister before the preaching service. On the other* al- 
ternate Sabbaths, there was Sunday school in the morning, a 
basket-dinner at recess, and a teaching and devotional service 
in the afternoon. Thus in the absence of the minister instruc- 
tion and worship were provided for all. 



20 History of Alamance Church 

The first Sunday school superintendent was elder John 
Finley, who had knelt by the side of his father Andrew in that 
prayer in the woods when the little log church was built. He 
was now familiarly known as "Old Master Finley" because 
teaching was his life-long work. Devoted to children, he gave 
his whole heart to these Sabbath services. Dr. Wiley tells 
us that during the afternoon devotional exercises Mr. Finley 
would generally become excitedly happy; and he could well 
remember the venerable saint's white hairs and tender tones 
as he passed from pew to pew singing of the better land, 
grasping the hands of the children, patting them on their 
heads, and asking them to meet him in heaven. He express- 
ed the wish that all who had ever been taught in his Sunday 
school should attend his funeral, sing his favorite hymn, and 
see him laid in the same grave with his honored father. And 
in all the history of the church few burials have been so 
thronged with visitors and so impressive. 

"With Mr. Finley was associated another elder, Levi 
Houston, whose afternoon lectures were very edifying. The 
interest grew till old and young from near and far made a 
great congregation in the old yellow church, the glorious 
revival of 1829 resulted, and Master Finley and his co-work- 
ers gathered a rich harvest of souls. 

CHURCH LIBRARY. Soon after the year 1800 Sam- 
uel Porter bequeathed the very liberal sum for that day of 
$300 for the purchase of a library. To this was added other 
money perhaps, and many standard religious books and En- 
glish classics were bought, which were literary treasures and 
of inestimable educational and inspirational value. 

THE FEMALE BENEVOLENT SOCIETY was organ- 
ized about the year 1823 through the efforts of Dr. Caruthers. 
Mrs. Wm. Woodburn was president, Mrs. Annie "Wiley, sec- 
retary, and Mrs. Joseph Rankin, treasurer. This was the 
first woman's society in this state, the second being formed 



History of Alamance Church 21 

in Greensboro in 1830, and another in Chapel Hill in 1854. 
For several years the women met in connection with a Ladies' 
Monthly Concert of Prayer, and afterwards annually. They 
came great distances, over rough roads, some bringing their 
children on horseback ; and they met in a cold church. They 
would read the Missionary Herald, hold a concert of prayer, 
and discuss various forms of church work. This society 
lived more than 20 years, made over $500 by their own labors, 
which was equivalent to many times that sum now, aided the 
Elliot Mission among the Indians, educated an Indian boy 
whom they named David Caldwell, paid for a life member- 
ship in the American Tract Society for Dr. Caruthers, helped 
to educate candidates for the ministry, and bought books for 
the Sunday school library. It was suspended for many years, 
and revived in 1873. 

Secular Schools. 

The excellent classical schools that once flourished in this 
section of the state were the natural outgrowth of the Scotch- 
Irish intellectual and moral character. Dr. Caldwell's had 
for material equipment only the two-story log house which 
was also his home and a log cabin in the yard ; but it became 
famous as the most efficient institution south of the Potomac. 
It attracted annually from all sections of the South 50 or 
60 pupils, a large number for those times, and so from this 
fountain flowed fertilizing streams over a very large area. 
This academy, college and theological seminary combined 
trained more men for the learned professions than any other 
of its day in the South, and many of these attained eminence 
as preachers, statesmen, lawyers and physicians. About fifty 
ministers received from Dr. Caldwell their whole literary and 
theological education, several of his students became judges, 
and five governors of states. Thus for about a half-century 
this school equipped leaders of thought and action for those 



22 History of Alamance Church 

stirring and critical times, and was a great factor in the 
building of the commonwealth. 

For many years Master Finley taught school in the church 
session-house. "The Old Red School House," so-called from 
the red clay with which it was daubed, was a nourishing En- 
glish school maintained for a long time by Alamance com- 
munity; and from it came intelligent farmers and mechanics 
and men of distinction in the learned professions, members 
of Congress and of state Legislatures, state officials, college 
professors and preachers. It was situated in the woods near- 
ly a mile east of the church, about midway between the two 
roads that meet at the church. Dr. Caruthers also taught 
during most of his pastorate in a log house in the yard of 
elder Joseph W. Gilmer, with whom he lived. 

The territory now occupied by the congregation includes 
six public school districts, in whole or part, Alamance, Tucker, 
Patterson, Mill Point, Shady Grove and Brown. There are 
three state high schools in the county. 



Secular History. 



As early as 1766 the people of this section began to rebel 
against the exactions and oppressions of the representatives 
of the British government. Having protested in vain against 
the seizure of their furniture, cattle, horses and other prop- 
erty for the payment of taxes, they organized themselves as 
Regulators or Sons of Liberty and declared their purpose 
not to pay any taxes until they were treated as true citizens 
of the province. The activities of the Regulators centered 
in what was then Orange county, and a large proportion of 
the men of Alamance and Buffalo joined them. Governor 
Tryon came here to quell the rebellion, and on May 16, 1771, 
the REGULATORS WAR culminated in the battle of Ala- 
mance, near the Great Alamance creek, about fourteen miles 
east of this church. A great crowd was there hoping to make 



History of Alamance Church 23 

terms of peace with Tryon, and Dr. Caldwell was taken along 
by his members to use his influence. His efforts, however, 
were fruitless, Tryon 's troops began firing, and after a brief 
struggle the Regulators, without military training or leaders 
and poorly equipped with arms, were defeated. But that 
first blood shed in the cause of the American colonies nour- 
ished the soil which afterwards bore the fruits of freedom, 
and those patriots deserve the poet 's tribute : 

"Immortal youth shall crown their deathless fame, 
And as their country '« glories still advance, 

Shall brighter blaze, o'er all the earth, thy name, 
Thou first fought field of freedom, Alamance!" 

This church stands nearly midway between the battlefield 
of Alamance, where the first blow was struck for liberty, and 
that of Guilford Court House, where final victory in the 
REVOLUTIONARY WAR was assured; and its men were 
all loyal to the cause. Dr. Caruthers says that "it is not 
known that there was a single Tory belonging to these con- 
gregations during the war." Col. John Gillespie and Capt. 
Daniel Gillespie were members of Alamance, and Col. John 
Paisley was an elder. At the battle of Guilford Court House, 
another elder, Capt. Arthur Forbis (called Col. Forbis be- 
cause he commanded a regiment that day) and a company 
from his neighborhood, including Allisons, Kerrs, Paisleys 
and Wileys, were placed in the front rank. While other mil- 
itia companies ignominiously broke and fled, these men bravely 
held their position, fired two volleys according to commands, 
and retired in good order, leaving a great many British dead 
on the field. Capt. Forbis fell mortally wounded, and a tall 
marble monument was erected to his honor in Alamance cem- 
etery in 1860. 

During this battle many women of this church were pray- 
ing at the home of an elder, while Mrs. Caldwell and the 
women of Buffalo were similarly engaged. After the fight 



24 History of Alamance Church 

the women visited the field seeking missing relatives and min- 
istering to the wounded. One of them found the gallant 
Forbis dying and brought him away on her horse. 

The two congregations were harried by the English and 
marauding bodies of Tories, and many stories have been told 
of persecution and robbery, of privation and suffering, of 
startling adventure and courageous endurance. Cornwallis 
offered a reward of 200 pounds for the capture of Dr. Cald- 
well, and he saved himself only by hiding in the thickets of 
North Buffalo. His house was plundered, his property de- 
stroyed, and his precious books and papers burned. Mrs. 
Caldwell, with her crowd of little children, was turned out 
of the house and spent two days and nights in the smoke- 
house, with nothing to eat but a few dried peaches. 

In the WAR BETWEEN THE STATES, one of the 
three companies first called out by the governor was the Guil- 
ford Grays, whose roll was augmented by men from Alamance. 
At least 25 of these were in the war, of whom about 12 died 
in service. And now in the EUROPEAN WAR 13 young 
men of this congregation and community are already enlisted, 
and more going soon. 

Alamance has been represented in civil as well as military 
affairs. In the convention at Halifax in 1776, which adopted 
the military organization, Ralph Gorrell was a delegate, and 
John Paisley was appointed Lieutenant Colonel; and in the 
later convention at the same place which adopted the first 
state constitution, Dr. Caldwell and Ralph Gorrell were del- 
egates. From this congregation have been elected 4 State 
Senators who served about 16 terms and some 13 members of 
the House of Representatives who served about 33 terms, J. 
Henry Gilmer being the last. It has furnished one Superior 
Court Judge, John M. Dick, whose son, Robert P. Dick, was 
U. S. District Judge for North Carolina; and a State Judge, 
John A. Gilmer, Jr., was the son of an Alamance member. 
John A. Gilmer, Sr., was a member of Congress, and once 



History of Alamance Church 25 

nominee of the Whig party for Governor ; and he and James 
R. McLean, who was born in this congregation, were members 
of the Confederate Congress. Gen. J. F. Gilmer was head 
of the Engineering Department of the Confederate States. 
W. C. Kerr was State Geologist for over 15 years. J. Henry 
Gilmer served two terms as Sheriff of this county. 

It is remarkable that of the five men selected by Dr. C. 
Alphonso Smith in his centennial address as the most eminent 
Presbyterians in educational work in North Carolina during 
the nineteenth century, Dr. Caldwell was pastor and Calvin 
H. Wiley ruling elder of Alamance church. The election of 
Mr. (afterwards Rev. Dr.) Wiley as the first Superintendent 
of Public Schools inaugurated a new era in the educational his- 
tory of this state. The inscription on the monument erected 
to his memory by the graded school pupils of Winston calls 
him "the father of the public school system of North Caroli- 
na." He served 14 years (1853 — 65), and it was due solely 
to his heroic efforts that the schools were not closed during 
the first years of the war and their funds used for other pur- 
poses. 

To these names might be added those of many others emi- 
nent sons of Alamance in other States. 



Pastors JSince 1 86 1 . 



After the resignation of Mr. Caruthers in 1861, licen- 
tiate C. H. Wiley preached here occasionally, and 1862 Rev. 
P. H. Dalton was stated supply for alternate Sundays. 

REV. WILLIS L. MILLER served for all his time as 
stated supply from April, 1863, and was installed pastor in 
November. He was a pious and zealous man, but disagreed 
with his people on the exciting questions of that period, and by 
mutual consent their relations were dissolved in September, 
1865. Mrs. Miller was a popular writer, under the name of 



26 History of Alamance Church 

Luola, and some of her sweetest poems are associated with her 
life at Alamance. 

REV. WILLIAM B. TIDBALL, having preached as sup- 
ply from December, 1865, was installed pastor December 22, 
1867. He faithfully served till January 3, 1883, giving Ala- 
mance one-half of his time. During his pastorate the fourth 
house of worship was erected, the woman's society was re- 
organized, and the church membership passed beyond 200. 
Two of Mr. Tidball's sons soon after entered the ministry 
and his daughter, Lily, went as a missionary to Japan. 

After an interval of two and a half years, during which 
the church was supplied by Rev. Ernest Caldwell, Dr. C. H. 
Wiley and Rev. Archibald Currie, 

REV. CORNELIUS MILLER was installed August 15, 
1885, and remained till July 19, 1891, serving Alamance for 
one-half of his time and supplying Springwood and other 
churches. During his pastorate of six years the membership 
increased from 205 to 282. He was a most lovable man, a dil- 
igent pastor and a fervent preacher, with an evangelistic 
spirit ; and afterwards did splendid missionary work in Stokes 
county. He was, at his own request, buried at Alamance in 
1911, and the congregation erected a handsome tombstone 
over his grave. 

REV. EPHRAIM C. MURRAY was pastor for all his time 
from December 1, 1891, to November 20, 1892, when he was 
elected principal of the High School of Orange Presbytery 
and pastor of Mebane church. During his ministry here the 
Sunday school manifested new life and the manse was built. 

REV. R. E. C. LAWSON began his ministry the Sunday 
after Mr. Murray left, and served the church for all his time 
till September 23, 1894. Dr. J. Henry Smith then supplied 
the church for six months. 

REV. H. D. LEQUEUX came as stated supply in April, 



History op Alamance Church 27 

1895, was installed pastor March 15, 1896, and served Ala- 
mance and Springwood till April, 1902. Despite ill-health 
and great suffering at times from asthma, he did good pastoral 
and preaching work; and during two years of his term the 
membership numbered 300. 

REV. SAMUEL M. RANKIN served as pastor of Ala- 
mance and Springwood, and later of Bethel also, from Feb- 
ruary 1, 1903, to April 30, 1907. He was then elected Su- 
perintendent of Presbyterial Home Missions, which position 
he still holds. He is of old Alamance stock and has 15 ances- 
tors buried in this cemetery. During his pastorate the mem- 
bership increased from 275 to 340, the Sunday school and 
societies were very much revived, and the contributions more 
than doubled. 

For the next year the church was supplied with preach- 
ing on alternate Sunday afternoons by Rev. Melton Clark and 
Rev. C. E. Hodgin of Greensboro. In March, 1908, Rev. J. 
C. Shive was elected pastor, but his health failing after five 
month's service he was never installed. 

REV. JAMES A. WILSON became pastor of Alamance 
and Bethel July 1, 1909, and remained until his health failed, 
April 17, 1912. He was dearly beloved by his people, and 
under his faithful ministry the church kept up the standard 
attained in membership, activity and liberality. The church 
was then supplied for ten months by licentiate John McEach- 
ern and Rev. C. E. Hodgin. 

REV. ALEXANDER W. CRAWFORD was then called 
for all his time and came March 1, 1913. Immediately tin 
force of his tremendous energy and indomitable will began 
to be felt, and within fifteen months the church was enlarged 
and newly equipped, the manse renovated and the study built, 
the membership increased to 410 and the Sunday school to 
260, and 4 elders and 6 deacons were installed. Then Mr. 
Crawford was elected Superintendent of Synodical Home 



28 History of Alamance Church 

Missions and this promising pastorate terminated May 31, 
1914. 

REV. EPHRAIM C. MURRAY, D. D., began his second 
pastorate at Alamance, immediately succeeding Mr. Craw- 
ford. During these four years 59 members have been added, 
the methods for systematic beneficence much improved and 
contributions increased, an organ purchased, water-works 
installed in the manse, the young people re-organized into a 
Society of Christian Endeavor, two district Sunday schools 
have been operated and preaching services held during the 
summer at four school-houses, and Pleasant Garden church 
has been organized. 

The Session. 

For the period from 1764 to 1820 we have no complete 
list of elders, but the following is fairly accurate : Andrew 
Pinley, William Cusach (Cusick), Thomas Wiley, Adam 
Lecky, Samuel Nelson, David Kerr, William Paisley (Pease- 
ley), John Forbis, Arthur Forbis, Hugh Forbis, John Thorn, 
Robert Paisley, Samuel Allison (Ellison), John Allison, 

James Porter, McCann, William Mebane, Joseph McLean 

(McLane and McClaine), William Smith and John Paisley. 

The last four constituted the session in 1820, and in that 
year John Finley was ordained. The following were added 
in the years noted : 

James Thorn, Nathaniel Kerr and Thomas Rankin in 
1826, and Levi Houston about that time ; 

William Doak, William Rankin, Joseph Rankin and 
James Wharton in 1830 ; 

Finley Shaw, Rankin Domiell, Roddy Hanner (Hanna), 
and Joel McLean in 1842 ; 

James Paisley and Joseph W. Gilmer in 1851 ; 

John W. McMurry and Calvin H. Wiley in 1854 ; 

John A. Pritchett and Samuel Rankin in 1866 ; 



History of Alamance Church 29 

Allen H. Scott, William F. Thorn and William Anderson 
in 1871; 

William P. McLean and Lindsay M. Stewart in 1880 ; 

William H. Phipps, William R. McMasters and Robert 
A. Gilmer in 1886 ; 

Daniel H. Coble and William A. Sharpe in 1887 ; 

William C. Rankin and Dr. Charles S. Gilmer in 1894; 

Jasper A. Allred, John M. Phipps and John Forsythe in 
1904; 

Harper M.. Coble, John R. Pritchett, Henry L. Hanner 
and D. Currie Stewart in 1914. 

In May, 1844, Finley Shaw was Clerk of the Session, and 
he served 18 years, through 1861. Joseph W. Gilmer was bis 
successor till May, 1886, over 24 years. Then Rev. Cornelius 
Miller and Lindsay M. Stewart each served a term of four 
years. In April, 1894, William C. Rankin was elected and 
has filled the position for 24 years. This is a remarkable 
record of painstaking clerical work through long terms of 
service. 

The Diaconate. 

There is no record of the election of deacons previous to 
1844. The following have ordained since then : 

David C. Stewart and David Whitt in 1844 ; 

Allen H. Scott and John Donnell in 1859 ; 

James Gannon and James Thorn in 1866 ; 

Oliver L. Boon, Robert S. Phipps and G. Martin Glass in 
1871; 

William A. Sharpe and Daniel H. Coble in 1880 ; 

James R. Coble, John Weatherly, David C. Clapp and J. 
Henry Gilmer in 1887 ; 

John R. Pritchett and J. Alexander Smith in 1892 ; 

David C. Causey in 1894; 

Henry L. Hanner, Henry S. Andrew and Levi C. Scott 
in 1904; 



30 History of Alamance Church 

Parker M. Causey, Paul Coble, John S. McMasters, Rob- 
ert V. Gannon, John R. Stewart and Robert E. Smith in 1914. 

The first Treasurer of whose election we have a record was 
Oliver L. Boon who served from 1871 to 1880. Daniel H. 
Coble succeeded him, 1880-7 ; and then J. Henry Gilmer, 1887- 
1908. D. H. Coble served a second term, 1908-16 ; and was 
succeeded by W. Lacy Sharpe in May, 1916. Thus three men 
for 45 years performed the arduous duties of this responsible 
position. Henry S. Andrew has for years been the Chairman 
of the Board of Deacons. 

Ministers From Alamance. 

From this old church have gone forth many streams of 
spiritual influence to "make glad the city of God;" and among 
the most beneficent of these have been her ministerial sons who 
have occupied "the holy places of the tabernacles of the Most 
High." Besides the many ministers of Alamance stock who 
have been a blessing to many sections and various denomina- 
tions, this church has sent into the ministry one of her own 
sons for every four years of her existence. The following 37 
were born and reared here, unless otherwise noted. The list 
is probably incomplete as to non-Presbyterian ministers. The 
dates after names indicate time of ordination. 

William D. Paisley (1798), son of Col. John Paisley, or- 
ganized the Greensboro First Church in 1825 and was its first 
pastor, and his name is still held there and elsewhere in loving 
remembrance. He was a prominent minister and citizen, did 
much evangelistic work, was an impassioned preacher, a strong 
champion of the truth, yet gentle and sympathetic, and deeply 
pious. After a long life of great usefulness he died in 1857. 

Samuel McAdoo (1798) moved to Kentucky and joined 
the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which has a Presbytery 
named for him. 

John Matthews, D. D., (1803) was first a joiner by trade; 



History of Alamance Church 31 

and his skill was shown in the great walnut pulpit which he 
made for the second Alamance church. After preaching many 
years in this state and Virginia, he moved to Indiana. There 
he founded the Theological Seminary at New Albany, and was 
Professor of Polemic Theology. This institution was after- 
wards moved to Chicago, and is now McCormick Seminary. 
"Thus the light that now so brightly illumines the far north- 
western skies may be said to have been kindled from a coal 
taken from Alamance fires." Dr. Matthews was the author 
of ' ' The Divine Purpose, ' ' a classic work on popular theology, 
and a voluminous contributor to church papers and reviews, 
and a preacher of great power. He died in 1848, leaving 
three sons in the ministry. 

Alexander (about 1805) was the son of John 

Alexander, who moved to Tennessee after the Revolution, 
where, says Dr. Caruthers, "his son became a respectable min- 
ister of the gospel in the Presbyterian Church." 

John McLean, D. D., son of elder Joseph McLean, was 
licensed in 3808, moved to the southwest and died there. 

Samuel Paisley (1812), son of elder "William Paisley, was 
the organizer and first pastor of Bethel Church. He was an 
impressive preacher. After serving several charges in this 
state he died in Moore county about 1870. 

James Kerr (1826), a son of elder Nathaniel Kerr, had 
the reputation of being a good preacher and faithful pastor. 

Daniel G. Doak (1835), son of elder William Doak, after 
preaching a while in Virginia, was for a long time pastor of 
Zion Church near Columbia, Tenn., where he was held in 
high esteem. His next charge was Sardis, Miss., where he 
died about 1875. He was an earnest and successful pastor 
and preacher. 

Addi E. Thorn was licensed in 1836, and after serving 
charges in Virginia and Tennessee, spent the remainder of his 
life in Texas, where he was a prominent minister and a pro- 
fessor in the first Presbyterian college in that state. 



32 History op Alamance Church 

Thomas H. Nelson, born here but reared elsewhere, was 
the organizer and first pastor of the First Presbyterian Church 
of Knoxville, Tenn., and he died there. 

John Paisley (1841), son of elder John Paisley, after a 
brief pastorate at Red House Church in Caswell County, died 
in 1845. 

David K. Thorn, a man of promise, was for some time a 
missionary to the Indians, and afterwards joined the Cumber- 
land Presbyterian Church. 

John H. Coble, after laboring many years in this state, 
died in 1887 while pastor of Laurinburg church in Fayetteville 
Presbytery. 

L. Augustus T. Jobe, preacher and teacher in Little Rock 
and Clarendon, Ark., died about 1883. 

J. Calvin Denny was reared in Bethel Church, joined 
Alamance in 1849 on profession of faith, was licensed in 1858, 
and then joined the German Reformed Church. 

Calvin Gannon and Hugh A. Wiley were members of the 
N. C. Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 

Robert Donnell, reared in Tennessee, was the organizer of 
the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Lebanon, the seat of 
Cumberland University. He died in the prime of life, highly 
esteemed. 

George Donnell, reared in Tennessee, was the organizer 
and first pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian church of 
Lebanon, the seat of Cumberland University. He died in the 
prime of life, highly esteemed. 

John A. Woodburn, licensed in 1862, labored awhile in 
Texas, then as preacher and teacher in Hendersonville, N. C, 
where he died about 1883. 

Calvin H. Wiley, D. D., born in 1819, was licensed in 
1855, while State Superintendent of Common Schools, and or- 
dained at the expiration of that office in 1866. He supplied 
several churches, but most of his ministerial life was Bpent as 



History of Alamance Church 33 

representative of the American Bible Society in three states. 
This brought him into contact with a large portion of the 
church, and he was much honored and beloved by all. But 
his greatest work was in behalf of the public schools. He 
died in Winston, N. C, in 1887. 

Elias F. Pritchett (1876), after preaching a short time 
in Missouri and Arkansas, moved to Texas and became a far- 
mer. He was a man of strong Christian character, and after 
retiring from the ministry became a very active elder in two 
churches successively. He died in 1901. 

David Cyrus Eankin, D. D., (1876) after a brief pastorate 
at Valdosta, Ga., was for several years Principal of the Gen- 
eral Assembly's Institute for the training of colored ministers 
at Tuscaloosa, Ala. In 1889 he was elected Associate Secretary 
of the executive committee of Foreign Missions, and in 1892 
was appointed Editor of the church's foreign missionary 
publications. All these offices he discharged with signal ability 
and great usefulness to the church. In 1902, while visiting the 
oriental mission fields of the church, he contracted pneumonia 
in Korea, and his visit, which had been so full of blessing to 
the missionaries was terminated by his deeply lamented death. 

William F. Thorn (1883), in all the 25 years of his min- 
isterial life served one group of churches in Chatham county, 
N. C, including Gulf and Pittsboro; and died well-beloved 
by all in 1908. 

Charles M. Tidball (1886), is a son of Rev. W. B. Tid- 
ball, pastor of Alamance for 15 years. After about five years' 
work in Iredell county, N. C, he moved to Texas and thence 
to Arkansas, where he was evangelist in Washbourne Presby- 
tery. He became infirm in 1907 and now lives in Fayette- 
ville, Ark. 

William J. Tidball (1887), another son of Rev. W. B. 
Tidball, served as pastor, evangelist and teacher in Texas for 
al>out ten years; then as pastor at Taylorsville, N. C, for 



34 History of Alamance Church 

about twelve years. He is now infirm, and lives in Fayette- 
ville, Ark. 

J. Porter Paisley died while in the Seminary in 1888. 

William K. Forsyth e (1895), son of elder John For- 
sythe, was pastor at Corbin, Ky., till his health failed, and he 
died in 1900. He was dearly beloved by all and his prema- 
ture death greatly lamented. 

Rosser A. Brown (1897), has for all the 20 years of his 
ministry been the energetic and popular pastor at Wayeross, 
Ga., and the church has grown in numbers from 100 to 400. 

John A. Gilmer (1900), was long a successful teacher be- 
fore entering the ministry. After serving several charges 
in Fayetteville and Concord Presbyteries, he was pastor for 
five years at Mount Airy, N. C, where he died in 1913 to the 
great grief of his people and Presbytery. 

Charles P. Coble (1905), is the son of elder D. H. Coble. 
He has done very successful work in Hopewell Church, S. C. ; 
in Vineville Church, Macon, Ga. ; and in his present charge 
at High Point, N. C. 

Wiley R. Pritchett (1912), son of elder John R. Pritch- 
ett, has served two pastorates in South Carolina, Aimwell and 
Indiantown. 

Charles H. Phipps (1912), son of deacon R. S. Phipps, 
was two years at Asheboro, N. C, and is now preaching at 
Windy Cove, Va. 

J. Robert Phipps (1917), another son of R. S. Phipps, is 
at Pollocksville, N. C. 

Gurney L. Whiteley (1917), is evangelist in Albemarle 
Presbytery. 

Charles D. Whiteley (1917), is pastor of Blacknall Me- 
morial and Durham Second Churches. These last two are 
sons of W. Thomas Whiteley. 

Edward C. Murray, son of the pastor, is a seminary stu 
dent, at present in the army. 



History op Alamance Church 35 

The Fourth Church Building and Manse. 

The present church building was erected in its original 
rectangular shape and occupied in 1874-5, but was not finished 
and fully equipped until 1879. It is located at the southeast 
corner of the cemetery, and faces nearly due east. Well built 
of dark gray brick penciled white, with four large windows 
on either side and its front adorned by an attractive vestibule, 
and with a seating capacity of about 350, it was a creditable 
structure for a congregation impoverished by the recent war. 
The aisles leading from the two doors divided the auditorium 
into three main sections, but a traverse aisle in front of the 
pulpit formed a section on -either side known as "the amen 
corner." The pulpit, as now in the remodeled church, oc- 
cupied an alcove, with a window on either side and a lower 
platform in front. The walls were finished in dull gray plas- 
ter ; but in the general improvements made in 1903 were re- 
finished in dark green. The Session-house is on the south 
side of the church. 

This edifice was dedicated October 18, 1879, during the 
sessions of Presbytery. Rev. C. H. Wiley, D. D., the Moder- 
ator, delivered a historical address in the morning, from which 
much of the material for this history has been gathered, and 
Rev. D. I. Craig a sermon in the afternoon. 

Under the inspiring leadership of Rev. A. W. Crawford, 
in 1913, two wings were added at the back of the church, it 
was recovered and replastered in grayish white, a new floor 
and carpet and hard oak seats were put in, and a furnace and 
gas lighting plant installed, all at a cost of about $4,500.00. 
The seating capacity was thus increased to about 600. The 
storm of January, 1918, damaged the church seriously, but 
it was soon repaired 

In 1892 a lot for a manse was secured on the hill across 
the branch east of the church, and a cottage was erected which 
has been enlarged and improved several times. A hydraulic 



36 History of Alamance Church 

ram pumps water from the spring through the house and yard. 
The installation of this water system and the furnishing of 
the bath-room, etc., are due largely to the efforts of Dr. C. S. 
Gilmer. On the western slope of the knoll and facing south, 
in a grove of maple, hickory, oak and elm trees, with a com- 
fortable study and other convenient out-buildings, and an 
ample garden, orchard, and pasture lot, this is a most attrac- 
tive country home. 

Centennial Anniversary of Synod. 

The Synod of North Carolina met in Greensboro in 1913, 
and spent the whole day of October 7 at Alamance celebrating 
its organization there on October 7, 1813. Because of the 
large crowd a double program was prepared, two speakers 
simultaneously addressing congregations in the church and on 
the grounds. The following inspiring "Centennial Addresses" 
were delivered and afterwards published: 

Welcome Address — Rev. A. W. Crawford. 

The Beginnings and Development of the Presbyterian 
Church in North Carolina to 1863— Dr. W. W. Moore and Dr. 
W. L. Dingle. 

The Personnel of the Presbyterian Church from 1813 to 
1838— Dr. D. I. Craig. 

The Personnel of the Presbyterian Church from 1838 to 
1863— Dr. H. G. Hill. 

The Last Fifty Years — The Presbyterian Church an Evan- 
gelistic Agency — Dr. R. F. Campbell and Dr. J. M. Rose. 

Presbyterians in Educational Work in North Carolina 
since 1813 — Prof. C. Alphonso Smith. 

At the noon recess a bountiful dinner was served to the 
whole assembly by the Alamance people on a table over 200 
feet long. The Synod then met at the place where it was or- 
ganized in "the old yellow church," and after prayer by the 
Moderator, appointed a committee to erect a monument to 



History of Alamance Church 37 

mark the exact location, with Rev. A. W. Crawford as chair- 
man. 

This monument now stands there on the plateau above the 
bend of the road that leads to Greensboro. It is of beautiful 
gray granite, eight feet high, the main block being three feet 
square. On the north and south sides are the inscriptions: 

In The Church 

On This Spot 

The Presbyterian 

Synod Of 

North Carolina 

Was Organized 

Oct. 7th, 1813. 



First Alamance 

Church Building 

(About) 1762— (About) 1800 

Second Alamance 

Church Building 

(About) 1800-1844 

It was dedicated December 15, 1916, with impressive exer- 
cises, after an address in the church by Dr. J. N. H. Summer- 
ell, Moderator of Synod. 

Growth of the Congregation in Fifty Years. 

MEMBERSHIP. The church was organized with prob- 
ably 22 members. In 65 years (1829) it had over 100; in 53 
years more it had over 200 ; in the next 18 years it numbered 
300 ; then in 13 years it passed the 400 mark. Thus the mem- 
bership of this large country church has recently doubled in 
31 years; a remarkable growth when we consider that it is 
only five miles from Greensboro, which in these years has been 
drawing largely from the country and growing from about 
5.000 to 30,000 in population. 



38 History op Alamance Church 

CHRISTIAN LIBERALITY. There has also been a 
gratifying growth in the spirit of self-support and in liber- 
ality to the beneficent causes of the church. The following 
figures denote averages throughout. In the years 1870-85, 
189 members gave annually for congregational purposes $400, 
and for beneficences $50 or 28 cents per member. In 1886- 
1900, 280 members gave annually for self-support $565, and 
for beneficence $160 or 57 cents per member. In 1901-12, 335 
members gave for pastor's salary, etc., $727, and for the 
church causes $398 or $1.26 per member. An envelope col- 
lection system was then introduced which has been improved 
every year. In 1913 a pastor was called for all his time at a 
salary of $1,200, and $4,000 was raised for church improve- 
ments. And in 1914-7, 404 members have averaged $1,580 for 
congregational purposes, and for beneficence $762 or $1.89 
per member. 

Three legacies have recently been left to the church, the 
incomes only to be used, as follows: by Deacon J. Henry Gil- 
mer, $2,000 for church support and the beneficent causes; by 
Samuel V. Young, $500 for current expenses ; and by Deacon 
John R. Stewart, about $1,000 for maintaining and improv- 
ing the cemetery. 

THE SUNDAY SCHOOL AND SOCIETIES. The 

Sunday school, with periods of revival and depression, has 
averaged little more than one half the number of the members. 

The old Female Benevolent Societ}^ was revived by Mrs. 
Tidhall into vigorous life in 1773, and made large contribu- 
tions toward the building and furnishing of the new church. 
It developed into the Woman's Missionary Society, contribut- 
ing more and more to home and foreign missions ; and later 
into the Woman's Auxiliary, now showing an active interest 
in every department of the church's work. They have about 
40 members, and contributed last year about $400. 



History of Alamance Church 39 

The Young People's Society has been in existence at least 
15 years, averaging about 40 members. In 1916 it was organ- 
ized into a Society of Christian Endeavor, and has developed 
in activity and liberality. Most of the regular members 
lead in prayer, and they gave about $100 last year. There 
is also a Junior Society for Children. 

Improved Conditions of Life. 

Many of the old homes have been replaced by spacious 
and attractive residences, painted, papered and carpeted, 
equipped with up-to-date parlor, bed-room and kitchen fur- 
niture, and some of them even with water works and electric 
lights "and all the modern inconveniences." On the farms 
scientific methods are superceding primitive agriculture, crops 
are planted, cultivated and harvested with improved ma- 
chinery, and the gasoline engine does the work of chopping 
and shredding feed, pumping water and sawing wood. Wag- 
ons and autotrucks haul produce to a convenient market over 
macadam roads ; and the farmers themselves travel in hand- 
some buggies, carriages and automobiles. The rural carrier 
bring the daily mail, and telephones in many homes afford 
communication with the neighborhood and the towns. Dis- 
trict schools everywhere and three state high schools in the 
county furnish educational opportunities for every child ; and 
the Greensboro public library with its rural branches offers 
literature to every home. 

' ' The lines are fallen unto us in pleasant places ; yea, we 
have a goodly heritage. ' ' But the most precious privilege of all 
is to live in this historic community and to worship in this ven- 
erable church, in the midst of these sacred associations and 
inspiring memories, to perpetuate the glorious traditions of 
the past, and to dedicate ourselves to the unfiinished work of 
a pious ancestry. 



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