We are not aware of exactly how old our Church is or how it came to be. We do know that records prove that it dates back prior to the Civil War period. It is believed that there was a Hickory Grove Meeting House before the Church was built. Reverend Floyd B. Cherry refers to Hickory Grove in his book that in 1859 "It was then ordered that in the first district, the first union meeting would be held at Hickory Grove, Pitt County." (An Introduction to Original Free Will Baptists by Floyd B. Cherry.)
A Civil War Map of 1864 done by the Corp of Engineers has been secured and shows location of the Church at that time. (The map is a Corp of Engineer map that the Virginia Historical Society owns.)
John Henry Whitehurst is believed to have given the land that the Church is built upon. He inherited this land from his father, William Ivey Whitehurst. John Henry and his wife, Elizabeth are buried behind the Church. They not only gave the land, but raised their family in the Church. Church services were taken seriously and all were expected to be in the Church for all services. He and others in the community (the Barnhills) were instrumental in building the Church and pews that were originally used in the church. The Church was built in a grove of Hickory trees and therefore obtained its name.
There have been many structure changes in the Church over the years. What is now the back of the Church was once the front and a major highway was in front of it. We are fortunate to still have some of the same old pews that were once in the sanctuary. They were hand made and painted with homemade paint. Many of you still remember sitting on them I'm sure.
Notes from the Harrison and Barfield's History of the Free Will Baptists of North Carolina printed by the Free Will Baptist Press in Ayden shows that Brother Tom Barnhill was a member of the committee on finance of Free Will Baptists in 1865 and in 1889 he was enrolled on the list of ministers of Free Will Baptists. In the obituary of Elder Joseph Bell we are told he attended Church at Hickory Grove on Saturday before the second Sunday in September, 1862, and preached his last sermon. Many of the former pastors or those that have preached at Hickory Grove were Elders Fred McLawhorn, Dr. St. Clair, Dr. Peaden, Elder Hearn, Elder J. C. Laughinghouse. Pastors Tom Barnhill, Tom Pollard, N. D. Wiggs, C. J. Harris, W. Ben Everett, Willie Hart, Daniel Windham, Duffy Tolar, Bill Anderson, C. J. Harris, Jr., A. L. Davidson, Walter Jernigan, Albert Harris, P. C. Wiggs, D. W. Alexander, L. B. Manning, Clarence Little, Willis Wilson, Hubert Burress, Leon Harris, Clifford Ball, Charles Branch, Sammy Gay, C. H. Overman, Joe Ingram and many more. Our present pastor is Doug Tyson.
There is much to be learned on the heritage of our Church. There are many people that are left out because the history is still to be gathered and written. I'm proud of my Church and the firm foundation my forefathers had. It is my hope that we will all set goals and continue striving to keep the faith and the strong foundation that has been established here.
created on 10/19/92 by Cynthia Manning Smith