Primitive Baptist Church and Family History Research Assistance for Washington,
District of Columbia



The First Washington City Church was organized on May 7, 1802, in the hall of the Treasury Department, with six charter members, by a presbytery composed of Elders Jeremiah Moore, Lewis Richards, William Parkinson (then a chaplain to Congress), and Adam Freeman. This church soon became a member of the Baltimore Association.


Alexandria Church was organized in 1803, by Elder Jeremiah Moore, and others, and was an early member of the Baltimore Association. This church later went into the constitution of the Virginia Corresponding Meeting, of which it was a member for many years. Elder Samuel Trott was an early pastor of this church, and Elder Gilbert Beebe was a member here. Elder J. L. Purington also served as pastor here. To read an account of some of the trials this church encountered from the forces of the Modern Mission System, click on this link, to go to that page on our website:


The Second Washington Church (also known as Naval Yard) was organized in about 1822, with twenty members, most of whom had been members of the First Washington Church. By 1830, this church had increased in number to 115. This church was a member of the Baltimore Association as late as 1835. It then departed from the faith and went into the modern mission system.


Shiloh Church, in Washington, was organized on June 20, 1830. Elder Charles Polkinhorn was the pastor of this church until his death in 1837. He was followed by Elders Robert Leachman, Samuel Trott, William J. Purington, Forris A. Chick, and J. T. Rowe. Elder Rowe served until his death in 1937. He was followed by Elder D. L. Topping. The church first met in a small frame meeting house on Virginia Avenue between 4 1/2 and 6th streets, on the Island. Another account described it thus: "Their little wooden house was in a place called the Island. It was as simple and unpretentious as though it were a thousand miles in the back woods. There were present fifty-three white persons, and in the little gallery I counted twelve black people. The little assembly bore that air of simplicity, earnestness, and frankness that I have always found to characterize them wherever I have been. The United States Senator that sat among them and prayed with them, was scarcely distinguishable from the plainest artisan. There were no pews. The seats, in the popular thraseology, were all "free." It was a perfect republic. My astonishment was, that being here in the Federal Capitol made not the slightest difference in the doctrine, worship and manners of these people, from those of the same "faith and order," who meet in log school houses in the forests on the Wabash, or Cross Timbers of Texas."

Elder Willam J. Purington was the pastor from about 1856 until 1869. In 1866-1867 the church built a neat and commodious edifice which cost about $13,000. About $5,000 of this was paid by private subscriptions. In February 1872 the church advertised for help to pay its debt on the meeting house, but evidently was not able to do so, and lost the property. In 1877, a letter from Sallie Frankland states that the church was meeting in the Columbia Law Building, on Fifth Street. In May 1904 the church submitted a notice to the Signs of the Times, that a recent appeal for aid to build a meeting house was not from them, but from a church recently formed by what is known as the Clark Baptists. They did not at that time have a meeting house of their own, but were meeting in a hall at 509 G Street, N. W. In 1935 the church was meeting in the Pithian Temple, 1012 Ninth Street, N. W., on the 4th Floor. Shiloh Church was an early member of the Baltimore Association.

SURNAMES OF MEMBERS: Adamson, Brent, Burrows, Campbell, Coote, McIntosh, Polkinhorn, Risler, Towles, Waddy (Very incomplete)


Beulah Church was organized October 31, 1863, at the meeting house of Shiloh Church. After careful examination, this church was received as a member of the Baltimore Association per their request, in 1868. Elder John Bell was their pastor at that time.


Hephzibah Church (Colored) was organized on Thursday, October 19, 1871, at Petersburg, in the city of Alexandria, Virginia. The presbytery was formed, with Elder J. L. Purington moderator, Enoch Grimes, clerk. Brethren from Alexandria Church were Elder J. L. Purington, Deacon Enoch Grimes, and Thoms Cole (colored). Eighteen letters of dismission were presented from Beulah Church, of Washington, D. C. (eight brethren, ten sisters), who desire to go into the constitution of the new church. After the church was organized, Samuel Cole was chosen church clerk, Jacob Cooper, was chosen deacon,and Elder John Bell was chosen pastor.


Zion Church was organized by members who withdrew from Beulah Church over alleged disorder of that church and its pastor, Elder John Bell. A council from Shiloh Church and Alexandria Church, met on December 30, 1879, and after careful examination, commended them as being the Beulah Church in order, but they deemed it proper to change their name from Beulah to Zion.

Washington Church (officially named Petworth) was organized at a hall on 6th Street., N. W., on April 15, 1902, with twelve charter members, under the care of Elder C. H. Waters, M.D., who served as pastor until 1920. Elder T. S. Dalton was then chosen and continued until his death in 1931. He was followed by Elders J. E. L. Alderton, John Jenkins, and Ben H. Seekford. The church meeting house, a brick structure, was located on the northeast corner of Georgia Avenue and Shepherd Street, N. W., in Washington, D. C. This building was sold in about 1971, and the church met temporarily at the Lyon Park Community Center in Arlington, Virginia, until a new meeting house was erected in the Annadale section of Fairfax County, Virginia. This church is a member of the Ketocton Association.


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