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Summer 2006 Newsletter

Fall meeting to be at Peace College Saturday, Oct. 14

This year our Fall Meeting will be only a one-day event, with the two-day Tour of Historic Churches coming in the spring. Although weather is always uncertain, we hope to avoid the prolonged rains that have often come during hurricane season. On Saturday, October 14, we will meet in the beautiful President’s Dining Room on the Peace College campus near downtown Raleigh.

Peace College is one of the oldest institutions of higher education for women in the United States. It is the second-oldest in North Carolina, predated only by Salem College (the first school for girls in the United States, founded in 1772). The Peace Institute, as it was first named, was founded in 1857 by the Synod of North Carolina. The site and the sum of $10,000 (about $205,000 in present terms) were donated by William Peace, a Raleigh merchant and elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Raleigh. By 1861 the Main Building was largely complete, but the school did not open because of the War.

Instead the building became a Confederate Army hospital—the setting of the opening chapters of the historical novel, Cold Mountain.

William Peace, 1773-1865
This miniature portrait of William Peace as a young man was donated to the college by Closs Wardlaw, formerly Closs Peace, Class of 1930.

During the meeting we will hear about the early history of Peace College, and there will be an optional tour after lunch.

We will also hear from a representative of the Friends of the Historical Foundation at Montreat, who will report the latest news on the fate of the records, manuscripts, books, and artifacts stored in the closed facility. There are important decisions that must be made very soon by individuals and families who have donated materials to the Foundation, and by churches, presbyteries, and synods whose records have been deposited there. Anyone interested in this matter should try to attend.


While you are in Raleigh, you can also take in the State Fair! The 14th is the first Saturday of the event. You may wish to come on Friday for the meeting Saturday and perhaps stay Saturday night as well. If so, it might be well to make a reservation soon. Also, you can avoid the Fair traffic by approaching from a direction other than I-40 west of Raleigh. Directions to Peace College are found with the map on p. 8.

General Assembly Votes to Close Historical Foundation at Montreat
by Barbara Cain

Despite the best efforts of dedicated supporters, the campaign to persuade our denomination to keep the Historical Foundation open in Montreat has failed. However, discussions are continuing on other options.

From 1927 until reunion, the Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches served as the chief repository for the records, private manuscripts, and museum artifacts of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.) and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After reunion, it was agreed that the Historical Foundation would remain in Montreat, but it would become in effect a branch of the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia. In recent years, however, the Committee on the General Assembly (COGA) and the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia have argued that the Montreat location should be closed, because of the church’s diminishing income from per capita funds. They proposed dividing the collection between Philadelphia and Columbia Seminary in Georgia, with some artifacts remaining at the Montreat Conference Center.

Twenty-one presbyteries in the South and Southeast sent overtures this year to the 217th General Assembly, asking that the collection of archives, manuscripts, and museum artifacts be allowed to remain in its present location at the Montreat Conference Center as an independent entity, not reliant on per capita funds. Eight of these presbyteries sent official Overture Advocates to make their case before the Committee on General Assembly Procedures.

Most of the committee were sympathetic to our cause, and they voted to recommend that the Assembly disapprove the COGA proposal to close the Montreat facility. However, after dinner they were unable to come up with a satisfactory substitute proposal. Just before the last buses were leaving for the hotels, they reversed the earlier vote and recommended the COGA proposal, with an amendment directing the Montreat Conference Center, Columbia Theological Seminary and the Friends of the Historical Foundation at Montreat to develop programs and resources at both Montreat Conference Center and at Columbia.

The basic problem for the committee was the report by the constitutional advisor to COGA, declaring that all church records no longer maintained by the creating body must be deposited either with the Presbyterian Historical Society or at a Presbyterian seminary. They believed, therefore, that creation of an independent board of directors with independent funding would have required an amendment to the Book of Order – a major undertaking. Since private funds for the Historical Foundation were contingent on its independence from Philadelphia, the committee voted to recommend closure.

When the committee report was taken up by the General Assembly a few days later, a substitute motion was introduced to find a way to keep the facility open at Montreat. The impassioned debate included a speech by former moderator Marj Carpenter, recalling the promise made at the time of reunion to keep the Historical Foundation at Montreat. COGA responded that it was a question of stewardship of funds, and they could not afford to keep two centers open. The final vote was 348-147.

However, there are still many questions to be decided about the building, the corporation, and the collection itself. The plan of the Presbyterian Historical Society seems to be that the records of the General Assembly, administration, and central boards of PCUS will definitely go to Philadelphia, while most of the rest will go to Columbia Seminary. The current presbyteries and synods can decide whether the records of their predecessor bodies should go to Philadelphia, Columbia, or be returned to their own custody. Churches will have to make similar decisions. Although the Historical Foundation still exists in law, the PHS believes that since the merger of the two institutions, gifts made previously to the Historical Foundation now belong to the PHS.

Since General Assembly, many ideas have been floated for keeping the spirit of the Historical Foundation alive and for keeping as much of the collection together as possible. At our meeting at Peace College we will hear the latest about this matter. If you are interested, please come!

Although the wording of the presbytery overtures varied and the proposed solutions differed somewhat, the committee agreed to let the advocates present a unified proposal, with each addressing one aspect of the issue. This proposal was to place the Historical Foundation under an independent board, reporting to the General Assembly but not under the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia. The board would then have access to the designated funds (about $1 mil.) held for the Historical Foundation by the Presbyterian Foundation and would be also be supported by donations, approximately $900,000 of which had been pledged.

After the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly and staff members of the Presbyterian Historical Society had presented the case to the committee for closing the Montreat Office, the advocates were given 35 minutes to make their case. Rev. Steve Pharr, who has a law practice in Winston-Salem, spoke first about the legal impediments to closing down the Foundation. Rev. Tom Spence of Sanford, our past president and the chief fundraiser for the Friends of the Historical Foundation at Montreat, told of the large amount pledged in a very short time. Barbara Cain, a certified archivist, pointed out the importance of keeping the collection together at the conference center where it was accessible to all. David Miller, a former missionary to the Congo, relayed the dismay of churches around the world whose members have come to Montreat to write their histories. Others spoke about the breaking of trust with donors and about the Presbyterian Women who have created and used the church histories deposited at Montreat. Finally, Richard Ray of Asheville summed it all up. After a period for questions, advocates were not allowed further comment on the committee discussions.
Steve Pharr, Barbara Cain, and Richard Ray

Report on Spring Meeting in Bladen County, April 2006
Our Spring Meeting for 2006 was held on Saturday, April 22nd, in Bladen County. Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church was our host, and they welcomed us with coffee and refreshments. In the lovely sanctuary we heard about the history of the church and of the English and Scottish settlers in the region. In 1781 a group of patriot militia managed a surprise attack on the Tories encamped in Elizabethtown and put them to flight.

We then drove south to Brown Marsh church. It was built about 1818 in what was then the center of a rural community. In 1870 the congregation moved to Clarkton and eventually became the Clarkton Presbyterian Church. The building at Brown Marsh was used as a school for a time and from 1901 to 1948 a Presbyterian congregation met there once a month. The unpainted wooden building has no electricity and has been beautifully maintained by the Clarkton congregation, and it now belongs to the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina. Mr. Tommy Clark met us there and was telling us about the church when a thunderstorm broke overhead, adding to the dramatic atmosphere. Unfortunately, the rain prevented our wandering in the old cemetery.

After lunch in the Barn Restaurant, President Don Saunders opened our Annual Meeting. He reported that the Executive Committee had just authorized Steve Edgerton to set up a web site for our Society. We also heard reports from the other officers. The Award Chair, Mrs. Joy Heitmann, presented our award certificate and a year’s membership in the Society to David Jones for his excellent history of the First Presbyterian Church of Rocky Mount. During the election of officers, Ann Myhre was elected Vice-President in charge of Awards, and John Wray was elected Vice-President in charge of Program.

We then visited the lovely and historic Beth Car church in Tar Heel, where we heard the interesting history of the church and its connection with the Robeson family. As the final event of the meeting, the group drove across the Cape Fear River to see Harmony Hall, a plantation house built about 1768. There we were given an excellent tour by volunteers from the Bladen County Historical Society.

Our Spring Tour on April 13-14, 2007, will be based in the historic town of Hillsborough. Put the dates on your calendar now!

President’s Message
By Dr. Donald B. Saunders
As I write this, Blowing Rock is getting its first real rain for about 3 weeks and the temperature is in the mid-50s. For the sake of my tomato crop I am looking forward to some more warm, sunny days, but meanwhile we are grateful for a break in the hot, dry summer.

Thoughts turn to fall. I encourage you all to come out on October 14. We will meet at Peace College, as we have not for some years. This is a convenient location for many; I hope to see a good crowd. No tour, just a business meeting this time, the usual meal, and a speaker who will fill us in on Peace’s century and a half of history and service.

You will recall that the executive board recommended reversing the spring and fall meetings, touring in spring and meeting in the fall primarily for business. The reasoning is that we have usually had very nice weather for our spring meeting, but not-so-nice weather for the fall tours. Why, when a bunch of Scots-descended Presbyterians get together, does the Lord decide to remind of them of the dour weather of their homeland? Or are we coping with increased Atlantic hurricane activity? Whatever, let’s hope we can enjoy our next tour, on April 13-14, 2007, without umbrellas and galoshes.

Below in this newsletter please read the proposed bylaws amendments to be voted on at the upcoming meeting, which will make the change official.

Many members of the Society are disappointed by the apparently final decision of the General Assembly to remove the church historical records from Montreat to Philadelphia and Columbia Theological Seminary and discontinue direct support for the Historical Foundation activities there. We expect at our meeting to hear from a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Historical Foundation at Montreat, as to what is likely to happen next.

We will also see our developing web site! Steve Edgerton has created an initial design at, and we continue to seek interesting photos to put on the pages. If you have any interesting photos taken at any of our Society activities and would share them, bring them along to the meeting.
I hope everyone has a pleasant end of summer. See you October 14 in Raleigh.



NCPHS Proposed Bylaws Revisions
(to be voted on at the Fall Meeting, 2006)

1. Amend Article III, Membership and Quorum
[Old Paragraph 1:] Meetings shall be held in the spring and in the fall. The spring meeting shall be the principal meeting for business and inspiration and the fall meeting shall be for educational purposes and shall include visits to churches and other places of historic interest….
[New Paragraph 1:] Meetings shall be held in the spring and in the fall. The spring meeting shall be for educational purposes and shall include visits to churches and other places of historic interest. The fall meeting shall be the principal meeting for business and inspiration….
2. Amend Article IV, Officers
[Old first sentence] Officers shall be elected biennially at the spring meeting and shall take office immediately thereafter. 
[New first sentence] Officers shall be elected biennially at the fall meeting and shall take office immediately thereafter. 
3.Amend Article VII, Committees
Nominating Committee...shall be appointed at the spring meeting. It shall prepare a slate of officers to be voted upon at the following fall meeting.
...A proposed slate of officers shall be included in the fall newsletter.
4.Amend Policies
Meeting dates. The spring meeting shall be held on the first weekend after Easter and the fall meeting shall be held on the second Saturday in October.
5. Add to Policies
Awards. The Awards Committee shall make every effort to invite awardees to attend the annual spring meeting and shall make awards at that meeting to any awardees present.?

NCPHS presents awards each year for outstanding books or other projects on church history. Has your congregation compiled or published a history, made a history quilt, or established a collection of clippings, photographs, minutes, artifacts, Bibles, or treasured communion sets? Don’t keep it a secret! Document it, and let Ann Myhre know. Her address is later in this newsletter.

Our society’s award-winning books and others that have been donated are in the Scottish Heritage Center at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg. The center at St. Andrews also displays on a rotating basis our society’s collection of dinner plates commemorating historic Presbyterian churches.

National Register
Is your church on the National Register of Historic Places or some other listing? Historical does not have to mean 100 years old.  Information on criteria and on the process of applying to the National Register is available at or by mail from the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office, 4617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-4617.

The society’s year begins the first of January. If the membership date on your mailing label is earlier than 2006, please pay your current dues. Back dues are forgiven. Dues and any address corrections may be included with your registration for the Fall Meeting or sent to Sally Owens at the address given below in this newsletter.

Annual Dues:
Individual — $ 10.00
Family— $ 15.00
Individual Life Membership — $100.00
One-year complimentary memberships are given to those honored for outstanding books or projects on Presbyterian church history. PCUSA churches, colleges, seminaries, libraries, and church boards also receive complimentary memberships on a long-term basis.

News from Members
Kathrine Neel of Glenaire has made a generous gift to the Society, and she is our latest Life Member.

We report with sadness the death of two of our long-time members. Dr. Jacob Koomen, a life member of NCPHS and resident of Glenaire Retirement Center in Cary, died of cancer on May 10, 2006. He is survived by his wife Ruth, four children, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He was an elder and Sunday School teacher at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh and was noted for his prodigious knowledge of political and religious history. Dr. Koomen, a physician and public health administrator, had one of the most recognizable signatures in North Carolina. While he was State Health Director from 1966 to 1978, all NC birth certificates bore his imprint, as did many efforts to stamp out epidemics of various diseases.

Connie McPherson, also of Glenaire, died June 20, 2006. She is survived by a daughter and two grandchildren. Connie taught home economics and special education in Wake County for more than 20 years and pursued various interests in education and history. She was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Raleigh for 52 years. Her late husband, William P. McPherson, was co-church historian during that time. The McPhersons did much to support the educational and financial growth of Peace College.

Other news in brief:
Red House Church near Milton in Caswell County is celebrating the 250th anniversary this year. The Rev. Hugh McAden was its first pastor and is buried in the graveyard.

The 30th Annual Flora MacDonald Highland Games will take place October 6-8 in Red Springs.

[Editor’s Note: Please send news of churches, church histories, and other information to Barbara Cain. Ideas for articles are always welcome.]

New Officers
Ann Myhre, who has been a computer technician and a tech writer for pharmaceutical companies, has agreed to serve as our new Awards Chair. Ann is now the church administrator of West Raleigh Presbyterian Church, where she and her husband John are members. John, a retired pharmacist, has been on a number of medical missions to Sri Lanka, Haiti, and Bolivia, and Ann has sometimes accompanied him. She also has a keen interest in genealogy and in church records.

Col. John Wray, retired from the Army and from state government, is our new Program Chair. An environmental engineer, he served in the Office of the Surgeon General, in the NC Dept. of Water Resources, and as a consultant to engineering firms. He and his wife Marion have two grown children and are members of St. Giles Presbyterian Church in Raleigh.

Barbara Cain, who was the Program Chair, is now the newsletter editor. She and her husband Bob are both retired from the NC Division of Archives and History, and they are both members of West Raleigh Presbyterian Church.
The complete list of current officers follows.

Dr. Donald B. Saunders, President
P.O. Box 1846, Blowing Rock, NC 28605
Phone: (828) 295-8917

Brenda Spence, Secretary
294 Fairway Lane, Sanford, NC 27332
Phone:  (919)-498-2159

Ann Myhre, Awards Chair
1005 Park Ave., Garner, NC 27529
Phone:  (919) 772-5514

Sally MacLeod Owens, Membership Chair
710 North Person Street #204
Raleigh, NC  27604-1276
Phone:  (919)-835-0920

Col. John Wray, Program Chair
2113 Yorkgate Dr., Raleigh, NC 27612
Phone: (919) 782-3384 or 787-9754

Earl Fitzgerald, Treasurer
2213 Foxhorn Road
Trent Woods, NC 28562
Phone: (919)876-6665

Barbara T. Cain, Newsletter Editor
1041 Shelley Road, Raleigh, NC  27609
Phone:  (919)-782-0944

Thomas K Spence, Past President
294 Fairway Lane, Sanford, NC 27332
Phone:  (919)-498-2159
Reprints Available
With permission of the late Dr. Harold J. Dudley, the society is reprinting a speech he first gave in 1964 entitled “Toryism in North Carolina.” If  you are interested in those who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution and if you would like a copy, please send $2.00 to Sally MacLeod Owens.

Also available from her are copies of maps of the Great Wagon Road, for $1.00.  Many churches in central North Carolina have their roots in the Shenandoah Valley. A reader aptly noted that the Great Wagon Road was the interstate highway of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Interstate 81 does indeed follow the center of the path the Scotch-Irish settlers followed.

Finally, we still have a few copies of Foote’s Sketches, edited by Harold J. Dudley, for $15 each. To buy one, please contact either Sally Owens or Barbara Cain. Contact information is on the previous page.

Photographs relating to Peace College in this newsletter are from the Peace College Archives and were copied with permission from the Peace College website.
Peace College, Main Building, 1920

Need a Ride to Raleigh?
We may not be able to help, but if you need a ride, please call our secretary, Brenda Spence, at (919) 498-2159. It is possible that someone who is planning to go would be able to take you. She could give you the names of some people to ask.

It will be our aim to make thorough scholars, qualified by proper training for the cheerful discharge of duty in any situation to which they may be called. – 1873Peace College Catalog

The fall meeting will be in the Belk Dining Hall, No. 12 on the map. Park in the lot marked No. 13 on the map.

If you wish to stay overnight, there are many hotels and motels in and around Raleigh. The following one is near Peace College:

Clarion Hotel
320 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
Phone: 919.832.0501
Rooms at $79.00 – $89.00 are being booked quickly duo to the Monet exhibit at the Art Museum and other events at local colleges and universities.

North Carolina Presbyterian Historical Society’s Fall Meeting
Peace College, Raleigh, NC
October 14, 2006
Saturday, October 14
8:30 Meeting of officers.
9:30 Registration and Coffee
President’s Dining Room, Peace College
10:00 Morning Session
Speaker: Warren Bingham
“Early History of Peace College”
Report on the Historical Foundation at Montreat
Rev. Thomas K. Spence, Board of Directors, Friends of the Historical Foundation at Montreat
12:00 Lunch
Business Meeting

Suggested accommodations and map are on the opposite page.
Registration: $15 per person. Please send form below and check (payable to NCPHS) by October 6th to our Secretary, Mrs. Brenda Spence, 294 Fairway Lane, Sanford, NC 27332 [Tel: (919)-498-2159; E-mail:]

DUES are Due! If your mailing label has a date before 2006 and you are not a Life Member, or if you would like to join us, please include dues on the form below. Registration
Name(s): _______________________________________________________________
Address: _______________________________________________________________
Telephone: ______________________ Email:________________________________
No. of registrations ____ @ $15 = $ _____
Dues (Individual $10; Family $15; Individual Life Membership, $100): $_______
Total enclosed: $________
Please send this form with your check (made out to NCPHS) by October 6th to Mrs. Brenda Spence, 294 Fairway Lane, Sanford, NC 27332
If you can do so, please put the following announcement in your church bulletin or newsletter:
The North Carolina Presbyterian Historical Society.

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