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

 
 
 

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Essay:
     Halfway between Yanceyville and Reidsville, off Highway 158, stands one of the oldest Presbyterian churches in the Piedmont, Bethesda Presbyterian Church. It was originally organized by Pennsylvania minister Reverend Hugh McAden in 1765 as Hart’s Chapel. As a chapel, Hart’s did not have the full status of a church. It lacked church officers and operated unofficially under the jurisdiction of the Orange Presbytery. It was served by missionaries, such as the Reverend James McCready. The congregation finally installed its first pastor, the Reverend Hugh Shaw, in 1804. The official date of transformation is unknown, but Orange Presbytery records indicate that Hart’s Chapel became Bethesda Presbyterian Church sometime between September 1804 and September 1806. Bethesda is a Hebrew term meaning house of mercy, taken from a passage in the book of John.

     In 1815, the congregation moved from its original site in Quick to the Locust Hill community, where it merged with Meroney Chapel. The new location was halfway between the two merging congregations. Little is known about the original church buildings. The brick building that stands today was built in 1944 after the previous structure burned down in 1943.

     Caswell County native O. P. Fitzgerald, a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South delivered his first sermon from the pulpit in Bethesda Presbyterian Church. The church was the mother of at least five other churches including Yanceyville in 1838, Mount Airy in 1858, Wentworth in 1859, Leaksville in 1860, and Reidsville First Presbyterian in 1875.
     

References:
E. Lytch, History of Bethesda Presbyterian Church, 1765-1965 (1965)
William S. Powell, When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, North Carolina, 1777-1977 (1977)
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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