In 1761 Rev. Morgan Edwards, of Wales, emigrated to America and became pastor of the First Baptist church in Philadelphia. After laboring with this church for several years he conceived the idea of visiting the Baptists of this State. Early in 1772 we find him in North Carolina, where he remained nearly two years, visiting, preaching and stimulating the brethren of the province to greater zeal for the Master. After his return home he wrote out the diary of his visit, and the manuscript copy is now in the possession of Mr. Horatio Gates Jones, of Philadelphia, With your permission I copy from the book, for the benefit of our North Carolina Baptists, some of the early history of our spiritual forefathers, where the churches were located, where organized, when constituted, number of members, pastor, etc. The first church mentioned is
Hitchcock, (Regular), which was located in the county of Anson, 200 miles east by north from New Berne, and - miles from Philadelphia. The congregation had no regular meeting-house, and therefore services were held from time to time at homes of the members. This church was constituted by Rev. Mr. Edwards and Brown March 22d, 1772, at the house of William Morris. There were twenty-eight families represented with a membership of fourteen in the church. The first minister was Rev. Henry Easterling, who was born May 24th 1733, near the month of Neuse River; was bred a churchman, and embraced the principles of the Baptists in 1760, while living in Dobbs county, and was baptized by Rev. George Grahams, was called to the ministry in 1762, and ordained March 29th 1762, when he took charge of this church. He married Miss Ellen Bennett, a good woman, by whom he had ten children, viz: Shadrack, Henry, Bennett, John, James Elizabeth, William, Mary, Martha and Jack. He located in this section in 1764, and commenced preaching in 1700, and soon after baptized Jonathan Lewellins. William Moody, Thomas Summerling, William Leggate, William Smith, Nathaniel Williams, Mary Smith and Fanny Williams.
Little River, (Separate), a branch of the Pee Dee, near to which the meeting-house stands, in the Parish of -, and county of Anson, 270 miles N. N. E. from New Berne, and - miles from Philadelphia. The house is 30x20 feet, built in 1758 on land given by Thomas Ward. This church had four branches, one quite near, another on Rocky River, another on Jones' Creek, and another on Mountain Creek, at each of which is a comfortable house of worship. Ruling elders and the laying on of hands were admitted, but are divided on the question of love feast and washing of feet, etc. The families represented are about sixty, whereof forty eight are baptized and in communion, which is administered the second Lord's day. No ordained ministers but two preachers, John Bolten and Edmund Lilly, minister unto the people. The following persons constituted the organization: Richard Curtis, Joseph Morphy and wife, John Lee and wife, William Searsy and wife, and Susanna Carr. The most remarkable incident, in the history of this church is that in three years its membership increased from eight to five hundred members, but at this time is greatly reduced by the removal of families to other parts, occasioned by oppressions, which seemed to them without remedy, since the battle of Alamance. The first minister was Rev. Jos. Murphy, born April 1st, 1734, iu Spottsylvania, Va.; bred a churchman, but embraced the principles of the Baptists in 1757, and had the ordinance of baptism administered to him by Rev. Shubal Stearns; was ordained to the ministry in 1760, at which time he had charge of his little church, but resigned in 1768. His success as a minister is no less surprising than his conversion. He was a man wicked to a proverb, but now an eminent Christian and a useful preacher. The vile Col. Fin accused him of aiding and abetting the Regulators, whereof he was as clear as any man whatsoever; yet a party of horses was sent to seize him, but were unable to find him. He married a Miss Haley, by whom he had five children, viz: Sarah, Ferreby, Eleanor, Susanna and Elizabeth.
These sketches will be continued next week, and Sandy Creek church taken up.
J. C. B.
[From Biblical Recorder, October 2, 1889, p. 1. On-line edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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