History of Altan Presbyterian Church
In January of 1886 Horatio Gates Hotchkiss, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Eva moved from Winsor, New York to what is now the Altan Community. Hotchkiss purchased a farm from Darling Belk because of a vein of gold bearing quartz found there. The mine was immediately put into operation, mine buildings and a saw mill were constructed. Hotchkiss named the mine “Altan” which means “a place of gold.” The name was painted in large letters around the top of the smoke stack for the sawmill. Altan appears as the name of the community on county maps of 1896.
Altan Academy was organized in 1888 by Eva Hotchkiss. The school first met in a small building owned by her father’s mine. The school quickly grew in number of students and in its reputation for quality education. In the fall of 1889, the new Altan Academy opened on what is now the Church property. The financial support for the school was provided by the Board of Home Missions of the Northern Presbyterian Church. Land had been purchased and a large school building had been built with much of the funds provided by “one of the New York ladies who had given liberally.” In connection with the school, a Christian Endeavor Society was formed. There is every indication that the women of the society were instrumental in the ongoing work of the school and the formation of the church. In these early years there was not a clear distinction between church and school.
Even among faithful “church people” old feelings sometimes die hard. The Southern Presbyterian Church became concerned with the activity of the Northern Church in what was considered to be Southern Church territory. After much discussion, the Northern Church withdrew from the area. This appears to have taken place in 1891 or 1892.
Mecklenburg Presbytery send the Reverend William Black to Altan to preach to the people and bring the church into active membership in the Presbytery. At a meeting of Mecklenburg Presbytery at the Second Presbyterian Church in Shelby, N.C. Reverend William Black presented the petition of Altan Presbyterian Church establishing its organization as of the 19th day of July, 1893 and reporting that its sixteen members had “covenanted and promised to walk together as an organized church on the principles of the faith and order of the Presbyterian Church.”
The school grew, the church grew, new members came to the community and over time members moved away – perhaps taking thoughts of Altan’s history with them.
The history of the church continues. This church was built on faith – faith that God will provide. At the beginning a building and school supplies to begin God’s work in this place came from a very unexpected source – from a small group of women in upstate New York.
Altan Church began its journey as people of faith reaching out to the community. Today our role in the community has not changed. We continue to reach out, to be a part of people’s lives. The challenge to us today is to continue in that role – to continue to contribute to the community – so share the Gospel – the Good News – with the world and with our neighbors.
Altan Presbyterian Church has served God by serving the community since 1893. Many of the members today have grandparents or great grandparents who were a part of the founding of the Church.
In the early days of the church, the building served as Altan Academy during the week and as a church on Sunday. The original church building burned December 22, 1929. By August 31, 1930, in the midst of the great depression, our present building was complete and the congregation celebrated its first worship service in the new brick building.
The report presented to Presbytery on July 19, 1893 states that the “members covenant and promise to walk together as an organized church on the principles of the faith and order of the Presbyterian Church. The members today continue to build on the foundation set by those who came before as we reach out to share the Good News of God’s redeeming love.
As we welcome new members, we move together to write the history of Altan Presbyterian Church for future generations.