Original Free Will Baptist Church
This church started holding Sunday School classes in the old Holly Springs schoolhouse in July, 1888. The church’s first service was held on the first Sunday in April 1889 with 17 members. In 1923, Holly Springs students were bused to the new Newport School. In May 1964, ground was broken for a new church building.
The Spirit of Holly Springs
by Janie Fritzgerald Garner
I stand proudly at the end of a side road on the Nine Mile Road, one and three quarters of a mile West of Newport. How handsomely I have grown due to the love and devotion bestowed on me during my one hundred years!
My humble beginning was when my community saw the need for a school for their children. Jonathan Stanley Garner, a civic minded man, donated land and the community donated time and effort towards the building of my original structure. A Ladies Working Society was organized and collected subscriptions to pay for needed materials. Donations are recorded from as far away as New Bern, when travel was by horse drawn wagons and buggy. The one thought that permeated their work was that this was to be their school, Sunday School, and eventually their church. They were obsessed with this thought.
Then came the date January seventh, eighteen hundred eighty-seven, when it was recorded that D. L. Mann was paid seven dollars and fifty cents ($7.50) for my shingles. Eleven windows were purchased for nine dollars and thirty-five cents ($9.35), with freight costing forty cents ($.40). A stove was purchased for me for seven dollars and forty cents ($7.40), with freight twenty-five cents ($.25). Word was nearing completion on me when finally it was recorded that one dozen primers were ordered at six cents ($.06) each.
Finally a name had to be chosen for me. I was located between two canals, Big Ramshorn and Little Ramshorn, but my community did not approve of those names. Located behind me, surrounded by holly trees, was a spring which would supply the children with cool, clear water fetched each morning in a bucket. They named me Holly Spring.
Soon I was ready for all the beautiful and much loved children who were ready to enter my doors. A teacher was soon at my door, ringing a bell, welcoming the children.
There was a good rapport between students and teacher as books were opened and eager students absorbed the knowledge to which they were exposed. Spelling bees, ciphering contests, essay and speaking contests were held. I recall with pride the many incidents of children excelling. Champion spellers, mathematicians, and speakers beamed with pride at their triumphs. I remember the embarrassment when a child was not able to perform when called upon. We had our share of joy and sadness. All was not work for there were games and play at recess. The smaller children were playing tag, drop-the-handkerchief, ante-over, ring-around-the-rosy, and jump rope; while the older girls and boys played basketball. At night there were basket suppers and pie suppers for the young folk of the community. Many love affairs, which began at these parties culminated in marriage. These parties were always well chaperoned because the teacher and parents were always on duty there.
Oh, Happy Day! Something new is about to happen. On July first, eighteen hundred eighty-eight, the people of Holly Spring community held a meeting and resolved to organize a Sunday School. There was much joy as they held an election. The following were elected: R. C. Garner, Superintendent; J. A. Mann, secretary; Miss Bettie Garner, treasurer; and D. S. Quinn, librarian. They organized four men and three women’s classes. A dozen Gospel hymnals were ordered totaling one dollar six cents ($1.60), for which one dollar fifty-three ($1.53) was collected.
I was a really busy place now for I happily protected and care for children during the week. On Saturday mornings a committee of women were busily scrubbing and polishing me for use on Sunday morning. It was a busy, happy time in my life.
After The Sunday School had been organized a while, a basket supper was held. The Superintendent (who later was to become the first man licensed by Holly Spring Church) made a speech which was recorded as follows:
† LECTURE ON EDUCATION AND SUNDAY SCHOOL
In Genesis we read that God created the Heavens and the earth. In those times history was merely verbal; handed down from father to son, etc. Later on the Patriarchs engraved historical facts on stone, and still later they wrote on parchment manuscript history. For thousands of years after the creation of the world there was not printing of books as now, then printing was invented. Since that time there have been thousands of books printed in every language of the enlightened nations.
Education teaches people to know their origin: to know that there is a God, the author of our existence, and that we should worship Him. Education teaches people the benefit of government and how to make good laws. Education teaches us to love those whom we never saw. It teaches us that there is a blessed Saviour, The Son of the True and Living God, a Saviour who lived in this world a natural man, but without sin: a Saviour who taught by precept and example the way we should live and act in this life – a Saviour that attoned for Adam’s sin; a Saviour through the merits of whom and by the other Teachers of this Sunday School have been for nearly six month trying to acquaint you with the reading of the Testament, which means Will of Christ who is the testator or author of that Will.
Great days are in store for me son, because I am to be part of a church, also.
The Free Will Baptist Church at Holly Spring, Carteret County, was organized Saturday before the first Sunday on April AD eighteen hundred eighty-nine. There were seventeen (17) members with Elder W. W. Lewis as Pastor. My days were filled with love and joy as I was involved in all activities of day school, Sunday School, church and community gatherings. After thirty-five years of loving and protecting my children, in nineteen hundred twenty-three the County resolved that the pupils of Holly Spring School were to be bussed to the new Newport School. It was a sad day for many, because the community was losing something precious, a part of their lives Mothers who had made paths across fields on their daily visits to the school would not be going to Newport to visit. They would miss being involved as they were at Holly Spring. The daily trooping of children through my door would stop. I would miss the children bringing the bucket of cool water from the spring and dipper they used to drink from, the pot-bellied stove would only be fired on the weekend. The morning devotions, songs and pledge to the Unites States flag would not be given each morning. I would be lonely for their excited, happy voices. Except for community meetings, parties, Sunday School and Church Services, all would be quiet.
One day a new pastor came to Holly Spring church, Rev. Bill Everette of Morehead City. He inspired the members who made up the church to build a new building. I watched as the community that erected me built another building beside me. Then something wonderful happened! When it was finished, they moved me, the Sunday School and Church, into their new building, my new home. Many building programs were promoted by many future pastors, and with the love and devotion of the church I have progressed to what I am today.
I am still the center of activity in my community, sharing their joys and sorrows: a project that is a century old and very proud of it! My name is Holly Spring Church!
(The material for the above article was discovered when R. S. Garner, Sr., of Newport, began tearing down a barn and chicken house on his property where he lived as a child, and where his father, the former Reverend L. C. Garner, and his grandfather, R. C. Garner lived. The material was recorded in two old receipt books found in a metal storage box. Other information was gleaned from stories handed down through the last one hundred years by former students and church members.)