North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register Extracts
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Vol. No. I, published quarterly
THE NORTH CAROLINA
Historical and Genealogical Register
EDENTON, NORTH CAROLINA
Rev. John Urmston was the Missionary in charge of the work in Chowan and other Precincts. In a letter from him, dated July 7, 1711, making a report of his work, we find the following language: ” We had neither Church nor Chapel in 3 of the Precincts, and those two we have in Chowan and Perquimans were never finished — ready to drop down; that in the former Precinct hath neither floor nor seats, only a few loose benches upon the sand, the key being lost the door has stood open ever since I came into the country. All the Hoggs and Cattle flee thither for shelter in the summer and warmth in the Winter; they first dig holes and bury themselves, then with the rest make it a loathsome place,” &c. (Col. Rec, vol. I, pages 769-70 )
The expression in the above extract, ” only a few loose benches on the sand,” seems to indicate that the church was located on the ♦shore of the bay, as sand can only be found upon the Smithwick tract at or near the water. However, as this may be, it could have been hauled from the shore to the church and placed within it to make the dirt floor more comfortable. Rev. Mr. Adams had left Chowan and gone to Coratuck in 1709, at which time he was succeeded by Rev. John Urmston. Mr. Adams writes to the Secretary, his letter being dated in London May 13, 1709, as follows, speaking of the Precincts: ” Chowan is the westernmost, the largest and thinnest settled. They built a Church some years ago, but it is small, very sorrily put together, and is ill looked after; and therefore I prevailed with them to build another, which they went about when I came away. The plan of it I brought over, and was desired to procure as much glass as will be necessary for the windows, which by computation will amount to Bl5 feet.” (Col. R- c, vol. I, pages 711-12 )
At a meeting of the vestry held the 1st June, 1711-12. ” Ordered, that Mr. John Urmston be allowed for officiating in this precinct, the year following commencing from the 25th Dec. last past, at the several times and places hereafter mentioned, seventy pounds to be levied and paid as the Act of Assembly for establishing a Church and making provision for Ministers doth appoint and direct, dated Mch. ye 10, 1710-11, viz., One Sunday on the south shore, then the two next on the western shore alternately.” (Col. Rec, vol. I, pages 830-1.)
Letter from Rev. John Urmston to John Chamberlain, dated on Board the Bayly, James River, May 30, 1712: ” I intend to come for England God willing pr. the next fleet. The country owes me 100£ already, and the longer I stay the worse it will be.” (Idem, page 851.)
In a letter from Rev. Giles Rainford to John Chamberlain, dated Chowan in North Carolina, July 2*, 1712, the following language appears: “June the 5th I arrived at the Governor’s, where I was most kindly received by him, as afterwards by Col. Pollock and Mr. Duckinfield. * * * * Whit Sunday * * * * several of the people came that day to Public Service, hut perfect strangers to the Method of Worship of our Church. Mr. Urmston and I by a mutual agreement, with the approbation of the Governor, are to manage after this manner. He proposes to supply the North Shore at the lower end of Chowan, together with all Paspetanck, provided I take care of the West Shore (where there is no church). But since the whole country is entitled to my labors, I visited his shore (which I am sorry to say) has been a long time neglected. Mr. Urmston is lame and says be cannot do now wbat be formerly bas done, but this lazy distemper has seized bim by what I hear ever since his coming to the country. * * * * There’s a small Chapel near an old Indian Town where I preached at June 5th, had vast crowds come to hear me, but I observed they exprest very little or rather no devotion in time of Divine Service. June 22d I preached at one Mr. Garratt’s, the upper end of Chowan, but had such numbers that I was obliged to go under a large Mulberry Tree. * * *I had several conferences with one Thomas Hoyle, King of the Chowan Indians, who seem very inclinable to embrace Christianity and proposes to send his son to School to Sarum to have him taught to read and write by way of foundation in order to a further proficiency for the reception of Christianity. I readily offered my service to instruct him myself, and having tbe opportunity of sending him to Mr. Garrett’s, where I lodge, being but three miles distance from this Town. I found be had some notions of Noah’s flood, which he came to the knowledge of and exprest himself after this manner: “My father told me I tell my son.”
There’s one Mr. Mashburn who keeps a school at * Sarum on the fronteers of Virginia between the two Governments and neighboring upon 2 Indian Towns.” (Col. Rec, Vol. I, 858-9.)
* Sarum was in all probability located at or near the ”Ballard place,” about 8 miles Northwest of Gatesville at the head of “Sarum Creek.” It was three miles from Thos. Garrett’s on Catharine Creek to Thos. Hoyle’s Indian Town, located on their grant for 11,000 acres of land lying between Catharine Creek and Bennett’s Creek, making it about 5 or 6 miles distant from the present Town of Gatesville, N. C. The other Indian Town referred to as being convenient to the School at Sarum was most probably that of the Meherrin Indians at or near the mouth of the Meherrin River. Sarum being located at the head of Sarum Creek was about equidistant between the two towns. On a recent visit to Gatesville, in conversation with an old gentleman 83 years old, he stated, that when a boy there were evidences at or near the Ballard place of a very old settlement.
♦If this had been a Baptist Church, it is reasonable to presume it would have been located “at or near the water.”