2020 Florence Kidder Memorial Scholarship - Fourth Place Essay by Abigail Dunnigan

“Hey Jack, I think I found how to stop the Red Banks Primitive Baptist Church from being torn down.”

“C’mon Kate, why does it matter?”

“I’ve lived near the old church for my entire life, it’s not right for them to do this. I think if we can present our case to the city council and explain the history behind it, we can show them why it needs to be preserved.”

“I guess, but what makes the church so special?”

“Look here Jack, this book says that the Primitive Baptist Church has a rich history in Greenville and Eastern North Carolina. After a farmer group wanted to be a part of the Primitive Baptist Faith, they sought help from the Philadelphia Association and constructed a meeting house north of the Tar River (Joyner).”

Jack looked interested. “Does it say anything about Primitive Baptists before they came to Pitt County?”

Kate flipped back a few pages. “Yeah, it says here that they were organized in 1689. The original group was called the English General Baptists, and they adhered to The London Articles of Faith. It’s a document that establishes God’s absolute sovereignty. Apparently, they were shunned for their simple way of life and religion. Not long after the group formed, people began to persecute them and accused them of being ‘separatists’ (Joyner).”

“That doesn’t sound like fun,” Jack remarked.

“Not at all. When many English people left for the New World, the Primitive Baptists followed suit and evolved into two associations in Charleston and Philadelphia. Soon after, the Pitt County congregation formed. After outgrowing their original meeting place, the Primitive Baptists moved south of the Tar River to a new area of land owned by one of the children of John Hardee, a Revolutionary War Colonel (Joyner). On December 30th, 1863, the church was set on fire by Union forces during the Civil War. They were led by Colonel Joseph M. McChesney and had previously camped at the Red Banks Church because there were Confederate camps nearby. After the Confederate troops received word of the church fire, the two sides engaged in battle which resulted in a dramatic loss for the Confederates. Confederate Lieutenant David C. Camp was killed, along with five soldiers (Waymarking).”

“Wow, a lot has happened there. Can I see the book?”

“Of course,” Kate replied. “If you see here, the Red Banks Church was rebuilt in the same spot two more times, and was finally large enough to fit its congregation. By 1900, there were sixty-three members in the Red Banks Primitive Baptist Church alone (National Register).”

Jack scanned the page, reading out loud as he went along. “However, those high numbers did not last. The Red Banks Church was part of the Kehukee Association of the Primitive Baptist Church, which suffered declining members over the course of the Twentieth Century. Their outdated church practices simply could not keep up with the progressive times, as members had trouble adhering to policies such as alcohol bans. In 1996, the Red Banks Church lost its membership with the Kehukee Association after a disagreement regarding Brother Milton Lupton and his approach to wanting to preach. To preserve the church, the Pitt County Historical Society was given ownership to the building and land, and it has stayed that way ever since (National Register).”

“Until they wanted to tear it down,” Kate commented. “Historical preservation is necessary to help us remember what came before us and how we got here.”

“You’re right,” Jack replied. “If the Red Banks Church was not still standing, we would probably not have known about it at all.”


This essay utilizes real information within a fictional setting to emphasize the importance of historical preservation. The Red Banks Primitive Baptist Church is still under the ownership of the Pitt County Historical Society, and is in no danger of being torn down. It was home to one of the first religious organizations in Pitt County, and has contributed greatly to Eastern North Carolina’s culture and heritage (Joyner). Through their immersive nature, historical sites not only remind us about the past. They provide more memorable and valuable learning experiences than any textbook ever can.

Works Cited
"Historic Red Banks Primitive Baptist Church." Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, G. Banks, 2002. Internet Archive, archive.org/stream/historicredbanks00gree/historicredbanks00gree_djvu.txt. Accessed 26 Jan. 2020. 
“NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES REGISTRATION FORM: Red Banks Primitive Baptist Church.” United States Department of the Interior and National Parks Service, 5 Feb. 2002.
Red Banks Primitive Baptist Church - Greenville, NC. Civil War Discovery Trail Sites on Waymarking.com, 8 Jan. 2009, www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM5HA6. Accessed 27 Jan. 2020.