John Caswell Hocutt

Pastor FBC Hillsborough, 1907-1910
 
Church minutes indicate that on July 28, 1907 the current pastor, Ira Andrews offered his resignation to take effect in October and that on motion “Bro Jon Hocutt was called to preach for us at a salary of $150 per year and if more was collected it should be given to him.”  In December 1908, a committee was appointed to “consider the advisability of having preaching at Eno Cotton Mills.” {The West Hillsborough Baptist Church was not organized until 1917.} In 1909, the church purchased 60 copies of the Baptist Hymnal without and 6 with “notes.” Church repairs cost $78.  After delivering his sermon on November 27, 1910, Hocutt offered his resignation which was accepted to take effect the 4th Sunday in December.  The minutes note that “Many members expressed regrets at severing this relationship which has for the past three years been so pleasant and profitable.  But an act of being able to locate a pastor here.  It was desired wise to do so.”1 Apparently, Hocutt lived in Chapel Hill and did not use the parsonage adjacent to the church while pastor of the church.
 
Hocutt served as pastor of churches in Orange, Alamance and Wake counties.  He was at Dayton in the Oak Grove Area of Raleigh from 1876-1883 and at Olive Branch, Mount Moriah, Cane Creek, Bethel, Burlington, and Haw River from 1887 to 1896.  He was pastor of Cane Creek on three occasions, 1888-92, 1894-95 and 1907-09.  He was the 4th pastor to serve the Burlington Church and helped organize and serve as the supply pastor of Glenco Baptist Church, 1893-1894.  Graham called him twice as pastor of their church, 1893-1900 and 1911-1912.2 Prior to coming to Hillsborough, he helped organize and served as the 1st pastor of the Union Chapel Church in 1902.  The church later became the Carrboro Baptist Church in 1914.  While living in Chapel Hill, he served as pastor of Hillsborough, Mt. Gilead, Mt. Carmel, and West Chapel Hill.  He moved from Chapel Hill to Graham in 1912 pastoring the Graham and Haw River Churches.  He died there in 1912.  Hocutt Memorial Church was named in his honor when it was established by the Burlington Church in 1913.
 
Hocutt was born in Johnston County, NC on November 7, 1849, the son of Lucy Ligon and Lemuel Hocutt.  He was the 2nd child in a family of at least 8 children.  He attended Wake Forest and was ordained at age 27.  Although in poor health much of the time, he worked hard for his churches.4 A 1900 census indicates that he was married to Mary J Hocutt and they had two children, Laura W  and John B Hocutt.  The estimated date of marriage was 1877, a year after he was ordained.5 The Biblical Recorder names Hocutt as one of the presbytery that questioned and ordained Charles Maddry into the ministry in 1902.6 Maddry referred to Hocutt as “my father in ministry” in a letter he wrote to the Biblical Recorder after learning of Hocutt’s death.  “He was everyone’s pastor here and I wonder if the Master won’t give him perfection in the shepherd work over there.”7 Like Maddry, Hocutt also served as superintendent of Orange County Schools, 1907-1909 while serving the Hillsborough Church. 
 
Perhaps Hocutt is best known for the letter he wrote to Washington Duke protesting the new practice of
putting pictures of pretty girls in packages of cigarettes.  Duke wrote to his son, James Buchanan, in October 1884:
 
“ I have received the enclosed letter from the Rev. John C. Hocutt, and am very much impressed with the wisdom of his argument against circulating lascivious photographs with cigarettes, and have made up my mind to bring the matter to your attention in the interest of morality, and in the hope that you can invent a proper substitute for these pictures which will answer your requirements as an advertisement as well as an inducement to purchase. ”

 
The practice ended, at least for a while.  Hocutt died on August 4, 1912 and is buried in the Linwood Cemetery in Graham.9  A Mary J. Hocutt , born August 11, 1859, is listed as dying on September 2, 1905 and being buried in the Corinth Baptist Church in Johnston County, NC.9 No mention is made of her relationship to John C. Hocutt but she most certainly is his wife.
 
This epitaph appeared in the Annual of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention 1912:
 
“Brother Hocutt was beloved by all who knew him. He was a man of saintly spirit, spotless character, and walked worthy of the vocation where- unto he was called.  He occupied many important fields, such as Chapel Hill, Burlington. Hillsboro, and was pastor at times of country churches. He was a missionary of the Board for many years, and was ever faithful and conscientious. He was a frail man, and suffered much during the latter years of his life, but he "suffered as a Christian," uncomplainingly, and when the summons came, he was ready.”10
References:
  1. Minutes of First Baptist Church Hillsborough, NC from November 19, 1853 to December 2, 1953.
  2. Various Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention from 1880-1914. Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Presses of Edwards and Broughton, Raleigh, NC,  Accessed at: http://mirror12.archive.org/search.php?query=mediatype%3Atexts%20AND%20collection%3Ancmeetingsproceedingsconferencereports%20AND%20subject%3A%22Baptist%20State%20Convention%20Of%20North%20Carolina%22
  3. Our Story. HillSong Church of Chapel Hill, NC. Accessed at: http://hillsong.org/about-hillsong/our-story
  4. A Cane Creek tapestry : a picture history of Cane Creek Baptist Church and the Orange Grove community (2003) Hillsborough, N.C. Accessed at: http://w-225-254.archive.org/stream/canecreektapestr00hill/canecreektapestr00hill_djvu.txt
  5. Family Search.  1900 Federal Census:  Accessed at:  https://www.familysearch.org/search/records/index#count=20&query=%2Bgivenname%3AJohn~%20%2Bsurname%3AHocutt~&collection_id=1325221
  6. Rev. Charles E. Maddry Ordained. (June 18, 1902) Biblical Recorder, p.9, Retrieved at:  http://recorder.zsr.wfu.edu/Default/Skins/WakeforestA/Client.asp?skin=WakeforestA&AW=1333247219577&AppName=2
  7. Brother JC Hocutt Dead. (August 14, 1912) Biblical Recorder, p.11.  Retrieved at: http://recorder.zsr.wfu.edu/Default/Skins/WakeforestA/Client.asp?skin=WakeforestA&AW=1333247219577&AppName=2
  8. Benjamin N. Duke Papers. Duke University Libraries Digital Collection.  Accessed at: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa/guide/tobacco/duke-doc/
  9. Find a Grave. Accessed at: http://www.findagrave.com/index.html
  10. Annual of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention 1912.  Accessed at: http://www.archive.org/stream/proceedingsofann1912bapt/proceedingsofann1912bapt_djvu.txt 
 
Compiled by Reginald Carter, Historian, FBC Hillsborough
Last Updated: May 1, 2013