north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The Beatties Ford community of eastern Lincoln County emerged from the settlement of the North Carolina backcountry in the late eighteenth century. (A direct road from Beatties Ford led to the Trading Ford area near Salisbury.) The early settlers of eastern Lincoln were largely of Scotch-Irish and English background. In the Beatties Ford community, the pioneering religious organization was Unity Presbyterian Church, which was established by the mid-1790s. Prominent trustees of the church included Gen. Joseph Graham and Capt. Alexander Brevard—both of whom had served with distinction in the Continental Army during the Revolution.

     In 1801 Graham and Brevard established a private cemetery, north of Leepers Creek, for their families. It was there that Machpelah Church was erected in 1848 for the convenience of the community. (“The Cave of the Machpelah” is a Biblical reference to the family burial ground of Abraham). Dr. Robert Hall Morrison was the first pastor of Machpelah Church. Morrison was best known as a founder and first president of Davidson College, established in 1837 in northern Mecklenburg County. He was also the father-in-law of Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson, Daniel H. Hill, and Rufus Barringer. Morrison also helped organize Rutherfordton Presbyterian Church in 1834.

     Graham, Brevard, and Morrison are all buried in the Machpelah Cemetery. Other prominent burials include James Graham (North Carolina House of Commons, U.S. Congressman, son of Gen. Joseph Graham, and brother of U.S. Senator and North Carolina Governor William Alexander Graham); Maj. William A. Graham (son of Governor Graham, Confederate officer, state senator, state representative, and North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture); and Capt G. W. Hunter (a Confederate soldier killed in the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863). Today, a wall of rocks surrounds the picturesque cemetery. In the 1848 church, original pews and the former slave gallery are still present.

William L. Sherrill, Annals of Lincoln County, North Carolina (1967)
John H. Wheeler, Historical Sketches of North Carolina (1851)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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