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Day or night,
the steeple of Liberty Baptist Church is a beacon for travelers entering Independence from the north.


Rev. Albert A. Lucas, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, circa 1930.


Today, Liberty Baptist Church, with over 100 members, has a strong community presence in Independence.
Members raise money for the church by selling their famous barbeque at special events.


"There are forty-five free schools in this county, most of which went into operation last Monday. There are thirteen colored schools and twenty-seven white. We suppose that all of them will be in operation in a few weeks."

Brenham Banner

September 12, 1871




Antique Rose Emporium
Liberty Baptist Church


Liberty Baptist Church has been an active congregation since 1866, when over 100 African American members withdrew from the Independence Baptist Church and formed a separate church. The founding date coincides with the en masse movement in the South by African Americans away from white-controlled churches following the Civil War.

The newly established church probably held its first services in makeshift locations. Exactly when the Liberty congregation built its first church building is unknown but it predates a September 30, 1879, notice in the local paper that “the colored people here have got nearly lumber enough to build a new church, and will put it up near the site of their present one.” In late February 1882, “a stiff breeze” blew through the area, causing considerable damage, the newspaper reporting that “the colored church” was “blown down.” The congregation rebuilt.

The 1900 cornerstone on the present building suggests that Liberty Baptist Church, like many churches in the area, suffered heavy damage, if not total destruction, when another storm swept through Washington County on September 9, 1900.


Liberty Baptist Church
10655 Hwy. 50, Independence
Pastor - Charles W. Briscoe


School for African American Children

The school for African American children in the Independence area was adjacent to Liberty Baptist Church, a common arrangement in southern communities. In the 1920s, a new structure replaced the existing school building as part of the Rosenwald rural school building program established in 1912 to improve the quality and conditions of public education for African Americans in the South. When the program closed in 1932, 4,977 new schools had been built, 464 in Texas—and one of those was in Independence.

Mable Orman Heard, principal of the Independence school, and fellow teacher Emmie Woods raised the match required for Rosenwald grant monies.

“We gave parties…big picnics, dinners and they would donate that money to us for Rosenwald School, and we raised enough money. We raised $800…Of course, our preacher and them kind of criticized us for having dances and things, but after all, it was doing good for the community…
And we had a four-room school.”

Mable Orman Heard, May 16, 1979,
Institute for Oral History,
Baylor University, Waco, Texas.


The school closed as part of Washington County’s consolidation program that started in 1953, and the building was moved to another location.

Mable Orman Heard
Principal of the Independence school for African American children. The photograph was taken when Mrs. Heard received her B.A. from Tillotson College in Austin in 1948.


Find where this site is located on our Independence Map.

Return to TOURING INDEPENDENCE to see other historic sites.

Night photo: Scott Hill, Brenham Portrait Gallery. Rev. Lucas photo: Liberty Baptist Church. Mrs. Heard photo: Mary Dorthea Graves Burton. Other photos: Ellen Beasley. Research and content by Ellen Beasley.

Independence Preservation Trust
Twenty Briar Hollow Lane
Houston, Texas 77027-2893
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