In a beautiful grove of Poplar, Oak, and Elm trees, seven miles west of Concord, North Carolina, stands the old Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church, established in 1751. The first services were held under a large Poplar tree near the present colonial brick church. In a very short time, the congregation erected a tent for a place of worship. The Scotch-Irish emigrants to the Carolinas often used these tents until the congregation could build a permanent building. One day in a meeting at the tent someone said, “What shall we call this place?” One said, “Poplar Springs,” another standing by threw a cup of water against the tent and said, “POPLAR TENT,” hence the name of the church.
The first bench elders of the church were William Black, David Reese, and Charles Harris. The second group of bench elders consisted of Nathaniel Alexander and Abram Alexander. The Ruling elders at Poplar Tent on the 18th day of October, 1778, were James Alexander, J. Ross, and Robert Harris.
The first regular pastor of the Poplar Tent Church was the Rev. Hezekiah James Balch, a native of Deer Creek, Hartford County, Maryland, and a graduate of the College of New Jersey in the class of 1766. The Rev. Balch was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Donegal in 1768, and was ordained and sent to the Rocky River and Poplar Tent Presbyterian churches in Mecklenburg County in 1769.
In the Poplar Tent Cemetery one can find the tomb of the first pastor of the church. Upon the commanding slopes of Poplar Ridge lie others that were once prominent in church and state, such as: Alexander, Andrew, Allison, Black, Bradford, Brumley, Caldwell, Crawford, Cannon, Dewese, Flinn, Fisher, Furr, Frazier, Gilmer, Gibson, Gingle, Harris, Hope, Holdbrooks, Houston, Means, Irvin, Morrison, Morris, Moss, Oehler, Pharr, Partlow, Parks, Rankin, Rogers, Ross, Stirewalt, Townsend, Tucker and Young.
Source: J. K. Rouse, Some Interesting Colonial Churches in North Carolina (Kannapolis, North Carolina: 1961), 78-80.

Representation of Colonial Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church

Early 1900s Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church

1970s painting of Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church

Rev. Hezekiah Balch
  • Minister, Rocky River and Poplar Tent Presbyterian Churches.
  • Mecklenburg Resolves Commision.
  • Signer, Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
  • Buried, Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church.
Benjamin Patton
  • Constable & Tax Collector, Mecklenburg Co. NC.
  • Signer, Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
  • Buried, Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church.