Sampson’s Historical Highway Markers – Black River Church

Submitted By Joel Rose

Sampson’s Historical Highway Markers – Black River Church

Location: State Road 1100 (Ivanhoe Road) at intersection of SR 1102 south of Ivanhoe

Marker Text: Presbyterian. Organized 1740. Present building constructed 1859. First regular pastor was the Rev. Colin Lindsay.

* From the Office of Archives and History. (For more information, go to

Essay: A cradle of Presbyterianism in North Carolina, Black River Presbyterian Church traces its beginnings to 1740 at which time worship took place in a log meeting house. Members were primarily of Scottish lineage. The congregation witnessed a spurt of growth in the 1770 to 1774 period as more immigrants came to America. Prominent area families were the Corbetts, Devanes, Kerrs, Beattys, Hendrys, Murphys, Aldermans, Robinsons, Colvins, McMillans, and Bannermans.

Black River was formally organized as a church in 1790, the same year that the Reverend Colin Lindsay arrived as its first full-time pastor. Up to that time a number of itinerant ministers had served the congregation on a part-time basis. The church elders in 1790 were Samuel McAllister, Finley Murphy, John Anderson, William Robeson, and Thomas Devane. Lindsay left Black River in 1797 to join the congregation at Raft Swamp. He is buried at Stewartsville Cemetery near Laurinburg.

Several other prominent names are associated with the church. Edwin A. Alderman (1861-1931), president of the University of North Carolina, Tulane University, and the University of Virginia, was raised in the area and attended the church. Joseph Wilson, father of Woodrow Wilson, was the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington from 1874 to 1882. He preached occasionally at Black River and the future president is said to have played in the yard of the church. The present building, constructed in 1859, is the fourth on the site. Described as “pristinely beautiful,” it is among the finest of the Greek Revival style, temple-form rural churches built for descendants of Scots pioneers.

Black River Chapel