Early Black Churches

African American families began moving to Walnut Hills in the 1850’s. Dangerfield Earley, reported as the sixth Black resident, organized the First Church of Walnut Hills in 1856, a mixed Baptist and Methodist-Episcopal congregation. By 1862, the Methodist-Episcopal part of the congregation, organized by Peter Clark who lived on Kemper Street (now Yale), formed a new AME church called Brown Chapel. Early’s Church became First Baptist.
Earley’s home and church were both located on Willow Street (now Preston), in the northeast part of Walnut Hills. Brown Chapel was located on a street called, at the time, Walnut, another block to the north.
The Reverend Earley also opened a school in his home. The neighborhood around Willow Street became the center of a thriving Black professional community. Dangerfield Earley continued to preach at First Baptist until his death in 1884.
A guide to Cincinnati suburbs in 1870 remarked:
“There is a colored congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a colored Baptist congregation, each one having a comfortable house of worship that is equal to present wants, and upon which there is no indebtedness.”