Rest Baptist Church is situated on the corner of 9th Street and Avenue B
in Markham, Texas. The townsite of Markham is in part of the Daniel
Etherton and Richard Graves Leagues. The leagues were granted to
Etherton and Graves by the Republic of Texas on July 10, 1845.
one reason or another, leagues had a tendency to change owners and even
become divided. It is stated that Abel Pierce used the area of Markham
for ranching and cattle grazing; that the Moore-Cortez Canal Company
purchased the land for rice farming; that the Markham Town Company was
formed and purchased some 344.6 acres from the canal company; and that
the New York-Texas-Mexico, Southern Pacific Railway System built their
rail lines through the area on some 22.2 acres of land given to the rail
company by the Markham Town Company.
the different companies in the area, laborers were needed. They were
needed on the cattle ranch and to work on the canal, in the rice fields,
and on the construction of the rail lines. There was also a need for
cooks to prepare meals for the work crews. One such person, Celia
Rainey, a cook for the rice field and canal company, was one of the
founders of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church.
along with other African-Americans, came from far and near, and they
lived in the northeast section of “Tent City”. When the village of
Markham began, there were no houses, city blocks, town lots, or streets;
therefore, the village was called “Tent City”. Eventually, the canal
company began to build houses in that section of the village for
African-Americans. All of the buildings were painted red. The section
came to be called “Red Town”.
Markham Town Company, formed in June 1903, received permission and laid
out the town plat with streets, lots, and blocks. Houses in Blocks 8
through 15 and 30 through 33 were comprised of African-Americans in
persons in “Red Town” were desirous of a place to worship and praise
God. They had been accustomed to attending church services at various
homes. According to the records of the late Deacon Johnson Brown, Sr.,
related to him by Sarah Phillips Green, another one of the church
founders, the church was officially organized November 15, 1903. The
organization took place in the home of Deacon Isaac “Ike” and Nancy
Crawford. Nancy was Ike’s second wife after his first wife, Emma,
Crawfords, along with Napoleon Burns, Celia Rainey, Silas P. and Sarah
Phillips, Joe Burns, Mose Jackson, Henry Reddicks, Nathan Green, and the
Rev. Andrew Lee of Bay City met for the purpose of organizing a church
in the area.
name Pilgrim Rest was chosen to coincide with the people, “Pilgrims”
traveling in a barren land. Knowing and believing that an almighty God
had watched over and kept them; they wanted a place consecrated, where
they could assemble and give reverence and honor. They wanted a place to
assemble, to bring their families, and to hear and teach spiritual
documents to strengthen their faith and offer peace to all who would
met in different homes and empty houses, in 1909, a building was
constructed on lot 5, block 33. The lot belonged to Geo. Griffin. This
was really the first building for the congregation. The hurricane of
1909 destroyed this building, and soon afterwards, another frame
building was constructed.
1908, Louella Davis purchased lot 2 in block 33. In 1915, she still
owned the property and supposedly sold it to Pilgrim Rest Church
according to the files of the Southwest Land Title Company of Bay City.
The church owns the property to this day, but a deed was never recorded.
1911 to 1918, the congregation met in a building on lot 1, block 33. The
Markham Town Company owned the property.
1919, Mahala Paige purchased lot 12 in block 14. In 1918, she purchased
lot 1, in block 33, but continued to reside at lot 12, block 14. On
November 10, 1922, Paige sold lot 1, block 33 to Pilgrim Rest Baptist
Church for the sum of $35. The deed was filed in the County Deed Records
of Matagorda County, January 26, 1923.
building on this lot faced Avenue B and was some 30 by 40 feet in
measurements. It had three front doors for the entrance to an ante-room;
two single doors opposite; one on the north side and the other on the
south side. On the west side facing Avenue B were double doors. These
were opened during funerals to transport the deceased and family in and
out of the sanctuary. Tall steps were located at each entrance.
bell was located in the bell tower section over the ante-room. The bell
was toned when someone passed in the neighborhood, for a disaster
(fire), or church services.
lamps hung on the walls and had to be lit for night services. Slatted
pews and long benches in back were on each side of a center aisle. A
pulpit area was provided for the pastor and his guest. Behind the area
was a type of choir gallery, but in the early years, the church did not
have a choir or musician. A piano sat to the right side of the pulpit
section. If the school or church was having a program and one of the
schoolteachers could play the piano, there was music; otherwise, the
people sang by memory or a cappella.
Rev. Andrew Lee was the first pastor of the church. Under his tenure, a
Sunday School Department, a Deacon Board, Prayer Service, and a
Missionary Society were installed. The following ministers served after
Rev. Lee: Reverends Johnny
Williams, James Harrison, S. M. Deadman, G. R. Turner, M. C. Hendricks,
J. B. Brown, T. G. Jackson, F. J. Thompson, H. T. Aldridge, W. B.
Jenkins, A. J. Williams, and H. T. Aldridge for a second term, followed
by Rev. Rudolph Martin. Rev. James Ashton, Jr., is the present pastor.
the Rev. Harrison and Deadman tenures, the church affiliated with the
Independent District Association. Under Rev. Brown’s tenure, a Star
Light Band was formed for the youth; Mary J. Brown served as president
of the Missionary Society, Leona Harrison as Sunday School
Superintendent, Celia Rainey as BYPU Director, and Sarah Phillips as
Bible Band President. Under Rev. Williams’ tenure, a sanctuary choir
was formed and hymn books were purchased. Short white robes were
obtained during Rev. Thompson’s tenure. Rev. Aldridge formed a Nurse
and Usher Board, a Layman group for the men, and started the church with
full time service for each Sunday in the month. The church services were
held on second and fourth Sundays. Rev. Aldridge and the musician, Ethel
Brown Jones, served for six months without pay to bring the church up to
Williams was with the church and served some seven years to help
renovate the present building after the 1909 building was demolished.
Rudolph Martin, and the Lord, added some 100 members to the church,
installed a lighted bulletin board, added a Hammond organ, carpeted the
floors, added new storm windows, central air and heat, new pews, and new
paneling for the interior. The baptistery was completed and a cafeteria
Rev. Ashton, Jr., is still, with the help of the Lord, doing some
excellent things at Pilgrim Rest. A computer and workroom have been
established; and a church van and a garage for the van have been
following have served as deacons at Pilgrim Rest: S. P. Phillips, Henry
Reddicks, Isaac Crawford, Gabe Sims, Thompson Sims, Napoleon Burns, Dock
Lewis, Charlie Edwards, Sr., Younger Burns, Lake Simmons, Sr., Henry
Harrison, Pink Williams, Sr., Eddie Allen, Alec Shepard, Jimmy
Kuykendall, Willie Stringer, Dave Williams, Ned Brooks, Sr., Johnson
Brown, Sr., William Blackmon, Eddie Williams, and at the present time,
Cedo Sardinea and Andrew W. Woods, Sr.
following have served as church secretaries: Ervin Brown, Eddie Allen,
Bessie Davis, Celia Rainey, Meldora Simmons, Lucy Harrison, Irene
Boone-Temple-Burns, Lillie Brooks, and Eva Barnes, the present
Treasurers were: Henry Reddicks, Eddie Allen, Ervin Brown, Jimmy
Kuykendall, Warren Harrison, Johnson Brown, Sr., Ned Brooks, Sr., and
Cedo Sardinea, the present treasurer.
its beginning, many other dedicated members served and supported Pilgrim
Rest: The Rev. Dan and Della Walker, Henrietta Fuller, Roberta Turner,
Tom and Sally Davis, Susie McCloud, Sophronia McElroy, Mary Moore, Jerry
Scott, Mary Alexander, Pearl West, Butch and Elizabeth Henry, C. M. and
Julia Carter, Otis and Phoebe Fisher and many others.
September of 1961, hurricane Carla destroyed the entire church building.
Only two items were retrieved from the 1909 building: the bell from the
bell tower and possibly several pews under the rubbish.
Rest shared the Holiness Church with its members for a time. They heard
that the Ashby Memorial Baptist Church was no longer being used. Mr. and
Mrs. George McKissick, former members of the Ashby Church were
contacted. Rev. Howard Harper said that the McKissicks had given the
land for the church.
members of the Ashby Church (stated by Mrs. Snider) were: Mr. & Mrs.
Belton Snider, Mr. & Mrs. Geo. McKissick, R. L. Hammer, Lawrence
Hill, T. B. Smith and others. Rev. R. E. Black was the pastor. Mrs.
Snider is the only living charter member. She stated that the church was
built in the early 1940s.
understanding was that Pilgrim Rest would move the building as is, in
exchange for putting a fence around the Ashby Cemetery. The Pilgrim Rest
congregation concurred and paid some $1,200 to $1,500 in the deal.
building was finally moved to Markham after a long delay and problems
with a bridge. Upon renovation, some of the items are still in the
Pilgrim Rest Church that came from Ashby, a slatted pew and the
improvements have been made. An additional structure had been added to
the building. On the inside, the sanctuary is carpeted and has padded
pews. Public speakers are located throughout the building and in the R.
Martin Fellowship Hall. The hall was so named in memory of Rev. Martin.
A telephone is located in the computer room, and a stairway in the
hallway by the computer room leads to the baptistery. In the R. Martin
Fellowship Hall are the Pastor’s Study, a library, a kitchenette, the
fellowship hall, and restrooms.
church under the watchful eye of the Rev. James Ashton, Jr., continues
to move forward for the new millennium. It is still spiritually fed and
encouraged to work for the glorification of the Father. In November
1998, the church celebrated its 95th year in existence.
church acquired lots 3 and 4 in block 33. Lot 3 was acquired from Eddie
and Daisy Barefield for the sum of $1,200. The deed was recorded in the
deed records at the Matagorda County Courthouse, July 3, 1990. The
church acquired lot 4 from Josefa Garcia for the sum of $10 and other
goods according to a deed filed February 14, 1991 in the courthouse at
Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church at Markham, Texas, is a center of attraction
for all to see. The dedication of the Texas Historical Marker for
Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church was held March 25, 2000.