The St. John's Community Project (SJCP) explores the history of African Americans in Denton County through the lens of a black community centered on the St. John’s church, school, and cemetery.
In the aftermath of emancipation, a group of black Alabamians migrated to North Texas and established a rural freedmen’s community near Pilot Point in Denton County during the 1870s. This community maintained the St. John’s church, school, and cemetery during the years from Reconstruction through the Great Depression. In the decades since the 1930s, the church disappeared and the cemetery remained untended and largely forgotten. Recently, however, the Denton County Office of History and Culture has taken responsibility for maintaining the cemetery, which stands today as the sole remaining physical testimony to the black community that once lived there.
Built by a team of undergraduate and graduate students at the University of North Texas, the SJCP is an online museum that tells the story of the St. John's community and offers new windows into the lives of African Americans in North Texas during the decades between Reconstruction and the Great Depression. Centered on the men, women, and children buried in the St. John’s cemetery, the project seeks to rebuild the world these people knew -- offering exhibits on the place of church life, education, farming, politics, and freedmen’s communities in Texas during the 1870s-1930s, as well as the history of Denton County and Pilot Point during that period. The project also features a section on how St. John’s has been remembered since the 1930s and an online archive of more than 650 historical items related to the history of St. John's.