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New Marker Unveiled On African-American Heritage Trail

There’s a new marker on the Springfield-Greene County African-American Heritage Trail.  The marker was unveiled Sunday.  It’s the third one on the trail and commemorates the southern area of a “church square” that includes two historically African-American churches, Gibson Chapel and Pitts Chapel United Methodist Church.

Gibson Chapel was formed as the First Negro Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1865 by a freed slave named Reverend Peter Lair with aid from a white minister, according to a news release from the City of Springfield.  The current church building, constructed in 1891, was heavily damaged by fires in 1915 and 1935 but was rebuilt each time.  Many families sought shelter in its basement after the lynching of three innocent black men on the public square on Easter weekend, 1906.

Pitts Chapel United Methodist Church was constructed in 1865 after an arsonist burned the log cabin church along Jordan Creek. Fleming McCullah donated the land for the church that also housed the Freedmen’s Bureau School and later the public school for black children.

The mission of the African-American Heritage trail is to continue to research and publish previously undocumented history and to involve the Springfield community in the identification and celebration of the contributions made by people of color to the community.

Copyright 2021 KSMU. To see more, visit KSMU.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.