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Three Forks Baptist Association and Three Forks Baptist Church

Watauga County, North Carolina

Three Forks Association

Yadkin Baptist Association

This association constituted the Three Forks association in 1790. From it many other churches had been organized east of the Blue Ridge.

In 1779 King’s Creek Church in Caldwell, and Beaver Creek, in Wilkes, were organized. A few years later Brier Creek in Wilkes, was constituted. It had many “arms,” and from it grew Lewis Fork, in Wilkes, and Old Fields Church, in Ashe County. Three Forks was constituted by the Yadkin Baptist Association. It became an association itself in 1840.

The Three Forks Baptist Church
The Three Forks Baptist Church

“In 1790 Three Forks Church, the first in Watauga, was constituted. Part of the original members of this church came from the Jersey Settlement Church. Cove Creek was the second church in Watauga, being organized in 1799. At first these churches had only log houses in which to worship. The floors were rude, and large cracks were in the walls, so that they were often uncomfortable in winter. But the praises of God rang out from the lips and hearts of these old Baptist fathers. These churches first joined the Strawberry Association in Virginia, but in 1790 withdrew to organize the Yadkin Association. The first ministers of this body were George McNeil, John Cleveland, William Petty, William Hammond, Cleveland Coffey, Andrew Baker and John Stone….Later on the Mountain, Catawba and Brier Creek Association were formed, and so the Yadkin Baptist continued to steadily to grow.”

Three Forks Baptist Church

This was the first church established west of the Blue Ridge, excepting only the one established at the Old Fields, which, according to Mr. Williams, was established “a few years after — 1779. was organized November 6, 1790, according to the records now in the keeping of the clerk, Mr. John C. Brown, of New River. These records show that the “Baptist Church of Jesus Christ in Wilkes County, New River, Three Forks Settlement,” was organized by James Tomkins, Richard Greene and wife, Daniel Eggers and wife, William Miller, Elinor Greene and B. B. Eggers. This soon became the mother church, from which went out “arms” to the Globe, to Ebenezer and to South Fork and other places. Attendants came to Three Forks from all this section, many coming even from Tennessee.

Among the first pastors of this mother church are: Richard Gentry, of Old Fields; John G. Bynum, who died in Georgia; Mr. Barlow, of Yadkin; Nathaniel Vannoy, George McNeil, of Wilkes; Joseph Harrison, of Three Forks; Jacob Greene, D. C. Harmon, Smith Ferguson, Brazilla McBride and Jacob Greene, of Cove Creek; Jackie Farthing, Reuben Farthing and A. C. Farthing, William Wilcox and Larkin Hodges. They earned their bread in the sweat of their faces and worked in the Master’s vineyard without money and without price. They have all gone to their reward in heaven.

(Presented in same order as given, different format.)

Membership from 1790 to 1800

James Tompkins, Richard Green, Daniel Eggers, Ellender Green, William Miller, Mary Miller, Phoebe Eggers, Sarah Coleman, Avis Eggers, Elizabeth Tompkins, Ben. Cutbirth, Anna Wilcoxon, Lidia Council, Benj. Baylis, Eliz. Cutbirth, Sarah Baylis, James Chambers, Anna Chambers, John Faugerson, Ebineezer Fairchild, James Jackson, Catharine Hull, Joseph Sewel, Ezekiel England, Ruth Tompkins, Christeana Reese, Valentine Reese, Samuel Ayers, Elijah Chambers, Moses Hull, Joseph Ayers, William Tompkins, Benj. Green, Sam’l Wilcoxon, Sr., Garsham Tompkins, John Reese, Hodges Counsel, Mary Fairchild, Sarah Green, Sarah Reese, Charity Ayers, James Proffitt, James Calloway, Jeremiah Green, Sarah Hull, Joannah Eggers, James Faugerson, Elizabeth Hull, Martha Chambers, Landrine Eggers, Nathan Horton, Mathew Counsel, Nancy Chambers, Rachel Chambers, Jesse Counsel, Comfort Wade, Edward Stocksdale, Edieth Stocksdale, Joseph Tompkins, Susannah Brown, Sam’l Wilcoxon, Jr., Thomas Wade, Samuel Baker, John Ayers, Sam’l Castle, Martha Castle, Abraham Eaton, Jno. Parr, Mary Parr, Jonathan Allen, Jas. McCaleb, Mary McCaleb, Anne Doneky, Catharine Allen, Win. Davis, Rebekab Fairchild, Richard Orzgathorp, Juo. Vanderpool, Ellen Vanderpool, Catharine Flull, Sam’l Vanderpool, Sam’l Pitman, Winant Vanderpool, Jr., Anna Vanderpool, Winant Vanderpool, Naomi Vanderpool, Keziah Pitman, Abraham Vanderpool, Sarah Davis, Abraham Linvil, Susannah Vanderpool, Peter Regan, Rebekah Regan, Catharine Linvil, Margaret Linvil, Maryann Isaacs, Mathias Harmon, Mary Harmon, Jno. Holesclaw, Jane Vanderpool, Jacob Reese, Catharine Brown, Hannah Phillips, Jeremiah Buck, Sarah Shearer, Jno. Shearer, Valentine Reese, Jr., Mary Eggers, Jonathan Buck, John Brown, Hannah Reese, Elisha Chambers, David Coleman, James Jackson, Jr., Elizabeth Horton, Henry Chamhers, Rachel Brown, Anna Reese, Mary Reese, Eliz. Reese, Isaac Reese, Landrine Eggers’ negro man by name of George, Anthony Reese, Asa Chambers, Comfort Stocksdale, Samuel Northern, Susanna Fairchild, Mary Owens, William Owens, Daniel Eggers, Jr., Henry Earnest, Gracy Shearer, Susannah Brown, Debby Lewis, Benj. Brown, Mahala Eggers, Elizabeth Morphew, Margaret Chambers, Robert Shearer, Jane Triplet, Richard Lewis, John Ford, Benj. Tompkins, Lyon Wilcoxon, Benj. Greer, Barnet Owens, Susannah Owens.

Of these there were received by experience:

Three in 1791, twenty-nine in 1792, seven in 1793, none in 1794, two in 1795, none in 1796, one in 1797, one in 1798, sixty in 1799. Received by letter in 1790, one; in 1792, eight; in 1793, one; in 1795, four; in 1796, seven; in 1797, two; in 1798, six; in 1799, nine.

The following were dismissed by letter:

in 1793; Jeremiah Green,

in 1794; Samuel Ayers, Benj. Bayless, Sarah Bayless, Joseph Sewel, Garsham Tompkins, Ruth Tompkins, Joseph Tompkins, Win. Tompkins,

in 1795; Jesse Counsel, Lydia Counsel, Mathew Counsel,

in 1796; Elijah Chambers, Samuel Wilcoxon, Anna Wilcoxon, Sam’l Wilcoxon, Jr.,

in 1797/98; Jonathan Allen, Catharine Allen, James McCaleb, Mary McCaleb, Thomas Wade, Comfort Wade, Mary Reese,

Elizabeth Tompkins died in 1796.

The following were excommunicated:

In 1794: Sarah Hull, Ezekiel England, Susannah Brown, Jesse Counsel,

In 1795: James Callaway, Samuel Ayers

In 1796: William Miller, James Jackson, Landrine Eggers, Hodges Counsel

In 1797: Mary Miller1797

In 1798: Samuel Wilcoxon, Jr., Moses Hull

In 1799: Jno. Ayers, Daniel Eggers, Phoebe Eggers, Mahala Eggers, Martha Chambers

In 1800: William Owens

It must not be concluded, however, that these had been guilty of very serious offences, for most, if not all, of them were restored to full membership by recantation.

The One Great Moral Force

In the early days, when courts were few and far between and settlers scattered here and there, the only influence for good in pioneer communities was the church. This proved to be the case in this portion of Ashe County from 1790 to 1800. Nothing seemed too trivial for the correction of the church. What now appear very venial offences, were tried, frequently with the result of expulsion, but always with the assurance of restoration upon proper submission and repentance. Among the more serious offences thus punished were one case of adultery in 1794, one case of drinking to excess in 1795, one case of disposing of property to defraud creditors in 1798, and in 1799 a man confessed to fornication. This is a fine record for ten years in this far-away community.

Among the more trivial matters of which the church took notice in the first thirty years of its existence were John Brown’s confession of “being so overcome by passion as even to strike a man.”

Comfort Wade was excommunicated for having told Phoebe Eggers that a certain piece of cloth was cross-barred and others that it was tow linen, but at the next meeting her husband obtained a new hearing, when she was acquitted (April, 1801).

In January, 1853, Burton and Damarcus Hodges were cited to appear and answer to the charge of having joined the Sons of Temperance.

In December, 1801 Brother Parr was tried and acquitted for letting his children “go naked” and at the same meeting Polly Owens was publicly excommunicated for allowing her daughter to “request a certain young man to meet her, and accordingly he did, when they spent the whole time of public worship talking and laughing,” but soon afterwards, the mother “having acknowledged her transgression,” she was restored to full membership.

In April, 1802, Benj. Brown was acquitted of having attended the races at Elizabethton, and in July, 1802, Brother John Brown was cited to answer the charge of having joined the Masons, and in August was excommunicated therefore. At the same meeting an unnamed charge against Brother Hull was tried, and it was found that he had done nothing “worthy of death or bonds

A second protest was also then entered against the subject of double marriages “as being against the word of God.” “Cathern” Hull was excommunicated because her conduct at Cove Creek had not been agreeable to the gospel and not giving the church satisfaction.

Sister Eggers had a grievance against Brother Hull and Brother Reese “for refusing to talk with her about her distress, and for saying her daughter had a Family and had not.” Hull was reproved for this. But in March, 1803, Brother Hull was excommunicated for not complying with his bargain, whatever that might have been.

In April of the same year it was shown that the report was proven false that “Sary Reese had said that it took three persons to complete a sermon delivered by Brother McCaleb, to wit: Brother McCaleb, Brother Richard Green and the devil.”

Again, in May, 1807, James Proffitt was excommunicated for having joined the Masons, while in July, 1811, Henry Chambers was acquitted of the charge of not having paid a just debt.

In the following month Jeremiah Green was cited to appear to answer to the charge of having allowed “his daughter to go with a married man,” and a letter of dismission was refused him till he should debar her from his home. This daughter, however, was restored to full membership in June, 1812.

As this was before Noah Webster had established a uniform system of spelling, each man spelt “according to the dictates of his own conscience,” just as they worshipped, and so, in July, 1816, we find a complaint that was “throad out of doors.” In July, 1802, Brother Shearer’s name is spelt Shirrow. In April, 1801, “a letter was received from Brother Wade, requesting a re-hearing of his wife’s excommunication, and stating that “he stood with her except she got another.” At the June meeting following she was acquitted.

There are several instances of male members having been chosen as singing clerks, though it is probable that then, as now, the female members did most of the singing and made the best music.

Other Ancient Happenings

The last Saturday in April, 1792, was set apart as a day of fasting and prayer, and at the same meeting James Chambers was “approbated to exercise his gift in preaching.”

In August, 1793, James Chambers, Ebenezer Fairchild and Samuel Wilcoxon were sent as delegates to the assembly at Eaton’s Meeting House, Dutchman’s Creek, near Daniel Boone’s old home, while in February, 1793, James Tompkins and Richard Green were sent to the association at Brier Creek to “seek for union.”

In January, 1795, a brother was suspended for “drinking to excess, using profane speeches, singing vain songs and dancing.”

In March, 1800, the first “solemn protest was entered against double marriage,” and in July following James Chambers, James McCaleb and Shadrack Brown were sent to the association at Fox Creek, Grayson County, Va.

In November, 1800, John Brown and Elisha Chambers were elected singing clerks, and in August, 1802, Brother Hull was “cited for going to law contrary to an act of this church.”

In January, 1815 Brother Boone laid an allegation against Brother Hartley for “not giving good usage at his mill,” and in February following and again at a called meeting during same month Hartley was admonished.

Source: — The History of Watauga County North Carolina with sketches of prominent families, John Preston Arthur, Copyright 1915.