Chapter 3 "Light In The Wilderness"

Chapter 3


The settlement of the Wilderness was a religious crusade. Most of the pioneers who followed the frontier trails to Carolina had endured religious persecution in "the old country," but here in "the promised land," they could educate their children and worship their God in whatever manner their consciences dictated. At first both worship and schooling centered in the pioneer home; but as more families came, religious colonies began to develop, and the settlers began to build schools and meeting houses.

GOVERNOR George Barrington wrote a description of religious conditions in North Carolina in 1733, about the time the first settlers began to arrive in the piedmont.

There is not one Clergyman of the Church of England regularly settled in this government. The former Missionarys were so little approved of that the inhabitants seem very indifferent whether any more come to them.

"Some Presbyterian, or rather Independent, Ministers from New England have got congregations; more may follow. . . A Preacher is seldom pay'd more than the value of twenty pounds sterling a year by his Parishioners.

"The Quakers in this Government are considerable. . . the regularity of their lives, hospitality to strangers, and kind offices to new settlers, inducing many to be of their own persuasion . . ."*

The two groups which Governor Burrington mentions- Quakers and Presbyterians-and members of the German Reformed and Lutheran faiths, were largely responsible for the settlement of Alamance County.

* Burrington, George, Colonial Records of N. C., v. 3, pp. 429-430.



European immigrants flooded the northern provinces at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and in a short time this area was so crowded that newcomers found it necessary to push further southward in search of lands and homes. Even families who had lived in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey for a number of years were attracted by the generous real estate values in the Carolinas, and frequently they sold their established homes and Joined the trek to the unsettled territory.

Usually single families or small groups of families travelled southward alone, although there were probably caravans in which a large number of immigrants came together. Those who led the movement were drawn together by common customs, languages and faiths and settled accordingly in distinct and separate colonies.

In Alamance the Reformed and Lutheran sects settled Alamance and Stinking Quarters Creek; the Friends or Quakers settled in the south along Cane Creek, and the Presbyterians chose settlements in the present vicinity of Hawfields.

For a number of years there was little contact between these colonies, other than occasional meetings at the Hillsboro courts or on the market roads to Petersburg and Fayetteville. Their churches and schools and their ways of life were peculiar to their individual settlements.


Late one autumn evening in the year 1748, three emigrant families from Berks County, Pennsylvania, came upon a small, clear spring, deep in the Carolina woods, and being weary from their long day's Journey, decided to make camp at this place for the night.

Nearby lived an old German, and the sound of the campers' axes as they chopped wood for the campfire, soon attracted the settler to their camp. Great was the old man's surprise when he discovered that the travellers were not only from the north, but that they were his former neighbors- Georg and Ludwig Klapp, and their brother-in-law, whose name was Hunter.

The following day was the Sabbath, and the Klapps and Hunters and their host spent it in exchanging stories about the



country which they had left behind them and the beautiful, forest land into which God had mysteriously led them. On Monday, Herr Hunter and his family bade their kinsmen goodbye and headed their wagon westward, but the Klapp brothers and their families remained behind.

A short time later, the Klapps bought a tract of land along Beaver Creek, and within a few months after their arrival in the wilderness they had erected homes and had settled down to a new life.

These two families, and the other "Pennsylvania Deutsch" families who were to follow them, built the first Lutheran and Reformed churches in what is today Guilford and Alamance Counties.

Like their Quaker and Presbyterian neighbors, these pioneer Germans had brought their Bibles with them, and since there were no ministers among them, they were obliged to read the Word for themselves, and to worship privately in their homes.

As their new settlement grew to considerable size, the two sects became aware of the need for churches. A log building was erected near the present Lowe's Lutheran Church and the Old Salisbury (Trading Path) Road, and there the two congregations worshipped together. The village schoolmaster, and occasionally a traveling preacher, read the scriptures to them in German. They sang together the hymns in the Gemeinschaftliche Gesangbuch. In some of the early union churches, Lutheran services were held one Sunday and Reformed services the following Sunday.

The Reverend Christian Theus, pastor of St. John's Reformed Church near Columbia, S. C., made several missionary tours into piedmont North Carolina between the years 1745 and 1760, and it is probable that he was the first ordained minister to preach at the old log church in Guilford. However, most of the German congregations in this section were organized by the Reverend Samuel Suthers.

Reverend Suthers began his ministry in North Carolina in June, 1768, and in October, 1771, he moved to the Guilford-Orange community. About this time, sentiments growing out of the Regulation movement caused a division in the congregation



of the original union church, and Reverend Suthers led a number of Reformed believers to a schoolhouse near the present site of the Brick Reformed Church in Guilford, where they erected an altar and began to hold services.

Among the families who founded this church were the Albrights, Clapps, Fausts, Ingolds, Schaeffers, and others, and for a number of years the meeting house was known as "Der Klapp Kirche."

Reverend John Bithahn moved to Guilford County from Pennsylvania about the beginning of the Revolutionary War and succeeded Reverend Suthers as pastor of the Clapp Church. He had a short ministry and died one Sabbath evening after he had delivered a forceful sermon.

For the next twelve years the church had no pastor. Reverend Andrew Lorets, a traveling minister of the Reformed faith, visited the congregation at Clapp's about four times a year. In 1801, Reverend Henry Dieffenbach began a six years' ministry with this congregation, following which they were again without a pastor for fourteen years.

Jacob Clapp, an elder of the church, or Johannis Scherer, the schoolmaster, were usually in the pulpit on the Sabbath and services continued, even without a pastor. In 1812, Captain William Albright was sent to the Reformed Synod in Pennsylvania to secure a pastor for the church. Young James Riley came.

The Reverend Mr. Riley was an able leader, under whom the congregation greatly increased and the building of a new church was begun. The dilapidated log schoolhouse was replaced by a brick structure in 1814 which became known as "the Brick Church."

In 1821, the Reverend John Rudy became its pastor, and after four years he was succeeded by the Reverend J. H. Crawford who preached to the "Brick Church" congregation for twelve years. The Reverend G. William Welker took charge of the congregation in 1841, and remained there for more than forty years. In the cemetery of the Brick Church lie the remains of several of these early churchmen and many of their devout congregations. Stoner's (or Steiner's) Reformed Church near Belmont was



founded by members of the Brick Church in 1758, and a German missionary, Reverend Leinbach, was one of the first to preach there. Reverend Weyburg became its first regular pastor. The church stood on a small peninsula between Alamance and Stinking Quarters Creek. Reverend John Rudy, Reverend Lorets, and other pastors of the Clapp or Brick Church served there, but the church services were finally suspended for lack of a regular pastor.

Two miles northwest of Gibsonville stands Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was founded as a union Lutheran and Reformed meeting about 1744.

The first building there was a rustic structure of roughhewn logs which was called "Schumaker's Church," but in 1771 the congregation was reorganized and a two-story frame building was erected. Several buildings have since replaced it, but the weathered stone steps of the original church have been used to form a monument that stands today in the old church cemetery. On top of it rests an open Bible, carved from granite.

St. Mark's Evagelical Reformed Church, near Elon College, was founded by one of the first congregations in that section of Alamance County.



In addition to his ministry at the Brick Church, Reverend Suther was pastor at Friedens from 1768 to 1771, and several other pastors of the Brick Church later served here. The name "Friedens" came from an old German word signifying peace and tranquility.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church, two miles below E. M. Holt School, was formally organized in 1773, and was long known as "Graves' Church" because of the family who originally owned the land. It became wholly Lutheran in 1801.

St. Mark's Reformed Church, a mile and a quarter south of Elon College, was organized at Friedens soon after the Brick Church. About 1857, the Reformed Congregation withdrew and held services under a bush arbor two miles southeast of Gibsonville near Boone's Station on the old stagecoach route to Salisbury. The members constructed their church building a half mile south of the arbor in 1862.

These were the parent Lutheran and Reformed churches from which later congregations of these faiths are descended. There was no English spoken in these churches before 1800, and some traces of the Germanic influence remain in their rites today.

Because they spoke a language foreign to their neighbors, it was a long time before the "Pennsylvania Dutch" assumed any part in the government of their county and state, yet they proved themselves industrious, hard-working and devout. The officials at Hillsboro frequently took advantage of them, and such corruption bred the discontent which led to later revolutionary riots.

George Goertner is noted as one of the earliest civil leaders and counselors in the German settlements. In the latter part of the eighteenth century the names of Reformed and Lutheran leaders began to appear more and more frequently in the records, and some of them began to enter the responsible offices of government.


Quakerism reached the Carolinas several decades before there were any members of this faith settled in the backwoods country of Alamance. As Governor Burrington indicated in 1733, there were a considerable number of Quakers in the coastal settlements, where they had a reputation for honesty and hospitality.



Quaker migration to the South commenced simultaneously with the mass movement of other religious groups. The northern Quakers were partly English, partly German, and partly Welsh; and, like other groups, they came South for economic and religious reasons.

The largest Quaker settlement in Alamance was on the banks of the Cane Creek in proximity to the village that is today Snow Camp, and while these people were opposed to war and desirous of little part in the civil government, they were good business men. They set up gristmills and through their contacts with Pennsylvania were able to furnish the frontier settlers with many necessities.

The Cane Creek Monthly Meeting was established near Snow Camp on October 7, 1751. It was authorized by the Perquimans and Little River Quarterly Meeting of the Friends in the minutes of that meeting in June, 1751.

"Friends on Cane Creek wrote to our Quarterly Meeting desiring a Monthly Meeting to be settled amongst them, which was referred to this meeting & several Friends of them parts appeared at this Meeting and acquainted Friends that there is thirty and upwards of Friends settled in them parts . . . which request after mature consideration Friends thinking proper to grant & leave to themselves to settle it in the most convenient place amongst the body . . ."*

The meeting was established at what is today Cane Creek Friends Church, and during its first four years, sixty-eight certificates for membership were presented, of which, twenty-eight came from various meetings in Pennsylvania, two from Hopewell and six from Fairfax in Virginia, seven from Camp Creek, Virginia, two from Gunpowder, Maryland, and one from Ireland.

Quaker families from as far away as New Garden, thirty miles distant, attended the Cane Creek meeting until a monthly meeting was begun at New Garden and others on Deep River and Eno River, shortly after the one founded in Alamance.

The Quaker believers were extremely strict, for their social customs were dictated by their religious beliefs. Members of the congregation were disowned for marrying outside the meeting,

*Quoted in Investigations of Local Resources; Graham, 1939.



for using liquor to excess and for bad language, for lying and cheating in business, and for uttering criticism against the meeting. The records of 1754 show that one member of the Cane Creek Meeting was disowned for accepting a military commission.

The Quakers dressed plainly and condemned excessive eating, drinking and smoking. They frequently passed laws against such "vain and vicious Proseedings as Frollicking Fiddling and Dancing," and the wearing of lapel coats, bellcrowned hats, ruffles and ribbons. During the earlier years, some of the Friends held many offices of trust and honor in the Carolinas, but the Meetings later opposed office-holding. Any Friend who assumed an office must take an oath and would frequently have to administer the oath to others, and both practices were condemned by the Quaker teachings. Such customs have been greatly modified in later years.

While some Quakers owned slaves, the Society of Friends stood against the practice and sought to educate and to eventually emancipate all of those slaves owned by its members.

Because of the slavery issue and hostile milita laws which had been directed against them, scores of Quaker families left North Carolina about 1830 and migrated to the free states in the Middle West. Gradually, the younger generation rising in the Meetings changed many of the conservative customs, and the Friends began to take their rightful place in the civil life of the communities they had helped to found.

Many of the founders of the Cane Creek Meeting, including the patriarch of Snow Camp, Simon Dixon, are buried in the old church cemetery. A round mill stone, said to have been brought by Mr. Dixon from his home in Pennsylvania, marks his grave.

The original meeting house was destroyed by fire in 1879, and several houses of worship have stood on the site since that time. A modern brick church was built just a few feet from the original location after the fire again destroyed the building in 1942.


Hawfields was the home church of the Alamance Presbyterians, although there were a few Presbyterian churches in this territory before Hawfields.




During the period of the great migration to the Carolinas, a group of Scotch-Irish Pennsylvania Presbyterians formed an organization known as the "Nottingham. Company" which sent agents and purchased a tract of land in what is now Guilford County, on the banks of Buffalo and. Reedy Fork Creeks. The Buffalo Church was organized about 1758.

As early as 1740, the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia frequently received petitions from the Presbyterian pioneers of North Carolina for ministers. The Reverend William Robinson was sent in 1742 and the Reverend John Thompson in 1744.


 The original Hawfields Church stood three miles northeast of the present church building. Reverend Henry Patillo, its first pastor, was widely known as an educator, as well as a minister.



When the Reverend Hugh McAden was sent by the Synod in the autumn of 1755, he found numerous groups of worshippers and at least seven meeting houses from the Hyco to the Yadkin Rivers. He preached to Scotch-Irish Presbyterians at Solomon DeBows's on South Hyco; to a set of "pretty regular" Presbyterians on Eno; at old Sherman's on Tar River; at a Baptist Meeting House at Grassy Creek; at the Hawfields; to congregations in the Buffalo settlement in Guilford; and to a number of other groups.

One of the most outstanding Presbyterian ministers of the pioneer days was the Reverend David Caldwell, who came from New Jersey about 1765 and settled in Guilford County. He was installed on March 3, 1768 as pastor of the Presbyterian congregations at Buffalo and Alamance Churches. The latter church, also in Guilford, was organized about 1764.





Hawfields Church in Alamance County was probably organized by the Reverend Elihu Spencer, a Presbyterian missionary, about 1762. Reverend Henry Pattillo accepted a call from. Hawfields in 1765, and he was succeeded there by Hugh McAden, William. Paisley, and Dr. Archibald Currie.

Reverend Hugh McAden described the Hawfields congregation in his journal in 1755:

"On Monday evening I rode to the Haw Fields, Where I preached the fourth Sabbath in August-Aug. 24, 1755-to a considerable congregation, chiefly Presbyterians, who seemed highly pleased and very desirous to hear the Word preached again on Tuesday; the people came out to hear quite beyond expectation."*

Hawfields was noted as an intellectual settlement, and it was strongly in sentiment with the Whig or Patriot cause during the Revolutionary War. It was customary after victories, for the congregation to gather and give thanks. On one such occasion, it is said, a member arose and stalked from the church during the service. Later when asked his reason, he replied that he did not expect to stay anywhere and hear them give the Lord all the credit for a victory and none to Robert Mebane.

Mr. Mebane was a local hero of the day with the Hawfields Whigs, though not with some other groups. While the Hawfield Presbyterians prayed for victory over the Tories, the Quakers on Cane Creek prayed for peace; the Reformed congregations prayed for the Whigs; and the Lutherans prayed for the Tories.

On March 7, 1771, the Hanover Presbytery met at Buffalo Church in Guilford and drew up a petion to the Synod of Philadelphia and New York calling for the organization of a new Presbytery in North Carolina, to be known as the Presbytery of Orange. The request was granted and the Orange Presbytery met for the first time at Hawfields on September 1,1770.

The records of the Orange Presbytery's first twenty-five years were destroyed by fire in 1827.

The early Presbyterians were strict followers of the teachings of John Calvin, and were generally wealthier than their neighboring sects. The Presbyterian schools, which will be discussed later,

* Stockland, Sallie, Ibid.



were among the finest in. the State, since it was a mark of vulgarity among them not to be able to read and repeat the Shorter Catechism.


Religious pioneering was by no means limited to the Presbyterians, Quakers, Lutherans and reformed groups, although these sects did exert the strongest influence in Almance County in the early years.

There were Baptists in North Carolina probably as early as 1695. On November 22, 1755, there was a Baptist church organized at Sandy Creek in Randolph County, and this section thereafter became the center of Baptist influence in North Carolina.

Reverend Shubal Steams of Boston began his ministry with a group of evangelical Baptists and Presbyterians, known as the "New-Lights", about 1740, and in 1755, he and fifteen of his followers came to Sandy Creek. From the church which they built, a thirty by twenty-six feet building, a great evangelical movement known as "the Separate Baptists" spread throughout the South, and the church at Sandy Creek within a few months grew from sixteen to more than six hundred members.

The Separatists founded a church on Haw River, near the Bynum Community in Chatham County in 1764. Reverend Steams described the congregation there in a letter written to friends in October, 1765:

" . . . Not long since I attended a meeting in Hoy (Haw) river . . . About seven hundred souls attended the meeting, which held six days. We received twenty-four persons by a satisfactory declaration of grace, and eighteen of them were Baptized. The power of the Lord was wonderful."*

The Methodists did not found churches in this section of the country until late in the eighteenth century. The Reverend Francis Asbury, who brought Methodism from England to America in 1771, came to North Carolina in 1780. Details of his trip were carefully noted in his diary:

"Sunday, 23 (July, 1780)-We passed Haw River, wide but shallow . . . then we had to travel the pathless woods and rocks again; after much-trouble, and fear, and dejection, we came to Taylor's preaching-house. .

* Quoted from Paschal, Geo. W., History of N. C. Baptists. Raleigh, 1930.



"Wednesday, (August) 2.-Rode seven miles to Hillsborough and preached in the house of Mr. Cortney, a tavern, to about two hundred people . . . They were decent and behaved well; I was much animated, and spoke loud and long."*

The Guilford Circuit was formed in 1783 and in that year reported 314 members to the Methodist Conference. Ten years later a separate circuit was established along Haw River, which extended to Huntsville on the old Raleigh and Gaston Railroad. One of the first churches on the Haw River Circuit was constructed at Mount Pleasant about 1790.

"This church was built of unhewed logs, covered with boards which were held in place with poles and rocks instead of nails, with no floor except that which nature provided, and split logs laid upon another logs large enough to raise them sufficiently were the pews with which this first church was furnished . . . "1

In the first decades of the nineteenth century, the issue of slavery divided the Methodists. A group of forty Methodists in Guilford County petitioned the Allegheny Conference in Ohio to send them a minister. "We feel so conscientiously scrupulous on the subject of slavery." they said, "that we cannot hold fellowship with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South."

In response to their request, the Reverend Adam Crooks arrived in Guilford in October, 1847, and remained in the piedmont preaching the anti-slavery doctrine of the Wesleyan Methodists until mob violence forced him to leave in I 851.

Reverend Crooks is credited with organizing the first Wesley-an Methodist Church in the South at Freedom Hill, near Snow Camp, in the Spring of 1848. When the Reverend Daniel Worth arrived in North Carolina in 1857, he found Wesleyan Methodists in five piedmont counties and twenty preaching places.

Like other denominations, the Methodist Episcopal Church had its internal quarrels and its separating groups. Many of the advocates of early Methodism in North Carolina never joined the church. In 1792, when there was a dispute in the General Conference over appointment of ministers, the Reverend James O'Kelly

* Quoted from Grissom, W. L., History of Methodism in N. C., Nashville, 1905,

1. Ibid.



withdrew from the church and organized a Republican Methodist Church.

O'Kelly had more than 1,000 followers, and their church soon became known as the Republican Methodist Church. It was later united with the Congregationalists to form what is today the Congregational-Christian Church.

One of the first meeting 'houses built by the Christians was Old Providence at Graham, which stood a few yards northeast of the present church building there. From the log structure, brick-floored Providence, the Christian Church began the expansion which has made it one of the leading denominations in North Carolina.


The first camp-meeting held in the South took place at Haw-fields Presbyterian Church in October, 1802. This type of service spread throughout the South and was very popular in the days before modern transportation.

Reverend Patillo, the first pastor at Hawfields, was succeeded by Reverend John DeBow, who died in 1783. Reverend DeBow's brother-in-law, Jacob Lake, preached to the congregation for a time, and helped organize another congregation at Cross Roads. Reverend William Paisley was pastor of the two churches in 1801.

Young James McGready, who had been reared in the Buffalo settlement of Guilford County, began to inflame the people in this section with his fiery evangelism during these years.

A large crowd of people gathered at Cross Roads on an August Sunday in 1801 for the annual communion services, and since the village could not accommodate all of them, a number of families camped in their wagons. It was a warm day, and they sat restlessly while Reverend Paisley and a number of other ministers preached to them. As the meeting drew to an end with little sign of success, the country preacher rose to dismiss the congregation, but he could find no words to say to them.

Just at that moment, however, a member of the congregation rose slowly from his seat, and a profound silence descended over the meeting. His voice was simple and quiet.



"Stand still!" he said. "Stand still-and see the salvation of God!"

A wave of emotion swept over the people like an electric shock. Many sprang from their seats, and sobs and moans rose from every part of the little church. A miracle had been wrought.

The excitement continued for the rest of the day. The congregation sang and prayed and gave thanks for the new spirit which had suddenly come to them. It was midnight before they finally departed for their homes.

A month later, Reverend Paisley held a service at Hawfields, and hundreds came to hear him preach. For five days the services .continued, and the effect has seldomly been equalled. A current of religious fervor spread throughout the State. Through some tremendous miracle, the little church at Cross Roads had shaken the great world beyond it.

Since that summer in 1801, revival meetings have become an annual part of the worship of many North Carolina churches, and for this reason, the Great Revival is an important part of Alamance County history. the light of education

There were probably schools in Alamance County before there were churches, but the two institutions were closely related until fairly recent years.

In the early days, the German settlers preferred teachers to preachers, and the village schoolmaster often delivered the Sabbath Day sermon from the pulpit of a combined meeting house and school house. Children who lived too far away to attend the school during the week were sometimes instructed on Sunday afternoons, following the regular worship.

Even before the Revolutionary War, small, one-room school houses dotted the Alamance countryside. Reverend Henry Patillo conducted a school at Hawfields as early as 1765. He was noted as one of the earliest and best teachers in the State, and was credited with writing the first text book for use in North Carolina schools, "Geography for Youth." Richard Stanford's Academy was a largely patronized school near Hawfields Church before 1776. John Alien, a lawyer, taught a school near Snow Camp at about the same time.



Most of the ministers who are mentioned in the preceding history of the early churches, also taught schools in Alamance, usually in connection with their churches.

Reverend David Caldwell's school in Guilford County attracted students from all parts of the State and many from other states. Five of his pupils became governors of this and other states, and several score of them were highly successful in the professions of law, medicine and the ministry.


Reverend William Bingham, an Irishman and an honor graduate of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, started a school in Wilmington in 1793, and later removed it Pittsboro. After teaching a few years at the University of North Carolina, the noted educator opened his school at Mount Repose, ten miles northwest of Hillsboro. In 1825, Reverend Bingham's son, William, became master of the school at his father's death, and in 1844 he bought a farm near Mebane on which he established the school.

In 1861 when the War Between the States began, Bingham School introduced military training as a part of its curriculum, and in 1865 the teachers were granted commissions by the state. Students from as far away as New Hampshire and California attended the school, and from various European countries, Mexico, Brazil, Japan and Siam. It was finally moved to Asheville in 1891, though many of the old buildings still stand near Mebane.

There are few records of the schools in Alamance before 1800, but notices frequently appeared in the newspapers concerning them after that date.


"A Grammar School will be opened in Orange County, about ten miles west of Hillsboro, on the first Monday in January next, for the reception of Students under the Superintendence of the Rev. Wm. Paisley, in which will be taught the Latin and Greek Languages, Geography, Natural and Moral Philosophy, etc., etc. The terms of Tuition will be sixteen dollars per annum, to be paid at the end of the year. The price of Board, Lodging, Washing, etc. will be about fifty dollars per annum. Mr. James Mason, living near to the Schoolhouse, expects to have it in his power to board



ten or twelve students; and Boarding may also be obtained in several other respectable families in the neighborhood . . .*


"The Prospect Company

Has erected a Boarding House near Union School House about one mile south of Woody's Ferry on Haw River, in which will be admitted 10 or 12 Boarders, who may be taught in Union School, the following branches of Literature:

"Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, English, Grammar, with the Art of Scanning Poetry, Geography, Drawing, Painting, Embroidery, and other kinds of Needle-Work.

"Mary Mendenhall, the present Tutoress, has taught some years,-and is well recommended. . . She will reside at the Boarding House. . ."*

A school was started about 1830 where the Sylvan School now stands, but the Quakers did not conduct schools of their own until 1831. Johnannis Scherer was master of a school near Alamance Battleground in 1800, and it was not until 1812 that the English language was taught in such German schools. Sometime before the turn of the century, Archibald DeBow Murphey taught law at a place just east of Swepsonville, and Daniel Turrentine taught in the Hawfields vicinity from 1800 to 1830.

Both girls and boys were taught in some of the early schools, but many were restricted to boys alone.

The first school in Graham, the countyseat, was established at Providence Church in 1792 by Daniel C. Turrentine, who was succeeded by such men as James Mulholland, Able, John and Benjamin Rainey, Joe Thomas, Jonathan Freeland, Jerry Whidbee, Jonathan Worth-later Governor of North Carolina-and many other notable teachers, most of whom were connected with the Christian Church. Reverend John R. Holt, who taught at Providence in 1842, later founded the school which grew into Elon College.

There were no schools at Burlington in the early days, and pupils had to attend a small school at Elmira or the Providence School.

* Coon, Charles L.,N. C. Schools and Academies, 1790-1840, Raleigh, 1915.



There was a female seminary at Hillsboro in. the early 1800s, at which young ladies were taught much the same subjects as boys were.


Dr. Alexander Wilson came to America from. Ireland in 1818, and, after teaching awhile in New York City, moved in 1845 to a place known as Burnt Shop near Hawfields church. He changed the name to Melville, and began a select, private school there.

The first public school law was passed in North Carolina in 1839; and though the public schools were looked upon with disdain for many years, they offered education to many who could not afford private schooling.

Those schools which have been mentioned in connection with the early churches were the foundation on which a system of academies and excellent private schools were built in the years following the War Between the States, A history of these later schools Almance County appears in another chapter.


The early settlers of Alamance County were strong in their beliefs that religion, and its practice, was one of the major factors contributing to their freedom from fear and it is noticeable that their lives, for the most part, centered around the church.

The change over the years in this respect has not been great. Alamance County today has possibly as many churches for its 68,000 citizens as any section of the country.

Some are large churches, with membership of from 1,000 to 1,500, while others are small missions, with only enough members to fill several pews. Yet the Bible is taught, and sermons are preached week after week to thousands upon thousands of citizens.

Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians are strongest in the county. There are also several churches representing the Lutheran, Evangelical and Reformed, Congregational Christian, Episcopalian, Quaker, Church of the Nazarene, Church of God, Pilgrim Holiness, Pentecostal Holiness, and Catholic denominations. There are other churches which are interdenominational.

Most families in the county can relate much history associated with their respective churches, stories that have been handed



down to them by their parents and grandparents. It is natural for them. to feel so closely related to their churches, because their ancestors invariably can be identified with donating the land, or supplying some lumber or personal labor in the erection of the first, or second or third church in the chain leading up to the one being used today. Their ancestors, too, were members of the church when it was a struggling mission, when members had to travel miles to attend services, and when they had to develop new ways and means to pay the minister when crops were bad, or when other misfortunes fell upon them.

The struggling years that were experienced in religious circles by early settlers did not come because of a failure in faith and purpose, but rather as a result of the hardships of the days in which the people were living.

Their determination to make a success of religious freedom, however, reaped its dividends. Their forefathers had come to this nation in pursuit of the many freedoms that are so common in a democracy. They wanted, among their other privileges, the right to worship when and where they pleased, and the desire for such freedom has descended through the years.



Chapter 6

Chapter 11

Chapter 16

Chapter 21

Chapter 1

Chapter 7

Chapter 12

Chapter 17


Chapter 2

Chapter 8

Chapter 13

Chapter 18

Book Index

Chapter 4

Chapter 9

Chapter 14

Chapter 19

Chapter 5

Chapter 10

Chapter 15

Chapter 20