St. Paul’s Pilgrim Baptist Church celebrates 150 years

Sasha Aslanian, a reporter from Minnesota Public Radio, has a wonderful story today about Pilgrim Baptist Church. The church is celebrating 150 year of existence. It was founded by former slaves.

Sasha relates “. . . Robert Hickman, an escaped slave from Missouri who 150 years ago led slaves traveling north on the Underground Railroad, a physical and spiritual migration that Pilgrim Baptist celebrates this month.”

The name Hickman is definitely a recognizable one in St. Paul’s black community. Unfortunately, when they arrived in St. Paul, members of the group were forced to separate with some going to different places in Minnesota. This sad occurrence may have solved a research mystery for me.

 ” In 1866, Pilgrim Baptist Church moved to a permanent home in downtown St. Paul, making it the first predominantly black church in Minnesota. Church members celebrated with a baptism on the shore of the Mississippi.”  Today the church is located on Central Avenue in St. Paul.

Robert Hickman, a 39 year old preacher is listed on the 1870 census of St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota (page 15/1097, line 6). The census entry states he was born in Missouri. Here is a view of his household on that census from

 Please click here to read the great story on MPR’s website.

For more on Robert, read this website

© 2013 – 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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