In this issue: Pleasant Hill (Colorado County), TxFCP News, grants announcements and updates, upcoming events, and more!

Freedom Colony Feature

Pleasant Hill (Colorado County)

This month we’re featuring a new addition to the Atlas, and asking for your help! Do you know more about Pleasant Hill, also known as Harvey’s Creek or Pleasant Grove, in Colorado County? North of Borden and east of Weimar along Harvey’s Creek, the old Pleasant Hill church still stands on private property alongside the Pleasant Hill cemetery.

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church near Borden, Texas (Source: Atlas submission)

Descendants of the community talk about the church and memories of events there in the documentary Coming Through Hard Times (1995) and the book Leavin’ A Testimony: Portraits from Rural Texas (2006), both by Patsy Cravens. Some people interviewed were born in the “rurals” around the church. The documentary is well worth watching for moving stories of the trials and joys of community members and others in Colorado County.

Coming Through Hard Times-Patsy Cravens

Some people interviewed were members of the new Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church built in Weimar. The community relocated or was resettled to Weimar around 1950 – the details are few. One family recounts they moved to town in 1948 after the rural schools closed, possibly the freedman’s school in nearby Borden. If you know more about Pleasant Hill, please share it with us!

Right: Colorado County on The Texas Freedom Colonies Project Atlas; Left: Detail of 1957 USGS Borden Quadrangle showing the Pleasant Hill Church and noting that it is abandoned.

Do you have information about freedom colonies in Colorado County or in Texas? Want to get involved as a volunteer? Learn more!

TxFCP News

Dr. Andrea Roberts to Speak at Brenham Heritage Museum Lecture Series February 28

The Texas Freedom Colonies Project Founder and Director Dr. Andrea Roberts will be the inaugural speaker of the Seth McMeans Lecture Series at the Brenham Heritage Museum Bus Depot Gallery on Monday, February 28th at noon. Dr. Roberts will provide both overall background about freedom colonies and specifics about the local communities of Washington County. The exhibit Freedom Colonies: Tracing Historic Black Settlements of Washington County is on view at the Bus Depot Gallery – more on that later in the newsletter.

The Seth McMeans Lecture Series is free to all BHM members and only $5 for all others. The museum’s website at and their social media will provide more information and updates. A boxed lunch from Must Be Heaven may be reserved in advance for lecture days by calling the Brenham Heritage Museum office.

The Texas Freedom Colonies Project at Real Places 2022

Despite the current COVID surge and the winter freeze, The Texas Freedom Colonies Project team attended the Real Places Conference in Austin February 2-4 and had a productive and engaging experience! Dr. Andrea Roberts and team members Valentina Aduen, Jennifer Blanks, and Natalie Franz presented “Engaged Preservation Research with Black Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” exploring what we learned from freedom colony descendants who continued preservation activities and adapted to social distancing requirements.

Left: TxFCP Team Members Jennifer Blanks and Valentina Aduen. Right: Dr. Andrea Roberts presents at the Real Places Conference in Austin.

Dr. Roberts presented a session, “Diversifying Preservation Leadership and Priorities in Communities with Difficult Histories,” about how to address difficult histories using storytelling and self-valuation. The presentation focused on the case study of Gonzales, Texas, where white and African American preservationists introduced new installations and changed the name of Confederate Square. Though her co-presenters from the Edwards Association and the Gonzales County Historical Commission couldn’t make it due to the weather, there was a lively discussion with about 60 attendees.

Thank you to all the folks who attended our sessions and the conference organizers!

Grants News and Updates

Preservation Texas Announces 15 Finalists for the Texas Rural African-American Heritage Grants Program

Preservation Texas has announced that it will invite fifteen Black history sites to submit proposals for preservation funding from its new $750,000 Texas Rural African-American Heritage Grants Fund. The fifteen projects include historic churches, schools, lodge halls, and a commercial building, each with unique preservation challenges.

“Preservation Texas developed this grant program to support the needs of endangered rural African-American historic places,” said Evan Thompson, executive director. “We saw a critical need for funding and expertise to be able to save some of the most imperiled historic resources in our state.” Read more about the finalists here.

Three of the 15 finalists for the Texas Rural African-American Heritage Grants Fund, left to right: Mount Vernon A.M.E. Church (1921) in Palestine (Anderson County); Daule School (1948) in Cuero (DeWitt County); and Ethiopian Star Lodge No. 308 (c. 1909) in Dabney Hill (Burleson County)

New Grant Opportunity for African American Churches

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced a new $20 million initiative, Preserving Black Churches, that offers a national strategy for historic Black churches that are both stewarded by active congregations and being repurposed for new uses in local communities. This program will establish a new national grant fund to provide direct funding to Black churches for capital, staffing, and operations and create a Rapid Response & Emergency Grant Fund to address imminent threats to Black churches, among other facets. Sign up here for updates, including when the grant program will be open for applications.

National Fund for Sacred Places Grants

The National Fund for Sacred Places is currently accepting Letters of Intent from congregations seeking funding for significant capital projects. Learn more at the National Fund website about how to apply before the March 7, 2022 deadline.

North Texas Community Foundation Fund to Advance Racial Equity

Nonprofit orientation will be held March 1st, click here to register. The Fund to Advance Racial Equity provides support to nonprofits and municipal entities working to achieve a more equitable community for all. Our hope is that grants made from this fund drive changes in practice – systemic, institutional and individual – to eliminate racial bias and discrimination that will ultimately lead to more equitable outcomes for all North Texans.

Freedom Colony Events

Freedom Colonies Exhibit at Brenham Heritage Museum

The Brenham Heritage Museum has a new exhibit in its Bus Depot Gallery entitled Freedom Colonies: Tracing Historic Black Settlements of Washington County. This wonderful exhibit explores the remarkable stories of formerly enslaved people and their descendants who established entire local communities following their Emancipation. Much of the African-American experience in those post-Civil War years remains little known, and the museum looks forward to introducing that history to a new audience. The Freedom Colonies exhibit will run through March 26th. The Texas Freedom Colonies Project is pleased to partner with the Brenham Heritage Museum on content development for this exhibit and the new museum, working closely with the African-American Content Committee.

The Bus Depot Gallery at 313 East Alamo is open 10 AM till 4 PM every Saturday. Other times are available by appointment. Find out more at or call 979.830.8445.

Along the Water: A healing journey through the historic Freedom Communities of Austin

Saturday, March 5, 4:00-5:30pm

Part I: Walk with Us: Let’s experience a different, more complex story to create a more just city. Join noted historians and culture workers for an afternoon on Shoal Creek in Pease Park, exploring the relationship between waterways, parks, and Freedom Communities.

Meet at Pease Park Cottage, 1100 Kingsbury Street in Austin. Please be prepared for a walking tour of the park’s grounds. A short reception and discussion will follow the tour. Sponsored by Pease Park Conservancy

Ellison Photo Co. [Flood waters on Shoal Creek], photograph, September 1915; University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Make Your Voice Heard

Comment Period for Emancipation Trail National Historic Trail Study

The National Park Service is studying the feasibility of designating the Emancipation Trail between Galveston and Houston a National Historic Trail. The proposed Emancipation NHT extends approximately 51 miles from the Osterman Building and Reedy Chapel in Galveston, Texas, along Texas State Highway 3 and Interstate Highway 45 North, to Freedmen’s Town, then to Independence Heights and Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas, following the migration route taken by newly freed slaves and other persons of African descent from the major 19th-century seaport town of Galveston to the burgeoning community of Freedmen’s Town, located in the 4th Ward of Houston, Texas. See a map of the proposed routes, answer outreach and engagement questions, and sign up for the study mailing list here. The comment period is open until March 31.

Impacted by Flooding, Pollution, High Utilities, or Winter Storms in the Houston Area? CEER Wants To Hear From You!

CEER Houston (Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience), is an advocacy, policy, solutions-driven coalition. A campaign for equitable recovery across Brazoria, Fort Bend, Jefferson, Liberty, and Harris counties is focusing on two statewide agencies being reviewed by state lawmakers this year: the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) because they are directly responsible for governing the pollution in our environment and the energy in our homes and communities. Please fill out a survey to get more information at

A “People’s Hearing on TCEQ” on April 30 will let you voice your public comments at a location in Houston and online via Zoom. Training Workshops to educate and empower will be held online April 2nd, 9th, and 16th. Reach out to CEER at or

Questions or comments? Email us! Thank you for reading!