First African American Church in Texas Awarded a State Historical Marker
In the 1860s, the Methodist Episcopal Bishop was notified that another African Methodist Church was needed in Galveston for people who resided west of 25th Street. In 1870, Peter Burns, Solomon Riley and William Davis, trustees for the congregation that had been meeting in private homes, purchased the land at 1310 29th Street. Church buildings at the site had been destroyed by hurricanes in 1894 and 1900. The present structure was built in 1923 after the former building weakened. In 1971 it became the first African American church in Texas to be awarded a state historical marker.
One of over 200 historical markers on the island, this marker is located at Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“One of oldest churches in Galveston. Congregation was organized before 1870, when former Galvestonian Henry H. Brower sold this church site to the Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal Church. Purchase was made through Brower’s agent, Nahor B. Yard.”
“Acting for the church were trustees Peter Burns, William Davis, and Solomon Reily. The churchmen of 1870 represented a hopeful ethnic group. With faith in their God and with modest funds, Shiloh members paid off $500 in debts on their property by 1877. An 1894 hurricane destroyed house that was considered the original church. Led by the Rev. Warren, members erected a small new frame building. However, in the visitation of the great Galveston storm of 1900, this was destroyed. Again the members struggled and, under the Rev. D. Reese, built another sanctuary, which served until razed in 1922. Present $36,000 structure was erected in 1923.”
“Nine ministers have begun sacred labors in this church. Shiloh’s leadership at start of its second century includes the Rt. Rev. O. L. Sherman, presiding bishop; Dr. Leland W. Jenkins, presiding elder; the Rev. David F. Harris, pastor. Incise in base: In Honor of Mrs. Hortense Smith; presented by son, Thomas J. Green”