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



Marker Text:

     Alexander Craighead (1707-1766), Irish-born maverick Presbyterian minister, was installed in 1758 as pastor of Rocky River Church (in present-day Cabarrus County). During his pastorate he served several other “preaching points” in Mecklenburg County, among them Sugar Creek, Poplar Tent, and Clear Creek. In 1770 the Presbyterians of Clear Creek sought to form their own church, and together with members of a neighboring congregation, signed a petition calling for the half-time services of a minister. (That document is apparently no longer extant, but was cited in an 1837 church history and in W. H. Foote’s volume of sketches in 1846.) Signers of the 1770 petition included Adam Alexander, John Ford, and John Queary, also reputed signers of the “Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.”

     In 1780 the original log meeting house at Clear Creek burned. Alexander agreed to sell the congregation three acres of his land and a new sanctuary was built a half-mile away. With the relocation the name of the church was changed to Philadelphia, a Biblical name (found in the Book of Revelation) popular at that time. Around 1784 David Barr, a graduate of David Caldwell’s academy, came to the Concord Presbytery from the Orange Presbytery. He served as Philadelphia’s first full-time pastor until 1800.

     In 1826 the congregation, following two years of construction, occupied a new brick building. For 150 years, until replaced by a larger adjacent church in 1976, that structure was the main sanctuary. Today it is used as a chapel for special services. Philadelphia Presbyterian Church in 1889 established across the road Bain Academy, later used as a public high school. In recent years it has been the site of an elementary school.

Russell M. Kerr, History of Philadelphia Presbyterian Church (1970)
William Henry Foote, Sketches of North Carolina (1846)
D. A. Tompkins, History of Mecklenburg County (1903)
LeGette Blythe and Charles R. Brockmann, Hornets’ Nest: The Story of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (1961)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 454-455 – sketch of Alexander Craighead by David T. Morgan
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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