Anders Family
David Asbel Anders with
Jim and Tina Smith Anders
Family

US GenWeb Project

Rufus and Florence Hall Owen Family in 1947
Rufus and Florence Hall Owen and children

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Transylvania County, NC 

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NC GenWeb

 

Living in God's House: Turkey Creek Baptist Church

Transylvania Tour Stop March 2003 - Boyd Township, Transylvania County, North Carolina

History Essay by Linda Hoxit Raxter, M. A., American History

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Turkey Creek Baptist Church was organized August 6, 1895.  The charter members were: Mr. S. V. Brown, Mrs. Lena Newton, Mr. J. A. Brown, and Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Alexander.

So begins the history of Turkey Creek Baptist Church as reported by Ruel Whitmire in The Heritage of Transylvania County, North Carolina, 1995.  The brief history goes on to recount a common pattern among churches.  A new larger building began serving the community November 24, 1946.  An even larger one opened to worship on January 24, 1965.  Here, the congregation continues to grow under the direction of pastor Jack Holland.  The current congregation of around 700 members grew from a small group of individuals connected through blood and marriage and faith. 

While the original church property also served as a school and cemetery, the current location houses only a very active church congregation.  The public school functions became consolidated into the county school system with Pisgah Forest Elementary now serving the community.  A new cemetery came through an additional land transaction from Samuel and Emma Orr on April 25, 1949.  Though not adjacent to the main structure, it still provides a central function within the church community.

The humble beginnings as a one room school house and church fits well with the stereotypical frontier ideal.  But in 1895, Transylvania County, North Carolina was far from the frontier.  Instead, plans were being made to bring and expand railroad and utility service to the area.  Significant manufacturing, mining and tourist industries were firmly in place.  All the activity attracted industrialist George W. Vanderbilt to invest in what became his Pisgah Forest after beginning construction at his vacation home in nearby Biltmore Forest.  All of these activities were contemporary with the founding of Turkey Creek Baptist Church.  In 1903 it was George W. Vanderbilt who donated the land and building of the existing school, church and burial grounds to the school trustees.  

Despite the heavy industrial influence, many community members retained mixed feelings about adopting an increasingly industrial lifestyle.  Romantic ideals from a simpler experience still dominated in 1939 as WPA writer A. Long interviewed Marson Baynard as part of the government sponsored Federal Writer's Project.  Baynard, under a pseudonym, was caste into the literary role of a romanticized farmer and hunter whose family was divided as to accepting work at the new nearby paper mill.  The literary character of the aging hunter and farmer expressed a dislike for such work.  Times change.  The death certificate of Marson Baynard described him as having retired from that same paper mill.  

Marson Baynard died in 1969 and was buried at Boylston Baptist Church near four of his children who never lived long enough to understand why churches and paper mills and farms were important to their family.  The Ecusta Paper Mill closed in bankruptcy proceedings in 2002.  Turkey Creek Baptist Church continues beyond these people and institutions.   

Hidden between these pages of common church and civic records lies a unique moment in the history of Turkey Creek Baptist Church.  Great grandson Steve Sitton recalls that Marson Baynard came to live with his family in the original church building along the waters of Turkey Creek as the congregation moved on to larger facilities.

Turkey Creek Baptist Church began largely through the efforts of one extended family.  In its passing from that beginning place, it touched the lives of another family.  In the larger picture of Transylvania County history it is such an insignificant detail it is perhaps not even worth mentioning.  But history is about asking questions.  And this small intersection provides an intriguing one.  What would it be like to live in God's house?  

- Linda Hoxit Raxter, originally posted April 21, 2003
Thanks to Linda O. Anders and Steve Sitton their assistance in locating source materials for this essay

Homecoming in 1920 at Turkey Creek Baptist Church

Turkey Creek Church Homecoming - 1920

Joe Wilde Photo Collection. Rowell Bosse NC Room, Transylvania County Library