The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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The Little Black Book, Part I

By Linda H. Barnette

Center United Methodist Church had its beginnings in 1830 when a group of neighbors gathered at the home of Joel Penry, which was probably located in what is now Boone Farm Road. Supposedly a revival had been held at the Penry home, leading to the formation of a church.

In the Rowan County Deed book, it is recorded that a John Smith gave 2 acres of and for a church on Nov. 14, 1833. It reads as follows: “John Smith of Rowan County, party of the first part, to Daniel Dwiggins, Arthur Morrow, John Davis, Ashley Dwiggins, Samuel Penry,James Davis, and Thomas  Morrow, Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America…  The tract of land contained two acres of land on the Wilkesboro Road.”

The only record of the membership of the church was found in a small, black leather class book of the Center Meeting House. This book was owned by William Joel Franklin Dwiggins, my great-grandfather, who passed it along to my grandmother, Blanche Dwiggins Smith. It likely originally belonged to Daniel Dwiggins who passed it on to his son Ashley, and so on to WJF Dwiggins.

The first entry is dated July 5, 1836, and contained the following names of Trustees for the church: David Tutterow, Ashley Dwiggins, Joel Penry, William Tutterow, Caleb Kurfees, and Solomon Seaford. Other trustees listed were Daniel Dwiggins, “a well-known local preacher (and my 4th great-grandfather), Samuel and James Penry, John Smith, and Zadock Leach.

There is no list of members until 1844-45 when this entry is made: “Remember to observe the Friday immediately preceding the Quarterly meeting for the circuit as a day of fasting and praying for the prosperity of Zion.”  The list of members followed this admonition. Beside each name is written the letter “m” for married; “s” for single; “w” for widow.  Beside some of the names is written the word “dead” as well as the letter “t” for those who transferred. Without listing anymore names, I will say that many of them were my ancestors.  I am very proud of their role in the religion of Davie County.

The little book stopped in 1863, the time of the Civil War when the Methodists were divided, and Center and many other churches became part of the Southern branch of the church. Many of the young men in the area went off to war; some returned; others did not. Center remained open during this time as did the free school in that area, which was taught by Masten Richards, the husband of Mary Penry, who was the widow of Boone Penry.

Many of the members of the church, including my family, are buried in the cemetery across the road from the church. The first grave in the cemetery was that of Boone Penry, son of Hannah Boone and James Penry, who died on Aug. 29, 1836, at the age of 29.

Material taken from church records at the Davie County Library, from personal papers, and from James Wall’s History of Davie County.


By Katie Bell

It is a relentless task, weeding a garden.  It takes a consistent effort to combat the unwanted from creeping in. If given time, the weeds only grow stronger, seeding, rooting and spreading until they take over and muddle the beauty of our flowers.

William Wordsworth wrote “Your mind is a garden; your thoughts are the seeds. The harvest can either be flowers or weeds.” We all strive for flowers, of course.  But maybe this is not as simple as we would wish.

The garden requires some scrutiny. A significant amount of attention on the weeds is required to give the flowers space to grow, otherwise the flowers won’t reach their full potential or they may be cluttered and less appreciated. But if all we see are the weeds, we will miss the beauty of the healthy growth that pushes through, despite the rivalry.

The unhealthy aspects of our lives can creep up on us through our habits and relationships. Like weeds just surfacing from the ground, we may not know in the beginning if they are meant to grow, or need to be tugged out before they get big enough to identify. If we turn our backs too long, however, clearing them out requires more attention.

Another favorite garden quote is “Some see a weed; others see a wish.” At times, though, my wish is that those weeds would just disappear! But again maybe it is not as simple as we would wish.

So we pull the weeds out at the roots before they are given a chance to spread and choke our growth. If they have already taken over, we do the hard work of clearing them out.  We section off our garden so that the task as a whole isn’t overwhelming.  We set goals and we appreciate the small achievements that are part of the greater good.

We assess if bigger improvements or changes need to be made.  Maybe we call for reinforcements.  Our friendships and families are the fertilizer that helps our flowers grow.  We supplement with therapy as needed to improve our soil at the ground level.

The weeds will always need attention, and instead of falling victim, we get our hands dirty and do the hard work.  With patience, persistence, and resilience, we pull through the relentless task.  The weeds will always come back and when they do, we will recognize them when they are smaller and weaker.  And we will have the strategies in place to stay ahead of the weeds before the task buries us again.