Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church began same year as Markham

Matagorda County TXGenWeb
Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church first served blacks living in the ‘Red Town’ of Markham’s early ‘Tent City.’

Compiled by Thelma Smith
Matagorda County TXGenWeb

   Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church is situated on the corner of 9th Street and Avenue B in Markham, Texas. The townsite of Markham is in part of the Daniel Etherton and Richard Graves Leagues. The leagues were granted to Etherton and Graves by the Republic of Texas on July 10, 1845.
   For one reason or another, leagues had a tendency to change owners and even become divided. 
   It is stated that Abel Pierce used the area of Markham for ranching and cattle grazing; that the Moore-Cortez Canal Company purchased the land for rice farming; that the Markham Town Company was formed and purchased some 344.6 acres from the canal company; and that the New York-Texas-Mexico, Southern Pacific Railway System built their rail lines through the area on some 22.2 acres of land given to the rail company by the Markham Town Company.
   With the different companies in the area, laborers were needed. They were needed on the cattle ranch and to work on the canal, in the rice fields, and on the construction of the rail lines. 
   There was also a need for cooks to prepare meals for the work crews. 
   One such person, Celia Rainey, a cook for the rice field and canal company, was one of the founders of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church.
   Rainey, along with other African-Americans, came from far and near, and they lived in the northeast section of “Tent City.”  
   When the village of Markham began, there were no houses, city blocks, town lots, or streets; therefore, the village was called “Tent City.” 

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