Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Sketches of North Carolina
Chapter XXVIII - Rev. Humphrey Hunter and Steele Creek, Goshen and Unity

HUMPHREY HUNTER was one of those men, who, having suffered and fought bravely in the war of American Independence, gave the strength of their manhood and the ripened experience of their age, to proclaiming the gospel of everlasting deliverance from sin and misery by the Lord Jesus Christ. Drawn by the excitement of the occasion, he mingled with the crowd that in May, 1775, listened to the Declaration of Independence in Charlotte, and carefully preserved a copy of that memorable document, the pioneer of Declarations of Independence, for the benefit of his children and of posterity. Tie joined in the shout of approval when Col. Polk read the paper from the court-house steps, and was among the foremost to redeem the pledge so solemnly given, "of life, and fortune, and most sacred honor," by taking arms in the defence of liberty, and suffering 'captivity and wounds in the sacred cause. All his matured years were given to preaching the gospel of our Lord. His first services were rendered in South Carolina. From thence he removed to Lincoln county, in North Carolina, and took charge of the congregations of Goshen and Unity, and some time after extended his services to Steele Creek, one of the oldest congregations in the State, bordering on Sugar Creek (which embraced Charlotte) on the southwest. Goshen became a preaching-place anterior to Unity, and Steele Creek long before either.

From the fact that in 1776 a call was brought into the Synod of New York and Philadelphia from Steele Creek and Providence, it is probable that the church on Steele Creek was organized by Messrs. Elihu Spencer and Alexander McWhorter, who were sent by the Synod in 1764 to the back part of North Carolina, to aid the people in organizing churches, settling their boundaries, and taking proper steps to obtain regular pastoral services. In 1765, the Synod appointed Rev. Messrs. Kerr, Duffield, Ramsay, David Caldwell, Latta, and McWhorter, to spend each half a year in the vacant congregations of Carolina. In the next year the call for the services of Mr. Kerr is sent to Synod.

Long previous to that time there was occasional preaching on Steele Creek, by missionaries and travelling preachers, as McAden, while those who were willing to ride the distance of from six- to sixteen miles, could attend on the preaching at Sugar Creek. In the early settlements, fifteen and sixteen miles were often passed over to attend the sanctuary on a Sabbath morning ; and as many more in the evening, to return to the secluded forest homes of the scattered inhabitants that ultimately formed Steele Creek and Providence churches, whose nearest regular preaching was at Sugar Creek. The settlement of all these congregations commenced about the same time, Sugar Creek and Rocky River taking the precedence somewhat in point of time, and very particularly in obtaining the services of a settled pastor.

In 1767, the Rev. Robert Henry, the first settled pastor on Cub Creek, Charlotte county, Virginia, having left his charge in Virginia, accepted a call from Steele Creek and Providence; in the mysterious Providence of God, he closed his life that year.

The Rev. Dr. McRee, so long pastor of Centre, spent some twenty years of his life in Steele Creek, taking his residence there in 1778 and leaving it in 1797. A more particular account of him will be given under the head of Centre congregation. Between his service and the time of Mr. Henry, the congregation does not appear to have had a settled minister, unless Mr. Reese was occupied a few years with Steele Creek and Providence. He was preaching in Mecklenburg about the commencement of the Revolution, and used his pen for his country.

You may find Steele Creek church on the road from Camden, South Carolina, through Lincoln to Tennessee, some ten miles southwest from Charlotte, and some five or six south of Tuckasege ford. As you go up from Camden, you will pass the spacious church on the left hand; but whichever way you may be passing you will not mistake the low wooden house, the second upon the same site, with the old grave-yard, a few steps to the cast, filled with monuments, and the new yard on the west across the great road, with a few graves, the chosen resting-place of a large congregation.

Would you see the records of Steele Creek? She has no history. None of her females conversant with events of thrilling interest, when Steele Creek was the track of armies in the Revolutionary struggle, has like the old lady of Poplar Tent, committed to writing the circumstances peculiar to the congregation, whose recital shall warm the heart of every one who traces his line of descent from the actors in these stirring and often bloody scenes. Had some one called their attention, like the Pastor of Poplar Tent, to the difference between traditionary story growing more and more faint and uncertain with passing years, and the written record that may remain to all time, in all probability some of the ladies of the past generation would have prevented our saying Steele Creek has no history.

But she has records. Not written with pen and ink, but graven in the enduring rock, records brief, concise, numerous, and characteristic. With the ever to be commended practice of gathering the remains of the dead to the sepulchres of their fathers, in the enclosure near the place of worship, securely walled in, sacred as the place of graces, unexposed to the plough of the stranger or the cold-hearted descendant, this congregation has gone farther and excelled their neighbors, in erecting those monumental stones, that shall tell what people and families have once been active in the business of life on the surrounding plantations, have mingled in social intercourse, and in the worship of God, in that decaying house, have tasted of the sweets and bitterness of life, then given place to others, soon to vanish away before the infants of to-day. Wave after wave passes on, and those brief records and enduring stones tell where they brake on the shore of eternity.

Were these that worshipped here more reverential of the dead? or more affectionate in attachments unsevered by the grave? or more abundant in resources to procure what gentle-hearted poverty might. sigh for in vain, a monument, or tablet, or grave-stone; a monument of the dead? or was it simply that their habitations were many miles of "weary hauling" nearer the market and the workshop?

Will you walk among these tombs? Perhaps pride and vanity shall be humbled, worldliness may get a death-blow; and the heart go away chastened from the perusal of these monumental stones pointing faith to the skies, and cheerful under the providence of God that has not yet, consigned. us to the silent abodes. Let us enter by this gate, in the west wall, near the church, and advancing a few paces northeastwardly, read the brief and only record of one that shed his blood in the battle of Camden:—

Sacred to the Memory of
who departed this life July 30th, 1795.
Aged 52 years.
An unexceptionable character,
in whose death
his family, his neighborhood,
the State, and the Church,
sustained a loss.

in that unfortunate battle in which Gates was defeated and De Kalb slain, this man received three wounds, the pains of which never left him, and went with the honorable scars to his grave. Two facts about this man are of enduring interest, that he was a Christian, and a soldier of the Revolution, that poured out blood and carried wounds for his country. One is recorded here,--the record was too brief to make mention of the other. Would that some hand that can guide the iron-pen would fill out this record; and go on through this yard, and throughout the whole community ,of Carolina, and tell to posterity the names, and where lies the dust of the men who suffered in the Revolution: how it would catch a stranger's eye! how it would throb the heart of a descendant, travelling from time far South or West to visit the sepulchre of his ancestor!

"It is the fortune of war," said Captain McDowell, of the army of His Majesty George III., while plundering this man's house, in a foraging party, during the brief sojourn of Cornwallis in Charlotte in the year 1780. " Is it soldier-like to plunder a helpless family so, and leave us nothing?" said the wife and mother. "But, madam, we must have something to eat, and these rebels won't bring it in." "And have you no women and children at home?" "What is your name, madam?" "McDowell is our name." "McDowell! that is my name; "where are you from?" "Our family carne from Scotland, Sir." "Aye! and very likely then ye are kin of mine; I have some here in America." Calling in his men, saying they had got enough from that house, he added, "An' likely ye have some of your family amongst the rebels; but it is the fortune of war. Goodbye! it is the fortune of war."

"Carried these scars from the battle-field to his graze!" How that deed chiselled in this stone would move the heart of every passenger. And if the actions of the dead were briefly hinted at upon their tomb-stones, how coming generations would read in the enclosure at Sugar Creek,—ABRAHAM ALEXANDER, Elder in the Church, and President of the Convention, May 20th, 1775 ; and in Hopewell, near the Arma Libertatis of Bradley, DAVIDSON fell at Cowan's Ford, resisting; the Invasion of 1781; and in Bethany, HALL, Captain of a Company, and Chaplain to the Regiment in actual service in the Revolution; and as they read feel the unutterable emotions of a soul stirred up to deeds of excellence by the memory of these worthies, the like of whom the world cannot soon see again.

Men begin to trace their origin to the emigration from Ireland with conscious exultation ; and the actors, and the deeds, and the very places of Revolutionary events are invested with a constantly increasing interest. Where are they? is the inquiry of the patriotic and the young; and could this money-seeking age but anticipate the eagerness with which the coming generations will search for the tombs and the battle-fields, and the scenes of patriotic exploits on the line of march from Camden to Guilford, it would blush.

But look around a little, see this peculiar fashion of these records of the dead, which mark the period immediately following the. Revolution:—they are made with raised letters, and contrast with those less shapely older, and these smoother new ones, that are deeply chiselled. The very fashion of the monuments proclaims that we are in a changing world. You may count the generations, from the low and rudely sculptured head-stones of the old settlers, through the more erect and stately, and the embossed letters, to the polished marble of to-day. There is one class peculiar, and not unpleasing. On a single head-stone, in parallel columns, are the short record of man and wife; joined in life, joined in death, joined in the recollection of the living, and in the hopes of eternity, they are not separated in the grave or the monuments of the tomb. You may see one erected by a surviving partner, in which the column for the dead, filled up, stands waiting for the inscription that death shall put upon the other.

None of these monuments have stood a century. Very many, whose shape and workmanship tell you they have a claim to be numbered among the oldest in this yard, are to the memory of little children. As in actual life, more have died in infancy than in old age; so here, in the early times of this congregation, more monuments were raised for the young than for the old, and most for infants. Did these people love their parents less? or was it the tender affection of faith, softening the hearts of emigrants and their children, and protecting from the intrusion of careless feet, and larger sepulchres, the little graves, where slept the sweet flowers, plucked so soon away, not to perish, but to bloom in heaven for ever? Religion is amiable, faith is lovely: and Christ has bound the Christian heart to heaven more strongly by the little ones he has gathered in his arms and blessed. And when did the departure of threescore years and ten so open the fountain of tears, as when the little one has gone away? What multitudes have said, in bitter tears, "I will go down into the grave to my child, mourning."

Wherever you turn, you see the influence of the continually moulding power of poetry and music. How deep into the heart the sacred songs of a worshipping congregation, sung by fathers and children and great-grandchildren, shoot their influence, and mingle with the springs of thought, and carry along the rhythm of the poetry and the cadence of the song, sacred from immemorial time. Read this:—

In memory of
who died March 30th, 1805.
A good economist through life.
In all respects was she
A tender mother, virtuous wife.
Deceased 3 score & 3.
And this on the tomb of a young person
Stop, careless youth, and read,
And as you read consider
How soon the worm may feed
On you and I together.

You feel at once the cadence and rhyme of David's Psalms in metre, as sung in times past by the churches in Scotland, and by many still in America.

Mrs. Alexander, of Poplar Tent, in her Birthday Meditations, everywhere shows that the Bib]e gave her the truths for a foundation, her catechism, the framework of her thoughts, and Watts the peculiar fashion. Watts's Psalms and Hymns have been sung these sixty years or more in Poplar Tent; and the version of Rouse is still still part of every Sabbath in public worship in Steele Creek.

Of the four ministers laid in the yard, three were of the Seceding Church and congregation, as they are called, whose place of worship, called Little Steele Creek, is but a short distance to the south. The congregations are much intermingled, and both have retained a partiality for David's Psalms in metre.

It is more than probable that all the congregations of the Scotch and Irish origin would, in the southern and southwestern States, have become one body after the Revolution, having few causes of division, and many to draw them into closer union, could they have agreed upon their Psalmody, or used with each other the kindness and discretion that has been, and now is, exercised in Steele Creek. In some places the ineradicable prejudices of the old, that had sung, as their fathers did, Psalms of sacred melody, till they had become sweet to their ears and sweeter to their hearts, were not dealt with as tenderly as they might have been, in what seemed their unreasonableness in opposing all improvement as innovation. In other cases the opposition to the use of Watts, or any more modern versification, was carried to a degree of bitterness unbecoming the cause. In consequence, many congregations were split, and some that had been, and still are, reckoned Presbyterians, were found arrayed under the name of Seceder or Associate, not in war, but in self-defence.

The sacred songs of a congregation, and the tunes chosen for their public worship, are a type of the piety of the people. The Presbyterian church has happily retrograded for the last few years, and sought for old paths, and the good way, to find rest. Had not the Assembly afforded so excellent and grave a collection of Psalms and Hymns for public worship, the ebbing tide would not have stopped at Watts's Version, it would have retreated further, and old Rouse would have been sung again in many congregations. Many hymns had crept into use, as profane to the ears of multitudes of the pious, and as indissolubly connected with irreverent thoughts, as in the minds of many the organ is with high church notions "and all pappistrie," and the flute and the violin with all revelry. Congregations have been rent by an -attempted change of their psalmody, and many more that now seem firmly united might be rent asunder by a hymn book, or a flute, or an organ.

Of the four ministers that lie in this yard, two were brothers they lie side by side under one broad tablet, Francis and James Pringle. The latter was pastor of the Seceder church, on Steele Creek, and the former of a church in Ohio. Francis died on a visit to his brother, on the 15th of March, 1818, in the fourth year of his ministry, and the twenty-ninth year of his age; James on the 28th of the succeeding October, in the fifth year of his ministry, and the thirtieth year of his age. The two bereaved congregations united and erected one broad, white, marble slab. to cover the graves of the two pastors, united in their infancy and youth, united in their religion, undivided in death, and the hope of a glorious resurrection.

On the numerous monuments around you may read the names of the old families that formed the band of emigrants to this now populous neighborhood;—Neely, Hart, Porter, Bighain, Sloan, M'Dowell, Grier, Herron, Vance, Davis, Tagart and Allen. Many of these names are found among the early settlements in the Valley of Virginia, which were formed a short time previously to this on Steele Creek.

Let us now turn to the monument of the patriot Humphrey Hunter, near the Session-house on the southwestern corner; and on. which headstone, read:

to the memory of the
who departed this life August 21st,
1827, in the 73d year of his age.
He was a native of Ireland, and
Emigrated to America at an early
period of his life. He was one of those
who early promoted the cause of
freedom in Mecklenburg county,
May 20th, 1775, and subsequently
bore an active part in securing
the Independence of his country.
For nearly 38 years he labored
as a faithful and assiduous
Ambassador of Christ, strenuously
enforcing the necessity of repentance,
and pointing out the terms of Salvation.
As a parent he was kind and affectionate;
as a friend warm and sincere; and as a
Minister persuasive and convincing.
Reared by the people of Steele Creek church.

Mr. Hunter undoubtedly merited all that is said of him on the monument. Of that race of people of whom Gordon in his History of Ireland says—"so great and wide was tie discontent, that many thousands of the Protestants emigrated from those parts of Ulster to the American settlements, where they soon appeared in arms against the British government and contributed powerfully by their zeal and valor, to the separation of the colonies from the empire of Great Britain." Of whom also, Col. Tarleton in the history of his campaigns in 1780 and 1781, speaking of the first irruption of the British troops under Lord Rawdon, into the Waxhavv settlement, on the borders of North Carolina—"the sentiments of the inhabitants did not correspond with his Lordship's expectations ; lie then learned, what experience confirmed, that the Irish were the most averse of all the settlers to the British government in America." He was born on the 14th of May, 1755, in the vicinity of Londonderry, in the North of Ireland, the native place of his father. His paternal grandmother was from Glasgow, Scotland; and his maternal from Brest, in France. The blood of the Scotch and the Huguenot was blended in Ireland, and the descendants emigrated to America and flourished in the soil of Carolina.

Deprived by death of his father in his fourth year, young Hunter embarked at Londonderry with his widowed mother for Charleston, S. C., on the 3d of May, 1759, on board the ship Helena. Arriving on the 27th of August, the family in a few days proceeded to Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, where the mother purchased land in the Poplar Tent congregation, and remained for life. As the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty was one of the principal causes of his mother's emigration, it is not wonderful that young Hunter grew up with a spirit jealous of encroachment from the English crown.

From the time of his reaching Mecklenburg till his twentieth year, little is known of him. We are left to the conjecture that he grew up familiar with aII the labors and privations of a frontier life, by which he became fitted to endure the fatigues and sufferings of a military expedition.

He attended the convention in Mecklenburg, May 20th, 1775, as one of the numerous crowd of spectators assembled on that exciting occasion. In his account of the meeting prefixed to his copy of the Declaration of Independence, he thus writes concerning the battle of Lexington, which took place on the 19th of April: "That was a wound of a deepening gangrenous nature, not to be healed without amputation. Intelligence of the affair speedily spread abroad, yea flew, as if on the wings of the wind collecting a storm,. No sooner had it reached Mecklenburg than an ardent, patriotic fire glowed almost in every breast; it was not to be confined; it burst into a flame ; it blazed through every corner of the country. Communications from one to another were made with great facility. Committees were held in various neighborhoods; every man was a politician. Death rather than slavery, was the voice comparatively of all."

Soon after the Declaration of Independence, a regiment was raised in Mecklenburg, under Col. Thomas Polk, and Col. Adam Alexander, to march against some tories who were embodied in the lower part of the State. Mr. Hunter went as a private in the company of Capt. Charles Polk, nephew of Col. Thomas Polk. The tories dispersed at the approach of this force, and the regiment speedily returned without bloodshed or violence.

Mr. Hunter then commenced his classical education at Clio's Nursery, in Rowan county (now Iredell), under the instruction of Rev. James Hall. The following certificates, preserved by Mr. Hunter, show the order of the congregation, and the care with which the morals of youth were watched over by church officers and instructors in schools. The first appears to have been required for his honorable standing at Clio's Nursery

This is to certify, that the Bearer, Humphrey Hunter, has lived in the Bounds of this Congregation upwards of four years, and has Behaved himself Inoffensively, Not being Guilty of any Immoral Conduct known to us, Exposing him to Church Censure, and is free from public Scandal. Given under our hands at Poplar Tent, this 18th day of October, 1778. Ruling Elders JAMES ALEXANDER, J ROSS, ROBERT HARRIS."

When General Rutherford collected a brigade from Mecklenburg, Rowan, and Guilford counties, to repel the aggressions of the Cherokee Indians, Mr. Hunter received the commission of lieutenant under Captain Rob't Mayhen, in one of the three companies of cavalry that formed part of the corps. The campaign was successful ; the Indian forces were scattered, and their chiefs taken.

After this campaign Mr. 'Hunter resumed his classical studies at Queen's Museum, in Charlotte, under the care of Dr. McWhorter, who had removed from New Jersey to take charge of that situation, with flattering prospects. Of the moral and religious character of the young inan, the following certificate in the handwriting of his instructor is testimony, viz.

That the bearer, Humphrey I hunter, has continued a student in Clio's Nursery from August, 1778, till last October; that he applied to his studies with diligence; was admitted to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in Bethany Congregation; has during the aforesaid Time conducted himself as it good member both of religious and civil Society, and is hereby well recommended to the Regard of any Christian Community where Divine Providence may order his lot,—is certified by

"Bethany, Jan. 12, 1780. " JAS. HALL, V.D.M.

In the summer of 1780, Liberty Hall Academy, or Queen's Museum, as it was originally named, was broken up by the approach of the British army under Lord Cornwallis, after the surrender of Charleston, and the massacre of Buford's regiment on the Waxhaw, and the course of study never resumed under the direction of Dr. McWhorter, who returned to New Jersey. Upon the breaking up of the College, the younger students were commended to their parents and guardians, and the older were urged to take the field in the cause of their country. It is not to be supposed that young Hunter required much urging to take up arms with his fellow-citizens of Mecklenburg, who five years before had pledged "their lives and their honor." Upon the orders of General Rutherford to the battalions of the western counties of the State, a brigade assembled at Salisbury. For the first three weeks, Mr. Hunter acted as commissary, and afterwards as lieutenant in the company of Captain Thomas Givens. Having scoured the tory settlement on the north-east side of the Yadkin, the forces under General Rutherford joined the army of General Gates at Cheraw.

On the morning of the 16th of August, the unfortunate battle of Camden took place by the mutual surprise of the marching armies ; and the forces under Gates were completely routed. General Rutherford was wounded and taken prisoner, with many of his men. Mr. Hunter, soon after his surrender as prisoner of war, witnessed the death of the Baron De Kalb. He tells us, he saw the Baron, without suite or aide, and apparently separated from his command, ride facing the enemy. The British soldiers clapping their hands on their shoulders, in reference to his epaulettes, shouted, "a General, a rebel General!" Immediately a man on horseback (not Tarleton) met him, and demanded his sword. The Baron, with apparent reluctance, presented the hilt; but drawing back, said in French, "Are you an officer, sir?" His antagonist, perhaps not understanding his question, with an oath, more sternly demanded his sword. The Baron dashed from him, disdaining, as is supposed, to surrender to any but an officer, and rode in front of the British line, with his hand extended. The cry along the line of, "A rebel General," was speedily followed by a volley, and after riding some twenty or thirty rods, the Baron fell. He was immediately raised to his feet, stripped of his hat, coat, and neckcloth, and placed with his hands resting on the end of a wagon. His body had been pierced with seven balls. While standing in this situation, the blood streaming through his shirt, Cornwallis, with his suite, rode up; and being told that the wounded man was De Kalb, he addressed him—"I am sorry, sir, to see you; not sorry that you are vanquished, but that you are so severely wounded." Having given orders to an officer to administer to the necessities of the wounded man as far as possible, the British General rode on to secure his victory; and in a little time the brave and generous De Kalb, who had seen service in the armies of France, and had embarked in the cause of the American States, breathed his last.

After seven days' confinement in a prison-yard in Camden, Mr. Hunter was taken, with about fifty officers, to Orangeburg, S. C., where he remained without hat or coat until Friday, the 13th of November, about three months from the time of his captivity. On that day he went to visit a friendly lady, who had promised him a homespun coat. On his way he was met by a horseman of Col. Fisher's command, who accused him of being beyond the lines, and sternly ordered him back to the station; threatening him with confinement, and trial for breach of his parole. Hunter explained, and apologized, and promised, but all to no purpose. "To the station!" "take the road!" Up the road went the rebel Whig, sour and reluctant, and made indignant by the frequent goading with the point of the tory royalist's sword. Passing a large fallen pine, from which the limbs had been burned, he suddenly leaped the trunk. The horseman fired one of his pistols,—missed his aim, and leaped his horse after him. Hunter adroitly leaped the other side the trunk, and began throwing at the horseman the pine knots that lay thick around. The second pistol was discharged, but without effect. By a blow of a well-aimed pine knot the horseman was brought to the ground, and disarmed by his prisoner. Hunter returned the tory his sword, on condition that he should never, on any condition, make known that any of the prisoners had crossed the forbidden line, or any way transgressed, promising himself to keep the whole matter of the late rencontre an inviolable secret.

On the following Sabbath a citation was issued by Col. Fisher, directing all militia prisoners to appear at the Court-House by 12 o'clock on Monday. The affair had been discovered. During the contest, the horse galloped off to the station with the saddle and holsters empty, and when the dismounted rider appeared a little time after with the bruises of the pine knots too visible to be denied, the curious inquiries that followed, baffled all his efforts at concealment; it was soon noised abroad that one or more of the prisoners had broken parole and attacked an officer. The report reaching the Colonel's ears, the order was issued for their appearance at the Court-House. On Sabbath night, Hunter and a few others, expecting close confinement would follow their assembling on Monday noon, seized and disarmed the guard and escaped. He was nine nights in making his way back to Mecklenburg, lying by during the day to avoid the patroles of the British, and sustaining himself upon the greenest of the cars of corn lie could gather from the unharvested fields.

In a few days after his return home, he again joined the army, and became a lieutenant of cavalry under Col. Henry Hampton, and attached to the regiment under Col. Henry Lee, received a wound in the battle at the Eutaw Springs, where so much personal bravery was displayed. His military services closed with that campaign; and he returned home with a good name, his bravery unquestioned and his integrity unsullied.

He resumed his classical studies at the school taught by the Rev. Robert Archibald, near Poplar Tent, as appears by the following certificate, in the irregular hand and crooked lines of his preceptor, which is the only evidence at hand of the classical school in that congregation immediately after the war.

"Mecklenburg, St. N. Carolina,

"This is to certify, that the bearer, Humphrey Hunter, has been some years at this school in the capacity of a student; and during the term has conducted himself in a sober, genteel and Christian manner; and we recommend him as a youth of good character, to any public seminary where Divine Providence may cast his lot.

Certified and signed by order of the trustees, this 3d day of Nov., 1785.


This. certificate of character appears to have been given as a requisite for holding his standing at Mount Zion College, his Alma Mater. The following from the hand of Mr. Archibald was also given at the same time, and probably for the same purpose.

"Mecklenburg, State of North Carolina.

"This is to certify that the bearer, Humphrey Hunter, has lived in the bounds of this congregation from his Infancy, and behaved himself in a sober and Christian manner, is in full cornmunion with the church, and clear of all public scandal known to us ; and we recommend him to the care of any Christian society where God in his providence may cast his lot. Certified and signed by order of sessions, at Poplar Tent, this 3d of November, 1785.


During the summer of 1785 he was entered as a student of Mount Zion College, at Winnsborough, in South Carolina, which after the war for a time supplied the place of Liberty Hall, or Queen's Museum, at Charlotte, in completing the classical education of young men desirous of entering upon professional life.

The following is a copy of his degree, granted by the trustees of that institution, which has long since passed away, after having been for a time a shining light directing in the path of science and literature, Alumni that have honored their Alma Mater and the church, men in whom any institution may have gloried. The original is in beautiful German Text.



Omnibus et singulis ad cquos haec literati pervencrint.

Salutem in Domini.

Notum sit quod nobis placet Auctoritate publico Diplomats nobis colnmissa, Hurnfredum Hunter, candidatum primum in Artibus Graduum competentem examine sufficiente previo approbatuln Titulo graduque Artium liberalium Baccalaurei adornare. In cujus Rei Tcstimonium Literis Sigillo Collegii munitis nomina subscripsimus.

John Winn, James Craif, Trustees.

Datum in Aula Collegii, apud Winnsburgium, in Carolina Meridionali, quarto Nonas Julii, Anno Arce Christi millesinio scptuagentesinlo et octogcsilnno scptitno."

Having pursued the study of theology about two years, under the Presbytery of South Carolina, he received license to preach the gospel, in the following words, viz.

Bullock's Creek, Oct. 15th, 1789.

The Presbytery having examined Mr. Humphrey Hunter on the Latin and Greek languages, the sciences and divinity, and being well satisfied with his moral and religious character, and his knowledge of the languages, sciences, and divinity, do license him to preach the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ,—and affectionately recommend him to our vacancies.

"ROBERT HALL, Presbyt. Clerk."

A call, in the usual form of the Confession of Faith, was made out for Mr. Hunter, from the congregations of Hopewell, on Jeffrey's Creek, and Aimwell, on Pee Dee, in South Carolina, and signed the 1st day of October, 1791, by the following names:

Thomas Wickham, Gavin Witherspoon, John Ervin, L. Derkins, Hugh Ervin, Thos. Cann, Jerem. Gurley, Aaron Gasque, Wm. Stone, John Gregg, Joseph Burch, Hance Davis, Joseph Jelly, Hugh Muldrow, Jas. Greer, John Carson, W. Flagler, Wm. Gregg, James 'Thompson, James Hudson, Joseph Gregg, Thos. Hudson, John Cooper, David Bigern, John Orr, James Orr, J. Baxter, Wm. Wilson, Henry Futhey, G. Bigham, Alexr. Pettigrew, Wm. Muldrow, J. Muldrow, jr., James Cole, John McRee, John Witherspoon, 'Thomas Canady, Robert Gregg.

Probably not a man that signed the call now lives ; but the preceding list may direct some of their descendants to a parent's name, at the same time it shows to us the manner of signing a call some fifty years ago. The salary promised was £120 sterling per annum, about $533,331 cts.

Mr. Hunter's name first appears upon the records of Synod as a member in 1793.

In the year 1795, Mr. Hunter removed to Lincoln County, and became a member of Orange Presbytery on the first day of its first meeting, at Bethphage, Dec. 24th. The same year, by act of Synod, the Presbytery of Concord was set off, consisting of twelve members, of which lie was to be one. Upon a call, made out in the usual form, for half his time, by the inhabitants of Goshen congregation, promising him sixty-two pounds ten shillings current money of North Carolina, or fifty pounds in gold or silver dollars at eight shillings, and gold in proportion, the following names appear, viz.: Robert Johnson, Robert Johnson, Jr., Andrew Johnson, Joseph Dickson, Wm. Rankin, Henry Davies, John McCaul, Robert Alexander, James Martin, James Rutledge, James Gullick, Benjamin Smith, James Dickson, William Moore, Jonathan Graves, David Baxter, John Moore, Samuel Caldwell, Robert Curry. This call he accepted, March 30th, 1796.

It would be interesting to the present inhabitants of Unity congregation, which was united with Goshen in the labors of a pastor and in his support, their call having been presented and accepted March 30th, 1796, could the signers of the call from that congregation be given; it, however, was not found among the papers of Mr. Hunter. These two congregations embraced the region of country lying along the west side of the Catawba, from some distance above Beattie's Ford, to the South Carolina line, and from the river to the large congregation of Olney, at that time flourishing and extending over a large section of the country southwest of the Court-House.

Goshen was a place of occasional preaching at a very early period of the settlement of the region west of the Cata\vba. Its location was decided by a singular circumstance. A stranger passing through the country, probably in search of a proper place for emigration, took sick, and after a length of time, died. During his sickness and the previous short sojourn among the people along the west bank of the Catawba, his pleasing manners gained him the sympathies of the whole settlement. He was buried on the brow of a gentle declivity. One family after another chose to bury their dead on the declivity by the stranger; and that spot became the place of interment for the whole neighborhood. In choosing the place for their tent for public worship, and afterwards for the church, their reverence for the dead led the inhabitants to the same spot. The first church stood a few rods from the present, at one corner of the burying-ground.

Before the erection of Goshen and Unity as churches and congregations, the nearest places of worship were Steele Creek, Centre, Hopewell, Charlotte, and Olney. To these places the most contiguous neighborhoods resorted, till the increasing numbers, as well as the distance, rendered the organization of the two congregations necessary. Owing to the small number of clergymen and the habits incident to a frontier settlement, the bounds of the congregations were large, and the border families rode far for the ordinances of the Gospel. In this unavoidable arrangement, there were, in the early settlement of the country, many advantages that went far to counterbalance all the difficulties that arose from the distance to the house of God.

For many years before his death, Mr. Hunter became pastor of Steele Creek church, having received their call in 1803, and devoted to the people of that charge part of his unremitting labors; the remainder he gave to New hope, having been released from Goshen in 1SO4. At his death the people of Steele Creek had the privilege of giving him a place of sepulture, and of erecting a marble headstone to his grave.

His own taste, and the necessities of his neighbors and parishioners led him, in the almost total want of good physicians, to pay some attention to medicine, and to prescribe in cases of necessity. His success became burdensome, and threatened, for a time, to interfere with his ministerial duties and his proper attention to his own family concerns. This laborious attention to the physical maladies of his people was never a source of pecuniary profit ; it was the exercise of his benevolence.

As a minister he was always distinguished for his evangelical sentiments and orthodoxy according to the Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church. In his preaching lie was earnest, unassuming, and often eloquent. Possessing a strong mind with powers of originality, and trained by the discipline of a classical education under men capable of producing scholars, he consecrated all his talents and acquirements to preaching the everlasting gospel, counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. In his advanced years his infirmities very much contracted his active labors, without impairing the vigor and discrimination of his mental powers, or the fervency and faithfulness of his preaching.

He possessed in a high degree a talent for refined sarcasm ; and his answer to triflers with his office or the great truths of religion, and sticklers for unimportant things, was a shaft from this quiver that pierced to the marrow. his benevolence as a minister, and his tenderness as a neighbor, forbade its use in his social intercourse. Honest objections, and difficulties arising from want of knowledge or proper reflection, he would meet kindly with truth and argument; sophistry and cavils he considered as deserving nothing but the lash which he knew how to apply till it stung like a scorpion.

His habits of preparation for the pulpit, like those of the laborious men of his own generation and the days preceding, were reading, prayerful meditation, and short notes. As lie wrote no sermons in full, he of course never read his discourses from the pulpit. A close observer of men and things, a close reasoner, he was classic in his style and systematic in his preaching. His congregations were well instructed in divine truth according to the orthodoxy of the Confession of Faith; and were sufficiently tried to test their knowledge and their faith during the excitements and discussions that accompanied the great revival.

He met death in a manner becoming a Christian minister, resigned and unshaken, and expired on the 21st of August, 1827, in the 74th year of his age. The writer of a short memoir that appeared the year succeeding, the only one of Mr. Hunter that ever was given to the public, concludes thus,—"The stars of the Revolutionary contest are rapidly setting. 'They shine with additional lustre as they go down from our view. They leave behind them a generation blessed with the light of their example, and permitted to gather the fruit of their toils. Another mighty revolution must take place before such a cluster of worthies will live and labor together. When, therefore, they pass from the stage of action, let not their posterity cease to venerate their names and record their virtues."

Mr. Hunter was above the ordinary stature, of a robust frame, and dark complexion. His eye indicated great intrepidity of character, and at times sternness, and sometimes the withering sarcasm that he knew how to wield with so much power. Of great simplicity of manners, his strong feelings and great candor made him above all affectation; sincere in his friendship, ingenuous in his dealings with men; while the evil feared him, good men loved him,—and as they knew him better they only loved him the more.

Return to Book Index Page   Return to Scots in America


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus