Special Collections and Archives

 Gillfield Baptist Church
Petersburg, Virginia

Church Minutes Collection, 1815-1827, 1868-1871, 1888-1897

Gillfield Baptist Church, Petersburg, Virginia, is the second oldest African-American congregation in Petersburg and one of the oldest in the country. The church originated in the Davenport Church in Prince Edward County in 1786. In 1797, it was recognized as an autonomous institution with an integrated congregation. In 1800, Davenport Church moved to Pocahontas and was renamed the Sandy Beach Church. In 1818, the church members purchased a lot on Perry Street in Gillfield where they built the first of four successive churches. Rev. Henry Williams, religious leader and political activist in the 1880s, served as pastor from 1865-1900. [The congregation is still active -- members of the church continue to worship from a building located at 209 Perry Street which was built 1874-1879.] --- The history above is taken from a brochure entitled "African-American Historic Sites in Petersburg, Virginia" published by Petersburg Department of Tourism, Petersburg, Virginia.

For more information about Gillfield Baptist Church: Brief History of Gillfield Baptist Church, Petersburg, Virginia: Commemorating its One Hundred Fortieth Anniversary, 1797-1937, written by Luther P. Jackson, complied by F.H. Norris, Church Clerk, published in 1937. A copy of the book is housed in Special Collections and Archives.


Church Minutes Collection, 1815-1827, 1868-1871, 1888-1897:

The collection of church minutes presented here include material about the financial operation of the church, numerous reports, membership lists; baptism names and dates; notices of deaths or those ill; election of deacons and appointments of ministers and other church officials; lists of dismissals for church offenses; and information about various church renovations.

The minutes of Gillfield Baptist Church, Petersburg, Virginia were borrowed and digitally scanned in the early 1990s. Each "folder" below includes images from one of the minute books that were digitally scanned. The minutes presented here are only a portion of the records of Gillfield Baptist Church. The original materials were returned to the church. Contact the church for further information about their records. The library at the University of Virginia has a more complete set of Gillfield Baptist Church minutes available on microfilm.

To view the material in the collection, click on a particular folder. Each folder contains image files of pages from the minute books which are listed sequentially in the order they were scanned. View the images as if you are going from the first page of document to the last. For some images it may be necessary to zoom in on particular words in the document. Adobe Photoshop and other viewers allow this. The images presented here are JPEG images which are easy to view through a web browser. Special Collections and Archives houses the original archival TIFF images of the minutes. Unfortunately, when the minute books were originally scanned, some of the edges of the pages of minutes were not scanned and therefore words or parts of words on several pages are missing. If you have questions about this collection or if you need to see a better quality image of a particular file, email Special Collections and Archives.


Folder Name -- Description of items (images) in folders.

Gillfi03 -- Church Minutes, 1815-1827. This folder contains 247 images. The first 23 images record baptisms and membership. This section includes images of pages in the minute book that have seven columns with the following column titles: [male?] Members; Rec'd by Baptism; Rec'd by Letters; Dismissed by Letters; Expelled; Restored; Deceased.

Gillfi02 -- Church Minutes, 1868-1871. This folder has 383 images of church minutes running from May 1868 through October 1871. The first 20 or so images from the minute book are of a list of baptisms (July 1868- April 1870) and an index of members (May 1868-November 1871).

Minute01 -- Church Minutes, 1888-1897. This folder contains 108 images.

Benefi01-- Gillfield Baptist Beneficial Society Minutes, 1891. This folder contains six images of six pages of minutes of several meetings of the Gillfield Baptist Beneficial Society. The first meeting minutes are that of February 17, 1891 (the minutes of the last meeting are dated May 19, 1891) which records the organization of the Gillfield Baptist Beneficial Society under the Gillfield Baptist Church.

Gillfi01 -- This folder contains images of Rev. George Howard (1900-1912), Rev. Samuel A. Brown (1913-1951), Rev. Sampson White (1837-1838), the Sabbath School, a church and an unidentified man. The image quality is poor.

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