Some reader may ask, what interest have North Carolina Baptists in this question? It is a well established historical fact that this Association introduced and propagated Baptist principles in the State in all the territory west of the Catawba River. I have not found a single church formed since the organization of this Association in 1800 that did not arise from this source. There are only a few east of the Catawba that were organized by its missionaries or preachers.
The Catawba seems to have been the dividing line between the work of the Baptists of the two Carolinas. Ministers passing the river made no attempt to connect with the North Carolina Associations but immediately united with the Broad River, e.g,, Hosea Holcombe, Perminter Morgan, Humphrey Posey and others.
In 1806 French Broad, Caney River, Caney Creek and perhaps other churches were dismissed to unite with churches from the Holstein Association in constituting the French Broad Association. This brought its territory to the east of the Blue Ridge. In 1827 nine churches in Rutherford, Lincoln and Burke counties united with churches from the Yadkin and perhaps Mountain Association in constituting the Catawba River Association. In 1841 five churches in Rutherford were dismissed to aid in forming the Green River Association. This reduced the North Carolina territory to Cleveland and a portion of Rutherford; the churches in this bound, were dismissed in 1851 to form the King's Mountain Association and the Broad River's bounds were confined to South Carolina with exception of one or two churches. After fifty years labor our South Carolina brethren ceased to work in this State. The Broad River Association was organized in 1800 by fourteen churches dismissed from the Bethel Association and two new churches. Nine of these churches were in North Carolina, viz. Sandy Run, Green's Creek, Green River, Mountain Creek and Bills Creek in Rutherford, Long Creek in Lincoln, Silver Creek in Burke, and French Broad and Caney River in Buncombe County.
The Bethel Association
This Association was organized in 1789 by churches that had been members of the Congaree Association which was organized in 1771 and churches that had been formed since its dissolution.
The Congaree Association
In 1770 the Sandy Creek Association after a session of three days in which time they failed to elect a Moderator as it required an unanimous vote to elect, on the fourth day decided to divide. The North Carolina churches retained the name Sandy Creek The Virginia churches adopted Rapid-Ann (afterwards General Association of Virginia). The South Carolina churches became Congaree Association. There appear but seven churches in South Carolina upon the rolls of the Sandy Creek Association, viz. Congaree, Fair Forest, Stephens Creek, Bush River, Mine Creek, and two Little River. There was in existence at this time in this section the following churches: Friendship - Goucher's Creek, Boiling Spring, Mountain Creek - formed prior to 1771. In 1772 Long Creek, Sandy Run and Buffalo were formed - (the minutes of the Broad Riv;er Association in 1812 state this as date).
All these churches were members of the Bethel Association and of the Congaree, according to Barnett and Logan, historians of the Broad River Association, who state that it was nearly the same churches in the two bodies.
Churches Superior to Association
The Sandy Creek churches brought with them the doctrine that the Association was more powerful than the church - and the endeavor to enforce this caused the dissolution of the Association. The anti-Sandy Creek churches (or as I believe the Charleston churches) refused to recognize this doctrine and were the cause of the dissolution. It is well known that the Charleston hold the true Baptist view of the independent churches. We do not find the Sandy Creek Association on the roll of the Bethel at its organization. In 1789 the Bethel Association sends minutes and messengers to the Charleston. The Charleston sent a committee to the Bethel asking it to unite with that Association. One of the committee was Rev. James Fowler, who was the messenger from the Bethel and would thus appear to have been also a delegate to the Charleston from some churches.
The Charleston would not have invited churches holding the Sandy Creek doctrine to unite with it. Whence came these churches holding true Baptist doctrine? Certainly not from Sandy Creek teaching. Has there ever been found in this section any other Baptist forces except Charleston and Sandy Creek?
The Charleston was an aggressive body and increased from nine churches in 1775 to thirty in 1800, extending up the country to Cheraw Hill, the two forks of Lynch's Creek and Rocky River in Anson County, N. C. Lynch's Creek was a member of the Charleston prior to 1775.
From Enhaw one of the constituent churches of the Charleston John Vannoy who preached at New Hope (?) where Rev. Hugh McAden. found Miller and his church; afterwards Vannoy moved to Wilkes County and was present at the organization of New Hope church in that section, but the latter was not named for the former. This I learn from Brother W. H. Eller, of Greensboro, who is descended from Elder Vannoy. Elder M. C. Barnett, born 1818, died 1872, and John R. Logan, 1811-1884, historians of the Broad River Association, who spent their lives in its bounds, name the Charleston as the first Association of this section - and the others as descendants.
The tradition of the country so holds. Elder C. B. Justice told me recently that a brother of his grandfather was a minister in the Charleston Association, and that he thinks Mountain Creek church was a member of it, and he has always heard that the Charleston did the original Baptist work of this region. Until evidence can be produced that there were other forces besides the Charleston Association holding the doctrine of the independent church at work in this section, it must be conceded that it did the work.
About 1800 the Sandy Creek churches seem to have "learned the way of the Lord more perfectly" and in 1808 we find Congaree a member of the Charleston and most of the others of the Bethel. Fair Forest although in the midst of the territory of the Broad River Association does not unite with it until 1844.
The Methodists came into this section of North Carolina by the Charleston route - South Carolina Conference until about 1870. Ministers from Charleston attended the Conference at Rock Spring Camp Ground, Lincoln County, as late as 1868.
Charleston was the "sea port town" for all this region.
Machpelah, N. C.
[From Biblical Recorder, June 4, 1902, p. 1. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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