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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mareda Sigmon Cobb and Carrie Sigmon Yelton, June 16 and 18, 1979. Interview H-0115. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Earl Armstrong's ministry in Gastonia

According to Cobb, Earl Armstrong's evangelistic meetings figured prominently in the lives of Gastonia's mill workers during the mid-twentieth century. She returns to this topic later in the interview.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mareda Sigmon Cobb and Carrie Sigmon Yelton, June 16 and 18, 1979. Interview H-0115. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

He was good in his way, but he was an evangelist preacher, had that big tabernacle in Gastonia that the working class of people built. He's been dead about twelve or thirteen or fourteen years. That tabernacle was built from donations. In fact, me and my husband gave two days' work apiece on it, when it come to the pinch(). His name is what got it. Now they're using it for a warehouse.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why is that?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
I don't know. That's the way it happened.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What denomination was it?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Wesley Methodist. That's what he was. But Earl Armstrong's Tabernacle is what they called it, I think. But I think everybody had it in their head down there--or I did; I don't know if everybody did or not--that it belonged to Gaston County, because the people built it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
The people paid for it.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Give most of it to the... They really had some good meetings there. My husband's people was that denomination, Wesley Methodist.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of work did you do?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Wound in a mill and run creel warp machines, different things.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was Earl Armstrong a real well known revivalist in Gastonia?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Yes, he was. He was a fine preacher.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And this church, have you heard of this tabernacle?
PATTY DILLEY:
No.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
No, I don't guess you all have, because it's been used for a warehouse ever since he died, for years.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did people feel that they needed to build their own church?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Everybody else went to church, but they'd have revivals and things here.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh, so this was not just a regular church.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Well, yes, he preached there every Sunday evening, and he broad cast it on the radio. Nobody hardly ever would miss an Earl Armstrong sermon on Sunday if they didn't go.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But it was really a church that working people built and working people went to.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
It was more for evangelist work.
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
For different denominations.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
They would let different denominations have it.
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Kind of like evangelism work.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
That's what it was. That's what he turned out to be. He was at one time pastor of the Wesley Methodist Church there in Gastonia.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But he wanted to leave there and have his own ministry.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
His brother and his people run Armstrong and Ford. That's his brother. I think his brother's still living.
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
You don't know how many's living, do you?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
No, I don't. Earl Armstrong was a fine preacher. I mean he was a real evangelist preacher. But the Ford place down here in Hickory is from his people.