Chapter 26: Saints in Crab Apple Gap Step It Up

From the year 1839 under the leadership of Jonathan Ledbetter, the Montford Cove Baptists were growing their church, and in 1840 the Nanneytown folks over the mountain were building the Round Hill Baptist Church in an area called Dobbsville and later Crab Apple Gap. (according to the History of Union Mills by Nannie Newsome). 

In an earlier post, I mentioned the will of Jethro Wilkerson who married Polly Morgan, daughter of Pastor Perminter Morgan. They lived in Montford Cove and were buried at Montford Cove Baptist Church. Their daughter Tempie married Col. Amous Nanney over the mountain, and they were both buried at Round Hill Baptist Church. Amous was a grandson of Shadrach one of the first settlers in Nanney Town. (See Chapter 11: Historic Hillsdale Baptist Church) 

By 1846, the Nanney family straddled the moving McDowell and Rutherford County line when Amous Nanney purchased a tract of land along the main dirt road between Rutherfordton and Marion, the county seat of McDowell Co. It is now called Hiway 221. Amous mined gold in the river bottom there near Vein Mountain in the years before the Civil War. (See Brackett Town Saga)

Years later, the son of Albert Nanney, (buried at Liberty Hill cemetery in 1952) and his second wife Harriet Byrd (buried at Round Hill cemetery in 1953) would write about a controversy in the Baptist theology that split the community before the Civil War had a chance to do it. The Rev. Charles Nanney was one of the family historians who shared family archives with our Mary Glenn. Charles had seventeen half-siblings, a good reason to pursue genealogy.

This is his story: “Near the old home of Uncle Asbury Nanney (son of William Nanney who was killed in 1862 and buried at Round Hill) there stood an old log barn and granary for many years. Some readers may remember it as the site of Liberty Hill Church, where Nanneytown road leaves Highway 221. Across the road is the cemetery with familiar family names. A few of the remnants of the old baptismal pond may still be seen near the head of the little spring branch nearby.”

I will quote the essay preacher Charles wrote about Round Hill Baptist Church where he attended as a child. “As Baptists had their roots in England in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, there were two groups. 1) the General Baptists who believed that the atonement of Christ was for everyone, and 2) the Particular Baptists who were very ‘Calvinist’ and believed that all things are ‘Predestined’ and could not be changed. (Believing that the Atonement of Christ was for particular people, not everyone) This extreme Calvinistic teaching followed them to the new world, making the Baptists a largely Non-Missions group. (Why send missionaries since God has already decreed who shall be lost and who shall be saved?)”Praying on Bible

“In the early 19th century, a great revival broke out along the American seaboard led by John Whitefield and the two Wesleys, John and Charles, fathers of what was to be the Methodist movement. Their preaching had a new warmth which began to spread to the cold Baptist thinking, and it began to take root in the south in the Old Bethel and the other associations near us, and people began to find a new and warm freedom, from the cold Calvinist doctrine of predestination, taking root in communities, and the people grew restless under the yoke. They wanted freedom and liberty.” Reference History of North Carolina Baptists by G.W. Paschal, Vol. 2 pages 396-450,

“Round Hill Baptist Church (first called the Log Meeting House) was formed in 1840 with the first pastor being Elder H.W. Patterson. In about 1846, a couple of preachers (with the New Light Movement) came here from the big Broad River Association and began to preach this freedom and practice ‘Open Communion’ in observing The Lord’s Supper.” The Round Hill pastor led his people in the acceptance of this freedom, and in 1846, a group who wrote a beautiful Manifesto about their thirst for freedom walked out of the old church and formed a church where they could have LIBERTY, calling it the Liberty Hill Baptist Church. My great-grandmother Rody Nanney splashed her signature on it, as did newly ordained deacon Thomas Nanney, father of Amous Nanney, and others. It is a beautiful statement of faith.”

“The ‘rest of the story’ was that after this separation, more of the people of Round Hill Church got the idea and adopted it for themselves, and gradually the people who had formed Liberty Hill drifted back, one by one. Thus the group that had walked out for freedom lost the battle but they won the war. We now have a congregation that glories in our liberty in Christ because of what they did.”

Charles Nanney’s grandparents, James Harvey Nanney and Louisa Nannney were married in times of turmoil in 1856 and both are buried in Liberty Hill cemetery. Also part of “the rest of the story” was finding out that James Harvey Nanney was the illegitimate son of Shadrack’s daughter Rhoda Nanney. And he married his cousin, so they both had the same grandfather, but different grandmothers. It must have taken lots of research to figure that one out. I don’t know how he died in 1963, but he left three children, Albert, James, and William.

Wade Nanney told me that Charles had his textile engineering degree from NC State, but when he returned from military service, he entered the Southern Baptist Theology Seminary and graduated in 1955. He served churches in South Carolina for most of his career. In 1981 the Rev. Charles Nanney came home to retire in Union Mills (once Crab Apple Gap). He died in 2009.

Civil War Survivors

Civil War Survivors

Back in the period of Liberty Hill, a political firestorm escalated and engulfed the entire country. There would be no winners when our nation was divided. Here in the rural Montford Cove and Nanney Town areas were families broken forever. Some brothers never to see home again.

I’m sure Amous Nanney never imagined the cost when he enlisted in the Confederate Army in March of 1862.




Copyright, 2015, Georgia Wilson




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2 Responses to Chapter 26: Saints in Crab Apple Gap Step It Up

  1. NikeChillemi says:

    This history is so interesting. I’m far from Calvinist. I believe God wants everyone saved. It’s only our refusal that keeps us out. But how this evolved is so interesting.

    • georgia ruth says:

      Nike, thanks for your comment. I thought this religious disagreement was an appropriate counterpoint to the political discussion that led to all out war. Strong opinions on opposing sides.

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