Found at Denver Public Library, microfiche, G975.6565 c844hi, Jun 26, 1996. A HISTORICAL SKETCH OF NEW HOPE CHURCH, In Orange County, N. C. (Revised Edition) By Rev. D. I. Craig, Reidsville, N. C. 1891
New Hope church, the cradle of my infancy and the church of my
fathers, has a history; and while much of it is involved in doubt and
uncertainty, yet much of it may be known and should not be lost or
forgotten. Therefore in my leisure hours I have felt it incumbent on me
to collect together certain facts and dates and put them into such
shape that they might be preserved for future generations. From my
childhood I have loved the dear old New Hope church and,
having always had a desire to know her early history, I have gathered
together much data in this pamphlet which I am confident is not
generally known. If I have made mistakes it has been done through
ignorance, and I hope by the help of others at some future day to
correct them. I know the work is imperfectly done, but I have the
consolation of knowing, also, that something, at least, has been
preserved, which otherwise
might have been lost forever. And humbly hoping that it may do some
good among kindred
and friends by way of strengthening their faith in the promises of God
and leading them to the Savior, I commit these pages to my brethren in
the Lord of New Hope congregation.
D. Irvin Craig Reidsville, N. C. May 22, 1886.
Since writing the first edition of this sketch, I have received numbers of letters from various persons, especially in the western states desiring copies of this little book. I could not supply them, as it was out of print and the limited number of copies long since exhausted.
In the meantime certain facts and data have come into my possession which will be interesting to the reader and are a valuable addition to the sketch. I am largely indebted to Mr. John A. Freeland, of Illinois, for much of the information.
I have endeavored to correct former mistakes and errors, and I hope the little book will find favor with all who are interested in it, and prove a blessing to the church.
D. I. CRAIG Reidsville, N. C. January 14, 1891
In my early days I have heard from the lips of some of the oldest inhabitants, stories told them by their fathers which well agree with these statements. I have heard of the wild swine growing fat on fruits and of the roads which were but Indian paths. I have been told that the road between the New Hope and Hawfields settlements was distinguished by notches in the trees. But it must be remembered that when Mr. Bancroft speaks of the first minister and the first church in North Carolina, he means the established church of England which was imposed by law. Whether there were not even in 1703, many rude buildings scattered through the country called "meeting houses," after the Quaker style, where the people met not only to worship God but for various other purposes, is a question, for the population increased very rapidly toward the close of the seventeenth century. But at this very time and long before, Scotlan the scene of endless commotions, oppressions, tyranny and bloodshed, arising from continued attempts to suppress conscientious convictions of truth and liberty, and many of the Scotch, who were almost exclusively Presbyterians, first fled to Holland and thence to Ireland, where they remained a number of years, when, by fresh oppressions they were driven to seek religious liberty in another clime; and, coming directly from Ireland to this country, they were called "Scotch-Irish." This was the original stock of the New Hope congregation. They were of the most fearless character and accustomed to the severest hardships. They were unpretentious in their manners and customs, and most unlearned, but as unbending as iron pillars in their religious sentiments.
It was late in the seventeenth century or very early in the eighteenth when the father of Gilbert Strayhorn -- a Scotchman -- immigrated to America and settled in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, about 12 miles east of Harrisburg. We know but little of this original family, the original name of which was "Streaughan" or "Streaghan." This was the Scotch spelling, but in the old deeds of this country, some of which are in my possession, the name was spelled "Strean." The name was also known and spelled, as will be seen hereafter, as "Strain."
I have learned through Mr. John A. Freeland, of Illinois, that in this family there was a brother older than Gilbert, whose name was David, and I will add that it is probable there was a third son, much younger than Gilbert, whose name was John. If this be true, there is ground for believing that the name of the Scotchman himself, the father of the boys, was Gilbert.
Gilbert his son, the patriarch, and the pioneer and father of the name "Strayhorn," was born at the aforesaid place in Pennsylvania in the year 1715 and was the father of all the Strayhorns in N. C. and many more who bear the same name in the western States. This man was one of the original founders of New Hope church, and it is not at all improbable that he was one of the original founders of Hawfields church at an earlier date. It was about twenty or twenty-five years after his birth in Pennsylvania a number of families, all of the Scotch-Irish stock, and bound together by the ties of relationship and one common heartfelt desire for religious freedom, left the old world in search of a new home. Among these families were the Craigs, the Blackwoods, the Kirklands, the Freelands and perhaps the Mebanes, the Tates, the Harts, the Nelsons, the Mitchells, the Johnstons, etc. I am almost certain the Craigs, Blackwoods and Kirklands and perhaps the Freelands, came across the Atlantic in the same vessel, for t hey seem to have been connected by relationship in the old country, and did not separate after landing in America until they were settled. Where they landed, I have no means of knowing but it is certain they located for a time in Pennsylvania. And precisely when they landed is a question over which I have labored hard and long, but have failed to find an answer which is perfectly satisfactory. But by comparing the dates of old deeds in my possession, together with certain family traditions and relics, I do not think I am far wrong -- indeed, I think I am correct -- when I say it was in the year 1741. From certain facts and dates in my possession, I am confident that it was not later than 1741 and not earlier than 1736 when these families landed on American soil. How long they remained in Pennsylvania I do not know, but it was not a great while, perhaps only a few months, or not more than two years. Pennsylvania at this time was sorely tried by the French and Indian wars, and it was chiefly on account of hostile Indians that they fled to North Carolina. It was in mid winter and as they passed through Virginia some of the rivers were so completely frozen up that they drove their teams over them on the solid ice. They refused to stop in Virginia, chiefly because the established church was there in full force. They finally reached North Carolina where they settled in the Hawfields and remained several years -- until about 1750 or a little later. Whether Gilbert Strayhorn came to the Hawfields settlement from Pennsylvania in company with William Craige, William Blackwood, Mr. Kirkland and others, I do not know; but if he did not come with them it was not far from the same time -- perhaps a little earlier. I have been informed by an uncle of mine, W. F. Strayhorn, who was a great-grandson of Gilbert, that he came to the Hawfields in the year 1740, and if this be true he was then twenty-five years old. He was a tailor by trade and after having lived in the settlement a short time, he returned to Pennsylvania and was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Roan whose mother was the widow Hunter. He immediately returned to the Hawfields and settled on the place where Calvin Tate now lives, about one mile south of Mebaneville. He lived at this place two years, during which time his eldest son, John, was born, (1742) and then he removed into the bounds of New Hope. It was not until the year 1754-5, however, that he got the deeds for his lands. It was about this time that he changed his name from "Strean" or "Streaughn" to "Strayhorn" and when asked the reason for the change he replied "I have simply put a 'horn' to it to make it sound." I heard of one or two other explanations of the change, but I am sure the above was his explanation and always told in a jocular way. It may be well to state just here an explanation of what has long been a mystery to me. I have always been told that the Strayhorns and strains were one family but I could never understand the connection. Mr. John A. Freeland of Illinois who is a grandson, on his mother's side, of Alexander Strain and who has a remarkable memory and states facts very concisely as told him by his ancestors, has made the matter very plain to me.
It seems that Gilbert Strayhorn's elder brother in Pennsylvania, whose name was David, had three sons. These sons came to N. C. in search of their uncle Gilbert, and after finding him in the neighborhood of New Hope, and they were no other than Alexander, John and James Strain. They found that their uncle had changed his name and not willing to adopt it, they retained their name of "Strain," or at any rate they were known by that name. It is now evident that Alexander and John Strain, whose names are recorded as elders of New Hope church before the year 1820, were nephews of Gilbert Strayhorn. John was also his son-in-law, having married his daughter Miriam. Mr. Freeland says the wife of Alexander, his grandmother, was a daughter of James Hunter, whose house was burned and himself outlawed by Gov. Lyons of revlutionary (sic) fame. The Hunter family fled and took refuge in the house of Gilbert Strayhorn, and it was there that Alexander Strain met and married his daughter. It is probable that James Hunter was a half brother of Gilbert Strayhorn's wife.
Wm. Craige settled on what is known as "the old Strudwick place" in the Hawfields where Addison Wilson now lives. I do not know where William Blackwood or Joseph Kirkland and others located before coming to New Hope. It was about this time -- not far from 1750 -- when it was rumored in the Hawfields settlement that the title grants which they had obtained for their lands through the agents of Earl Granville were not genuine. And as this impression grew upon the minds of the people, family after family left their premises and moved to other localities. This was the case with William Craige, Gilbert Strayhorn and others, who came to the waters of New Hope. It appears that while the Hawfields settlement was being filled up, the Earl Granville became deeply involved in debt -- by gambling, as the traditional story goes -- to one Lord Barrington, of London, and that he transferred to him for the debt a large scope of land on the Cape Fear river, and also the Hawfields settlements in North Carolina. And a short time afterwards, Lord Barrington being involved with Mr. Samuel Strudwick, of London, in like manner transferred the property to him. In after years one of the descendants of Mr. Strudwick came to North Carolina and settled where William Craige first lived. Many of the settlers did not and would not leave their premises, and this whole affair was a matter of litigation in the courts for many years afterwards. Perhaps William Craige and some others came to New Hope some two or three years before Gilbert Strayhorn, but all these families were undoubtedly connected with the first church built in the Hawfields. It is well known that the Rev. Hugh McAden was the first permanent Presbyterian minister in this section, though missionary supplies had been sent to North Carolina before him, and it is highly probable that some of these had visited the Hawfields. In Mr. McAden's journal appears the following note: "On Friday evening I rode to the Haw fields, where I preached the fourth Sabbath in august -- August 24, 1755, -- to a considerable population, chiefly Presbyterian, who seemed highly pleased and very desirous to hear the Word preached again on Tuesday; the people came out to hear quite beyond expectation." From this it appears evident to me that there was a house for public worship and perhaps had been for several years. Besides, he had come to the Hawfields from Eno, where he had preached August 10, 1755, and there seems to have been a house of worship there also. But my understanding as gathered from my ancestors has always been that Hawfields church was several years older than Eno. Therefore the first settlers of Hew Hope evidently left a church in the Hawfields when they removed, and it is well known that for a number of years afterwards they regularly attended service there -- a distance of at least twenty miles -- while Eno would have been much nearer. They clung to the old mother church, and long after a house of worship had been built at New Hope they still adhered to the Hawfields; and this accounts for the fact that New Hope church does not appear as a regular organized church until a number of years after its existence. Thus it will be seen that New Hope church not only sprang from the original church of the Hawfields but was a part of it, and the history of the one involves the history of the other. The early settlers of New Hope, consisting of the Craigs, Blackwoods, Kirklands, Freelands, Strayhorns, Harts, etc., were not only closely connected among themselves, but had intermarried with the Nelsons, the Tates, the Tinnins, the Mitchells, the Johnstons, etc., of the Hawfields, thus rendering the bond of union and sympathy between the two settlements the more close and lasting.
As has been stated, sometime not far from the year 1750 William Craige and others, together with their sons, some of whom were now married, determined to leave the Hawfields. They came into the neighborhood of New Hope, where they saw rich bottoms, numerous creeks and springs, spacious meadow lands and fine forest trees. They had an eye for the best lands, and here -- after weary wanderings, untold hardships, and anxieties of body and mind -- they were inspired with "new hopes," and at once determined upon their permanent home. They looked upon the prospect and called it a "New Hope." This is the explanation that has been handed down to me through generations, of the origin of the name of the stream which is called "New Hope" unto this day. But whether this or some similar circumstance lower down and at an earlier date, or whether it originated with the Indians, I do not certainly know. But it is of some importance to know the origin of the name of the stream, for whatever it may have been was likewise the origin of the name of the church. But this is the only explanation I have ever heard given, and it is perhaps the correct one.
The church is situated on the north side and about one mile from this stream, which takes its rise several miles west of the church. It flows in a south-easterly direction into the Cape Fear, and thence into the Atlantic ocean. For more than a century it was famous for its abundant production of fish, and at the present time few streams of like size yield a better supply or quality.
(1) Dr. Joseph Caldwell, in a speech delivered in Hillsboro in 1883 (?33), says that an early Company of Colonists from the Roanoke went out to make discoveries and found this stream and out to the joy and thankfulness of their hearts, exclaimed "New Hope." But this is traditional as well as the above.
Perhaps some of the readers of this sketch are not aware that "the province of Carolina, embracing what is now North and South Carolina, and extending westward to the Pacific ocean, was granted by King Charles II to eight lords proprietors; that these surrendered their right to the crown in 1729 -- one of them, Lord Carteret, afterwards Earl Granville, retaining his undivided interest in the soil, -- and at the same time two distinct provincial governments were established in North and South Carolina, and that in the year 1743 Earl Granville's interest was laid off in severalty, and embraced the northern side of North Carolina and as far south as the Montgomery line, or near to it, and this included the lands in Orange county. And though this proprietor retained no political power, his rights in the soil involved land offices and agencies, forming a sort of government within a government, and involving complications and burdens which added to those grievances which helped to prepare the way for the Revolution. This was the condition of things in 1750-54, when the lands around New Hope church were purchased directly from Earl Granville. They were bought at fair purchases, and not a title was stained by fraud or violence to the original owners. The oldest purchase in the vicinity of New Hope church was made by William Craige.
William Craige, as before stated, was a Scotch-Irishman, and born in the seventeenth century. He spelled his name with a final "e," which most of his descendants have dropped. He was married in the old country to Mrs. Margaret Long, the widow of George Long. Her maiden name was Margaret Logan. She had one child by Mr. Long -- a son, -- whose name was George, who came with them to America, and who shared equally with the Craig children. In after years a son of this boy, whose name was also George, m Isabel Craig, a daughter of John Craig, the eldest son of William. Thus it will be seen that this George Long and his wife, Isabel Craig, were the children of half brothers. This was the origin of the present Long family in the New Hope congregation, which has furnished the church with one ruling elder, George R., and two deacons, John J. and James D., -- all brothers. By this mother of the Longs, William Craige had five children, and at least two of them were born in Ireland, and perhaps four of them; for John, the eldest son, was a lad of some twelve or fourteen years old when they came across the ocean, while James was a little child in his crib not more than two years old. The names of the other three children were David, Samuel and Isabel. Samuel was the youngest child, and perhaps the only one born in this country. Some of these children were married about the time they came to New Hope. This was the original family of William Craige, who settled, lived and died about two or three miles west of the church, on the south bank of New Hope stream, on the lands now owned by Pendleton Cole, not far from a spring nearly opposite the mouth of Richland Fork creek. He "entered" and owned, together with his four sons, under the proprietorship of Lord Granville, all the lands on both sides of New Hope stream, several miles in width and extending up and down the stream, from the lands formerly owned by Baxter Davis to the present possessions of William Robson, on the road leading from Hillsboro' to Chapel Hill, embracing a large area of country south and west from the church. The date of his death is unknown, but he lived to be a very old man, and his body lies buried, together with the body of his wife, in the old Hawfields burying ground. This sacred spot of earth, where scores of the old settlers lie buried, has recently been plowed up and cultivated in corn, and the stones which marked many a grave have been rudely torn down and scattered over the fields. The perpetrator of this deed was Addison Wilson, who has recently been indicted in the courts and it is to be hoped will receive just punishment for such an outrage against humanity.
There are now no visible signs to mark the spot where the old house of William Craige stood.
John Craig, the eldest son, married Mary Blackwood, the daughter of William Blackwood, and settled "the Isaac Craig place," afterwards owned by J. N. Craig, and now the property of J. W. Cole. This place was settled about the same time or soon after the settlement of the old homestead. And this son, John, who was a few years younger than Gilbert Strayhorn, was one of the founders of the New Hope church.
David, who was perhaps the second son, married Nellie Turner, of the Hawfields, and settled what is known as "the Currie place," which was afterwards owned by J. N. Craig and others, and now the property of J. W. Cole. The site of the old settlement was near New Hope stream, on the north bank, and not far to the east of the public road.
James married Rebecca Ball, whose mother was a Miss Wilson, known as "Grandmother Ball." This old lady lived with James Craig until she died at an advanced age. She was an Irishwoman, and came from Pennsylvania with the Craigs. I have often heard of her remarkable small head, and have seen a cap she wore which was not too large for an ordinary baby. She had an ungovernable temper, and was wholly different from her daughter, Rebecca, who was noted for her deep piety and godly life. The settlement of James Craig, which was about a mile to the northeast from the old homestead, was known as "Richland Fork," and the first house stood just west of the fork, near the confluence of the two creeks, and in my boyhood was called "the old orchard." The last of the old apple trees have disappeared within my memory. The second house stood within the fork, and the walls of the third house, in which James Craig died, are still standing. This is the place where my grandfather, David Wilson Craig, was born, lived and died. And according to the old deeds this place was laid off and surveyed Dec. 4, 1754, "adjoining William Craig's own line," showing that he had made entries prior to this date. It was deeded Sept. 13, 1755, and proved in open court the same month. It was sold by William Craige to John Reaney June 6, 1756, and bought back from Mr. Reaney by James Craig, the son of William, in June, 1758. It has been in the possession of the family from that day to this.
Samuel, married Mary Johnston of the Hawfields, and settled on the old homestead at the place where Pendleton Cole lived and died.
Isabel, the only daughter of William Craige, married David Nelson, and removed to the Hawfields, where many of her descendants are still to be found. These were the early Craig Settlers and their places of residence.
The aforesaid sons of William Craige died, as follows: David, November 2, 1785. Samuel, September 21, 1790. John, February 6, 1816. James, July 21, 1821.Gilbert Strayhorn, as already stated, was a few years older than John Craig, the eldest son of William. And while the Craig's located about two or three miles to the south-west from the church on the waters of New Hope, this man settled about two or three miles to the north-east from the church on the waters of the Eno. The church was about midway between the two original settlements, and their lands joined not far from it. Gilbert Strayhorn's old homestead is now owned by his direct decendant, Will Strayhorn, who is in the fifth generation in direct line, both from his father and his mother. This is a singular fact, for William Strayhorn's grandfather on his father's side and his grandmother on his mother's side were both the grandchildren of Gilbert Strayhorn. The site of the old place is on the south side of the public road leading from Hillsboro to Durham and just opposite the present settlement. It appears from an old deed that this place was a part of six hundred acres granted by Earl Granville to John Wood in the year 1754, and bought by Gilbert Strayhorn in the following year, 1755. Other deeds show that Gilbert Strayhorn afterwards entered and bought lands until he owned, together with his sons, a large area of country, which was for many years called "the Strayhorn neighborhood." As above stated, these lands joined the lands of the Craigs on the waters of New Hope, and the church was situated on the border of the possession next to the Craigs. He lived to be eighty-eight years old, and his body lies buried in the old New Hope Graveyard. He and John Craig were the first elders and original founders of the church. He had eight children -- four sons and four daughters. His sons were John, William, James and David; his daughters were Nancy, Miriam, Sarah and Mary.
John, the eldest child, married Elizabeth Johnston, of the Hawfields, and settled the place where Robert Shields now lives.
William married Mary Tate, of the Hawfields, and afterwards Mary Hunter, and settled the place where David Strayhorn recently lived and died.
James married Rachael Cabe, and settled the place where John T. Hogan now lives.
David married ____ Cabe, and afterwards Penny Berry, and lived at the old homestead.
Nancy married James Hart, and lived near a spring just north of "the Bryant Strayhorn place," and afterwards at the place where Alexander Dickson lived and died.
Miriam married John Strain, and lived on the road a few miles north of Chapel Hill.
Sarah married William Ansley, and moved to Georgia.
Mary married John Cabe, who settled the place where William T. Shields lived and died.
Thus it will be seen that New Hope church was surrounded for miles in extent and in every direction by the possessions of the sons and daughters of William Craige and Gilbert Strayhorn.
William Blackwood, one of the first settlers, located to the south-west of the Craigs, and owned large bodies of land known to this day as "the big meadows." And to the east of these lands is quite an elevation, which has always been known as "the Blackwood mountain." It is my impression, without knowing just how I got it, that William Blackwood's wife, Betsy, whom he married in Ireland, was a sister of William Craige. But whether this be true or not, they were among the original settlers, and were members of Hawfields church before coming to New Hope. Their children were James, John, William, Martha, Mary, Peggy, Annie and Jennie.
James married and located some miles below Chapel Hill.
William married Margaret King, and settled on the old homestead and John moved away.
Martha married Charles Johnston, and Mary married John Craig, of whom mention has already been made.
Peggy married Joseph Kirkland, perhaps a son of the original settler.
Annie married a Mr. Morrow, of the Hawfields, and Jennie married a Mr. Allen, also of the Hawfields.
It was through the above mentioned son, William, that the name has been perpetuated in the New Hope congregation.
Joseph Kirkland was among the original settlers, and located to the west and south of Mr. Blackwood. Two of his grandsons, William and Joseph, married the daughters of Samuel Craig, Betsy and Isabel; and one of his grand-daughters, Martha, married a son of Samuel Craig, whose name was also Samuel. The Blackwoods and Kirklands have always been closely connected and identified with New Hope church. From her earliest history to the present day these families have produced a number of members and office-bearers. At the present time both families have a representative in the session.
The Freelands were also among the original settlers and were closely connected with the Craigs and Kirklands. The present Johnston family, on the waters of New Hope, is of somewhat later date, and on the father's side is of English descent. But both these families have long been identified with the church, and have furnished her with much valuable material. But at the present time George S. Freeland, a communicant, and C. W. Johnston, Esq., a ruling elder, are the only male representatives, together with their children, of these two families in the congregation.
The Geddes family, now spelled "Gattis," in their early history, belonged to New Hope church, but nearly all of them are now in the Methodist church. One of the descendants of the old Elder Alexander, is now a Methodist Minister, Thomas, by name.
William Burns, a weaver by trade, was early on the ground at New Hope, but the name is known no more. One of his daughters married James Craig, a grandson of William, and one of his grandsons moved to Texas.
There are now no male survivors in the congregation of the Mitchell and Hart families, which figured in the early stages of the church's history.
The Hogan family, in connection with the church, dates from about the year 1838, and at the present time one of her ruling elders is John T. Hogan.
The first church building erected, and which was called "New Hope," was situated in Orange county, five miles south of Hillsboro', and about one-fourth of a mile east of the public road leading to Chapel Hill. It was necessarily a very rude structure, corresponding with the almost new country and straitened circumstances of the original settlers. It stood just outside of the old graveyard at the north-west corner. As heretofore stated, it was built by a part of the original Hawfields congregation, and perhaps the first intention was merely to have a "meeting-house," convenient to the few families, where they might assemble when a minister by chance should visit them. This is a reasonable supposition, because it was quite a number of years after this house was built before the church was regularly organized. I have only traditional authority for saying that in this house Henry Patillo occasionally preached. And this also seems reasonable, for he was the first pastor of Hawfields and Eno churches, and as the New Hope people still adhered to the Hawfields, he was likewise their pastor. He came to the Hawfields in the year 1765 and left in 1774, and it is almost certain that this house at New Hope was built before he came to the field. But whether he or one of his immediate successors organized the church, and whether in this house or not, will perhaps never be known, though it is confidently believed that he did organize the church, and in this house. I may here state that the original records of New Hope church, together with the records of the first twenty-five years of Orange Presbytery's existence, were destroyed by fire in the house of Dr. John Witherspoon, which was burned the first day of January, 1827. This is a matter of deep though vain regret, as it necessarily prevents accuracy of dates and names, as well as the knowledge of much valuable information pertaining to the early church. But by taking into consideration all the facts which I have been enabled to collect, I am of the opinion that the first church building was erected about the year 1760. It is impossible to determine anything even approximating the time by any marks in the old graveyard. The first graves were marked with rough stones without any lettering, and I have been told that the first person buried there was a little child by the name of Steel, who was in some way connected with Gilbert Strayhorn. The oldest date I have ever been able to find is in the corner next to where the church stood, and reads as follows: "D.C. -- N. 2 -- 1785." My interpretation of this inscription is: David Craig; died November 2, 1785. The location of the graveyard contiguous to the church is presumptive evidence in favor of the belief that the church was organized here, and that this house was in use a long time. The location for both church and graveyard was very unsuitable, the ground being entirely too low and it would strike one as singular that they selected this spot while there are so many beautiful elevations all around. The land upon which this church was built, as well as all the succeeding one, was at this time the property of Gilbert Strayhorn, and whether the house was organized in this house or not, it is certain that he and John Craig were among the original movers in the transaction.
This house was located about two hundred yards to the south-west from the first building. It was on higher ground, a far better location, and about the same distance from the spring, which was to the north. It was built of large logs in octagonal shape, or rather it had eight corners, and seems to have been quite a roomy house. It was surrounded by large trees, some of which are still standing.
The forest at that time was composed of large trees, standing at considerable distance from each other, and the wild pea-vine, which grew luxuriantly, instead of the undergrowth which we now have.
Around one of these trees near to the church it was the custom of the congregation to stack their guns during the service, while a sentinel kept watch over them, and gave the alarm in case of the approach of Indians.
On one occasion at this church the alarm was given, and quite a number of red men were seen to approach within a short distance from the church and suddenly halt. The minister, who must have been the Rev. John DeBow, abruptly closed the services, and lit a pipe of tobacco, and smoked as he walked forth amid the confused and frightened congregation to meet the Indians. The pipe was offered to the chief of the clan, who received it and smoked, and then returned it to the minister. They immediately departed having understood this token as an emblem of peace. I have heard this story through a great-uncle of mine, Isaac Craig, whose mother, the wife of James Craig, was present on that occasion.
Perhaps the first preacher who had anything like a regular appointment at New Hope church was the Rev. John DeBow. He succeeded the Rev. Henry Patillo as pastor of Hawfields and Eno churches, and ministered to the people of New Hope as time and opportunity would permit. He was a young man of considerable talent, and came to his field of labor about the year 1775. He died Sept. 8, 1783, at the age of thirty-eight, and was buried at Hawfields church. I have seen his grave, and have been informed that he was the first person buried at the present Hawfields churchyard.
The next minister of New Hope was the Rev. Jacob Lake, who succeeded Mr. Debow, serving the churches in the same way until he left in the year 1790. He left the Presbytery in the year 1794, having been connected with it about ten years.
The next minister was the famous William F. Thompson, the first pastor of the church. This man was ordained at New Hope, and was doubtless installed pastor at the same time.
It is worthy of note that the first recorded meeting of Orange Presbytery now in existence is dated Nov. 18, 1795, and they met at New Hope church. This was the first meeting after Concord had been set off as a new Presbytery, and as I have already stated, all the recorded proceedings of the Presbytery before this were burned with the records of New Hope church. But according to this first record of the Presbytery now in existence, at this meeting at New Hope, the Rev. James Bowman was made moderator. William F. Thompson and William McGee were ordained, and John Gillispie was licensed. Robert Foster and Robert Tate were examined as candidates on parts of their trial. Robert Tate was an uncle of my grandfather, Samuel Strayhorn, and became one of the pioneer Presbyterian ministers in the eastern part of the state.
Mr. Thompson, according to my information, was a native of Connecticut, and continued to be pastor of New Hope church until Nov. 12, 1799, when he resigned his charge at a pro re-nata meeting of the Presbytery held at Cross Roads church. He left the bounds of the Presbytery, and in April, 1802, he was suspended from the ministry for false charges made against the Presbytery. He was a shrewd man, and during his ministry at New Hope he aroused the people to give more attention to schools, and from that time through many years afterwards a school was generally kept up at the church.
It was soon after Mr. Lake's departure that Gilbert Strayhorn, who was now an old man, made a deed of gift "to the subscribers of the church and their successors" of two hundred acres of land. This deed was signed and sealed by Gilbert Strayhorn the 25th day of Feb., 1792. At the instigation of Mr. Thompson a parsonage was built at the place where William C. Claytor now lives, and a large portion of the aforesaid two hundred acres of land was laid off as a farm to be attached to the parsonage. But at the departure of Mr. Thompson this land, in some way, passed out of the hands of the church, and also another portion, after his departure, went in the same way, leaving only seventy acres of the original tract belonging to the church. There has been a great deal said about these transactions, and a great many conflicting statements have been made. On the one hand, it has been claimed that the instrument of writing which Mr. Thompson drew up as a mere statement of the boundaries of the pastor's farm, which the elders unwittingly signed, proved to be a bona-fide deed to him, and that he sold the land on leaving the congregation. On the other hand, it has been claimed that the elders of their own free will sold the land, and perhaps appropriated the money towards the building of the third church, or in settling arrears with Mr. Thompson.
Since writing the first edition of this pamphlet, I have seen the old deeds, which will forever set the matter at rest as to who sold the lands, but the question of right or wrong in the matter still remains.
On the twentieth day of Sept., 1799, the Rev. William F. Thompson made a deed to John Strayhorn, son of Gilbert, for one hundred acres of land, more or less. I have seen this deed, and never in my life, have I seen a more perfect and beautiful work of penmanship. In it Mr. Thompson says, "Said lands were conveyed and made over to me by him, said Gilbert Strayhorn, etc." Upon this statement alone it is evident that the whole transaction was a fraud, and yet there are some strange facts connected with it.
It will now be remembered that Gilbert Strayhorn made a deed of these said lands to "the subscribers of New Hope church, and to their successors forever," on the 25th day of Feb., 1792. This was three years before Thompson came to New Hope, for he was ordained and became pastor in Nov., 1795, and he left in 1799 -- the year in which he sold the land. Now the question is, what right had Gilbert Strayhorn to make a deed to Mr. T(h)ompson, -- or who will suppose that he did do so -- after having already deeded the lands three or four years previous to the church?
Mr. Thompson says, "conveyed to me by him, per deed, etc." It is a standing fact that no such "per deed, etc.," has ever been seen or recorded.
One of the strange things connected with the matter, is the fact that Gilbert Strayhorn was still living in 1799, and we would naturally expect that he would have exposed the fraud; but he was in the decrepitude of old age and incapacitated for business and perhaps knew nothing of the transaction, and the presumption is that the congregation neither knew nor cared concerning the matter, and so it passed away without special notice. And as to John Strayhorn the purchaser, who was a son of Gilbert, it seem that he would have known better and prevented any fraud, but some one has said, "he may have wanted the land very bad." I am confident the deed was a forgery.
The other portion of land, seventeen acres, in the southwest corner of the tract, was sold by the elders and subscribers of New Hope church, -- "after mature deliberation and consultation," for church repairs, on the 17th day of May, 1817. This was an honest transaction, but I am of decided opinion that they had no right to do so, according to the deed of 1792. It was sold to Samuel Strayhorn, a son of John, who now owned the Thompson tract. The deed was signed by ruling elders James Hart, John Freeland, James Strayhorn, John Strain and Alexander Strain; and by subscribers William Strayhorn, John Strayhorn, David Strayhorn, Alexander Gattis, George Johnston and Andrew Burns.
The wrong that may have been perpetrated is a matter to be regretted, but it is sheer folly for anyone at this day and time to think of attempting the resurrection of those transactions. For whether it was right or wrong, or in accordance with the intentions of the donor or not, the right of possession has long since confirmed these transactions. The agitation of the question of reclaiming these lands can never amount to a row of pins towards accomplishing that end, and will be productive of no good, but great harm, and therefore ought to be sedulously avoided. And in view of the past, it is some consolation to believe that the remaining seventy acres, upon which all of the churches have stood, will never pass out of the hands of the congregation.
The next minister who served the church in the second house of worship was the Rev. James H. Bowman. From the Presbyterial records I learn that in the year 1799 his charge was Eno and Little River. In the year 1800 he was sent as a missionary to the west, and returned in the fall of 1801, and perhaps came to New Hope in the year 1802. He was wholly different from Thompson in many respects. He seems to have been deeply pious, of considerable learning and much engaged in teaching school in connection with his preaching. If I have been rightly informed he taught school at New Hope during his ministry as stated supply to the church. My grandfather, and others whom I have known, remembered him well, and his preaching. His ministry closed, or rather he left the Presbytery, in the year 1815. He was perhaps the first man who preached in the third house of worship, and he seems to have been greatly beloved by the people, and spent much of his time in pastoral visiting among them.
I am not aware of the causes which about this time led to the building of a third church. Perhaps the old one was dilapidated from age or it may be that the advanced ideas and tastes of the congregation demanded a new church. In the year 1800 there was a great revival at New Hope and the people came from great distances and camped for days on the ground. They preached and prayed and sung and shouted, and the spirit of the revival spread far and wide into other neighborhoods. It was perhaps the fruit of this revival which largely prompted the building of a new church.
This house was located about two hundred yards to the south-east from the second. The situation was still more desirable than the second, and the spring, which was heretofore on the north, was now deserted for an elegant one on the south, which bubbles out of a solid rock. This third church was built in the year 1806, and destroyed by fire on the night of March the 9th, 1862. The origin of the fire which destroyed it has always been a matter of conjecture, but most generally believed to have been the work of an incendiary. It occurred on Saturday night, and I well remember the peculiar and almost comical expression on the face of the Rev. Dr. James Phillips, when he walked up and stood around the smouldering ruins on Sabbath morning. But the want of a house did not prevent the beloved old doctor from preaching the gospel that day. The people assembled under the trees and quietly listened to a most excellent sermon from the 119th Psalm and 101st verse. The last sermon preached in this house was by the Rev. Dr. Charles Phillips on a public "fast day," February 28th, 1862, the text from "The wages of sin is death." In many respects it was not so good a house as the present one, but answered all the purposes for more than fifty years. The pulpit was in the west end which was a high structure with several steps ascending up into it, and which elevated the preacher much above the people. There was a gallery attachment at the east end for the accommodation of the colored people, and under this gallery was a door of entrance, but the chief door was on the south side.
In this house, after Mr. Bowman had left, and about the year
1815, the Rev. Robert H. Chapman served the people as stated supply.
The Rev. Elijah Graves succeeded him, and preached from November, 1818, until April 1820. He was a great temperance reformer, and many signed a pledge under his preaching
The Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon frequently preached at New Hope about this time, and occasionally during a number of years after this date.
These brethren were located at Hillsboro, and engaged in teaching in connection with the church there, and they supplied New Hope as time and opportunity would permit.
We have now reached a point in the history of the church from which we can be more accurate in dates and names, for henceforth there is a full record of all the proceedings of the church
"New Hope Church, "April 22, 1820.
"Session met. Present: Rev. S. K. Kollock, Mod.: James Strayhorn, John Strain, James Hart, John Freeland.
"Rev. Mr. Witherspoon being present was invited to take a seat as a member of the session. "Mr. Kollock laid before the session the resolution of the Presbytery 'recommending all the churches under their care that had been vacant for some time to be re-organized and newly regulated.' It seemed upon inquiry that there was no record of the members of the church, and that owing to the want of stated preaching but little discipline had hitherto been exercised. Therefore,
"Resolved, That on to-morrow the church be re-organized and the members be admitted by a public assent to the articles of faith and covenant to walk as disciples of Christ."
On the next day it appears that the following came forward and assented to the covenant:-- Ruling Elders -- John Strain, James Hart, James Strayhorn and John Freeland. Members:-- Alex Gattis, Samuel Faucett, Rebecca Craig, Sr., Rebecca Craig, Jr., Penelope Strayhorn, Elizabeth Currie, Jane Freeland, Elizabeth Davis, Margaret Craig and Elizabeth Faucett.
Aaron Hunter and Jane McCauley seem to have been members, but were not present on that day.
It appears from the above minutes the Rev. Mr. Kollock was at this time pastor, though there is no mention made of his installation. His home was in Hillsboro and he preached at New Hope in connection with the Hillsboro church until 1825, when we find the following note in the minutes:-- "In May 1825, the connection between Mr. Kollock and the New Hope congregation was dissolved. He was succeeded by the Rev. Elijah Graves as stated supply."
Mr. Graves began to preach at New Hope the second time in November, 1825, and continued to be the regular minister until May, 1831, when the co-laborers, Rev. Daniel L. Russell and Rev. John S. McCutcheon began their ministrations.
These brethren were missionaries or evangelists, and unitedly preached at New Hope from November, 1831, until March, 1832.
They were immediately followed by the Rev. Phillip Pearson, who remained until October of the same year.
It was during this time -- from November, 1831, until November, 1832 -- that the church enjoyed a great and gracious revival of religion under the ministration of these three brethren. Numerous and substantial tents were built upon the grounds, and the people came from all quarters, and lived in them for weeks at a time in order to attend the meetings. The record shows that there were at least seventy persons admitted to the communion about this time, and Dr. John Witherspoon seems to have been present at most of the sessional meetings.
The next regular stated minister after Mr. Graves was the Rev. George W. Ferrill. He was unanimously elected pastor March 23, 1833, and was installed soon after. He continued to preach at New Hope until July, 1836, when the pastoral relation was dissolved. He is still living at his home in Granville county, but is very old and infirm, and has long since ceased to attend the church courts.
He was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. James Phillips, who began to preach at Hew Hope as stated supply in August, 1836, and he continued to serve the church in this relation until December, 1865. He served the church a longer period than any other one man, and was greatly beloved by the congregation. When he ceased to preach at New Hope -- about thirty years having passed away -- the congregation was in a great measure a new generation from that which was present when he began his labors there. His life story as a professor in the University of North Carolina, as well as a preacher of the gospel, are well known, not only in this State, but throughout the South. For a long time during the early history of Chapel Hill there was no Presbyterian church in the village, consequently the people of New Hope enjoyed the preaching of this pious and learned man almost every Sabbath for quite a number of years. He was a pure Englishman, and never failed to betray it by his peculiar brogue. His name and memory are still precious in the congregation -- especially with those who knew him best.
His son, the Rev. Dr. Charles Phillips, united with the church at New Hope March 27, 1842, and in after years, when he became a minister, often preached there in connection with his father. He was ordained at New Hope in 1866. He was one of the brain( i )est men that North Carolina ever produced. His life work was teaching and yet, he was a most powerful preacher -- big hearted and had the symplicity(sic) of a child in his manner and illustrations.
The Hon. David L. Swain also first united with the church at New Hope, and both he and Dr. Charles Phillips were dismissed by certificate to join the church at Chapel Hill October 26th, 1845.
As before stated, it was on Sunday morning of March 10th, 1862, when Dr. Phillips and the congregation came together to find the old church a smouldering (sic) heap of ruins. At that time the civil war was the all absorbing theme, and the hearts of the people were filled with sadness -- both on account of the desolation upon the battle-fields and the destruction of their cherished old landmark -- the church of their fathers. This house had stood in tact since the year 1805, but it was now a thing of the past. But the people were not discouraged and took immediate steps towards building a new church. In the meantime a large arbor was erected on the grounds, under which the people worshipped during the summer of 1862.
This house stands about twenty steps to the northwest from the site where the third was burnt. It is a very neat and comfortable country church, and capable of seating an ordinarily large congregation. It was built in war times with Confederate money, when it required a large amount of money to pay for a small amount of work. David Craig, a ruling elder, who still lives, was an active mover and the chief manager in its erection. Within the last year it has been painted, and its appearance much improved. This house forms a water shed between the streams of Eno and New Hope, or the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers.
The Rev. Dr. James Phillips preached the first sermon in this house to a large congregation on Sunday, the 25th of October, 1863, from the text, Isaiah 35:8.
After Dr. Phillips ceased to serve the church -- in 1865 -- the Rev. Thomas Lynch became stated supply, and served the church from February, 1886 (sic, 1866), until the winter of 1867.
It was during this period that the Presbytery of Orange last convened at New Hope -- April 11th, 1856 -- at which time the Rev. Drs. Charles Phillips and Calvin H. Wiley were ordained, sine-titulo.
After Mr. Linch the Rev. Henry B. Pratt, supplied the church for the space of six months in connection with church at Hillsboro. He was a foreign missionary, and spent most of his life in South America. He began to preach in May 1868, and on the 24th day of said month and year the writer of this sketch, together with John T. Hogan, Caroline Strayhorn, Elizabeth and Isabel Kirkland, were received and baptised as members of the church. And the first sermon I ever preached in this church was from 2 Cor. May 20th, 1877.
After Mr. Pratt the church was supplied during a part of 1869 and 70 by the Rev. A. Kirkland.
In 1870 the Rev. T. U. Faucett became stated supply, and served the church until the fall of 1872.
The Rev. C. N. Morrow preached for a short while in 1873 and Rev. J. L. Currie a short while in the year 1874.
In August 1874, the Rev. P. H. Dalton became stated supply, and served the church in this relation until January 6th, 1884, when he was installed pastor. In February 1786 (sic, 1886), he offered his resignation of the pastoral charge, which was not accepted by the great majority of the congregation, and he still continued to be pastor of the church until December 1886, when the pastoral relation was dissolved. Mr. Dalton united with the church at New Hope while a student at Chapel Hill, September 4th, 1842, and his membership has never been removed. During his ministry at New Hope for the past twelve years, according to his own statement, there have been at least fifty additions to the membership, the congregation having largely increased, and several families have been brought in which had no connection with the church. In closing a recent letter to the writer he says "I have worked hard, and under unfavorable circumstances, but god has blessed my labors."
Before the departure of Mr. Dalton there arose trouble in the church which seemed to be chiefly confined to the session. They could not agree touching many points, and did not act harmoniously among themselves. The church remained vacant about one year, during which time the Presbytery sent a commission to the church which apparently settled all existing troubles.
In March, 1887, Rev. James L. Currie was installed pastor, which relation existed until November, 1889, when it was dissolved.
During this short pastorate fresh troubles arose which involved certain members of the church and session. A case growing out of the settlement of an estate by a member of the congregation, and which properly belonged to the civil courts, was allowed to come before the session. This case was finally adjudicated by an adjourned meeting of the Presbytery, March 5th, 1889, and the result only widened the breach in the session and intensified a spirit of bitterness on the part of certain members.
Whereupon a private member of the church, Mr. David A. Claytor, originated and executed a petition signed by a large majority of the church, asking the entire bench of active elders to resign, namely: Messrs. John T. Hogan, Chas. W. Johnston, William C. Claytor, Samuel D. Blackwood, Samuel Kirkland and Leroy Craig.
Ruling elder David Craig, who is now an old man and infirm, and who enjoys the confidence, love and esteem of the entire church, was not included in this petition. The three first named elders expressed their willingness to resign, the three last named refused.
The petition was then sent up to the Presbytery. The Presbytery met at the church in an adjourned meeting May 16, 1889; after hearing all the parties, dissolved the relation as elders between all the aforesaid six brethren and the church and ordered a new election.
The election was held May 25, 1889, and was presided over by the Rev. F. H. Johnston, D. D. Messrs. Chas. W. Johnston, John T. Hogan and Wm. C. Claytor were re-elected -- a majority of the ballots cast determining the number elected, as well as the men chosen. These brethren were re-installed in the presence of a large congregation.
Another adjourned meeting of the presbytery was held at the church in the summer of 1890, in order, if possible to reclaim certain disaffected and absenting members.
The next pastor called to New Hope church in connection with Chapel Hill, was Rev. James E. Fogartie, who was installed Nov. 30, 1890. About this time Rev. Dr. W. D. Morton and Rev. Mr. Maxwell, synodical evangelists, conducted a meeting at New Hope with blessed results. Quite a number have been added to the church, and Mr. Fogartie, the new pastor, has already won the hearts of the people.
It is to be devoutly hoped that the church in the future, "forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, will press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," and go on to grow, and to prosper, and to conquer, through him who, "loved the church and gave himself for it."
THE NAMES OF THE MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH And the Date of Their Labors
|Rev. Henry Patillo, Organizer||About 1765|
|Rev. John Debow, Stated Supply||1775|
|Rev. Jacob Lake, Stated Supply||1785|
|Rev. Wm. M. Thompson, Pastor||1795|
|Rev. James H. Bowman, Stated Supply||1802|
|Rev. Robert H. Chapman, Stated Supply||1815|
|Rev. Elijah Graves, Stated Supply||1817|
|Rev. Shepherd K. Kollock, Pastor||1820|
|Rev. Elijah Graves, Stated Supply||1825|
|Rev. Daniel L. Russell, Evangelist||1831|
|Rev. John S. McCutcheon, Evangelist||1831|
|Rev. Philip Pearson, Evangelist||1832|
|Rev. George W. Ferrill, Pastor||1833|
|Rev. James Phillips, D. D., Stated Supply||1836|
|Rev. Thomas Lynch, Stated Supply||1866|
|Rev. Henry B. Pratt, Stated Supply||1868|
|Rev. Alexander Kirkland, Stated Supply||1869|
|Rev. Thomas U. Faucett, Stated Supply||1870|
|Rev. Calvin N. Morrow, Stated Supply||1873|
|Rev. James L. Currie, Stated Supply||1874|
|Rev. Pleasant H. Dalton, Stated Supply||1874|
|Rev. Pleasant H. Dalton, Pastor||1884|
|Rev. James L. Currie, Pastor||1887|
|Rev. James E. Fogartie, Pastor||1890|
From the time the church was organized -- most probably by Henry Patillo, and about 1765, -- until the year 1795 the following persons were known to have been elders: Gilbert Strayhorn, John Craig, John Mitchell, Robert Baker, Mr. Gill, Alexander Strain and James Hart. There may have been others whose names I have never learned, but these were elders during the first thirty years of the church's history. And of these Messrs. Mitchell, Baker and Gill have left no representatives. The Mitchells were connected with the Faucetts, and the latter family was three times afterwards represented in the session, but this family also has ceased to be found in the congregation.
About the year 1795 the following three persons were ordained and installed elders, and they -- with James Hart -- constituted the entire session at the re-organization of the church in April, 1820. They were James Strayhorn, John Strain and John Freeland.
Gilbert Strayhorn and John Craig were now dead -- the former having died Feb. 6, 1803, and the latter Feb. 19, 1816. The one was 88 years old and the other was about 90. It will now be noticed that the above named James Strayhorn was a son of Gilbert. James Hart married his daughter, Nancy; John Strain was his nephew and married his daughter, Miriam, and John Freeland was in some way closely connected with John Craig.
From the minutes of Orange Presbytery I learn that John Craig attended the Presbytery at Hawfields in April, 1796; John Freeland at Buffalo church in September, 1796; John Strain at Raftswamp church in March, 1797; Mr. Strayhorn at Hawfields in October, 1797. I cannot tell whether this was the father or son, as the christian name is not given. James Hart attended at Alamance church in September, 1798, and John Mitchell at Eno church in March, 1799. From these facts it is evident that the four above elders, who were present at the re-organization of the church in 1820, were ordained about the year 1795.
The next ordination occurred Oct. 15, 1820, when the following three persons were added to the session: Alexander Gattis, Samuel Faucett and Gilbert Strayhorn. The latter was a grandson of Gilbert, the old elder, and a son of William.
The next ordination occurred Feb. 1, 1832, when the following five persons were added to the session: William Brown, Alexander Strain, Samuel Hart, David Hart and Allen Petty. Again it will be noticed that two of these -- the two Harts -- were the grandsons of Gilbert Strayhorn. Mr. Strain was a son of Alexander. Of the other two there is neither name nor representative in the congregation at the present time.
In May, 1836, John R. Faucett was received and installed an elder from the Cross Roads church.
The next ordination occurred May 9, 1840, when the following four persons were added to the session: George A. Faucett, David Craig, William C. Blackwood, and Joseph Kirkland. And again it will be noticed that David Craig is a grandson of John Craig and a great-grandson of Gilbert Strayhorn. And all of these four, except Mr. Faucett, were the great-grandsons of William Craige, and Joseph Kirkland was the father of the present Rev. A. Kirkland.
In September, 1859, the following five persons were ordained and installed elders: Samuel S. Claytor, Alexander Dickson, William S. Kirkland, Bryant Strayhorn and George R. Long. We will note again the connection with the old elders: Bryant Strayhorn was a grandson of Gilbert, and his wife Mary Strain, was a granddaughter. Mr. Kirkland was a great-grandson of William Craige, and married a great-granddaughter of Gilbert Strayhorn. Mr. Long was a grandson of a grandson of John Craig. Mr. Claytor was in some way connected with the Strayhorns through the Cabes.
In June, 1871, John T. Hogan and Samuel D. Blackwood were ordained and added to the bench of elders. Here again Mr. Hogan is a direct descendant of the old elder, John Freeland, and married a great-granddaughter of Gilbert Strayhorn. Mr. Blackwood is a grandson of a daughter of John Craig, and married not only a great-granddaughter of John Craig, but a granddaughter of the grandchildren of Gilbert Strayhorn in direct line from both her father and mother.
The next ordination occurred July 8, 1877, when William C. Claytor, Nettleton G. Craig and Charles W. Johnston were made elders. Mr. Claytor is a son of the elder ordained in 1859. Mr. Craig was "a choice young man" -- born Jan 16, 1849, and died May 2, 1879, -- and a great-grandson of John Craig, and a great-great-grandson of Gilbert Strayhorn in direct line from both his father and mother. And Mr. Johnston is a grandson of Gilbert Strayhorn's daughter, Mary, who married John Cabe.
The next and last ordination of elders at New Hope occurred July 17, 1879, when Samuel Kirkland and Leroy Craig were added to the session. Mr. Kirkland is a great-grandson of William Craige, and his wife is a granddaughter of John Craig and a great-granddaughter of Gilbert Strayhorn. Mr. Craig stands in the same relation to John Craig and Gilbert Strayhorn as that described above in the case of Nettleton G. Craig.
Thus ends the long list of elders who have officiated in the affairs of New Hope church, and I hope I will be pardoned if I here record my own name, David Irvin Craig, -- a great-great-grandson of both William Craige and Gilbert Strayhorn. I was born Feb. 11, 1849; studied at Davidson College, and graduated at Columbia Theological seminary, S. C., May 8, 1878, was licensed to preach the gospel at Greensboro, N. C., May 31, 1878, and was ordained and installed pastor at Reidsville, N. C., June 1, 1879, where I still abide.
I have already called attention to the fact that the Rev. Robert Tate was a grandson of Gilbert Strayhorn.
The Rev. G. A. Russell, of Tenn., and the Rev. Andrew Craige were both grandsons of John Craig, and the Rev. Alexander Blackwood and Rev. Alexander Kirkland both sprang from New Hope church, also Rev. Braxton Craig, a Baptist minister, and Rev. Newell Strayhorn, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister in Austin, Texas. I have also been reliably informed that there are ten or a dozen Cumberland Presbyterian ministers in the west who can trace their origin to old New Hope church.
Thus let it be carefully noted that nearly all of these ministers and elders are either the direct descendants, or are in some way closely connected with the original founders of the church, therefore clearly illustrating the truth of God's promises to them that keep His covenant. And the same will be equally apparent if we have the time and patience to enter into the large field of family connections and their relations to the church.
NAMES OF THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH And the Time of Their Ordination
|Gilbert Strayhorn||About 1765|
|John Craig||" "|
|Mr. _____ Gill||____|
|The above named persons were the elders through the first thirty years of the church's existence.|
|John R. Faucett||1836|
|George A. Faucett||1840|
|William C. Blackwood||"|
|Samuel C. Claytor||1859|
|William S. Kirkland||"|
|George R. Long||"|
|John T. Hogan||1871|
|Samuel D. Blackwood||"|
|William C. Claytor||1877|
|Nettleton G. Craig||"|
|Charles W. Johnston||"|
|Samuel A. Craig,||William H. Strayhorn||Alexander Baldwin||William J. Long||William Crabtree||Kern Sykes|
|William H. Craig||Egbert Strayhorn||Jackson Borland||William G. Latta||Leonard Crabtree||John Howard|
|Joseph A. Craig||Greene Strayhorn||William Borland||Jordan Williams||Munroe Crabtree||William Thompson|
|Thomas J. Strayhorn||Wiley Strayhorn||Wilton B. Robson||Henry Gilliam||William Rhodes||Munroe Thompson|
|George Strayhorn||Archibald Strayhorn||Orin A. Watson||Wiseley Barton||John Neal||Samuel Thompson|
|Samuel Strayhorn||John Kirkland||Bartlett Bishop||Maurice Sharp||Thomas Sykes|
The John Strayhorn before us now, the son of Gilbert the father of the name, was born in the Hawfields in 1742, and afterwards was married there to Elizabeth Johnston, by whom he had twelve children.
Some interesting stories are told by Mr. John A. Freeland concerning this man, whom he well remembers. It seems he was a revolutionary soldier, and had charge of the rear wagon in Morgan's retreat after the battle of the Cowpens. The wagon was loaded with prisoners and plunder, and as he was crossing a swimming stream, one wheel struck a floating log, and he gave a sorrel mare a lick with the whip, when she went to the bottom and pulled the wagon over. Cannons on both sides of the river were in readiness to fire until he passed over.
Again, he was stationed on a hill on the south side of Eno river, opposite Hillsboro, when Lord Cornwallis took that "whig capital," capturing the Governor and routing the unfortunate forty-two whigs who were at the public spring getting ready to fight. There Thomas Freeland fell, shot through the head by a tory. The grandfather of Mr. Freeland, coming from Haw river, dug a hole and buried him. He does not say which grandfather, Mr. Strain or the old Elder John Freeland. His grave is on the hill near Kirkland's old tan yard. The British and tories in high glee left the dead to bury the dead, and searched the country, bringing in whigs before Lord Cornwallis, who sat in Cain's old store as judge and jury until the old jail was full.
Another story Mr. Freeland relates as told to him by this man, John Strayhorn, is as follows: -- Captain Young, of Hillsboro, collected about one hundred whigs and went to fight Dick Edwards on Cane Creek. The whigs were on a road leading to a large hill, where the road forked. The tories had news of their approach, and had collected about three hundred men and were lying in ambush on one of the forks of the road going around the hill. But finding that the whigs had taken the other fork, they ran around and overtook three men who were behind, and killed them. Here the fight began, and Captain Young was killed and Alexander Geddes, the old elder of New Hope church in after years, was wounded. Then Mr. Strayhorn said, "I looked through the sight of my rifle at their captain and fired, and he fell! The fight was soon ended and we returned with our brave dead." As Mr. Freeland truly remarks, "What was the history of one was the history of nearly all of New Hope's men, -- fighting for American liberty and against a State Church, which was then the Church of England."
His children were as follows: Charles, who married Mary Piper, and some of whose descendants are to be found in Durham county. Jane, who married Alexander Craig, the father of David Craig, who is now the oldest elder in the church and the father of elder Nettleton Craig, deceased, and of Samuel and William who died in the civil war. Nancy, who married Joseph Freeland. Gilbert, who married Jane Kirkland. William, who married Nancy Strain. Samuel, who married Sarah Hart; these were the parents of Mrs. William S. Kirkland. George, who married Mary Brassfield. Abner accidentally hung himself while a boy. Martha, who married Sampson Moore, whose children were John, Thomas, Mrs. Chesley Patterson, Mrs. Dr. Rhodes, Mrs. Reed, Mrs. Leroy Strayhorn, etc. Bryant, who married Mary Strain, whose sons all died in the war, -- George, Samuel and Hooper. David, who married Annie Freeland, and was the father of John, who married Eliza Cole, and of Thomas, who fell in the battle of Stone River, Tenn. John is the father of Caroline, who is the wife of Milton Craig. Mary, who married Robert Davis, and some of whose children were Silas, Mrs. Henry Turner and Mrs. Bruce.
By Mary Tate he had three children, as follows: -- Nancy, who married Elisha Smith, whose children were Mrs. Anderson Tate and William, who married Everline Shields. Samuel, who married Mary Moore, and who was the father of William F. Strayhorn, the father of Isaac, Thomas and Mrs. Berry; Mrs. David Craig, Mrs. Newton Craig, my mother, and Thomas, who fell in the battle of Ream's Station. Gilbert committed suicide. By Mary Hunter he had seven children, as follows: -- Sarah, who married Samuel Tate, of the Hawfields, the father of Lemuel, Thomas, William, Pinkney, Mary, Mrs. Johnston, Mrs. Dickson, Mrs. Latta and Mrs. Freeland. John never married. William, who married Nancy Faucett, and their three daughters married William Tate, Gilbert Craig, and George Strayhorn. Miriam never married. David, who married Sarah Tate, and their children were Mary, Newell, Arabella, Yancey, etc. Newell is a Cumberland Presbyterian minister in Austin, Texas. Mary, who married Thomas Tate; unknown to me. Aaron, who married Nancy Patterson, whose children were William, Mary, Sarah, etc.
the third son, married Rachael Cabe, by whom he had five children, as follows: -- William, who married Nancy Thompson, whose children were Thompson, James Rachael, etc. John, who married Susan Borland, and who was the father of Wiley, Greene, Egbert, Sidney and Malitha, who married Alexander Borland. -- These sons all died in the war, except Sidney. James, who married Mary Blackwood, and who was the father of Calvin, Robert, Maggie, and Julia, who married John T. Hogan. Elizabeth never married. Mary, who married Archibald Borland, the father of William, their only child.
By Miss Cabe he had two children, as follows: -- Gilbert, who married Sarah Borland, and who was the father of David and William. John, who is unknown to me. By Penny Berry his children were Samuel, Alfred, Eliza, etc., who all moved to Tennessee.
Jane, who married David Strain, and their children were John, William, Mrs. Samuel G. Kirkland, Mrs. James Hart, Mrs. John Horton, etc. John, who married Fannie Moore. Gilbert, who married Nancy Moore. Sarah, who married Samuel Strayhorn. James, who married a Miss Belden. Elizabeth, who married Andrew Murray. Samuel, who married Elizabeth Tate. Miriam, who married James Brown. David, who married Elizabeth Petty. William and Joseph never married.
David, who married Jane Hart. William, who married Nancy Strayhorn. Alexander, who married Mary Burns. Elizabeth, who married John Elkins. Mary, who married Bryant Strayhorn. James, who married Elizabeth Gattis. Samuel, who married a Miss Brewer. Gilbert and Sarah never married.
Nancy, who married Joseph Latta and Maj. Donnell. Sarah, who married John Latta. Mary, who married Mann Patterson, the father of William N. and Robert. Rachael, who married M. McCown and H. Simms. Katy, who married Benjamin Rodgers. Elizabeth, who married Benjamin Rhodes. Lydia, who married Charles W. Johnston, the father of the present elder bearing the same name. Margaret, who married John Caldwell. Jane, who married William T. Shields. Some of these families moved to the West, and it is a little singular that each of the eleven men whom the nine daughters married all owned a merchant mill.
James, who married Nellie Turner, of the Hawfields, and who was the father of John, James, Annie, etc., of Chapel Hill. He was one of the donors of the University site at Chapel Hill. A story is told of his absent mindedness. He once rode horse back to New Hope church to preaching, and when he reached home he was afoot. His wife asked him where was his horse. He had forgotten it, and had never once thought of it in all of his seven miles tramp. A negro was sent after it and found it tied to a tree near the church. His son John was a member of the legislature in 1812. His son James graduated at Chapel Hill in 1816. James F. who lives at the old homestead, and William H., a lawyer in Ark., are two of his grandsons, being sons of John. Betsy, who married Alexander Russell, and moved west. Isabel, who married Geo. Long, and who was the great-grandmother of the Long family. David, who married Betsy Boroughs, and who was the father of four daughters, who married William Brown, Mr. Blackwood, Mr. Murdock and John Freeland, the father of Johnston and Dr. Charles. Alexander, who married Jane Strayhorn, and who was the father of Isabel, who married Caleb Wilson; of John, who married Susan White; of Cameron, who married Harriet Jacobs; of Mary, who married John Baldwin; of David, who married Nancy Strayhorn, and who was the father of Nettleton; of Martha, who married Samuel Kirkland; of Gilbert, who married Margaret Strayhorn, the mother of Leroy Craig. Abram, who married Jane Murdock, and who was the father of John, of the Hawfields, and of Andrew, who became a Baptist minister in the eastern part of the State. Abram, a son of John is at present an elder in the Hawfields church, and Locke and Braxton, sons of Andrew, one a lawyer in Asheville and the other a Baptist minister. Mary, who married Charles Freeland, the father of Fletcher, Mrs. Katy Faucett, etc. Samuel, Peggy and John died unmarried.
Johnston, who married Martha Blackwood, and moved west. William, who married Mary Blackwood and moved west. Samuel, who married Mary Johnston, of the Hawfields, and moved west. David and John went to the West. Isabel, who married James Johnston, of the Hawfields, and whose descendants are still there. One of her descendants, T. C. Johnston, is at the present time a ruling elder in the Hawfields church. Elanor, who married John Blackwood, was the mother of thirteen children, whose names will be noticed under the Blackwood family. Sarah, who married Johnston Blackwood, and moved away.
William, who married Mary McBryde, at the place where David A. Claytor now lives, and moved to South Carolina. I have never been able to find any traces of this family, though there were several children, and they located in one of the border counties, perhaps Chesterfield. I think the name of one of his daughters was Scynthia. Nancy, who married Joseph Mallette, and who was the mother of Mrs. Tinnin in the Hawfields, and of Rebecca, who married first Thomas Jacobs, the father of Nancy, who married Isaac Craig and Col. William McCauley; and of Harriet, who married Cameron Craig, the father of Sandy, Johnston, William, etc. Rebecca was married a second time to Charles Freeland. James, who married Sarah Burns, a daughter of Andrew, who was a son of William. James Craig was the father of Mrs. William Cheek, who had a large family, some of whom were Calvin, Mrs. Murphy Smith, etc. His other children all moved away. Margaret, who married Robert Nichols and moved to Arkansas. Isaac, who married two wives, Betsy Murray and Nancy Jacobs, and who died without children. John never married, and died at the age of about twenty-five. He was a great sufferer with white swelling, and was said to have been a very intelligent man. Rebecca never married and lived at the old homestead to an advanced age, when she died very suddenly. She was a good woman, and was a mother to my grandfather's children, after his wife died. David who married Isabel Nelson, a daughter of John Nelson of the Hawfields, and who was the father of six children. He was born Oct. 1786, and died of cancer in the eye, Nov. 12, 1862. His children were Jennie, Rebecca and John, all of whom died young; Wiley and Isabel, who never married, and lived together at the old home until recently, Oct. 21, 1890, when Wiley died, leaving Isabel all alone. His other child, James Newton, was my father, and married Emeline Strayhorn, a daughter of Samuel, a son William, a son of Gilbert, the patriarch. My father was the only one who perpetuated the name of Craig in N. C., in a direct line, through James, the son of William. I am one of ten children, eight of whom are still living. My father was born Oct. 14, 1816, and died Feb. 12, 1879.
William, who married Sarah Woods. Samuel, who married two wives, Martha Kirkland and Martha Easters. By the first wife two of his children were Mary and Martha. Mary was the mother of George S. Freeland, and Martha married John Paul late in life. Martha, who married Andrew Burns, and who was the mother of William, Samuel, Margaret and Anderson. The latter moved to Texas. Betsy, who married William Kirkland, the father of William S. who was an elder, and of John, who was the father of Richard, Irvin and John. Isabel, who married Joseph Kirkland, the father of Samuel, the elder, John, Joseph, James, William, etc. David was drowned. Jane, who married George Mitchell. Margaret, who married James Mitchell.
Samuel, who married a Miss Tate. Lettie, who married James Tate, and two of her daughters married brothers by the name of Allen. John married Jennie Tate, and was the father of thirteen children. He was for many years an elder in the Hawfields church, and the names of his numerous family were as follows: Isabel, who married David W. Craig, my grandfather; Janette, William and George never married; David, John, James, Alfred and Josiah all moved west; Samuel, who married Sarah Burnsides, whose sons all died in the war; Mary, who married John Paul, whose sons moved west, and some of whose daughters, Mrs. Miles, Mrs. James Squires etc., still live in the Hawfields; Margaret who married John Hart, and moved west; Paisley, who married Margaret Smith, whose son, Samuel, and daughter, Mrs. Margaret Thompson, still live in the Hawfields.
A story is told of him which well illustrates the sturdy Scotch character and customs. When either John Craig or Charles Johnston asked him for his daughter in marriage, falling back upon the customs of Scotland, he said to the young man, "I have a thousand acres of land, besides other property to give to my daughter, and have you an equal amount to start with her?" The young man had to answer, no! and consent to the marriage was refused.
But it mattered not, mill day soon came round and his girl had to go, but she did not return, for a conspiracy had been formed by the young couple and the wedding was over. The old man was beaten and had the "pouts" for weeks, but perhaps remembering his own sins, he sent for his children to come home, and gave them his blessing as well as the portion of lands.
It would be almost impossible for me to enlarge in any great measure upon this family without repeating much of what I have already written. And the same might be said of the Kirkland and Freeland families, for they are all closely connected, and the history of one greatly involves the history of the others.
As stated elsewhere, William Blackwood, the original settler, had eight children, and the name has been perpetuated in the New Hope congregation through his son.
Elizabeth, who married George Allen, of Tennessee. Hannah, who married Willoughby Seph, of Virginia. Mary, who married William Craig, son of David. Martha, who married Johnston Craig, son of David. Jennie, who married John McCauley. Annie, who married Jacob Potts. Margaret, who married William Long, of Tennessee. Sarah, who married John Gattis, of Georgia. Nancy, who married James and Silas Davis. Fannie, who married Anderson Long. Isabel, and Katy, died unmarried. The four sons were William, James, and Johnston, who all moved away, and John, the perpetuator of the name on the waters of New Hope. This man, John Blackwood, was twice married; first to Elanor Craig, the daughter of David the son of William, by whom he had thirteen children, and second to Mary McCauley, by whom he had seven children -- twenty in all. His children by Elanor Craig were as follows: Mary, who married James Strayhorn, the father of Calvin, Robert, Maggie and Mrs. Julia Hogan; David, who married Tabitha Minor, of Granville, and was the father of John M., Samuel D., the elder, Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Mary Blackwood and Mrs. Julia Kirkland; William, who was an elder, married Martha Minor, of Granville, and was the father of John T., William, etc.; Margaret who married John McCauley, the father of David, James, etc.; Isabel, Samuel and Jackson never married; John who married Laura Springs, of South Carolina; Nathaniel, who married Mary Jones, of Johnston county; Alexander, who married Helen Horton, and became a Baptist minister; Robert married Susan Stanley, of Surry county; Johnston married Rebecca Teel, of New Jersey. The first three mentioned above remained in the bounds of New Hope, the others all moved away. I have no knowledge of John Blackwood's children by Mary McCauley.
I am not sufficiently acquainted with the history of the original members of the family so as to speak with certainty in reference to them. But enough has been said to show their connection with the founders of the church, and thereby illustrating the truth of God's promises.
I am not competent with my present fund of information to enter into any detailed account of the Freeland, Hogan and Johnston families.
The Freelands are the oldest in connection with the church, and were perhaps among its original organizers, though the Hogans came to North Carolina about the same time, and perhaps in company with them. It is said that both families settled in what is now the western part of the village of Chapel Hill about the same time the first settlers located on New Hope. It is certain that John Freeland was elder in New Hope church as far back as 1796, as the record show. This man was the grandfather of John land of whom mention has been made.
The Johnston family, as before stated, is of later date, and at the present time has only one male representative, C. W. Johnston, an elder, and a descendant, on his mother's side, of Gilbert Strayhorn. The present Mr. Johnston married a daughter of the well known educator, Samuel W. Hughes, deceased, and has a large family of children, some of whom are members of the church.
May the God of all grace continue to bless the people of New Hope; and may you, dear reader, and your children and your children's children -- may all of us and our posterity through all time be found in His service and abide under His shadow.