Garland African-American History

History of Early African American (Colored) Churches in Garland, Texas

Sims Chapel Missionary Baptist ChurchPicture of the Sims Chapel Missionary Baptist Church- 1915

The church worship and fellowship has always been the foundation of Black communities across America.  This was true of Christian worship for Blacks in Garland.  Sims Chapel was the first Colored church organized in Garland in 1915. It was located on Roosevelt Street near State and North Star Streets.  Sims has always had an open door policy to the needs of the community and helping other congregations to start their church worship services in their building.

The church was organized under the leadership of Rev. A.L. Sims in the home of Brother and Sister Thompson.  The nine charter members were: Sister Ada Herron Merrell, Sister Eliza Herron, Sister Ruby Herron Wright, and Sister Ruthy Herron. It was the location for the first school for colored students in 1922.  Rev. Sims served as Pastor from 1915-1920.  The longest pastor to serve was Rev. L.H. Harper from 1928-1949 and again from 1951-1961. He also pastored Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Plano, TX.

In 1969, Sims Chapel moved to its new location in East Garland at 317 Parker Drive.  Sims Chapel has served the community for over 106 years.

Sims Chapel Church history items on exhibit are:  

  • Picture of the original church which is still standing in 2022
  • Photo copy of the 100th year Celebration Book Cover
  • Early church leaders photos which includes Mrs. Ada Herron Merrell, Mrs. Hattie Banks and Mr. Henry Clark
  • The late Pastor Rev. L.H. Harper, who served the church from 1928-1949 and 1951-1961
  • Groundbreaking ceremony for the new church to be built at 317 Parker Drive, Rainbow Estates Addition, 1968
  • Sims’s Certificate of Recognition in 2000,as the oldest African American Church in Garland
  • Transition photo of the old church (1915), to new church 1968 and the addition of the fellowship hall in 1999
  • Photo and information about the oldest member of the church, Mrs. Bettie Giddens Battle
  • Present Pastor Richard C. Jones and first Lady Barbara A. Jones
  • Sims Chapel Church in 1915 and church building standing at State and Roosevelt Street, 2022

Thanks to Carol Montgomery, CAPS and Sims Church member, for sharing her family's early church photos.

Greater Davis Chapel 
716 Chandler Drive

Picture of the Greater Davis Chapel - 1916


Davis Chapel was established in 1916 by Elder W.M. Davis, his wife Bertha Davis, Elder A. Atkins, and his wife Annie. The church services were in homes and tents, until they were able to purchase 2 lots at State and Grant Street and a small church was built there.  Early in the church’s history the services would be crowded because Sims Chapel and Shiloh Church would join the Greater Davis Chapel congregation.

Pastor Davis was named superintendent of Greater Davis and other pastors who served were Elder C. Cox, Elder Daniels, Elder Murphy, Elder Hollins and Elder Burleson.  Elder Burleson was the father for Mrs. Burleson Reed, a teacher who taught at George Washington Carver School. It was the only school for African Americans in Garland 1949-1977.

Elder Tommy Chalk and First Lady Mattie Hicks married in 1963, He received his calling in 1975 and was appointed by the Bishop as Pastor of the church after November, 1997.  In 2008 Elder Chalk moved the church to 716 Chandler Drive.  The late pastor Elder Chalk worked diligently for the good of the church.

Greater Davis Chapel C.O.G.I.C. (Church Of God In Christ) history items on exhibit are:

  • Photo of Pastor Elder Tommy Chalk and Wife Mattie Hicks Chalk celebrating the Church’s 100 years of service in 2016. (from celebration book)
  • History of the church
  • Photo of the second church location at 821 Miller Road in East Garland
  • Church’s present location at 716 Chandler Street, Garland.
  • Photo and information on the late Sister Lottie Hicks Dawkins, a longtime and faithful member of the church

Thanks to Carol Montgomery, CAPS and Sims Church member, for sharing information in the church’s 100th year celebration booklet.

St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church 
521 W. Avenue E.-present location

Picture of the St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church

St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1929 with Rev. Grant, Brother Jim Smizzy, Brother Alex Turner, and Brother Culberson Walker.  They felt that the praise of the A.M.E. church was one they would like to be a part of. So, with the permission of the Presiding Elder Jenkins and Bishop of the denomination, the new church was organized.  In 1939, after having their worship services at Sims Chapel church, they were able to relocate to their own church building on Fourth Street. The Lucy Hughes A.M.E. church was located in the downtown area known as the “Flats”. This was one of the areas were Colored residents could find housing and services.

In December, 1996 under the leadership of Rev. Brown, the church was relocated to 521 W. Ave. E.  To consummate the move, the members walked from the old church location on Ave. D. to the new location on Ave. E.  This was the Church’s 3rd. location and God blessed the congregation to have classrooms, a kitchen, a fellowship hall and offices. 

Some of the Pastors who served were Rev. Emmanuel Sr., Rev. Simmons, Rev. Cecil Youman Jr., Rev. D.C. Jackson, Rev. S. Putton, Rev. Ella M. McDonald, Rev. Flora Evans, Rev. Bertha Rose, Rev. Josephine Mills Gregory, Rev. Marjorie Scott and Rev. Kenneth Franklin.

You can see that St. Luke A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal Church) through its’ existence and name changes has remained the same “Putting God First”. Their present pastor is Rev. D. B. Ingram.  Information: Courtesy of Mrs. Ida Bell White.

St. Luke A.M.E. Church (African Methodist Episcopal) history items on exhibit are:

  • Collage of pictures of the church’s four (4) locations from 1929 to 1996-present
  • History of the St. Luke A.M. E. Church
  • A photo of Mrs. Lucy Hughes, the State President of the Women’s Missionary Society of the Denomination. The church was named in her honor.
  • Lucy Hughes construction work for the church building in downtown Garland located on Fourth Street in the “Flats”.
  • Rev. W.L. Davis, Pastor, Deacons and Trustees in the Lucy Hughes sanctuary on Fourth Street, downtown.  
  • St. Luke’s Relocation Marker on the Church at 521 East Ave. E. 
  • Oldest Member of St. Luke A.M.E. Church

Information: Courtesy of Mrs. Ida Bell White, St. Luke Member 

A Glimpse of African American History in Garland 2022 has been presented in partnership with the Garland Library System and CAPS.  Thanks, to all of the Garland African American community residents, who have made this exhibit possible by sharing pictures and information throughout the years.

Bertha J. Lipscomb Wallace, Historian

African-American History in Garland

George Washington Carver School  

"When Garland ISD was founded in 1901, there were no schools for African American children. Schools for black children in Garland began showing up prior to 1920, eventually leading to official public schools such as the Garland Colored School, Garland Negro School and ultimately the George Washington Carver School. This film attempts to tell the partial story of some of the students and staff who attended and worked at these schools through complete GISD integration in 1970."

Carver Center Grand Re-Opening Celebration  

"With $900,000 in floor-to-ceiling renovations, Carver Senior Center is the perfect blend of history and a modern service to residents. Just ask our Congressman, City Council or, most importantly, our seniors, including the alumni who once walked the grounds as students at George Washington Carver School. View the true joy of the grand re-opening at 222 Carver St."

African American History Resources

Neon green African-American History Month on a black backgroundAfrican American History Month 

"The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society."

PBS blue logo on a white backgroundCelebrate Black History Month 2022  

"Black History Month is here and we are thrilled to share a host of documentaries and digital shorts that highlight the richness of the Black experience in American history. Here are previews of films premiering this month on PBS, as well as a dozen films you can stream to celebrate Black history."

Black Culture Connection in blue on a white backgroundPBS Black Culture Collection  

"We invite you to explore the PBS Black Culture Connection: Your resource and guide to the films, stories and voices across public television centered around Black history and culture. Explore. Watch. Connect!"

National Archives logoAfrican American History

"The National Archives hold a wealth of material documenting the Black experience. This page highlights these resources online, in programs, and through traditional and social media." 

Picture of the National Museum of African American History & Culture by Alan KarchmerThe National Museum of African American History & Culture

A people's journey, a nation's history. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution.