The following is a series of excerpts from the Bethany Free Will Baptist Church annual report (centennial edition) published in 1980. The history, cemetery roster and other sections chosen could be of interest to those researching families in the Rountree Community near Winterville, Pitt County, NC.

Contributed by William B. (Bill) Kittrell.
[Please read the copyright notice at the bottom of the page for fair use policy.]

 

Bethany Free Will Baptist Church
1879-1980

On November 6-8, 1879, The General Conference of the Original Free Will Baptists of North Carolina met at Pleasant Grove Church in Wayne County. The minutes record that "on motion of Elder D. Davis, the church at Bethany, in Pitt County, N. C. be received and entered on the minutes." Bethany was listed as having 26 members and a contribution to the conference of $1.00. Thus, Bethany Free Will Baptist Church officially united with the Free Will Baptist denomination in its service to the Lord.

The first congregation worshiped in a log structure with a dirt floor which was located on the opposite side of the road from the present church. Shortly thereafter, in August of 1880, one acre of land was donated by William Smith and Ivey and Susan Allen to serve as a permanent site for Bethany Church, which is the same site the church is located on today.

Elder J. T. Craft was probably instrumental in organizing Bethany Church and was the first pastor at Bethany. He was received into the ministry at the same conference meeting that Bethany was received into the conference.

The first church building on the permanent site was constructed in 1881 and was built on the same spot where the current church is today. It was a one-room wooden frame building with a roof of wooden shingles. There were two doors, one on the right and one on the left of the front wall of the building facing the road, and a stove sat in the center. Three windows were spaced evenly on each side of the building.

The pulpit was located at the front center of the interior with a regular window on each side and a higher, though smaller, window directly above the speaker’s stand. These windows were the only source of light available for daytime services. The choir sang from the right of the pulpit, and the piano was on the left, the same setting we use today. A well and watering trough for houses could be found near the road on the right side of the church. A giant oak tree shaded the front yard and remained there until the late 1920’s.

Bethany progressed quite rapidly in its early days and after only eight years, in 1888, the official enrollment was exactly 100 members. Services were held each third Sunday and the church was served by many learned and dedicated pastors.

Sunday School was probably organized at the very beginning of Bethany Church. In earlier times, Sunday School met on Sunday afternoons with classes meeting in the corners of the original building. David Norris served as the first superintendent and continued to serve for many years. Few of us can now remember the faith and devotion of former members such as Mrs. Annie Brown, who was six years old when the first church was built and who taught Sunday School in the old church for 25 years. And Mrs. Lula McLawhorn, who was also a longtime teacher. Mrs. Eva Edwards taught the adult class for many years and the class bears her name today. Former congregations have memorialized with marble plaques the devotion shown the church and Sunday School by Mrs. Clarissa Rebecca Langston, who was a longtime senior class teacher and who passed away in 1916; by charter member E. E. Dail, who passed away in 1917; and by B. Thomas Nobles, who passed away in 1962. Today, these marble plaques can be found on the walls of the historic room at Bethany Church.

In March, 1919, the Bethany Aid Society was organized by Mrs. Rosa Sutton with 13 charter members. The name was used interchangeably with the Ladies’ Aid Society, the Ladies’ Auxiliary, and is referred to today as the Woman’s Auxiliary. The Society met monthly in various members’ homes until completion of the educational building in 1953. The members worked diligently in supporting the orphanage at Middlesex, as it was known at that time, and in supporting the church in any way possible. Its role is still much the same today, and the ladies additionally maintain the church interior and educational building and support all denominational enterprises.

Also in 1919, the membership began plans for a new church building. With the leadership of Pastor R. F. Pittman and the labors of the membership, bricking of the church began in January, 1922. On the third Sunday in April, 1925, the Reverend R. F. Pittman dedicated to our lord the new church at Bethany. The total cost to the membership was great personal sacrifice, a lot of love, and $7338.26.

In April of 1946, two Sunday School rooms were made by building pull-down doors, creating a room on each side of the vestibule. In January of 1949, two additional Sunday School rooms were completed by adding a room on each side of the main church building, which opened into the front interior of the church.

The third Sunday of October, 1953, was another milestone at Bethany. That day, Reverend J. T. Forrest, who was the current pastor, dedicated the new educational building at the church. November of the same year marked the beginning of half-time services, and at that time, the Reverend N. Dan Beaman began his ministry at Bethany Church.

In January, of 1955, while still under the ministry of Reverend Beaman, a motion was carried to build a parsonage. Exactly one year later, the Reverend Walter Reynolds and his family moved into the new home. Cost of the parsonage, other than gifts of labor and materials, was $7,303.98. In September of 1957, full-time services began at Bethany, and Reverend Reynolds continued to serve the congregation.

In 1960, under the leadership of the Reverend J. Garland Teasly, Bethany began a renovation program. The exterior was repaired and painted white, ant the sanctuary was completely remodeled and is still unchanged. A Gothic theme was selected in keeping with the exterior design of the building. All furniture is oak with an American Walnut finish, and the floor is fully carpeted. The end of each pew is carved to match the cathedral style of the windows. A unique feature of the sanctuary is the divided chancel with center aisle, placing the altar, which is the historical and Biblical symbol of man meeting God, as the focal point of the church. Upon the altar are a cross and two candelabra. Behind the altar is a red dossal cloth, symbolizing the presence of the Holy

Spirit. The new sanctuary was consecrated to the Lord on May 7, 1961. Pastor Teasly declared the house set apart from all profane and common uses and consecrated to the service of God forever. Dr. W. B. Raper was the guest speaker and dinner was served on the grounds. Total costs of remodeling were $7,467.56.

Stained glass windows were installed in 1968 under the pastorate of the Reverend W. A. Hales; and an additional three rooms were added to the educational building in 1977, under the pastorate of the Reverend Bobby Taylor.

The Layman’s League was reactivated in 1967. The League’s role in the church today is to maintain the church grounds and property and to support denominational enterprises.

In March 1969, under the ministry of the Reverend A. B. Chandler, the Youth Fellowship Auxiliary, the Ambassadors for Christ, and the Cherubs youth groups were organized. That same year a deep well was drilled.

Now in her 100th year, Bethany Church is served by the Reverend C. L. Patrick, who capably leads us by his words and deeds.

Bethany’s charter members at organization in November, 1879:

Ruling Elders:
Caleb Tripp, Theodore Slaughter, and John Elks

Deacons:
Elbert Dail and Luke McGlohon

Members:
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Allen
Mr. and Mrs. Wright Nobles
Mr. and Mrs. Luke McGlohon
Mr. and Mrs. Eli Craft
Mr. and Mrs. Ben Norris
Mr. and Mrs. T. N. Manning
Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Slaughter
Mr. and Mrs. William Smith
Mr. and Mrs. Elbert Dail
Mr. and Mrs. Arden Tucker
Mr. and Mrs. Major (H. B. ) Smith
Mr. and Mrs. John Elks
Mr. and Mrs. Liner Manning

Pastors Serving Bethany Church
In Its First 100 Years Of Organization

The Reverend J. Garland Teasley Sept., 1960 - Oct., 1962
Elder James T. Craft 1880 1899
Elder Redin Corbett 1899 1907
Elder Fred McGlohon 1907 1908
Elder M. A. Woodard 1908 1909
Elder T. N. Manning 1909 1910
Elder J. Phillip Woodard 1910 1911
Elder George C. Vause 1911 1912
The Reverend J. C. Griffin 1912 - 1917
R. F. Pittman 1917 Oct., 1922
J. C. Moye Nov., 1922 Oct., 1923
R. F. Pittman Nov., 1923 Oct., 1927
J. C. Moye Nov., 1927 Oct., 1932
R. F. Pittman Nov., 1932 July, 1938
J. C. Moye Aug., 1938 Oct., 1949
J. T. Forrest Nov., 1949 Oct., 1953
N. Dan Beaman Nov., 1953 Aug., 1956
Walter Reynolds Oct., 1956 Aug., 1959
Bill Fulcher Sept., 1959 Aug., 1960
J. Garland Teasley Sept., 1960 Oct., 1962
E. C. Morris Dec., 1962 Aug., 1964
Wayne West Sept., 1964 Aug., 1966
Michael Pelt Aug., 1966 July, 1967
W. A. Hales July, 1967 June, 1968
A. B. Chandler Feb., 1969 May, 1975
Bobby Taylor Aug., 1975 June, 1978
C. L. Patrick Nov., 1978 1980

Minutes of the first forty years of Bethany Church were misplaced many years ago. The pastors for this period were listed in an article written by Mrs. George Dail in January, 1958. Although the list may not be all-inclusive, the particular years of service of those ministers would cause them to reasonably fall into the time frame as listed above, Since Elder James T. Craft was enrolled as a minister of the gospel of (sic) the same year as Bethany Church was received into the Free Will Baptist organization, it is not unreasonable to assume he was instrumental in its organization and served the congregation for the full 19 years he was a minister.

Clerks Serving Bethany Churc
In Its First 100 Years of Organization

Unknown 1880 1898
H. B. Smith 1898 April, 1919
J. F. J. McGlohon April, 1919 Jan., 1922
Lizzie McLawhorn Jolly Jan., 1922 Sept., 1939
Mary Ida McLawhorn Sept., 1939 Oct., 1942
Eva Edwards Oct., 1942 Oct., 1952
Elsie B. Edwards Oct., 1952 Oct., 1955
Phyllis Dail Oct., 1955 July, 1956
Betty Speight July, 1956 Oct., 1958
Arlene Cayton Oct., 1958 Sept., 1960
Dot Dail Sept., 1960 1980..

To the Glory of God --- A Special Gift

Gift By In Memory Of
Hammond Organ The Children Mr. & Mrs. Charles McLawhorn
Baldwin Piano   Mrs. Clara Dail
Altar Accessories His Children George N. Edwards
Altar George N. Edwards Family Mrs. Eva L. Edwards
Lectern and Pulpit Desks The Children Mr. & Mrs. Luther Dail
Holy Bible L. C. Speight Mrs. Addie D. Nobles Speight
American and Christian Flags Mr. & Mrs Neal Bass Mr. & Mrs. Luther Dail
Register Stand Mr. & Mrs. Joe Tripp Mrs. Addie and Alice Speight
Chancel Carpet The Children Mr. & Mrs. Charles McLawhorn
Lights   Addie Speight and Mrs. Alice And Mr. Lewis Speight
Outside Bulletin Board Mr. & Mrs. Don Langston  
Church Sign The Children Mr. & Mrs. George Dail
Red Dossal Cloth   Mr. & Mrs. Norman Savage
Choir Robes Mrs. Mildred Savage
Landscaping   Mr. & Mrs. Charles Wells Wainright
Heating System Education Building   R. H. McLawhorn, Sr.
Church Heating and Air Conditioning   The Luther Dail Family
Front Pew Rails The Children Mr. & Mrs. Norman Savage
Oak Pew   Lula Nobles & Bill Bullock
Oak Pew   Jacques F. Edwards Family
Oak Pew The Family Rev. & Mrs. J. C. Moye
Oak Pew The Children Mr. & Mrs. C. B. Nobles
Oak Pew Chester Worthington Mr. & Mrs. L. F. Worthington
Oak Pew The Children Mr. & Mrs. Charles McLawhorn
Oak Pew The Family Mrs. Martha McLawhorn and Mrs. Mary McLawhorn
(Transcriber's Note: These are Mary Craft McLawhorn <1886-1968> & Martha Craft McLawhorn <1886-1954>, twin daughters of Elias H. and Jane Carraway Craft)
Oak Pew Luther Dail Mr. & Mrs. E. E. Dail
Oak Pew The Family Robert A. Cannon
Oak Pew Mr. & Mrs. Archie Nobles Tom Nobles
Oak Pew Mrs. J. C. Dudley Mr. & Mrs. Lewis H. Norris
Oak Pew The Children Mr. & Mrs. Joe Craft
Oak Pew Charlene, Julia and Elsie Edwards Charles V. Edwards
Oak Pew Their Children Mr. & Mrs. J. L. Nobles
Oak Pew The Family Mr. & Mrs. Arden Manning
Oak Pew Mr. & Mrs. Norman Savage George L. (Tom) Edwards And George N. Edwards
Oak Pew The Jack Dail Family Viola Davenport
Oak Pew   Mr. & Mrs. Robert Bruce Cannon
Stained Glass Window The Family Luther Dail
Stained Glass Window The Family C. B. Nobles and Banner Nobles
Stained Glass Window The Children F. H. Wainright and Lucy Wainright
Stained Glass Window The Family C. N. Nobles
Transcriber's Note: This is Clarence Nathaniel "Nat Nobles <1889-1968>, son of Joshua Lawrence and Florence Craft Nobles)
Stained Glass Window Mrs. Callie Cannon & Children R. A. Cannon
Stained Glass Window Chester Worthington Fate & Mary Worthington
Stained Glass Window J. B. Speight Addie Speight, Oscar Speight, Alice Speight and Lewis Speight
Stained Glass Window The Children & Edna Joe & Mary Craft
(Transcriber's Note: This is Joe Craft <1877-1956>, son of Eli H. and Jane C. Craft and Mary Etta Nobles <1880-1940>, daughter of Joshua Nobles and Louisa Sermons)
Stained Glass Window Tiny Manning Jim Manning
Stained Glass Window   Jane Carraway Craft & Eli Craft
(Transcriber's Note: This is Elias Hoyt Craft <1835-1917> and Jane M. Carraway Craft <1846-1925>
Stained Glass Window   Lillie Roberta Tucker
Stained Glass Window The Children Bill & Lou McLawhorn
Stained Glass Window The Children Mr. & Mrs. George Dail
Stained Glass Window Their Sons Charles & Brownie McLawhorn
Stained Glass Window The Children Marion & Sallie Cayton
Stained Glass Window The Children Nobles & Mavis Craft
Stained Glass Window Mrs. J. C. Dudley Mr. & Mrs. Lewis H. Norris
Stained Glass Window Lewis Speight Mrs. Addie Speight

 

Register of Bethany Cemetery

Ivy Allen
B: 1824
D: June 15, 1902
Age: 78

Martha E. Avery
Wife of Richard Avery
B: June 1, 1833
D: January 20, 1920
Age: 87

Richard Avery
B: June 2, 1840
D: June 12, 1886
Age: 46

A. T. Baldree
B: September 23, 1828
D: June 3, 1901
Age: 73

Delitha Baldree
Wife of A. T. Baldree
B: October 18, 1832
D: January 24, 1895
Age: 63

Martha W. Baldree
B: March 3, 1858
D: December 21, 1910
Age: 52

Percy R. Baldree
B: May 2, 1922
D: April 23, 1934
Age: 12

Robert Lee Baldree
B: September 14, 1865
D: June 25, 1923
Age: 58

Timothy Baldree
B: June 5, 1860
D: January 23, 1924
Age: 64

Veodie Baldree
Daughter of Timothy & M. W. Baldree
B: September 29, 1882
D: November 2, 1882

Infant Son of W. L. and Thelma Baldree

Little Winnie Baldree
Daughter of R. L. and S. W. Baldree
October 28, 1909

Daniel Webster Beddard
1883-1935
Age: 52

Rebecca Beddard
B: 1838
D: October 23, 1922
Age: 84

Oliver Beddard
B: January 21, 1821
D: September 20, 1898
Age: 77

Emma Ward Britt
B: September 20, 1865
D: December 1, 1938
Age: 73

James E. Britt
B: September 1, 1854
D: October 24, 1917
Age: 63

Bradley M. Cayton
Son of J. T. and Myrtle Cayton
B: April 6, 1930
D: March 1, 1934
Age: 4

James T. Cayton
Son of J. T. and Myrtle Cayton
B: September 6, 1932
D: December 24, 1932

Laura Dean Cayton
Wife of S. A. Cayton
B: May 23, 1875
D: February 5, 1945
Age: 70

S. A. Cayton
B: September 11, 1863
D: April 12, 1932
Age: 69

Annie M. Crawford
Wife of W. H. Crawford
B: October 4, 1886
D: July 25, 1919
Age: 33

J. J. Cullifer
B: March 28, 1859
D: December 29, 1930
Age: 71

Lucy L. Cullifer
B: 1832
D: May 9, 1904
Age: 72

Mattie M. Cullifer
Daughter of J. J. and B. A. Cullifer
B: December 12, 1895
D: October 22, 1905
Age: 10

Nellie L. Dickerson
Daughter of W. Y. and Mary A. Dickerson
B: September 18, 1906
D: March 19, 1907
Age: 1

W. Y. Dickerson
B: February 11, 1871
D: October 15, 1910
Age: 33

Viney Elks
Wife of Samuel Elks
B: March 7, 1812
D: March 17, 1883
Age: 71

Elizabeth Letchworth
B: December 29, 1811
D: May 29, 1887
Age: 76

William E. Mozingo
B: March 28, 1922
D: August 11, 1922

Bethany Elizabeth Nobles
Wife of W. R. W. Nobles
B: July 27, 1838
D: March 24, 1923
Age: 85

Henry W. Nobles
Son of W. R. W. and Bethany Nobles
B: October 9, 1882
D: October 22, 1909
Age: 27

W. R. W. Nobles
B: October 27, 1840
D: June 3, 1914
Age: 74

David Norris
B: 1861
D: June 30, 1921
Age: 60

Benjamin Tripp
B: July 28, 1876
D: February 4, 1935

Bessie J. Tripp
Wife of Joseph Tripp
B: October 27, 1888
D: October 3, 1911
Age: 23

Bobbie Ann Tripp
B: June 17, 1962
D: July 14, 1965
Age: 3

Elizabeth Tripp
Wife of Lynn Tripp
B: February 15, 1853
D: February 24, 1901
Age: 48

Lynn Tripp
B: 1848
D: June 9, 1901
Age: 53

Martha L. Tripp
Wife of Joe Tripp
B: March 28, 1883
D: October 29, 1909
Age: 26

Mollie Tripp
Wife of Benjamin Tripp
B: March 26, 1876
D: October 31, 1898
Age: 22

R. H. Tripp
B: July 22, 1886
D: July 29, 1887
Age: 1

Sudie Allen Tripp
B: September 9, 1866
D: June 28, 1923
Age: 57

Mary Williams
B: 1840
D: December 1915
Age: 75

Infant Daughter of
W. A. and N. E. Wingate
B: August 19. 1906

Martha White
B: 1841
D: February 18, 1898
Age: 57

There are five unknown wooden markers.

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