Charles Augustus Caldwell

Pastor FBC Hillsborough, 1928-1937
In January 1928 the church called Brother O. W. Triplett to be pastor, but he declined and the offer was then extended to Charles Augustus Caldwell who accepted and moved to Hillsborough on May 30, 1928.  The following month, Caldwell, his wife and three daughters, Gladys, Modena and Rosetta moved their membership from China Grove to Hillsborough.  One of his first tasks was to exclude from the rolls individuals who “willfully absent themselves for the house of God and fail to support the church without a reasonable excuse.”  The Great Depression began in 1929 and lasted throughout his time in Hillsborough.  Even so the church membership grows and the debt on the parsonage is paid off in installments.  In September 1930 a committee was appointed to write the church’s history.  Membership was 151, the Sunday School had 260 members with an average attendance of 126 and 50 new members had been added to the roll, six by baptism.1   Upon learning that Wake Forest College was considering allowing dancing on campus, Caldwell wrote a letter to the Biblical Recorder published on August 12, 1936 opposing it saying that it was shocking, “to us as Christian ministers who have tried to keep our churches from the evil of the dance halls … I have never known a dancing church member who was a soul winner … It is the carnal minded who love those things.”2 After worship service on December 27, 1936, Caldwell offered his resignation as pastor to take effect the fourth Sunday in May 1937.  The church accepted.1

Caldwell was born at Maiden, NC on February 27, 1879. He attended a Baptist Boarding School, the South Fork Institute at Maiden.  The institute was an academy which had a reputation of training rural Baptist preachers.  He was ordained into the ministry by the First Baptist Church at Lincolnton, NC in August, 1906.  He would have been 27 years old at the time.   From 1906 to 1927, Caldwell served churches close to home in Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston and Burke Counties.3 Over a span of twenty years, he preached at Corinth, Bethel, Providence, Second, Thessalonika, Lenorad’s Fork, Hickory, Alexis, Mt. Zion, Catawba Valley, Smyrna, Mt. Rhuhama, Antioch, East Morgaton, Enon and McAdenville where he served as minister on three separate occasions from 1913 to 1927.  As often the case in rural communities, Caldwell simultaneously served as pastor of two or more churches at a time.4  A note in the Biblical Recorder describes a meeting held at Catawba Valley and says that though Caldwell was a young man he, “is one of our leading preachers.  He preached with great power and with wonderful effect.  This is a mission point two miles north of Morganton; just organized a little more than a year ago.  A new house has just been completed and this is the first meeting since the church was organized.”5 In 1927 Caldwell moved his family from McAdenville, Gaston County to China Grove, Rowan County and the following year he moved from China Grove to Hillsborough, Orange County.  While at Hillsborough, he also preached at Mars Hill, Berry’s Grove, and finally Haw River. 3

Regrettably, another article appeared the following year in the Biblical Recorder saying that Caldwell’s young wife Sue, the mother of five children ages 2 to 12 years old, had died in Maiden, her former home, after being brought there from McAdenville.  She was the daughter of Daniel Brinkely of Clairmont {Claremont} NC.  The article indicates that the young couple had been married about 15 years (ca. 1897) and that for the past 9 years she had been a faithful co-worker in the ministry; serving as president of the Women Missionary Society; Sunday School teacher; a true helpmeet {helpmate} in the Lord’s work.  She is also described as a loving, devoted wife and a sweet, tender mother.6 

Caldwell remarried within a year and half of his first wife’s death.  His second wife was Mary Hester Order born on January 17, 1987.  They got married on June 16, 1914.7   A 1920 federal census indicates that the household included five children ranging in ages from 1 to 13 years in age. 

After stepping down as pastor of the Hillsborough Church, Caldwell continued preaching at Haw River until 1939 when he moved back to Gaston County to serve as pastor of the Hickory Grove and Mount Holly Baptist Churches in Gaston County.   He died in Mount Holy on October 28, 1943 at the age of 64.7 Mrs. Caldwell moved back to Hillsborough and is listed on a 1953 membership list of the church.  In 1963 she is said to be living in a house near her daughter, Modena Blackwelder.3  Mondena had married W R Blackwelder and remained a member of the Hillsborough church after her parents moved away.  The Hester Caldwell Sunday School class is named in honor of Mrs. Caldwell who died on June 29, 1980.  She is buried in the Hillcrest Gardens Cemetery, Mount Holly, Gaston County, NC.7

  1. Minutes of First Baptist Church Hillsborough, NC, 1928-1936.
  2. More about the Wake Forest Dance (August 12, 1936). Biblical Recorder. p. 11; accessed at:
  3. Lloyd, Pauline O., and Lloyd, Allen A. History of the Churches of Hillsborough, N.C.: Ca. 1766-1962. Hillsborough, NC: The Authors, 1963.
  4. Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention (various issues from 1906 to 1935. Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Presses of Edwards and Broughton, Raleigh, NC,  Accessed on February 4, 2013at:
  5. Letters (October 09, 1912). Biblical Recorder. p. 11; accessed at:
  6. Obituaries (December 17, 1913). Biblical Recorder. p. 16; accessed at:
  7. Ancestors of Larry Caldwell Holt.  Rev. Charles Augustus Caldwell and Mary Hester Orders.  Accessed at:
Compiled by Reginald Carter, Historian, FBC Hillsborough.  Photographs from Larry Caldwell Holt Ancestry website (see reference 7 above).
Last Updated: February 4, 2013