For more than a hundred years the Baptists have been talking about a history of the denomination in the State, but until last year nothing was done to secure the preparation or publication of such a book. At last the work has been done. It is by Rev. Charles B. Williams, a native of Camden County and a graduate of Wake Forest College, The title is, "A History of the Baptists In North Carolina," . It is neatly printed by Edwards & Broughton; and so is a North Carolina book throughout. It is easily read, as there are only 214 pages in all. The object of this paper is to commend the work to those persons who desire to know something of the origin and progress of the Baptists in North Carolini from the beginning to the present time. This book can not be called a history; it is rather a hand-book or book of reference. Of course the history of a great denomination can not be compressed into a space of 200 pages, but the outline is there; such as a man wants for reference; such as the Sunday-school teacher will want in speaking to his class on the history of the North Carolina Baptists; such as every head of a family who wishes his children to be informed concerning the denomination to which they belong, will desire to have on his table.
Mr. Williams has not attempted to do original work, but he has gone over documents which have been printed and made public, arranging and condensing them so as to make an interesting and instructive volume. Nothing seems to have escaped him and his work has been done with remarkable skill relying only upon documents which have already appeared. The work is not free from mistakes, but on the whole it is correct, and few persons will read it without a feeling of thankfulness that God raised up the Baptists at a time when there was no one else in North Carolina to supply the lack of preaching and religious teaching. I should be very glad to know that a copy of this book has been placed in very many of the Baptist families of the State. I think it is in the hands of Edwards & Broughton. I do not know the price, but the publishers will answer all inquiries on the subject. I have seen nothting better in the way of book making in North Carolina, whether one considers the author's part of it or that of the publisher.
Permit me to call attention to another valuable work on the history of North Carolina Baptists. It is Major William A. Graham's work on the South Fork Association. This body lies along the Catawba River and was early occupied by the Baptists. A gentleman from New York wrote me some years ago that the ancestors of Stonewall Jackson were Baptists who lived in that part of North Carolina. They emigrated, he said, to Kentucky and thence to Ohio and West Virginia. Mr. Woodmason, a missionary of the Church of England, stated in 1769, that the Baptists had established a line of churches west of the Presbyterian settlements in Mecklenburg and along the Yadkin River. The Baptists of that region have become a great body, but they have reached their prosperity only through much tribulation. It is by arduous labor and heavy sacrifices that the Baptists have occupied the country in so large a measure. But with the exception of John R. Logan's History of the King's Mountain Baptist Association, no one has attempted to tell the thrilling story until Major Graham took the work in hand. He is well qualified for it, being a graduate of our State University in its palmiest days; being also a man of literary tastes and turn of mind, with considerable talents for historical investigation. He is also familiar with the ground of which he speaks. His ancestors marched or fought over most of it during the Revolution, and he himself now owns the plantation on which his grandfather, the old Revolutionary hero, closed his earthly career. The preparation of this book has been a labor of love with Major Graham, and he has done his work well. Few Baptists can read it without having their pulses quickened and their faith and courage strengthened.
On one point I beg leave to differ with Major Graham. He thinks the flrst Baptist settlers in that region came from Charleston, though he admits that there is no evidence to that effect. The Baptists of Charleston were never a missionary body. They were profoundly interested in education and after after the Particulars had triumphed over the Generals In the law-suit about church property, they were also very earnest in their efforts to have the Philadelphia Association send a missionary or missionaries into North Carolina to convert the General Baptists, who were already on the ground, from the error of their ways. These General Baptists were at Jersey on the Yadkin as early as 1758 or possibly earlier, and it was to this body that John Gano and Vanhorn and Miller first came when they were sent out by the Philadelphia Association. The settlement, of the West, like those of the East, were first occupied by the General Baptists. Whence they came can not now be definitely known. Some of them came from Pennsylvania, Virginiand Maryland; others coming from the East ascending the Roanoke, the Tar River, the Nease and the Cape Fear to their head waters and then settled near or moved farther westward, towards the mountains. It Is certain that in what was afterwards the Sandy Creek Association, these General Baptists were already settled before the coming of Stearns and Marshall. Ledbetter, a brother-in-law of Marshall, had been in that region and passed on to Lynch's Creek in South Carolina, about twenty miles from Monroe. He afterwards returned to join Stearns and Marshall, and spent the remainder of his life in North Carolina. So far as the evidence goes, South Carolina contributed few, if any, Baptist settlers in the region of which Major Graham'8 book treats. I beg heartily to commend his work. It is a most interesting and instructive volume, and I should rejoice to hear that it has reached a large circulation.
[From the Biblical Recorder, April 30, 1902, p. 4; On-line edition. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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