St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and Cemetery

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church was established in the Hillgirt community of Henderson County as an Episcopal mission church.
William Washington Lyda transferred two acres from “the corner of his farm to the Episcopal Diocese” in March 1911, according to descendant Phillip M. Heavner in an article published in the Henderson County Genealogical Society’s journal.
The church was located off Brookside Camp Road. Services at the church were discontinued during World War II. The church building burned about 1967.
The mission church was served by priests from Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher, traveling in the early years by “horse and buggy or by bicycle or afoot.”
From photographs, it appears that the church was small and Heavner’s attendance records show anywhere from 18 to 43 members.
The cemetery is still occasionally used for burials and is in immaculate condition.
The most common surnames of persons with grave sites in the cemetery are Dunlap, Lyda, Odom, McKinney, Pruitt and Fletcher.
The grave site of one Henderson County resident who died in World War II is located within the cemetery.
Samuel Wilson McKinney served with the Army’s Co. C, 236th Engineer Battalion, as a Tech 5. He was killed in action June 1, 1944, on the Burma Road during the battle for Myitkyina, Burma, in the Himalayan Mountains. He was born in Buncombe County, the son of William Edney McKinney and Lue Ellar Davis. He lived in Buncombe County until about 1940. He was living in Henderson County and working as a carpenter at the time of his enlistment in 1942.
In his article, Heavner mentions a Confederate marker for Walter D. Salisbury (Solesby). It is not known why this marker would be located within this cemetery. Salisbury (Solesby) enlisted in the 25th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. A, Edney’s Greys, on 5-15-1861. He died 11-29-1861 at Grahamville, S.C. The cause of death was not reported, but it was probably of disease. He died 50 years before the church or cemetery was established. It is extremely doubtful that his actual grave site is located within this cemetery.