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Certainly among the most soulful of all places in Scotland County, Old Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church is vital to the racial and cultural fabric of the region.
Right down to present day, the church’s rolls reflect many of the Scottish names who settled the area to avoid persecution after the failed uprising in support of the last Stuart “pretender.” Organized by John Gillespie in 1797, the congregation met in log buildings on the site until the present structure was completed in 1865.
Importantly, slaves met with the congregation as early as 1832 – arriving through a separate entrance and occupying seating in the gallery. Many of these slaves went north with General Sherman when his army swept through the area. In addition, the mid-19th century saw the church give birth to many sister congregations in the county.
The field to the west of the church drew acclaim as a public market and thus became the site of the Scottish Fair. (When this event began to attract horse racing and betting elements, it was disbanded at the urging of Reverand A.N. Ferguson.
One final note: the Great Depression saw the first practice of “Ingathering”–which encouraged payment-in-kind to assist with the church budget. This soulful practice is still observed today.