The Living History Center at Union Baptist Church seeks to establish a network among descendants of historic African American communities in Marion and surrounding counties. The purpose of the network is to discover, develop, and tell the histories of these communities while preserving and maintaining the sites and structures that make these places visible and relevant. African Americans founded “freedom colonies” across Texas from 1866-1930. They included places like Mount Carmel, Judea, Corinth, Bethlehem, Union and New Zion in Marion County.
Our goal is to highlight the contributions of African Americans to the fabric and culture of the community. We want to include their roles in establishing surrounding freedom colonies, their persistence in fighting for enfranchisement, resisting racial violence, and building independent communities through churches. Deliverable outcomes of this project will be: 1) heritage conservation capacity building among diverse elders and youth, 2) public education, 3) and immersion enrichment of cultural landscapes showcasing freedom colony heritage.
Tyler Chapel was located in the Lodi area off Willie Reed Road near the Kitchens Creek Crossing. It was constructed around 1900 and was active until the 20’s or 30’s. John Tyler, a circuit preacher, built and maintained it. If you are any family member know of this church or want to help with its discovery, please call (903) 665-2900 to arrange an appointment.
What church is this?
Does it have a congregation or a cemetery?
What was its role in community solidarity?
Does it have a cemetery?
The breeze from the pine and hardwood blew cold over the final resting places of the original members at the “Old Canaan Baptist Church” cemetery, founded in 1870. The “Old Canaan Cemetery” is located deep in the woods off of Highway 43 South, about 1.5 miles past Interstate 20, where the original Rosenwald school, Canaan Elementary, once stood. When the school was burned by arsonists and the church was threatened, it was moved by the congregation to its current location, 419 Canaan Church Road. The New Canaan Cemetery, is nearby.
Students and professors of archaeology and anthropology from Texas Tech University and Stephen F. Austin University along with interested individuals circle in prayer around one of the broken grave markers at “Old Canaan Cemetery.” They came to explore and document the cemetery for the Texas Historical Commission.
Victory Tours of Texarkana, USA, visited Jefferson on Friday, March 6. Carl Teel and his wife Missy own the new company and have started bringing groups to Jefferson on the first Friday of each month. “We specialize in small group custom tours. As we like to say it, we are friends connecting with new friends,” said Missy Teel about her new business.
The group was provided a personalized interpretive tour of historic Union Baptist Church by Collins Academy staff. Sara Griffin, Gary Endsley, and Mike Gannon gave an in-depth glimpse of the 1883 structure and its impressive story fortitude, persistence, and strength in unfavorable times. The group was then off to other venues in Jefferson.
Teel’s Victory Tours can be reached via http://teeltours.com or by phone at (903) 556-0244.
If your local group would like a personalized tour of the Church, please contact Collins Academy at (903) 665-2900. These tours are free. We do take donations to help with our maintenance costs. Please click here – DONATE
The Texas Historical Commission has a new webpage that they have been promoting on social media during this time of #StayHomeTexas. It’s called , a collection of our online resources for the public and their families to utilize while kids are out of school. Please check this out for study activities.
Many of you participate in public outreach and education activities with your communities, and this may be useful to some of your friends and family as well.