Chapter 25: When Saints Come Marching In

The_Ordination_of_Bishop_AsburyFrancis Asbury made his way to our great country in 1772, two years before the Boston TeaParty. For forty-five years, he travelled the roads preaching the gospel. He became one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church founded in 1784 by John Wesley. Asbury’s illiterate driver, freedman “Black Henry” Hozier, memorized long passages of Bible that Asbury read aloud and so he, too, became a famous preacher. In 1790, twenty percent of American Methodism was African-American. In 1794, Asbury ordained the first black minister in the U.S., Richard Allen in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, down South, the Methodists had circuit riders so one shepherd could cover the pastoral duties of several small congregations. Daniel Asbury was one of these pastors, a highly regarded preacher who had the debateable honor and duty to climb mountains, struggle through virgin forests, and ford creeks/rivers for the infidel.

While his brothers were fighting in the Revolutionary War, fifteen-year-old Daniel was captured by Indians, scalped, survived, and adopted by the Chief. He must have been a good talker because, according to, he lived with the tribe for seven years and converted many of them. He then entered the travelling ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, settled in Lincoln County, NC, and had a tribe of children himself. He was not related to Bishop Asbury, but they were good friends and frequently visited each other. They both had a lot to talk about.

The Revolutionary War shattered the Presbyterian foothold in NC because many were Loyalists. The tradition of Calvinism was seriously questioned, leaving a vacuum for change in thought. In a current issue of Good News, a professor in Philosophy at Houston Baptist University, describes a distinction between the two Protestant religions in his article “The Sovereignty of God.” Jerry Walls writes, according to classic Calvinism, God “specifically causes everything to happen exactly as it does.” Contrasting is the Methodist Wesleyan principal that “our free choices are circumscribed by His divine will.”

A remant of the difference of opinion is found on grave markers at Mountain Creek Baptist Church southwest of Nanneytown. This was recorded in the Flack Family Heritage pages that Mary Glenn shared. Alvira Higgins Flack, born 1808 and died in 1881, mother of 12, has an inscription on her tombstone “She was a member of the Methodist Church.”

Her husband died in 1890 and had the last word. His grave marker reads “He was a pious man and a Presbyterian.”cross-40451_640

Marital differences I can understand, but I hate it when preachers fight!!! In 1790 the Methodist Church entered the Montford Cove neighborhood, formerly a Baptist stronghold that may have been a more democratic organization fitting well with the ideals of the early settlers who were suspicious of intruders. For the sake of accuracy, I will quote from The History of Old Tryon and Rutherford County, N.C. by Clarence Griffith, pgs 591-592 according to Mary Glenn’s contributer: “An incident occurring in this county in 1789 will show something of the opposition and persecution met. A band headed by Perminter Morgan seized Daniel Asbury and hurried him to trial before Jonathan Hampton, a justice of the peace and a gentlemen of intelligence, at Gilberttown. (Now Rutherfordton). The magistrate asked ‘What crime has been committed by Mr. Asbury, that you have thus arrested him and brought him in this presence of an officer of the law?’

‘He is going about everywhere through the country preaching and he has no authority to do so. We believe he is nothing but an imposter and we have brought him before you that you may do something with him and forbid him to preach any more in the future.’

“The magistrate questioned, ‘Does he make the people who go to hear him preach any worse than they were before?’

‘We don’t know what he does, but he ought not to preach.’

Justice Hampton replied, ‘Well, if he makes people no worse, the probability is he makes them better; so I will release him and let him try it again’.”

Daniel Asbury may have left the neighborhood, but he stayed in the region. He was instrumental in the establishment of the first Methodist Church west of the Catawba River in 1791.

Worth noting in the first half of the 19th century there was a religious movement that some called the Second Great Awakening. On an August weekend in 1801, twenty thousand folks descended upon Cane Ridge Church twenty miles east of Lexington, KY., in an evangelical religious explosion that was called “arguably the most important religion gathering in all of American history.”

Before 1845 there was emphasis on education resulting in the creation of Sunday schools and institutions of higher learning. By then the Methodist Episcopal Churches divided into north and south conferences reflecting the philosophical/political positions in the country. What man has created, man will tear apart. Check out the Methodist Church of 2015. Still fighting. I know, I am affiliated.

In 1839 the following presented themselves to be constituted a Church by the name of Montford Cove Baptist Church: Jonathan Ledbetter, William Grayson, Abraham Toney, William Cooper, Mary Wilkerson, Lillian Ledbetter, Mary Harris, Jane Bradley, Rebecca Frazier (could be Freshour), Martha Ward, dismissed from Bill’s Creek Church, Catherine Norris from Bethel, Nancy Elliott from Bethlehem, W. Hall, a licensed preacher and wife, Tempie Hill from Franklin Church. The church called Brother Wade Hill to be their Pastor. By 1855 they had 270 members. Contributions were 80 cents. This was not an affluent community, but they seemed to have their priorities right. War would test them.

Well-populated Montford Cove Baptist Church cemetery Photo in Fall of 2014

Well-populated Montford Cove Baptist Church cemetery
Photo in Fall of 2014

Land for the building was given by Jessie Wilkerson, and later adjoining land was given by F.V. Harris and others. The first church was built in the southern part of the cemetery. It was a large one-story frame building. The second church was built in the western part of the cemetery but destroyed by fire caused by lightening in 1934. Immediate plans were made for rebuilding a brick building in the same place. The project cost $6,000 cash and lots of free labor. That was the rest of the story.

East of Montford Cove in 1840, the Round Hill Baptist Church in Union Mills was also having reverberations from the saints. Next post soon.



Copyright, 2015, Georgia Wilson









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