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Levi Jordan
Plantation

I heard it through the Grapevine: Oral Tradition in a Rural African American Community in Brazoria, Texas

by Cheryl Wright

CHURCH HISTORIES AND REPLICATED CORNERSTONE INSCRIPTIONS

These histories were provided by the members of the most prominent African-American churches in the part of Brazoria County immediately surrounding the Jordan, Mims and Stratton plantations. They are, of course, written records, but the history of local churches were an integral part of the oral histories that Cheryl gathered, and so they are included here.

The churches represented below include:

Grace Methodist Church
Jerusalem Baptist Church
Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church
Magnolia Baptist Church
St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church
Zion Temple A.M.E. Church

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Please let us know!

GRACE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH HISTORY

"In 1870, a White minister representing the Methodist Episcopal church came to Brazoria County to work among the Negroes and to establish churches. This minister built his first small church in Brazoria on a lot given by the Perkin family. In 1871, this same minister came to the Jordan Plantation and organized the Grace Mission, and named it Grace Methodist Episcopal Church.

In 1871, the White minister brought his family south and moved in the home of Claiborne Holmes, one of the plantation ministers. In connection with the mission organization and its duties, the minister organized a night school for Negroes. He and his wife taught the classes both to adults and children.

The conference in the fall of 1875 moved the minister to Breen Hill, and the conference assigned the first Negro minister to Grace Church in the person of Reverend Logan Austin, an ex-soldier who had fought in the Union Army. In 1876, most of the people from the Jordan Plantation moved to the Mims Plantation where a colored school had been organized. The Trustees were contacted and allowed the members of the Grace Methodist Church to have church services in the school building. Services were held in the school quite successfully until early in 1884.

In 1884, Reverend Martin Mack secured the school for services for the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the members of Grace were requested to find a new location. Having no definite place to worship, the membership became scattered. Mrs. Francis Green and Mrs. George Holmes, with tears in their eyes stated their plight to Reverend S.H. McNeal. The church again took on new life and during that year fourteen young people joined the Church. Grace Church occupied this log house until 1886.

In 1886, three acres of land were purchased in the Old Holland Sherman track, and Mr. I.H. Holmes, Sr., grandfather to Reverend McNeal built the first Grace Methodist church. During that period, the Presiding Elders were white."

"Today, we feel proud that Grace Methodist Church, after many years of struggling still goes forward, and by the help of God we shall continue to use every channel possible to make this church an institution for the developing of Christian ideas and Principles." (closing paragraph of the written church history)

GRACE METHODIST CHURCH CORNERSTONE
Rebuilt 1955, Louis Green-Pastor

Trustees
T. Mack
L. Holmes
S. Bivins
S. Alston
S. Lemmons
I. Holmes
D. Jones
S. Smith
R. Bivins

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JERUSALEM BAPTIST CHURCH HISTORY

"The church was organized in 1866, under the leadership of Rev. David Blair. They named the church ‘Free Missionary Baptist Church.’ The few members held services under a tent on Mr. Shelton Helm’s property for some time. One morning somebody woke up with a purpose in mind. The men of the church got together and agreed on purchasing some land from an old settler of Brazoria County. The men left riding horseback, even swimming some rivers before getting to the man to talk things over. But while the men were in transit doing business, the women were left at the tent praying in one accord that God would open doors, soften hearts, speak through the spokesman.

After the land was purchased for the first church, later they came together and built the first frame church, with the pulpit on one end and choir stand on the other end. From 1866 to 1963 there were 21 pastors during that length of time."

"We have had some good days, we’ve had some hills to climb, we’ve had some dreary days and some sleepless nights. But when I look around and just think things over, all of our good days outweigh our bad days. I or we won’t complain." (closing paragraph of the written church history)

JERUSALEM BAPTIST CHURCH CORNERSTONE
Organized 1866, Rebuilt 1964

Rev. David Blair - Pastor

Deacons and Trustees - Deceased* and Present
Ben Bonner*
John Young*
Elijah Simmons, Sr.*
Thomas Paige*
David Simmons, Sr. *
Jonnie Marshall*
George W. Marshall
Chester G. Mack
Richard Helm
Thomas Hendricks
Albert Dickson
Rayfield Bell

Edward Simmons, Sr. - Trustee
Rev. E.S. Fields - Pastor
Deacon Richard Helm - Clerk

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MACEDONIA MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH HISTORY

"In the year 1880, deacon Isaac Fanuiel, Sr., sister Susan Fanuiel, and sister Martha Fanuiel set aside an acre of land for a church. The first church was built by deacon Isaac Fanuiel, Sr. and he named it Macedonia Baptist church. The first baby born was Matthew Fanuiel, nicknamed Donia. Friends wanted to come, so deacon Isaac was delighted but said they had to come in peace. Five deacons were named: they were Isaac Fanuiel, Sr., David Simmons, Tony Lee, Sr., A.B. Brown, and Andrew Ward. Many of their families and others joined. Some of the others from the early church were: Sophie Holmes, Phoebe Pettiway, Robert and Flora Wright, Lizzie Caldwell, Cecil and Sylvia Simmons, Lucrecy Higgins, Johnson and Minerva Higgins, Mary Higgins Watson, Katy Brown, Emilou Cary, Rhoda Higgins, John L. Higgins, Sr., John L. Higgins, Jr., Ada, Sally, and Isabella Young, Minnie Bonner , Lucinda Fanuiel, and others. The first pastor was Reverend David Young. His Christian leadership and gospel preaching added many members to the church.

Some of the early pastors were: Reverend David Young, W.H. Snow, Joe Wren, Lee Blackmon Campbell, Otie Fields, Jr., and Reverend Nickerson."

MACEDONIA MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH CORNERSTONE

Rebuilt 1945, Organized 1803

Deacons in 1945
A.B. Brown
C. Woodard
C. Higgins
D. Hendricks
Rev. G.L. Steward, Pastor
Mr. B.C. Woodard, Secretary

Deacons in 1893
I. Fanuiel
T. Lee
A. Ward
D. Simmons
A.B. Brown
Rev. D. Young, Paston
A. J. Fanuiel, Secretary

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MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH HISTORY

"Old is certainly the case, not in terms of the members, but in the age of the organization itself. In 1889, the church was begun in a school building on Stanger’s Plantation under the leadership of the Rev. John Sidney. The church records from that time are so carefully preserved that not only are Rubin Toombs, Moscow Holmes, Jack Campbell and Sam Norris remembered as deacons, but the name Henrietta Williams is listed as the first secretary.

Named for a Magnolia tree located near the original building, members decided to acquire their own property and in 1910 purchased the present site and erected a simple frame building" (Formet, 1985).

MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH CORNERSTONE
Organized 1889
Rev. J. Sidney, Pastor

Deacons
Moscow Holmes
G.W. Williams
T. Lewis
Reuben Toombs

Rebuilt Oct.2, 1979
E.L. Barker

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ST. PAUL MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH HISTORY

"The St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church was organized in 1867 by the Reverend Israel Campbell. The first pastor was the Rev. Dennis Gray. The Reverend Dave Young pastored the church for a number of years. There arose a storm of confusion that caused the church to split in 1893. After that, the Rev. W.H. Benson was called as pastor and pastored for two years. Many souls were brought to Christ through these ministers.

In 1896, the Rev. K.C. Willis was called as pastor. During his pastorage many souls were brought to Christ. He would tell the people to get them some land of their own, for there would come a time when they wouldn’t have a place to stay. He would tell the people to go to church every Sunday and do mission work. Every year the people would bring their tax money to him to pay their taxes in Angleton.

He didn’t get much money as the ministers today, but he preached and pastored just the same, those 36 years and eight months he was here.

The first deacons were Ben Ward, Thorton Spiller, July Moore, Caesar Simmons, Dave Simmons, Tony Lee, and I.S. Fanuiel. After the split more deacons were added: They were C.R. Ward, Sandy Young, King Capati, Ben Lee, Turner Spiller, and Don Allen.

ST. PAUL MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH CORNERSTONE
organized 1867, rebuilt 1966
Rev. I. Campbell

Deacons
F. Simmons
R.C. Woodard
J.L. Wright.
D. Ward
R.V. Lemons
S. Richards
T.J. Wright-deceased
B. Lee-decease
A. Mack-deceased

Trustees
T.H. Higgins
L.C. Wright
W. Woodard, Jr.
C. Spiller

rebuilt 1966 by Rev. L.J. Harvey
Secretary, Sis. D.J. Hendricks
Pastor, Rev. G. W. Singleton, Jr.

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ZION TEMPLE A.M.E. CHURCH HISTORY

"The property was purchased in the year of 1884 from H.H. Masterson for the sum of $10.00 per acre, under the leadership of Rev. Charles Corner, Pastor, and Rev. Frank Green, Presiding Elder.

The first church was built by Bro. John Mack. This church was named Independent by a wonderful woman, Sis. Mary Ann O’Neal. The church continued to grow. The church was renovated under the leadership of Rev. R.R. Morrison and his loyal members. The church name was changed from Independent Church to Little Zion Church. The trustees at the time were Bros. Sam Williams, Martin Mack, and Lewis Jammer. After many years the building again was in need of renovation. It was renovated under the pastorage of Rev. J.J. Hardeman. At this time the name was changed to Zion Temple. The officers at that time were Bro. Morgan Brooks and Bro. Sam Mack."

"We can but say, what trouble have we seen, what conflict have we passed, fighting within and fear without, since we assembled last." (closing paragraph in the written church history)

ZION TEMPLE A.M.E. CHURCH CORNERSTONE

organized 1884, rebuilt 1950

Stewards and Trustees
A. Mack
W. Jammer
P.E. Johnson
R. Williams
D. Ross.
M. Johnson
L. Williams
E. Austin
L. Jammer
J. Jammer
H. Johnson
L.E. Williams
G. Helm

T. Johnson
C.W. Johnson
A. Edwards
L.L. Thompson
B. Ross, Sr.
E. Brooks
G. Williams
M. Thompson
A. Johnson
Ida Jammer
N. Thompson
H. Helm
P.B. Brown

Bishops
J. Gomes
P.E., J.B. Brown
Sec, M. Williams
P. Rev. F. D. Richardson

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