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

 
 
 

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Marker Text:

Essay:
     Religious camp meetings took root in early nineteenth century frontier communities. In areas where inhabitants lacked the resources necessary to build a permanent church, the camp grounds, often featuring simple wooded arbors, were ideal places of worship. In sparsely settled regions, the camp ground, as its name implies, offered a place for the worshippers to pitch tents. Camp meetings also offered congregants the opportunity to socialize, a relief from the isolation and monotony of frontier life.

     The first camp meeting at the site that would come to be known as Pleasant Grove is believed to have taken place in 1829. The following year, area residents decided to establish a Methodist camp ground in the idyllic pastoral setting replete with three natural springs. Nine trustees purchased twenty-four acres of land and hired John C. Rape to build a formal arbor. Tradition holds that Rape was unable to complete the work for the amount of money allotted, so local men offered assistance. George Allison Winchester is credited with the construction of the hipped roof structure. Winchester returned to Pleasant Grove Camp Ground to blow the trumpet announcing services for the next sixty-two years.

     Families who regularly attended camp meetings maintained “tents” constructed of poles or hewn logs. When the camp ground was abandoned in 1902, all but one of the original tents were dismantled. Pleasant Grove Camp Ground was rejuvenated in 1915 and many new tents were constructed, with the old tent remodeled as a museum. The arbor was restored in 1988 with historical accuracy, using tools and materials that would have been used by the nineteenth century craftsmen. One of the few extant religious campgrounds remaining in North Carolina, the site is on the National Register of Historic Places.


References:
George T. Winchester, A Story of Union County and the History of Pleasant Grove Camp Ground (1937)
Suzanne S. Pickens, ed., “Sweet Union:” An Architectural and Historical Survey of Union County, North Carolina (1990)
Dickson D. Bruce Jr., And They All Sang Hallelujah (1974)
Charles A. Johnson, The Frontier Camp Meeting (1955)
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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