Early Black Churches in Toledo – Warren AME Church and Third Baptist

WARREN AME CHURCH

norwoodchurch

Warren AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church was the first all-black church in Toledo and Northwest Oho.

The picture at the top of this blog is actually a photo of some members of the congregation of Warren in the mid 20th century. My maternal (my mother’s family) ancestors have been members of this church for about 7 generations starting in the 1860s.

My great grandmother is in the photo on this blog. Those who are family members will recognize her. That photo, based on her appearance and my guess about her age, looks like it was taken in the mid 1930s or early 1940s. I took a picture of this photo with my cell phone at Warren in December 2014. It is hanging in one of the hallways of the church along with other historical information and photographs.

According to their website, Warren AME was first mentioned in the documents of the African Methodist Episcopal records in 1849. It began based upon the desire of early black Toledoans to have a place of worship to call their own. Local historians and church records show that the church began in 1847 in downtown Toledo. The church later moved to the location on Norwood Ave, in Toledo, which is where the photo mentioned above was taken. I loved the church on Norwood (photo of that building in within this post). As a child I saw it as a mystery and always wondered where all the steps and doors led and I enjoyed looking at all the stain glass. The church moved to its present day location at Collingwood and Indiana Avenue in the mid 1990s.

Warren was founded by free persons of color in Toledo. Blacks have been in Toledo, Ohio since the earliest beginnings of the city. My personal research and review of early microfilmed city directories show that in the first directory, black citizens were listed in various professions. They were primarily barbers, cooks, and laborers. These early residents are the persons who got together and formed Warren in the 1840s.

Due to the time period, it is evident that all were free persons of color. They may have been run away slaves or they may have been born free and just migrated to Northwest Ohio due to it being further away from slave states than southern Ohio. My earliest ancestors who came to Northwest Ohio were free persons of color from Pennsylvania.

THIRD BAPTIST CHURCH

third baptist

Third Baptist was the first all black Baptist church in Northwest Ohio. My paternal (father’s family) line attended Third Baptist and we have had members of our family attend this church for about six generations. Like Warren, I was always intrigued by Third Baptist’s building, located at the corner of Pinewood Ave and Division Street.

My step-great grandmother was a secretary of the church for many years and her family were one of the original founding families of Third Baptist. Her maiden name is on one of the stain glass windows and I always thought it was because it was her church (in my childhood mind, I thought she owned it) until I got older and discovered her family’s connection to the institution!

Third Baptist was founded in 1868. Persons who were former members of integrated First Baptist of Toledo wanted to start a “colored” Baptist church feeling they would be able to worship more freely with their own organization. Those who were members of First Baptist petitioned that church to dismiss them from membership and after a while First Baptist consented and Third Baptist was formed.

Third Baptist was founded after the end of the Civil War so was a combined effort made between former slaves and former free persons of color. My step-great grandmother’s family were free people prior to the Civil War for instance but many of those drawn to the new church were escaped slaves or formerly enslaved persons. They housed their church in the middle of what was then the “Negro Section” of Toledo.

Though Toledo in that period did not have define “colored” or “white” areas, most black people, like other ethnic groups in Toledo lived around each other. In this era, black Toledoans primarily lived in what was designated as the “Pinewood District.” That district included many streets which are no longer there due to the creation of public housing locations (Brand Whitlock, Albertuss Brown, and the Port Lawrence Homes) along with the federal highway system (interstate 75).

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