Letter: Rowan’s first church organs

Published 3:10 pm Friday, August 10, 2018

I am writing with regard to the article in the June 21 Salisbury Post about St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which was built in 1828. The article states it was the first church in the area to have an organ. Area?

According to the Carolina Watchman, dated Aug. 24, 1934, Organ Lutheran Church began in 1774 and was finished in 1794. In James Brawley’s book, “The Rowan Story,” page 31, he states that John Stirewalt built the first organ by hand in North Carolina, and perhaps America. As a result, the church changed its name from Zion to Organ Lutheran Church. It is on the National Register. We had a pipe from this organ at the home where I grew up. My brother, Luther, donated it to the Rowan Museum. John Stirewalt was my great, great, great, great grandfather.

Jethro Rumple, in “A History of Rowan County, North Carolina,” page 441, states that Rev. Dr. Francis Lister Hawks was the architect of St. Luke’s. He is a grandson of John Hawks, the architect of Tryon Palace in New Bern. My wife’s mother was a Hawks who we believe is a descendant of the aforementioned Hawks.

— Charles L. Sowers