Since 1887 Center Church has had a rich history of serving the people in the Catawba/Sherrills Ford community. A group of concerned citizens met at the Walden School house, located near the intersection of Harwell and Lowrance roads, until the church was built. The first church was a brush arbor in which services were held while raising money for the church building.
The church was officially organized as a part of the Catawba Charge in late 1888, just prior to the meeting of the North Carolina Annual Conference which was held in December. The Reverend C. M. Gentry was the pastor. Land for a permanent place of worship was given by Joseph and Mary Beal. A deed was drawn in 1888 and construction began immediately thereafter. The original deed of sales, filed October 1, 1888 is stored in a safety deposit box at Peoples Bank of Catawba.
The church had two doors and Fred Rudisill recalled that the women used the door on the right and the men used the door on the left. The men and women never sat together during worship. The church was rebuilt in 1926 and this new structure had a center door and Sunday School rooms in extended sides of the sanctuary. This building was brick veneered and remodeled in 1944. During the pastorate of Reverend W. E. Rufty in 1959, plans were made for an educational building. The new building was completed in July of 1960 with ten classrooms, a church office, restrooms, kitchen and fellowship hall.
JAMES T. HARWELL, Private, Company I, 49th Regiment, NC Troops. Born in Catawba County where he resided as a farmer prior to enlisting in Catawba County at age 19, March 19, 1862. Wounded at Sharpsburg, Maryland, September 17, 1862. Returned to duty in March-April, 1863. Reported present in May-December, 1863, and March-August, 1864. Wounded near Petersburg, Virginia, October 14, 1864. Returned to duty on an unspecified date.
Wounded in the neck and toes while on picket duty at or near Petersburg on December 3, 1864. Hospitalized at Richmond, Virginia. Furloughed for sixty days on December 16, 1864. Returned to duty on an unspecified date. Captured at Five Forks, Virginia, April 1, 1865. Confined at Point Lookout, Maryland, April 5, 1865. Released at Point Lookout on June 27, 1865, after taking the Oath of Allegiance..[NCT-12:121]
JAMES FRANKLIN LOFTIN, Private, Company I, 49th Regiment, NC Troops. Resided in Catawba County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in New Hanover County at age 36, March 3, 1863, for the war. Reported present in March-December, 1863, and March-April, 1864. Killed at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia, May 16, 1864. [NCT-12:123-H-306]
GILBERT E. McKINNIS, Private, Company E, 32nd Regiment, NC Troops. Resided in Catawba County where he enlisted at age 21, September 5, 1861. Present or accounted for until wounded in the left hand at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1-3, 1863. Returned to duty in September-October, 1863. Present or accounted for until wounded in the finger in Virginia in May, 1864. Returned to duty prior to November 2, 1864. Present or accounted for through February, 1865. [NCT-9:52]
WILLIAM ALLO (AVERY) SETZER, Private, Company E, 57th Regiment, NC Troops. - Born on December 22, 1835. Enlisted in Catawba County at age 26, July 4, 1862, for the war. Reported present through October 31, 1863. Captured at Rappahannock Station, Virginia, November 7, 1863. Confined at Point Lookout, Maryland, November 11, 1863. Paroled at Point Lookout on February 24, 1865. Received at Aiken's Landing, James River, Virginia, February 25-28 or March 2-3, 1865, for exchange. Survived the war. [NCT-14:157]
William A. Setzer was thought to have been buried in Caldwell County until a further study revealed that he was buried at Center Methodist Church in Sherrills Ford. A stone marker was ordered and dedicated on August 23, 2012. Pictured are (L-R) Lee Setzer, great-great grandson of Wm. Setzer, Harold Dagenhart of the Rocky Face Rangers, Lee's son, ____ and Johnny Cline of Caldwell County who originally discovered the erroneous placement of the original grave stone.
RUFUS D. STINE, Private, Company A, 7th Regiment, NC Troops. Born in Lincoln County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting at Camp Holmes at age 38, October 7, 1863, for the war. Discharged at Brandy Station, Virginia, November 7, 1863, by reason of "hernia." [NCT-9:48]
[Marker photographs by Derick S. Hartshorn-all rights reserved]
[Church data courtesy of Central United Methodist Church]
NCT = North Carolina Troops - 1861-1865-A Roster, N.C. Dept. of Achives & History, North Carolina Troops - 1861-1865-A Roster (1983- )
H = "The Catawba Soldier in the Civil War", Prof. George W. Hawn
Derick S. Hartshorn - © 2012