Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dark Salvation: The Beginnings of Separation

When I locate a book related to my research, I start out by checking the Index for keywords. Following that I go to the Contents and check chapter titles, focusing on those chapters containing the most keywords. If the book sufficiently interests me I read the entire book; but even then, I may skip over some chapters and go back to them at a later date. Here I have skipped over Chapter IV: Methodism and Slavery, and continue on to Chapter V: The Beginnings of Separation.

While the former chapter may deal with some aspects of collateral families who migrated to North Harlowe following Emancipation, at this point I am most interested in the community's worship before that time. . . when  my husband's great grandfather Isaac Carter and his three younger siblings resided as apprentices in the William Temple household (1853), following the death of their parents.

from Colton's New Topographical Map
of the Eastern Portion of the
State of North Carolina (1861)
According to Mr. Ralph Berlyn Temple of Newport, NC:
Craven County records indicate that William Temple purchased "1,000 acres more or less" at the mouth of Clubfoot Creek and Neuse River on November 27, 1841 from Joseph Davis for $1,000.00 . . . . (p. 4) 
. . . . and it was on Temple's Point Road that Piney Grove AME Zion Church was erected.

Varieties of segregation in worship services
As I read through this chapter, I was especially drawn to the conditions of participation "after 1784 when Methodism became a Church with church buildings, a resident, ordained ministry, a more diverse white membership, and a growing black membership" (p. 64). Benjamin Abbott testified that,
At time of family worship, abundance of black people assembled in the kitchen, and the door was set open that they might hear without coming into the parlor. . . (p. 64).
And on August 12, 1792, Joseph Pilmoor wrote to John Wesley,
As the ground was wet they persuaded me to try to preach within and appointed men to stand at the door to keep all the Negroes out till the white persons were got in, but the house would not hold them . . . (p. 64).
Bishop Richard Allen,
Courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery
In Philadelphia, Richard Allen
joined a Methodist class that met "in the forest"... meeting every other Thursday evening.... Richard not only attended Methodist preaching meetings, but he induced his master to have preaching in his, the master's, home (p. 68).


Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church,
Courtesy BlackPast.org


Richard Allen went on to becoming instrumental in forming the first black Methodist congregation in America in 1794.
Early on in the Ministers and Preachers of Township 5 series, I contemplated a few questions about Isaac Carter's exposure to the faith from the minister William Thomas:
Could it be that my husband's ancestors had been part of a biracial Methodist Episcopal church? . . . or had they broken away into an independent free black Methodist Episcopal congregation sponsored by the white church? . . . had they their own black preachers by 1870? or did they still listen to the white minister's sermons on Sunday morning? Another mystery to ponder. . . .
While I may never know for certain, at this point I tend to believe that just prior to Emancipation, there may have been licensed exhorters and preachers in the free black community of North Harlowe, NC; but, the Methodist Society would've been overseen by a white ordained minister, either in residence or itinerant. Early meetings may have been held at William Temple's home. . . or perhaps in the woods. . . or even in a small community church. And, I can only imagine how young Isaac Carter may have been influenced by the presence of a Methodist minister in the household where he was apprenticed. My next task will be to contact Methodist churches in the area to gather additional Methodist history in the area.


For additional reading:
Richard Allen, The Life, Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen, George A. Singleton, ed. (1960)
John Firth, Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rev. Benjamin Abbot (1801)
Amy Muse, The Story of the Methodists in the Port of Beaufort (1941)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! I believe too that their were probably preachers in the free black community of North Harlowe. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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