IN the year 1751, the
Rev. Samuel Davies, then residing in Hanover, Virginia, made an
excursion for preaching, to the Roanoke. In the course of his
journeyings, he became acquainted with Henry Pattillo, then a young man
desirous of commencing his studies in preparation for the gospel
ministry, and invited him to come and commence his course with him in
Hanover. This invitation Mr. Pattillo at first declined, as he had
engaged to go to Pennsylvania with another young man, and commence his
studies under the care and tuition of the Rev. Mr. John Thomson, who was
at this time in Carolina on a mission to the new settlements.
In the year 1744, in
compliance with a "representation from many people in North
Carolina—showing their desolate condition, and requesting the Synod to
take their condition into consideration, and petitioning that we would
appoint one of our number to correspond with them,—Mr. Thomson, of
Donegal Presbytery, was appointed by the Synod to correspond with them.
he was at this time on a visit to these petitioners, and others in
Carolina. Mr. Pattillo had once set out for Pennsylvania in the year
1750, but was seized by a pleurisy before he had proceeded half a clay's
journey, under the influence of which he labored the greater part of the
winter following. Of course his journey to Pennsylvania was given up.
While waiting in the summer of 1751 for Mr. Thom-son's return from
Carolina, the young roan who had engaged to go on with him to
Pennsylvania, abandoned the design of preparing for the ministry. Mr.
Pattillo then determined to accept the invitation of Mr. Daries, and on
the first of August, 1751, arrived at his house in Hanover, and "had a
On the 10th of August,
1754, while residing with Mr. Davies, he commenced a journal, a part of
which remains, the last date being, June 13th, 1757. He gives the
following reasons for commencing the journal: 1st (the beginning of the
sentence is wanting)—"My growth or decay in the divine life, and thus
the blessing of God be actuated accordingly. 2dly, I shall thereby more
accurately observe the workings of my own heart, and the methods the
Lord may take for my reclamation in my strayings from him. 3dly, This
may, through the divine blessing, have a tendency to promote my
watchfulness and diligence, seeing I shall have a daily sentence against
myself constantly before me, which I hope may tend to promote my
humiliation. 4thly, By observing the dealings of God with myself, I may
be the better enabled to deal with others, especially if the Lord shall
carry inc through learning, and call me to the work of the ministry.
Fifly, To mention no more, it may be of service to me in giving an
account of my state godward, if ever I should come on trial for the
ministry." He then proceeds to give some account of himself from his
birth up to that time. From the fragments which remain, the following
facts are gathered.
Born in Scotland, of
pious parents, who were well situated in point of religious privileges,
he was early placed with a merchant to learn the duties of the
counting-house. Providentially removed from the situation in which he
was placed, he was induced to seek for better things in the Province of
Virginia, a region to which many young Scotchmen turned their eyes with
empty pockets, and hearts full of hope. Here he engaged with a merchant
for a time, and felt in his absence from religious instructions and
restraints the overcoming power of temptation, which for a time
prevailed over his early instructions and pious resolutions. Leaving the
countinghouse, he commenced the employment of a teacher of children;
and while thus engaged his own reflections led him to painful and
alarming convictions of sin. He describes his state of mind thus: "On
the commission of sin, after I conceived the Almighty had partly forgot
it, or his anger somewhat abated, I would go and confess it with many
tears, and thus got ease—encompassing myself with sparks of my own
kindling. But I was taught by a book I got about this time, that I must
go farther yet, and enter into special covenant with God. Well, after
this I felt pretty secure, till, by the kind providence of God, I was
brought to a congregation of Presbyterians, where I had good books and
preaching pretty frequently." The effect of preaching, however, was not
to human appearance of much effect, except to make him see the
inconsistency of his course. After remaining a year in this
congregation, he removed to another and opened his school. Of his
exercises of mind and heart he thus writes: "Here, by what means I
cannot tell; it being so gradual, I got such astonishing views of the
method of salvation, and of the glorious Mediator; such sweetness in the
duties of religion; such a love to the ways of God; such an entire
resignation to and acquiescence in the divine will; such a sincere
desire to see men religious, and endeavor to make those so with whom I
conversed, that after all my base ingratitude, dreadful backslidings,
broken vows, frequent commission of sin, loss of fervor, and frequently
lifeless duties since that time, I must, to the eternal praise of
boundless free grace, esteem it a work of the Holy Spirit, and the
finger of God."
Prayer became "his very
breath," and he engaged in it as often as three or four times a day;
meditations on divine things filled his heart with joy. "I used, when
alone, to speak out in meditation, and do esteem it an excellent medium
to fix the heart on the work." He goes on to say about the continuance
of his exercises: "Thus I went on my way rejoicing and serving God for
the space of a year and a half; I was generally full of warmth, nor
could I take the Bible or any religious book into my hand but I would
find something suited to the present state of my soul, and in my
prosperity I thought I should never be moved."
He notices an error he
fell into about this time judging others' experience too much by its
agreement or disagreement with his own—his intercourse with men led him
to judge more favorably of his fellow professors, "having learned not to
make my own experience a standard for others, nor confine the Almighty
to one particular way of bringing his children to himself."
His desire to bring men
to Christ led him to frequent efforts in private to convince and
persuade; and from being thus engaged in private, he desired to be able
to preach the everlasting gospeI to all men. "I can boast of but little
success in these endeavors, yet my feeble attempts produced in me an
indescribable desire of declaring the same to all mankind to whom I had
access; and as I could not do this in a private station, I was
powerfully influenced to apply to learning in order to be qualified to
do it publicly."
In consequence of this
desire he prepared to go to Pennsylvania to commence his studies, but
was prevented by sickness; and, eventually, in the year 1751, went to
reside with the Rev. Samuel Davies in Hanover. With that eminent man he
pursued his studies till his voyage to England in the service of
Princeton College; and after his return, till the time of his licensure,
which took place at Cub Creek, then in Lunenburg county, Sept. 29th,
1758. The certificate signet! by Samuel Davies, Moderator, and John
Todd, Clerk, is preserved, though in a mutilated condition; its wording
is somewhat different from the form now used, as for instance—"he having
declared his assent to, and approbation of, the Westminster Confession
of Faith and Directory, as they have been adopted by the Synod of New
York, agreeably to the practice of the Church of Scotland," &c.
During his residence in
Hanover, he was sustained in part by the kindness of friends, and in
part by spending some hours each day in teaching, till the time of his
marriage to a Miss Anderson, which event took place in 1755. From that
time till his course of studies was completed he was sustained by
teaching children, and by the resources of his wife, living, as he says
in the last entry in the journal, June 13th, 1757, in a "house 16 by 12
and an outside chimney, with an 8 feet shed—a little chimney to it." On
the clay of this last date the chimney of the shed was shattered by
lightning, the rest of the house and the other chimney, which was much
higher, together with the eleven persons in the house, himself, wife,
and infant child, his wife's sister, six scholars and a negro boy,—all
In the absence of data
from his own hand, the following extracts from the Records of Hanover
Presbytery will afford information respecting this interesting man,-
"Hanover, 28th April,
1757. The Presbytery appointed Mr. Pattillo as piece of trial, to be
delivered next June, a sermon on Acts xvi., 43, first part.—"To him give
all the prophets witness:" and an Exegesis—"Num Peena Inferorum sit
aeterna." On the appointed day these were considered and approved.
Cub Creek, Sept. 28th,
1757. Mr. Pattillo opened Presbytery with a Lecture on Daniel, 7th
chapter, 19th to 27th verses: and a Sermon on the 27th verse of the same
chapter. He was then examined on Divinity, on his religious experience,
"and on review of sundry trials he has passed through, they judge him
qualified to preach the gospel; and having declared his assent to, and
approbation of, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechism, and
Directory, as they have been adopted by the Synod of New York, the
Presbytery doth authorize him to preach as a candidate for the Ministry
of the Gospel, and recommend him to the acceptance of the Churches; and
they order Messrs. Davies and Todd to draw up a certificate according to
the purport of this minute; and appoint (Alexander Craighead) the
Moderator to give him solemn instruction and admonition with respect to
the discharge of his office, which was clone accordingly."
Providence, 26th April,
1758. Petitions for supplies were considered. One from Hico—"formerly
under the care of the Philadelphia Synod—particularly for Mr. Pattillo."
Calls came in for him also from Albemarle, Orange and Cumberland. The
Presbytery agreed to (rive him till the next meeting to consider them.
Cumberland, 12th July,
1758. "Rev. Henry Pattillo and Wrn. Richardson have been set apart to
the work of the holy ministry, by fasting, prayer, and imposition of
hands,"—a certificate ordered. At the same meeting he was appointed
Hanover, Sept. 27th,
1758. Mr. Pattillo accepted a call from Willis, Bird and Buck Island.
With these congregations he remained about four years. At a meeting of
Presbytery, Providence, Oct. 7, 1762, he was dismissed from this charge,
the people "being unable to give him a sufficient support." In 1763, May
4th, at Tinkling Spring, he agreed to supply Cumberland, Harris Creek
and Deep Creek. With these congregations he continued about two years.
At a meeting of Presbytery, Hico, 2d October, 1765, a call for his
services was presented from Hawfields, Eno and Little River. This call
he accepted, and removed to the State of North Carolina, and there
served the church about thirty-five years in Orange and Granville
At a meeting of
Presbytery, Buffalo, Rowan county, N. C., March 8th, 1770, Messrs. David
Caldwell, Hugh M'Aden, Joseph Alexander and Henry Pattillo, and Hezekiah
Balch and James Criswell, united in a petition to Synod to be set off as
a Presbytery by the name of Orange,—"where two of our ministers reside,"
is given as the reason for the name. This year the counties of Guilford,
Wake, Chatham and Surrey, were set of to counteract the influence of the
Mr. PattiIlo continued
with the congregation of Hawfields, Eno and Little River, till the year
1774, when he removed.
In the year 1775 he was
selected for one of the delegates for the county of Bute (now Warren and
Franklin) to attend the first Provincial Congress of North Carolina. Its
sessions commenced August 20th, in Hillsborough. There were two other
ministers in the Congress, Green hill, a Methodist, from Bute, and
William Hill, the father of the present Secretary of State of North
Carolina, a Baptist from Surrey.
The last resolution on
the first day was, "that the Rev. Henry Pattillo be requested to read
prayers to the Congress every morning; and the Rev. Charles Edward
'Taylor every evening during his stay."
On the 29th of that month
Rev. Mr. Boyd presented to the Congress 200 copies of the Pastoral
letter of the Synod of Philadelphia on the subject of the war. They were
distributed among the members, and a sum of money appropriated to the
use of Mr. Boyd, by an order on the treasurers, from the public funds.
Dr. Witherspoon of New Jersey was Chairman of the Committee that
prepared the letter, which was unexceptionable in its principles, except
in one point, in which it is behind the movements in Mecklenburg,—it
speaks of reconciliation with the mother country as possible, but as a
consequent of a vehement struggle. It however exactly suited the
prevailing feeling in the Provincial Congress of Carolina, the majority
of whose members were not prepared to declare Independence at that time,
as appears from their proceedings on Monday, September 4th, on the
subject of the Confederation of the United Colonies.
"The Congress, resolved
into a committee of the whole, have accordingly and unanimously chosen
the Rev. Mr. Pattillo, chairman; and after some time spent therein came
a resolution thereon."
"On motion, Mr. President
resumed the chair, and Mr. Chairman reported as follows, to wit:"
"That the Committee have
taken into consideration the plan of General Confederation between the
United Colonies, and are of opinion that the same is not at present
eligible. And it is also the opinion of the Committee that the Delegates
for this province ought to be instructed not to consent to any plan of
Confederation which may be offered in an ensuing Congress, until the
same shall be laid before, and approved by, the Provincial Congress.
"That the present
association ought to be further relied on for bringing about a
reconciliation with the parent state, and a further confederacy ought
only to be adopted in case of the last necessity.
"Then on motion
resolved,-The Congress do approve of the above resolutions."
At their meeting next
spring in Halifax, 1776, the Congress took the ground of Independence
some two months before the action of the Continental Congress, as
related in the chapter on the Declaration of Independence.
It will be borne in mind
that Mr. Pattillo lived in the midst of the Regulators; that some of
their largest assemblages were in the bounds of his large field of labor.
And while there was more ignorance, than he wished to see, among his
charge, could they be an ignorant uninformed people?
In the year 1780, Mr.
Pattillo became the pastor of Nutbush and Grassy Creek, in Granville
county, and gave to them his last labors, ripened by age and experience.
These two congregations were composed at first of emigrants from
Hanover, New Kent, and King and Queen, in Virginia, converts under the
preaching of Rev. Samuel Davies and his coadjutors. Howel Lewis, Daniel
Grant, and Samuel Smith, were the leading persons in Grassy Creek. Mr.
Lindsey, Mr. Simms and Mrs. Gilliam, the leading ones in Nutbush.
It is the tradition that
the first sacramental occasion held by Presbyterians in Granville was in
1763, by William Tennant, Jun. By order of the Synod of New York and
Philadelphia the Presbytery of New Brunswick ordained him for a southern
mission in 1762. His reasons for not going that year were sustained. He
made a visit the next year, 1763, in obedience to the direction of
Synod-"to go and supply in the bounds, and under the direction of
Hanover Presbytery six months at least." The place in which the
ordinance was administered was an unoccupied house belonging to Howel
Lewis, about one mile and a half from where Grassy Creek Church now
stands. The congregations were, it is said, regularly organized by Mr.
James Criswell, who was licensed by Hanover Presbytery in 1765, and
supplied these congregations for some years. Mr. Pattillo was his
Mr. Tennant is
represented as being of a cheerful disposition. Finding Mr. Lewis in a
state of mental depression to which he was subject, and desponding on
the subject of religion, he made no direct effort to dispel the gloom,
but entered into cheerful conversation on the subject of salvation.
Hearing Mr. Lewis order the servant to take Mr. Tennant's horse and give
him some sorry fodder (that is corn blades)—"you give my horse sorry
fodder," exclaimed Mr. Tennant, as if he took the word sorry in its
usual signification, a pretty fellow indeed!" The suddenness of the
retort changed the whole course of feeling in Mr. Lewis: he burst into a
hearty laugh, and his depression was gone; and in his attendance on the
ministrations of the gospel from Mr. Tennant, received great comfort and
Like Mr. Tennant, Mr.
Pattillo was a cheerful man, but far removed from all levity. He says he
had a touch of melancholy in his constitution. his circumstances were
always narrow, and his generous feelings and numerous family prevented
much increase of his worldly possessions. His numerous calls as a
faithful and popular preacher, added to his vocation as a classical
teacher, hindered his pursuit of knowledge, of which he had an
unquenchable thirst. His health frequently became very delicate under
his continued and exhausting services; and in 1752 under the influence
of ill health, he made a will which is yet preserved, from which we
extract the following: "I adore the blessed Providence that more
especially watched over me and wonderfully governed my steps; that at
the commencement of my manhood rescued me from the ways of sin and the
paths of the destroyer; that made it good for me to bear the yoke in my
youth; that after many discouraging disappointments which I afterwards
found were merciful interpositions of divine goodness, my way was opened
to an education, and I was carried through it, though poverty and a
melancholy constitution darkened my prospects, and threatened to stop me
at every turn. The same divine goodness and free mercy that had thus far
indulged my ardent wish and daily prayer, that I might be qualified both
by heaven's grace and human learning to preach the everlasting gospel,
was graciously pleased to call me thereto, and set me apart by the
laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. Having, therefore, obtained
help of God, I continue to this day, having nothing to complain of my
adorable Master, for goodness and mercy have followed me all my life
long; but have to accuse myself that in ten thousand instances I have
come short of the glory of God, and have been a very unprofitable
servant, in not promoting to the utmost my own salvation and that of
others. And a great aggravation of this guilt is, that wherever I have
preached the gospel God has honored me with such a share of popularity
and the favor of mankind, as have opened a door for much more usefulness
than I have had zeal and diligence to improve. Look, gracious God, on a
creature all over guilt and imperfection, through the all-perfect
righteousness, wondrous sufferings and glorious resurrection of my Lord
Jesus Christ, on whom I cast myself for time and eternity.
"As to my mortal part,
let it return, when He that built it pleaseth, to the dust from whence
it was taken, and in the next burying-place to which I may die. I commit
it to him who perfumed the grave for his people's calm repose; who
acknowledges his relation to them even in the dust, and I am sure will
new create it by his power divine."
By a short will which he
mule Dec. 19th, 1800, not long before his death, it appears that in
1784, the "united Presbyterian congregations of Grassy Creek and Nutbush,
by their ruling elders, purchased of Mr. Thomas Williamson and others, a
tract of three hundred acres of land, on Spicemarrow Creek, whereon I
now live; and as the said elders commissioned and empowered the late
Colonel Samuel Smith as their agent to make a deed in fee simple for the
said land, to the said Henry Pattillo, which deed was proved and
admitted to record by the court of Granville county, at their May term,
1784, on the express condition of my continuing till death or
disability, the minister of said congregation." This condition was
fulfilled, and a small patrimony was thus secured to the family of a
laborious and successful minister of the gospel, who had neither
disposition nor opportunity to accumulate wealth.
Mr. Pattillo pursued and
finished his classical and theological course with Mr. Davies in
Hanover. Ir. Davies contemplated his spending some time in college. From
the short journal of Mr. Pattillo, we learn the cause why he never
followed out the design of his much loved instructor. At the time he
drew up his short account of his experience, August 10th, 1734, while
fir. Davies was absent on a voyage to England, he says—"I have thus been
supported by the mere bounty of others, which, to the praise of God be
it spoken, has always been sufficient, though on the receipt of one
supply, my faith has been frequently baffled to see where the next
should come from. My discouragements are chiefly these. The difficulties
of learning; the loss of at least one-third of my time, and Mr Davies's
voyage to Europe, which has left me without a teacher this year past;
together with the weakness of my faith in God's providence respecting my
support." Mr. John Blair was then on a visit to Mr. Davies's
congregation, as a temporary supply in his absence. Of him Mr. Pattillo
makes this short remark--"what a burning light he is!" In the few leaves
of the journal left, which gives here and there a notice up to June
18th, 1757, which day the remarkable thunder shower took place, as
mentioned above; he dwells mostly on his own Christian experience. He
makes no particular mention of Mr. Davies's presence, or family, or
preaching; mentions Mr. Todd's meeting, but says nothing of him—neither
names the persons with whom he was pursuing his studies in company.
On Monday, May 30th,
1755, he makes the following entry: "Agreeable to a plan agreed on among
us who are studying with a view to the ministry, this day is set apart
for fasting and prayer. Though my wants be so numerous that I could not
name them in a whole day—the principal blessings I am this day in
pursuit of are - 1st, Quickening and vivacity in religion; 2nd, That I
may pursue my studies assiduously, and that the great end of them may be
the glory of God, and the salvation of men; 3rd, That religion may
revive where it is professed, and spread where not yet known."
Some time in the summer
of 1755, he entered the married state. He had written to Mr. Davies on
the subject, and received an answer stating objections to the prudence
of the step at that time. The leaves of the journal on which the date of
these events, and the principal objections of Davies were recorded, are
lost. The opinion of his instructor overcame him, and he determined to
abandon the project, till he came to consider the situation of the
young lady he had addressed, and whose affection he had won; upon
reflection he determined to proceed in the business, and consummate the
marriage; believing it would not involve him in pecuniary difficulty;
that it would not hinder his further study; and lastly, "That Mr. Davies
was so well known in the learned world that a person finished by his
hand, would not come under contempt any more than many shining lights
now in the Church, who were educated before the college was erected."
That he pursued his
studies with success after he was ordained to the full work of the
gospel ministry and held a high rank as a classical teacher, is inferred
from the fact that the college of Hampden Sydney, Prince Edward county,
Virginia, in the year 1787, April 25th, while under the presidency of
John B. Smith, conferred upon him the Degree of Master of Arts. The
parchment is still preserved, and bears, in their own handwriting, the
signatures of the President,—and John Nash, Arch'd McRoberts, James
Allen, F. 'Watkins, Thomas Scott, Richard Foster, Richard Sankey, and
Charles Allen, Curators.
In the year 1787, Mr.
Pattillo issued from the press in Wilmington, a volume containing three
sermons, viz., on Divisions among Christians, on the Necessity of
Regeneration, and the Scripture Doctrine of Election. To these, were
added an Address` to the Deists, and an extract of a letter from Mr.
Whitefield to Mr. Wesley. He appears to have been fond of the use of his
pen, as far as his few hours of leisure would permit. A few manuscripts
remain: some Essays on Baptism; on Universalism; a Catechism of Doctrine
for Youth; and a Catechism or Compend in Question and Answer, for the
use of Adults. He also prepared a Geography for Youth, by way of
Question and Answer, which must have been superior to any printed volume
then in use. He also published a sermon on the death of General
Washington. For about twelve years he taught a classical school in
Granville part of the time on the place now occupied by M. J. Hunt, and
part of the time at Williamsburgh.
He continued to serve the
congregation of Nutbush and Grassy Creek, till his death in 1801, having
nearly completed his seventy-fifth year. He finished his course at a
distance from home, in Dinwiddie county, Virginia, whither he had gone
as a minister of the gospel. The Rev. Drury Lacy, in the sermon he
preached on the occasion of his death, says—"I was assured by the
gentleman, at whose house he finished his course, that he exhibited the
greatest example of resignation and tranquillity of mind he had ever
The text chosen by Mr.
Lacy was Romans xiv., 7 and 8; "For none of its liveth to himself, and
no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or
whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or
die, we are the Lord's." In giving the character of Mr. Pattillo, he
says—"Possessed of all originality of genius, and endowed by nature with
powers of mind superior to the common lot of men, he cheerfully
determined to consecrate them all to the service of the Saviour in the
gospel ministry. That the Scriptures were his delight, and that he
meditated on them day and night, so as to become well-versed in their
doctrines and precepts, all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance,
all who ever heard him preach, and all who have read his printed works,
cannot be ignorant. That he devoted his time and talents to the service
of God, his works of faith and labors of love among you, and, as far as
he had all opportunity, of travelling to preach, abundantly testify. His
zeal was so far from being diminished by age, that it evidently appeared
to increase; as if the near prospect of obtaining the crown animated him
to greater exertions to be found worthy of it. My hearers! can you have
forgotten the ardor and pertinacity of his prayers, the weight of his
arguments, the fervor of his exhortations, and the persuasiveness of his
counsels? Did he not visit your bed side when you were sick, and there
communicate heavenly instructions to revive your fainting spirits, and
pour forth the fervent prayer to God that your affliction might be
sanctified? And in the social intercourse of friendship, you must
remember how readily he improved every occurrence to communicate useful
and religious knowledge. That his life was a pattern of resignation and
thankfulness, has been remarked even by those who had but a slight
acquaintance with him. Always cheerful, he Seemed more disposed to
bless the ]land of providence for the favors he enjoyed, than to think
hardly of any afflictive dispensation he suffered. When was the tenor
of his soul so lost and discomposed as to unfit him for the discharge of
the sacred duties of his office?"
The following extract
front a letter respecting his last hours, shows the spirit of the
man:—"He had lain for several hours with his eyes closed, speechless,
and apparently insensible. One of his friends requested to ask a
question. Although it would have seemed hopeless to expect any remaining
intelligence, he had a curiosity and desire to make a last effort to
arouse him. Placing his mouth near his car, he asked, in a loud tone of
voice—"Where is your hope now?" The dying; man opened his eyes, and
raising both hands, extended his arms upwards, as if pointing toward
that heaven which had been the object of his fervent prayers, and to
which he had constantly looked forward as the place of his everlasting
rest." In a short time he entered into that rest.
Rev. John Matthews, a
member of the Hawfields church, who, like Pattillo, commenced
preparations for the ministry later in life than is usual, became the
Pastor of Nutbush and Grassy Creek, having received a call April, 1803.
His preparatory studies had all been under the direction of Dr.
Caldwell, of Guilford, and his license given him by the Presbytery of
Orange, at Barbacue, in the month of March, 1801, in company with Duncan
Brown, Hugh Shaw, Murdoch Murphy, Murdoch McMillan, Malcolm McNair, and
E. B. Currie, all like himself pupils of Dr. Caldwell. The two first are
still living in Tennessee.
Mr. Matthews left these
congregations in 1806, and removed to Berkeley county, Virginia. From
thence to Jefferson county and is now Professor in the Theological
Seminary at New Albany.
Leonard Prather supplied
them for a short time: but was soon deposed for intemperance.
His successor was the
Rev. E. B. Currie, who left Bethesda and Greers in 1809. He was also a
pupil of Dr. Caldwell. He served them till about the year 1819, when he
removed to Hawfields, and served that congregation and Crossroads till
about the year 1843, when his infirmities induced him to give up his
In 1822, Rev. S. M.
Graham entered upon the duties of pastor to these congregations, and
served them a number of years; he now holds the chair of a Professor in
the Union Theological Seminary.
THE CONGREGATIONS OF
HAWFIELDS, ENO, AND LITTLE RIVER.
Settlements of the
Scotch-Irish Presbyterians began along the Eno and the Haw rivers, about
the time that the colonies settled in that part of I,unenburg county,
Virginia, now called Charlotte, on Cub Creek and the adjacent streams,
which was about the years 1735 and 1739. It is supposed that these
settlements, and those in Duplin and New Hanover, were the places
visited by Robinson, who is supposed to be the first Presbyterian
missionary sent from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, that visited North
Carolina. No other notice remains of his visit, but the fact that he did
visit these parts, and underwent great hardships, from which his
constitution scarcely recovered. In all probability the "supplications"
for ministerial visits that were laid before the Synod of Philadelphia,
then the only Synod of Presbyterian clergy in the United States, came,
in part, from the bounds of Orange county, North Carolina. The troubles
and distractions that attended the divisions of the Synod soon after,
prevented, or interrupted for a time, missionary operations to any
extent, and then increased their number and their energy.
Mr. John Thomson, who was
appointed to correspond with the supplicants, a member of Donegal
Presbytery, visited them in person in 1751. On his journey to Carolina,
the arrangement was made with Mr. PattiIlo and another young man, to
return with him to Pennsylvania, and commence their studies in
preparation for the ministry. Mr. Thomson made a long stay, and in the
meantime the young man relinquishing his design of study, and Mr Davies
giving Mr. Pattillo an invitation to his house, the design of going to
Pennsylvania was abandoned. There remain no memoranda either of the
correspondence of Mr. 'Thomson with those desirous of ministerial labor,
or of his visit to them. Neither is there any document that may give any
particular account of the visits that were made by the various
missionaries sent out by the two Synods of New York and Philadelphia,
till the years 1755 and 1736, when Hugh M'Aden, a licentiate of New
Brunswick Presbytery, made a tour of a year, a concise journal of whose
journeyings and preaching is still preserved, and makes part of another
chapter. He visited the settlements on the Eno, and preached for them
the second Sabbath of August, 1755, lodging at the house of Mr. John
Anderson, whose grandchildren, some of them, still live on the Eno.
After a visit to Tar River, he returned to Mr. Anderson's, and on the
fourth Sabbath of August preached at the Hawfields. Of the Eno
settlement he says, they were "a set of pretty regular Presbyterians,"
who appeared at that time in a cold state of religious feeling. Of the
Hawfields settlement, he says, "the congregation was chiefly made up of
Presbyterians, who seemed highly pleased, and very desirous to hear the
word." The next year they applied to Hanover Presbytery for supplies.
These congregations on
the Eno and the Haw appear to have been not altogether regular in their
ecclesiastical matters, for, according to the statement of an old elder
of the Eno church, Mr. James Clark, who died a few years since, Mr.
Spencer and McWharter, in their mission to Carolina to organize and
regulate the congregations, attended to the organization of Eno.
However, this might refer only to their boundaries and separate action.
The first elders were Thomas Clark, John Tinnier, and Carus 'Tinnier.
The names of the first elders in Hawfields have not been preserved. Mr.
Pattillo was the first settled minister of these two congregations,
which have been the mothers of those now surrounding them, Little River,
New Hope, Fairfield, and Cross Roads. He came in 1765, and left them in
The second pastor, the
Rev. John Debow, from the Presbytery of New Brunswick, began to preach
in these two congregations, as a licentiate, about the year 1775, and
was ordained about the year 1776. his remains were interred in the
grave-yard that surrounds the Hawfields meeting-house. Under his
ministry there was a revival of religion, and a goodly number were added
to the churches. His death took place in the month of September, 1783.
The next regular minister
that remained with these congregations for a time, was Jacob Lake, the
brother-in-law of Mr. Debow. During his ministry the congregation of
Cross Roads was organized, being made up of parts of Hawfields, Eno, and
Stony Creek. He left the congregation about the year 1790.
His successor was the
Rev. William Hodges, who is said to have been a native of Hawfields.
Becoming hopefully religious under the ministry of Mr. Debow, he
commenced preparations for the ministry. After the death of his
spiritual father, he became discouraged, turned his attention to other
things, and married and settled in the congregation of Hawfields. During
the excitement which prevailed under the preaching of James M'Gready, on
Stony Creek, and along the Haw River, in 1789,. 1790, and 1791, Mr.
Hodges felt his desire to preach the gospel revive and spring up with
greater force than ever. Being licensed by the Presbytery of Orange, he
went heart and hand with M'Gready in the work; differing, however, so
much in his manner of preaching, that the people styled hire the "Son of
Consolation," and M'Gready, Boanerges. In 1792 he was ordained pastor
of Hawfields and Cross Roads, by Orange Presbytery. During his ministry
many were gathered to the church. About the year 1800 he removed to
Tennessee, and was there an active agent in the "Great Revival" that
spread over the South and West.
His successor vas William
Paisley, under whose ministry the great revival of 1802 commenced, at
the Cross Roads, an account of which is given under the head of James
111'Gready, and the Great Revival. The first camp-meeting in the South
was held at Hawfields, in October, 1802, and grew out of the necessity
of the case. The community was greatly excited on the subject of
religion, and multitudes, some from a great distance, assembled at
Hawfields for the fall communion services. The neighborhood could not
accommodate the numbers assembled, and their anxiety to hear the gospel
was too great to permit them to return to their homes; they therefore
remained on the around, camping with their wagons for three or four
days, getting their necessary supplies as they could. So great was the
interest excited, and so great the enjoyment, and the profit supposed to
be derived from the meeting, that the example was followed extensively
throughout the whole upper country of North Carolina. The custom of
spending three or four days encamped at the place of worship, during
communion occasions, extensively prevails to this day. Near most of the
churches, that follow this habit, cabins are built for the accommodation
of the worshippers, and for the season the whole neighborhood give
themselves up to the exercises of the meeting. In Hawfields, the
interest and attendance are yet unabated.
After serving the
congregations about twenty years, Mr. Paisley removed to Greensborough;
and is still able to preach occasionally, though, through infirmities of
age, he has declined being pastor of a congregation.
His successor, the Rev.
Ezekiel B. Currie, passed his early life in several different
congregations in Orange and Guilford counties, but chiefly on the Haw
River. His father lived for a time in Alamance congregation, in
Guilford; from thence removed to Sandy River, in the upper part of
Orange, near Randolph. During the war of the Revolution, on account of
time hostility of time tories in that neighborhood, he was compelled to
leave his home, and hide himself. Making a visit to his family he was
discovered and seized by the tories, wounded, and left for dead, and his
property carried away. The scars of these wounds, received in this
attack, he carried upon his head to his grave. After being broken up on
Sandy River, he removed to Haw River congregation, whose place of
worship was about three miles north of Gulls Grove, the old
burying-ground being still visible.
A remark made by an old
gentleman who had sat silently by the fire-side, while young Currie and
others were making merry one evening, was blest to awaken him to the
danger he was in as a sinner. When the company were about to break up,
the old gentleman turned to him and said—"Young man, when will you turn
to serious things?" This troubled his mind greatly. His conversion he
attributes, under God, to the ministry of Mr. M'Gready, for whom he
entertained the highest regard through his whole life. His education he
obtained from two sources, Dr. Caldwell of Guilford, and Mr. M'Gready.
The latter taught school at his residence, between three and four miles
below High Rock, about mid-way between his two places of preaching, Haw
River and Stony Creek. The principal part of his instruction, however,
was from Dr. Caldwell.
In the month of March,
1801, at Barbacue church, Cumberland county, Messrs. Ezekiel B. Currie,
John Matthews, Duncan Brown, Murdock, McMillan, Malcolm McNair, Hugh
Shaw, and Murdock Murphy, were licensed to preach the gospel by Orange
Presbytery. These had all received their education principally tinder
Mr. Caldwell, and were influenced more or less by M'Gready, to seek the
ministry. All were actors in the great revival of 1802, and onwards.
Four of them are still living; two of whom are honored with the title of
D.D., Brown and Matthews. Two of them were particularly useful in
building up the churches that now constitute Fayetteville Presbytery,
McMillan and McNair.
Soon after his licensure,
Mr. Currie went to Bethany church, in Caswell; to which Greers was soon
united. After spending about seven years in these congregations, he was
removed to Nutbush and Grassy Creek, in Granville; and from thence, in
the year 1819, to Hawfields and Cross Roads. About the year 1843 he
withdrew from the pastoral charge of these congregations, on account of
the infirmities of age, but still lives to preach occasionally, and to
witness the successful labors of his successor in these two
congregations, constituting one of the largest and most interesting
charges in North Carolina, which has been blessed with revivals from its
After Cross Roads was
united with Hawfields in the service of a pastor, Eno, which had at
first been its partner, was united with Little River, which became a
distinct congregation about this time, under the charge of Rev. James H.
Bowman, in the year 1794. In the great revival in 1802, and onwards, he
gathered a goodly number into his two churches. His ministry closed in
His successor was Samuel
Paisley, half-brother of Wm. Paisley, and son of an Indian captive, who
commenced his labors here in 1816. In 1821 the congregations were
blessed with a revival of religion that brought numbers into the church.
After some years of service, Mr. Paisley left them, and is now
ministering in Moore county, a member of Fayetteville Presbytery.
The Rev. Messrs.
Professor Philips, of the University, Elijah Graves, afterwards a
missionary, Daniel G. Dock, Thomas Lynch, and finally, John Paisley,
each served the congregation of Eno for a short time. The last finished
his earthly course in the congregation. Of him a member of the
congregation thus writes: "His labors, no doubt, were blessed, during
his short stay with us. The good seed he has sown seems to be springing
up; and even some sheaves ready to be gathered in; for in a few days we
expect a goodly number to come forward in that old church, and declare
themselves to be on the Lord's side." After expressing a desire that his
name may be remembered, he goes on to say, "he was not only a preacher
in the pulpit, but his daily walk and private conversation savored of
the spirit of his Master. His Bible classes were large, and his
examinations extremely interesting. But O, sir, we can't tell why it was
that he so soon finished his work. His Master called, and he, with his
lamp trimmed and burning, was ready to go. his disease, perhaps a
complicated one, baffled the skill of some three or four eminent
physicians. The anxiety manifested by his congregations, and all who
knew him, was great indeed. But it was the Lord's doing, and we must
submissively say, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."
The aged minister goes down like a shock of corn fully ripe; the
youthful servant leaves us in amazement, and wonder, and tears.
The Eno and Hawfields
congregations, extending from Hillsborough to the Ilaw River, were the
scene of many of the doings of the Regulators. Not a few of the people
were engaged in the proceedings of these slandered, yet brave men.
Understanding their rights of person and property, they could not
restrain their indignation udder the complicated and long-continued
impositions of those who, acting under the protection of the crown,
exacted unheard of taxes from honest, unsuspecting men; selling the same
piece of land to different individuals, and receiving the pay from all,
without redress; exacting pay over and over again from the same
individuals for the same tract, under various pretexts; and setting at
defiance all law and order. If these people had not resisted, they would
have been unworthy of their ancestors and the religion they professed.
That many base and unprincipled men took advantage of the disturbance
and distress, to commit heinous offences against the peace of society,
and in defiance of all law, is a thing to be lamented, but not to be
charged too severely upon men who were willing to live peaceably, and
would have been loyal had not "oppression driven them mad."
Tryon's march the day
before the Regulation battle, was through these congregations; and the
heavy oath of allegiance was exacted as the price of their property and
lives, after the governor's victory. Upon the conscientious part of the
community, that oath sat with a galling weight; although many felt
themselves relieved by the fact that the king could neither enforce his
laws nor defend his subjects yet some suffered under its influence
during the whole war—not daring to take tip arms for their Country, and
not disposed to enlist among her enemies. Such people often suffered the
ill-deserved odium of being tories, and felt the ill-effects of a bad
name. Few real tories were found in the Presbyterian population of
Orange. The most vehement enemies that Cornwallis met, had been under
the instruction of Presbyterian ministers. The first settled minister of
Hawfields and Hico sat in the first Provincial Congress of Carolina, and
on alarms, met with his people, to encourage them by precept and
example, to defend their country and their religion. Cornwallis found
Hillsborough and its neighborhood little less inviting than Charlotte,
which he named "the Hornets' Nest;" and very few grown men from
Hillsborough to the Haw, were unacquainted with service in the camp, and
marches, and plunderings, while his lordship remained in Orange. And in
the future history of Carolina, the war of the Regulation will stand
prominent as the struggle of liberty and justice against oppression, not
less glorious than Lexington and Bunker Hill, for the principles
displayed, though less honored for the immediate effects.