Vol 2: No3 Summer 2013

Influenza Pandemic 1918
The nation was at war in Europe during the spring of 1918 when the influenza pandemic began to spread in North Carolina. In April 1919, Dr. William Rankin, the Secretary of the State Board of Health, reported the death of over 13,600 North Carolinians from influenza, and estimated that approximately 1,000,000 of North Carolina's 2.5 million inhabitants had caught the disease. Nationally, the disease killed around 700,000, and some estimates suggest anywhere from 50 to 100 million died worldwide.

A note in our church conference minutes states that “In Oct 1918, the church was closed by order of the board of health on account of the influenza epidemic and was not opened again until Jan 1st 1919.  During this time no service of any kind was held.”  The Biblical Recorder contains many obituaries between the springs of 1918 and 1919, noting death caused by Influenza or commenting on the recovery of ministers who had caught the disease.  Dr. Charles Maddry wrote in April about learning of the death of the first young person that he had baptized; a young woman, Jessie Compton.  A young teacher, Miss Louise Lanneau, at Meredith College, succumbed to the disease in May.  The North Carolina Southern Baptist Convention delayed its annual meeting in Greensboro until January 14, 1919.  And articles appear asking church members to support the continued payment of salaries of preachers and teachers, even though churches and schools were closed.  They noted that, although not at their regular work, ministers, teachers and their families were busy attending to the sick and dying.

Sidney Oldham was pastor at this time.  In their book, History of Churches in Hillsboro NC, the Lloyds state that “during the flu epidemic, Rev. and Mrs. Oldham served the sick and did a wonderful job. Our home was near the Baptist Church and it was great to see a couple like these working for the Lord and mankind.”  Dr. J. S. Spurgeon, his wife Carrie Waitt, and daughters Pattie and Mary are listed as being among those who helped by serving or furnishing nourishment to citizens of Hillsboro.   Dr. Spurgeon was a dentist who served the church as a deacon and church clerk.  Most of the relief effort was under the direction of the American Red Cross, already organized to help with the War effort.

List of Colored Members
While transcribing the handwritten church conference minutes from the old “Red Book,” we found appended to the back a “List of Colored Members of the Hillsboro Baptist Church 1856-1866, most likely compiled by church clerk, John M Blackwood in 1875.  In the handwritten minutes, the African American slaves (referred to as servants) are listed predominately by first name only and in some instances linked to their owners, e.g., James servant of Col. Jones.  Therefore, finding a list that includes both the first and last names of African Americans is significant and a valuable addition to the North Carolina Genealogical Record for Slave Surnames.   The most prominent surnames are Whitted, Strudwick, Jones, Turner, Norwood and Thompson. The “colored” congregation continued to meet at the church until April, 1868.  With the exception of Lewis Jenkins, they voluntarily withdrew their fellowship to form a church of their own, later to become Mt. Bright Baptist Church.  Interestingly, it was in Lewis Jenkin’s home that the newly formed congregation met prior to building their own place of worship.

Our desire is to learn more about these members who played such an important role in our church history and founded the Mt. Bright Baptist Church.  Mrs. Susan Graham, a founding member of the church and wife of William Graham, Governor of North Carolina, gave the original church building site for Mt. Bright to these former members of our church. 

Interesting Tidbits about Former Pastors – Biographies have been written for all of our former pastors and can be found on the church’s website. 

Sidney W. Oldham, pastor from 1916 to 1922, was born in Chatham County, NC, on May 31, 1871.   He studied at Olive's Chapel Preparatory School a few miles west of Apex, NC before attending Wake Forest College in 1891 to study for the ministry.  He married Emma H (maiden name unknown) in 1898.  According to a 1920 US census, they had six children:  Mabel, Wayne and Warren (twin boys), Helen, Lois and Frances.  On February 13, 1916, Oldham accepted the call to preach at Hillsborough, Mars Hill, and Berry’s Grove.  He and his family moved into the renovated parsonage adjacent to the church.  Two additional rooms were added, most likely, upstairs to accommodate the family.  In June 1916, a motion was made to “check with the Power and Light Co. “to see what they could get the church lited {sic} for.”  The electric work was completed in 1917. In April 1916, the church requested that a presbytery be formed to organize “a Baptist Church at West Hillsborough.”  The presbytery met on April 27th for this purpose.  Oldham preached for the West End Baptist Church until a pastor could be found.   The First World War started while the Oldhams were in Hillsboro.  The influenza epidemic occurred in 1918 and the Oldhams pitched in to help the sick and their families.

Oldham resigned as pastor on January 22, 1922 but continued in the ministry at other churches until age 77, retiring in 1948.  He died at age 91 on November 25, 1962.  Emma who was born on April 17, 1875 died on February 19, 1967.  They are buried in the Lystra Baptist Church Cemetery in Chatham County – his home church that ordained him as a minister.

First Baptist Church Hillsborough NC
201 W. King Street
Hillsborough, NC 27278

Copyright 2012
First Baptist Church of Hillsborough, 223 West King Street, Hillsborough NC 27278, 919-732-8174