Huntersville in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
The Servant Entrance
The door to your left was called the “servant entrance”. Actually it was the entrance and exit for slaves who were members of the church. Presbyterians rarely used the term “slave” preferring “servant”. The door is to a stairwell which leads up into the “gallery”, the balcony where the enslaved members were allowed to sit for worship. This staircase is a “blind” stairwell, that is, it could not be seen by the white members within.
In the 1860 roster of members, 142 “servants” were listed in the membership. Over the next four years, 100 babies were baptized belonging to the enslaved membership. In 1859, the church began a massive remodeling project with one of the main reasons being an expansion of the gallery. The originally balcony on this side of the building could only crowd in thirty or forty worshippers.
The church records indicate enslaved members became members in exactly the same manner as the white members: by being examined by the church elders. As mentioned above, their babies were baptized. They were served Holy Communion with the notable difference being that they were served last, after the white members.
In one respect, all members were treated the same during services that usually lasted three hours with the sermon taking up
The steps at the door were carved by Lewis Phifer, a slave on the farm of William Sample, which we now know as Latta Plantation. Lewis Phifer also carved the gateposts to the old cemetery, the upping block in front of the church, and probably the feed trough beside the steps. He also carved the original front steps to this building as well as the first front steps to First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. Because he was such a highly respected mason, Mr. Sample used to hire out Lewis Phifer.
It is very unusual that a slave would have been commonly known by both a first and last name. Usually they were only known by a first name, generally a diminutive name for a child with a “y” or “ie” on the end. Lewis Phifer is a reminder of one of the great evils of slavery: the contributions made by slaves to the infrastructure and the culture remain anonymous. Unlike Lewis Phifer, very, very few ever got credit for their work.
At the end of the Civil War, there is a very terse statement in the record book which states that
In the year 2000 with a new millennium dawning, a service of reconciliation was held here to make amends for the divisive history
Location. 35° 21.977′ N, 80° 53.892′ W. Marker is in Huntersville, North Carolina, in Mecklenburg County. Marker can be reached from Beatties Ford Road north of Sample Road, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is located on the east side of the Hopewell Presbyterian Church. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10500 Beaties Ford Road, Huntersville NC 28078, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hopewell Presbyterian Church (a few steps from this marker); “Upping Block” (within shouting distance of this marker); General William Lee Davidson (within shouting distance of this marker); The Oldest Cemetery and the Walls (within shouting distance of this marker); The Church Building (within shouting distance of this marker); William Lee Davidson (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Historic Latta Plantation (about 300 feet away); Richard Barry (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Huntersville.
Categories. • African Americans • Churches & Religion •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 12, 2013, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 433 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on February 12, 2013, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.