Rainbow Church  

Submitted by Carol P. Martoccia
from documents provided by Martha Mewborn Marble

According to the "History of Rainbow Church," a new circuit called Contentnea (then spelled Contentney) was formed in 1790. It encompassed portions of Greene (then Dobbs), Wayne, Craven, Lenoir, and Pitt Counties. The list is verbatim, but I rephrased the text.

From the History of Rainbow Church comes the following list of preachers who served during the 1790 -1830 time period.


1790 Rev. John Baldwin
1791 Rev. Aquilla Sugg & Rufus Wiley
1793 Rev. William Bellamy
1794 Rev. Samuel Ansley
1795 Rev. Jonathan Bird
1796 Rev. Lawrence Mansfield
1797 Rev. William Lambeth
1798 Rev. William Kenyon
1799 Rev. Benjamin Matthews
1800 Rev. John King
1801 Rev. John Gamewell
1802 Rev. James Chappell
1803 Rev. John Gibbons
1804 Rev. John Gamewell & James Jennings.It is now Goshen and ContentneaCircuit
1805 Rev. James Boyd It is this year Trent, Goshen & Contentney & Goshen
1806 Revs. Wm. Barnes, J. E. Glen & B. Arendall. This year Trent
1807 Revs. Edmond, William Murphrey & H. E. Hall
1808 Revs. John C. Ballew & Nathan Weedon. This year it is Trent circuit.
1809 Rev. John Owen, Rev. William Floyd & Rev. T. J. Cook
1810 Rev. Caleb W. Bell. It is called New River circuit now.
1811 Rev. Robert Burns
1812 Rev. Edmund Wright
1813 Rev. James Morris
1814 Rev. James Thomas
1815 Rev. John Doyle
1816 Rev. Elijah Sparks
1817 Rev. William H. Starr
1818 Rev. Wm. D. Barrett and Russell Browder
1819 Rev. George Burnett
1820 Rev. Archibald Robinson
1821 Rev. Thompson Garrard
1822 Rev. Thompson Garrard & David Ellis
1823 Rev. Benton Freld
1824 Rev. Rufus Wiley. It is Trent circuit again.
1825 Rev. Curtis Hooks
1826 Rev. Curtis Hooks
1827 Revs. William Jones and John Carson
1828 Revs. David Roberts & John I. Head
1829 Revs. Wilson Barcliff and V. Eskridge
This information came from the Church Records of Rainbow Methodist Church
located in Snow Hill, NC....Greene County

More Names From Rainbow Church History

First, I think it is interesting to see where the name "Rainbow" comes from.

"The first preacher chose well the site for a church, then a well wooded hillside, spring of sparkling water flowing at the foot of the hill and a stream running in rainbow circle nearby, called Rainbow Creek, possibly so named by the Indians because of its resemblance to the rainbow."

Samuel C. Hooker lived a short distance southeast of the site and, although he was not a member of the congregation, he rode all over the community and gathered the neighbors together while the preacher preached to them in his barn. Later, he did become a member of the church.

The Rev. William Ormand, the founder of Ormond's Chapel, in his diary speaks of hearing Rev. Mr. Whatcoat (later Bishop Whatcoat) hold services at Rainbow Church as early as 1796.

West of the Church a few miles away lived Rev. John Gibbons who son, Rev. Henry H. Gibbons and grandson Rev. Lemuel Gibbons were both honored members of the NC Conference. Rev. Henry H.Gibbons' first charge in 1850 was the Snow Hill circuit which included Rainbow Church. A great grandson of Henry Gibbons is Henry Rouark who is also a minister.

Also a few miles away lived William H. Cunninggim (a local preacher) and his eldest son, W.H. Cunninggim, Jr. and son-in-law, Rev. Levi Branson. Jesse A. Cunninggim, the second son was an itinerant preacher. Four grandsons of W.H. Cunninggim, Sr.....William L and Jesse Lee Cunninggim, and Allison L. and J. Marvin Ormond all were preachers. A great granddaughter of W.H. Cunninggim, Sr was the wife of Rev. T.M. Grant. She was also the great, great granddaughter of Samuel C. Hooker....no name was given for her.

1837...Rev. Daniel Culbreth was a pastor
1866...Rev. J.B. Martin
Paul Carraway, Joseph Wheeler, W.S. Chaffin, D.A. Watkins, James b. Baily
and T.P. Ricuard served the Circuit at some time.
1874...Rev. M.C. Thomas
1875...J.P. Simpson
1881...John N. Andrews was on the charge for 2 years
1883-4 J.W. Jenkins
1884-8 Peter L. Herman
1889 ...J. E. Thompson
1890 ...J.T. Abernathy 1890
1891...W.J. Gay
1892...N.E. Coltrane
1893-6...D.L. Earnhardt
1897-8...L.J. Holden...died in 1899
August 1899-Dec. 1899 ...H.M. North
1900...C.W. Robinson
1901-4 E. Pope
In 1903 the Snow Hill circuit was divided...the part called the Hookerton
Circuit included Rainbow, Ormand's Chapel and Hookerton Churches...Later a
church was built at Maury.
Nov. 1903-Dec. 1906 Rev. J.P. Pate
Dec. 1906-Dec. 1909 Rev. R.F.Taylor
Nov. 1909-Dec. 1911 Rev. M.D. Giles
Dec. 1911-Dec. 1913 Rev. W.E. Hocut
Dec. 1913-Dec. 1917 Rev. J.W. Bradley
Dec 1917-Nov. 1919 Rev. T. McGrant
Nov. 1919-Nov. 1921 Rev. R.H. Broom
Nov. 1921-Nov. 1925 Rev. R.R. Grant
Nov. 1925-Nov. 1926 E.N. Harrison
Nov. 1926-Nov 1929 Rev. R.J. Lough
Nov. 1929-Nov. 1932 Rev. J.C. Humble
Nov. 1932- Nov. 1936 Rev. J.G. Phillips
Nov. 1936- May 1941 Rev. J. Herbert Miller
May 1941-Nov. 1947 Rev. E.R. Shuller
Nov. 1947-Nov. 1949 Rev. C.E. Vale
Nov. 1949-Nov. 1952 Rev. C.T. Rogers
Nov. 1952-Nov. 1954 Rev. Ben Boone
Nov. 1954-June 1960 Rev.W.R. Crowder In 1890 one acre of land north of the Church grounds was donated by John W. Dixon, Jr. and wife, Mary F. Dixon to begin a cemetery.

Some of the ladies mentioned in the history during the 1920-30 time period were: Mrs. Harry L. Taylor, Mrs. Felix Moor, Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards, Mrs. J.R. Tyndall, Mrs. Charlie Albritton.

At one time there were portraits of Rev. William H. Cunninggim, Sr., Rev. Henry H. Gibbons, Rev. Jesse A. Cunninggim, and Rev. Nathan A. Hooker. There was also a bronze tablet in memory of Samuel C. Hooker. A fire on January 25th, 1937 destroyed the Church and the portraits therein.


Rev. Nathan Anderson Hooker
A sketch taken from the History of Rainbow Church, Greene county, NC (I am just taking the facts....dates, names, etc. from this document.) Born October 10, 1816 near Rainbow Church, Greene County...the son of James Wesley Hooker and Elizabeth House, grandson of Samuel C. Hooker and wife, a Miss Blanchard.

Joined the annual North Carolina conference at Mocksville in 1840 and was sent to the Mattamuskeet Circuit.

Married Catherine HAll Fulford of Carteret County. Was sent in 1861 as a missionary to a "colored" church in New Bern. It is said he commanded the esteem and respect of his charge and served them faithfully until he was sent away by Union authorities. He and his family moved to Kinston...along with a number of women and children...all refugees in his charge.

The capture of New Bern left him without a Church. His mother and his stepmother had died and his father and his sister Sallie and his Aunt Mary (Pollie) Hooker Lane, a widow lived together on a farm in the Rainbow section. He and his wife lived with this extended family. He took charge of a postoffice in Hookerton, took up shoemaking. After the war and reconstruction, he entered circuit work again.

He and his wife had 3 sons...all who died young, and four daughters. Mary Elizabeth attended Greensboro College, taught school and never married. Sue never married. Fannie married Ervin Whitehurst & Julia married Haywood McKinnie.

Rev. William Henry Cunninggim

The name Cunninggim was originally Cunningham and was Scottish. The NC branch consisted of Jesse Cunninggim, the father of William Henry Cunninggim and they lived in the extreme southern part of Green County near Wheat Swamp, where with his wife Polly Moore Cunninggim reared a family of 2 sons and 4 daughters.

William Henry was born August 5th, 1804. He married Edith Gibbons Edwards
July 28th, 1825. They established their home 2 miles southwest of Rainbow Church. to this union were born:
Elizabeth Hardy...married Blaney Pridgen
William Henry, Jr. married Louisa Hardy
Mary Cooper married William B. Hooker
Marinda Gibbons married 1st Charles Hill
2nd Josiah Aldridge
Jesse Anderson married Lucy Armfield
John Wesley married Mary Jane Bryan
Edith Ann Sarah married Rev. Levi Branson
Nancy Jane married John J. Ormond
Theodosia Margaret married Frederick G. Griffin
Catherine Noble married Nathaniel S. Richardson
Louisa Frances died in infancy
Two sons became ministers...William Henry, Jr...became a local minister but Jesse Anderson chose the itinerancy. Two gransons were preachers...Rev. William L. Cunninggim and Rev. Allison L. Ormond.

Two other grandsons are members of the NC Conference...Jesse L. CUnninggim, was President of Scarrett College and Rev. J. Marvin Ormond was an instructor at Duke. Four granddaughters and one great granddaughter "have blessed parsonage homes"..Addie Cunninggim McCullen, Lillian Branson Simmons, Fannie Cunninggim Bailey and Marie Hooker Grant in the NC Conference and Daisy Branson MArshman in the North Georgia Conference.

His first wife died May 12, 1865.
He married Mrs. Margaret McGowan Williams later.
He died on Sept 22n, 1874
(This concludes any genealogical material from the History Of Rainbow Church.)