About 1759 German settlers in the area known as South Fork in what would become Catawba County established a house of worship. The union church served people of the German Reformed and Presbyterian faiths whenever ministers were available to hold services. Reverend John Martin, a Swiss minister, attended the settlers of the Reformed faith as early as 1759. It was known in the early years as the Dutch Meeting House or the South Fork Meeting. The church’s log sanctuary, finished in the 1760s, was located on land owned by Paul Anthony in 1771 when a long-term lease of ten acres was recorded between Anthony and the “Christian Churches Lutarin and Presbetaren.” In 1790 Paul Anthony sold John Smyer his entire 200 acre parcel of land and all structures erected on the premises. The church’s tract and chapel were included in the transfer.
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By 1818, the congregation was about to incur great expenses in building a new sanctuary. At that time John Smyer, a member of the congregation, recorded a deed of gift in which he presents the church, which he called St. Pauls, with eight acres of land for the chapel, a graveyard, a school, and any other public use that was considered proper and beneficial to a meeting house. The deed was conditional, remaining valid as long as the church used the land in a way consistent with the gift. The structure that was completed around 1818 is still in use today, with Catawbans celebrating special services there, as well as opening the building and cemetery to the public with regularity.
Ianne Smyer, John Smyer: Plain Deutch Pioneer (2002)
Gary R. Freeze, The Catawbans: Crafters of a North Carolina County (1995)
National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 1971:
Catawba County Chamber of Commerce website: http://www.catawbachamber.org/visitor/ThingsToSeeAndDo.asp
Old St. Paul's Lutheran Church