Bishop Francis Asbury came to Jones County, NC on February 10, 1788. On his second visit to Jones County, he wrote in his journal January 24, 1791, “Monday 24. I had a most dreary ride to Trenton. Here I met with Lewis Bryan, brother to the late General: – his heart and house are open. After getting some refreshment we went to the chapel, where I preached with great freedom; there were brethren present who came to meet us from a great distance. In the evening, brothers C, and L, and A, held meeting” (Asbury’s Journal). At that time, there was not a Methodist Church in Trenton.
‘Methodists’ in Trenton worshipped in a “Free Church” at the time of this visit. The chapel was located where stands the current Trenton Municipal Cemetery.
There was a Methodist Church outside of Pollocksville, Lee’s Chapel in 1791. Asbury preached at Lee’s Chapel (Hwy US 17 South) on Tuesday, January 25. Lee’s Chapel was the first Methodist church in Jones County on September 13, 1790, and was named after Thomas Lee who deeded the land to the church. Asbury would later return to preach at Lee’s Chapel on Tuesday, February 25, 1791. Asbury was very pleased with the progress of Lee’s Chapel. “There is a very great change for the better since I was here three years ago: they have now built a very decent house for worship. I was unwell in my body, but happy in my God, and resigned to His will.”
When Bishop Asbury returned to Jones County in 1801, he wrote in his journal about the Hargett family. “Monday, March 2. We had to march down upon Trenton, sixteen miles. The appointed meeting had been transferred to Frederick Argate’s (Hargett), occasioned by the death of his venerable mother, the respectable wife of General Frederick Argate (Penelope Miller Hargett who died March 2, 1801) who had been suddenly called away. This lady justly deserved the great and good character she had for forty years preserved, as a wife, a mother, a mistress, and a friend; to relieve the poor, and to solace the afflicted, gave her pleasure and occupation almost uninterrupted. Thursday week she was at meeting—the following she was a corpse. My subject on this solemn funeral occasion, was I Cor. Xv, 22: ‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ First, our union with Adam, and the unhappy consequences. Secondly, our union with Christ, and the happy consequences. We have already ridden eighty miles from Wilmington.” Penelope Miller Hargett was the great granddaughter of Captain John Jacob Miller who settled in New Bern, NC with Baron Christoph de Graffenried in 1709.
The first appointed Preacher to Trenton came in 1846. Rev. Henry Gray was appointed to the Trenton Circuit which consisted of Trenton, Oak Grove and Maple Grove.
In Trenton UMC’s history, they have had 59 clergy including their current pastor, Rev. Leonard O Fair.
Rev. Bryan Huffman
Member of NC Historical Society