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Old Bethesda Church

Old Bethesda Church, a rectangular white clapboard structure with cupola and spire, erected in 1850, preserves its old slave gallery intact. At the end of the Civil War a part of General Sherman's army encamped in and around it. With a congregation organized in 1790 by the Philadelphia Presbytery, the first church, built in that year, was little more than a brush arbor standing in the 50-acre tract granted by King George III to John Patterson in 1766. Rose bushes near the church are said to have grown in the yard of the Patterson home, which is no longer standing. Early services were held in two languages because many Scottish settlers spoke only Gaelic. A church built in 1832 served until the present building was erected.The congregation has long since outgrown the austere little structure. Members have been worshipping for years in a much larger brick structure hi Aberdeen. Only on Homecoming Sunday, usually the first Sunday in October, is Old Bethesda used, though occasionally special exercises are held there. On this day some former members and their families travel great distances for the reunion. Arriving in automobiles, and wearing clothes in the latest modes, homecoming throngs step back in spirit to the generation to which the church belongs. They sing old hymns to the accompaniment of a hand-pumped organ. Former pastors and members speak to the assemblage. Then family picnic baskets yield a feast of fried chicken, potato salad, pickled peaches, and an imposing array of pies, among other delicacies. Reminiscences begun around the picnic cloth con- tinue throughout the afternoon as the older people walk about the churchyard. The TOMB OF WALTER HINES PAGE bears a slab of gray granite inscribed with his name and the dates: August 15, 1855-December 21, 1918. Page, who became ill at his post in London during the closing weeks of the World War, was rushed to his home in Pinehurst, where he died shortly afterward. His body, originally placed in the new cemetery to the S. of the church, was moved across the narrow road and placed under a clump of trees that is surrounded by a low rock wall.Beneath the cedars in the older part of Bethesda Cemetery, behind the church, lie crumbling, crude, and brown-stained monuments to early settlers. One is inscribed: Another reads:"1798 HERE LIES THE CORPS OF ISBEL BUCHAN MEMOMENTO" "In Memory of COLIN BETHUNE (an honest man) a native of Scotland by accident, but a citizen of the U. S. from choice who died March 29, 1820 Aged 64 years. His dust must mingle with the ground Till the last trump's awakening sound It will then arise in sweet surprise To meet its saviour in the skies."