north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      The majority of the settlers who established homes and towns in southeastern North Carolina were Irish and Scotch-Irish immigrants. Descendants of the settlers, and the institutions they developed, can still be found in modern-day Duplin County. A tight-knit community developed, one grounded in the Presbyterian faith, which fast became one of the largest denominations in the colony.

      The first Presbyterian minister to preach in North Carolina, the Reverend William Robinson, arrived from Virginia in 1742 and served the area around Kenansville for only a year before returning home. Not until the arrival of another missionary, the Reverend Hugh McAden, in 1756 was there a regular minister serving Duplin’s residents. McAden traveled the region, preaching in private homes until he was asked to serve an established congregation on a more regular basis, thus providing a formal basis for the Rockfish congregation. From that point, McAden served Rockfish for about ten years until he moved away from the area. Another permanent minister for the congregation did not arrive until 1799 when the newly ordained Robert Tate arrived to hold his first communion service at Rockfish near the current church location. Tate served the church for many years and steered the congregation into a more organized and formal development pattern.

      The first formal church building for the Rockfish congregation was a log building, constructed in 1814. A new chapel was built later and the original church building was adapted for the use of ministers as a home. A later church building was constructed at the site in 1884 in the midst of the congregation’s cemetery, one of the oldest in the county.

Jennifer Martin, Along the Banks of the Old Northeast: The Historical and Architectural Development of Duplin County, North Carolina (1999)
Faison W. McGowen and Pearl C. McGowen, Flashes of Duplin’s History and Government (1971)
Jethro Rumple, The History of Presbyterianism in North Carolina (1966)
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Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources