As early as 1780, the Methodist Church began efforts to establish
a church sponsored school in America similar to John Wesleys
school in England. Francis Asbury met with the Reverend John
Dickins of Halifax County in June of that year and two local
men had the honor of purchasing the first subscriptions. Their
money, however, went to the formation of Cokesbury College, opened
in Maryland in 1787. It would be about seven years before North
Carolinas Cokesbury School would open near the Yadkin River
in what is now Davie County, then Rowan. It was the first Methodist-sponsored
school in North Carolina. The name Cokesbury was a tribute to
the first two Methodist Bishops in America, Thomas Coke and Francis
Asbury, and has since been associated with Methodist education.
North Carolinas Cokesbury School was organized by James
Parks, an elder district preacher and teacher, and Hardy Jones,
a wealthy church member who donated the land on which it was
built. Asbury visited the school in 1794 and described it as
twenty feet square, two stories high, well set with doors
it stands on a beautiful eminence, and overlooks
the Lowlands, and river Yadkin. The aesthetically pleasing
location, however, was not a practical one since it was off the
beaten path. The school was no longer listed in the Methodist
Conference minutes in 1795. Local churchgoers who had attended
sermons at the schoolhouse continued to do so. The congregation
eventually became known as the Advance Methodist Church.
Much of what is known about the school comes from the commonplace
book, or notebook, of George McClasky, a student there. The journal-like
book was discovered in the personal papers of a local Methodist
preacher. While the original was returned to the preachers
family, copies were made for the Western North Carolina Conference
Archives in Charlotte and the North Carolina State Archives.
McClaskys notes provide evidence of the curriculum and
everyday life at the school, as well as important information
as to the books available. McClaskys father, John, was
involved with the Methodist Book Concern and helped to supply
the school and church with appropriate books.
This short-lived school existed in Rowan County, North Carolina.
Today, it would be in Davie County.
The above write-up (with edits and additions) was provided
by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click
Here to read and to view their sources.