Duke university library durham, N. C

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Form 934— 20M— 8-34— C.P.Co.

Digitized by tine Internet Archive

in 2013


Rev. S. M. Rankin


Buffalo Presbyterian Church
Her People





My Friend, H. A. Barnes



How amiable are thy tabernacles, Lord of hosts.
I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than
to dwell in the tents of wickedness. -^ n. ^^
— Ps. 84: 10.
Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish
in the courts of our God. -r, n-. ..o
— Ps. 92: 13.
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The real purpose in preparing this history is to do good.

The more the present members know of the early history of

their church the more interest they are sure to take in her work.

The more we learn of the faithfulness and devotion of our ances-

tors in their worship, the more faithful and devout will we be

in our worship. As we see the goodness and mercy of God in

His dealings with our fathers and mothers it will strengthen our

faith in Him. Our fathers prayed and God answered their

prayers, for His promises are yea and amen ; and let us remem-

ber His righteousness is unto children's children to such as keep

His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments

to do them.

It is well also for us to know who our ancestors were ; how

they lived and what they did; to know their ideals and prin-

ciples; to know their courage and steadfastness for what they

conceived to be right. They did well for their opportunities.

With our enlarged opportunities we should do better.
In preparing these sketches I have consulted all the local

and state histories. The writings of Dr. Eli W. Caruthers have

been of inestimable assistance. The sketch of the church written

by Rev. J. C. Alexander and revised by Rev. J. McL. Seabrook

has aided. The address Dr. Calvin H. Wiley delivered at the

centennial celebration of the pastorate of Dr. Caldwell contains

many facts. The files of the Patriot in the Public Library have

been read and information collected from them. All the church

records have been carefully studied. The deeds, wills and set-

tlement of estates on record in Guilford County have been closely

examined, as have also those on record in Anson, Rowan and

Orange Counties. The church members and others have been



vi Preface
kind in rendering assistance, and in giving access to family

records and other papers. I thank all for their encouragement

and help.
There may be some omissions and some errors, but if there

are, it is through ignorance and not intentional. It has been a

labor of love, and one in which the writer has found intense

pleasure. My prayer is that every reader may become a devout

lover of the Lord and an active worker in His church.
S. M. Rankin.


Preface 5

Name and Location 9
The Scotch-Irish 10
North Carolina Settled 12
Nottingham Colony 14
Pioneers 16
Buffalo Organized 19
Bounds of the Congregation 21
Members of the Congregation 22
Church Grounds 95
Church Buildings 97
Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction 101
Modes of Travel 103
Social Life 105
Training of Youth 106
Revivals and Camp Meetings 108
Pastors 113
Salaries of Pastors 120
The Ruling Elders 122
The Deacons 134
Sabbath School 139
The Woman 's Work 141
Music 146
Legacies 148
Church Grouping 149
Communion Seasons 150
Ministers Reared in Buffalo 151
Influence for Good 157
Meetings of Presbytery Here 159
Items from Minutes of Session 161
Items from Minutes of Congregational Meetings 163
Celebrations 172
The Cemetery 174
Buffalo Men in Public Office 177

"^iii Contents

The Battle of the Regulators 179
Buffalo Men in the Revolutionary War 182
The War of 1812 202
The War With Mexico 203
Buffalo Men in the War Between the States 204
The Spanish American War 208
The World War 209
Odds and Ends 210
Index 224


Rev. S. M, Rankin Frontispiece

Church Building 4
Col. Daniel Gillespie 38
Judge John McClintock Dick 54
Henry Humphreys 56
Rev. William D. Paisley 58
Rankin-Wharton Reunion in Church Yard 95
Church Building Erected in 1827 97
Dr. Eli W. Caruthers 114
Rev. Cyrus K. Caldwell 116
Rev. James C. Alexander 118
David Wharton 128
Rev. Jesse Rankin 152
Rev. John C. Rankin, D.D 154
Thomas Caldwell 178


The church was named from the creek near by, and was at

first called "North Buffaloe Creek Presbyterian Church." The

creek was named Buffaloe because of the large herds of wild

buffaloes that formerly ranged along its borders. We do not

know when the name was first given to the creek. It is thus

called in the earliest deeds. It must have been called Buffalo

by the Indians before the white man came.

The church is located two miles north from the center of

Greensboro. It had been organized fifty-two years before the

village of Greensboro was started. In 1808 the county commis-

sioners bought the land and moved the court house from Mar-

tinsville to the exact center of the county. Greensboro has

grown and the city limits have been extended from time to time.

Since 1923 the church has been within the bounds of the city.
Greensboro was named in honor of General Nathanael Greene,

who was the American General in command at the battle of

Guilford Court House, March 15, 1781.



The full history of the Buffalo community cannot now be

written. We have waited too long to secure all the facts and

dates, but many intensely interesting facts are available.

The people who first settled here were of that sturdy Scotch-

Irish race that took such an active part and wielded so great

an influence in the formative period of our nation. Their fathers

and forefathers for generations had come through much reli-

gious persecution and many trials in both Scotland and Ireland.

These trials had made them strong in character and tenacious

for the principles of civil and religious freedom. They were

not mere adventurers seeking worldly fortunes in new places ;

but they were real men, strong and true, who were seeking a

place where they and their children might enjoy personal and

property rights, and be permitted to worship the God they loved

according to the dictates of their own conscience without fear

or molestation.
From 1610 to 1688 there was a constant emigration from

Scotland to Ireland, more numerous some years than others

because the persecutions were more severe at some times than

at others. The more numerous emigrations were between 1610

and 1625. No doubt the ancestors of many of the Buffalo people

came into Ireland at that time.

For more than a generation conditions were rather pleasant

and favorable for them in Ireland. Then came the economic

trials inflicted upon them by the English Parliament, which vir-

tually deprived them of their civil rights. In 1704 the Test Act

was passed, and in 1714 the Schism Act was passed. These laws

denied them their church and religious rights, and made living

in Ireland almost unbearable for them. As soon as the way

was open and as fast as they could secure passage they emigrated

to America.
The first Scotch-Irish immigrants located in the New Eng-

land colonies. After 1720 most of them landed in Philadelphia,

and they were now coming in large numbers. From 1740 to

1750 they came into Pennsylvania at the rate of ten thousand


The Scotch-Irish 11

per year. They were getting so numerous in the colony that the

landlords gave instructions to their agents not to sell any more

land to the Scotch-Irish. The owners were afraid the Scotch-

Irish might get the political control of the colony. The ances-

tors of some of the Buffalo people came to Pennsylvania at this

time and were not permitted to buy land there. The ancestors

of others came to Pennsylvania at an earlier date.


All attempts at permanent settlements in North Carolina

had almost completely failed up to 1663. In that year King

Charles II granted to eight lord proprietors the entire province

from the Virginia line southward to the Spanish possessions and

to the extreme west ; but he did not then know that the west

extended three thousand miles to the Pacific Ocean. Coloniza-

tion was still slow; and even by 1728 the total population was

only thirteen thousand, and all of these, with the exception of

a few adventurers, were within fifty miles of the coast. In 1728

the King of England bought back from seven of the lord pro-

prietors all their interests in the province. Lord John Carteret,

Earl Granville, declined to sell the interest of his father in the

territory; and in 1744 there was laid out to him one-eighth of

the state. The part assigned him was a strip, a little more than

fifty miles wide, next to the Virginia line and extending from

the coast to the extreme west. He held his rights in this strip

of land until the Declaration of Independence, and all the early

settlers secured their grants of land from him.
The progress of the settlement of North Carolina is indicated

by the formation of new counties. This formation was from

the coast westward. New Hanover was formed into a county in

1728 and embraced all the territory in the southern half of the

state from the coast to the extreme west. As the settlers pushed

further from the coast, Bladen County was formed from New

Hanover and embraced all the territory westward. Small col-

onies were being organized and going farther inland, and in

1749 Anson County w^as formed from Bladen and embraced all

the territory in the west and northwest to the Virginia line.

In 1753 Rowan County was formed from Anson and embraced

all the territory in the northwestern part of the state. The line

between Rowan and Orange was four miles east of Buffalo

Church, and ran north and south through what is now Ran-

dolph, Guilford and Rockingham Counties. In 1762 Mecklen-

burg County was formed from Anson and embraced all the

territory in the southwestern part of the state.


North Carolina Settled 13
Beginning again on the coast, at the northeast corner, in

1728 Craven County was formed and embraced all the territory

from the coast to the extreme west. In 1733 Edgecombe County

was formed from Craven, and embraced all the territory west-

ward. In 1746 Granville County was formed from Edgecombe,

and embraced the territory westward to an indefinite line half

way between Haw River and the Yadkin. In 1751 Orange

County was formed from Granville and extended westward to

that indefinite line between the rivers. In 1753 when Rowan

County was formed the definite line between Orange and Rowan

was fixed.
Other counties were formed from the larger counties in the

eastern part of the state before 1753, but we have given here

the dates of the organization of the frontier counties, which

shows the trend and progress of the settlement of the state.

This community was in Rowan County from 1753 until

Guilford County was formed. The act for the formation of

Guilford was introduced in the state assembly in the latter part

of 1770, but it was not passed and signed until early in 1771.

Before Rowan was formed this community was near that indefi-

nite line half way between the rivers.


This community was first settled by members of the Notting-

ham Colony, a company organized and formed in the bounds

of the old Nottingham Presbyterian Church at Rising Sun, Md.

That church was in Lancaster County, Pa., when our ancestors

left there, and until the line between Maryland and Pennsyl-

vania was changed in 1767.
The Nottingham Company sent out agents and had surveyed

and secured rights from Earl Granville to thirty-three plots or

sections of six hundred and forty acres to the section, "lying

and being on the waters of North Buffalo and Reedy Fork

Creeks." That this company could secure so large a tract of

land, 21,120 acres, in a body shows there were no settlers in

this community before this colony came. The fact that there

were thirty-three plots laid out for the company would suggest

that there were thirty-three families in the company, and there

may have been. However, all did not take their plots, and

others secured more than one plot. Others, who were perhaps

members of the company and not prepared to come with the

colony, came a little later and located on their sections in the

bounds of the colony. There must have been about nineteen

families in the company that actually located here.
Earl Granville did not sell the land outright to them, but

retained an interest in it. The contract was more like a per-

petual lease. They paid only a nominal sum to bind the trade,

and after that they were to pay an annual rent of three shill-

ings per hundred acres ; and they were required to make certain

improvements on the land. The rent was to be paid in two

equal semi-annual installments, one "on the day of the feast of

the annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ' ' and the other ' ' on

the day of the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel." These

days must have been in the spring and fall, for other deeds

called for the payment on the 25th of March and the 29th of

September. All the deeds did not have the rent and other con-

ditions specified, but they must have been in the first contract,

which is not on record, and well understood, for in no case was


Nottingham Colony 15

the cash payment more than a few shillings. Some of the grants

specified that "if the rent is unpaid and behind six months,

then the contract is void and of none effect." Other grants

specified that the owners were to have "the privilege of hunt-

ing, hawking, fishing and fowling."
The exact date of the coming of this colony cannot now be

established. Dr. Caruthers relates that about the time Dr.

Caldwell began to study for the ministry, or soon thereafter,

this company was being organized and making arrangements to

come to North Carolina, and that they made a tentative agree-

ment with him that when he obtained license to preach he would

come and be their pastor. This does not fix the exact date of

their coming. Dr. Caldwell decided to study for the ministry

in the latter part of 1750. It may have been 1751 when this

agreement was made. They may have come here in 1752 and

failed to get their grants of land until 1753. However, all

things considered, it appears to the writer that they did not

come until the summer of 1753. The deeds are all dated Decem-

ber, 1753. After they had decided to come and the company

organized it would have required some time for them to collect

all the necessary equipment and provisions to set up house-

keeping and to begin farming in a wilderness.
Some came bringing large families with them, others were

newly married couples seeking to establish new homes in a new

place, and some were young men trying to find a suitable loca-

tion before getting married. Some were the children of the

first settlers in Pennsylvania, and some were new immigrants

from Ireland who were not permitted to buy land in Penn-



Our ancestors were real pioneers. All this section between

North Buffalo and Reedy Fork Creeks was heavily covered

with oak, chestnut, hickory, and poplar timber and thick under-

brush. Even as late as 1781, after the Guilford Court House

battle. General Greene, in reporting that battle to Congress,

says: ''The greater part of this countrj^ is a wilderness, with

a few cleared fields interspersed here and there." Their first

job was to clear the land and build their homes. Only a few

acres could be cleared per year, and their first homes were the

rudest log cabins. Their food must have been very plain and

without any variety. They were having a hard time those first

few years. We have no local history describing their living

conditions, but we have John Hill Martin's history which gives

a minute description of the early living conditions of the first

settlers in Pennsylvania. He relates that their homes were

small one-room log cabins with one door and one small window

and the window had no glass, just a wooden shutter. The cabins

were covered with thatch or clapboards. The chimneys were

usually built of sticks and mud. The floors were dirt. Their

food, to a large extent, was the flesh of wild animals, and that

without salt most of the time. Both men and women usually

wore clothes and hats made from the skins of wild beasts. Their

shoes were made from raw hides. Their furniture was hand

made from rough materials. The coverings for their beds were

usually the pelts of deer, beavers, bears, and wolves.

No doubt this is a pretty good description of the living con-

ditions of our ancestors for the first few years after they set-

tled here in a wilderness. We do know their cabins were very

crude and that the floors were dirt. Wild animals were numer-

ous, and they could secure their meat by killing buffaloes, bears,

deer and squirrels. Wild fowls were plentiful, such as turkeys

and quail ; and also wild geese and wild pigeons in their season.

Even as late as one hundred years ago the wild pigeons were

still so numerous in their migration season that in passing over

they would at times hide the sun like a big cloud. The creeks


Buffalo Pioneers 17

were well stocked with fish. This would have been a veritable

paradise for sportsmen, but our ancestors hunted and fished more

for their food supply than for sport.
Their patches of wheat were cut with a small hand sickle,

flailed from the straw, then separated from the chaff by pouring

it from a platform on a windy day ; and both wheat and corn

were pounded into meal, or ground with a small hand mill, like

our old coffee mills. With such crude methods of harvesting

and handling wheat they could raise only small patches. Wheat

bread was a rarity to be enjoyed only for breakfast on Sunday

morning. Corn was the main crop and supplied bread for the

family and feed for the stock.
These trying conditions lasted for only a few years. It was

not long until their homes were enlarged and improved. Small

grist mills were soon built on the branches, and later larger

ones on the creeks. There was one of these grist mills on Nick's

Branch, just where the White Oak Cotton Mill now stands.

The law of supply and demand soon did its work. Men with

special aptitude turned their attention to the different trades.

There were soon carpenters, cabinet makers, saddlers, coopers,

harness makers, blacksmiths, weavers, tailors, hatters, tanners,

cobblers, millwrights, millers and men of other trades in every

community. Shops and small stores were soon opened. Living

conditions were constantly being changed for the better. How-

ever, for more than fifty years practically all the clothes for

men, women and children were made at their homes from cot-

ton, wool and flax. The seed had to be picked from the cotton by

hand. This was a slow and tedious job. The task for each

member of the family in the evening after supper was to pick

his shoe full of seed cotton. Then the lint was carded, spun and

woven into cloth. When the writer was a small boy the old

spinning wheels and loom were still in use at his father's.

These pioneers were men of true character, with some edu-

cation, and all had some money ; but money could not buy the

comforts and conveniences. They were not on the market, and

had to be made at home. They did not handle much money

after their first supply was exhausted ; and in fact they did

not need much, for practically everything they ate and wore

was raised and made at home. They did not have much of any

thing to sell and prices were low. The farmers did have a

18 History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church ajid Her People

constantly increasing number of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs.

Everybody had geese from which the down was picked to make

feather beds. It was a custom for the parents to give their

daughters a feather bed when they married. It has been

handed down by tradition that sometimes a young man would

carry a turn of pelts of wild animals to Philadelphia on his pack

horse in order to get money with which to buy his marriage


But do not think for a moment that our ancestors were

unhappy in those hard pioneer days. They had never known

anything but hardship and privation. They and their fathers

had come to America primarily that they might have civil and

religious liberty. This was the dearest thing to them and they

were happy in this freedom. They were a religious people and

rejoiced in the worship of God. No doubt there were many fam-

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