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Poplar Tent Academy

Poplar Tent, along with other early churches in Cabarrus, pioneered in education.  The first minister who served the Poplar Tent community, Rev. Hezekiah James Balch, conducted a school in his home.  After his death in 1776 his widow continued the classes, assisted by George Marlin McWhorter, a former pupil of the Reverend Mr. Balch.


An early historian of Poplar Tent wrote:  "It is creditable to Poplar Tent that, under all circumstances whether prosperous or adverse, her people have made great effort to sustain and keep a classical school in their midst; and hence a large portion of time they have been occupied in dispersing useful enlightened instruction through her unpretentious academy."


Harris' Historical Sketch of Poplar Tent states:  "The Rev. Robert Archibald conducted a classical school at Poplar Tent, followed by Dr. John Robinson who, for many years made the old Log School House famed as a seat of learning."  The Reverend Mr. Archibald was a graduate of Nassau Hall (Princeton) and served as pastor and teacher in 1778.  He was followed by Samuel Harris, another grduate of Nassau Hall and a member of Poplar Tent Church, who instructed students from 1784-1785.  The Reverend Alexander Caldwell also taught while he was pastor.


Reverend John Robinson taught school thirty-six years while serving as pastor of the church.  His goal was "to equip minds of mold moral elements for the good of the community."  Poplar Tent Academy was incorporated in 1810.  Among the former pupils of The Reverend Mr. Robinson were seven ministers, three governors, four congressmen, several judges and fifteen doctors according to an article appearing in the March 26, 1927 copy of The Uplift.  The governors referred to were Governor Owens of North Carolina and Governor Israel Pickens and Governor John Murphy of Alabama.


Dr. Charles Caldwell, a physician, was also a teacher in this log cabin academy as was Thomas Allison, an excellent mathematician, and Daniel Coleman, who later became Assistant Postmaster General and Solicitor General for the State.  Harris lists the following also serving as teachers:  Jefferson Conley, Rev. Addi E. Thom, William H. Stanley, and William C. Weddington.  A former tutor at Chapel Hill and president of Wake Forest College was at on time head master at Poplar Tent.  Stephen Frontis was his successor and B. W. Malone and James H. Morrison followed as principal.