War, Ezra Mull, and the 1st Church (1871-1898)
North Carolina seceded from the Union on May
20, 1861, and the state's involvement in the Civil War began. There were at
least eight Mulls from Catawba County, who took up arms to defend their homes
against “Northern invasion”. John Mull was captured at the Battle of the
Wilderness and died a prisoner at Elmira, New York. Peter M. Mull, John’s
brother, rose to the rank of captain in Company F of the 55th North Carolina.
He fought in the war’s first battle— Bethel Church, Virginia. Later, on
September 6, 1862, he was given command of two hundred picked men at
Washington, North Carolina. In a battle that ensued, Peter was shot once in the
head and once through the left lung. Amazingly, he survived and continued to
serve until just a few days before Appomattox, when old wounds finally were
getting the best of him. “He was considered one of the bravest men in the Confederate
Army.” After the War, the wound eventually healed, and Peter Mull settled down
as a farmer/miller in Catawba County. D.F. Mull, Ezra’s brother, fought with
Company A of the 23rd North Carolina. He died of disease in 1863 in the
Confederate camps outside Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Ezra Mull was born in 1827 in Catawba County. He was a son of above-mentioned Henry
Mull, and a grandson of John Mull. Ezra at age 34 enlisted in the Confederate
Army, April 24, 1862, was appointed fourth sergeant May 16th, 1862. Ezra was
very devoted to his faith, in a letter written during the War, Ezra wrote, “We
[Co. F, 55th North Carolina Regiment] have religious services twice on Sabbath
and prayer meeting every night. Our Chaplain is Rev. Wm. Royall, who seems
disposed to do his duty in regard to our spiritual good.” Knowing the need here and the grim realities of
war, he bequeathed land and a sum of money for the purpose of building a
Baptist meeting house in this place.
On September 25, 1863 he wrote his will giving three acres of land and one
thousand dollars to build a church near where his grandfather John Mull had
been buried and where later on he too would be buried. Ezra, a cousin of Peter
and John, was killed in the trenches at Petersburg, Virginia in February 5,
April 9, 1865 the war ended. Robert E. Lee
surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox
Courthouse on April 9, 1865. The last battle was fought at Palmito Ranch,
Texas, on May 13, 1865. After this the Reconstruction Period began.
P. Warlick is noted in (The history of the South Fork Baptist Association; or, the Baptists for
one hundred years in Lincoln, Catawba, and Gaston counties, North Carolina.
by- Major W. A. Graham) as reporting concerning the matter of
building a church house at the Mull Graveyard, pursuant to the will of Ezra
Mull. This money had not been paid by the executor, probably for want (lack) of
knowledge as to who was the proper person to receive it. The Association, on
investigation, referred the matter, in 1871, to the N. C. Baptist State
Convention. The Convention appointed Elder G. J. Wilkie to attend to it. He
collected the money and had the house built and organized a church here built
and named in honor of Ezra Mull. It stood approximately 50 feet north of the old cemetery and
the 4 original cornerstones still stand. The chapel was only about 24 x 30 feet
in size. It was called a Chapel because the funds were not large enough to build
a sizable church building, but Ezra’s funds were instrumental in building the
church which grew and became known as Mull’s Chapel.
October 9th 1873, the missionary’s report to the association
reported a house of worship had been built at Mull Grove (name for this area
where the church is located), but the inside had not been completed, but the
grave yard had been cleaned off and fenced.
Thursday, Oct. 8th, 1874. The Catawba River Baptist
Association met with Smyrna Church, in its 45th Annual Session. The Secretary called for newly
constituted churches, whereupon Ezra Mull Chapel was presented by letter, with
church covenant and articles of faith, which was received as a member.
In 1878 the South Fork Baptist Association had its first
associational minutes published from its first official meeting of the
churches. It was held Kids' Chapel Church, Lincoln County, November 22nd &
23rd 1878. Ezra Mull’s Chapel was represented by delegate Elder W.F. Hull,
listed as church clerk. Pastor was listed as Rev J. Jones in the minutes. In
1879 it is noted in the South Fork Association minutes, Preaching occurred on
the 4th Lord’s Day here at Ezra Mull’s Chapel. Later the day of
preaching would be moved around. Early churches who could not afford to pay a
pastor or due to a shortage of ministers had a circuit preacher/ rider a as minister who would officiate
at multiple churches in an area, thus covering a "circuit". It appears from the minutes around 1885 the church
was able to have a dedicated pastor.
October 8, 1891, The Catawba River Baptist Association met
with North Catawba Church. Churches desiring to unite with the Association were
called for. Delegates from Bethel a newly constructed church and Mull's Chapel,
of South Fork Association, came forward with letters which are read and
accepted. October 6th, 1911, The Catawba River Association granted
letters of dismissions to the following churches: Zion Hill, Mull's Chapel,
Pisgah, Olive Grove, Hull's Grove, Corinth, Mountain View No. 2, Mount Gilead
and Wilkie's Grove to organize a new Association.
Later in 1898, the 2nd Church was erected, about
150 feet north of the 1st building, just above the old cemetery. This structure was later
sold to Jones Robert Greenhill and the Greenhill Memorial Church of God
Fellowship (now the New Covenant Church of God), up the road the Advent
Crossroads Community. This was a simple plank church, with a tin roof and a
small steeple on top. The church had 3 windows with shutters on each side of
the building, a humble porch, and wood stove. This building still stands but
has been enclosed by brick. After remodeling it now serves as Sunday School
classrooms for New Covenant.
In 1911 the South Mountain Baptist Association was formed.
Mull’s Chapel first appeared in the minutes in 1922. Our relationship with the
Association has only grown since.
The Mulls also held two family reunions the
first one on September 2, 1911 and one on September 12th. 1912 the one
hundredth anniversary of the death of John Mull the pioneer. The News-Herald on
September 7th, 1911 reported the following article: On Saturday, Sept. 2nd,
there was a reunion of the Mull families from the counties of Burke, Catawba,
Lincoln and Cleveland. In a beautiful grove near Mull's Chapel, a speaker's stand
erected. Crowds of well dressed, well behaved people was estimated at between 800-
1000. A splendid choir open the services with a hymn and then an inspiring
prayer was offered by Rev. Gold. Captain
P.M. Mull, of Newton, was master of ceremonies, and after the hymn and prayer
he introduced Mr. Jno. M. Mull, of Morganton. In well-chosen and apt words Mr.
Mull welcome the great audience. He Commended the spirit of brotherly love that
prompted the reunion and urged that this spirit be carried in our daily life
and conversation. "This," said he, "is your meeting- you can,
make of it a great success if you wish and will. This is a historic spot, from here
our ancestors went forth to battle with life. Through toil and sacrifice many of
them obtained success. Others fighting against adverse wind; and wave have been
forced to the Egyptian task of making brick without straw; and that out of Nile
like mud. While most of them began life without a golden spoon, yet they were
good providers for their loved ones and ever stood for truth and the right.
Here many of our ancestors are buried- and this spot should be sacred to us.
“My friends”. I now have the pleasure of introducing to the speaker of the day
- a man I who needs no introduction to any audience in Western North Carolina-
my friend -the friend of humanity- Charlie McKesson, as everybody calls him. Mr.
McKesson thanked his friend for the commendation and the invitation to be
present. He looked over the great audience, and a smile played over his face as
he recited a humorous poem that greatly tickled the crowd. Then a few sallies
of wit, and a capital joke, he gave a history of the first Mull who came to
Burke county from Pennsylvania Conrad Mull by name (He’s Father was Johann
Chrisophel Mull, brother to Sheriff Peter Mull). In 1753 he got a grant from
Lord Granville for a section of 640 acres of land on the waters of the Catawba
River and Upper creek, which was called in that grant Mull's creek. Bellevue,
the beautiful farm of the heirs of the late Joseph J. Erwin, was part of the
Conrad Mull place. The Mulls came from Holland and their name was originally
spelled Moelle. They ever stood for law, liberty, justice, and all the nobler
virtues. Many of them are the best type of our citizenship, Uncle Jimmie Mull
of Hunting creek a Patriarch in our modern Israel; Peter M. Mull of Burke and
Peter Mull of Catawba and Joseph Mull of Lower Fork in Burke county, are all
men worthy of the respect and confidence of their neighbors, Mr. McKesson then
made some humorous criticism of the Dutch and why they came to the United
States. "But," said he, "I must tell you why we Scotch Irish
came to this country. One writer says it was because the British Parliament was
oppressive, another because of the shortage of the Irish potato crop, and still
another assigns the reason that they came because the government doubled the
tax on whiskey." After giving a history of the Mulls he made a plea for
the education of the boys and girls; that they be given a fair chance in life
and closed with a tender appeal to all present to pattern their life after the
divine Ideal Mr. Otis Mull, a promising young lawyer of Shelby, made a brief
but eloquent address on the brotherhood of man. He is an earnest and
captivating speaker. Mr. Peter P. Mull of Burke, though over eighty years of
age, gave an instructive and entertaining history of the Mulls of Burke, and
was satisfied that there were more than a thousand of them and their descendants.
After this the choir sang an appropriate hymn, followed by the benediction.
Under spreading oaks, a great feast, fit for the gods, was spread, and was
greatly enjoyed. Apart from the substantial’s, there was an abundance of
lemonade and most of the soda fountain drinks ice cold. It was a great day
great in numbers, great in historic reminiscence in the good seed sown, and the
spirit of good fellowship
The Charlotte News reported the following
article October 19th, 1912 on the 2nd Mull Reunion. Dr. Clarence
Peeler, of this city (Charlotte), has returned from Catawba county where he
attended a "re-union, of. the Mull family". He was the speaker of the
occasion. The Cleveland Star, has the following is regard to the re-union:
"The Mulls and their relatives met in their second annual ' reunion at Ezra
Mull's chapel in Catawba county last Saturday, Oct. 12. with a big crowd. Dr.
C. N. Peeler one of the relatives, and a prominent physician in Charlotte was
the speaker of the day. Capt. P. M. Mull, of Newton, spoke on the history of
the Mulls, showing the descent from the " Holland-Dutch blood. The first
settlers came, to Catawba county and the. house is still standing with the-
port holes in the sides used for shooting at Indians in the year 1730. One of
the Mulls and two of his children were killed by the Indians. " 'Squire
Jim' Mull of Morganton, and others made talks on the history of the Mulls.
People from Shelby; Morganton, Newton, Hickory and the Mulls from Haywood
county were present! After eating dinner, all went to the cemetery and pictures
were taken. It was a pleasant day for everybody. The next meeting will be held
at the same place at the same time.
The Lincoln County News, September 25th, 1914
made mention of Mulls Chapel saying “Much good has been accomplished in this
church, and Sunday school have been a great inspiration to the old as well as
Captain Peter Mull and the 3rd
The Foyer of our current Church was the 3rd
church. It was a brick church with large beautiful windows, beadboard walls,
and a stately front entrance. Captain Peter Mull, a cousin of Ezra Mull, at the
time of his death left funds and the land for the building of this Church,
which was completed in 1924. Captain Mull was the son of Jacob and Mary Mull,
and grandson of John Mull, born July 11, 1832. His early life was spent on his
father’s farm until he enlisted. Captain Mull was wounded twice, once in the
head and once in his left lung which nearly killed him. He was considered one
of the bravest men in the Confederate army. A few months after the war was
over, Captain Mull went to South Carolina and hauled supplies for the railroad
company, the railroad then being rebuilt from Columbia to Winnsboro. He also
ran a stage coach. After staying in South Carolina for nearly two years he
returned to Catawba County and bought a farm, and improved the old Mull mill
and engaged in farming and milling. His obituary in the Hickory Daily Record
reported; Peter Mull had always been charitable and warm hearted and a devoted
Christian and was noted for his great love of truth, honesty and sincerity.
Upon completing the 3rd Church the name officially became Mull’s
Chapel Baptist Church.
The Current Church (1954-Present)
Members of the church gathered beside the present building (the
3rd church), Saturday March 6th, 1954, at 2:30 pm to break ground on
the site of the new auditorium to be constructed in the near future. As the
stains of “How Firm a Foundation” died away Rev. Julius E. Hoffman, pastor
began reading 1st Kings 6 1-14. After brief comments were made Mr. Dewrel
Rhoney led the group in a prayer of thanksgiving and supplication. Mr. W.L.
Rhoney, oldest member present lifted the first sod.
This Addition included the bell tower, the downstairs Sunday
School rooms, fellowship hall area, and kitchen. In 2002 the fellowship
building next door was constructed. Until
this time, Homecomings, 5th Sunday Meals and other large events,
church members and guests had dinners on the grounds. Tables where spread with
bountiful meals out behind the church and the church yard was filled with
chairs, blankets, and fellowship.
So today as we celebrate and mark 150 years of being a light
on the hill for our community, we remember those who came before us. Those who
started the fire and those who have kept the fire burning through the
generations, and through their dedication to sharing the gospel have brought us
where we are here today. I challenge us all to be more like them, and
faithfully pass the torch of faith to those around us, and the next