Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Historical marker describes church organized by Revolutionary soldiers in 1823

'Greensboro Presbyterian Church' marker at lower right.
This week’s featured historical marker is the “GREENSBORO PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH” marker in Hale County, Ala. This marker is located near the entrance to the church at 905 Demopolis St. in Greensboro, Ala.

This marker was erected by the Alabama Historical Association in 1959. There’s text on both sides of the marker, but both sides are the same. What follows in the complete text from the marker:

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“GREENSBORO PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: Organized 1823 by Rev. James Hillhouse of South Carolina with Patrick Norris and William Hillhouse, veterans of American Revolution, as founding elders. Original wooden structure replaced by brick building in 1841 under pastorate of Rev. Thomas Sydenham Witherspoon. Present building erected in 1859 when Rev. J.C. Mitchell was pastor. Old slave gallery may still be seen.”

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According to online sources, after this church’s organization in 1823, the construction of the original wooden church was completed in 1825. As mentioned on the marker, the wooden church was replaced with a brick church in 1841, but that church was torn down 18 years later. When the third building was constructed, many of the homemade brick from the second building were used in the construction of the third. The church’s stained glass windows were added sometime after 1890.

Nowadays, this church is located within what’s called the Greensboro Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 13, 1976. This historic district is centered on Main Street and runs from Hobson Street on the western side of the city to 1st Street on the eastern side. It features examples of Federal, Greek Revival and regional vernacular architecture.

Rev. James Hillhouse apparently didn’t live to see the brick church building. He appears to have died in Greensboro in 1835 and is buried in the Stokes Cemetery in Greensboro. The Stokes Cemetery is located off Tuscaloosa Street, just north of Knight Street.

I was especially interested in the two American Revolutionary War soldiers mentioned on the marker above. William Hillhouse served as a private, sergeant and lieutenant in the South Carolina militia. Norris served as a private in the South Carolina militia.

According to the Sons of the American Revolution, William Hillhouse was born on March 18, 1760 (some sources say 1752) in South Carolina and he died on April 28, 1848 in Oktibbeha County, Miss. He is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Starkville, Miss.

Norris’s date of birth was unavailable, but SAR records show he was also born in South Carolina. He died on Feb. 12, 1840 in Greene County, Ala, and his burial place is also unknown.

Witherspoon is also buried in Stokes Cemetery in Greensboro. He was born on Jan. 2, 1805 and passed away on Oct. 19, 1845. I wasn’t able to find out much about the Rev. J.C. Mitchell, other than the “J” stood for James and he was once the president of the Greensboro Female Academy.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below.

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