Friday, August 15, 2014

Heritage of Cabarrus County Churches

Postcard photo circa 1910. Courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.
Throughout Cabarrus County history, few institutions have served as a stronger focus of community life than it's churches. Long before the beginning of the county itself, most people in the area defined their business and social lives according to their church communities.

The earliest days of settlement, most people's lives centered around the church. The church building and regularly scheduled worship services provided a place to meet neighbors and exchange news. The first schools in Cabarrus were church schools and the first ministers in the county were strongly influential and highly educated men in their communities.

The earliest settlers brought their denominations with them; the Scot-Irish brought Presbyterianism and the Germans brought the Lutheran and Reformed faiths. Early congregations include Rocky River and Poplar Tent Presbyterian (both 1751), and Dutch Buffalo Creek (ca. 1745), which evolved into St. Johns Lutheran and New Gilead Reformed. Other early churches include Coldwater Baptist (1790) and Bethel Methodist (1780).

Other churches have had interesting beginnings. Both Zion Hill (ca. 1850s) and Price Memorial AME Zion (1885) congregations benefited from the support of businessman Warren C. Coleman, founder of the nation's first black-owned and operated textile factory. St. James Catholic (1842) began with the conversion of one man and his family. Forest Hill Methodist (1881) was closely tied to the growth and development of the Odell Cotton Mills.

Obviously, each congregation, no matter how large or how small, plays an important part in the history of the county.

Courtesy of the Concord Library, Lore Local History Room

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