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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Pointer Morton, December 12, 1994. Interview Q-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Religious worship and the Jonathon (Johnson) Creek Church

Morton speaks at greater length about her grandmother's role in the founding of Jonathon Creek Church in Granville County, North Carolina. [Here, Morton calls the church "Johnson Creek Church," although earlier in the interview she calls it "Jonathon Creek Church."] After briefly describing how her grandmother and other enslaved peoples would gather to worship privately before they were able to build their church, Morton describes how the Pittard family allowed the church to be built.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Pointer Morton, December 12, 1994. Interview Q-0067. 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

EDDIE McCOY:
I need you to go back and let's talk about a little slavery and what you heard.
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Well, all I know about slavery is what my Grandmother Margaret—.
EDDIE McCOY:
Do you know her whole name?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Margaret Yancey Downey. I was a good-sized girl, but I can remember some things she said. So I heard her talk about when she was a young girl, she was a slave for the Pittards. She stayed there and worked at home and done along. And I don't know after staying there so long—. I know she got married cause her husband's name—. That was my grandaddy, Grandaddy Stephen. I know she married but I never did hear her tell about her married life and all, but I know she married cause she had a gang of children. I could count up the girls and the boys—.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did she ever tell you that she went to the church with her master, her bossman?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
No, uh-uh. They didn't go to church. She and her friends what lived close-by where she was, in order for them to have a little praise service to praise the Lord and to thank Him [what if He was to them], they would meet, gather together, and they would turn down a pot. She told us they would turn the pot down, they'd all get around and there's where they would sing and pray. But she never did tell me why they turned that pot down, so I just put it in my own words. I believe they done that to keep the sound from the white people hearing the sound, what they would do. That was my idea, but she didn't ever tell me that.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-hum. I think that that was the reason, too, I was told. Were they good to her and her husband? The Pittards?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Oh, yeah. Cause she stayed there for years and years. They bound to been good to her.
EDDIE McCOY:
Could she read and write?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
My grandma? I just don't know. I didn't ever—. See, I was so small and that's been years ago. She was born back yonder in the 1800s.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-hum. So you and your mother and father, y'all was going to Jonathon Creek. Always have.
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Uh-huh. Yeah, let me tell you the first starting of [Johnson] Creek. My grandmother—they used to—after they would have their service here and those people — so she told Mr. Pittard, the man she was staying with—she was a slave for him. So she told him, "Look-a-here, we wants some land for a church," said, "we need a church." And so Mr. Pittard gave her this land, now, for to build—. He gave her the land. I don't know what—I don't know how much it was. Anyhow, the mens got together and put a log church there and they named it Johnson Creek Church. That's the first starting of it.
EDDIE McCOY:
Was it named after some individual?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
I just—I don't know where that name come from. That's the name they named it, Johnson Creek Church.
EDDIE McCOY:
You know, I interviewed a man and his master gave him some land and they didn't have a church. And do you know what he did? He told his master that what I want to do is—. I don't want no house. I'd rather build a church first and I'll live like I've been living. Now, if a man give up land for a church and he want to stay in the condition he's in, that was a mighty good person.
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
I'm telling you.
EDDIE McCOY:
And that's what your—?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
My grandma. The man give her this land. They built the church. I don't reckon back there , I don't reckon. Anyhow, 'twas a spot and way back yonder, she said the first church was there, they went in and cut logs and built a log church. Now, that would have been way back yonder. That was back yonder.
EDDIE McCOY:
That was nice of her to give up—.
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Uh-hum. And so this man, their church was named Grassy Creek and maybe—they named this Johnson Creek—maybe the name might come from that church, but Johnson—.
EDDIE McCOY:
Who? What church was Grassy Creek?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Grassy Creek was the white people's church and that's still down there, a great big brick church.
EDDIE McCOY:
Well, who uses it?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
They have services there now.
EDDIE McCOY:
Well, where did Grassy Creek Church come from? How did they get—? The white church was before the black one?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Oh, yeah. This white church was there, I'm quite sure. That's been years ago, but the name of that church is Grassy Creek and that's the white people's church.
EDDIE McCOY:
And that's the one that you think your great-grandmother went to?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
That's where I think that's where that name come from.
EDDIE McCOY:
From Grassy Creek?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Uh-huh. And this is Johnson Creek.
EDDIE McCOY:
And they just put Johnson Creek—?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Johnson Creek, but they put that Creek in there. That's what I think. I'm not sure, now, but that's what I think happened. See, that was way back yonder. That was back yonder.