Holly Grove Baptist Church

Holly Grove Baptist Church
organized 1804

When I was growing up Holly Grove was in the field with Bethlehem, Powellsville, and Center Grove. That is these four churches shared one minister. He preached at each church twice a month. Once in the afternoon and once in the morning. On every fifth Sunday there was held the “Fifth Sunday Sing” in the afternoon among the churches of the Bertie Union, I guess.

From the Poor Town News #96
used here with permission of Jim Pearce and Stanley Hoggard and Gerri


Gerri Overton Abrahamsen’s old postcard, showing
‘Holy Grove’ as being near Tunis [rather it is south of Powellsville]

By Stanley Hoggard

The picture you published in The Poor Town News No. 93 is Holly Grove Baptist Church, but it is located in Bertie County.

It is located about seven miles south of Powellsville on the east side of US Highway 13. It was organized in 1804 as Outlaw’s Chapel, and was named for Ralph Outlaw. During the early 1820s the name was changed to Holly Grove.

During the years 1911 through 1913, it was completely renovated. The Rev. H. F. Brinson, whose photo is inserted in the picture, was the pastor during the renovation.

Holly Grove is a beautiful old building, and appears today just as it did in 1913 when the photo was taken. It reported a total of 32 resident members for the year 2002. Both Holly Springs and Holly Grove are members of the West Chowan Baptist Association.

I have distant relatives (the family of Dennis Hoggard) buried in the old cemetery at Holly Springs. Also, I have a brief history, including business minutes, of Holly Grove. According to Holly Grove’s minutes, Rev. Brinson became pastor there in May 1911. He served the church during the renovation (1911-1913), and resigned his position in January 1914.

During the early 1900s a Baptist minister usually served two to three churches, preaching at each only once a month. It is possible that Rev. Brinson was serving Holly Springs near Tunis at the same time he served Holly Grove. But the picture is of Holly Grove Church. The old church is still there for all to see, and the outside appearance hasn’t changed for 90 years.

Getting back to the postcard: My guess is that the postcard was sold throughout the West Chowan Association as a fund-raising project to help pay for the building renovations. Churches worked for each other back then.

Holly Grove Church, November 2003 ~ John R. Bracy photograph


(Poor Town News contributor Bracy says: “The trees have grown, and there was a little fog this morning …… I had to get off a little bit from the angle of the old photo …… but yep, that’s the one, for sure. There are several old graves on the left as you are looking at the church.”)

Holly Grove Vacation Bible School ca 1959

Holly Grove57



4 thoughts on “Holly Grove Baptist Church”

  1. I am looking for records for Henretta Adams Odom for the period 1865 to 1910, born in Potacasi and lived in Roxabel.

  2. Does anyone have information on the burial of a infant of a Rosie Lee Alford buried in the Holly Grove Cemetery. Her death certificate states that she died July 9, 1941 and burial was July 10, 1941 at the Holly Grove Cemetery Bertie, North Carolina. Her mothers maiden name was Edna Castellow and father Varnal Alford. Rosie death age was 10 months 14 days. Birth Place Bertie.
    Any info will be so gratefully appreciated. Again thank you.
    Sharon Wiltison ( cousin of Patti Alford – sister of Rosie.

  3. Hi Sally…..your web site just gets better and better. I am extremely appreciative of you giving me credit on the Pruden page……..where I had finally found proof with data from the NC Archives proving that my David Tayloe/Taylor married to Susan Simson, daughter of Robert Simson/Mary “Polly” Morgan, was the son of “Kinchen” Tayloe, son of Abraham, son of Richard Tayloe. Kinchen’s widowed wife, Ann Outlaw, married Lodowick Pruden, of which I had the data for that also along with guardian papers for David Tayloe/Tayloe which tied into the Cherry family…..Ann’s sister marrying a Cherry. I am very interested in this chapel and read through the info. Of course, the info that caught my eye was that the chapel was believed to have originally been named for Ralph Outlaw and I was wondering if that was Ralph Outlaw, father of Edward, father of Ann Outlaw Tayloe Pruden.

    Etta Reid

  4. I have a few photos taken at Holly Grove Church during summer Vacation Bible School about 1959. I was told that Rev. Levi Gillikin started the summer Bible schools while he was pastor there between 1955-1962. Email me if you would like me to email those photos.

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