The Rowan Baptist Association was organized in 1877 in a hospital at Salisbury, which was afterward purchased by the Baptists there and was organized as the Dixonville Baptist Church. Revs. Harry Cowan, Z. Horton and Cumbe Ellis were the ministers present in the organization. Rev. Harry Cowan was the first Moderator. There have presided over this body since: Revs. John Washington, Z. Horton, Gove Crowell, George Bowles, J. O. Crosby, P. S. Lewis, C. C. Somerville, C. L. Davis and G. W. Johnson.
There were three churches in the organization, and except the Dixonville, in the hospital as stated, the others worshiped under brush arbors. At the Association in Charlotte in 1908, there were sixty-five churches, with a membership of twelve thousand, and church edifices worth two hundred thousand dollars. Altogether the best edifices among the Baptists of North Carolina were to be found in the bounds of the Rowan Association. This was said as well of the leaders.
While there were many able preachers in other associations, there were more at that period in the Rowan than in any other. The school facilities were not equal by far; they had not the secondary schools as the others. At a time the Rowan Normal School was conducted by Dr. C. C. Somerville in Charlotte. While the Association made annual contributions to it, it was never adopted as the property of the Association.
When Dr. Somerville was called to Portsmouth the Salisbury people took the school there and conducted it, changing the name of it to the Piedmont Institute. The Association was liberal in its contributions to mission work and ministerial education.
It was from this Association the strongest support came to the State Convention, especially in the early years of its history.
Reverend Henry Cowan 1866-1868
Reverend Z. Haughton 1869-1870
Reverend John Washington 1870-1875
Reverend Grover Crowell 1875-1879
Reverend George Brown 1879-1880
Reverend J. O. Crosby 1880-1883
Dr. P. S. Lewis 1883-1886
Dr. C. C. Sommerville 1886-1896
Dr. C. L. Davis 1896-1900
Dr. C. W. Johnson 1900-1912
Dr. G. O. Bullock 1912-1918
Dr. J. T. Hairston 1918-1956
Dr. David R. Hedgley 1956-1961
Dr. A. H. McDaniel 1961-1965
Dr. W. M. Wyatt 1965-1968
Reverend A. D. Logan 1969-1971
Dr. C. R. Trotter 1971-1975
Dr. J. C. Harris 1975-1980
Dr. E. L. Kirby 1980-1984
Dr. C. W. Hay 1984-1988
Dr. J. Ray Butler 1988-1992
Dr. G. K. Moss 1992-1996
Reverend F. O. Bass, Jr. 1996-2000
Dr. P. A. Lowe, Jr. 2000-2004
Dr. C. L. Phelps 2004-2007
Johnny R. Freeman