Historical Markers StoppingPoints.com Historical Markers, Sightseeing & Points of Interest Scenic Roads & Points of Interest
About Us | Photo Gallery | Free Widgets | Featured States | Search Site
Home North Carolina Anson County City of Burnsville Historical Markers Rocky River Church

Rocky River Church

NC 742 at Wightmans Church Road, Burnsville, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Missionary Baptist. Began before 1772 as a branch of Little River Church; was independent by 1790. Present bldg. 3 mi. N.E."
     Rocky River Baptist Church in Anson County was founded as a branch of the nearby Little River Church. Although many published sources, especially those directly associated with the church, assert that the church was founded in 1776, historians tend to agree that it was operating as a branch by 1772. The basis for this time frame is the assertion of Morgan Edwards in his Materials Towards a History of the Baptists in the Province of North Carolina, published in 1772, indicating that the church had its own meetinghouse. Rocky River Church was independent by 1790, when it joined the Charleston Association. At that time there were 189 members. Edmund Lilly was serving as the minister at Rocky River at the time it was admitted into the Charleston Association and likely had been there in some capacity since its inception. He is mentioned as not having been ordained in Edwards’s essay on the Anson County churches, but appears to have been ordained by 1790.

     John Culpepper was the minister at Rocky River from 1791 to 1841. For a time, in fact, the church was locally called Culpepper’s Meeting House. During Culpepper’s tenure, members of Rocky River Church are believed to have purchased the freedom of a slave known as Elder Ralf (later Ralph) Freeman who had “impressions to preach.” The exact year of purchase is not known, but records indicate that in the early 1830s Freeman acted as a supply minister at Rocky River, while Culpepper served in Congress, as well as other area churches. Although accounts of Freeman are a bit hazy, E. M. Brooks, in his 1928 history of Rocky River Baptist, recounts stories of Elder Ralf told by those who remembered him.

      The original church building was on land owned by Bill Lee near the stream called Rocky River. That structure was later moved about a half mile south. A second building, still primitive, was erected about a mile and a half from the river at a later date. The present frame church was built in 1882 and has since undergone renovations.

John Woodard, “Rocky River Baptist Church, Research Summary,” files of the Research Branch, Office of Archives and History
Morgan Edwards, Materials Towards a History of the Baptists in the Province of North Carolina (1772)
Rev. John S. Staton, Bicentennial History of Rocky River Missionary Baptist Church, Burnsville Township, Anson County, North Carolina, 1776-1976 (1976)
E. M. Brooks, History of Rocky River Church (1928)
George Washington Paschal, History of North Carolina Baptists, I (1930)
Mary L. Medley, History of Anson County, North Carolina, 1750-1976 (1976)