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Early Religion in the Upper New River Valley

General Background

The Churches of the Upper New River Valley were key elements of 18th and 19th century society. The first settlers of the region were mainly Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutherans or Quakers when they arrived in Grayson County. There were some notable early attempts to establish churches of these denominations, however only the Quakers were successful in organizing a congregation which still functions in the area.

The churches of the frontier assumed some functions normally associated with the court system and dealt with many offenses which might be considered misdemeanors, such as excessive drinking, “back-biting”, illegitimate children, or indebtedness. Other church functions were related to preserving doctrinal orthodoxy, whether the “free-will” doctrine of the Methodist or the Calvinistic predispositions of the Presbyterians and Baptists.

The normally stoic Baptist and Presbyterians stood in marked contrast to the more emotional “shouting” Methodists. The Presbyterians, could not supply ministers to their efforts to establish churches in the Upper New River Valley and the soon “died” out, actually converted to become Baptists. Land records indicate that there was a Presbyterian Church in what is now Carroll County by 1776 and another on Grassy Creek in either Ashe or Grayson County by 1773. The later church was pastored by Rev. John Black, but did not survive past the close of the Revolution. These early Presbyterian Churches were affiliated with Virginia’s Hanover Presbytery.

Primitive Baptists

The first Baptist Church in the area was the Fox Creek Primitive Baptist congregation which was organized about 1783 as Cedar Island Church. The date the name was changed is not known, but was very early in the congregation’s history. This Church may be been a daughter church of Saint Clair’s Bottom Church in what is now Smyth County which was organized circa 1775. The North Fork of New River Primitive Baptist Church on Stagg’s Creek in Ashe County was organized about 1785. A Church called the Three Forks of New River in what is now Boone, Watauga County was organized in 1790, another named Little River was organized on that stream in what is now Alleghany County between 1790 and 1792. These Baptist Churches and a few others in the general region organized the Mountain District Regular Baptist Association in 1799.

The views of the Primitive Baptists were set down in various articles of faith found in the church and associational records. The articles of faith for the Big Helton Primitive Baptist Church, established in 1840 are typical. They read:

  1. We beleave in one true and living God the first cause of all things sin excepted.
  2. We beleave Jesus Christ to be the equal and onley sone of the father.
  3. We beleave the Holey Ghost to be the comforter that should come into the world and thes three air one.
  4. We beleave that Adam by trans gression fell under the curse of God’s Holey law and in volved all his in transgressors.
  5. We beleave that man is not ale to extricate him self from the dilemma that he is in.
  6. We beleave that God gave them grace in the eternal sone before the foundation of the world and non is justified but by grace alone.
  7. We beleave in the final percerverance of the saints in grace.
  8. We beleave that baptism be amerson to be the only and proper mode of baptism.
  9. We beleave the beleaver the only and proper subject.
  10. We beleave in a general judgment of the just and unjust.1

The general beliefs of the various New River Valley Churches will be found in a table presented further along in this chapter. One note about Primitive and Union Baptists, ministers of the denomination are properly termed Elders, not Reverend. To refer to a Primitive Baptist minister as “reverend” is highly offensive to that group.

The Mountain District Association enjoyed a period of considerable growth and gave off various churches to form new associations, first of which was the New River Association, encompassing the Churches in what would become Carroll, Floyd, Wythe and Pulaski Counties in 1811. The second daughter association was the Three Forks Association formed from the churches in part of Ashe and what became Watauga Counties in 1840. The Wilkes County Churches, as well as a few near the crest of the Blue Ridge were given off to form the Roaring River Association in 1848. The churches from the Three Forks Association in Ashe County and five more from the Mountain Association were formed into the Senter Association in 1853. The Mountain Association was cut down to the territory of Grayson County and Alleghany County. The Mountain Association and Senter District Associations have maintained a close, cordial relationship throughout their existence.

Despite the close relationship between the Senter and Mountain Associations, various internal disputes erupted over time which significantly changed the religious map of the Upper New River Valley. The first major controversy which arose in the ranks of the Mountain Association was doctrinal, whether or not missions were proper. The Mountain Association took the position between 1836 and 1838 that missions were not keeping with scriptural teachings.2 At first there was only minimal dissent, primarily in the person of Elder Richard Jacks. Jacks was of the opinion that souls could be “saved” by human efforts, a position that the Primitive Baptists absolutely rejected, leaving salvation in the hands of God. The second controversy arose over membership in temperance societies and secret societies. It was the position of the Mountain Association that members should not be allowed to be members of these organizations, as their purposes were he purposes of the church, and that membership in these organizations detracted from energy which should have been devoted to the church.3 This opinion drove others into the “Missionary Camp” led by Richard Jacks.

Missionary Baptists

Elder Richard Jacks was completely in disfavor of the Mountain Association by 1838 and set about organizing Missionary Baptist Churches in the Upper New River Valley. Transfer of membership from Jacks’ Churches to Mountain Association Churches was not permitted, except by rebaptism.4 Jacks, however, had only limited success prior to the Civil War. Jacks’ first success was in the establishment of Baptist Chapel Church on Helton Creek in 1842. (Richard Jacks was somewhat of a colorful and controversial figure, and according to J. F. Fletcher, blunted stated what ever was on his mind.) The Baptist Chapel success was soon followed by the establishment of Whitetop and Young’s Chapel Church in Grayson County, Bethel and Liberty Chapel in Ashe and the organization in 1848 of the Jefferson Baptist Association. This association was racked with controversy and ceased to exist about 1868. The Missionary Baptist soon regrouped and formed the New River Baptist Association of churches in Ashe, Alleghany and Grayson County. This Association divided along the state line in 1886, when the Ashe and Alleghany Baptist Association was formed for the North Carolina Missionary Baptist Churches.5

The New River Association was genuinely interested in progress for the region, primarily in the education of the valley’s children. This resulted in the establishment of the Oak Hill Academy at Mouth of Wilson, Grayson County. It is interesting to note that Mouth of Wilson is close to the geographic center of the area under consideration in this book, but these events occurred after the period focused on in this book. Arthur Fletcher’s A History of the Ashe County, North Carolina and J. F. Fletcher’s New River, Virginia Baptist Association, should be consulted for more details on this school and the Missionary Baptist movement.

Mountain Union Baptists

The third and final major controversy in the Senter and Mountain District Primitive Baptist Associations occurred during the Civil War and immediately following and was a purely political disagreement. Many of the members of these Associations had little use for slavery nor the Confederate Government. Some of the men holding this belief deserted from the Confederate Army. Desertion was considered a sin by some, and the final result was that in pro-Union churches the Southern sympathizing group was excommunicated and in the pro-Southern churches the reverse was true. The pro-Southern faction was at the time a majority of the Mountain and Senter District Associations and that faction held on to the organizational structures of those two associations.6

The pro-Union faction held a convention at Silas Creek Church in Ashe County in 1867 and continued it later at Fox Creek Church in Grayson County and thus the Mountain Union Baptist Association was born. The geographic region was Ashe, Alleghany and Grayson Counties. Migration and expansion later saw churches in the Association in Wilkes, Watauga and Surry County, North Carolina; Smyth County, Virginia, into West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Mountain Union Regular Baptist Association divided as a matter of convenience into the Mountain Union (Ashe County) and the Little River Association (Alleghany and Grayson Counties).7 Fractious ministers and doctrinal problems led to further splits in these Associations into two associations by Mountain Union name, three by the name Little River and another association the Union. The early Mountain Union Association was “in fellowship” or general agreement, with the Primitive Association of Regular Baptists in Wilkes County, the Stoney Fork Association in Watauga County and the Mitchell’s River Association in Surry County.

The Mountain Union Churches were joined by a few churches organized by Elder Richard Jacks as Missionary Baptist Churches.8 This led to an interesting cross-breed church, halfway between the Primitive and Missionary Baptists.

Church polity was of extreme importance to these early Baptists, who invariably noted in their rules that each church held the keys to their own doors and the Associations acted as a means of ensuring doctrinal orthodoxy and fellowship. Churches were, however, free to ask advice of the associations, which was done frequently in the 19th century.9 The following chart indicates some of the key theological issues of the 19th century and the position of the region’s churches at the time, some, but not all, of which are still prevalent today. The Presbyterians were involved in some missionary activity in the Upper New River Valley prior to the Civil War but had not reestablished themselves in any viable church.10 Their position has been included as a base line to what these early New River Valley residents’ beliefs were.

Church Policy
TOPIC11 Prim.
Methodist Lutheran Other
Eternal Punishment YES YES YES YES YES YES
Foot washing Practiced YES YES NO NO NO NO
Free Choice as to Salvation NO NO YES YES NO YES
General Judgement YES YES YES YES YES YES
Immersion as Baptism YES YES YES YES NO NO
Independence of each Church YES YES YES NO NO NO
Infallibility of Bible YES YES YES YES YES YES
Infant Baptism NO NO NO YES YES YES
Literal inspiration of Bible YES YES YES YES YES YES
Musical Instruments NO NO YES YES YES YES
Pacifist NO NO NO NO NO NO
Practice Excommunication YES YES LTD NO NO LTD
Predestination YES YES NO NO YES LTD
Secret Society Membership NO YES YES YES YES NO
Seminary Trained Clergy NO NO LTD YES YES YES
Sprinkling as Baptism NO NO NO YES YES YES
Sunday Schools NO NO YES YES YES YES
Support Schools NO NO YES YES YES YES
Total Depravity YES YES NO NO YES LTD


The Methodist Church, the early competition for the Baptists, claimed many former Presbyterians and Lutherans in the Upper New River Valley. This can be attributed to two men – Francis Asburry and Lorzeno Dow, two famous Methodist ministers who journeyed into the region in the 18th century. Francis Asburry, the first American Methodist Bishop, noted that he travelled to and enjoyed the hospitality of “friend” Enoch Osborne.12

It is unclear when the first viable Methodist Church was established in the Upper New River Valley. Bridle Creek Church, near Enoch Osborne’s residence, may have been the first and was certainly established at a very early date. Hale’s Meeting House on Elk Creek may have been used for Methodist services and was likely to have rivaled Bridle Creek for the honor of the oldest Methodist congregation in the area.13 Garland Stafford in Methodism in Ashe County, wrote:

How early Methodism came into Ashe County is not known. Regular circuit work, – a preacher going from place to place holding services, began in the Holston country in 1783. The Holston Circuit lay to the north and west of Ashe County. It extended roughly from what is now Wytheville, Virginia to Greenville, Tennessee, covering most of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. According to McAnally, the circuit of Jeremiah Lambert, the appointed pastor for that year, included ‘one or two appointments on the head waters of New River, in Grayson County, Va. or Ashe County, N.C.’14

This circuit began with sixty members. They may have been emigrant Methodists who had settled in the area. Some may have been converted and come into the Church under the ministry of unknown local lay preachers after their arrival in their new homes.

The formation of this circuit was more than a year before the ‘Christmas Conference’ of 1784 that met in Baltimore and organized the Methodist Episcopal Church in America.

The Yadkin Circuit had been formed in 1780 with twenty-one members. It extended from the slopes of the Blue Ridge eastward along the Yadkin and Catawba Valleys and south to the South Carolina line.

It should be remembered that there were no meeting houses in those early days. Services were held in the open or in dwelling houses. The preachers met appointments every day in the week wherever a group could be gotten together.

Following Jeremiah Lambert was Henry Willis who was appointed to the Holston Circuit in 1784. In 1785 the appointees were Richard Swift and Michael Gilbert; in 1786 Mark Whittaker and Mark Moore; and in 1787 Jeremiah Mastin and Nathaniel Moore.

Many of the early preachers were not ordained. That is, they had not been given authority to administer the sacraments. Soon, to supply this need, an ‘elder’ was appointed to supervise the work in two or more circuits. Circuits thus joined formed an elder’s district. The duties of the elder included holding Quarterly Conferences of the circuits. Eventually this official became known as a Presiding Elder and more recently as a District Superintendent.

In 1785 Henry Willis was appointed elder of Yadkin and Holston Circuits. This district bestrode the Blue Ridge mountains. Ashe County territory lay almost in the center between these circuits. It seems probable that Willis crossed Ashe in official administration and preached along his route of travel. And, we may presume, not without results!

William Burke served the West New River Circuit during the first months of 1792. He described his circuit as being on the headwaters of the Kanawha River. It extended from the forks of the New River over the Alleghenies to the Roanoke, and from the Glades near Blue Ridge to Walker’s Creek in Giles County [Virginia]. (Mr. Burke later removed to the west and was for some years the mayor and postmaster of Cincinnati.) New River forks inside of Ashe County. It may be assumed that he traveled and preached in the northeast corner of Ashe County.

The first official record of a circuit called Ashe is in 1817. At the meeting of the Tennessee Conference on October 30 of the year 100 white members were reported for Ashe Circuit. Jesse Green was appointed pastor for the ensuing year.

Ashe County has been included in the territory of several annual conferences. In 1796 the Western Conference was established. This was the beginning of annual conferences with fixed boundaries. The Western Conference was divided in 1812 into the Ohio and the Tennessee Conferences, Ashe County being in the boundaries of the latter. Twelve years later, in 1824, the Holston Conference was formed out of the boundaries of the Tennessee Conference. Ashe County found itself within the boundaries of other conferences through the years.

Slavery was the occasion for the division of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844 into the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The Holston Conference was not divided, however, because it elected to be a part of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The arrangement continued trough the Civil War, each Church respecting the territorial integrity of the other.

After the Civil War, Union sentiment in east Tennessee did result in the “reorganization” of the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Thus, the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South found themselves operating in the same territory. While most Methodists in Ashe [Grayson and Alleghany] County adhered “South” several Methodist Episcopal churches were established by people with Union sympathy.

The “Reorganization” conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, that met in Athens, Tennessee in June 1865, set up a Jonesboro District and in this district there was a North Carolina Circuit. The indicates are that Ashe County was in this circuit. In 1871 a Jefferson Circuit is listed in the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.15

[Note: Most of the Northern Methodist Churches were established near the Tennessee state line where the majority of the pro-Union factions lived during the Civil War. Other Northern congregations were found in communities where there was a large pro-Union family group, e.g., Bald Rock in Grayson County and the Roberts Family. The Mountain Union Baptist Churches were of a more general distribution south of 36 30, with only a few flourishing north of that line, e.g., Fox Creek near Troutdale in Grayson County and Saint Clair’s Creek near Chilhowie in Smyth County.]

It seems likely that the earliest formal Methodist congregation on the North Carolina side of the Valley was at Jefferson, which was established before Elisha Mitchell’s visit in 1828. By the outbreak of the Civil War the Methodist Church was thriving but had already fractured over the slavery issue.

Methodist polity and energy stood in marked contrast to the Primitive Baptists of the Upper New River Valley. The Methodists were not governed locally, but rather by a system of Circuits, Districts, Conferences and a National organization. Methodists were sometime known as “shouting Methodists” due to the emotional nature of their services. It seems that some of their earliest meetings were held as Camp Meetings. Elisha Mitchell noted the existence of a Methodist Camp Meeting site on Helton Creek near Timothy Perkins’ plantation in 1828.

While Baptists and Methodists predominated, other smaller denominations existed in the antebellum Upper New River Valley. Though not in the geographic bounds of this work, a Quaker congregation was organized near Galax in Carroll County by 1793. Some residents of the current eastern end of Grayson County attended their services. Though not exclusively restricted to the Upper New River Valley, John C. Campbell’s break down of religious affiliation in the Blue Ridge section of North Carolina and Virginia seem to approximate those in the Upper New River Valley. In Appalachian Virginia Methodists totaled about 35% of the total church going population, Baptists amounted to 30.7%, with other denominations hold the theological loyalty of the remainder, although Grayson County during the period of this study had few non-Baptists or Methodists. In North Carolina’s Blue Ridge, Baptists totaled 58% of the religious while Methodists only totaled 29.8%, while a substantial total, the Methodists remained outnumbered 2 to 1 by the Baptists.16 This situation was closely approximated in Ashe and Alleghany Counties. The various schedules on social statistics for the counties in this study reveal the following specifics for churches.17 Using these figures, and based on the number of Church organizations, then the North Carolina theological loyalty break down in 1870 was Baptists: 60.6%, Methodists 36.6% and others 4.9%; in Grayson County Baptists held sway over 36.3%, while Northern and Southern Methodists counted 63.6% of church organizations.18

Denomination Alleghany Ashe Grayson
Baptist N/A 18 N/A
Methodist N/A 10 N/A
Baptist 8 12 6
New Baptist N/A 4 1
Methodist 4 10 14
Baptist 12 25 16
N. Methodist N/A 5 8
S. Methodist 7 10 20
Presbyterian N/A 1 N/A
Dunkard N/A 2 N/A


Lutherans, common in adjacent Wythe County, Virginia, never really established a viable congregation in the Upper New River Valley before the Civil War. There was a Lutheran Church established on Elk Creek before the close of the Revolution, however, it was discontinued prior to the War of 1812. The reason for this church’s failure is unknown, however, it was probably due to the lack of a minister.

Church of the Brethern

The Flat Rock Church of the Brethern, or Morvian, Church was established in Ashe County in 1802, and survived. It seems that early services were conducted in German, but this was discontinued before the Civil War began. This church still functions as a congregation.

Other Denominations

The Upper New River Valley produced other churches, including some unique to the area, in the 20th century. These groups represented in the 20th century are the Christian Unity Baptist Church (similar to Free-will Baptists or Separate Baptist, into which general organization many of the churches have consolidated); and the Church of Christ in Christian Union. Other denominations establishing churches in the region in the 20th century are: Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Church of Christ, Church of God (and the factions belonging to the Holiness and Pentecostal movements), Mennonites, and Free-will Baptists. In addition to these denominations, independent Baptist Churches have sprung up all over the valley, however, they are generally similar to Missionary (Southern) Baptist Churches, but individual differences in these churches are difficult to characterize. Additionally, as the Methodist Churches reunited in 1939, many of the smaller Northern and Southern churches were consolidated. This was not agreeable to all members of these congregations and there are a few “Independent” Methodist Churches in the Upper New River Valley.

Antebellum New River Churches

Antebellum New River Churches
Antioch Alleghany Methodist 1850-
Antioch Alleghany Primitive Baptist 1853-
Apple Grove Ashe Missionary Baptist 1854-
Baptist Chapel Ashe Union Baptist 1840-
Baptist Union Grayson Missionary Baptist 1842-
Barton’s X-Roads Grayson Primitive Baptist 183_-1970
Bear Creek Ashe Primitive Baptist 1834
Beaver Creek Ashe Primitive Baptist 1786-
Bethany Ashe Methodist 1849-
Bethel Ashe Missionary Baptist 1857
Bethlehem Ashe Primitive Baptist 1854-186_
Big Helton Ashe Primitive Baptist 1840-
Big Laurel Ashe Methodist 1855-
Blackburn’s Chapel Ashe Methodist 1860
Bridle Creek Grayson Methodist 1854?
Brush Creek Grayson Primitive Baptist 185_?
Cox’s Chapel Grayson Methodist 1832-
Cranberry Alleghany Primitive Baptist 1817-1980
Creston Ashe Methodist 185–
Crooked Creek Grayson Primitive Baptist 1845
Cross Roads Grayson Primitive Baptist 1845-
Ebenezer Grayson Methodist 1844-?
Elk Creek Alleghany Primitive Baptist 1838
Flat Rock Ashe Church of Brethern 1803
Fox Creek Grayson Primitive Baptist 1783-1949
Friendship Grayson Missionary Baptist 1852-
Grassy Creek Ashe Presbyterian 1773-<1783
Grassy Creek Ashe Primitive Baptist <1840-1916
Greer’s Chapel Ashe Methodist —- – ca.1840
Hale’s Meeting Grayson Methodist <1792-1838
Helton Ashe Methodist 1856-1885
Horse Creek Ashe Primitive Baptist 1840-
Independence Grayson Methodist 1854-
Jefferson Ashe Presbyterian 1857-1871
Jefferson Ashe Methodist <1827-
Jerusalem Grayson Methodist 185_-
Knob Fork Alleghany Primitive Baptist <1850-
Landmark Ashe Missionary Baptist 1855?
Lebanon Grayson Methodist 1838-
Liberty Alleghany Missionary Baptist 1834-
Liberty Chapel Ashe Missionary Baptist 1847-1862/7
Little River Alleghany Primitive Baptist 1793-
Meadow Fork Alleghany Primitive Baptist 1849-
Mount Pleasant Ashe Missionary Baptist 1849-
Mount Zion Grayson Methodist 1812
Mt. Zion Alleghany Methodist 1837-
Nathan’s Creek Ashe Methodist 1845
New River Ashe Primitive Baptist <1859-1916
New River Ashe Primitive Baptist <1790-
North Fork Ashe Primitive Baptist 1785-
Old Fields Ashe Missionary Baptist 1803
Peach Bottom Grayson Primitive Baptist 185_-
Piney Creek Alleghany Primitive Baptist 1825-1980
Providence Grayson Methodist 1788-
Rock Creek Grayson Primitive Baptist 18__
Saddle Creek Grayson Primitive Baptist 1814-
Salem Grayson Methodist ?
Senter Ashe Primitive Baptist 1829-
Shiloh Alleghany Methodist 1838-
Silas Creek Ashe Union Baptist 1819
Silas Creek Ashe Primitive Baptist 1819-1935
South Fork Alleghany Union Baptist 1840-
South Fork Ashe Primitive Baptist 1840-1962
St. John’s Grayson German Reformed/Lutheran 1790-1830
Summerfield Grayson Methodist 1802-
Sutherland Ashe Methodist 1851/2-
Union Alleghany Primitive Baptist 1834-
Union Ashe Missionary/Union Baptist 1853-
Whitetop Grayson Missionary Baptist 1842-
Woodruff Alleghany Primitive Baptist 1850-
Young’s Chapel Grayson Missionary Baptist 1842-
Zion Ashe Methodist ca.1865.
Zion Alleghany Primitive Baptist 1865

A total of 73 ante-bellum churches have been identified in the Upper New River Valley, however, it is likely that others existed, which have been completely lost to history.

Early Ministers in the Upper New River Valley

Early Ministers
Name Denomination Earliest Reference
Adams, John Primitive/Union Baptist  
Adams, Joshua   1831
Ashley, Jordan Primitive Baptist 1845
Ashley, W. F. Methodist 1868
Ashworth, Joel   1836
Baker, Andrew Baptist 1800
Baldwin, John D. Methodist 1859
Baldwin, William M. Baptist 1861
Ballou, Leonard Primitive Baptist 184_
Barry, Bazel   1819
Bedwell, Elisha   1796
Bedwell, James   1834
Bewley, A. Methodist 1832
Bishop, B. W. S. Methodist 1861
Black, John Presbyterian 1773
Blackburn, Solomon Methodist 1860
Blevins, Armstrong Union Baptist 1857
Blevins, Calloway Union Baptist  
Blevins, Jackson Missionary/Union Baptist 1866
Blevins, William   1868
Bowman, J. W.   1865
Bowman, John Methodist 1820
Bradfield, John Methodist 1822
Brewer, Samuel   1839
Brinegar, Jacob   1849
Brown, H. B.   1858
Brown, S. W. Missionary Baptist  
Bryant, Morgan Methodist 1849
Calloway, William   1857
Carr, Thomas Primitive Baptist 1852
Carrico, William   1804
Carson, John H.   1853
Carson, W. B.   1868
Caudill, Benjamin E. Primitive Baptist 1862
Caudill, Daniel Primitive Baptist 1854
Caudill, J. A. Union Baptist 1867
Claughton, R. A. Methodist 1849
Cloud, William   1836
Cock, John   1822
Cole, Joshua Methodist 1858
Comer, Harvey   1852
Cook, David Primitive Baptist 1849
Cox, A. B.   1855
Craig, John Methodist 1823
Craven, Lewis   1836
Crumley, F. D. Methodist 1871
Davis, Joseph B. Methodist 1873
Douglass, George Primitive Baptist 1848
Edmondson, E.   1851
Eldreth, John Primitive Baptist 1859
Elrod, C.   1852
Farmer, Jesse Primitive Baptist 1855
Fisher, J. M.   1854
Fleming, David Methodist 1826
Forrester, J. L.   1866
Freeman, Obediah Methodist 1819
Garber, Henry   1866
Gentry, Richard Missionary Baptist  
Gilbert, Michael Methodist 1785
Graybeal, John Methodist 1866
Green, Jesse Methodist 1817
Greer, John F.   1857
Grimsley, Lowery Primitive Baptist 1840
Hagins, Golman Methodist 1853
Hale, Jeremiah   1850
Halsey, Drury Primitive Baptist 1860
Halsey, William Primitive/Union Baptist  
Ham, John   1865
Handy, Thomas R. Methodist 1869
Hanger, John   1809
Hardy, Charles   1795
Harris, James D. Methodist 1824
Harrison, Stephen I. Methodist 1866
Heidenkamp, I. Roman Catholic 1865
Higgins, Hiram   1853
Hougue, J. H. Methodist 1848
Hunt, David P. Methodist 1855
Hurley, James Primitive Baptist 1820
Hylton, Austin   1840
Isom, Spencer   1855
Jacks, Richard Missionary Baptist 1836
Johnston, Aaron Missionary Baptist  
Jones, Edward   1831
Jones, Rezin Primitive/Union Baptist 1857
Jones, Robert   1799
Jones, Thomas J.   1866
Keith, Daniel   1811
Keith, George   1796
Kelly, William H. Methodist 1850
Kesterson, John Methodist 1821
Kilby, Reuben Primitive Baptist 1853
King, A.,   1859
Kirkpatrick, Robert Methodist 1825
Koontz, Jacob Primitive Baptist 1847
Lambert, Jeremiah Methodist 1783
Landreth, Isaac Union Baptist  
Lawson, J. B. Methodist 1847
Livesay, James   1852
Lockett, Daniel   1806
Lockhart, Patton J. Methodist 1869
Long, Joshua Primitive Baptist 1854
Long, Tobias Primitive Baptist 1838
McDaniel, Jacob Methodist 1827
McEwan, William Presbyterian 1862
McKin, Jesse Primitive Baptist 1849
Mikel, A.   1868
Mildres, Charles   1855
Millam, William   1845
Miller, Charles K. Methodist 1865
Miller, J. B.   1868
Miller, Jonathan Church of the Brethern 1802
Moore, Isaac   1818
Neese, James E. Methodist 1863
Nutty, Jacob Methodist 1831
Osborne, Caleb   1856
Paten, S.   1836
Patrick, George   1852
Payne, Daniel Methodist 1840
Phillips, C. R.   1856
Phillips, William   1856
Powers, Andrew Primitive/Union Baptist 1862
Quesenberry, George   1799
Rankin, Jesse S. Presbyterian 1857
Rector, Anderson   1852
Reeves, Enoch Primitive Baptist 1849
Rice, Thomas Methodist 1829
Rogers, Russell B.   1839
Ross, Stephen   1843
Sapp, James   1859
Sawyer, Z. Primitive Baptist 1849
Senter, Drury Primitive Baptist 1829
Senter, Nathaniel B. Primitive Baptist 1838
Shell, Aaron Methodist 1844
Sizemore, Hiram Primitive Baptist 1839
Smith, James   1860
Smith, Thomas Methodist 1849
Smith, W. W. Methodist 1858
Sparks, Reuben Primitive Baptist 1850
Stafford, G. W. Methodist 1837
Stamper, Solomon Primitive Baptist 1838
Stephens, Lawrence   1827
Stevens, Walter H. Methodist 1864
Still, E. Methodist 1833
Straley, Jacob L. Methodist 1828
Stump, C. Methodist 1841
Sturgill, William   1838
Swift, Richard Methodist 1785
Tarter, H. Methodist 1839
Taylor, Andrew Primitive Baptist  
Thomas, Jonathan   1816
Thompson, Nathaniel   1830
Thompson, William   1841
Torbet, Josiah Methodist 1857
Trivett, S.   1866
Tucker, Clinton Methodist 1818
Turner, William W.   1843
Vannoy, John Primitive Baptist  
Vanover, Henry R. Primitive Baptist 1829
Vanover, John R. Primitive Baptist 1853
Vaughan, John   1829
Vertegans, Edward Methodist 1873
Wagg, James Methodist 1855
Wagg, John D. Methodist 1858
Waters, L. C. Methodist 1851
Waters, Wilburn Methodist  
Watts, J. J.   1854
Weaver, Abram Methodist 1860
Weaver, Hiram Methodist 1853
Weaver, J. S. Methodist 1836
Welch, P. B.   1864
Whaley, Rufus M. Methodist 1846
White, L. A.   1855
Wilcox, William   1857
Willis, Henry Methodist 1784
Woodfin, A. Methodist 1835
Woody, Talton Primitive Baptist 1847
Wright, William B. Methodist 1830
Yost, Casper Lutheran 1827

A total of 176 ministers in the period under consideration by this book have been identified in the Upper New River Valley. Note that due to Methodist ministerial rotation and good records, their numbers on this list are inflated out of proportion to their percentage of the population.


  1. Minutes of the Big Helton Primitive Baptist Church, organized in 1840 in Grayson County. Church was moved across the state line into Ashe County, North Carolina in 1853.
  2. Minutes of the Mountain District Primitive Baptist Association.
  3. Fletcher, J. F. A History of the Ashe County, North Carolina and New River, Virginia Baptist Association
  4. Minutes of the Mountain District Primitive Baptist Association.
  5. Fletcher, J. F. A History of the Ashe County, North Carolina and New River, Virginia Baptist Association
  6. Minutes of the Mountain Union Baptist Association, 1867. Minute Book of the Big Helton Primitive Baptist Church, Ashe Co., NC. Minute Book of the Piney Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Alleghany Co., NC. Mintues of the Senter District Primitive Baptist Association, 1866-67.
  7. Collection of associational minutes from the names fellowships, library of the author.
  8. Minutes of the Mountain Union Baptist Association, 1874.
  9. Collection of associational minutes from the names fellowships, library of the author.
  10. Fletcher. Ashe County: A History
  11. LTD means Limited, Yes means that a group belives this doctrine, no means they do hold belive the idea.
  12. Asburry, Francis. Journals.
  13. Fields, Grayson County: A History in Words and Pictures.
  14. Stafford, Garland R. Methodism in Ashe County p. 1.
  15. Stafford, pp. 1-3.
  16. Campbell, John C. The Southern Highlander and his Homeland. p. 371.
  17. Social Science Schedules, National Archives and Records Administration.
  18. Social Science Schedules, National Archives and Records Administration.
  19. It is likely that many of the ministers listed here performed their duties prior to the date listed. These dates have been abstracted from marriage records, church records, and county histories.