Beaver Dam Lutheran
|Beaver Dam Lutheran Church was
founded over two hundred years ago, approximate date 1786, by a band of
German Lutherans from the colony of Pennsylvania. These early settlers
of Lutheran faith migrated south across the Blue Ridge into the
Piedmont section of North Carolina and moved into the Beaver Dam
section of Tryon County (now Gaston County) where they found the
opportunity to live, work, and worship as a free and God-fearing folk.
They brought with them their Bibles, catechisms, and hymn books. Beside
the waters of Beaver Dam Creek and Long Creek, they built their log
cabin homes, and on a hillside nearby they established their meeting
house and graveyard.
In May 1856 the Beaver Dam congregation decided to build a new meeting house about a mile west from their original log church. When the congregation moved into their new building in 1858, the name of the church was changed to St. Marks. The Beaver Dam Cemetery, with fifty-four or more marked graves, became abandoned as the congregation naturally began to bury their loved ones in the churchyard at St. Marks.
In 1881 St. Marks Lutheran Church became the mother church of St. John's Lutheran Church in the small village of Cherryville with a number of St. John's forty-one charter members coming from the congregation at St. Marks.
As time passed the old Beaver Dam property, located on a privately owned farm (land grant of Michael Rudisill) with no entranceway to a county road, became neglected and over-grown with trees and underbrush. The simple log meeting house 28 1/2 feet square no longer existed. Only its foundation of native rock remained to proclaim God's glory. Year after year the area around Beaver Dam was used as a pasture for a large herd of cattle making the old cemetery and churchyard almost inaccessible.
Early in 1992, descendants of the pioneers buried in the old graveyard organized for the purpose of restoring the historic site. In six months time the descendants acquired a deed to the property which they presented to St. Marks congregation on the church's Homecoming Sunday. The descendants also cleared the grounds, built a graveled roadway to Whitesides Road, erected historic markers, and enclosed the entire area with a chain link fence.
On Sunday, the twenty-third of August 1992, the restored grounds were opened for visitation. During the afternoon over one hundred and fifty interested persons walked the grounds of that venerable place.
Mary Frances Mauney