First Black Church a Part of Rich African American History – Arrow Rock, Missouri
August 21, 2008
Brown Chapel Black Church Built by African American People in Arrow Rock
The early settlers in Arrow Rock were southerns who brought their slaves with them when they moved to Arrow Rock. Following emancipation the first public building to serve the African-American population was the Brown’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, possibly as early as 1869, but signed 1871. The church also served as the first school for the newly emancipated population with 65 students in attendance. The church was originally located on the north edge of town but was moved in 1884 to its current location. The church is now owned and maintained by the Friends of Arrow Rock. Brown’s Chapel was rededicated September 20, 1998, with 125 people in attendance at the Homecoming Celebration. In honor of Arrow Rock’s African-American heritage Homecoming and Juneteenth events are conducted at the church each year.
Brown’s Chapel and the Black Lodge are the two newest properties of the Friends of Arrow Rock, gifts to us in 1996 from Ted and Virginia Fisher. These are two of the last three public buildings that remain of a once vital African-American Community in Arrow Rock. (The third building is the former school, now a private residence.) Arrow Rock was predominately settled by southern immigrants who brought with them their slaves. Following emancipation, the first community building to be erected was a church probably as early as 1869. We believe this first church building also served as the first black school with 65 students.
Originally built just north of the town limits, Brown’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church was moved to its present location in 1883 by Zack Bush. Oral tradition tells us they moved it with a team of mules. In the 1920s Brown’s Chapel hosted the annual Association meeting with up to 300 people attending the week long meeting.
Brown’s Chapel was rededicated September 20, 1998, with 125 people in attendance at the Homecoming Celebration. In honor of Arrow Rock’s African-American heritage Homecoming and Juneteenth events will continue; contact the Friends of Arrow Rock Office, 660-837-3231, for the current schedule.
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