The ‘Poplar Tent’ Meeting House

  • Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: Deuteronomy 31:12
  • Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

circa: 1765: The “Poplar Tent Meeting-house may be found about seven miles from Concord town, in Cabarrus, on the road leading to Beattie’s Ford, and about fourteen miles eastwardly of Davidson’s College. From the papers of a venerable old lady, who was born, lived all her days in the bounds of the congregation, and died at the age of 90, in the year 1843, the following is an extract: “I had a brother born April 25th, 1764, and I was ten years old the March before he was born; and I do not remember of hearing, at that time, of any other place of public worship but at Rocky River.” (Rocky River Church is about 9 or 10 miles east from P. T.)

“But I had another brother, born October 25th, 1766, and I remember very well of being at a meeting at Poplar Tent the summer before he was born; and at that time there was a more elegant Tent than I ever saw on that ground since, but no meeting-house. But between ’66 and ’70, there was a good meeting-house built and tolerably well seated. And the Rev. Hezekiah (J). Balch was a placed minister between Rocky River and Poplar Tent.”

Another tradition related by Dr. Robinson, adds to this account without contradicting it—and says a Tent was erected and an occasional service was obtained from the missionaries and other ministers, for some years before regular preaching was obtained. By tent, was meant a place for the preacher to occupy during public worship, very similar to the stands that are erected for the convenience of congregations in summer, in places where there are no church-buildings, or where the conveniences for seating a congregation in summer are not sufficient. All traditions agree, that this tent was the most showy in the country, and soon became a place for a large assemblage on the Sabbath.

The Scotch and Scotch-Irish emigrants to the Carolinas used these tents in all seasons of the year, till they could build a house; and afterwards, during the warm season; and when the congregations were large, irrespective of the season; sometimes, as Dr. Hall tells us, standing in the rain and snow, in crowds, to hear the gospel preached. The first sermons by the famous Robinson, in Charlotte county, Virginia, 1742, were delivered from a stand near the site of Cub Creek church, and to a Scotch-Irish colony, led there by the maternal grandfather of John Caldwell Calhoun, of South Carolina.

The name of the Ridge, the meeting-house, and the congregation, originated in the following manner, according to the manuscript of Mr. Alexander: “That hill, on which the meeting-house now stands, was called Poplar Ridge, long before there was any tent there, from some very extraordinary large trees, that grew a small distance west from where the meeting-house now stands. But after the tent was built some time, there were some men collected, for some purpose, at that place, and, as I understood, there was some proposition made, ‘what are we to call this place?” One said, call it Poplar Springs; another standing by, having a cup of water in his hand, threw the water against the tent, and cried out, “Poplar Tent!

And I do not remember that I heard of any one making objection at that time, against the name; and it has been called Poplar Tent ever since, and was taken by that name on the missionary papers into the northern States.”–This excerpt was quoted from the book titled ‘Sketches of North Carolina; Historical and Biographical, Illustrative of the Principles of a Portion of Her Early Settlers’—by Rev. William Henry Foote; 1846.

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The Canvas Cathedral” “The Billy Graham Los Angeles Crusade” 1949.

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Old Camp Meeting Days!