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his death in 1900. He was given the degree of D.D. hy Prince-

ton University. One son, Rev. Edward P. Rankin, and one

Rev. John C. Rankin, D.D.

1S16- 1900

Ministers from Buffalo 155

grandson, Rev. John C. Rankin, are Presbyterian ministers;

another son, Walter L. Rankin, LL.D., was president of Carroll

College, and another, John C. Rankin, was mayor of Elizabeth,

N. J., 1890-1898. Dr. Rankin was the author of several pamph-

lets and tracts on different phases of the church's faith and

Rev. William T. Doggett, son of John, really belongs to

Bethel, but as his father moved into our bounds when he was a

boy in his teens we have some claim to him. He was educated

at Earlham College and Princeton Theological Seminary ; or-

dained by the Presbytery of South Dakota in 1885 ; supply at

Blunt, S. D., 1885-1886; supply at Crystal Falls, Mich., 1886-

1887 ; supply at Volga and White, S. D., 1887-1888 ; pastor of

Shelton Memorial Church, Danville, Va., 1889-1907 ; pastor of

Cascade, Va., from 1907 until his death in 1926.

Rev. Charles N. Wharton (1867-1919) was the son of ruling

elder William D. and Mary Eliza Wharton. He was educated

at Davidson College and Union Theological Seminary, Virginia,

graduating at the latter institution in 1893. He was ordained

by Albemarle Presbytery in 1893 ; and was stated supply of

Warrenton and Louisburg Churches, 1893-1894 ; stated supply

of Geneva and Grassy Creek Churches, 1894-1895 ; stated sup-

ply of Young Memorial and Littleton Churches, 1896-1904;

pastor of Morganfield, Kentucky, Church, 1904-1911 ; pastor at

Andalusia, Ala., 1911-1916 ; and pastor of Crescent Hill Church,

Louisville, Kentucky, from 1916 until his death in 1919. He

married first Daisy Gilmer, of Guilford County, and second

Attie Dyer, of Morganfield, Ky. As a child he was dedicated to

the gospel ministry by his parents, and there are many beauti-

ful prayers for him in his mother's diary. His body rests in the

peaceful old cemetery at Buffalo.

Rev. William Marion Sikes, D.D., is the son of ruling elder

William Newton and Cornelia Paisley Sikes. He was educated

at Davidson College and Union Theological Seminary, Virginia,

graduating from the Seminary in 1904. He was ordained by

Concord Presbytery in 1904 and became pastor of Old Fort

and Siloam Churches, which he served through 1905 ; pastor

of Madison Church, Orange Presbytery, 1906-1908 ; pastor elect

of Burgaw and Pikes Churches, Wilmington Presbytery, 1908-

156 History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People

1912; pastor of the Newton and Sherrill's Ford Churclies, Con-

cord Presbytery, 1912-1918 ; pastor of the Waynesville Church,

Asheville Presbytery, 1918-1920; pastor of the Canton Church,

1920-1926 ; and professor of theology in Stillman Institute, Tus-

caloosa, Ala., from 1926 to the present.
Rev. Charles F. Rankin, D.D., of Smyrna, Tenn., and Rev.

E. Eugene Gillespie, D.D., of Greensboro, should be included in

this list, for they were both reared in the church and Sunday

school at Buffalo. Rev. Charles F., son of John H. Rankin, was a

boy of eighteen when the family moved their membership to the

First Church, Greensboro ; and Rev. E. Eugene, son of ruling

elder Daniel D. Gillespie, was a boy of seventeen when this

family transferred their membership to Westminster Church,

It would be interesting to give here a list of the grandsons

of Buffalo who have entered the ministry, but the task is too

great. Their number would run into the hundreds.


There is no way to estimate the vast extent of the good

influences that have gone out from Buffalo from the time of its

organization. In 1813 Bethel Presbyterian Church was organ-

ized at its present site, and the Rankins, Whartons, Wilsons,

Grays, and others moved their membership from Buffalo to

Bethel. In 1824 the First Church, Greensboro, was organized,

and its membership was made up mostly of the former members

of Buffalo. In 1888 Midway Presbyterian Church was organ-

ized and its membership was largely composed of former mem-

bers of Buffalo.
The Methodist Episcopal Churches of Center, Gethsemane,

Lee's Chapel, Pisgah, and Holt's Chapel, and the Methodist

Protestant Church of Fair Grove were all largely composed

originally of families whose parents had belonged to Buffalo.

The eighteen young men who entered the ministry from

Buffalo, and have preached the gospel in many sections of the

United States, were just so many new branches of influence for

good. And if we count the grandsons and great-grandsons of

this church who entered the ministry the branches of good influ-

ence would be multiplied an hundred fold. "There is a river,

the streams whereof shall make glad the City of God, the holy

place of the tabernacles of the most High."

Many devout members of this church have moved to other

communities and to other states. Perhaps every state and im-

portant city in the Union now have living in their bounds

descendants of former Buffalo members. The writer has not

been able to trace all these families, but the Rankin family alone

now has descendants in thirty different states. These have

carried with them the Christian principles they learned here,

and new churches have been organized, and other streams of

influence for good have been started.
In speaking of the good accomplished we must not overlook

the hundreds, perhaps thousands, who have been saved and have

served here, and are buried in this yard, awaiting the glorious

appearing of the Lord. "For if we believe Jesus died and rose


158 History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People

again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring

with Him."

There has never been any serious division in the church, and

the organization has been and is a great power for good in the

community, even outside its own membership. The members

co-operate in every public spirited enterprise for the better-

ment of the community.


New Hanover Presbytery met at Buifalo March 3, 1768.

This was the third meeting of this Presbytery in North Carolina.

The first was at Lower Hico, in Person County, and the second

was at Red House, in Caswell County. The important thing

done at the Buffalo meeting was the installation of Rev. David

Caldwell. New Hanover Presbytery met at Buffalo again March

7, 1770. The action of greatest interest to us was the signing of

a petition to the Synod of Philadelphia and New York for the

organization of a Presbytery in Carolina to be named Orange.

The petition was gTanted, and Orange Presbytery was organ-

ized at Hawfields Church September 5, 1770.

The minutes of Orange Presbytery were destroyed by fire

when the home of Rev. John Witherspoon, the stated clerk, was

burned January 1, 1827. The loss of the Presbyterian history in

that fire is irreparable. We do not know how many times Pres-

bytery met here from 1770 to 1827, but it met here often in

those early years. From other sources we have gotten the dates

of some of those meetings.
Presbytery met here in June, 1777. The item of greatest

interest was the trial of James Balch on appeal from the session

of Rocky River Church. For the first and last time in its long

history the Presbytery administered to the defendant the "oath

of purgation." In the fall of 1796 Presbytery met here with

Rev. Samuel Stanford, pastor of Black River Church, as mod-

erator; again in the fall of 1799 with Rev. Robert Tate, pastor

of the Rockfish Church, as moderator ; again in 1801 with Rev.

John Gillespie, a son of Buffalo, who was now pastor of churches

in Robeson Countj^ as moderator ; again in 1807 with Rev.

Ezekiel B. Currie as moderator. He was now pastor of Greers

Church, and was later pastor of Cross Roads and Hawfields

Churches for twenty-three years. In the fall of 1810 Presbytery

met here with Rev. Leonard Prather, pastor of Bethlehem

Church, as moderator ; again in the fall of 1824 with Rev. Lem-

uel D. Hatch as moderator. This was the first meeting after

the death of Dr. Caldwell, and Presbytery held a memorial serv-

160 History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People

ice for him. Rev. E. B. Currie, one of his former pupils,

preached the memorial sermon.

It was 44 years before Presbytery met here again. This was

in the fall of 1868, with Dr. Charles Phillips, a professor in the

State University, as moderator. At this meeting the centennial

celebration of the installation of Dr. Caldwell as pastor was

held. The next meeting was 37 years later, in the fall of 1905,

with Rev. Robert Leslie Wharton, D.D., a grandson of Buffalo,

now a missionary to Cuba, as moderator. The next and last

meeting here was in 1921, with Rev. John McEachern, a mis-

sionary to Korea, as moderator. The Synod of the Carolinas

met here in 1803, and this is the only meeting of a Synod at



We have no sessional minutes from 1756 to 1833 except

thirty-two loose leaves, running from 1773 to 1796. The book

that contained these 32 leaves has been torn up, and the pages

mixed and the edges broken. The only items on these pages

are the records of one trial after another. This could not have

been the regular minute book of the session, but a book in which

the records of the church trials were kept. Perhaps the earliest

records of the church were destroyed by the British soldiers

when they burned Dr. Caldwell 's library in 1781 ; and the min-

ute books running from 1781 to 1833 have been lost.
Referring to these trials, every manner of complaint was

carried to the session of the church. A woman accuses a man

of spreading reports detrimental to her character, and the case

is tried by the session. The widow Brown is accused of killing

the child of her daughter-in-law, and the case is tried by the

session. Captain Robert Bell is charged by Thomas Donnell

with getting drunk and breaking the Sabbath. Many of the

soldiers in Captain Bell's company are cited as witnesses, some

for and some against him. The session could not arrive at a

decision, and referred the matter to the Presbytery. Col. John

Gillespie is charged by James Coots with resisting an officer in

the discharge of his duty. "Col. Gillespie proved that he only

interfered to the extent of keeping Sheriff Coots from shooting

a man, and the session cleared him. Samuel Bell is accused of

killing a man. He was acquitted, as the man was proven to

have been a spy or a straggler from the British army. William

Dent complains to the session that Francis McNairy had bor-

rowed some of his tools and would not return them. John

Chambers complains that James Barr has accused him of tell-

ing falsehoods. When the session met to try the case Chambers

and Barr report that they have made up their differences. Sarah

Erwin complains that John Brawley is circulating reports detri-

mental to her character. After hearing many witnesses the

session declares Sarah's character good. James Barr is charged

by William Dent with tampering with the land entry books.

162 History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People

The session found him guilty, and he appealed to the Presby-

tery. Thomas Black complains that James Coots has been cir-

culating reports that he is a liar. The session decides that

James Coots has acted in an unchristian manner and must

acknowledge his wrong. Jean Christopher complains that Mar-

garet Breden has been accusing her of bewitching Margaret's

child. The charge was not sustained. James Ross is charged by

Sarah Tosy with getting mad and using language unbecoming

a Christian. The session decided that Ross had been greatly

provoked, but should not have used the language he did. James

McQuiston was accused with fighting and found guilty by the


These are given as samples of the church trials, and there

were many more. A large number of witnesses w^ere often

called to testify. These trials "were very hurtful, and caused

many families to withdraw from the church. James McQuiston

withdrew, and in 1783 deeded to the McQuiston family in per-

petuity a plot of land for a grave yard. These trials must have

given the pastor no end of trouble and brought to him many

restless nights. All Presbyterian churches, and others, had the

same experience in those early years.
There are very few items out of the ordinary and of special

interest from 1833 down to the present. On October 1, 1848,

Rev. John C. Rankin preached a missionary sermon and a col-

lection of ten dollars was taken. Rev. William D. Paisley often

assisted in the communion services from 1820 to 1850. In 1850

a husband and wife were suspended from church membership

because they would not live together. In 1877 the session re-

ported to Presbytery that "family worship is very generally

observed." In 1881 the session reported: "We fear that the

habits of our ancestors in regard to His Holy day is not per-

petuated among us. We are going backward in Sabbath observ-

ance." In several cases committees were appointed to visit

members who had not attended church for a year. From the

reading of the minutes it appears that the session has always

been composed of a very fine and faithful body of active

Christian men.


As a matter of history it is well to preserve a few items

culled from the minutes of the congregational meetings. The

routine business of these meetings was to hear the financial

reports. It would be too tedious to give these annual reports.
The first meeting of which we have a minute was May 14,
1825. George Rankin was chairman and John Hanner secretary.

George Rankin was appointed to confer with the family of the

late Dr. Caldwell and to see if it would be agreeable for Buffalo

and Alamance to erect a monument to their late pastor. The

committee to confer with Alamance and to have matter in hand

was Major Robert Donnell, Daniel Gillespie, Jr., and Samuel

Donnell. At a meeting in September, 1825, Major Robert Don-

nell made a motion that the trustees devise some method of com-

pelling the delinquent subscribers to pay their arrears. The

motion was not carried. Col. William T. Shields moved that

the members present pay out of thefr own pockets all arrear-

ages due the pastor. This motion carried and each man present

paid seventy cents. At a meeting December, 1825, with Dr.

Caruthers in the chair and John Hanner secretary it was again

decided that those present pay the pastor all arrearage due

him ; and this time each man present had to pay one dollar. It

was decided to hold a regular annual congregational meeting

on the last Saturday of each year, and to make this pay up day

for all subscribers.
At a meeting on May 1, 1826, with Major Robert Donnell in

the chair and John Hanner secretary, it was decided to erect

a new church building, not to cost over $2,000.00. The com-

mittee to have this in charge is given at another place. At a

meeting on June 10, 1826, with Dr. Caruthers in the chair and

William T. Shields secretary, the committee reported the plans

for a brick building, and that they had a bid to erect it com-

pletQ for $2,400.00 and the old church building, and the com-

mittee was instructed to proceed. At a meeting December 30,
1826, with Daniel Gillespie in the chair and John Hanner sec-

retary, it appears the committee had failed to get enough money


164 History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People

subscribed to pay for the new building, and the congregation

pledged itself to stand for the amount needed, and instructed

the committee to proceed.
There is no minute for 1827, but it appears that the build-

ing was erected during that year, for at the next meeting, Jan-

uary 16, 1828, with John C. Rankin chairman and William T.

Shields secretary, arrangements were made to have the pews in

the old church moved into the new building.
At a meeting. May 13, 1829, with George Rankin chairman

and Edmund Donnell secretary, Major Robert Donnell was

employed as sexton at three dollars per year, and it is specified

that he is to open and shut the doors and windows and to sweep

the church once per month.
At a meeting December 29, 1829, it was decided to establish

pew rent as a means of raising the pastor's salary, and Daniel

Gillespie, Col. James Denny and John Hanner were appointed

a committee to fix a price on each of the seventy pews, and to

rent them to the families of the church. On January 19, 1830,

the committee made its report which was adopted. They had

made a plot of the church and numbered each of the seventy

pews, and had written in the name of each head of a family

that had rented a pew, and the amount each one was to pay.

The total of the pew rent amounted to $293.50. The last Satur-

day of each year was to be pay up day. It is not stated how

the pastor should manage to live a whole year without any

One of the most interesting items in all the old records is

this list of families that composed the Buffalo congregation one

hundred years ago. We are giving here an alphabetical list of

these families, and in order to make it more interesting to the

present day readers, we are trying to give their connection with

the past and present generations. Those of us now living can

trace our relationship to these families by our relationship to

the one whose name is given.

Albright, Jacob. Son of Daniel, and grandfather of Misses
Ella and Minnie Albright, present members.

Baker, James. Moved to Tennessee.

Caldwell, Dr. David. Physician ; son of Rev. Dr. David Cald-


Caldwell, Robert C. Son of Rev. Dr. David Caldwell.

Items from Congregational Minutes 165

Caldwell, Thomas. Son of Rev. Dr. David Caldwell, and grand-

father of Misses Bettie and Pattie Caldwell, of Greensboro.

Carroll, John. Married Margaret Donnell ; left no heirs.
Denny, Eli. Son of Thomas, great-grandson of James, Sr., and

great-grandfather of John H. Gamble, of Greensboro.

Denny, George. Son of George, and grandson of James, Sr. ;

moved to Missouri ; grandfather of Mrs. Irving Gilmer, Lib-

erty, Mo.
Denny, Col. James. Son of William and grandson of James,

Sr. ; grandfather of William R. Denny, of Greensboro.

Denny, Thomas. Son of George and grandson of James, Sr. ;

grandfather of Mrs. Charles A. McNeely, a present member.

Denny, Col. William. Son of William and grandson of James,

Sr. ; grandfather of Mrs. Cora Gamble Wilson, of Greens-

Denny, William. Son of James and grandson of William, Sr.

He never married.

Dick, Judge John M. Son of James, grandson of William, and

great-grandfather of Robert Dick Douglas, of Greensboro.

Dick, Reuben. A brother of Judge John M. ; moved to Tenn-

Donnell, Adlia. Son of Andrew and grandson of Thomas, Sr. ;

moved to Tennessee.
Donnell, Andrew. Son of Thomas, Sr., and great-grandfather

of Mrs. J. Al. Rankin, a present member.

Donnell, Daniel. Son of Robert, the second, and great-grand-

father of James D. Donnell, of Greensboro.

Donnell, Erwin. Son of Daniel, grandson of Robert, the second,

and great-grandfather of Moses K. Rankin, a present mem-

Donnell, George. Son of Robert, the second, and great-grand-

father of D. Lan Donnell, of Oak Ridge.

Donnell, James. Son of Major John, and great-grandfather of

William L. Wharton, a present member.

Donnell, Major Robert. Son of Robert, the second, and grand-

father of Mrs. Charles L. VanNoppen, of Greensboro.

Donnell, Robert. Son of Daniel and grandson of Robert, the

second ; moved to Missouri.

Donnell, Samuel. Son of James, Sr., and grandfather of Emsley

Donnell, of Greensboro.

166 History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People

Donnell, Thomas. Son of James, Sr., and great-great-grand-

father of Mrs. Charles A. Schoolfield, a present member.

Donnell, William. Son of Major John ; moved to Tennessee.

Gillespie, Daniel. Son of Col. John, and great-grandfather of

Jule C. Neely, of Pleasant Garden.

Gillespie, Daniel. Son of Col. Daniel ; moved to Tennessee.

Gillespie, Mrs. Nancy. Widow of Robert, daughter of Robert
Hanner, and grandmother of Rev. E. Eugene Gillespie, of

Gillespie, Mrs, Nancy. Widow of John S., and daughter of

William Patterson ; her children moved away.

Hamilton, Thomas. Son of Thomas and grandson of George ;

died without issue.

Hanner, Col. Alfred E. Son of John ; never married.

Hanner, John. Son of Robert, and great-grandfather of Dr.
H. F. Starr, of Greensboro.

Hatrick, Samuel. Son of Robert, and grandfather of Charles A.

Scott, of Graham.

Houston, Levi. Son of John, and great-grandfather of Miss

Elizabeth Houston, of Greensboro.

Humphreys, Henry. Great-grandfather of Thomas H. Tate, of


Kerr, Nathaniel. Son of Nathaniel, and grandfather of Miss

Alice Kerr, of Greensboro.

Lindsay, Jed H. Son of Robert Lindsay.

Lindsay, Jesse H. Son of Robert, and grandfather of Clem G.
Wright, of Greensboro.

Lister, William (1796-1834).

McClintock, Robert. Son of John, Sr.

McKnight, Robert. Son of Alexander, and grandfather of

John, who lived west of Greensboro.

McKnight, William. Son of John, Sr., and great-grandfather of

Thomas A. McKnight, a present member.

McLean, Benjamin F. Youngest son of Muses.

McLean, Elizabeth. Daughter of Col. Samuel, and the first wife
of John Denny ; left no heirs.

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