#WebsterGrove

At the end of the Civil War, many black families, formerly enslaved, found their way to Webster Groves. They began to settle on Vinegar Hill and along Shady Creek. One of these persons was Ken Lankford, who was a preacher. He began preaching, just after the war in 1865, in a brush arbor, alongside Shady Creek. The trees there also provided shade for those who attended his services.

A year later, in 1866, William Porter helped to formally organize the church and it became the First Baptist Church of Webster Groves. Allen Brown contributed the first $25 for the church building, which had 18 other original members. Those members built the first church in their community, making sure it had a tall foundation because of its location near Shady Creek. Churches have long been a part of creating a community, and the First Baptist Church of Webster Groves did the same in North Webster.

The year that the First Baptist Church of Webster Groves was created, an English woman came through Webster Groves on a mission to establish schools for black children throughout Missouri. She was working for the assistant state superintendent of public schools, James Milton Turner, who was in charge of postwar black schools. Mrs. Dotwell, as she is only recorded, began the first school for black children in Webster Groves at the First Baptist Church in 1866 and taught black children there until the Webster Groves School District undertook its responsibility in 1868. At that time, there were 30 children in North Webster eligible to attend between the ages of 5 and 21. The school later became known as Douglass and the church still stands, albeit, in a new building.

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