The SAR Magazine

Winter 2018-2019

The SAR MAGAZINE is the official quarterly publication of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution published quarterly.

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34 SAR MAGAZINE Mecklenburg Chapter The Historic Story of 33 Patriots The Mecklenburg Chapter conducted a ceremony on Nov. 3, 2018, to remember and honor 33 Patriots from the American Revolution buried in the cemetery at Centre Presbyterian Church in Mooresville, N.C., with a large granite monument and brass plaque. "We were amazed when we discovered that 33 Patriots were buried in one location and had never been marked by the SAR," said Compatriot John E. Allen Sr., 33 Patriots project visionary. "It then hit us about the enormity of undertaking such an aggressive and forward-thinking project to honor these Patriots at one time during Veterans Day celebrations in 2018, which was also the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice. We were honored to present this project to our chapter and then take it to our society's state and national leaders." These Patriots' story began with the historic Centre Presbyterian Church, which traces its roots to the 1740s, when settlers began to arrive in the area after traveling down the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road. At the time, the Carolinas backcountry was the wild frontier of the original 13 Colonies. Many of these hardy settlers were Scots-Irish Presbyterians who were seeking land and the freedom to worship according to their principles. One of the first things they did was to establish regular worship services. At first, they met in private homes, and later they would build a meetinghouse. From these humble beginnings, the Centre Church was officially organized in 1764. A log structure was erected in 1765. "An interesting historical strategy in early Colonial America was to establish churches about 15 miles apart, approximately one day's journey at that time," said Jim Wood, senior advisor and counsel to the 33 Patriots project. "Centre Presbyterian Church was named because it was located in the central area, near the settlement of Mount Mourne, and surrounded by five other Colonial Presbyterian churches." The Revolutionary War greatly impacted the church, as many of its members were Patriots in the fight for freedom. The church's early pastor, Rev. Thomas Harris McCaule, was an ardent Patriot and frequently could be found around the campfires of the militia units with members of his congregation. These Patriots fought in famous Southern Campaign battles like Kings Mountain, Cowpens, Ramsour's Mill, Colson's Mill, Cowan's Ford and Guilford Court House. Gen. William Lee Davidson was a member of the congregation. The general led his militia units and fiercely engaged the British Army in several battles. He was severely wounded at Colson's Mill (July 21, 1780) and six months later was killed at the Battle of Cowan's Ford (Feb. 1, 1781). The North Carolina town of Davidson and Davidson College are named after Gen. Davidson. "In 1961, the tombstones from the Baker Church were moved to Centre Presbyterian Church Cemetery and located in the back left corner of the cemetery in a marked area. The original Baker Cemetery was located 3.5 miles west of Centre Church. This was done because the Baker Cemetery was going to be under the new Lake Norman being built. Within this group were two additional Patriots who were included on the monument and honored as part of the ceremony. So, instead of 33 Patriots as originally planned, the group had grown to 35. We decided to update the original name of the program from 33 Patriots to the Patriots of Centre Presbyterian Church." An educational and fundraising campaign began in early 2018 to generate awareness of the Patriots and to raise $8,900 to build and install the monument. "As we progressed with the planning and fundraising, area DAR chapters graciously donated, including a $1,000 donation from the Mecklenburg Chapter, DAR," added Allen. "Our project chairman, Dave Alls, worked with the George Washington Endowment Fund to obtain a $2,500 donation, and the North Carolina SAR contributed $1,000 toward the monument." The speaker was new Chapter President Anthony P. Zeiss, past president of Central Piedmont Community College and a noted Revolutionary War historian and author. Compatriot Zeiss presented researched stories about some of the Patriots of the church. The granite monument with brass-engraved plaques was installed inside the cemetery entrance gates, with the names the Patriots inscribed on the front side and the history of the church inscribed on the back. One of the church's Boy Scouts is designing and installing landscaping, with steps around the monument, for his Eagle Scout project. — James H. Wood and Jay A. Joyce, Mecklenburg Chapter SAR References: "A Brief History of Centre Presbyterian Church" by Shirley Miller Wagers "The Plantation World Around Davidson" by Chalmers Gaston Davidson From left, Mecklenburg SAR Chapter Vice President Stephen McKee; Jenny Tolson, regent, Mecklenburg Chapter NSDAR; and Jim Tatum, Mecklenburg SAR Chapter Color Guard commander, officially unveil the monument to the Patriots at Centre Presbyterian Church.

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