Historic Hillsborough is marking the largest surrender of the Civil War that took place 150 years ago this month with a series of events throughout April, including special tours of historic sites, cemeteries and churches.
Free tours of these sites are offered from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 12. Just show up.
▪ St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 210 St. Mary’s Road, will offer a portrayal of Mary Curtis, wife of the Rev. Dr. Moses Ashley Curtis, in a program of readings titled, “An Unfaltering Faith: Selected Letters of Mary Jane DeRosset Curtis at the Close of the Civil War.” An accompanying narrative will provide historic context. This program will be presented at 1:15, 2:15, 3:15 and 4:15 p.m. Related exhibits will be displayed.
While at St. Matthew’s, take time to note the cemetery, which includes graves of Civil War soldiers of note, and plan to return for a special tour called “Ghosts of the Confederacy” on Saturday, April 18. Tours will be offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets to this one are $5 per person and available in advance at the Hillsborough Visitors Center, 150 E. King St., or by calling 919-732-7741.
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▪ First Baptist Church, 201 W. King St., will have a presentation in the sanctuary that explores the church’s history. Construction of the present building began in 1860, but stopped during the war and services were held in the basement for many years, white services in the mornings and services for African Americans in the evening. Members of First Baptist’s History and Records Ministry Team will be available to answer questions about the church’s history. Period clothing will be on display.
▪ Hillsborough United Methodist Church, 130 W. Tryon St., will display architectural drawings of the church as it appeared when it was dedicated in 1861. Members of the church will be present to discuss the state of the church during the Civil War and the history of the church bell. On display will be a Bible and hymnal from the 1860s.
▪ Hillsborough Presbyterian Church, 102 W. Tryon St., will open its sanctuary for tours. The present building was constructed in 1814 on the site of a colonial-era Church of England sanctuary used by the Third Provincial Congress in 1775, and as a meeting place for the North Carolina legislature in 1778, 1782 and 1783 and as the site of the North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1788. Displays will include early Bibles, prayer books and a hymn book used during the early years of the church.
The church is surrounded by the Old Town Cemetery, established in 1757. It is the final resting place of many important historic people, including William Hooper, signer of the Declaration of Independence whose grave is the earliest known.
Also, graves of Scotland-born merchant James Hogg; William Graham, who served as a U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of the Navy and N.C. governor; and John Berry, Hillsborough brick mason who built some of the region’s finest buildings of the antebellum era.