POPLAR TENT CHURCH
This is several portions taken from the HISTORICAL SKETCH OF POPLAR TENT CHURCH by Wm. S. Harris, Ruling Elder of said Church, read before Concord Presbytery, April 22nd, 1872. It illustrates the writing of the time as well as conditions in which many of the Killoughs lived in the latter part of the 1700's. They had earlier settled in Pennsylvania and Cecil County Maryland. This article is taking place in North Carolina. It is not known which Killoughs settled in this particular place.
. . . . The location of the territory of Poplar Tent, now Cabarrus County, but originally part of Mecklenburg, and the thrilling events which connected her illustrious names with the achievement of civil and religious liberty, make her soil classic ground. . . . .
. . . . In the absence of records, it is the province of history to gather and preserve authentic tradition and incident, and, by that means, place conspicuously before the present and coming generations of Presbyterians, the mellow light of ancestral example, the habitudes and thoughts and actions of the early settlers. . . . . It is fitting that the memory of men by whom the banner of Christian civilization was upborne amid so many and so great trials, should be preserved and honored. . . . .
The first settlement was made in Poplar Tent in 1732, on the plantation east of the church . . . . From 1732 to 1751, the present bounds of Poplar Tent were sparsely settled by Scotch-Irish immigrants from Pennsylvania and Cecil county, Maryland. The first settlers were Clark, for whom Clark's Creek was called, Aaron Alexander, Daniel Alexander, David Reese, Charles Harris, William Black, James Campbell, Adam Meek, Zaccheus Wilson. . . . .
Clarke was a Scotch-Irish immigrant from Pennsylvania--a man of uncommon energy, over-mastering common sense, blameless life and endowed with undaunted courage. Soon after his settlement here--having brought with him a young and beautiful wife--the Cherokee Indians made an incursion into the neighborhood, prowled around the log cabin, killed and scalped her, and made their escape before Clarke could reach home from an adjacent field, in which he was at work.
Black and Harris, who were the nearest neighbors of Clarke, were both absent from home when this frightful and melancholy event occurred. Owing to the fact that there were no saw-mills as yet erected in the country, there could be no lumber procured wherewith to make a suitable coffin. Hence, the body of Clarke's wife was wrapped in a blanket, removed in a sled about two miles to a bluff on Rocky River . . . . and buried by an Irish bondman and an African slave. Thus the nucleus of the oldest graveyard in Cabarrus (Co.) was inaugurated; it lies about two miles southwest of Poplar Tent Church and contains the ashes of all the early Presbyterians of this section. . . . .
The incidents of this story of trial and misfortune to an early settler, in that he buried his young and beautiful wife without a coffin in the unbroken earth of his adopted county, well illustrate the privations and dangers which this brave band of pioneers had to incur in lengthening the cords and strengthening the stakes of Christian civilization. . . . .
The poplar tree under (under which the ministers preached) fell in 1802, just fifty-one years after its grateful shade had been consecrated to so noble a purpose . . . .
About the year 1770, there came other and important accessions to the population of Poplar Tent: The Crawfords, the Carrigans, McCalebs, McRaes, Franciers, KILLOUGHS, Reids, Smiths, Bakers.
William Shields was member of this church--he was the gallant and generous soldier of Sumpter, who discovered, when alone in a routed camp of the enemy, a bag of gold. . . . he carried, voluntarily, his pile of gold to the marquee of his General, requested, if Sumter concurred with him that it was British gold, that he should take charge of it and use it to buy clothing and shoes for his ragged and suffering fellow soldiers. It is needless to say that this brave officer used the gold faithfully and well for the noble purpose to which it was consecrated by the honest and generous soldier. . . .
Hezechiah J. Balch, Benjamin Patton, Robert Harris, Zacheus Wilson, John Phifer and David Reese, minister, elders and members of this church, were signers of the Declaration of Independence at Charlotte, May 20th, 1775. . . . .