A History of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church II




"This is a collection of articles about the early history of St. Mark MB Church. According to Florence historian Lee Freeman, the documented history begins with John Portlock: "John A. Portlock (1802-1878) was a North Carolina native who ran a blacksmith shop in Florence. Married, with several children, the value of Portlock's real estate in the 1850 federal population census was assessed at $1200, which by 1860 had increased to $2000; by 1870 his real estate was still valued at $2000 while his personal estate was valued at $5000. Portlock was also a slave-owner: by 1850 he had three slaves, one 52 year-old male, an 18 year-old male, and a 28 year-old female. By 1860 Portlock had five slaves, three males, aged 45, 44, 17 and 17 respectively, and one female aged 9. Unfortunately, at present we don't know any of their names.

In March of 1859 John A. Portlock, "as trusty [trustee] of the Colored members of the Missionary Baptist Church," purchased lot no. 185, on the corner of Market (now Wood Avenue) and Alabama Streets, for the sum of $15 from WH Wade. We don't know Portlock's religious affiliation, only that he was "a truly pious man" who "pursued the straitforward [sic], honorable course in all transactions with his fellowmen and by universal good humor and gentle courtesy gained their admiration as well as respect." Presumably Portlock's slaves formed the nucleus of this new Missionary Baptist congregation.

According to tradition, the church initially assembled in a brush arbor; by 1872 a building had been constructed which was enlarged in June of that year. The foundation for a new meeting house was laid in July of 1884.

The first pastor of which we have record is the Rev. Ephraim Cordie “Cordie” White (ca. 1840-1899) who pastored the church from 1881 until his death. In 1901 under the pastorate of White’s successor, Sumter Co., AL native Rev. Lawson John "LJ" Green (1864-1944) the present structure was built. "


(1-2) Florence Gazette
(3-4) Florence Herald

(5) Florence Times

(6-7) Florence Herald

(8-10) Florence Times

(11) Florence Herald

(12-13) Florence Times

(13-14) Florence Herald

(14) American Star (Tuscumbia, AL, African-American)
(15-17) Florence Herald
(18) American Star (Tuscumbia, African-American)

(19) Florence Herald

(20-22) Florence Times

(23) Florence Herald

(24-26) Florence Times

(27) Florence Herald

(28) Birmingham (AL) Reporter

(29-33) Florence Herald




Lee Freeman


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Colored Baptists Have Christmas Tree FG Thu Dec 27 1894 p 3.jpg
Alcove Being Built onto Colored Baptist Church FG Thu Jan 24 1895 p 3.jpg
WCTU Ladies Meet at Colored Baptist Church FH Thu Oct 8 1896 p 1.jpg
Colored WCTU Founded FH Thu Oct 15 1896 p 1.jpg
Colored WCTU FT Sat Oct 17 1896 p 3.jpg
With the Courts FH Thurs March 24 1898 p 8.jpg
Colored Baptist Education Association Meets in Florence from Florence Happenings FH Thu Jul 28 1898 p 5.jpg
Death of Rev EC White FT Fri Nov 10 1899 p 2.jpg
Rev EC White Obituary FT Fri Nov 10 1899 p 3 p I.jpg
Rev EC White Obituary FT Fri Nov 10 1899 p 3 p II.jpg
Call for a Pastor FH Thu Nov 23 1899 p 6.jpg
Rev. LJ Green and Family Have Arrived Short Locals FT Fri Jan 12 1900 p 8.jpg
Colored Baptist Church Preparing to Build News About the City FH Thu Oct 25 190 p 1.jpg
In Colored Circles FH Thu Jul 4 1901 p 5.jpg
Rev LJ Green PhD Am Star Wed Jul 10 1901 p 2.jpg
Colored Baptists New Brick Church from News About the City FH Thu Aug 29 1901 p 1.jpg
Attempted Assassination FH Fri Dec 6 1901 p 8.jpg
Attempted Assaination of Rev. Green Am Star Thu Dec 12 1901 p 2.jpg
Rev. LJ Green Receives DD Am Star Fri Aug 14 1903 p 1.jpg
Emancipation Day FH Fri Jan 8 1904 p 1.jpg
Emancipation Day Celebrated at St. Mark MB Church from Local News FT Fri Jan. 7 1910 p 1.jpg
Rev LJ Green's Jail Ministry FH Thurs May 22 1913.jpg
Negro Convention Coming FT Fri Aug 13 1915 p 6.jpg
The MS Colored Baptist Convention FH Thurs Aug 26 1915 p 4.jpg
Negro SS Convention FT Fri Aug 27 1915 p 6.jpg
Colored Soldiers to be Honored FT Fri March 28 1919 p 4.jpg
In Honor of the Colored Soldiers FT Fri, April 4, 1919, p. 1.jpg
Helen Buckingham FH Fri Sept 16 1921 p 6.jpg
St. Mark's Baptist B'ham Reporter Sat Aug 11 1928 p 2.jpg
Negro Spirituals Sung in the Baptist Church FH Fri May 20 1932 p 4.jpg
Death Takes Beloved Aged Negro Nannie FH Fri Apr 27 1934 p 1.jpg
Florence Readies for Big Parade FH Thu Nov 23 1950 p 1.jpg
Parade is Held as Crowds Shiver FH Thu Nov 30 1950 p 1.jpg



“A History of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church II,” Shoals Black History, accessed March 2, 2024, https://shoalsblackhistory.omeka.net/items/show/1141.