Around 1743 as a young man, William Whitfield II, and his young wife, Rachel Bryan, moved from the Albemarle region of North Carolina to the banks of the Neuse River. They settled first at Rockford, on the north bank of the Neuse, some 46 miles west of New Bern. Two or three years later, they moved 1.7 miles upriver to a high hill on the south bank of Neuse River that is now within the limits of the town of Seven Springs. William and Rachel lived there happily for about twenty years, but family tradition says they turned that plantation over to their son, Needham, around 1776 and moved again just one mile up the Neuse River to another plantation that has come to be called Pleasant Plains. William lived there from 1776 with Rachel, and later his second wife, Fruzan, until his death in 1795. Sometime around the year 2000 (give or take), I was in Seven Springs and expressed an interest in seeing the Pleasant Plains plantation. The owner back in 2000 was Mrs. Dallas Price, and she generously took me to the property where she pointed out, among other things, the general location of the church that William had built for his family and slaves to worship in, and for his son, Lewis, to preach in. Lewis belonged to the Primitive Baptist Church. Primitive Baptists had extremely conservative views, believing that God was sovereign in all aspects of life and that only some folks were predestined to be saved while others would be sent to Hell, regardless of their actions in life. They believed in a simple lifestyle, free of adornment, and such things as musical instruments in church or dancing anywhere were not allowed. The churches were plain and simple structures, with no steeple and no stained glass. The Pleasant Plains Church was still standing as recently as 1889, but the ravages of time eventually took their toll, as the building is no longer standing. However, some folks believe that the site was marked some years ago so that it's location would not be forgotten. Recently, I toured the Pleasant Plains property with our treasurer and resident local expert on Wayne County, Kyle Whitfield, along with another cousin, Tim Whitfield. My wife, Linda, also came along. We easily found the location in the middle of what had been, until recently, a corn field. An area approximately 30 feet by 30 feet had been lined with concrete posts some years ago, likely to protect it from the plow and tractors. These posts are the same type that surrounds the little Whitfield graveyard by the river in Seven Springs, so they were likely placed there by the same people. We spent some time there and managed to recover four very old nails, which should not be in the middle of a corn field. Kyle said that his Aunt Sadie told him that this area was an old Whitfield graveyard, but regardless of whether it was a church, a graveyard, or both, something important was clearly here.
Interior of a reconstructed Primitive Baptist Church from the early 1800s located outside Conway, SC
This tree sits alone in the middle of a recently harvested corn field. One of the concrete pillars is visible on the left.
Here we are surveying the perimeter. These was no surface evidence of remains of a foundation, but they could be buried or gone.
Some of the pillars are encased in thick vegetation.
Some pillars are relatively out in the open.
The concrete pillars are faced roughly five feet apart, although some have fallen or been knocked to the ground.
This photo helps give an idea of the spacing of the pillars.
Although the height of the pillars can vary, they are generally are 51 inches tall.
This photograph gives some idea as to how big the corn field is. The size of the field is at least this big on all sides.
There are 22 concrete pillars in total, and they are roughly in they shape of a square.
Some of the pillars have been knocked to the ground over the years.
Thirteen of the 22 pillars are lying on the ground.
A few pillars are broken, and here you can see the reinforcing metal bar (called rebar) . Rebar was used in buildings at least as early as the late 1800s. This particular type appears to be lugged rebar (with reinforcing ridges in the metal). The lugged pattern does not appear to match that used on modern rebar, so this dates perhaps to the 1940s or earlier.