PILGRIM REST MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
 

Markham, Texas


394 Avenue B

28°58'2.82"N      96° 3'51.53"W



 

PILGRIM REST BAPTIST CHURCH

THE PILGRIM REST BAPTIST CHURCH TRACES ITS HISTORY TO NOVEMBER 1903, WHEN A NUMBER OF RESIDENTS OF MARKHAM’S “TENT CITY,” LATER KNOWN AS “RED TOWN,” ORGANIZED A CONGREGATION. THE NINE CHARTER MEMBERS WERE AMONG THOSE WHO WORKED ON THE CANAL, CATTLE RANCHES, RAIL LINES AND IN THE RICE FIELDS OF THE AREA. THE REVEREND ANDREW LEE OF BAY CITY WAS THEIR FIRST PASTOR. THE CONGREGATION’S FIRST BUILDING, ERECTED IN 1909, WAS DESTROYED IN A HURRICANE THE SAME YEAR. IMMEDIATELY REBUILT, IT WAS REPLACED BY A NEW STRUCTURE IN 1923; THAT ONE WAS DESTROYED BY HURRICANE CARLA IN 1961. THE MEMBERS ACQUIRED THE FORMER ASHBY MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH BUILDING AND MOVED IT FROM THE ASHBY COMMUNITY IN 1962. PILGRIM REST BAPTIST CHURCH MEMBERS CONTINUE IN THE TRADITIONS OF THEIR FOUNDERS WITH PROGRAMS OF WORSHIP AND SERVICE. (1999)

Inscription typed by Faye Cunningham


Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church
Compiled by Thelma D. Smith
 


Pilgrim 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.


For 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.


With 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.


Rainey, 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”.


The 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 “Red Town”.


Some 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, died.

The 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.

The 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 come.

Having 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.

In 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.

From 1911 to 1918, the congregation met in a building on lot 1, block 33. The Markham Town Company owned the property.

In 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.


The 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.


A 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.


Kerosene 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.


The 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.


During 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 four Sundays.


Rev. Williams was with the church and served some seven years to help renovate the present building after the 1909 building was demolished.


Rev. 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 was added.


The 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 obtained.


The 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.


The 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 secretary.


Church Treasurers were: Henry Reddicks, Eddie Allen, Ervin Brown, Jimmy Kuykendall, Warren Harrison, Johnson Brown, Sr., Ned Brooks, Sr., and Cedo Sardinea, the present treasurer.


From 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.


In 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.


Pilgrim 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.


Charter 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.


The 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.

The 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 chandeliers.


Many 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.


The 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.


The 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 Bay City.


The 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.
 

 

Copyright 2004 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

This page was created
Jan. 13, 2005
This page was updated
Sep. 26, 2006
   

HOME