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Over the years conflicting claims has surfaced regarding which Methodist church was the first to be established west of the Catawba River. Methodist historian Elmer T. Clark took note of the disagreements in his 1966 book Methodism in Western North Carolina. Years earlier Rehobeth Methodist Church in Catawba County had erected a marker claiming the distinction. Yet, Clark asserted, comparison of the date on the Rehobeth deed (November 29, 1792) with the date on the deed for Mount Harmony Church in northwest Cleveland County (June 25, 1791) placed the claim in question.
Original Date Cast:
Mount Harmony and Rehobeth do share an association with Daniel Asbury (1762-1825). Asbury, not related to Bishop Francis Asbury, was an itinerant Methodist minister and church leader. Born in Virginia, he came to North Carolina in 1787. He married in Lincoln County (the section of which later formed Catawba County) and generally preached on circuits in that region. He was personally responsible for establishing numerous churches aside from Mount Harmony and Rehobeth, where he is buried.
Asbury was named as one of several grantees in the 1791 deed conveying two and one-half acres to the Mount Harmony congregation. The first church building was already in place when the deed was executed. A second structure, a log building with a balcony for slaves, was probably built in the early nineteenth century. It stood until about 1922, when it was replaced with a frame building. The third building burned in 1942 and was replaced with the present brick structure. Meetings of the congregation apparently have been held continuously since 1791. The church lot was enlarged in 1827 and 1967, and is now four acres in size. The cemetery, adjacent to the sanctuary, holds white and slave burials.
Elmer T. Clark, Methodism in Western North Carolina (1966)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 50—sketch by Louise L. Queen
Heritage of Cleveland County (1982)
Rutherford County Deed Books, North Carolina State Archives
Cleveland County Deed Books, North Carolina State Archives
Sketch on church’s history by Anson G. Melton, research editor, Historical Records Survey (1942)