Category Archives: Churches

How Old Black Churches Die

I was scanning aerial photography of Caroline County and saw this striking image in the landscape – above-ground crypts in a church graveyard:

The 1897 map shows this was the site of St Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church:

 

I finally visited the site a few weeks ago.  The scene was incredible.  Pulpit, piano, pews, and stained glass were still in place.  I found hand-hewn sill timbers – evidence that the building was indeed built in the early 1800s, as noted by one source.

The roof is caving in.  One of the newer headstones in the graveyard was deliberately toppled off its pediment.   Within a generation, this old church building will die and disappear into the landscape like many others.  The gravestones will remain hidden under tangled vines for a thousand years. Then they will disappear, too.  The viewing is here:

Stand in the Place.

Soon St. Paul AME church will be gone.  The obituary might read like this –  adapted from the non-profit St. Paul Church Historical Revitalization and Maintenance Inc.:

“St. Paul Church Historical Revitalization and Maintenance Inc. was formed in December 2000 to preserve church and maintain the grounds.  The church building is over 150 years old …

“St. Paul United Methodist Church represents a  disappearing part of Afro-Americans  history – religious freedom”  …   This church supplied need for local Afro -American to have their own place of worship.  Small churches like St. Paul are slowly disappearing.  We feel the strong need to save this one….
“The charter of the organization was simply to preserve St. Paul United Methodist Church and its burial grounds.   They were originally deeded to its AME founders on November 17, 1883, after the church building was purchased from the white  United Methodist Church located in nearby Concord, MD.  It’s believed the building was constructed in the early 1800’s.
 “St. Paul United Methodist Church was a vibrant place of worship for local community through the 1960s. Memberships started to dwindle as family members passed on or moved from the area. Membership declined, the church was closed in the early 1980s, and the grounds were about to be abandoned.
 “This led to the formation of St. Paul Church Historical Revitalization & Maintenance Inc.  The formation meeting was held at the home of  Melvin and Barbara Cook on December 16, 2000.  Attending the meeting were threse founding members:
Rev. William and Audrey Briggs
Barbara Cook – First President
Maurice Stanford
William H. Briggs – First Treasurer
Sadie Johnson
Virgie Johnson
Odette Hawkins – First Secretary
Crawford Johnson”
I am in touch with members of St. Paul Church HRM, Inc.  Let me know if you want more info, have new info, or want to help:
info@choptankriverheritage.org
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News went back to Caroline that I was shot and killed

“You know the feelings of the white people here in Delaware.
Are you ready to die?”

I said, None of these things move me.
I never was so inspired to speak since the day I was born.

And news went back to Caroline,
that I was shot and killed.

Continue reading News went back to Caroline that I was shot and killed

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I walked 16 miles home to Tuckahoe

I walked 16 miles from Easton to my father’s.

I knocked at the door and said, “Who lives here?”
Father answered by saying, “Who is that?”
I said,   “Me.”
Then mother said, “That’s Alexander”–
showing a mother never forgets her child.


Bishop Wayman at Tuscola ILThe Legacy of A.M.E Bishop A.W. Wayman
of Tuckahoe Neck, Caroline County, Maryland

  Continue reading I walked 16 miles home to Tuckahoe

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Who made you free?

Who made you free, young Alexander?
Your enslaved father?
Your freed mother?

How were you free, Alexander?
Free to sit beside the Tuckahoe,
read holy books and
toss pebbles into the water,
listen to Aunt Hester’s screams on
 the other side?

Free to walk away from the Tuckahoe and never return?
But you did return.

It’s 1821.    Here.


Bishop Wayman at Tuscola ILThe Legacy of A.M.E Bishop A.W. Wayman
of Tuckahoe Neck, Caroline County, Maryland

  Continue reading Who made you free?

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There was a colored church down by the river crossing

I remember there was a colored church in the woods down by the river. If you passed by on the road that takes you over Sandy Island Bridge into Delaware, you could hear them singing on the Sabbath.  That was back in the ’70s.

"Col Ch" at the upper Choptank crossing
“Col Ch” at the upper Choptank crossing

It’s 1875.  Here.

Continue reading There was a colored church down by the river crossing

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After these Times of Trouble, the Church went down

Reverend Jeremiah Miller was jailed in Easton.
He prophecied the Lord would shake the town that day.

After he was driven out, the church went down in that part of Maryland,
until Bishop Wayman returned and set it right.

Continue reading After these Times of Trouble, the Church went down

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Deep Branch Chapel, near the place I was born

Near the place I was born,
Tuckahoe,
I dedicated Deep Branch Chapel.
Then I hastened and got off.

It’s 1874.  Here.


Bishop Wayman at Tuscola ILThe Legacy of A.M.E Bishop A.W. Wayman
of Tuckahoe Neck, Caroline County, Maryland

Continue reading Deep Branch Chapel, near the place I was born

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Long road back to Tuckahoe

Bishop Wayman,
Do you come from Tuckahoe?
Are you a son of Francis Wayman of Caroline County?

I am.  And now tell me,
Did Charlie and Button pull your wagon all the way
from Tuckahoe to Ohio?

Continue reading Long road back to Tuckahoe

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His color was black

They wrote:
His color was black.

His features were strong.
His voice was commanding, deep.
His white friends in Denton
always came out
to hear him preach.
Like-wise Generals, Governors, and Presidents.
Born on the Tuckahoe, 1821
(before Fred Bailey
across the river
escaped),
Bishop Wayman died last week.

It’s 1895.  Here.


Bishop Wayman at Tuscola ILThe Legacy of A.M.E Bishop A.W. Wayman
of Tuckahoe Neck, Caroline County, Maryland

Learn more:

Who made you free? — 1821

Do you still see white horses over in those dark woods? — 1830

After these Times of Trouble, the Church went down — 1830-1868

I walked 16 miles home to Tuckahoe — 1848

News went back to Caroline that I was shot and killed — 1866

Long road back to Tuckahoe  —  1870s

Deep Branch Chapel, near the place I was born — 1874

 

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“Colored Church” at the Upper Choptank River Crossing

Satellite imagery and 1875 map of Caroline County, Md., were used to locate the site of an African-American church near an upper crossing of the Choptank River.

I recently digitized a paper copy of the map of Caroline County, Maryland, which was drawn by John B. Isler in 1875.  While geo-rectifying sections of the map (stretching and warping the images to match the “ground truth”), I noticed a building marked “Col Ch” on the road east from Goldsboro, at the crossing of a branch of the upper Choptank River.

Continue reading “Colored Church” at the Upper Choptank River Crossing

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