Show Hide Dropdown Using CSS
  Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Huntersville NC
History
Campus History

continued..

Perhaps the most famous person buried in the cemetery is General Williams Lee Davidson. Davidson College and the town of Davidson are named for him. More information can be found about General Davidson on our page about the Davidson Wallet.  Other historic personages to be found include: Captain John Long (#310) for whom the creek, the community, and the Elementary School are named. John Beatty is in grave (#294) and is the namesake of Beatties Ford and the road. Captain James Knox (#139) was the grandfather for whom President James Knox Polk was named. The Lattas (#211-213) of Historic Latta Place and the nearby park are there as well as the Torance family (#113-121) of Hugh Torance House and Store fame. At least four of the signers of the "Meck Deck" have final resting places at Hopewell. They include the before-mentioned J.M. Alexander as well as Richard Barry (#245) and William Graham (#321). Major John Davidson was also a signer, but he is buried in his family’s cemetery on Neck Road. Matthew McClure’s gravesite has been lost, but efforts are underway to re-locate it probably near the graves of his off-spring (#151-153).

Also worthy of note before we step inside are the gate posts which still stand from the days of the stone wall around the cemetery. It is known that they were cut by an enslaved mason on the Sample Farm, the successors to the Lattas. His name was Lewis Phifer which is unusual because slaves were generally only known by a first name. He also cut the first steps to the renovated church building in 1859. These steps were moved to a house on Patterson Road in the Twentieth Century. The Upping Block used to help females board and disboard wagons also shows his handiwork as to the step to the so-called "servant entrance" at the church. Lewis Phifer is important because he gives us moderns a hint of the great contributions slaves made to our society. One of the evils of slavery was the anonymity of the people who made such a difference. Lewis Phifer helps to make slavery more personal.

Speaking of slavery; the entrance on the west side of the meeting house was called the "servant’s entrance". Presbyterians always referred to slaves as servants. This door lead to what is called a "blind stairwell"; that is, it is not visible from the main entrance perhaps indicating that the white portion of the congregation preferred not to see the slaves entering and exiting. These stairs lead up to what is now called the balcony, but in those days it was known as the gallery. There were 142 enslaved members of the church in 1860, and over the course of the Civil War 100 African-American babies were baptized. Records indicate that slaves were examined and received for membership in the same way as whites. Obviously their access to the church was separated. There is evidence, however, that very poor white people also sat in the gallery on the west side although they used a separate stairwell. Additionally, even though they were members, slaves were not allowed to be buried in the cemetery. Some churches allowed them burial outside the walls of the cemetery, but recent archaeological digs have located no such graves.

Other features of note inside the building include the furniture. The Victorian couch behind the pulpit was a gift to the church from Mr. & Mrs. Robert Davidson.   The pulpit itself is over one hundred years old, hand-made and regularly loaned-out in the community for graduation exercises, lectures, and stump speeches. The wall clock is about 130 years old. The usual joke asks why it is behind the preacher rather than in front where long-windedness can be gauged.

Several pieces have recently returned from loan at the Charlotte History Museum. The two casket chairs used to sit on both sides of the pulpit. Now they are kept in the foyer. During funerals they were set facing each other so that they would hold up the coffin. The wine jugs also kept in the foyer remember a day when wine was bought in 5 gallon quantities for what was called "communion season". Before the days of the tiny glasses in trays, the communion wine was served by the goblet with each participant apparently expected to drink most of its contents. One jug is especially esteemed for the thumb-print design on the bottom with served as the craftsman signature. Much more is noteworthy but space does not allow. For information about group tours call 704-875-2291. The Women’s group in the church can cater lunch for groups of at least 25. This arrangement works best when such a tour couples with a visit to Historic Latta Place and/or The Carolina Raptor Center which are both nearby.


Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Huntersville NC, Near Charlotte, Concord, Mooresville and Lake Norman

Hopewell Presbyterian Church © 2004-2011 • All Rights Reserved  •  Privacy Policy •  Disclaimer
10500 Beatties Ford Road •  Huntersville, NC •  28078-9245 •  Tel:(704) 875-2291 •  Fax:(704) 875-2020 • 
hopewell@hopewellpresbyterian.com •  Designed and powered by: Web Designs by etchy