Elder William Creath: Minister in Mecklenburg, Virginia

My last post was about the Susanna Clark and William B. Jones marriage record. While researching that marriage record, I found a “ministers return” record from Mecklenburg, Virginia on microfilm on FamilySearch.org. The ministers wrote up lists of marriages they had performed, and sent the lists periodically to the clerk of the court. Here is the image of the entry for Susanna Clark and William Jones.

The collection begins here (image 81 of 208), with an index at the beginning. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9BK-G4CV?i=80&cat=361879. This record collection is from the time period 1785-1854.

I looked up several of my early ancestors in this collection and found that they were married by different ministers. I’m puzzled as to why an entry for the marriage of John B. Kidd to Elizabeth Rainey isn’t in this collection. They did marry in Mecklenburg on 16 Feb 1818, but they are not found in the index. I also manually looked through the collection from 1810-1820, but did not see them. I wonder if this means they were perhaps not married by a minister, but instead by a Justice of the Peace? (When I find the answers to these questions, I will post about it.)

I wondered who this preacher or minister, William Creath was and what church he worked at. I found a booklet written by William Creath’s son, Jacob Creath. He called his father “a Calvanistic Baptist preacher.”

Here is a link to this booklet written by Jacob Creath in 1866 about his father William Creath : https://webfiles.acu.edu/departments/Library/HR/restmov_nov11/www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/jcreath/BSEWC.HTM

William Creath did not appear to have a fixed congregation, rather, he appears to have been a traveling preacher. On the ministers returns records, most of the ministers simply wrote their names at the end of the lists of the married persons, but William also wrote “Minister of the Gospel” after his name.

William Creath was the father of sixteen children! His first child was Elizabeth Roffe Creath born 4 March 1792. She died as a young child. Susanna Clark and William Jones were married in December of that same year, 1792. Jacob Creath wrote about each of his siblings, who they married and where they moved to. Letters from his father are also included in the booklet.

Jacob’s booklet tells about where William Creath preached: “Brother James B. Taylor, of Richmond, Va., in his History of the Virginian Baptist Preachers, says, on page 328: “He was, according to Semple, the means of originating the churches called Allen’s Creek and Wilson’s, and for some time supplied Malone’s–all in Mecklenburg County, Va. These churches, even though in his immediate vicinity, did not to any great extent prosper. He was in the habit of making lengthy tours through different parts of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. For many years he was scarcely employed in any other way than as an itinerating preacher….”

Jacob Creath wrote in response to that, “My remarks on the above histories: First–Bro. Semple obtained his information from hearsay, as he was never in my father’s neighborhood–never nearer than Richmond, which was eighty miles from my father’s; and brother Semple lived below Richmond some fifty miles. Second–Allen’s Creek was twenty miles or more from my father’s, and Malone’s was six miles below my father’s house. Third–He preached for these churches occasionally; he was not their pastor. [51] His being little at home shows that he was not their regular preacher. Fourth–An itinerating preacher could not be the regular preacher of churches. Fifth–In traveling and preaching, he obeyed the command of our Saviour, “Go and preach the Gospel.” Sixth–Then he did more good by traveling, and it was more in accordance with his gift and talent…..”

Six miles north of Malone’s church is probably right about at the Lunenburg-Mecklenburg border. I wonder if William B. Jones or Susannah Clark lived further north before they married? Or maybe they traveled several miles to be married by William Creath? Or if perhaps the minister traveled to where William and Susannah lived to marry them at their home?

Great Creek Church & School: Bracey, VA

I found this church during a visit in October 2007. The church looked closed up, no longer in use. I walked around, trying to find a sign or name on the church, but couldn’t see any identification anywhere. The path to the door was overgrown with trees and tall weeds blocking the path. There wasn’t any parking area that I could see. I brought this church picture with me on my next few visits so I could ask about it. Each person I showed the picture to said they only knew that it was an African American Church, and no longer being in use. Last month, I was told this was Great Creek church and that it’s been torn down now. I’m also told close by was an African American School, called the Great Creek school. The church probably supported the school.

The blue circle (map above) is the area where I’m told the Great Creek school was located. The blue “C” is where I remember the church being, closer to the road 903. (before my GPS recording days) The distance between the school and church is about a quarter mile.

Do you know anything about this church or school? Do you know when the school existed? I’m told the school probably closed in the early 1950s when the small local schools started consolidating with the county schools. Do you know if the congregation built another church in a different location? Or if perhaps most the members moved away? Do you have an earlier picture of either the church or school? Please comment or send me a message.