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Sketches of North Carolina
Chapter X - The Settlement of the Scotch on the River Cape Fear and the Reverend James Campbell


The time of the settlement of the first Scotch families upon the river Cape Fear, is not known with exactness. There were some at the time of the separation of the province into North and South Carolina, in the year 1729. In consequence of disabilities in their native land, the enterprising Scotch followed the example of their relations in Ireland, and sought refuge and abundance in America and some time previous to the emigration from the province of Ulster to the Yadkin, numerous families occupied the extended plains along the Cape Fear, in that part of Bladen county, now Cumberland. From records in possession of the descendants of Alexander Clark, it appears that he came over and took his residence on the river in the year 1736, and that a "ship load" of emigrants carne over with him. It also appears that he found "a good many" Scotch settled in Cumberland at the time of his arrival, amongst whom was Hector McNeill, called Bluf Hector, from his residence near the bluffs above Cross Creeks, or Fayetteville, and John Smith, with his two children, Malcolm and Janet, his wife, Margaret Gilchrist, having died on the passage tip the river.

Alexander Clark came from Jura, one of the Hebrides. His ancestors, particularly his grandfather, had suffered much in the wars that had desolated Scotland, and fell heaviest on the Presbyterians. Being constrained to flee for his life, his grandfather took two of his sons and went to Ireland, and saw many trials and sufferings, which were brought to a close by the battle of the Boyne, that decided the fate of the British dominions. Returning to Scotland after the peace, he sought his family; leaving the vessel, he ascended a hill that overlooked his residence, and gazed in sadness over the desolation that met his eye; to use his own words, "but three smokes in all Jura could be seen." Not a member of his family could be found to tell the fate of the rest. They had all perished in the persecutions. He returned to Ireland to find his cup of bitterness, overflowing as it was, made still more bitter by the death of one of his two sons. After some time he returned, and spent the remainder of his days in Jura, having for his second wife one whose sufferings had been equal to his own. Her infant had been taken from her arms, its head severed from its body in her presence, and used by a ruffian, twisting his hand in its hair, to beat the mother on the breast till she was left for dead. Gilbert, the only surviving child of his first wife, returned With his father to Jura, and there lived and reared a family. One of his (Gilbert's) sons, Alexander, married Flora McLean, and reared four soils and four daughters, and when his oldest son Gilbert was sixteen years of age, removed to America, and settled in Cumberland county, on the Cape Fear. Some of the descendants of Keneth Clark, half brother of Gilbert, carne to America. From this stock arose numerous families in the south and west.

When Alexander Clark emigrated to America, he paid the passage of many poor emigrants, and gave them employment till the price was repaid. Many companies of Scotchmen came to America in a similar way, some person of property paying their passage, and giving them employ upon their lands until they were able to set up for themselves.

Could the history of families be traced out with certainty, there is little doubt that vague traditions of sufferings and trials from the hands of the Catholics, would prove to have been derived from as sad realities as are found in the family of the Clarks. Almost without exception these Scotchmen were Presbyterians, who held the Confession of Faith, the Solemn League and Covenant, and the Form of Government and Discipline now in use in Scotland. And for their creed they were willing to suffer; for, as little as liberty of conscience was understood at that time, the Scotch had found that yielding their religious creed to authority was giving up themselves to hopeless tyranny; and through many political mistakes they held the palladium, their Confession of Faith and Form of Government, with an unwavering spirit.

More than sixty years had passed from the decisive battle of the Boyne, .July 1st, 1690, in which the. forces of James II. were entirely routed by William III., Prince of Orange, and the royal fugitive James took refuge in Paris, abandoning his throne to his rival, when his grandson CHARLES EDWARD began to make preparations for a descent upon England. From his very cradle he Was inspired with an unquenchable desire to regain the throne of his ancestors; of this he talked by day and dreamed by night, and in his delusive plait was encouraged by the thoughtless and the imaginative, till he came to believe that the principal men in the kingdom were discontented with the reigning house of Hanover, and desirous of seeing a male descendant of the house of Stuart on the throne. After much solicitation he obtained some encouragement from the King of France, but. no public acknowledgment either of the present enterprise or the validity of his claim. On the 16th of July, a day remarked by some as fatal to his family, in 1745, he landed on the coast of Lochaber, in Scotland, with some money, a few stands of arms, and scarce an attendant, relying on the national feelings of the Scotch, whom he expected to rally around his standard. Of the rising in his favor, or rebellion against the constituted authorities of the kingdom, which followed, all account may be found in any extended history of England or of Europe, sufficient to satisfy a general reader. The Pretender to the crown of England, Prince Charles Edward, soon discovered that while the Scotch loved his family from their Hearts, as their own royal house, the Lowlanders had become so attached to the reigning house, or satisfied with their government, that no solicitations could engage them in a hasty rebellion against George II.; and that among the Highlanders, the most powerful chiefs were either so connected with the government as to be altogether averse to any attempt to shake its peace and security, or were so convinced of its stability as to consider any efforts to regain the crown to their own royal house but a feeble rebellion. The head of the Makenzies, and also the head of the McLeods, were members of parliament; the Head of the McDonalds, the strongest and most numerous of the clans that had favored the father and grandfather of Prince Charles Edward, was entirely opposed to a rising, or insurrection, or rebellion, having no hope of final success, In their view neither time nor circumstance was propitious; nor were they prepared to say that any government they might hope for, under the house of Stuart, would be more favorable to Scotland and the united kingdom than the dominion of the reigning family.

Lord Lovat declared for him, and with him were united some of the feebler noblemen; some of the smaller clans in the Highlands unanimously raised the standard for the Pretender; and many of the young men of the clans of the McDonalds, the McLeods, the Makenzies, and others whose leaders would not favor the enterprise, gave way to the impulse of national enthusiasm and chivalric enterprise, and joined his ranks. For a time it is well known that he was successful, and on his march towards the capital of the kingdom, spread terror through the country, and struck alarm in the cabinet of King George. Whether his success had reached its boundary and necessarily subsided into misfortune and calamity, or whether his delays and revelries wasted the golden hours of enterprise, and suffered the rising enthusiasm of the nation, warmed for a young prince claiming his ancestors' throne, to grow cool, his tide of success soon changed, and he retired, whether wisely or unwisely, first to the borders of Scotland, and then to the northern part, and took possession of Inverness. The disposition to declare for their royal house was spreading in Scotland, and could he have maintained his post in England, or have delayed a battle for a time, the mass of the nation would have taken arms in his cause. On the 16th of April, 1746, he fought, a few miles north of Inverness, against the Duke of Cumberland, the disastrous battle of Culloden; and with his defeat his hopes of empire vanished. Dismissing his followers, whose hopes and courage were better than his own, he wandered a fugitive among the mountains and crags, and, never again rallying his forces, sought his safety in secresy and flight.

His followers were taken captive in great numbers; three noblemen, after summary trial, perished on the scaffold; one of them, Lord Lovat, in his eightieth year, exclaiming with his latest breath, "Dulce et decorum est pro patria more." The English army ravaged with fire and sword all that part of Scotland that had favored the prince. The men were hunted down like wild beasts, and shot on the smallest resistance; the huts were burned over the heads of the women and children, and the cattle and provisions were carried away or destroyed. The very appearance of rebellion, and in many places even of population itself, was extinguished in the Highlands before the Duke of Cumberland returned to London. Yet in all this misery of the people, and the keen scrutiny of the soldiers, the prince finally escaped. In his wanderings he experienced all the variety of dangers and hair-breadth escapes that can be imagined from the efforts of a chivalrous young man whose greatest errors and misfortunes had sprung from the success of his gallantry among the ladies of his court and country,—and a people rough and untutored, but loyal to a proverb, and though poor, too staunch to be bribed by the offer of 30,000 to deliver up the fugitive whose hiding-places were known to many and could easily be guessed at by multitudes. During the five months of his wanderings, no less than fifty individuals were in possession of his person, many of whom had been opposed to the rising in his favor, from the conviction of its uselessness, and had suffered themselves to be drawn into the rebellion by the enthusiasm of their nation for their own royal house.

Many pleasing instances of heroic devotion to the prince in his misfortunes are related to the everlasting honor of the Highlands. Immediately after the battle of Culloden, he took refuge in Ross-shire; and to save him from the hot pursuit of the soldiers, his adherents and friends not only fought, but suffered themselves to be slain that he might escape. One gentleman, always known as opposed to the rebellion, being apprehended for aiding him in his necessity, pleaded before his judges—"I only gave him what nature seemed to require, a night's lodging and an humble repast. And who among my judges, though poor as I am, would have sought to acquire riches by violating the rights of hospitality in order to earn the price of blood?" This generous plea gained him his dismission with applause. Another by the name of Kennedy, who often exposed his life for his prince, and though poor, despised the large reward offered for betraying time royal fugitive, was some time after seized at Inverness and executed on the charge of stealing a cow. At the place of his execution he pulled off his bonnet, and looking round upon the assembly, exclaimed, "I give most Hearty thanks to Almighty God that I never proved false to an engagement of any kind; that I never injured a poor man; and never refused to share whatever I had with the stranger and those in want."

On the return of the army under the Duke of Cumberland, a large number of prisoners were taken along, and after a hasty trial by a military court, publicly executed. Seventeen suffered death at Kennington Common, near London; thirty-two were put to death in Cumberland; and twenty-two in Yorkshire. This was probably done by way of vengeance and alarm. But kinder thoughts prevailed with his Majesty George II.; and a large number were pardoned, on condition of their emigrating to the plantations, after having taken the solemn oath of allegiance. This is the origin of the large settlements of Highlanders on Cape Fear River. For a large number who had taken arms for the Pretender, preferred exile to death, or subjugation in their native land; and during the years 1716 and 1747, with their families and the families of many of their friends, removed to North Carolina and settled along the Cape Fear River, occupying a large space of country of which Crosscreek, afterwards Campbelton, now Fayetteville, was the centre. Probably the report from those who had settled along this river, of the mild winters, the open forests, the abundant canebrakes and wild grass, turned the attention of these emigrants to this part of America, where lands were abundant and cheap. Perhaps, too, the royal authority was exerted in fixing a location for the pardoned exiles, that Carolina might have a hardy race of industrious people to occupy her waste lands, increase her population and her revenue to the royal coffers. This wilderness become a refuge to the harassed Highlanders; and shipload after shipload landed at Wilmington in 1746 and 1747. The emigration once fairly begun by royal authority and clemency, was carried on by those who wished to improve their condition, and become owners of the soil upon which they lived and labored; and in the course of a few years large companies of industrious Highlanders joined their countrymen in Bladen county, North Carolina. Their descendants are found in the counties of Cumberland, Bladen, Sampson, Moore, Robeson, Richmond and Anson, all of which were included in Bladen at the time of the first emigration; and are a moral, religious people, noted for their industry and economy, perseverance and prosperity; forming a most interesting and important part of the State. Their present descendants are to be found everywhere in the South and West.

The religious principles of these emigrants have been better known and more generally understood, and better expressed, by writers of American history, whether sectional or general, than those of the people who took possession of the tipper country, and .acted so nobly in the Revolution; and better, perhaps, than those of any other section of the State in its earlier years. The religion of the Scotch Church is known to the world; it is the religion of the nation. The religion of Ireland is part. Protestant and part Papist; the predominant being of the Church of Rome, and the Protestant being divided between the Presbyterian and the Church of England. To say a company of emigrants are from Ireland does not decide either the political or religious creed; to say they are from Scotland, in general, decides both. In the former case we inquire for their birth-place and their creed; in the latter, we take it for granted we know what their creed is, unless we are warned to the contrary.

From the time of the introduction of the Christian religion into Scotland the bias of the national mind has been to the creed and forms of Presbytery. The Culdees were to all intents and purposes Presbyterians; they held strenuously to the parity of the clergy; had but one ordination; and governed the Church by a Council of Presbyters. Popery for a time did obtain the ascendency in Scotland, all the time struggling against the spirit of the nation that demanded independence in religion. But from the time of John Knox, there has been no doubt respecting the religious forms or the creed desired by the great body of the people. The National Covenant adopted and signed publicly in 1638, and repeated afterwards, and the Confession of Faith, which has been used now more than two hundred years by the Presbyterians in Scotland, England, and Ireland, and about a century and a half in America, leave no doubt what their views of church government, church order, and belief, were. The fact that many of them had borne arms for the Pretender, a Papist sent over by the instigation of the Pope and his adherents, for the purpose of introducing Popery once more into England, is easily and very truly accounted for on other feelings and principles than any sympathy in religious belief, of which it is known there was none.

No minister of religion accompanied the first emigrants in 1746 and 1747; nor is it known that any came with any succeeding company till the year 1770, when the Rev. John McLeod carne direct from Scotland and ministered to them for some time, though he was not the first preacher. This fact, that no minister of religion came with these people, many of whom were pious, and all of whom were accustomed to attend on public worship, cannot easily be accounted for; and it had an unhappy effect upon the emigrants and upon their children. Without public ministrations of the ordinances of the gospel a sense of religion will soon begin to pass away from the public mind; and the fire will be kept burning only on here and there a private altar. The wonder is that in the circumstances of these colonists the sense of religion was so well maintained under the ministrations and labors of one solitary preacher, James Campbell, who pursued his laborious course alone among the outspreading neighborhoods in what is now Cumberland and Robeson, from 1737 to 1770.

This worthy evangelist, the Rev. James Campbell, was born in Campbelton, on the peninsula of Kintyre, in Argyleshire, Scotland. Of his early history little is known; and too little has been preserved of his pioneer labors in later life. About the year 1730 he emigrated to America, a licensed preacher in the Presbyterian Church, and landed at Philadelphia. He soon became connected with a congregation of Scotch emigrants somewhere in Pennsylvania, and labored in the ministry with them for a time. His mind became clouded, and his heart full of fears, on the subject of his call to the ministry, and even of his own personal piety; and he ceased to perform the duties of a minister, believing that it was wrong for him to preach. In this state of mind he heard the famous Whitefield preach, as he was traversing the country, and sought an interview with him. This eminent servant of God heard him state his case, removed most of his difficulties, and encouraged him to resume his ministry. He labored for a time in Lancaster county, on the Coneweheog, where the Rev. Hugh McAden visited him, as is recorded in his journal. His attention being turned to his countrymen on the Cape Fear, Mr. Campbell emigrated to North Carolina in the year 1757, and took his residence on the left bank of the Cape Fear, a few miles above Fayetteville, nearly opposite to the Bluff church.

For a long time he held his Presbyterial connection with a Presbytery in South Carolina, which was never united with the Synod of Philadelphia. About the year 1773 his connection with Orange Presbytery was formed, and in that connection he continued till his death in the year 1781. Mr. Campbell left behind him no papers or memoranda from which anything can be gleaned respecting his religious exercises, or ministerial labors; but he has left traditions which sprung from the experience of the people of his charge, that he was a zealous laborious man, who never wearied in his work, from the time he came to Carolina, but spent his days in affectionate and unremitting efforts to bring men home to God through Christ. His labors had no bounds but his strength. It is probable that, for a time, he supplied the Scotch population at the rate of a Sabbath once in three or four to a neighborhood, the people going in many instances a long distance to attend the ministrations of the sanctuary, and glad to hear, even at distant intervals, the gospel of Christ.

It would be greatly gratifying to the church and the public generally could some pages of history, formed from the accredited doings of this laborious minister, be presented to the world. But for want of documents less place is given than his memory deserves. God has been pleased to leave much of his doings covered up from posterity, to be revealed when the veil is taken off from all things.

His preaching places appear to have been three, for regular congregations, on the Sabbath, besides occasional and irregular preaching, as the necessities of the country required. For ten or twelve years he preached on the southwest side of the river below the Bluff, in a meeting-house near Roger McNeill's, and called "Roger's meeting- house." Here Hector McNeill (commonly called Bluff Hector) and Alexander McAlister, acted as Elders. After the death of Mr. Campbell, and about the year 1787, the "Bluff Church" was built, and Duncan McNeill (of the Bluff, Hector being dead) and Alexander McAlister, and perhaps others, officiated as Elders.

Soon after his removal to Carolina, Mr. Campbell commenced preaching at Alexander Clark's, and continued his appointments for a number of years. About the year 1746, John Dobbin, who had married the widow of David Alexander in Pennsylvania, and had resided in Virginia, near Winchester, about a year, removed to Carolina; and, while the Alexander families that came with him took their abode on the Hico or the Yadkin, he fixed his residence on the Cape Fear, somewhat against the inclinations of his wife and step-daughter. The situations on the river being esteemed less healthy than those more remote, Mr. Dobbin and others took their abode on Barbacue; and about the year 1758 Mr. Campbell began to preach at his house, and continued so to do till the "Barbacue Church" was built, about the year 1765 or 1766. The first Elders of this church were—Gilbert Clark, eldest son of Alexander Clark, and step-son of .John Dobbin (having married Ann Alexander), one of the first magistrates of Cumberland county, under the Colonial Government,—Duncan Buie, who early in the Revolutionary war removed to the Cape Fear River, nearly opposite the Bluff Church,—Archibald Buie of Green Swamp,—and Daniel Cameron of the Hill. These men were pious, and devoted to the cause of religion and their duties as Elders; and for their strict attention to their duties got the name of "the little ministers of Barbacue." The congregation, like the others under the care of Mr. Campbell, were trained in the old Scotch fashion of reading the Bible, attending church when practicable, and repeating the Catechism; and were accustomed to follow the minister in his proof texts. It was of this congregation the Rev. John McLeod said, "he would rather preach to the most polished and fashionable congregation in Edinburgh than to the little critical earls of Barbacue." Not that they were so particularly captious about his manner and delivery, for he was esteemed an eloquent man, but they were so well-informed on the doctrines and usages of the church, that it required great particularity in his sermons to avoid their criticism. The kind of sermons demanded by that people might now seem novel or antiquated, but would be found full of instruction; and even their length would be no objection in congregations that can hear the gospel but once in a month or six weeks.

Barbacue church was the place of worship of Flora McDonald, while she lived at Cameron's Hill, and though the congregation is less extended and flourishing than in former years, it is still in existence. May it revive and flourish Mr. Campbell also began to preach soon after his coming to Carolina, at McKay's, now known as Long Street, one of the places visited by Mr. McAden in his first journey through Carolina. A church was built about the year 1765 or '66, the time at which Barbacue was built. The first elders were Malcom Smith, Archibald McKay, and Archibald Ray. This congregation is still in existence, and though much curtailed in extent and numbers, flourishes.

These three congregations were the principal places of Mr. Campbell's preaching, and for a time accommodated the greater part of the Scotch settled in Cumberland. As the emigration continued new neighborhoods were formed, and the limits of these congregations contracted: and one after another the numerous Churches in Cumberland, Robeson, Moore and Richmond, and Bladen, were gathered, some of which now surpass in numbers these ancient mothers.

At the time Mr. Campbell labored in Cumberland,, the larger number of the people used the Gaelic language; some could use both that and the English; and there were some Lowland Scotch, and a few Scotch-Irish families, and some Dutch that could not use the Gaelic: divine service was therefore performed in both languages. Mr. Campbell, to accommodate his hearers, preached two sermons each Sabbath, one in English and one in Gaelic this he did in all three of his churches. In a few congregations, in the Presbytery of Fayetteville, this practice of preaching in the two languages is still continued. The influence of this language has been great upon the Scotch settlements in Carolina. There have been some disadvantages attending it, and the language is fast passing away. But for a long time it was a bond of union, and a preservation of those feelings and principles peculiar to the Scotch emigrants, many of which ought to be preserved for ever. The change has been so gradual in putting off the Gaelic, and adopting the English, that the people of Cumberland have suffered as little, from a change of their language, as any people that have ever undergone that unwelcome process. They have retained the faith and habits of their ancestors, things most commonly thrown away or changed by a change of the common dialect.

Mr. Campbell, for a feiv years, had an assistant in the ministry. The Rev. John McLeod Caine from Scotland some time in the year 1770, accompanied by a large number of families from the Highlands, who took their residence upon the upper and lower Little Rivers, in Cumberland county. Barbacue and Long Street were part of the places in which he preached during the three years he remained in Carolina. In the year 1773, he left America with the view of returning to his native land; being never heard of afterwards, it is supposed that he found a watery grave. He was a man of eminent piety, great worth, and popular eloquence.

With this exception it is not known that he had any ministerial brother residing in Cumberland, or the adjoining counties, that could assist him in preaching to the Gaels. McAden, who preached in Duplin, could give him no assistance where the language of the Highlanders was the vernacular tongue.

How the congregations of the Scotch maintained so much of a spirit of piety and true religion, can be accounted for on no other principles, than the pious, devoted labors of Mr. Campbell and his elders, accompanied by the blessing of the Holy Spirit. The children were taught the catechism, and called to frequent examinations by the church officers; and the Bible was much read and family religion very generally maintained. These forms were kept up even after the spirit of godliness had much decayed, in the old age of Mr. Campbell, and by the confusion and strifes and bloodshed of the Revolution, which were felt in all their terrors on the Cape Fear.

Since the Revolution the congregations of the Scotch have been much better supplied with ministers than previously; but it is doubtful whether family government and religion are as carefully attended to now as in former days. One reason of the small supply of ministers, before the Revolution, may have been in the fact, that the emigrants, while in Scotland, had been accustomed to the division of the country into parishes by the civil authority, and the collection of the ministers' support by law, in some parishes having a qualified voice in the choice of their pastor, and in others possessing no right of choice worth naming. In Carolina, all interference of law was to divide the county into parishes for the establishment of the English National Church, to which these emigrants were greatly averse. After the revolutionary war, necessity led the Scotch to voluntary efforts for the support of their ministers, and these efforts were attended with success; and their descendants enjoy gospel privileges in as high a degree as any section of the southern and western States. The Scotch-Irish had been more accustomed to these efforts in Ireland, being left to provide for their own ministers by voluntary gifts, after they had paid what the law required for the national clergy. They were more active in Carolina, before the Revolution, than the Scotch; after that event, tine efforts of both are worthy of high commendation,


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