Murkland Presbyterian Church |
Old Providence Rd.
On a hilltop on the east side of Old Providence Rd. stood a small,
wooden, Gothic Revival style church building. Erected about
1912, this was the second home of Murkland Presbyterian Church.
The church was named for its first pastor, Sidney Murkland.
He was a white Presbyterian minister who came South just after
the Civil War to help establish churches for former slaves and
free blacks in Mecklenburg County and the region.
Most of the original members who formed Murkland Presbyterian
Church in 1865 were ex-slaves who had been forced to attend services
with their white masters at nearby Providence Presbyterian Church.
Now free, the former slaves decided to worship in their
own churches. Before the Civil War there were no black churches in Mecklenburg
County. Charlotte had 456 slaves in 1850, who made up about 44
percent of the population. It was impossible for these bondsmen
and bondswomen to establish their own houses of worship. Slaves
could not assemble without the permission of the mayor and the
town commissioners. They could not be out on the streets after
9:30PM unless they had written permission from their masters.
It was even illegal to teach slaves to read and write. Town slaves
worked for the most part in industrial enterprises, such as John
Wilkes' Mecklenburg Iron Works, or were hired out as servants.
County slaves worked on plantations.
Life for blacks in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County
started to change dramatically during the Civil War. Some slaves
took advantage of wartime confusion and ran away. The real transformation
in the lives of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County's blacks occurred
in April, 1865. Federal troops, mostly from New Jersey and Ohio,
occupied Charlotte. The church became the
Matthews-Murkland Church when the congregation merged with Matthews
Chapel in 1969. Sadly, the building was destroyed by an arsonist