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Reverend John McIntyre, 1750 TO 1852

Reverend John McIntyre, son of Catherine Ann Stuart and John (or Donald) McIntyre, was born on a farm called Kiunlochlaish in the Parish of Lismorc and Appin in Argyleshirc, Scotland, August 21,1750, and died November 17, 1S52—one hundred and two years, two months and twenty-six days old. It has been commonly believed in the family that his father s name was Donald, but in a paper written by Rev. John McIntyre, himself, in 1820, he gives his father's name as John. How- ever, we give both names. His father died when his son was seven years of age, and his mother about two years afterwards married Walter Milne, a Scottish schoolmaster of much culture and piety. His mother, Catherine Ann Stuart, was brought up a Roman Catholic, but upon her marriage to John McIntyre, who was an ardent Protestant, she renounced the Catholic faith. In consequence of this her father disinherited her, and therebv, she lost her part of his large estate.

John McIntyre, her husband, though not wealthy, possessed some property and was collaterally related to the royal house of Stuart. The stepfather, Walter Milne, gave all of the children, including the subject of this sketch, as extensive an education as was possible in the parish schools. The children of John McIntyre and Catherine Ann Stuart were:

(i) Donald (2) Christian (3) Ann (4) John (5) Mary (6) Another daughter, whose name is not recalled.

At the age of fourteen, young John McIntyre was converted under what he considered as miraculous circumstances, and, from that day forward, was noted for his unusual piety and religious activities. At this time John McIntyre seems to have had some kind of real spiritual vision. He was evidently a gay young man, taking part in dancing and other amusements of the young people of the day. In later life he was a man of strong intellect and marked common sense. Looking back over a long life he believed that this experience was a visitation from God. Soon after his playmates began calling him “Preacher McIntyre,” which, he says, was very painful to him. In the notes of his life written for his children in 1820, it seems that about the time he was eighteen to twenty years of age he lost practically everything he had, and it devolvcd upon him to take care of his sister, four years younger than he. He covenanted with God to serve him throughout his life if he would bless him in this endeavor. It seems he first worked for an eminent Doctor of Physick, in Glasgow, then for a shoemaker; however upon the advice of friends, he went to the Highlands of Scotland and became a shepherd which he describes as very profitable, easy, and comfortable employment. At this time he was about twenty years of age and he joined the church. It was not customary to join the church in this section until after marriage. The man whom he served as a shepherd does not seem to have been very religious and remonstrated with one shepherd for taking his Bible with him. John McIntyre says that he always took his Gaelic Testament and his Gaelic Book with him to work. The other shepherd informed him of his master’s disapproval, but it seems that this faithfulness made a good impression upon the landlord. He served this Scottish Laird as shepherd for fourteen years in Glenarchy, Bendarem, Perthshire.

His brother, Donald, the oldest of the children, when twenty-three years of age, joined the British Army, then engaged in war with France. Donald was soon after promoted on the field of battle and commissioned colonel. He sent for his brother, John, to join the army and be with him in the field. John entered upon the journey, and after much difficulty and delay finally reached headquarters to learn that his brother had just been killed in action. After a few days, he returned home carrying with him his brother’s watch and horse, which had been given him by the commanding officer.

Young McIntyre often related to his friends and family that this experience was the cause of his resolving to enter the ministry.

While employed as a shepherd he married Catherine Ann McCallum on December 15, 1789, and to this marriage was born one child before they left Scotland. On August 10, 1791, eighteen months after his marriage, he with his wife, child, and sister, Christian, sailed from Appin for Wilmington, N. C, in company with a large number of Scottish emigrants, and arrived at Fort Johnston, Brunswick County, November II, 1791. Storms, which caused the vessel to be blown out of its course nearly all the way, prolonged the voyage beyond the usual sixty days required for a small sailing vessel at that time.

On this voyage John McIntyre and his wife had a crushing sorrow. He says: “Eighteen months after our marriage we embarked for this country. We both arrived safe, but we lost our first and only child on the passage, and we buried her in a watery grave.” This is conclusive evidence that this child was a daughter, although it has been believed by the family that it was a son, named Duncan. At the time of the burial of this child they were only one day’s sail from Fort Johnston. Her death and the necessary burial at sea was a cause of sorrow to John McIntyre throughout his life. He said if he had but known they were only one day from land he would never have buried his child at sea. The time for a voyage in those days was about two months: however, they were approximately three months crossing the Atlantic. This extended rough voyage undoubtedly caused the death of this child. After landing finally at Wilmington, N. C., he proceeded up the Cape Fear River, in what they then called a pole boat (so called because propelled by poles) to Fayetteville, and settled on a farm purchased by him about fifteen miles west of Fayetteville, near the present location of Phillipi Church in Cumberland County.

Rev. John McIntyre’s Services to the Church

Young McIntyre had been seriously considering the question of entering the ministry for some time before leaving Scotland, and in order to prepare himself for it, he made it a habit for years, while tending his flocks in the highlands of Scotland, to study assiduously his Gaelic Bible and John Calvin’s Institutes. He often remarked in after life that his work as shepherd continually reminded him of his duty to enter the ministry and become a spiritual shepherd, and that the matter constantly weighed upon his mind so that he finally heeded the call. The final decision was reached by him one day while reading the tenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel.

Soon after reaching America, in addition to his work as a farmer, he engaged in religious work as a layman and commenced to pursue his studies in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew under the Reverend James Smylie, then teaching in a classical school at Cedar Grove in Richmond (now Scotland) County, and later under the Reverend Murdock MacMillan, who was then preaching in Moore County and teaching a classical school at Laurel Hill Church in Richmond (now Scotland) County, N. C. As a layman and theological student, Mr. McIntyre took an active part in the conduct of the great revival which spread over the country in 1802 and the years following, and for quite a while before he was licensed to preach was engaged in missionary work under the direction of regularly ordained ministers of the Presbyterian church, not only in North Carolina but in Chesterfield and other counties in South Carolina. On account of his unusual gifts as a preacher and his age, he being then a gray-haired man of fifty-seven, Orange Presbytery offered to ordain him as a special case without requiring him to stand the required examination in the languages. However, he refused, saying that he preferred to enter the ministry only after he had stood the prescribed examinations for licensure, including Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He passed these and was licensed by Orange Presbytery on September 25,1807.

On July 1,1809, he was ordained to the full work of the ministry by Orange Presbytery at a meeting called for that purpose at a church, then called Sellers Meeting House, in Montgomery County, N. C. Inasmuch as he could speak Gaelic as fluently as English and on account of the fact that at that time a large number of the people had only recently arrived from Scotland and were unable to understand English, he followed the custom of preaching in both English and Gaelic, usually preaching in one language in the morning and in the other language in the afternoon at the same church.

In 1808 he was preaching at Harmony Church in Moore County as a licentiate, and in 1809, after his ordination, a unanimous call was put into his hands by the Presbytery of Orange, then in session at Raleigh, to accept the pastorate of Harmony in Moore County, Sellers in Montgomery, and Bethesda in Cumberland.

He preached for a number of years at Jackson Springs, N. C, (then called Mineral Springs) where he established a mission in 1811. He also preached for stated periods at Macedonia, New Garden, Montpelier, Antioch, Ashepole, Center, Galatia, Lumberton, Laurel Hill, St. Pauls, Philadelphus, Bethel, Lumber Bridge, old Raft Swamp, and Longstreet, as well as a number of other churches in North Carolina. For thirty years he was the regular pastor of Lumber Bridge, Bethel, Philadelphus, and St. Pauls Churches. He preached for a number of years at Hope Well, Mars Bluff, Cheraw, Chesterfield, Marion, and other points in South Carolina.

For two years before he finally gave up the ministry on account of advancing age, he preached in Barbour and Pike Counties in Alabama, where he organized a number of Presbyterian churches. He was one of the organizers of Fayetteville Presbytery in 1813 at Center Church, near Floral College; and was one of the organizers of the Synod of North Carolina at Alamance Church in Guilford County, N. C., in 1813.

He was elected the first treasurer of Fayetteville Presbytery upon its organization in 1813. He was moderator of Fayetteville Presbytery at Bethesda in 1814, at Center in 1822, at Buffalo in 1825, at Bethel in 1829, at Laurel Hill in 1833. and at Bethel in 1836. He was the promoter of Donaldson Academy at Fayetteville, N. C. At a meeting at his home at the New Garden in 1832, this institution was first projected.

At a called meeting of Fayetteville Presbytery at his home at New Garden, November, 1829, three young Scotchmen, Evander McNair, John R. McIntosh, and Hector McLean, were taken under the care of the Presbytery as candidates for the ministry. All of these afterwards became prominent and useful ministers of the church.

John McIntyre was a contemporary and personal friend of the Reverend Colin Lindsay, a noted Scottish Presbyterian preacher, licensed and ordained by the church of Scotland, who emigrated to the Cape Fear section some time prior to the arrival of John McIntyre, probably about two years after the close of the Revolutionary War. While he and Mr. Lindsay were close personal friends, thev differed very widely upon two important questions. John McIntyre was a very strong prohibitionist, being a total abstainer himself — a trait, by the way, which at that time was rare among the Scotch, preachers or laymen. He had the courage to preach the first prohibition sermon to the Highlanders in this section, as a sequel to the funeral services of a prominent Highlander which he conducted at Longstrect Church about the year 1811. The necessity of such a sermon was suggested to him by the fact that a keg of brandy and other refreshments had been carried to the funeral in the conveyance with the corpse, and, after a long and tiresome journey, all partook of it freely, after reaching the place of burial. This custom, a relic of the ancient wake so common with the Scottish and Irish Gaels in the old countries, had been followed rather generally by the Highlanders after they settled in the Cape Fear section.

On the occasion above mentioned, John McIntyre denounced the custom and the use of intoxicants generally in unmeasured terms, and gave further notice that from that time forward he would refuse to officiate at any funeral where strong drink was served. From that time on, he never failed to denounce intemperance on every appropriate occasion. His very positive position on the question of temperance was so unpopular at that time with his Scotch congregations that many of the members of his churches ceased to attend upon his preaching and attended the churches of which the Reverend Colin Lindsay was pastor. Mr. Lindsay, at that time, was the most conspicuous leader of the anti-prohibitionists among the early Scotch settlers. Mr. Lindsay, at least, was consistent in his views, for he not only advocated the right to indulge in liquors, but made no concealment of the fact that he indulged himself whenever he felt like it. Unfortunately, he got into the habit of indulging too freely, and in consequence was suspended from the Presbytery about the year 1803, and was finally excommunicated, as related by Foote in his “Sketches of North Carolina,” page 179.

Another question of difference arose between Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Lindsay, in that Mr. McIntyre advocated the propriety of revivals and evangelistic preaching, whereas Mr. Lindsay opposed this innovation, even going so far as to say that the same was “instigated by the Devil.” References to these differences are in the report of the great missionary', Dr. Hall. He is quoted by Foote, on pages 468 and 469, where the following references may be found: “Mr. McIntyre, whose people live in a blended state with those of Mr. Lindsay, has gained considerable ground on the latter. This need not be thought strange considering the striking contrast between the characters of the men. Many families have lately come over to Mr. McIntyre; and frequently young people whose families adhere to Mr. Lindsay are taken with convictions under Mr. McIntyre’s preaching. In this case, some are afraid to go home for fear of the lash, and your missionary has seen young people in a state of banishment from their father’s home on account of their attachment to their religion.”

It may thus be seen that bitterness was engendered between members of the same families by the question of prohibition even at that early age. It may also be observed, in passing, that something of the same bitterness, though in lesser degree, has been engendered throughout the various stages of the campaign which has been waged to rid the county of the use of strong drink, even down to the present day.

In 1846, at the time Rev. Mr. Foote was writing his “Sketches of North Carolina,” he makes the following reference to John McIntyre: “Mr. McIntyre still lives, an example of active and zealous old age. A Scotch shepherd emigrating to North Carolina, bereft of his family and a subject of the revival that spread over the country from 1802 onward, who devoted himself to the ministry, and at the age of forty-four years and a second time a widower, commenced his Latin Grammar with Mr. MacMillan, who preached in Richmond and Moore Counties, and taught a classical school. With prayer and patience he persevered in his course, and he passed an examination in his Horace and Greek Testament to the satisfaction of Orange Presbytery from which he received license to preach. God crowned his patience and perseverance with abundant success.”

There is a very full sketch of John McIntyre in Vol. IV, “Annals of the American Pulpit," by Rev. William B. Sprague, D. D., published by Carter and Brothers, New York, in 185S. In connection with this sketch, Rev. Robert Tate, himself a venerable pioneer Presbyterian preacher then eighty-eight years of age, living in New Hanover County says: “I am quite willing to render you any aid in my power to perpetuate the memory of my lamented and venerable friend, the Reverend John McIntyre. I may say in general that all the constituents of an honest and just citizen, of a faithful husband, of a tender father, of a sympathizing master, and above all, of a laborious, zealous, and successful minister, were concentrated in this humble disciple of Christ; and there is no doubt that his name will long remain embalmed in the grateful remembrance, not only of his immediate relatives, but of many who have enjoyed the benefit of his acquaintance and ministrations.

One of his most striking characteristics was his zeal for the purity of the Church. He was disposed to guard its avenues with great care. Especially in seasons of revival, and such seasons were not infrequent in connection with his labors, he was strongly opposed to hasty admission to the Communion considering that the excitement attendant on such scenes creates special danger of self deception. Mr. McIntyre was pre-eminently a man of devout spirit; and he manifested it under all circumstances and in some ways that were unusual. He never shrank from any duty, however unexpectedly he may have been called to it. He never lost sight of Paul’s injunction to Timothy, ‘Be instant in season and out of season.’ Whilst attending a meeting of Presbytery at one of my Churches—a good many Scotch people being there, he was requested to preach them a sermon in Gaelic, and he did at once, and greatly to their satisfaction. I have always understood that he excelled in preaching in that language. At another meeting of Presbytery at another of my churches, the last Moderator being absent, it was difficult to get a minister to preach the opening sermon. Brother McIntyre arose and said: ‘If none of you will preach, I will, though I am an old man,’ and he actually did preach much to the gratification of Presbytery as well as a large assembly. To that Presbytery a call was sent up for the ministerial services of Mr. Neill McRoy, and a motion was made for his immediate ordination. As it became a matter of precedent whether he should be ordained then or at an adjourned meeting of Presbytery, John McIntyre arose and spoke earnestly in favor of ordaining him at once on the ground that the case not only justified but required it; and well do I remember how the tears large and warm, were chasing each other down his aged and furrowed cheeks as he concluded his remarks by saying: ‘Brethren, I wish we had a hundred such men as Mr. McRoy to ordain.’ John McIntyre was an earnest believer in the doctrines set forth in our Confession of Faith and was jealous of any departure from them. Though he came into the ministry so late in life, and under many disadvantages, it cannot be doubted he rendered very important services to his church and that he will be found among those who turned many to righteousness.”

Reverend Adam Gilchrist, pastor of the church at Fayetteville, 1885, in a letter to the editor of the work above mentioned, among other things says: “My acquaintance with Mr. McIntyre commenced at a meeting of the Presbytery of Fayetteville in the winter of 1841. I beheld a man striking in appearance, strong and fervent in his expressions, to whom his brethren seemed involuntarily to defer, not merely from his age, but from his long established reputation for piety. When I met him at the Synod of North Carolina in 1844, it was with much solicitude that I requested him to close the Synodical service with prayer and the benediction. To the delight of the numerous congregation, he performed the part assigned to him with great propriety and fervor. His language was forcible, his voice clear and strong, and there was an unction and impressiveness in all that he said which made its way to every heart, and I believe brought tears from many in the Assembly. He was over ninety-four years old at this time. Among the most prominent traits of his character were simplicity, honesty, and humility. He had never taken the first lesson in dissimulation — you might always be sure that his words and actions were a faithful representation of what was in his heart. Being naturally of a strong mind, retentive memory, and discriminating judgment, few of his ministerial associates surpassed him in substantial usefulness. In Gaelic I believe he was rather more at home than in English, although he preached readily and fluently in both languages. In stature, Father McIntyre was of a medium height with a firm and compact frame, indicating great strength and endurance. He was noted for his vigorous health. His temperament was naturally ardent, but was sweetly restrained by grace and always under control. His countenance beamed with benevolence and betokened a mind at peace within. He was social in his disposition and habits. He was peculiarly happy in winning the hearts of children, and none could with more ease give conversation a religious turn in a mixed circle.”

As an evidence of the prominence of John McIntyre, it may be stated that in Dr. Sprague’s work above mentioned, which contained biographical sketches of distinguished American clergymen of the various denominations throughout the United States, only two Presbyterians are mentioned from North Carolina—the distinguished Reverend Doctor Caldwell and Reverend John McIntyre.

John McIntyre was a stern reprover of what he considered sinful practices, and on this account many considered him puritanical in his views.

When General La Fayerte, in his tour of the United States in 1825, passed along the road by John McIntyre’s residence at New Garden in March of that year, the cavalcade halted to allow Mr. McIntyre the privilege of shaking hands with the distinguished Frenchman. On approaching the residence of John McIntyre the Captain of the Light Horse fired his pistol into the air as a signal to the cavalcade to halt. It so happened that the day was Sunday. John McIntyre’s zeal for strict Sabbath observance immediately asserted itself and, after he had approached the carriage of the Marquis de LaFayette and shaken hands with him, he sternly lectured him on the sin of violating the Sabbath day, and reminded him that it was his duty, as a follower of the Prince of Peace, to see that his subordinates refrained from discharging their guns or otherwise violating the Sabbath. LaFayettc seemed much impressed by the venerable minister, standing with his head bare as mark of honor to the distinguished character of the guest of the nation, and treated him with all politeness, promising to see that the Sabbath should be observed strictly.

The Reverend John McIntyre was not only a successful preacher, but he was also a successful business man. He owned large tracts of land at various times in North Carolina and also in South Carolina, as well as a large number of slaves. At the time of his death he owned about twenty-five hundred acres of land in the upper end of Robeson County known as the New Garden. This land is now owned by T. B. Upchurch, A. A. Williford, John A. Currie, M. A. Chisholm, and others (1915).

In his will, recorded in the office of the Clerk Superior Court at Lumberton, dated November 8, 1848, he devises his land and slaves, two-thirds to his daughter, Harriet N. Purcell, and one-third to his daughter, Mary A. McIntyre.

Judging from expressions in his will, he seems to have valued some of the books in his library very highly, and these he devised to his various children. Among the books mentioned are “Scott’s Commentaries on the Bible,” “Burkett on the New Testament,” “Watson’s Body of Divinity,” and “The Life of John Calvin.” He also devised five hundred dollars to the General Assembly’s Board of Foreign Missions to the Jews.

He seems to have purchased most of the New Garden lands in 1822, though some of the tracts were purchased before and after that time. After being in the ministry for more than forty-three years, he died on November 17, 1852, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Harriet N. Purcell, wife of Alexander Torrey Purcell, in upper Robeson (now Hoke) County, age one hundred and two years, two months, and twenty-six days, and was buried at Antioch Church, about three miles north of Red Springs where an imposing marble tomb erected by his son-in-law, Alexander Torrey Purcell, marks his last resting place. The following is the epitaph on his tomb:

“Unveil thy bosom faithful tomb, take this new treasure to thy trust.
And give these sacred relics room, to slumber in the silent dust."

He is said to have conducted religious services after he was a hundred years old. Perhaps the last time he prayed in public was at the dedication of Montpelier Presbyterian Church. He retained his health and vigor to the end, and in his last years could read without the use of glasses. Many of his descendants are living in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.

In an account of his life written in 1820, John McIntyre said: “My petition was and is and will be, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’

“As a text for my funeral sermon—‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19. This writer does not know whether this was the text used at his funeral or not, but the text applies in a marvelous way to the life of John McIntyre.

In conclusion this writer would like to say that throughout his life, the expression “Grandpa McIntyre” has been a household word. His father told him that when Grandpa McIntyre was well in the nineties, in fact just about one hundred years old, that he would take him every morning and go to the barn where he knelt down on the floor and prayed for him as a small boy as well as for all the other members of this family. All of us descended from John McIntyre should thoughtfully and prayerfully consider our relationship to God through Jesus Christ, for this was his supreme purpose in life. If he could speak to us today, this would be his message to each and everyone of us.

Mary McNeill (Graham) McIntyre, the fourth wife of Rev. John McIntyre, died May 26, 1826, at the age of fifty-five years and was buried in the cemetery at Phillipi Church in the western part of Cumberland County. Her grave is unmarked and it is doubtful if it can now be definitely located. One record says “she was buried at McCaskill’s Graveyard on the other side of Rock fish Creek,” but the Phillipi record is probably correct.

This brings to a close the descendants of Rev. John McIntyre who left Scotland in 1791 and settled in the Upper Cape Fear section of North Carolina.

This account was extracted from book "Lumber River Scots and their Descendants" which is available in pdf format at:

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