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Red House Presbyterian Church

(Satterfield History)



Red House Presbyterian Church
The following historical sketch of Red House Presbyterian Church is from The Heritage of Caswell County North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) (article by Mary McAden Satterfield) at 59-60:


Red House Presbyterian Church is located in the northeast corner of Caswell County, about a mile south of Semora, three miles from the Virginia State line, and only six miles from the Dan River. Originally known as Middle Hico, it is one of the oldest churches in North Carolina. The exact date of its organization is not known. It is a known fact that there were worshipers at the location when the pioneer missionary, the Rev. Hugh McAden, arrived in August, 1755

The original grounds included a manse and a small farm, adjoining the church and cemetery. Several plots of land have been added to the original grounds.

The name of the church was changed from Middle Hico to Red House in 1806, during the ministry of the Rev. Hugh Shaw. Tradition tells us this was done because an inn, or tavern, had been built a short distance from the church on the stagecoach road from Hillsborough to points in Virginia. The house was painted red and so was known as "Red House". The community gradually became known as the Red House Community and the church became known as "Red House Church". Caswell Academy, near by, was under the direction of the Rev. Hugh Shaw as early as 1801.

During its existence, the church has been housed in four structures, all wooden structures except the present one. The first building, erected about 1756, was partly burned by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. A detachment of these soldiers had encamped on the church grounds after following General Greene as he retreated across the Dan River. They remained here until General Greene recrossed the river and went on to engage in the famous Guilford Court House battle in March, 1781. It was said that the British had a particular spite or animosity against the few Presbyterian ministers in the country because they were the counselors and the chief leaders of the people in the great cause of American Independence. Therefore, the house of the minister, the Rev. Hugh McAden, was ransacked and all of his papers, books, and property were destroyed except parts of his Journal. The minister had escaped, however for he had died January 20, 1781, two or three weeks before the soldiers arrived. Tradition says that his new-made grave did not escape, however, for it was profanely opened and his body taken up and mutilated. One account states: "The soldiers committed many deprecations upon the church which were not repaired for many years." If this is true, it proves conclusively the fact of Mr. McAden's patriotism to his country and of his great influence among the people.

There is a legend told by the Misses Betty and Matilda Durham many years ago to a little girl who has since grown up to be an old lady and passed on to her reward. These dear old ladies said that for a long time after Lord Cornwallis' men had ravaged the land and burned the church, the congregation was scattered. One lone woman went to the site of the church with her bible each Sunday and prayed and sang. The name of that good woman is lost to us but her faithfulness in her worship led others back to rebuild the church. It is told that a corner of the burned out church was incorporated in the second church building. The date this second church was built is not known.

The second house of worship burned in 1806. In 1809, the third building was erected and was painted red. One distinctive feature of this building was that the pulpit was in the front of the church. No one could slip in unnoticed. Later, after the War Between the States, this fault was remedied in remodeling. There was no balcony for the slaves but a section was set aside for those who came to worship with their masters. Following the war, there was one black minister, the Rev. Boswell Benjamin Palmer, who attended Red House. He was regular minister at Palmer's Chapel, near Red House. This chapel was part of the Orange Presbytery.

The third building was used for more than one hundred years. When the present building was erected, the third building was sold to Mr. T. M. Allen. He moved it to his property where it can still be seen across the road from the Baptist Church. Traces of red still cling to the outer boards, as if reluctant to give up the past. The old pews, made by Tom Day, were given to Gilead Presbyterian Church. Only one of these pews remains at Red House.

The present pulpit was given to Red House in 1903 by Dr. John Henry McAden of Charlotte, a descendant of the Rev. Hugh McAden.

A communion table and pulpit chairs were a gift from the children of the Rev. T. U. Faucette, who was pastor from 1875 until 1893. A chalice which was used for many years was a gift from Miss Betty Durham. Two communion goblets, which were formerly used, were a gift first to the Woods Church in Dinwiddie County, Va., by General Joseph Jones, a Revolutionary War general. They were used there until that church merged with the Tabb Street Church in Petersburg, Va. There, they were used until they were replaced. They were returned to the grandson of General Jones, Richard Lee Jones. Mr. Jones gave them to the Rev. S. A. Stanfield to be used at Red House. Mr. Stanfield had married Miss Rebekah Jones, a niece of Mr. Jones. These goblets were used at Red House until after 1913, when they were replaced by the present individual cups presented by Robert Kennon Smith. These goblets were then returned to a daughter of Rev. Stanfield, Mrs. George T. Lansdell. The chalice was also given to her.

There was no musical instrument in the old days, and very few hymn books. Every Sunday, the Sunday School Superintendent would "line" the hymns and with a tuning fork would raise the tunes. Since there were no other churches near, members of other denominations attended Red House. In fact, one staunch Baptist, John B. Yarbrough, was Sunday School Superintendent at one time.

The teaching and learning the catechism were emphasized. On the first Sabbath of each month, before the preaching service, the catechism class was lined up and catechized by the minister in front of the whole congregation.

In the early days there were no public schools. The small children were given Bible primers that they studied. In this way they learned to read and write. The Red House Academy, associated first with the church, stood nearby. A few of the books used in that school library are still in existence.

It is not possible to learn about all of the pastors of the past. It is impossible to separate the history of Red House Church from the history of Hugh McAden's life, as they are interwoven. The best account found relating to his life was left by his son, Dr. John McAden. When he was an old man, he wrote of his father:

My father was a very systematic man. He always spent one or two days every week in private study. If he walked out into the fields he always carried his Bible He visited with his elders once a year and also all the families within the bounds of his congregation. He would exhort and pray with them during his stay. He would collect all of his congregations once a year at his several churches and hold an examination of those present. He administered the sacrament at each of his churches twice a year. He spent his life attempting to convince all people of their sins and in trying to render happy those who were members of his churches. Respected and loved by all who knew him.

He was a wise man, full of righteousness, surely one to "be in everlasting remembrance" as his monument proclaims. As far as it has been ascertained, Hugh McAden became the first regular pastor of this church when he accepted the call to serve the people in 1768.

When Rev. A. D. Montgomery was pastor in 1826, he was instrumental in the organization of the First Presbyterian Church in Danville, Va.

Dr. Nehemiah Henry Harding, whose pastorate ran from 1838, until 1840, was a man who was similar in character to Hugh McAden. He was at one time captain of a trading vessel, which shipped out of New Bern. Later he entered the ministry and served at Oxford for a number of years. He became stated supply pastor at Red House for three years and remained at Milton much longer. It was during his pastorate at Milton that he helped organize the Presbyterian Church at Yanceyville. He was pastor at Milton until his death in 1849. He was buried at Milton and a monument was erected for him by the Milton and Yanceyville churches.

The Encyclopedia of Presbyterian Preachers said: "His tone imbibed on shipboard never left him. He was stern, honest, very decided, and courageous. His sermons were plain, pointed, and evangelical. It was ever is wont to make a tearful appeal, and never preached without shedding tears, and always prepared for this emergency by carrying two handkerchiefs."

A memorial found in the Session Book related to Rev. T. U. Faucette. It had this to say: "We can testify that he not only preached the Gospel in its purity, but was most faithful in the discharge of his pastoral duties, praying and working for the good of his flock and the community. He not only delighted in preaching the Gospel, but in singing the songs of Zion; which he did with a remarkably melodious voice; and the originality, versatility, and the beauty of his prayers made it a pleasure and privilege to hear him pray in public or at family altar." It is also recorded that Mr. Faucette, when a young man, became ill with some disease which made his family and friends despair of his life. However, he prayed fervently that he might be spared to preach the Gospel and his prayers were answered. He was permitted to preach beyond the allotted three score and ten.

Rev. S. A. Stanfield was pastor for twenty-five years and left a wonderful influence upon the community and church. It was during his pastorate here and under this influence that the Presbyterian Church in Roxboro was organized in 1858.

There have been Homecoming Days when services were held by prominent ministers. The Synod of North Carolina held a Centennial Celebration during the year 1913 and a report of the historical committee is substantially as follows:

Your committee would report that on the 3rd day of August, 1913, the one hundred fifty-eight anniversary of the first sermon preached in North Carolina by the pioneer missionary, Rev. Hugh McAden, a handsome monument recently erected over his grave at Red House Church in Caswell County, North Carolina, by a few of his direct descendants, was unveiled with proper religious exercise. The Rev. D. I. Craig, D.D. made an address in the form of a sermon, touching the life and labors of the Rev. Hugh McAden. The monument was unveiled by Miss Sally McAden Cothran of Charlotte, N.C. who is a descendant in the fifth generation from Mr. McAden, and a sermon was preached by the Rev. John McAden Rose, D.D. of Laurinburg, N.C. who is a descendant in the third generation. A large and appreciative audience was present and everybody seemed to enjoy the occasion. D. I. Craig, Chairman.

In 1981, the fourth and present church building was dedicated. The Rev. N. R. Claytor preached the sermon. At this time, the 1913 dedication sermon for the erection of the Hugh McAden monument was printed in booklet form.

In 1956, the two hundredth anniversary of the church was observed. The Rev. William L. Hodgkin was pastor. Dr. Ben Lacy Rose, a descendant of the Rev. Hugh McAden, delivered the sermon.

In 1981, Hugh McAden's descendants presented a bronze plaque to the church, commemorating the two hundredth year of his death. Dr. Ben Lacy Rose was again the guest speaker on this occasion when many descendants gathered at this historic church in memory of the life and work of this religious leader.

Ministers who have served Red House were:

Hugh McAden, 1768-1781

William Moore, 1790-1801

Hugh Shaw, 1803-1809

James Morrison, 1810

William B. Meroney; John McLean, 1812-1813

A. D. Montgomery, 1822-1827

J. W. Powers, 1828

George Ferrell, 1829

Alexander Watts, 1831-1832

A. D. Montgomery, 1832-1836

N. H. Harding, 1838-1840

John Paisley, 1841-1845

S. A. Stanfield, 1848-1873

T. U. Faucette, 1875-1893

M. McG. Shields, 1893-1894

P. C. Morton, 1896-1897

Joseph Evans, 1897-1904

E. H. Harding, 1904-1910

N. R. Claytor, 1913-1924

W. S. Milne, 1925

N. R. Claytor, 1926-1948

W. B. Abbot, 1950-1951

W. L. Hodgkin, 1953-1960

J. A. Boyd, 1962-1965

William Wrenn, 1967-1969

Dr. Paul W. Hodge, 1972 to date (1985)

Red House has long been a power for good with far reaching influence. Many men and women of strong character have been trained within its circle. The church stands today as a memorial to staunch Presbyterian workers who have labored faithfully in the service.

Sources: Sketches of North Carolina--William Henry Foote. The Unveiling of a Monument, Sermon of Dr. D. I. Craig, 1913. 200th Anniversary Sermon, W. L. Hodgkin, 1956. Newspaper Articles, Greensboro Daily News, 1933, 1949, 1940, 1958, 1959. History of Red House Church, Miss Nancy E. Lansdell. History of Red House church, Mrs. George T. Lansdell. Article, Red House church, J. A. Thompson.

--Mary McAden Satterfield


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