St. James Baptist Church
ST. JAMES BAPTIST CHURCH St. James Baptist Church was previously located in Cooke County, Texas, before the construction of Lake Ray Roberts. Due to the lake construction, the church relocated to Pilot Point in Denton County on Burks Street, just a few blocks from County Line Baptist Church. St. James was probably organized during the late nineteenth century; however, most written documentation is absent due to the church’s relocation that took place in the 1970s.
Despite the lack of written documentation of St. James, descendants of the early St. James congregation from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries still reside in Pilot Point. Yolanda Harris recalls her father attending school at St. James church building, which was formally Booker T. Washington School for African Americans, which was a one-room classroom that hosted a wide age range of African American students. Similar to communities surrounding St. John’s and County Line, there was also a community of African Americans concentrated around St. James in Cooke County.
Ms. Harris, the daughter of an usher and a deacon remembers church services at St. James being serious and lively. When Ms. Harris was child she mentions that there were revivals at the end of July every summer for about twenty years. It was common for rural southern church congregations during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to hold revivals late in the summer, since farmers had planted their cotton crops for the season.
Interactions with other African American churches in the county and surrounding counties were common, according to Harris. Every year during Ms. Harris’ childhood, St. James participated in ‘Four Sunday Fellowship’, which included County Line Baptist, Galilee Church in Sanger, and St. John’s in Decatur, where each congregation attended a service at each of the other churches once a month. Essentially every fourth Sunday, St. James hosted congregations for these three churches.
St. James also formed relationships with other churches in Denton County, including St. John’s Baptist Church and County Line Baptist Church. According to a Dallas Express article from 1919, these three churches were considered “sister churches.”
Similar to St. John’s, there is little documentation of the church from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Aside from oral histories, the only evidence of St. James activity during that time period is documented in a few articles of the Dallas Express.
Citations: Interview by Amanda Canady & David Lacy. Oral History clip, April 12, 2018;The Dallas Express (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 27, No. 5, Ed. 1 Saturday, November 8, 1919, newspaper, November 8, 1919; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth278285/m1/9/?q=pilot%20point:University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; Articles that mention St. James Baptist Church in Cooke County, The Dallas Express (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 27, No. 5, Ed. 1 Saturday, November 8, 1919, newspaper, November 8, 1919; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth278285/m1/9/?q=pilot+point: accessed April 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; The Dallas Express (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 31, No. 36, Ed. 1 Saturday, August 2, 1924 Page: 2 of 12 https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth278503/m1/2/zoom/?q="St. James" "Pilot Point"&resolution=3&lat=2934.3361600906537&lon=2627.594360243491;The Dallas Express (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 27, No. 3, Ed. 1 Saturday, October 25, 1919, newspaper, October 25, 1919; Dallas, Texas.https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth278283/m1/15/zoom/?q="St. James" "Pilot Point"&resolution=2&lat=4458.270955673308&lon=877.6271669494656