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These Storied Walls

Concord Circuit

Although the early records are not complete, all indications are that Rogers Church was a part of the Concord Circuit from 1847 to 1852. In 1853, the Charlotte District was formed and the Concord Circuit, including Rogers, transferred to it from the Lincolnton District. By deed dated 27 June 1851, John Rogers transferred a tract of one and one-quarter acres on which the meeting house stood to Daniel Dry, J. L. Bundy, and other Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, to "use and occupy the said tract of land as a place of stated preaching," but withholding the power of sale from the Trustees so that the land "shall remain as a place of worship for the Methodist denomination to be used for that purpose and that purpose alone forever." The deed is recorded in Book 20 at pages 61 and 62 in the Cabarrus County Registry. The land granted was the area where the former church parsonage was located, and is the site of the log churches. Before the deed was presented for registration on 7 May 1856, additional trustees had to be elected, the number being insufficient: Roger Daywalt (Dayvault), Levi Fink, Daniel Litaker, and Nicholas Cook, were elected by the congregation to serve as Trustees. By 1858, Samuel Murph had replaced Levi Fink as a Trustee, as evidenced by the second John Rogers Deed dated 4 September 1858, in which he conveyed about three acres to the Trustees, including the original one and one-quarter acre tract. The additional land included part of the present cemetery and sanctuary areas. Again, the Deed stated that the land was not to be sold but was to remain as a "place of public worship for the Methodist community. . . forever." The original deed was recorded in the Cabarrus County Registry in Deed Book 23 at page 154, and is held in the church lockbox.

At the December 1858 Conference, the Charlotte District, including the Concord Circuit, was absorbed by the Wadesboro District. According to District records there were then 604 white members, 230 white probationers, 296 black members, with 104 black probationers. During 1858, $133.03 was raised on the Circuit for Missions, and $15.00 for Sunday Schools. There were six Sunday Schools, with 40 officers and teachers, and 278 scholars. The Concord Circuit, with ten churches and one parsonage, was a vital part of the Wadesboro District from 1867 to 1870, when the South Carolina Conference gave up the last of its North Carolina territory. The minutes of the November 1865 Conference reflect a white membership of 760, with 199 white probationers. Black membership was 383, with 107 black probationers. Three local preachers assisted with the work. By the next conference, many of the black members had been lost to their own churches, as there were only 40 black members on the entire Circuit. The ten Sunday Schools boasted 64 teachers and officials, supervising 404 students.

During the tumultuous decade of the 1860s, the log church was replaced by a frame building which served the congregation until it was replaced in 1914 with a modern brick sanctuary. Mrs. Pearl Hopkins recalled that the old church was heated with a pot-bellied stove located near the center of the building. Oil lamps with reflector shades in the back were hung on the walls to provide lighting. The wooden pews were not smooth and finished as modern ones are built. After some years, an outhouse was built near the church.

Mrs. Hopkins also recalled that the first preachers rode to the church on horseback. Since the church was on a circuit, services were not held every Sunday and were sometimes held on Sunday evenings. There was no guarantee that the service would end "on time." That depended on "whether he had something else he wanted to say to us." Children sat with their parents and had to remain quiet or suffer the consequences later. The only special services Pearl Hopkins remembered were those at Easter and Christmas. There were no sunrise services at that time. At Christmas, a church member would bring in a tree. The adults would help the children string popcorn with a needle and thread; paper rings were made by coloring papers, cutting strips and gluing them with flour paste. The same decorations were used on the smaller trees at home. The Christmas treat bag usually held an apple, orange and piece of candy, all of which they were "tickled to get."

The South Carolina Conference surrendered its last territory in North Carolina in 1869. During the formative years thereafter, Mt. Olivet was to find itself in a number of circuits: the church was on the Rowan and Union Circuit of the Salisbury District in 1871 and 1872, on the Mt. Pleasant Circuit of the Charlotte District in 1873 and 1874, returned to the Concord Circuit of the Charlotte District in 1875, the Mt. Pleasant Circuit of the Charlotte District in 1876, and was part of the Concord Circuit of the Charlotte District from 1877 to 1880. We first find the name change to Mt. Olivet documented in Branson's North Carolina Business Directory for 1877-1878, under a listing of churches for Cabarrus County. In 1881, the Concord Circuit was finally transferred to the Salisbury District, and Mt. Olivet entered a period of great growth and service. There were five churches on the Concord Circuit when good records began to be kept in 1884: Mt. Olivet, Union, Center, Rocky Ridge, and Bethpage.

Two strong Sunday School classes were already serving the Winecoff community from Mt. Olivet. The first class for which records survive was organized on the first Sunday in April of 1871, with Henry Bonds as Superintendent. After two years, J. A. Fink replaced Mr. Bonds. He was followed by J. R. Means, M. H. Winecoff, and J. H. Earnhardt. Mr. C. J. Goodman was named Superintendent in 1895, serving until 1914 when he began teaching the class. H. A. Scott, the former teacher, succeeded Mr. Goodman as Sunday School Superintendent. The large class was mixed until about 1929, when it became so large that it was necessary to separate the group, and the class became the men's class. Mr. Goodman, a well- known dairy farmer, was so successful as a teacher that the class numbered 50 members by 1939, with an average attendance between 30 and 35 students. In that year the class was named for him on its 68th anniversary.

The Lillie Scott Bible Class was organized by Mrs. Martin Henderson Winecoff in 1880 to serve the women who brought their children to Sunday School. Mrs. Winecoff was the former Margaret Catherine Elkins, born in Concord on December 4, 1850. Her father was Willis Elkins, a merchant and leader in the Concord Methodist Church; her great-uncle was John Rogers. After the untimely death of her mother, John and Martha Rogers helped rear the child. Mrs. Winecoff taught Class No. 2 until her death on February 5, 1888. The class was later named for Mrs. Lillie Scott, who taught it for forty years.

The surviving Quarterly Conference records for the Concord Circuit of the Salisbury District begin with the meeting of February 16, 1884, at Center Church, located south of Concord. At each Quarterly meeting the preacher assigned to the charge was to submit a written report on the number and state of the Sunday Schools, and also on the "general state of the church." W. S. Black was presiding Elder and Z. P. Rush was serving as preacher on the charge. The secretary and recording steward was J. A. Fink of Mt. Olivet. Reverend Rush made an appeal "in behalf of the parsonage debt." At that time, the parsonage for the Concord Circuit was located in Concord, from which location the minister served the five churches on the circuit. He also noted that at three of the appointments the Sunday Schools were suspended during the winter months, but had been in operation at Mt. Olivet. He indicated that the congregations had been "fair" considering the bad weather, that the spiritual condition was "medium" and the prospect helpful."

At the third conference held at Mt. Olivet on 31 August 1884, and at the fourth conference at Bethpage Church on October 18, 1884, the Sunday Schools were emphasized. Reverend Rush noted in his report that the school at Mt. Olivet excels the others . . . as [S]uperintendent J. A. Fink is training the children to become interested in all the enterprises of the church. In 1885, St. Matthews replaced Bethpage Church on the Circuit. The financial report indicates that Rev. Rush was actually paid $489.00 of his $530.00 salary.

In 1886, Rev. W. L. Grissom began a fruitful period of service on the Circuit. A child of Mt. Olivet, D. M. [Daniel Milton] Litaker applied to the Quarterly Conference for a license to preach. Litaker was born in Cabarrus County on October 22, 1867, the son of Daniel T. and Elizabeth Andrew Litaker. Converted in Mt. Olivet at age 15, he entered Trinity [now Duke University] College in 1886, and joined the North Carolina Conference in 1888, at age 21. At the October 1, 1887, Quarterly Conference held at Center Church, D. M. Litaker reported that he had preached 22 times, and that he was then at Trinity College "preparing for the great and responsible work to which I feel that I am called." In 1890, Litaker was joined by Thomas E. Winecoff, whom the Mt. Olivet church conference recommended for a license to preach. Today, the Reverend Doctor Thomas E. Winecoff rests in the Mt. Olivet cemetery beside his beloved wife, Allie E. Black Winecoff; his tombstone proudly bears these words: "Anglican Priest and Servant of Man."

On July 14, 1888, the Trustees reported to the Quarterly Conference held at Union Church that "they have met and think it wise [for Union Church and St. Matthews Church] to unite." The Conference authorized the Trustees to dispose of the church buildings in order that they might unite at some place to be decided upon by a building committee.

M. V. Sherrill was appointed to serve the Circuit in 1889 as minister, with J. T. Gibbs as Presiding Elder. He was succeeded by Rev. Thomas W. Smith in 1890, a year in which the Salisbury District become a part of the Western North Carolina Conference. J. J. Renn served as Presiding Elder for the District during that historic year. At the first Quarterly Conference held at Center Church on March 8, 1890, Reverend Smith reported that there was only one Sunday School in operation. "That is at Mt. Olivet under the superintendency of M. H. Winecoff. The school is doing a good work and is improving with a good prospect. There is in this S. S. a good Missionary Society which is doing much in this community in spreading information and inspiring zeal. The schools at the other churches will probably open soon."

In 1902, Mt. Olivet was joined by Mt. Carmel, Center, Rocky Ridge, and Boger’s Chapel on the Concord Circuit. W. W. Bays served as Presiding Elder and Reverend F. W. Bradley ministered to the growing circuit. In 1904, under the leadership of Reverend W. V. Honeycutt, there were five Sunday Schools in operation. The Epworth League at Mt. Olivet was "in very good working order and is we trust doing good." Elected as officers of the Epworth League were Ira Winecoff, M. H. Winecoff, J. A. Fink, M. E. Winecoff, Homer Winecoff, and Ida Winecoff. Ida Winecoff was also appointed to lead the Mt. Olivet ladies in furnishing the parsonage of the Circuit.

By the end of 1905, the Trustees for Mt. Olivet, through Chairman J. A. Fink, reported that the property of the church, being about three and one-half acres, was in good condition, free of debt, and of about $800.00 value. No insurance was carried on the property at that time. The church was experiencing growing pains and the frame building was becoming outdated and difficult to heat. At the meeting of the Conference on 20 January 1906, at Rocky Ridge Church, a Building Committee was appointed for Mt. Olivet: C. J. Goodman, G. A. Shinn, J. N. Winecoff, W. C. Litaker, and J. N. Dayvault. Reverend Honeycutt reported that there was one Senior Epworth League [at Mt. Olivet] and six Sunday Schools, with 35 officers and teachers, and 290 scholars. By 1907, there was still the one Senior Epworth League at Olivet with 32 members, and 315 members in the Sunday Schools. By the second Conference on 25 May 1907, at Rocky Ridge, there were two Epworth Leagues at Mt. Olivet, a Senior and Junior League. In his final report, Reverend Sherrill complimented the fine work done by the Missionary Society at Mt. Olivet and Center Church.

Reverend Bascom A. York emphasized missions during his ministry, which began in 1908. L. W. Earnhardt was elected as a leader from Mt. Olivet in the Laymen's Missionary Movement later that year, and Reverend York noted the presence of a "live Sunday School Missionary Society in Olivet. During Reverend York's second year of ministry at Mt. Olivet, a staunch worker was gathered home when M. H. Winecoff died on September 27, 1909, and was replaced as Trustee by W. M. Patterson.

In 1909, Dr. York noted that a Woman’s Home Missionary Society has been organized at Olivet Church and it promises to do great good. Statistics submitted to the First Quarterly Conference for 1910 revealed a total membership on the Circuit of 613, with 2 Senior Epworth Leagues in operation. Reverend York had been paid a salary of $800.00 for 1909 and a salary of $900.00 was estimated for the new minister, W. P. McGhee, for 1910. Two children of the church, H. L. Scott and Lura Scott, were at Trinity College. The 1911 records reveal that the Reverend H. L. Scott was continuing his education at Yale University, Lura Scott was at Trinity, and Roy Goodman was at A & M College. Earnest Winecoff was attending Lenoa College, and James F. McGhee was studying at Cornell University.

At the first conference meeting for 1912, the conference agreed to inaugurate a "plan of catechizing the children once or twice a month at each church in connection with the Sunday School." The Epworth League at Mt. Olivet was still flourishing, as it reported at the April meeting that it met twice a month for devotional meetings, and boasted 48 members. In a report signed by Mrs. W. N. Barnhardt, President, the Mt. Olivet Woman's Home Mission Society reported a membership of 19 for 1912. The group had collected $18.20 in dues, raised $40.00 for a scholarship in China, and $10.00 for a Christmas offering. In 1913, Mrs. C. J. Goodman, Treasurer, reported that $40.00 was raised for the Olivet Fink Scholarship in China, and that $17.50 in dues was collected.

1914 was a watershed year for Mt. Olivet's congregation, which had dreamed for years of a modern sanctuary to replace the frame structure in use since the Civil War era. A building committee was appointed at the Circuit Quarterly Conference for 25 April 1914: C. J. Goodman, H. A. Scott, and A. W. Winecoff. Earlier that year, C. J. Goodman was named Church Lay Leader, and H. A. Scott became Sunday School Superintendent at Mt. Olivet, a position he held for some twenty-eight years. Guiding the congregation as Stewards were: J. A. Scott (also Recording Steward), W. M. Patterson, W. N. Barnhardt, J. A. Furr, A. W. Winecoff, and W. A. Fink. Trustees for the Church were: J. A. Scott, W. A. Fink, G. A. Shinn, W. M. Patterson, and C. J. Goodman.

With Mrs. R. D. Goodman as President and Mrs. A. W. Winecoff as Secretary, the Woman’s Mission Society of Mt. Olivet had a banner year, reporting a membership of 25 with 7 officers. The Society maintained its $40.00 scholarship in China, sent a scholarship of $5.00 to a "mountain girl", received $20.00 in dues, and subscribed about $300.00 towards the new church building.

At the final meeting of the year held on October 24, 1914, at Boger’s Chapel, the Mt. Olivet trustees reported that the church property was valued at $4,000.00, and that about $2,000.00 had been spent during the year. The Quarterly Conference adopted a resolution authorizing the Mt. Olivet Trustees to "borrow money or accept a conditional donation, or both, from the Board of Church Extension of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, not exceeding the sum of ($4,000.00) Four thousand dollars, for the purpose of aiding in building a new church and to secure the repayment of the same by mortgage upon the property held in trust by them . . . .” The work on the new church was apparently complete by the Conference Meeting of 12 June 1915, as the Olivet Trustees were authorized to sell the old church building and apply the proceeds on the new church debt.

On 5 February 1916, the first Quarterly Conference was held in the new Mt. Olivet Church building. Dr. J. C. Rowe returned as Presiding Elder and the new minister, P. L. Terrell, was present. He began his ministry in a vital Circuit with 628 members. Sunday School enrollment was 540, with 45 officers and teachers; the Mt. Olivet Epworth League had 60 members. By the second Quarterly Conference in May, Rev. Terrell reported that he had traveled over 350 miles in the prior quarter, with 107 visits! By year’s end, the Mt. Olivet indebtedness of $2,000.00 was reduced to about $1,600.00.

In 1916, Mrs. Ada Linn Dayvault moved her church membership to Mt. Olivet. Born in rural Rowan County on 9 October 1894, she married Aldine C. Dayvault on 28 October 1915, and moved to the home where she lived throughout her long life. Mrs. Dayvault recalls that at that time, the older men who led the congregation sat in the "Amen corner"; the women were expected to "stay in their place." There were altar calls at every service. Music was provided by a choir and piano. The church was heated by a pot-bellied stove. Sunday School was held in the sanctuary, which was divided up into rooms by sliding doors. As Mt. Olivet was then on a three church circuit, preaching services were held every third Sunday. On the other Sundays, Sunday School was held. All church business was conducted on Sunday, as there were no meetings during the week. The Epworth League (later known as the Methodist Youth) was the young people's organization at that time.

The much beloved Dr. Rowe returned as Presiding Elder for 1918, the last year for which written records are preserved for the old Concord Circuit. Dr. Rowe was joined by Reverend P. L. Shore, who served the Mt. Olivet congregation during the war years. Rev. Shore came to a healthy Circuit, with three Wesley Bible Classes, and one Epworth League at Mt. Olivet. Reverend Shore began a plan to organize the remaining Sunday Schools into Missionary Societies, Mt. Olivet having been organized in that fashion for some years.

Mt. Olivet members led the community in the new area of Scouting. B. L. Umberger, Sr., organized the first Boy Scout troop in Cabarrus County in 1917, with Herbert Ritchie as Assistant Scoutmaster. All but three of the original Scouts were members of Mt. Olivet. Mrs. Lura Scott Wellborn, who taught at Winecoff School, was leader of the Girl Scouts in 1919, when Mrs. Pearl Hopkins joined the troop.

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