Thyatira Presbyterian Church, organized by 1750, is the oldest of any denomination or institution in the western half of NC that possesses legal documentation for proof of age. Land grants were made in this area in 1747 and the meeting house that became Thyatira was established shortly thereafter and before 1750.
Cemetery burials were here by 1750 and the earliest surviving grave marker is John Nesbit, 1755. A collateral ancestor of John Knox (ca. 1513-1572) who established the Presbyterian Church in Scotland is buried in the cemetery, plus, veterans from all wars starting with the French & Indian War to the present. Ancestors of one US President and two Vice Presidents, a Civil War Surgeon, a US Congressman, and it is said four pirates, also are interred in our cemetery.
Thyatira’s first permanent ordained minister was Dr. Samuel Eusebius McCorkle, a graduate of what became Princeton University. A son of the congregation, a founder of what became the University of NC (main quadrangle bears his name), McCorkle was one of 40 original trustees and Thyatira was the only congregation to contribute financially to the university, first state school to open (1794) in the nation. McCorkle served Thyatira 1777-1811.
The present beautiful Gothic-Revival house of worship, fourth constructed by congregation and noted for elaborate brick work, was completed 1860 and still contains original gallery where African Americans worshipped. Some of the 1860 pulpit furniture is still in use today and the congregation owns the pre-1780 pictures of King George III and Queen Charlotte with writing on the back by Nathanael Greene, American Revolutionary War general.
Visitors are always welcome however the museum is open by appointment only except at homecoming, and the cemetery should be visited during daylight hours.
To learn more about Thyatira, you might wish to read Walter Lingle’s account of our history, a reprint of which is available from Amazon.