SOOTH FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
W. A. GRAHAM,
LINCOLN TON, N. C:
JOURNAL PRINTING COMPANY,
Digitized by the Internet Archive
SOUTH FORK ASSOCIATION.
The Work of the liapt ists from the Settlement of the Country Until th«
Formation of the Catawba River Association in 1827.
THE BROAD RIVER ASSOCIATION.
The "pioneer" work of the Charleston, S. C, and the
Sandy Creek, N. C, Baptist Associations is divided in 2\Forth
Carolina by the Catawba river with tew exceptions.
The Yadkin, So"th Yadkin and part of Catawba River
Associations are the woik of the Sandy Creek Association.
The Green River, Broad River, King's Mountain, South
Fork, part of Catawba River, French Broad, and nearly all
the pioneer work beyond the Blue Ridge, of the Charleston
Association and its successors.
The Charleston Association was formed in 1751 of four
churches. The Congaree, including the upper portion of the
state, was formed in 1771, "but on account of its interference
with the internal discipline of the churches, infringing on
their independence, 1 ' it was disbanded after an existence of a
The Bethel Association was formed in 1789, being com-
posed mainly of the churches which had belonged to the
Congaree and those formed in its territory since its dissolu-
Long Creek Church was a member of this Association.
. The Broad River Association was formed in 1800 at Sandy
River Church in Cleveland (then Rutherford) county, N. (J.
It was composed of Tyger River, Buffalo, Goucher's Creek,
Buck Creek, Cedar Springs, State Line, and Boiling Springs
Churches in Spartanburg county, South Carolina; Sandy
Run, Green's Creek, Green River, Mountain Creek and Billy
Creek in Rutherford county, N. C. ; Long Creek, Lincoln
county; Silver Creek, Burke county; Mountain Creek and
Caney River, Buncombe county.
20 SOUTH FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION.
It is sometimes asserted that Buffalo, Long Creek and
Sandy Run churches were organized by two visiting minis-
ters, or missionaries, from the Sandy Creek Association.
The time of this visit is stated by some to be 1772, by others,
1777. From what evidence I can gather, it seems probable
that these churches were constituted in 1772 by ministers in
the Broad River Association and that the "visitors" came in
1777, found them "inactive 1 ' and put them again to work.
If these visitors came in 1772 they found Friendship,
Green's Creek, Boiling Springs and Goucher's Creek, with
perhaps others, at work in this territory. If in 1777, the
number had been considerably increased.
Whoever may have constituted these churches, their
development and the occupation of the contiguous territory
was the work of the Broad River Association.
The trade or commerce of the country was through
Charleston. There was no occasion to go in the direction of
the Sandy Creek Association, except upon the call of the
government for services at the courts, or military duty. Is
it not natural that the religious work followed the business
routes? The missionaries probably reported the country
"occupied," as the Sandy Creek Association did not send any
others to prosecute the work.
I— LOJSG CREEK.
This is the oldest church in the territory of the South
Fork Association. The time of its organization is uncertain,
some claiming 1772, others 1777. It was a member of the
Bethel Association, which was formed in 1789. It is on Long
fcXJreek, Gaston, formerly Lincoln, county, and about one mile
from Dallas. There are no records of its earliest history.
Its church records begin with a reorganization in 1794, as
follows: — ;.'#»'!
"We the Baptist Church of church on the Catawba River,
Lincoln county, State of North Carolina, on Long Creek,
being constituted, on the 8th day of March, 1794, by our
beloved brethren Cleveland Coffee and Davidson Collins,
ministers of the same faith, having entered into covenant
With the law and one another, do think it expedient to keep a
book of discipline, to which we have set the names of our
elders and deacons and the number of our members in the
SOUTH FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION. 21
Lord, to which is annexed our covenant with the further
4 'Elders — Lemuel Sanders, Charley Jones.
"Deacons — Samuel Swanengam, James Weathers, Julius
Holland, Isaac West, James West.
"Members — James Weathers, Ralph Cobb, Charley Jones,
John Weathers, Cornelius Rodger, Reuben Jenkins."
The same year the membership was increased to sixty-
Deacon Julius Holland afteiward became a minister and
his death is noticed in the minutes of the Broad River Asso-
ciation of 1814.
James Lewis was also a member of this church and some-
times its pastor. His death is recorded in the minutes of
1834. His grandchildren, J. R. Lewis, of Dallas, and Mrs. J.
D. Moore, of Gastonia, are active workers in the South Fork
The Broad River Association met with the church in 1833.
Long Creek continued a member of the Broad River Asso-
ciation until 1852. It united with the King's Mountain in
1854, and the Catawba River in 1863.
II— HEBRON CHURCH.
Abernethy's ferry, (now known as Rozzell's,) was on the
Catawba river, twelve miles west of Charlotte, at the point
wh«re the plank road to Lincolnton crosses the river. It
was the head of navigation. "Flat boats," laden with cotton
and other produce, passed down the river from here to
Charleston, which was the "entre port" for all this section.
The boats were frequently sold after the cargo had been dis-
posed of, as "poling" against the current frequently left but
little for "freighting charges" above expenses. There was
a canal from the Santee river to Charleston.
At the session of 1788, the Legislature of the State granted
a charter to a company to "remove obstructions to naviga-
tion in the Catawba River." One or more appropriations
were made to aid the work. The race now used at Mountain
Island Mills was cut to avoid the shoal, as was also the one
at the "Powder Mill" at Tuckaseege Ford. Boating was con-
tinued until 1836, Afterwards the people of the country
went by wagon to Camden and then by boat to Charleston
22 SOUTH FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION.
although they sometimes made the entire trip in wagons.
On the Western, or Lincoln, side of the Catawba, at Aber-
nethy's Ferry, was located Hebron Church, a sketch of
which, prepared by its order, I insert: —
Hebron Baptist church was organized at Abernethy 5 s
Ferry, on the Catawba river, in Lincoln county, N. C, in the
latter part of the 18th century. The log house in which
these people worshipped first stood on the river bank,
immediately at the ferry. No records of the church are
known to exist earlier than 1834, but Uadition and references
in old deeds, carry us back to 1792.
An old negro woman now living, and nearly one hundred
years old, whose name appears on the old church roll as
"Sally, servant of Mr. Henderson," says her husband, Jake,
who belonged to Richard Rozzell, told her that he was at the
"raising" of the old church, and that James Abernethy
"took up 1 ' one corner. This James Abernethy was drowned
The tract of land on which the church stood was conveyed
to Nathan Abernethy by James Abernethy and his mother,
Elizabeth, on the 28th day of March, 1792. Nathan Aber-
nethy sold to Nathan Saddler August 20th, 1803.
The following deed is recorded in Book No. 27, page 635,
Lincoln county records: "This indenture made this 4th day
of May 1816, between Nathaniel Saddler * * and Richard
Rozzell * * witnesseth * * That in consideration of
fifty dollars * * a parcel of land in State and county
aforesaid,- immediately at said RozzelPs Ferry, bound as
follows * * * containing three fourths of an acre * * *,
with the following exceptions to wit; it is understood that
the said Rozzsll, his heirs and assigns are hereby debarred
from building or erecting any house or placing any family to
live or reside on said land or premises or to interrupt or
molest the meeting house or people meeting * * * which
land the said Saddler will warrant and defend against all
persons whatsoever exclusive of above exceptions. * * "
According to the terms of a swap of land made in 1832,
John Rozzell was to give the church a deed in fee simple for
an acre of land nearly one half mile from the ferry, the con-
sideration was to be the
SOUTH FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION. 23
The old house was removed and stood on the new site until
it was crushed by the weight of snow on its roof in 1852.
The membership being too weak to rebuild, a "stand" was
erected in the grove, at which preaching was continued at
indefinite periods of time until 1883.
The organization having' been dissolved in 1853 other
denominations were allowed the use of* the stand — the Luth-
erans, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc.
The Methodists organized a society at that place, have
erected a house of worship and now hold possession of the
site. On the 7th day of February, 1883, before the Metho-
dists began to build, brother J. C. Fichte addressed a letter
to A. C. Rozzell, then in possession, in which he used the
following language: — "I do want you to relinquish your
claim, or whatever of claim you may think you have, to old
Hebron church tract. We expect to reorganize the church
and we are unwilling to surrender the site, for which we
have a deed from John Rozzell, dated in 1832. This deed
has never been recorded, etc." A. C. Rozzle disregarded
this 1 letter and in July 1883 conveyed the same land to the
The deed from John Rozzell to the church was in the pos-
session of an attorney. It was obtained from him by an
order of some one and could not be rediscovered. So the
matter remains a mystery. m
The following named preachers are known to have served
the church: — John Ruker, 1800; McCrary and Hosea Hol-
combe during the same time; Wm. Richards, 1820-9; H. W.
Carroll, 1839-46 ; then Wade Hill, as missionary of the Broad
River Association ; then Garrison and R. B. Jones, as mis-
sionary of the N. C. Baptist State Convention.
The Presbytery which dissolved the organization in 1853,
was compased of Elders Alexander Abernathy and A. J.
Cansler. The members went to Brmngton aud Salem
Elder Geo. J. Wilkie preached here as missionary of the
•Catawba River Association once since the war.
In 1883 Elder John F. Morris, as missionary of the South
Fork Association, preached here a few times. Through his
24 SOUTH FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION.
instrumentality the members of the Baptist churches resid-
ing between Dutchman's Creek and the Catawba River, in
Gaston county, held a conference meeting at the Flat Rock
School House, near Mountain Island, on the 8th day of June,
1883, for the purpose of consulting about the propriety of
reorganizing old Hebron church. Bro Jno L. Grice was
chosen moderator, and Bro. John C. Fichte, clerk.
The following preamble and resolution was adopted: —
4 'Whereas, the site of the old Hebron Church has been
taken into possession by A. C. Rozzell and the deed for the
same mysteriously obtained from the office of Geo. F. Bason,
Esq., and, whereas, there can be no doubt as to the legality
of our title, and being unwilling to surrender the same there-
fore, Resolved: —
"1st. That we reorganize old Hebron Church and that we
meet for that purpose at the school house on the old site on
the 6th day of July, 1883."
Afterward the time of organization was postponed until
the 5th day of October, 1883, when Elders J. F. Morris and
T. W. Upton, Deacons John B. Stowe, J. M. Hollebaugh and
J. R. Underwood, met at the old site at 11 o'clock, A. M.
Brethren J. L. Grice, J. M. Bumgarner and J. C. Fichte, were
also present. Mrs. W. F. Cannon had requested a letter
from Salem church to join in the organization. * * * *
"Our intention was to occupy the school house at the old
site, but the privilege was denied us by W. F. Cannon, who
said he had locked us out because he was not willing we
should reorganize the church at this place. After consulta-
tion we agreed to meet in the afternoon of the same day at
the Flat Rock School House. Here the reorganization took
place, Deacon Jonn B. Stowe, chairman; John M. Hollo-
"The following persons presented letters and were enrolled
as members: —
"Deacon J. R. Underwood and wife, Mary; Brethren J. L.
Grice, J. M. Bumgarner and John C. Fichte. That evening
the names of several newly baptized members enrolled.
Bro. John L. Grice, was elected clerk.
"The above historical sketch was adopted as a part of the
church record by the church in conference on the 13th of
SOUTH FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION. 25
John L. Grice, Clerk."
"This historical sketch has been published to inform the
public of the trials and persecutions to which Hebron Bap-
tist church has been subjected, and, also, to ask all gener-
ously disposed persons to assist this weak and struggling
congregation to erect for themselves a house of worship upon
their recently purchased site.
"Let all contributions be sent to the address of
Elder John F. Morris,
Stanley Creek, N. C."
[N. B. I have abbreviated the sketch and made some
slight alterations of verbiage in order to do so. — G.]
hi— earhardt's church.
The road leading from South Carolina to Beattie's Ford,
(which was the crossing place on the Catawba for travel),
near the Ford intersected the "State" road, which was laid
out by act of the Provincial Legislature in 1763, and led from
Wadesboro, by Salisbury, to Morgan— -town.
Six miles from Beattie's Ford, and near a branch of the
State road, was Earhardt's church, which was constituted in
the last century. It was about fourteen miles from Hebron
and Long Creek and near the road which would be travelled
in going from either of them to Union ( Warlick's) and Mount
Ruhama, the next churches organized in this territory.
Abram Earhardt, upon whose land the house was located,
and for whom it was called, came from Pittsylvania county,
Va. He was here as early as 1763 ; was an ordained minister
and preached at the church and elsewhere. He owned more
than a thousand acres of the best quality of land in this sec-
tion, also, a number of slaves, whom he desired to liberate in
his will, but thought they would be worse off free in Africa
than slaves in this country. He died in 1809. He built
the first flouring mill in this region, also conducted a saw
mill, cotton gin, tan yard, blacksmith shop and a distillery.
His wife was a sister of Peter, Jacob and Abram Forney,
the most influential men of that period. Some of the mem-
bers of their families were members of the church. The
26 SOUTH FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION.
Forneys married Abernethys related, to those at Hebron.
Preaching was continued at the church, or in the orch-
ard at the house, until the death of the widow in 1829.
There was a burying ground at the church. Here he, his
wife, and many of their neighbors were buried. Only
unlettered stones mark the graves.
Those who could have given a history of the church have
passed away and what, no doubt, was an interesting chap-
ter in Baptist history will never be recorded.
The site is now owned by the writer. It is about one
and a half miles from Kid's Chapel. A grand niece of
Mr. Earhardt and her children are members of Kid's
IV — UNION, OR WARLICK'S
Is in Burke county, five miles from Hickory. It was
organized in 1815 by Hosea Holcombe, and united with the
Broad River Association that year. Its first location was at
the Mountain and it was known as the ''Mountain Meeting
House." Mr. Holcombe, who came from Virginia, was born
in 1780. He was the most influential and, probably, be n4 ",
educated minister of his time. He continued as pastor until
1820, when he removed to Alabama, and was a pioneer
Baptist of that State. Cathcart in the Baptist Encyclopedia
places his labors in upper South Carolina. This was prob-
ably because he belonged to the Broad River Association. I
think mcst of his time was spent in this State. The meet-
ing house was afterwards removed from the Mountain (Bak-
er's) to the present site.
Hosea Holcombe baptized Alexander Abernethy (of the
Hebron Stock) in 1827. He succeeded him as pastor of Union
and served it for fifty years.
V — MT. RUHAMA
Is in Catawba county, seven miles southeast of Newton,
on the road leading from Hebron, on Long Creek, via Ear-
hardt's, to Union.
It was organized in 1816 by Drury Dobbins and Joroyal
Barnett, missionaries of the Broad River Association, with
thirtyeight members. It united with the Broad River
Association that year, and continued a member until the
foundation of the Catawba River Association in 1827.
SOUTH FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION.
The history of these churches will be continued in the
Catawba River and South Fork Association periods.
The following ministers were active in this territory
during its connection with the Broad River Association: —
Hosea Holcombe, Drury Dobbins, Benjamin Hicks, Joroyal
Barnett, Thomas K. Pursely, Ambrose Carlton; Fields Brad-
shaw, of Mt. Ruhama ; Julius Holland and James Lewis, of
Long Creek; Alexander Abernathy, of Union.
I acknowledge indebtedness to Logan's Sketches of the
Broad River and Kings Mountain Association for great
assistance in preparation of the above.
October 1st, 1899. W. A. Graham.
6 We, the Bap*
Page 20, paragraph 6, line 1, should read^
tist Church of Christ, etc."
The committee on obituary was composed of Rev. C. M.