Church Lectern

Dabney Hill community works to preserve their historic church

Print Page

Dabney Hill Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1887 by formerly enslaved black Texans, forming the center of the Dabney Hill community. Over 130 years later, its future is uncertain after a storm nearly destroyed it. 

Dabney Hill freedom colony and the Dabney Hill Missionary Baptist Church are named after Daniel Dabney, who co-founded and donated the land on which the church was built. Following the Civil War, formerly enslaved African Americans created their own separate, self-sufficient communities. Freedman’s settlements, also called freedom colonies, offered African Americans a place to live, worship, and get an education away from the violence and discrimination they faced in the Jim Crow South. While their populations declined post-World War II, freedom colonies still play an important role in many descendants' lives.

This church kept this community and kept this family unified, so to have it here where I can bring my kids and tell them that story, it means a lot.John Rogers, Daniel Dabney’s great-great-grandson

In March 2018, the roof of the church’s current building — which was built in 1905 — collapsed during a violent storm, exposing the interior to the elements. Parts of the church that were structurally sound after the storm are now being negatively affected as the roof continues to pull down and rain pours into the building. The congregation was also left without a place to gather and worship for the first time in over 130 years. This Bible and lectern are two of the things they salvaged from inside the structure. The community, with the help of the Center for Heritage Conversation and the Texas Freedom Colony Project, is working to save and repair the church.

Read more about Dabney Hill and other freedom colonies in the Texas Story Project.

Browse All Stories

Read stories from people across Texas

Browse All Stories