Some sources say the original campground at Tucker's Grove was built by freed slaves. There is evidence in historical records that the location was used as a campground for whites before it became an African-American campground.
Today, all people--regardless of race or ethnicity--are welcome at Tucker's Grove. Seven acres of land at what is now the intersection of NC73 with Beth Haven Church Road (coming from the other direction, the road is called Brevard Place Road) constitute Tucker's Grove. William C. Tucker purchased the land in 1878, we are told.
The original arbor made of heavy timber constructed in tongue and groove with a wooden roof was later replaced with a tin roof structure. Many of the cabins, known as 'tents,' burned in a fire during the night in 1976. They were rebuilt.
Now the 'tents' have electricity and while they may look rough outside, inside they are clean and comfortable.
Of course, those funeral home fans are a must on hot August nights at the arbor. The preaching is much more animated than some visiting Caucasians might be accustomed to hearing, but the musical offerings are well worth sitting through the heat and humidity. Besides, there's plenty of cold drinks to go with the food at the concessions and vendors also have snow cones to help you keep cool.
Except for a year in the early 1950s when it wasn't held because of fears of a polio epidemic, the camp meeting has been held there every year in August since the 1870s. A monument bears a plaque that says it was established in 1874.
Dr. Minuette Floyd, Associate Professor of Art Education at McMaster College at the University of South Carolina in Columbia says there are several predominantly African-American camp meetings in North & South Carolina. The St. Paul's and Shady Grove camp meetings in Dorchester County, SC, date back to about the same time that Tucker's Grove got started. Dr. Floyd is in the process of compiling a book of information about the camp meetings and photographs of them. She allowed us to use some of her photos for this article.
Tucker's Grove got underway Friday evening with a Blessing of the Ground. The annual gathering gets into full swing this weekend and will continue through Sunday, August 24th.
The schedule includes:
7:30 PM Singing
6:30 PM YOUTH SUNDAY with Rev. Christopher Campbell
Bible Study will be held at 6 PM each evening during the week. Services include:
7:15 PM Brevard's Chapel night (Rev. Alesander McCorkle)
Speaker: Rev. Betty Brown, St. Paul's & Galilee United Methodist Churches, Kings Mtn.
7:15 PM Ebenezer UMC night (Rev. Friday Okocha)
Speaker: Rev. Vance Hunt, New Creation Baptist Church, Charlotte
7:15 PM Rock Hill UMC night (Rev. Shirley Canty)
Speaker: Rev. Albert Mills, Mt. Pleasant UMC, Stanley and Epworth UMC, Gastonia
Thursday, August 21st
7:15 PM Gold Hill Baptist Church night (Bishop Franklin Lowery)
Speaker: Rev. Byron McAlwan, Macedonia Baptist Church, Lucia
7:15 PM St. James UMC night (Rev. Louise Learson)
Speaker: Rev. Lowrance S. Norris, Genesis 1 Ministries, Charlotte
7:15 PM Tuckers Grover UMC night (Rev. Albert Perkins)
Speaker: Rev. Jerome Lee, Jr., St. James Baptist Church, Greensboro
11 AM Morning Worship with Rev. W.R.Derr, Calvary Baptist Church Yale, Virginia
3 PM Closing Worship with Rev. Jasper Hemphill, Mission AME Church, Morganton