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The Semi-centennial of
Mecklenburg Presbytery






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SEPTEMBER 17, 1919


The Semi-Centennial


Mecklenburg Presbytery

m si




SEPTEMBER 17th, 1919




The Presbytery of Mecklenburg is to be congratulated on
its historian. Dr. Mcllwain's connection with the Presby-
tery began in 1873, forty-six years ago, just four years after
its organization, so that he has observed its development
during nearly the whole of its half century of growth and is
doubtless more familiar with it than any living man. Not
only so, but he has himself been one of the most potent fac-
tors in the promotion of that development and indeed in all
the forward work of our Synod, especially its phenomenal
progress in Home Missions during the last forty years.

In 1881 the Synod met in Salisbury and that meeting
marks an era in the history of the Presbyterian Church of
North Carolina, for it was then and there that a paper was
presented, signed by Wm. E. Mcllwain and four other min-
isters proposing the prosecution of Home Mission work
throughout the state by "Synodical effort" as distinguished
from the purely Presbyterial method which had been exclu-
sively employed up to that time. After earnest debate, con-
tinued at intervals for two or thi'ee days, this paper was
adopted, and thus the great work of Synodical Home Mis-
sions was born — the work to which we are indebted for the
brightest chapters in all our history as an Evangelistic
church. The plan not being satisfactorily worked out at
first, Dr. Mcllwain, who was chairman of the Committee of
Home Missions in Mecklenburg Presbytery, secured the
co-operation of the corresponding officers in the other Pres-
byteries and called a convention at Goldsboro on the day
before Synod met there in 1888 to consider the interest of
Home Missions. The convention adopted a memorial to be
presented to Synod next day, in answer to which the Synod
inaugurated the fully organized work of Synodical Home

Missions — the action which for the first time gave our
church her true place as an Evangelistic agency in this state
and which has resulted in a great ingathering of souls and a
great expansion of the church's activities on every line.

The thing that deserves emphasis is that Dr. Mcllwain,
Mecklenburg's chairman of Home Missions at that time, was
one of the prime movers in this epoch-making action, as
indeed he was in almost every other forward movement of
the church. At that same meeting of Synod, for instance,
he introduced a resolution in answer to a memorial from the
Presbyterian Lady Managers of the "Home and Hospital"
in Charlotte, appointing a commission to establish the Or-
phans' Home now at Barium Springs, one of the most im-
portant steps taken by the Synod.

In every way he has been a leader and a creative worker
of wide vision, of bold initiative, of sound judgment, of un-
flagging zeal, and it was one of the chief felicities of the
semi-centennial celebration that he was selected to tell the
stirring story of those first fifty years. Happy the Presby-
tery with such an historian! Happy the historian of such
a Presbytery !



H P" f

Order Taken for the Celebration of the

Semi-Centennial of the Presbytery

at Mallard Creek Church,

September 18, 1918

"Whereas, on October 16, 1919, the Presbytery of Meck-
lenburg will have reached the fiftieth year of its history ;

"And whereas, such an occasion ought not to pass without
due notice and proper celebration, therefore resolved,

"First, that a committee be appointed at this meeting of
Presbytery to prepare a program and select speakers for the
occasion, and submit a history of the Presbytery covering
these fifty years.

"Second, that the Presbyteries of Asheville and Kings
Mountain be invited to be well represented and take an active
part with us in this celebration.

"Third, that this committee be instructed to so select and
arrange its historical data that their reports could be easily
printed in pamphlet form for general distribution in all our

The following committee was appointed to arrange for
the semi-centennial to be held at the Fall meeting of 1919:
Rev. A. A. McGeachey, D.D., Chairman ; Rev. Wm. E. Mcll-
wain, D.D., Rev. J. W. Orr, Rev. H. E. Gurney, D.D., with
Elders F. S. Neal, Geo. E. Wilson and W. H. Belk.

At a called meeting held in the First Church, Charlotte,
July 21st, 1919, the Committee on the Semi-Centennial made
the following recommendations, which were adopted :

First. That the semi-centennial be held at Steele Creek
Church, September 17, at eleven A. M., and that Rev. A. A.
McGeachey, D. D., Chairman of the Committee, preside.

Second. That Concord Presbytery be invited to take part
in this celebration.

Third. That the Historical Address be delivered by the
Rev. Wm. E. Mcllwain, D.D.

Fourth. That addresses be delivered by representatives
of Asheville, Kings Mountain and Concord Presbyteries.

Fifth. That a free conference be held by members of
Presbytery and visitors from other Presbyteries.

The Presbytery met in Steele Creek Church September
16, 1919, in its one hundredth session, and was opened with
a sermon by Rev. W. R. Coppedge, the retiring Moderator.

Rev. Wm. Black, D.D., was elected Moderator. It was
evident from the first that this was to be a great meeting of
Presbytery. Visitors began to arrive from both the Caro-
linas and from more distant states. The following minis-
ters were invited to sit as corresponding members and were
introduced to the Presbytery: Rev. J. H. Morrison, D.D.,
Pine Bluff Presbytery; Rev. Geo. Summey, D.D., New Or-
leans Presbytery ; Rev. W. P. McCorkle, D.D., Roanoke Pres-
bytery ; Rev. W. W. Moore, D.D, West Hanover Presbytery ;
Rev. John McEachern, Orange Presbytery ; Rev. A. W. Craw-
ford, Fayetteville Presbytery ; Rev. S. L. Morris, D.D., Macon
Presbytery; Rev. R. S. Arrowood, Fayetteville Presbytery;
Rev. J. M. Grier, D.D., Rev. S. E. Cathey, Rev. L. L. Moore,
Rev. E. D. Brown, Rev. W. T. Walker, Concord Presbytery ;
Rev. R. F. Campbell, D.D., and Rev. R. P. Smith, D.D., Ashe-
ville Presbytery ; Rev. J. B. Swann, Bethel Presbytery ; Rev.
J. T. Dendy, Rev. G. A. Sparrow, Rev. J. C. Grier, Kings
Mountain Presbytery; Rev. Eugene Alexander, Fayetteville
Presbytery ; Rev. A. G. Buckner, D.D., Pee Dee Presbytery ;
Rev. Wm. E. Mcllwain, D.D., Florida Presbytery.

The hour having arrived for the semi-centennial exercises,
the former order of Presbytery was carried out. The Rev.
A. A. McGeachey presided, and introduced Rev. W. E. Mcll-
wain, who delivered the following address :


The Semi-Centennial of the Presbytery
of Mecklenburg, 1869-1919

My Brethren of the Presbytery of Mecklenburg :

In compliance with your request to deliver the historical
address on this interesting occasion, I have selected for my
theme "The History of the Presbytery of Mecklenburg from
its Organization October 16th, 1869, to October 16th, 1919."

The organization of the Presbytery of Mecklenburg was
effected October 16th, 1869, after favorable answer by the
Synod of North Carolina to the following overture from the
Presbytery of Concord : "The Presbytery of Concord, per-
suaded that the work of the Lord would be more efficiently
performed and at the same time much labor, time and ex-
pense saved by a division of its territory, chm-ches, minis-
ters, and candidates, most respectfully overtures the vener-
able Synod of North Carolina to set off from the territory of
the Presbytery of Concord in order to form a new Presby-
tery to be called the Presbytery of Mecklenburg, the follow-
ing counties, viz: Anson, Union and such part of Mecklen-
burg as lies South and West of a line beginning at Beattie's
Ford on the Catawba river and running thence with the road
to Concord town until said road meets the Cabarrus County
line, Lincoln, Gaston, Cleveland, Polk, Rutherford, Buncome,
Henderson, Transylvania, Madison, Haywood, Jackson, Clay,
Macon, and Cherokee, with the following ministers : R. H.
Morrison, D.D., Robert Burwell, J. E. Morrison, J. D. Hall,
John Douglas, Nathan Shotwell, Walter W. Pharr, J. F. W.
Freeman, Thos. E. Davis, R. N. Davis, J. C. Williams, Jacob
Hood, A. W. Miller, D.D., G. D. Parks, J. S. Barr, R. Z. John-
ston, R. B. Anderson, Wm. A. McDonald, H. H. Banks, J. J.
Kennedy, W. N. Morrison. And churches as follows : Unity,
Castanea Grove, Providence, Lebanon, Goshen, Steele Creek,

lin, Davidson River, Mills River, Hendersonville, Rutherford-
ton, Mallard Creek, Flat Creek, (Red Oak), Olney, Union,
Lincolnton, Long Creek, Hopewell, Ebenezer (Morrison),
Charlotte, Sugar Creek, Caldwell (Paw Creek), Sharon,
Machpelah, Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Asheville, Swannanoa,
Pleasant Hill, Little Brittain, Shelby, Sandy Plains, Frank-
New Hope, Dallas, Wadesboro, Bethel, Hiawassee, Beulah.
Also the following candidates for the ministry: C. N.
Hutchinson, P. P. Maxwell, Chas. M. Douglas, George Sum-
ney and James H. Morrison. The Presbytery of Mecklen-
burg will then embrace 17 counties, 38 churches, 23 minis-
ters and 5 candidates."

The report of the Synod's Committee on Bills and Over-
tures touching the above overture from Concord Presbytery
is as follows :

"The Committee unanimously recommend:
"1st. That the Synod of North Carolina do erect a new
Presbytery out of a portion of the territory to be styled the
Presbytery of Mecklenburg with the boundary, churches,
ministers and candidates, in accordance with said overture.

"2nd. That the Presbytery of Mecklenburg be directed to
meet for the first time in the parlor of Mrs. Robert Pearson
in the town of Morgantown, N. C, this morning, October
16, 1869, at 11 :30 A. M., and that Rev. R. H. Chapman, D.D.,
preside as Moderator."

This report was adopted and in accordance with the action
of Synod, the ministers and ruling elders included in the ter-
ritory set off from the Presbytery of Concord, with a view of
being formed and constituted the Presbytery of Mecklen-
burg, met in the parlor of Mrs. Robert Pearson in the town
of Morgantown, Saturday, October 16th, 1869, at 11:30 A. M.
Rev. R. H. Chapman called the meeting to order and
opened the session with prayer. The Moderator appointed
Elder A. T. Summey, temporary Clerk. The roll was called
and the following ministers and elders answered to their
names: Ministers — W. W. Pharr, Robert Burwell, A. W.

Miller, D.D., R. Z. Johnston, Wm. A. McDonald, J. F. W.
Freeman, R. N. Davis, J. S. Barr, J. J. Kennedy, Nathan
Shotwell, R. H. Chapman, D.D., W. N. Morrison, H. H.
Banks, Wm. Graves, Jacob Hood,- John Douglas. Ruling
Elders — J. M. Earnhardt, Mallard Creek Church ; A. G. Neel,
Steele Creek; John R. Davidson, Hopewell; R. S. White,
Philadelphia ; S. W. Craig, New Hope ; A. T. Summey, Ashe-
ville; Dr. E. Nye Hutchinson, Charlotte. The Presbytery
being thus constituted, Dr. Chapman was elected Moderator,
A. T. Summey, temporary Clerk, and Rev. R. Z. Johnston,
stated Clerk, and Rev. R. N. Davis, Treasurer. A commit-
tee consisting of Dr. A. W. Miller, Rev. H. H. Banks and
Elder A. G. Neel was appointed to nominate the standing
committees of the Presbytery. The new Presbytery then
adjourned, to meet in its first regular session at Steele Creek
Church April 21st, 1870, at 11 :00 A. M. A strong Commit-
tee of Home Missions was appointed, consisting of Rev. G.
D. Parks, Rev. J. C. Williams, with Elder John Walker, of
Sharon Church, J. M. Hutchinson, Sugar Creek Church, and
J. L. Brown, Deacon in the Charlotte Church.

The first standing rule adopted by the new Presbytery was
that the Presbytery would hold its Fall meetings in the
mountain portion of its territory. The wisdom of such a
rule will appear as this history unfolds. That you may form
some idea how intent the new Presbytery was upon reaching
its vast destitutions, the fact is recorded that at its very first
regular meeting it appointed a committee consisting of Dr.
Miller, Rev. John Douglas, and Rev. H. H. Banks to secure
an evangelist for the Presbytery and to report promptly to
the Presbytery. Christian education was not neglected by
the Presbytery at this, its first meeting. The following
Trustees of Davidson College were appointed: Dr. R. H.
Morrison, Dr. A. W. Miller, Dr. E. Nye Hutchinson, J. M.
Hutchinson, Gen. Rufus Barringer, Gen. D. H. Hill, Hon.
Wm. M. Cocke, Rev. John Douglas, Rev. G. D. Parks, Rev.
J. C. Williams, Dr. W. B. McLean and R. I. McDowell. The
Presbytery having closed its sessions at Steele Creek Church,
adjourned to meet in regular Fall session at Franklin

Church, Macon county, in the heart of its mountain terri-

Before entering fully upon the history of the Presbytery,
let me briefly call attention to the very difficult task com-
mitted to the new Presbytery. Its territory from East to
West, from Anson county to the Georgia and Tennessee
lines, embraced 19 counties of the state, and was more than
250 miles in length. Presbyterian destitution in much of
this territory was discouraging. In six of these counties,
Cleveland, Madison, Jackson, Cherokee, Graham and Swain,
there was not a Presbyterian Church. In Union county one
small country church, Bethlehem, with 44 members ; in An-
son county, one small country church, Lebanon, with 59
members ; in Polk county one church, Sandy Plains, with 8
members; in Haywood county one church, Bethel, with 31
members; in Transylvania county one church, Davidson
River, 41 members; in Clay county one church, Hiwassee,
with 30 members. In these six counties, Anson, Union,
Polk, Haywood, Transylvania and Clay, we had only 213
members of our church. In six other counties we had no
churches at all. Therefore, in twelve entire counties of the
state we had only six small country churches with an aggre-
gate membership of 213. In other words, we have more
members today in the Huntersville Church than we then had
in twelve counties of our Presbytery, and three times as
many members today in Steele Creek Church as we then
had in twelve of our mission counties in 1869. Now let us
turn from the consideration of this very difficult task con-
fronting the Presbytery and inquire as to the resources at
the command of the new Presbytery. There was only one
church in Charlotte of 263 members, only one church in
Asheville with 83 members, 60 pupils in the Sabbath School
and paying less than $700.00 per year for pastor's salary and
congregation expenses. There was no church in Wadesboro,
Monroe, Matthews, Pineville, Huntersville, Shelby, Gastonia,
Kings Mountain, Belmont, Lowell, Brevard or Waynesville.

The First Church, Charlotte, and Sugar Creek and Hope-
well were the only churches in the Presbytery which sup-

ported their ministers for the whole of his time. For the
first year $2,753.00 was given for all departments of Home
Missions and the First Church, Charlotte, gave over $2,-
000.00 of this amount. You will not forget that the organ-
ization of the Presbytery was within four years of the close
of the great Civil War and the horrors of the so-called "re-
construction" were not yet passed. The poverty of many of
our best people was not imaginary but profoundly real.
Under war conditions the Synod of North Carolina, we are
told, had practically made no progress in four years. Instead
of progressing numerically she had actually lost 2,000 com-
municants, and it goes without saying that this part of the
state had borne its full share of suffering and loss. Were
not the fathers who established this Presbytery real heroes
of faith when, under the shadows of war, with twelve out
of nineteen counties practically vacant, they bravely set
themselves to evangelize their entire territory ? Then as to
means at their command, either the First or Second Church
of Charlotte is giving today far more for all purposes than
all the churches of that day.

To what extent has the Presbytery, in the face of great
difficulties and poverty of resources, succeeded in evangeliz-
ing its large territory? Let me answer this question by

1st. There is not one of its original nineteen counties to-
day without its Presbyterian Church.

2nd. The Presbytery of Concord transferred to the new
Presbytery thirty-nine churches, five of these with ten mem-
bers or less. Today, on the same territory, with Stanley
county added from Concord Presbytery with one or two
churches in 1879, and Richmond and Montgomery counties
added from Fayetteville Presbytery in 1917 with fourteen
churches, we have 146 churches against 39 in 1869.

3rd. The list of new churches organized since 1869 is a
long list, and such their numerical strength and annual gifts

that these alone would make a strong Presbytery,
were organized in the following order:


Paper Mill



Second Church, Charlotte





Bryson City




Kings Mountain

Williams Memorial





Tenth Avenue, Charlotte









Stanley Creek

Cooks Memorial


Nantahala (Center)

Beaver Dam (Marshville)



Forest City

Lattimore (Moresboro)

March 16th, 1873
September 26th, 1873
October 12th, 1873
November 18th, 1873
November 27th, 1873
December 20th, 1875
February 10th, 1877
November 2nd, 1878
September 25th, 1881
June 17th, 1882
July 16th, 1882
June 15th, 1883
April 5th, 1884
April 25th, 1885
November 26th, 1887
October 3rd, 1888

June 8th, 1889
March 2nd, 1890
November 15th, 1890
November 15th, 1890
February 21st, 1891
April, 1891
March 29th, 1891
April 12th, 1891
May 27th, 1891
October 9th, 1891
November 27th, 1891
December 18th, 1892
May 1st, 1892
September 24th, 1892
April 13th, 1893
July 19th, 1893
September 10th, 1893
November, 1893
April 29th, 1894






Mt. Holly




Westminster, Charlotte

Lebanon (Mecklenburg)


Bessemer City

New London

Seversville (Charlotte)

Littles (Camden)

St. Paul's (Charlotte)


Pegram Street (Charlotte)




West Avenue (Charlotte)

Groveton (Charlotte)



Indian Trail


Knox (Charlotte)

North Charlotte




Wilmore (Charlotte)



Rocky River



October 18th, 1894
April 9th, 1895
October 12th, 1895
October 2nd, 1895
September 1st, 1896
May 13th, 1896
May 13th, 1896
September 30th, 1896
November 28th, 1897
May 15th, 1898
March 18th, 1898
June 18th, 1899
November 19th, 1899
July 5th, 1903
November 12th, 1904
May 13th, 1906
October 9th, 1901
October 6th, 1907
November 2nd, 1908
November 10th, 1908
April 27th, 1909
August 16th, 1909
September 7th, 1909
September 24th, 1911
November 24th, 1912
February, 1913
July 21st, 1912
April 4th, 1912
June 2nd, 1912
October 27th, 1913
August 1st, 1913
April 27th, 1913
January 10th, 1914
July 9th, 1914
August 23rd, 1915
September 21st, 1916
April 1st, 1917
May 6th, 1917

Badin March 18th, 1917

Midland September 23rd, 1917

Allen October 21st, 1917

Total, 77 new churches organized since 1869, not counting
the new churches organized by Asheville and Kings Moun-
tain Presbyteries. Some of the smallest of these churches
have been disorganized. They are as follows: Paper Mill,
Weaverton, Lebanon (in Mecklenburg), Groveton, Emman-
uel, five churches with a combined membership of only about
125 members. Deducting these five dissolved churches we
have 72 new churches remaining. These new churches
alone, if brought together, would constitute a great Pres-
bytery. That you may more fully appreciate this state-
ment let me say they are served by 286 Elders, 310 Deacons,
have 6,662 in Sabbath School and a communicant roll of
7,462. This Presbytery would be larger than many of our
largest Presbyteries, larger than New Orleans with 4,792
communicants, or Louisville with 5,253 or Nashville with 5,-
850 or Memphis with 7,166 communicants. These new
churches of Presbytery, not including the churches organ-
ized by Asheville and Kings Mountain Presbyteries, gave
last year for all purposes not less than $130,000.00.

The erection of suitable houses of worship for all these
new churches demanded great labor and expense. The
exact data as to the cost of each of these seventy-two new
church buildings in city, town and country is not available,
but when you include such buildings as Wadesboro, Monroe,
Second Church, Charlotte, Tenth Avenue, Westminster,
Knox Church, Charlotte; Belmont, First Church, Gastonia;
Waynesville, Brevard and others, the average cost would be
at least $4,000.00 and the whole cost about $300,000.00. But
whatever the cost, church homes must be provided regard-
less of expense. Until this is done there is no guaranteed
permanency. I call your attention to the fact that of these
five new churches, finally dissolved, not one of them had a
house of worship.


I may surprise you by stating that so far as I know there
was not a manse in the Presbytery in 1869. How do we ac-
count for such a state of things ? Previous to 1860 most of
our ministers lived in the country, owning their own ser-
vants and cultivating their own farms, and much pref rred to
own their own homes. But with the new order of things
after 1865 the manse became not only a great comfort to the
pastor and his family, but a missionary necessity. There-
fore, the fixed policy of the Presbytery has been to secure a
manse for every church or group of churches. The result is
that the following churches have manses: First Church,
Charlotte, Second Church, Charlotte, Westminster, Knox,
Pegram Street, Tenth Avenue, Sugar Creek, Mallard Creek,
Steele Creek, Paw Creek, Central Steele Creek, Philadelphia,
Matthews, Providence, Sharon, Pineville, Newell, Hunters-
ville, Hopewell, Williams Memorial, Monroe, Waxhaw, Walk-
ersville, Indian Trail, Unionville, Marshville, North Carolina,
Hamlet, Norwood, Cornelius, Pageland, Mulberry, Bethel, Al-
bemarle, Wadseboro, Mt. Gilead. In all there are thirty-six
manses in the Presbytery, and if we add to these the number
in Asheville and Kings Mountain, the greater part of these
secured whilst they were part of Mecklenburg, we will have
a total of fifty-seven manses against none in 1869. The ag-
gregate value of these manses would be about $175,000.00.

The training of an adequate ministry — adequate in num-
bers and efficiency — has ever been a great task of the
Church of Christ. To this task our Lord gave a large part
of His time and service on earth. The Presbytery of Meck-
lenburg has not neglected this important duty. When first
organized the following candidates were assigned her from
Concord Presbytery : C. N. Hutchinson, P. P. Maxwell, Chas.
M. Douglas, George Summey and J. H. Morrison. Messrs.
Hutchinson and Maxwell, for sufficient reason, did not enter
the ministry. Mr. C. M. Douglas died before completing his
studies. Rev. Geo. Summey, D.D., and Rev. James H. Mor-
rison, D.D., after long and valuable service in the church,
remain with us to this day. The first candidate received
was James Walter Query, of Steele Creek Church, December

29th, 1870. The second candidate received was John Frank-
lin Cannon, of Sharon Church, August 18th, 1871. The list
of candidates, according to date of reception, is as follows :

W. B. Arrowood, Long Creek

A. li? Buckner, Red Oak

Jacob Roberts, Red Oak

Geo. F. Robertson, Asheville

Wm. E. Mcllwain, Six Mile Creek

E. P. Davis, Olney

R^. Arrowood, Long Creek

Alfred J. Morrison, Castanea Grove

Eliott Way, Savannah Presbytery

J. H. Dixon, Mallard Creek

J. L. Williams, Hopewell

J. C. Oehler, Ramah

Walter W. Moore, 1st Church, Charlotte

Jesse W. Siler, Franklin

Chalmers Moore, Franklin

Wm. H. Neel, 2nd Church, Charlotte

M. A. Henderson, Castanea

E. A. Sample, Hopewell

Eugene L. Siler, Franklin

W. B. Justus, Hendersonville

R. L. Glenn, Gastonia

John H. Johnston, Paw Creek

J. A. McLaughlin, Wadesboro

S. W. Spencer, Morven

R. A. Torrance, Hopewell

H. M. Dixon, Mallard Creek

G. W. Belk, Monroe

R. L. McNair, Swannanoa

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