About a half mile south of this building there is a small stream flowing in a southwesterly direction toward the Catawba River into which it empties. The name of this stream is Paw Creek, so named no doubt by the Indians, from the large number of Papaw trees growing upon its banks. From this Papaw Creek the neighborhood took its name. When our forefathers received authority from Concord Presbytery to organize themselves into a Presbyterian Church it was natural that they should desire this same name-Paw Creek. The name is, therefore, historic and should always apply to this church, just as in other communities churches and other institutions carry the names befitting local background. In the pastorate of the Rev. S. C. Pharr, D.D., on December 8, 1865, the name was changed by vote of the congregation from Paw Creek to Caldwell in memory of the Rev. Samuel C. Caldwell, first pastor of the church. It was done by a majority of the congregation present. It is not stated that Presbytery was asked to make the change. But the name Caldwell uniformly appears in the sessional records and no criticism made by the Presbytery; so we suppose the name was changed according to law. The name, however, was a misfit and was changed back to Paw Creek at the fall meeting of Mecklenburg Presbytery in 1882.
The original territory of Paw Creek extended from the Catawba River on the west to Chadwick on the east. The land on which the Chadwick Mill is located was once owned by an elder of Paw Creek. The congregation was bounded on the north by Hope-well and on the south by Steele Creek. Within this territory or on its borders are many other churches today, all growing and active in the Kingdom's work. To many of these churches, Paw Creek has given freely and liberally of her membership. The first of these to receive of Paw Creek's following was Moore's Chapel Methodist Episcopal organized in 1885. Then followed Mulberry Presbyterian to the south and Pleasant Grove M. E. to the north in 1888. Both of these received members from Paw Creek. Cook's Memorial Presbyterian was organized in 1891 almost, if not wholly, out of her membership. Other Presbyterian churches drawing heavily upon this church for members were McGee, 1913; and Thomasboro, 1921. In addition, she gave of her colored membership in the organization of Woodland to the membership in the Morning Star colored church. Then, too, many of her members have moved to other places and have naturally taken their church membership with them.
As early as 1807 there was a desire on the part of the people of Paw Creek to erect their own place of worship. A petition was sent to Presbytery and in 1808 the Rev. Samuel C. Caldwell, pastor of Sugaw Creek Church, began preaching to this neighborhood. One hundred and fifty years ago our forefathers were worshipping God just north of this building on the site of the church, which gave place to this, in what was known as a "Stand" or "Brush Arbor" located in an old field.
The original charter members of the church are unknown. The minutes of Concord Presbytery state that "the petition of a certain number of people living between Hopewell and Steele Creek churches desiring to be constituted and recognized as a separate congregation was again taken under consideration. It was resolved and known by the name of Paw Creek Church."
In 1809 the people erected their first church building. It was a small structure built of logs, and we suppose the cracks were daubed with mud. This building served the people as their place of worship until 1824. It was built on land belonging to Mr. Joseph Todd. In 1816, Mr. Todd deeded to the church a certain tract of land, containing three acres, being a part of Joseph Todd's homeplace.
The log building which had been used by the congregation from the organization of the church was replaced by a large frame structure in the ministry of the Rev. John Williamson. A new house of worship was finished and dedicated to the worship of Almighty God by the Rev. John Williamson in the autumn of 1826. There was a gallery in the west end of the church for the accommodation of the Negro population. The stairway leading to the gallery was entered from the outside of the building.
Originally the pews, large, square, high-backed affairs, were rented to the members of the congregation. The one to the left of the pulpit was reserved for the minister's family and was labeled "Parson's Pew." A higher rental value was placed on the front and rear pews, they being appraised at $5.50 each, while those intervening were held at $4.50 each. South of this church was the old session house, and between was a "brush arbor" used by the congregation on communion days as late as 1880. At the August communions there were usually about a thousand people present and the arbor was used for the purpose of accommodating this large audience.
In the summer of 1881, known as the dry year, the congregation undertook the erection of a third house of worship. But the work was not completed that summer and the walls were injured to such an extent by the cold of the following winter that they had to be torn down. By the spring of 1882 the present sanctuary was completed.