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Local History Notes

Notes about the history of Iredell County by Joel Reese, Local History Librarian.

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Jan 09

Snow Creek: A Deep Methodist History

Posted on January 9, 2023 at 9:51 AM by Shellie Taylor

Snow Creek Methodist Church

I took my Mom to the Presbyterian church I attend a few years ago. She had attended a Baptist church since she was born and had never been to any other church. Presbyterians always have a bulletin they follow that goes along with that day’s service. It lists upcoming birthdays and anniversaries and who needs to be added to our prayer list. She was reading over it intently and doing just fine until I said, “Now Mommy, when they start passing the snake around and it gets to you just hold up your palm and say, ‘Pass,’ remember you are a visitor”. She jerked her head around, “Whaaat?”

This Sunday on January the 8th is a big day in the religious history of Iredell County. At 9:30 a.m., at 745 Snow Creek Rd, off state road 1904, about ten miles north of Statesville, the Snow Creek Methodist Church will hold its first regular service in more than three years. Snow Creek was a part of the United Methodist Conference until it separated on Sept. 30, 2021 and became independent. The last regular service held at Snow Creek was on Aug. 15, 2021. 

Steve Hill gave a presentation on his new book, “In the Shadow of the Cock: The History of the Square, Statesville, North Carolina, 1790-1990”. After the program someone mentioned that the Snow Creek Methodist Church in northern part of the county was no longer having services. Everyone was shocked. We all knew of the historical significance of Snow Creek and its cemetery. 

The cemetery is really where Snow Creek starts. Sometime around August of 1780 a Revolutionary War veteran named Arnold McArmond was bitten and killed by a rattlesnake in north Iredell about five miles west of the present site of the Snow Creek Methodist Church. His friends planned to bury him at the Bethany Presbyterian cemetery, but recent rains had swelled the creeks and rivers including the South Yadkin River that they needed to cross to get to Bethany. 

McArmond was buried instead on some land owned by a local Methodist named Shadrack Claywell. What started as one lonely grave in the backcountry grew over the years as other early Iredell settlers were buried there along with McArmond. It would remain a cemetery without a church for the next twenty-one years. 

Around 1795 a religious fever began spreading across the eastern part of the United States. By 1800 it had moved from the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky into western North Carolina. What made the Revival movement different was a new style of the preaching. Ministers began holding camp meetings outdoors attended by huge crowds. The ministers focused not on teaching the Bible, but in challenging non-Christians and converting these lost sinners to the Lord thus saving their souls. 

It still goes on today. I attended my first cousin Tommy’s funeral in Marion, Virginia, a little over two weeks ago. Two Baptist ministers got up and basically turned the funeral into a revival (one of them even lay down on the floor). They yelled and charged around and hyperventilated over everyone (my cousin Timmy said he had never seen anything like it). It was all about converting to the Lord before you walked out the door (I think I did hear Tommy’s name mentioned a couple of times). 

I am sure if I asked the ministers if they were preaching a funeral or a revival they would have pointed out that many of the people attending the funeral were never going to attend a church let alone a revival. For them this was their one opportunity to save the souls of those in attendance and bring them to the Lord. I am fine with that and I am in favor of bringing people to the Lord and converting non-Christians, but I am also glad I was on the second row so I didn’t get spit on. 

The Presbyterians had a foothold in Iredell County that went back to the 1750s with the Fourth Creek Presbyterian Church and its cemetery, but the Revival movement established Methodist churches here for the first time. The first was Mt. Bethel were can trace its beginnings to 1797 when Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury visited a new church at Basil Prather’s on Little Dutchman’s Creek. Snow Creek was the second Methodist Church started in 1801 by a young circuit riding preacher named Philip Bruce. 

The first Snow Creek church was built on land donated by William Sharpe in 1806 who gave a deed for land next to the Snow Creek Burying Ground for what was then called, King’s Methodist Episcopal Meeting House. Richard Hugh King was a Methodist minister during this time who preached along the Yadkin River area. King’s Methodist soon became the Snow Creek Methodist Church we know today. 

The church service to be held in Sunday was built between 1884-85. Today’s Snow Creek is an independent Methodist Church. Leading the service Sunday will be Dana Roseman whom I understand is a non-spitter. This would be an excellent opportunity to visit and worship the Lord in one of the oldest churches in Iredell County. 

The cemetery is a historical treasure and sits behind the church surrounded by a rock wall. The marker for Arnold McArmond in the cemetery has a snake engraving. The marker for Mary Feimster (1810) shows a mourning woman in classical garb leaning on a tomb with urn and is signed by J. Hall. Her husband Capt. William Feimster (1842) which pictures an old man seated in an armchair. 

William Sharpe who created the Fourth Creek Congregation Map in 1773 that now hangs in the Local History Room at the library is buried at Snow Creek.  There are twenty-four Revolutionary soldiers buried in Snow Creek though many are in unmarked graves. There are thirty-three or more Civil War graves and a few from the War of 1812. Snow Creek Methodist Church and the Burying Ground were placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1980. 

Joel Reese, Local History Librarian, Iredell County Public Library

Published in the Statesville Record and Landmark on Jan. 7, 2023 under the title of, “Snow Creek Methodist Church to hold first regular service since 2021”

Snow Creek Methodist Church estSnow Creek today