Vol 1: Number 1 Spring 2012


History Section Expanded on Church’s Website – On February 10, 2012, the church’s history webpages were updated and expanded to include a timeline and an illustrated history of the church, biographies of former pastors, exhibits and rare documents.  A guide and finding aid for the church’s archival collection is also available online.  The history and records committee have plans to add more information in the near future including a digital photographic collection and a genealogical database listing the names of former and current members and their families.  The committee believes that it is important to preserve the church’s records, papers, documents, photographs and memorabilia and to use this material to tell the story of the men and women who have lovingly served the Baptist Church and the community of Hillsborough for more than 150 years.  Advances in technology make it possible for history to come alive and to be readily accessible to members and others interested in the church’s history.  In addition, having our records, documents, and photographs available electronically protects the originals and makes them easier to search for relevant information.

Interesting Tidbits about Former Pastors – Biographies have been written for 16 former pastors who served between 1853 and 1907.  Additional biographies are being written for the remaining pastors.
  • Thomas J. Lansdell was pastor one year, 1855-1856.  His last audible prayer before dying at age 79 was “May I soon be with the angels".
  • Dr. John Mitchell was pastor from 1857 to 1862.  He was instrumental in helping to establish the children’s orphanage in Thomasville, NC and escorted the first child, nine-year old Mary Presson, to be admitted there in 1885 to a cottage that would later be named the “Mitchell House.”
  • Novell Winsboro Wilson served less than 10 months as pastor in 1866.  After serving many churches in NC and VA, he eventually moved his family which included seven children to New Orleans, LA to become Pastor of the Coliseum Place.  Yellow Fever spread throughout the South in 1878 and Wilson was urged to move his family north for protection.  He refused saying “my duty is to stay and minister to this afflicted people.”  His entire family fell ill with the fever, all survived except him.
  • William R. Gwaltney, pastor from 1867-1872, served as pastor of the Wake Forest Baptist Church from July 1890 to June 1898.  In his first sermon at the church he made it clear that he was not there “to teach literature or sciences or politics or philosophy, but to preach Jesus Christ as Savior and teacher and comforter.”  Students appreciated his warm and sincere interest in their spiritual welfare as he often visited them in their rooms.
  • Dr. William Bernard Harrell was pastor from 1875 to 1877.  Prior to becoming a minister, he served as a Confederate surgeon during the Civil War.  At a railroad station in Wilson NC in 1861, he overhead a soldier praising the state on his way north to the battlefields.  Inspired, Harrell wrote and his wife put to music a song, Ho, for Carolina, that came close to becoming the state’s song - sung often by North Carolinians during the war.
New Exhibit Available on Historian’s Corner – Dr. Carter has written an illustrated article about restoring the steeple on the church’s north bell tower.  Mr. John Clayton asked that the church consider restoring the steeple in time for the church’s 125th anniversary.  The steeple had deteriorated and had to be removed in 1923.  Money was raised, a steeple committee was appointed and chaired by H. L. (Bob) Hardee, and the steeple was constructed by Ronnie Colville, Terry and Jerry Baity and placed atop the north bell tower on November 4, 1978 in time for the church’s 125th Anniversary Service held November 19, 1978.   Upon his death in 1988, the men’s prayer group and the Clayton Sunday School class requested and were granted permission to install a plaque on the north bell tower in memory of Mr. Clayton “For his dedication to and support of this steeple in 1978.”

Rare Documents – One of the rare documents that can be viewed online is the oldest church bulletin that we have in our archives.  The pastor was W. W. Abernathy who ministered to the Hillsboro congregation from 1943 to 1947.  September 22, 1946 is the Sunday that Yogi Berra made his major league debut with the New York Yankees playing the Philadelphia A's. Berra hit a home run in his first time at bat.  The bulletin is brief in its description of Morning and Evening Worship.  Sunday School met at 9:45 followed by worship at 11:00 AM.  Baptist Training Union met at 6:45 followed by Evening Worship at 8:00 PM.  On this particular evening, the youth choir met after service.



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