North Carolina

Southerners Against Slavery: Wesleyan Methodists in Montgomery County, North Carolina

In two of my works on Southern Unionism, Unruly Women (1992), and Long Shadow of the Civil War (2010), I wrote extensively about the effects of the anti-slavery Wesleyan Methodist movement in creating an environment of fierce anti-Confederate sentiment in the Randolph-Montgomery County area of North Carolina during the Civil War. In Montgomery County, several Wesleyan families’ refusal to support the Confederacy tragically resulted in the killing of three Hulin brothers by home guard soldiers.

The Hulins, Moores, and Hurleys became Wesleyans a full decade before the Civil War and were anti-slavery activists. A year before the war erupted, in March 1860,  Hiram Hulin, Jesse Hulin, Nelson Hulin (sons of Hiram), William Hurley Sr., William Hurley Jr., and Spencer Moore (son of Valentine Moore) were charged alongside Daniel Wilson, a well-known anti-slavery leader from Guilford County,  with circulating “seditious” anti-slavery materials.

Although I relied principally on court records, military records, newspapers, and memoirs to tell the story of Unionism in this region of North Carolina, I found two Wesleyan Methodist publications, Roy S. Nicholson’s Wesleyan Methodism in the South (1933), and Mrs. E.W. Crooks’ Life of Rev. Adam Crooks (1875), crucial to my ability to confirm the religious conversions of the above Montgomery County families.

In the following essay, I draw from both these works. As “in house” publications, they reflect the perspective of the Wesleyan Movement, yet, in combination with primary sources, they leave no doubt of the religious ideology that led the Hulins, Moores,  Hurleys, and others to oppose slavery and the Confederate Cause.

Vikki Bynum, Moderator

Southerners Against Slavery: Wesleyan Methodists in Montgomery County, North Carolina

By Vikki Bynum

Rev. Adam Crooks (1824-1874)

The man most responsible for bringing Wesleyan Methodism to the Randolph/Montgomery County area of North Carolina was Rev. Adam Crooks, who was originally from Leesville, Carroll County, Ohio, where he was born in 1824. According to Crooks’ biographer, his wife Elizabeth Willits Crooks, in 1841 he joined those northern Methodists who split from the Methodist Episcopal Church over slavery. The following year, in December 1842, the splinter group produced a newspaper, the True Wesleyan, which heralded the establishment of Wesleyan Methodism in the United States. These Wesleyans claimed to embody the doctrinal standards of early Methodism as established under the guidance of Rev. John Wesley.  They opposed worldly habits such as the use of whiskey and tobacco and ostentatious dress and adornment. Most important to the history of Montgomery County, they opposed the ownership of human beings by other human beings.

Opposition to slavery, and specifically to the degrading and violent means by which it was maintained, was not limited to Methodists of the North. In 1847, during its Allegheny Conference in Mesopotamia, Ohio, the Wesleyan Church received an urgent letter from “Free Methodists” of Guilford County, North Carolina, who requested the services of a Wesleyan preacher. In this old Quaker stronghold of the South, anti-slavery principles had never completely died. “There is much more anti-slavery sentiment in this part of North Carolina than I had supposed,” Crooks later observed, “owing, in great measure, to the influence of the Society of Friends.” During his stay in North Carolina, he was amused to be “taken for a Quaker, go wherever I will,” even once after preaching in a Methodist Episcopal house. Crooks concluded that this assumption reflected the antislavery doctrine he preached and the “plain coat” that he wore.

The call from North Carolina had great appeal to Crooks. By age twenty, he had become a Wesleyan exhorter who preached against the evils of slavery.  In August 1845, he joined the Allegheny Conference as a junior preacher, and received a six-week assignment to the Erie circuit, where he ministered to a small Erie City church comprised of many fugitive slaves. Now, he agreed to travel to North Carolina. With the sectional crisis over slavery growing fiercer by the day, it took a great deal of courage to enter the slaveholding South with the express purpose of preaching against slavery. In preparation for his mission he was ordained an Elder.

Crooks encountered many Methodists in North Carolina who resented being forced to remain with the Methodist Episcopal Church in the wake of its national division into pro- and anti-slavery denominations. Finding it ”impracticable” to join the anti-slavery Northern Division of the church, they formed a third division, the “Free Methodist Church.” According to Crooks, “up to this time, they had no knowledge of the existence of the Wesleyan Methodist connection.” Once they learned of the Wesleyan persuasion, he said, they immediately sent for preachers, convened, and adopted the Wesleyan principles as their own.

Pro-slavery North Carolinians labeled Crooks a “nigger-thief,” an abolitionist, and an advocate of racial amalgamation (race mixing). Nevertheless, he preached before large and small congregations and regularly denounced slavery in the presence of slaveholders. In October, 1847, Crooks presided over the founding of Freedom’s Hill Church, located in the old Snow Camp community of present-day Alamance County, N.C., and the first Wesleyan Methodist Church in the South.

In 1850, despite violent opposition to Wesleyan preachers by pro-slavery mobs, Crooks prepared to preach in Montgomery County at the invitation of members of Lane’s Chapel and Lovejoy Chapel.  Twice, he was warned by letter to cancel those plans. The first letter, signed by “Many Citizens” from Montgomery and neighboring Stanly Counties, accused Crooks of

preying upon the minds of the weak and innocent, inducing them to believe that slave-holding is not only an oppression to the slaves, but to all those who do not hold slaves. The slaves hereabout are in much better condition than their masters or other citizens. Your doctrine, if carried out, would bring down vengeance upon the heads of your followers by amalgamation and otherwise.

Crooks was accused of being “worse than a traitor,” and threatened with expulsion if he dared to appear in Lane’s Chapel: “we are in hopes you will return from whence you came, or you will be dealt with according to the dictates of our consciences.”

A second letter from Montgomery County, dated 27 December 1850 and signed by eleven people, demanded again that Crooks leave the state. Crooks did not answer the letter, but traveled to Montgomery County as planned, where he stayed at the home of Valentine Moore and prepared, in February 1851, to preach at Lovejoy Chapel, located about a mile from Moore’s home.

A mob headed by a local justice of the peace and slaveholder met Crooks at the door of Lovejoy Chapel. Alluding to the Methodists’ national schism over slavery, the j.p. accused Crooks of “making interruptions in families, neighborhoods, and Churches” by preaching against slavery. He claimed that Crooks was “causing us to abuse our servants,” i.e. slaves, by telling them they deserved to be free, which “makes them unruly; so that they have to be abused.” Again, Crooks was ordered to leave the county.

Several other local slaveholders challenged Crooks as well. “Brother Crooks did you not preach to servants not to obey their masters?”  Crooks answered that he had not, but his accuser insisted that he had. Hiram Hulin then interceded on Crooks’ behalf. “Don’t you interrupt the man,” he told the slaveholder, who responded by shaking his fist and stamping the floor, declaring that he was on his own “premises.”  Hiram’s brother, Orrin Hulin, then called for order, reminding the men that they had entered the chapel to worship God.

Those opposed to Crooks’ right to preach moved to expel him from the chapel. They declared Crooks a traitor, no better than Aaron Burr,  sent to Montgomery County by anti-slavery radicals such as Daniel Wilson of Guilford County.  Likewise, Orrin Hulin was condemned for having written a letter to the True Wesleyan that described a Montgomery County slaveholder’s brutal torture and whipping of slave.

Then, the anti-Crooks faction rose to forcibly remove Crooks from Lovejoy Chapel, at which point Orrin Hulin cried out,

Men, take notice of who takes hold of that man by violence.

As the mob approached Crooks, William Hurley stepped before it and called out,

But stop, don’t you run over me. What are you going to do with the preacher?

According to author Elizabeth Crooks, chaos followed, as Crooks was

led or rather dragged from the pulpit into the yard. . . . Some are rushing for their horses, others are screaming, and still others prostrated, motionless and speechless.

Mrs. Crooks further described how several men forced Crooks into a buggy as Orrin Hulin once again called on Crooks’ supporters to “take notice of who forces that man into that buggy.” Several of Crooks’ supporters followed the buggy on foot to the home of one of the slaveholders. There, over dinner, pro- and anti-slavery factions, including Crooks, argued over slavery. Sheriff Aaron Sanders, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and part of the mob that accosted Crooks, was present. So also was William Hurley, Crooks’ defender, who proclaimed himself  “ever opposed” to slavery.

“Well, if you believe slavery to be wrong, you need not hold them; it does not hurt you,” a slaveholder challenged.

Hurley answered, not as an abolitionist, but as a citizen who defended his right to belong to an anti-slavery church:

Well, but for me to support a thing I do not believe in would not be right. And you can have your privileges and let us have ours.

When asked if his church, which refused membership to slaveholders, might yet receive a slave, Hurley said “yes”, provided the slave was a Christian. Those words provoked this angry response from an unnamed slaveholder:

What!—receive a nigger and not a white man? That is a grand insult depriving us of our rights.

“Not at all,” maintained Hurley. “We do not say that you shall not hold slaves; all we want is to keep clear of supporting it.”

“Well, if that is your principle you ought to leave the state,” advised the same man, advice to which Hurley strenuously objected:

I was born and raised here—pay for my privileges under the law, and it is a hard case if I am to be deprived of them.

As the argument heated up, another slaveholder advised the mob to “serve him [Hurley] as we do Crooks.” But William Hurley appeared to be forgotten after four magistrates ordered Sheriff Sanders to deliver Adam Crooks to the jail.

After being locked up, Crooks was lectured by his captors on the need to abandon his plan to preach in Montgomery County. Exhibiting the common social superiority that slaveholders felt toward nonslaveholders, they assured Crooks that the folks who had invited him to speak (members from the Moore, Hulin, and Hurley families) were the “very dregs of the county,” while “those who are against you,” (slaveholders), “are the best men of the county.”

Finally and reluctantly, Adam Crooks agreed to leave Montgomery County and was accordingly released from jail. He then returned to the home of Valentine Moore to say his goodbyes. While there, he reported, Valentine’s daughter Caroline (who would soon marry Hiram Hulin’s son, Jesse) announced to Crooks that she was leaving the Methodist Episcopal Church and joining with the Wesleyans.

Caroline Moore Hulin

Slaveholders had prevented Adam Crooks from preaching in their county, but they had failed to prevent the successful birth of Wesleyan Methodism in their community. Battle lines would be redrawn during the Civil War, in a brutal inner war that would pit the same Sheriff Aaron Sanders against the same community of dissenters.

Vikki Bynum

For more on Adam Crooks and Southern Wesleyan Methodism, see:

  1. Roy S. Nicholson, Wesleyan Methodism in the South (Syracuse, NY: Wesleyan Methodist Publishing House, 1933).
  2. Mrs. E.W. Crooks, Life of Rev. Adam Crooks, A.M. (Syracuse, NY: Wesleyan Methodist Publishing House, 1875). A copy of this book is owned by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and may be accessed online at UNC’s Documenting the American South.
  3. An independent film company has recently produced the story of Adam Crooks. See The Courageous Love, Rubacam Productions,

41 replies »

  1. Thanks for posting this great article about Adam Crooks! And thanks also for the photo of Caroline Moore Hulin. It is always fascinating to learn more about the anti-slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction-era violence in the piedmont region of NC. There was a lot of it–and plenty of cases of neighbor torturing and murdering neighbor. I used to live in Snow Camp, a community still very identified with its Quaker origins. Snow Camp has several historical sites related to its Quaker past (the Cane Creek Friends Meeting) and celebrates its heritage with a Fall festival and the local outdoor drama, Sword of Peace. Its roots are pre-Revolutionary, and there is a stone wall that dates to that era. One of the leaders of the Regulator movement lived there, too. Freedom’s Hill Church was moved to Southern Wesleyan University in SC in 1999. You can read more about Freedom’s Hill Church before that happened on this webpage — . One of the most dramatic primary sources about KKK violence against black and white residents of Alamance County and other piedmont NC residents is Albion Tourgee’s letter, which can be accessed in full here —


    • Thank you for your comment and all this great information, Karen–I had no idea that you used to live in Snow Camp! The Civil War/Reconstruction violence in the North Carolina Piedmont has long fascinated–and horrified–me, too (I wrote about it in Unruly Women, and included a chapter on the KKK in the Orange/Alamance region of the state in Long Shadow of the Civil War). What’s also fascinating is that many of the Jones County, Mississippi, dissenters are descended from the North Carolina Regulators that you mention. As a historian, these links across state and territory lines, in a nation that was rapidly moving west, reveal the profound interconnections between events separated by space and time.



  2. Hi,

    Good to see Crooks and McBride on the front page. And NICE picture of Mrs. Hulin.

    Speaking of the Hulins, I have a question. In the Crooks book, on the top of page 83, someone (who I think is Sam Christian) says “Oh–we have nothing against Mr. Hulen.”

    It’s an off-handed remark, but for some reason it struck me as important. But I’m not confident in how I’m reading it. To me it seems like Christian is dismissing Mr. Hulin’s potential antislavery threat (because they were used to it) thereby attributing greater danger of the foreigners. But I’m not certain that’s what’s going on. It could be something else entirely. It could be nothing. (And, bless her heart, but Mrs. Crooks was not a very good editor.) This has been bugging me and I would love to have your take as someone who knows these people better than I.

    One funny thing in all this is that when they succeeded in expelling Crooks from Montgomery, he basically crosses over into Davidson County, finds the church nearest the Montgomery County line, and commences preaching again. Cojones!

    Chris Graham


  3. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your comments! First, since you mention Jesse McBride as well as Adam Crooks, I should clarify that he, too, was a Wesleyan preacher (and close friend of Adam Crooks) and that he also preached in North Carolina at the request of citizens. McBride was so well known in the Randolph-Montgomery County area that William B. Hurley named a son after him.

    You are right that Elizabeth Crooks, who transcribed Adam Crooks’ narrative of experiences in North Carolina, is often a confusing editor. I’m not even certain, because of the way she framed her sentence, that it is Mr. Christian who says “Oh–we have nothing against Mr. [Orrin] Hulen.” But in any case it is a curious remark for one of Adam Crooks’s opponents to make (I had highlighted it in yellow many years ago).

    I don’t know what to make of it either, perhaps because there is so little on Orrin Hulin in Montgomery County records–I believe that he moved out of the county before the war. There is plenty of evidence, however, that Hiram Hulin and his family tangled with both Sheriff Aaron Sanders and “T. Haltom” (Thomas Haltom) during the war.

    Samuel H. Christian is reported by descendants as born in 1805, and the son of Rev. John Christian. He was one of the county’s wealthiest men; in 1860 he was reported to have $15,000 in real estate; $48,000 in personal (i.e. many slaves). He died in 1864 and was buried at the Zion Methodist Church.

    There is an interesting court document describing Christian’s ownership in 1845 of “some machinery such as used in factories for spinning cotton yarn,” and of his and George Makepeace’s agreement to build a house on his land “suitable for a cotton factory.” The “machinery ” would be “worked by water power.” In other, words, Christian was a modern cotton-producing slaveholder living in Montgomery county, a region not noted for having much of a wealthy planter class.



  4. Thanks. I’m glad to know it’s confusing in general, and not just me!

    Interesting connection to Makepeace. I don’t know if you know anything about him, but he was a textile engineer from Massachusetts and was the chief owner of the Haw River cotton mills before and during the Civil War. I’ve seen his grave in Franklinsville. Here is a post that includes a photo and capsule bio of him.

    From this same blog is a fascinating post on Manly Reece, a banjo player from Randolph County. Interestingly, his family migrated to the same place in Southwestern Virginia that the Wesleyans gained a foothold. I’ve wondered if they were received there because of families that had Randolph connections.

    I’ve got Benjamin Sanders who is listed in the 1850 census as a “constable” on a list of subscribers to the Montgomery Bible Society. I suspect he is related to Aaron Saunders.

    Caroline Lilly knew the Christian family, though I don’t recall if she mentioned him specifically. They were in the same social and economic circles even if the Lillys had considerably less property than the Christians. Caroline was a member of Zion Methodist.


    • Chris,

      No, I did not know who George Makepeace was, but it makes perfect sense. The issue before the Superior Court was the Montgomery County Court’s 1847 assessment of the value of Christian and Makepeace’s cotton “factory and machinery” at $6000 for purposes of taxation. The higher court, however, “was of the opinion that machinery used for spinning cotton is not subject to taxation and reversed the judgment of the County Court.” Also sounds a bit “modern,” doesn’t it?

      Regarding Benjamin Sanders’ relationship to Aaron Sanders, there are so many Sanders/Saunders in the Piedmont it’s hard to coordinate them. Many Sanders kin were Unionists–the Alabama Unionist kin of Gary B. Sanders, who wrote the previous Renegade South post, were from the Randolph/Montgomery region.

      Thanks for posting the Randolph County History blog links; I’m looking forward to visiting them.



    • I have some additional information regarding Chris Graham’s inquiry about the Benjamin Sanders who was active in the anti-slavery movement. As Vikki pointed out, there were so many Sanders in Randolph/Montgomery that it is difficult to keep track of them, and this Benjamin is one whose ancestry and history is particularly vague.

      The B.L. Sanders, constable, on the 1850 census is actually Britton (called “Britt”) L. Sanders. He also worked as a gunsmith and owned a grist mill. His parents are not known with certainty but he was probably a first cousin to Aaron H. Sanders, the sheriff. So far as I know, Britton Sanders was not actively anti-slavery.

      The Benjamin Sanders who was a subscriber to the Montgomery Bible Society is probably the same Benjamin Sanders who married Jane “Jinney” Clark in 1803 in Randolph County. Jinney was the daughter of Captain William Clark, a Revolutionary War patriot, who became a Quaker after the war and joined the Back Creek Monthly Meeting in Randolph County. William Clark and Alexander Gray, who witnessed the 1803 wedding, were active in the Manumission Society. Benjamin Sanders attended a meeting of the Manumission Society in March 1827 and this is the last unambiguous reference I have seen of him in Randolph or Montgomery counties. The parents of Benjamin who married Jinney Clark are uncertain. Genealogical researchers often confuse him with the other Benjamin in Randolph (my great great-grandfather).


      • My husband descends from B. L. Saunders. I would love to collaborate with you if you have any additional information on him.


  5. Vikki,
    I have recently started researching my family geneaology and came across your articles here. I would love to talk to you more in private. The slain Jessie Hulin was my grt grt grt grandfather and this was the first picture I had ever seen of my grt grt grt grandmother Caroline. If you would like to talk more, please email me at


    • Carter, I have a several deadlines and appointments to keep today, but by tomorrow I should be able to personally contact you.

      How nice that you have discovered more about your family’s history. The Hulins have a fascinating, though tragic, story that is of great historical as well as personal significance.

      Vikki Bynum


  6. I am a native of Montgomery County. I grew up next to the William H Hurley, Jr. home place. Two of my great great great grandfathers lived next to William Hurley. I was a member of Love Joy Methodist Church until I moved away after college. I think the reference to a vigilante mob murdering the Hulin boys is a little strong. You may have better information than I have which is the story handed down through the years. The sheriff who was responsible for the capture, trial and execution of the three, was a Colonel in the Montgomery County Home Guard and had some military authority to deal with deserters. I don’t think he acted properly because he would not let Caroline Moore Hulin visit her husband the night before he was executed at Dark Mountain. The men were kept at the Bean Mill on Barnes Creek. My father owned the property when I was growing up and my sister owns it now. Aaron had a brother, Pleasant Calvin Saunders, who was a Justice of the Peace and I think and others in the community think, was a crook. My grandfather Timothy Ragsdale died in Virginia during the war and the family never knew what happened to him. My great aunt, who was born before 1900 told me no one knew what happened to him. Some thought he may have gone west. I found some civil war records in the 1970’s that showed him dying at Richmond. My cousin, two years ago, found some military records showing the PC Saunders going to Richmond, claimed to be the adminstrator of Timothy/s estate and getting $212. I check the Montgomery County Courthouse records and he was never appointed administrator. He never told anyone in the family that my grandfather had died, apparently. Records show that his son was in the same company so I think that is how he knew Timothy had died and had died with a considerable amount of money. Perhaps PC Saunders was the j p that had the crowd that attacked preacher Crook.

    When Aaron Saunders was on his death bed, David Dennis, a cousin of mine, had a great aunt that looked after him. He called her into the room the day he died and told her to “get those three men out of my room”. She told him there was no one there and asked who he was talking about. He said that it was the tree boys he shot during the war and that they had come to get him. He raised up in bed and fell back dead.


  7. Dear Joe Thompson,

    Thanks so much for commenting on this post! There is nothing more interesting (or valuable) than when people tell the stories passed down to them by those who lived through the times.

    In regard to the murder of the Hulin brothers, you are right that it was not the work of “vigilantes;” As you point out, the killers were Home Guard soldiers assigned to guard the region. The Hulin brothers’ father, Hiram Hulin, described them as “murderers who were home-guard troops.” He described one Henry Plott as the “officer in command.” I’ve accordingly corrected my careless use of “vigilante.”

    Like you, Hiram Hulin was critical of the manner in which the murders were committed, and believed the home guard soldiers should all be charged with murder. In his letter to President Andrew Johnson, he wrote that “while on their way to the pretended prison they deliberately shot and beat to death with guns and rocks my three sons and Atkins while tied with their hands and handcuffed together.”

    I love your descriptions of the Saunders family conflicts; they make me want to go back to my court records and see what I might find!



  8. I appreciate your work. I was raised in the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist movement in Tennessee (a missionary conference of the Allegheny). The conference has long been defunct, and its churches part of various other denominations now. None of the Tennessee leadership I knew had any knowledge of this history, because most of them are rabid rebel sympathizers to this very day. Most of them don’t know their ancestors were “deserters” from the Southern cause and served in the Union Army either. East Tennessee was a waste land during and after the war. From Bristol to Chattanooga, a person couldn’t travel a few miles without seeing farms burned to the ground from partisan violence perpetrated by both sides. In fact, for a long time after the war the region called the Civil War time period, “The Time of the Bushwhackers.” So strong is our affinity for fiction over facts.


    • Thanks for your comment, Steve! I have long been struck by how few people of these pro-Union regions of the South know their own history–even some who are directly descended from Unionists! Yes, there were plenty who supported the Confederacy in such regions, that’s why so many “inner civil wars” were fought. But support for the Union, and opposition to secession, was quite strong. For many southern unionists, the issues were constitutional and economic, but among the Wesleyans, Unionism was based largely on a hatred of slavery. Of course, if one doesn’t believe that secession was an effort to preserve slavery (a common myth that lives on) as well as an effort to maintain southern autonomy, one isn’t likely to take seriously the Wesleyans opposition to secession as a principled position. The transcripts from this particular inner war make clear, however, that pro-Confederate citizens of Montgomery County knew very well that protection of slavery was central to secession.



  9. Love the picture of Caroline Moore Hulin. Do you have any other pictures of the Moore family? Caroline’s sister Leticia is my ggggrandmother.


  10. Hi Sue, Nice to hear from another member of the Hulin-Moore family group!

    There is another photo of Caroline, sitting with her family, on my post “The Inner Civil War inMOntgomery County, N.C.:

    I am not familiar with your ancestor, Leticia. The siblings I listed for Caroline Moore Hulin in Unruly Women were Joseph Spencer, b. 1826; Deborah, b. 1830, m. James Reynolds; Elisha, b. 1835; Nancy Jane, b. 1842, m. Dias Hulin; Lucinda, b. 1844, m. Wm. J. Reynolds; Valentine Lindsay, b. 1845, m. Chana Hulin.

    Do any of the above sisters appear to be Letitia?–I may have used or missed a middle name.



    • Hi Vikki,

      Sorry for the long delay in responding to your post. My ancestor, Leticia, (Lutishia, Lecia) was born abt 1833 and married Henry Clay Crowder. They actually had a son named U.S. Grant Crowder and moved to Randolph County. No one seems to know when Leticia died, it isn’t even on the tombstone at Love Joy that she shares with Henry. My grandmother was named Rodema Lutishia after her.

      Maybe because she married out of the Hulin and Reynolds families, she kind of slipped into obscurity.



  11. Thanks for this very interesting read. I was born 10 minutes from where this happened, grew up 12 miles down the road, and had never heard about this in my 47 years! I now live less than 5 miles from Lovejoy Church, and I stumbled upon the story of the Hulins over dinner with friends of friends last night. Today I visited the Hulin graves, then did a web search and found your essay. Quite enlightening, and I appreciate the information and insight.


  12. Discovered your article when shared by a friend on facebook. I grew up in Montgomery County, NC and Lovejoy Methodist Church is my home church. I attended there from childhood through my twenties. I heard the story of the Hulin boys being buried in the same grave in the cemetary there and “Murdered” being on their tombstone. Sometime during the 1960’s, I believe, the original tombstone was replaced. The newer one still has “Murdered” on it. Just last year, I was there and took a picture of it.

    There is also an arbor on the church grounds that dates back before the Civil War. Every year in September, the Lovejoy Camp Meeting is still held there.

    When I as nineteen, there was discussion in the church about tearing down the arbor. At that time, the floor was dirt and fresh straw would be put down during the revival week. People became concerned about that not being safe and inviting to poisonous critters. The cost of replacing the dirt with concrete was a budget concern.

    That had been such a part of my growing up and people from great distances away always returned for Lovejoy Camp Meeting Sunday and dinner on the ground. To the surprise of those present that Sunday, I stood up and opposed tearing it down. I felt that if people who no longer were in the area knew there was a possibility of tearing down the arbor, they would contribute to saving it and installing a concrete floor.

    It somehow resulted in my writing an article in the Montgomery Herald, the local newspaper. I interviewed Mr. Wilber Atkins, the oldest member of the church at the time. He was in his nineties. This would have been sometime in 1965, I believe. It was through Mr. Atkins I first heard about the Hulin boys. He related that the story he heard was they refused to be conscripted into the Confederate Army and were captured, beaten and hung. His grandfather or father, told him of being at their service and either he or another child played under the casket and blood dripping from it.

    He also told me how the arbor was constructed before the Civil War and that the posts that hold it up were hand hewn and split logs were used for seating.

    The arbor got it’s concrete floor and still stands today on those same posts from before the Civil War. You can see the marks from where this was done.

    The second Sunday in September every year ibegins the Lovejoy Camp Meeting with dinner on the ground.


  13. Janelle,

    Thank you so much for sharing this bit of history of the Lovejoy Chapel with Renegade South! The story of the arbor is beautiful, very inspiring. I wish I’d known of it when I was researching Montgomery County’s Civil War history.

    I imagine that Mr. Wilber Atkins, who told you the story of the Hulins, is kin to James Atkins, who was killed along with the Hulin brothers for his refusal to fight for the Confederacy. Several Atkins kin have heard that James Atkins is also buried there, although the tombstone does not include his name.

    Thank you for your role in saving the arbor from demolition!



  14. I grew up in Love Joy about the same time as Janelle and I do not remember a Wilber Atkins. There was an elderly gentleman that lived about two miles from me named Willard Atkins. He was born about 1885 and was married to Pallie Atkins, Willard Atkin’s father was John Christian Atkins and he had a brother named James born in 1843 according to some information on Is it possible that the Wilber Janelle referred to is really Willard Atkins or is there someone that lived around there that I don’t know or remember? Sometimes the auto correct feature on computers changes names also.


    • Thanks for your response, Joe. After reading your very interesting response to Janelle, I went through my own records. According to the 1860 federal population census for Montgomery County, Sallie Atkins, age 42, a widow and a farmer, had four sons: William, b. about 1839; James, b. about 1845; John C. (this would appear to be the John Christian you mention), b. about 1853; and George T., b. 1859. Sallie’s son James is the same James who was murdered along with the three Hulin brothers. So, if Willard is also Wilbur, and is the son of John Christian Atkins, James would be his uncle. No wonder he knew the story so well!

      For the record, Sallie Atkins also had three daughters: Mary, b. about 1843; Eliza, b. about 1849; and Crissey J. b. about 1855.



    • Joe Thompson is absolutely correct, it was Willard Atkins that I referring to, instead of Wilbur. I wish I could claim my error was caused by auto correct instead of my brain.

      Mr. Atkins was a cute alert senior citizen. He would sometimes drive a small wagon, the size of a cart, pulled by a donkey (I believe) to the town of Troy. I remember there was a photo of him in the Montgomery Herald. He would pass by our house on Lovejoy Road on his way. That was at least a twelve mile trip, if not more for him. Always dapper with in his hat and nice shirt.


      • What a wonderful description of Mr. Atkins, Janelle! Sure wish I’d had it in time to include in Long Shadow of the Civil War and even Unruly Women.

        Would you and Joe Thompson agree that this Willard is likely the nephew of James Atkins, the young man killed along with the Hulin brothers in January 1865?

        Thank you both for your contributions!



      • Absolutely, it was Willard Atkins!. Once I saw Joe’s comments, I realized I was wrong.


      • I have no personal knowledge that Willard Atkin’s uncle was James Atkins other than the census records but it seems it is very likely. I will check with some of the people when I go down that way this week. Mrs. Reynolds will know.

        Joe Thompson (Sent from iPhone)


  15. Excellent. I am James Mark Reynolds Sr. Grandson of JC Reynolds Sr of Lovejoy. My grandfather is deceased but was a Wesleyan Pastor for over 50 years. I still attened a Wesleyan Church in High Point NC. My great grandmother was a sanders. I knew her and all of KIN.our direct kin are James Reynolds the elder, Arlindo and James C Reynolds the Rev JC Reynolds and then my father.JC Reynolds JR.


  16. Ms. Bynum, I’m glad to say that a handful of years ago, my husband and I began looking into my family history after hearing about the Hulins of Montgomery County in NC. My grandmother was Jessie Hulin, daughter of Kinney Wilson Hulin, whose father was Rev.John Wilson Hulin, whose parents were Jesse Hulin and Caroline Moore Hulin. I have your book “Unruly Women” and am so interested to read your other books. I just wanted to drop a note and thank you for your interest and tenacity involved in your research. God bless the record keepers of the world.


    • Thank you for taking time to comment, Cynthia! I enjoyed my research on the Hulin family so much—especially regarding Jesse and Caroline Moore Hulin—that I revisited their family in my last book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War. In that book, I gave greater attention to Hiram Hulin’s post-war letter addressing the murders of his sons. The book also features the same photo of Caroline Hulin that appears on this blog.

      Finally, thank you for your appreciation of the work we historians strive to produce!



  17. Hi, my last name is Hurley and i belong to a long line of Hurleys. As far as i know we are all from cumberland county north carolina. However, William Hurley Sr. And Jr. Definitely popped out at me. Troy is not too for from cumberland county. I was interested in any more information or documentation you have on these men or any other Hurley’s in the north carolina area. Maybe family trees? My great grandfathers name is Johnny Hurley, my Grandfathers name is David Hurley my fathers name is Richard Hurley and my name is Christopher Hurley. Theyre all African American and i myself am African American, Native American and European American. This really interest me and if you dont have any info maybe you could point me in the right direction. Thank you so much for your time.


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