Attractive Statesville

Local History Notes

Notes about the history of Iredell County by Joel Reese, Local History Librarian.

Jan 09

Snow Creek: A Deep Methodist History

Posted on January 9, 2023 at 9:51 AM by Iredell County Local History

Snow Creek Methodist Church

I took my Mom to the Presbyterian church I attend a few years ago. She had attended a Baptist church since she was born and had never been to any other church. Presbyterians always have a bulletin they follow that goes along with that day’s service. It lists upcoming birthdays and anniversaries and who needs to be added to our prayer list. She was reading over it intently and doing just fine until I said, “Now Mommy, when they start passing the snake around and it gets to you just hold up your palm and say, ‘Pass,’ remember you are a visitor”. She jerked her head around, “Whaaat?”

This Sunday on January the 8th is a big day in the religious history of Iredell County. At 9:30 a.m., at 745 Snow Creek Rd, off state road 1904, about ten miles north of Statesville, the Snow Creek Methodist Church will hold its first regular service in more than three years. Snow Creek was a part of the United Methodist Conference until it separated on Sept. 30, 2021 and became independent. The last regular service held at Snow Creek was on Aug. 15, 2021. 

Steve Hill gave a presentation on his new book, “In the Shadow of the Cock: The History of the Square, Statesville, North Carolina, 1790-1990”. After the program someone mentioned that the Snow Creek Methodist Church in northern part of the county was no longer having services. Everyone was shocked. We all knew of the historical significance of Snow Creek and its cemetery. 

The cemetery is really where Snow Creek starts. Sometime around August of 1780 a Revolutionary War veteran named Arnold McArmond was bitten and killed by a rattlesnake in north Iredell about five miles west of the present site of the Snow Creek Methodist Church. His friends planned to bury him at the Bethany Presbyterian cemetery, but recent rains had swelled the creeks and rivers including the South Yadkin River that they needed to cross to get to Bethany. 

McArmond was buried instead on some land owned by a local Methodist named Shadrack Claywell. What started as one lonely grave in the backcountry grew over the years as other early Iredell settlers were buried there along with McArmond. It would remain a cemetery without a church for the next twenty-one years. 

Around 1795 a religious fever began spreading across the eastern part of the United States. By 1800 it had moved from the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky into western North Carolina. What made the Revival movement different was a new style of the preaching. Ministers began holding camp meetings outdoors attended by huge crowds. The ministers focused not on teaching the Bible, but in challenging non-Christians and converting these lost sinners to the Lord thus saving their souls. 

It still goes on today. I attended my first cousin Tommy’s funeral in Marion, Virginia, a little over two weeks ago. Two Baptist ministers got up and basically turned the funeral into a revival (one of them even lay down on the floor). They yelled and charged around and hyperventilated over everyone (my cousin Timmy said he had never seen anything like it). It was all about converting to the Lord before you walked out the door (I think I did hear Tommy’s name mentioned a couple of times). 

I am sure if I asked the ministers if they were preaching a funeral or a revival they would have pointed out that many of the people attending the funeral were never going to attend a church let alone a revival. For them this was their one opportunity to save the souls of those in attendance and bring them to the Lord. I am fine with that and I am in favor of bringing people to the Lord and converting non-Christians, but I am also glad I was on the second row so I didn’t get spit on. 

The Presbyterians had a foothold in Iredell County that went back to the 1750s with the Fourth Creek Presbyterian Church and its cemetery, but the Revival movement established Methodist churches here for the first time. The first was Mt. Bethel were can trace its beginnings to 1797 when Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury visited a new church at Basil Prather’s on Little Dutchman’s Creek. Snow Creek was the second Methodist Church started in 1801 by a young circuit riding preacher named Philip Bruce. 

The first Snow Creek church was built on land donated by William Sharpe in 1806 who gave a deed for land next to the Snow Creek Burying Ground for what was then called, King’s Methodist Episcopal Meeting House. Richard Hugh King was a Methodist minister during this time who preached along the Yadkin River area. King’s Methodist soon became the Snow Creek Methodist Church we know today. 

The church service to be held in Sunday was built between 1884-85. Today’s Snow Creek is an independent Methodist Church. Leading the service Sunday will be Dana Roseman whom I understand is a non-spitter. This would be an excellent opportunity to visit and worship the Lord in one of the oldest churches in Iredell County. 

The cemetery is a historical treasure and sits behind the church surrounded by a rock wall. The marker for Arnold McArmond in the cemetery has a snake engraving. The marker for Mary Feimster (1810) shows a mourning woman in classical garb leaning on a tomb with urn and is signed by J. Hall. Her husband Capt. William Feimster (1842) which pictures an old man seated in an armchair. 

William Sharpe who created the Fourth Creek Congregation Map in 1773 that now hangs in the Local History Room at the library is buried at Snow Creek.  There are twenty-four Revolutionary soldiers buried in Snow Creek though many are in unmarked graves. There are thirty-three or more Civil War graves and a few from the War of 1812. Snow Creek Methodist Church and the Burying Ground were placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1980. 

Joel Reese, Local History Librarian, Iredell County Public Library

Published in the Statesville Record and Landmark on Jan. 7, 2023 under the title of, “Snow Creek Methodist Church to hold first regular service since 2021”

Snow Creek Methodist Church estSnow Creek today

Jun 21

Carnation Milk Factory in Iredell County

Posted on June 21, 2022 at 2:33 PM by Iredell County Public Library

The Statesville Record and Landmark carried Augustus Ray Morrow’s obituary on April 6, 1997. He had died in Lumberton, N.C. at the age of 98. The article mentioned that Morrow had once served with the NC Agricultural Extension Service in Montgomery and Iredell counties. At 98, Morrow had outlived the family he grew up in along with his friends and peers. There is no mention of what he was once known for in Iredell County, and few if any remembered that as the Iredell County Farm Agent this man had helped bring Carnation Milk to Iredell and forever change the county’s economy.

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Mar 28

The Beginning of the Library, Part 1

Posted on March 28, 2022 at 3:37 PM by Iredell County Local History

The Iredell County Public Library recently noted a historic milestone. It was 100 years ago on Feb. 22, 1922, that what we now know as the Iredell County Public Library began.  It can trace its beginnings to the Statesville Woman’s Club which organized in October of 1921 with Mrs. B.F. Long (Mary Alice Robbins Long) as the first president. Their first civic project was the creation of a permanent public library for the city of Statesville. The Statesville Woman’s Club Library formally opened on Saturday, Feb. 25, 1922.

The founding of a permanent library for Statesville had not come easy though efforts were being made almost from the county’s creation in 1788. The Jan. 4, 1822 issue of the Weekly Raleigh Register on page one announced “A LIST OF ACTS,” Passed by the General Assembly of this State at the Session of 1821.” Act No. 27 was “To incorporate the Union Library Society in the county of Iredell.”

Dr. Phillip F. Laugenour reported in The Sentinel, April 27, 1916, that “The people in this section took great interest in educating the young and the diffusion of knowledge. For this last purpose there was an association with a library, kept at the house of J.P. McRee, where the books were distributed every three months. The association was dissolved in 1825 and the books were sold out.” 

The March 31, 1882, issue of The Landmark reported that “in 1841 a public library was established in Statesville. A number of valuable books were bought and the library did a vast amount of good in educating and developing the literary tastes of the people.” The article reports that Rev. Prof. Elisha F. Rockwell is attempting to locate the books from the original 1841 collection to start a new library. 

On Sept. 4, 1885, The Landmark reports on a “Circulating Library” being operated by local bookseller, Mr. T.M. Mills who for a one-dollar subscription will provide access to a whole year’ worth of reading. The problem for these early attempts at establishing a library was a lack of public funding. This changed on March 9, 1897, when the N.C. State Legislature passed, “An act to permit the establishment of public libraries.” 

Tax laws prior to this act did not allow the spending of tax payer money for public libraries. The 1897 Act established “That it should be lawful for the board of alderman or the board of commissioners of any city or incorporated town in the state of N.C. having more than one thousand inhabitants, to provide for the establishment of a public library in said city or town.” Despite the change in tax law no move was made on the part of Statesville to establish a library. 

I sometimes wonder if the newspaper made Edith Ausley cry that day. I wouldn’t be surprised. She had worked on it for so long and had everything planned out. She probably could see it when she closed her eyes. It would be white marble with tall columns to the right and left of the entrance. You would ascend from ground level up steps to large prominent double doors. The steps would symbolize a person’s elevation by learning while the lamps on either side of the door would symbolize enlightenment. 

It must have been particularly painful as the vote wasn’t even close. The results were given in the May 9, 1913, issue of The Landmark. “The Carnegie Library proposal was defeated in the municipal primary Tuesday by a majority of 80 votes. The total vote for the library was 164 and the vote against it was 244.” 

The municipal election to authorize the Statesville Board of Aldermen to levy a special tax to support a Carnegie Library was held on Tuesday, May 6th, 1913. The election was in accordance with an act of the N.C. State Legislature requiring that such an election be held if 25 percent of the voter’s petition for it. It was Edith Ausley who led the campaign to gather the signatures of the voters to present to the Alderman. There would be no beautiful Carnegie Library in Statesville. 

Edith Louise Fawcett Ausley profileEdith Louise Fawcett was born March 16, 1872, in London, Ontario. She moved to Mount Airy, N.C. with her parents when she was sixteen where her family started the First National Bank. On April 20, 1898, she married Daniel McNair Ausley from Lumber Bridge, N.C. Edith had met Daniel after he became the Railroad Agent for the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad Co., in Mount. Airy. The couple later moved to Newport News, Va., where Daniel went into the bank business with the City Bank. 

In 1900 Edith and her husband moved to Statesville where Daniel started the Statesville Loan and Trust Company which later becomes the Commercial National Bank. He built the bank building on the north-west corner of South Center St., and Court Street. The building with its huge granite columns is still there today beside the old court house. 

In 1903, Edith Ausley starts a free public library in Statesville called the “Reading Room Library” in rooms given freely in a building on West Broad St., owned by Dr. John J. Mott. Edith is member of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs and serves as the librarian. She contacts the” Lend a Hand Library” in Boston to start the library’s book collection. To raise funds for materials and operation she creates an “Everybody’s Day” celebration in Statesville. 

On Aug. 25, 1903, The Semi-Weekly Landmark announces, “Everybody’s Day, next Saturday, promises to be of unusual interest. “Everybody” is talking about it and “everybody” is expected to be here.” Since the library is to be open to everyone Mrs. Ausley creates a holiday for everyone as a fundraising event to benefit the new library. Everybody’s Day became a Statesville tradition for a few years.

The holiday was a huge success as The Semi-Weekly Landmark reported on Sept. 1, 1903, that between 2,500 and 3,000 people attended the event and $85.15 was raised for the library fund. Contests held included a fat man’s race, a bicycle race, a wheelbarrow race, a bag race, a parade through downtown Statesville and a contest for the best decorated vehicle. Prizes were awarded for the family with the most children and to the oldest person in attendance (Louis Moore from Bethany, age 94). 

There was a fiddle contest (old style), a greasy pole-climbing contest, a bicycle race, and a wheelbarrow race. A wedding was held in the show window of the Statesville Housefurnishing Co. store with an admission fee of 10 cents. The ceremony was performed by Squire W.C. Mills, who married Mr. Louis Franklin Carpenter and Miss Bettie Gant. The happy couple received a bedstead as a wedding gift. 

A large board was erected with painted pictures of a baby and raccoon and holes where their heads should have been.  People would stick their heads through the holes and other people would pay to throw at their heads. Mr. J.S. Fry won, but was disqualified for having previous practice. He had bet policeman J.N. Morgan that he could hit his head from a certain distance with a rock the day before. Morgan was game, but Fry missed and instead hit a ten-year-old boy standing nearby. Fry gave the kid 10 cents to keep quiet about it, but he squealed and Fry was disqualified. 

The Nov. 20, 1903 issue of The Landmark reports that Mrs. Ausley has asked philanthropist and steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie for $5,000 to build a Carnegie library in Statesville. Books from the Reading Library are also being circulated among the rural schools as they have no libraries. The Landmark reports on March 9, 1906 that Carnegie has agreed to give $5,000 for a library in Statesville once the conditions are met and a site selected. Shortly thereafter on March 27, 1906 a fire destroys the “Reading Room Library” though many of the books are saved. 

The library is then moved to the D.V. Mills building for a year and a half and then to the W.L. Heller store. There is a photo of the interior of the Statesville Reading Room Library on Mulberry Street in 1907 on display now at the entrance of the library. A site for the Statesville Carnegie Library is found when Mrs. S.A. Sharpe offers to donate a lot on the corner of Meeting and Sharpe Streets for the library, but the May 10, 1910 Landmark reports that the Statesville Board of Aldermen have rejected the proposed library citing the costs. To receive the Carnegie donation the city must appropriate 10 cent per year for maintenance which would have amounted to $500.

This brings us back to 1913. Edith Ausley has over the past ten years established 42 rural libraries in Iredell County with 1,288 volumes, but she is still pushing for a Carnegie Library in Statesville. She is now chairwoman of Statesville’s Women’s Twentieth Century club and has 1,750 books to put in the library. She has the site being donated for free on the corner of Meeting and Sharpe Streets near downtown Statesville and only two blocks from the graded school. 

She leads a campaign to gather enough signatures on a petition to allow the Board of Aldermen schedule a referendum to allow voters to accept a library tax of $500 per year. She gathers support from the community. The newspaper quotes Mary Charles who says, “Build your library before it is too late. The interest on the capital invested in this building may not come back to you in dollars and cents, but it will be repaid, it will be doubled, even tripled, by the many strong-hearted men and women that will emerge from its doors in future life.” 

The Carnegie Foundation does not give money to build libraries in small towns, but with Statesville they have made an exception. In fact, they have offered to give the city $10,000 if they will support it with $1,000 per year, but Ausley seeks only a $5,000 building. The results given in the newspaper in her hands means there will be no beautiful white marble Carnegie library with columns in Statesville.  

By Joel Reese, Local History Librarian

Iredell County Public Library

This article was published in the Statesville Record and Landmark on March 25, 2022 as “Iredell County Library began 100 years ago”, p. 1 & 3A.