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Lovely Canada Town Community

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Back in the mid to late 1800s there was an African American settlement located in present-day River Oaks.

I.S. Campbell, a black slave who lived in Tennessee in the days before the Civil War.

Campbell moved first to Galveston, then to Houston, where he settled in the Saint Street area. In 1869, he organized a small church a long San Felipe Road, (Old San Felipe Road?) The church was called Lovely Canada Baptist Church with Rev. M.R. Williams as Pastor.

Some sources from the 1890s indicate this was an official city, called Lovely Canada, Texas. There is also a misspelling of the town called Loving Canada.  Some 60 African American families lived here, and they mainly operated truck farms for a living.

The historic Houston town site had residential dwellings, a church, a club house, and a school.

August 14, 1903:

Colored Young Men's Home Club of Lovely Canada, Harris County.  Purpose, benevolence and charity.  Incorporates, Henry Williams, W. McCowan, E.H.C. Hall, John Carmile, and Henry Bishop.

February 8, 1918:

Hockley School
Loving Canada School
Bellaire School
Jeanetta School
Sunset Heights School
Acreage Home School
Humble School
Crosby School

One of the only photos of the original settlement shows 2 shotgun houses with a for sale sign listed in front. The houses were located on West Alabama Court, a small road between West Alabama Street and Richmond Avenue.


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Today I took a photo of these two street signs.  Saint Street at West Alabama Street.

I do wonder if the road was named Saint Street because the Lovely Canada Baptist Church was located on the street.  Probably not, but it's an idea. The church was, apparently, located off of San Felipe a few blocks away.


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For what its worth, 1890 map of Houston doesnt extend that far west. On map 32, it shows the area west of the plant as heavy wooded forest.  The Washington heights area was called "Hollingsworth" There are no volumes west of there on the 1890 map. 


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Got a few more maps in the 20s and 30s 


Saints street @ westheimer was picked up by the 1934. The block you photographed @Highrise Tower was clearly there by 1934. Its not developed in the 1924 map, at least to be picked up by the mappers. Somewhat unusual, theres clearly buildings there in the 1934 but it wasnt very well documented by the insurance map company, perhaps insinuating it was a separate jurisdiction at the time.

Now one thing to note, the 1925 map (File 8022) of the corner of Shephard and West Dallas is the first reference to river oaks and I can find on Houston Maps. It shoul dbe noted that there is a "colored" cemetery, today this is called College Memorial Park Cemetery. I'm reaching here but if there was African American settlement in River Oaks, this might be some evidence of that. however it was not uncommon for Jim-Crowe South cities to bury African Americans far from the city... so Im guessing at that point. To further ad to your point. A the corner of Newhouse and Gross,  "Nazarene Baptist Church (colored)", Green Pond School (Colored"), Free Gospel Church("Colored". The area is surrounded by residential dwellings and lightly occupied. I dont think its a stretch for me to state this area was primarily an African American community, at least circa 1925 map.... 


tx85804215644198599313_map.pdf tx85804215644198599287_map.pdf tx85804215544182598022_map.pdf

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From City of Houston's research on the Pleasant Bend Plantation Town Community in present-day Piney Point and Uptown.

The grounds of the Morse-Bragg Cemetery contain a small remnant of a once-vast antebellum plantation--

The cemetery was used from the 1850s by the Morse family and their neighbors from the surrounding community. It contains the remains of at least seven Confederate veterans, as well as many early citizens of rural Harris County, including members of the Morse, McFee, and Bragg, families, as well as the African-American Banks family, who had ties both to the Morse family and to the nearby Lovely Canada Baptist Church (est. 1876).

Laura Banks Koontz (c 1872-1928) Daughter of Jordan Banks and Rachel Banks. First husband was named Woods, and second husband was John Koontz. Worked as a domestic servant. Texas death certificate lists cirrhosis of liver as cause of death on November 23, 1928, and “Lovely Canady” as the place of burial or removal. Lovely Canada Baptist Church was adjacent to the Jordan Banks farm, but had no known cemetery. Laura Koontz was listed amongst Morse-Bragg decedents in the above-mentioned 1929 lawsuit.

I thought the original church was located on Dallas Street, which then turned into San Felipe Street.  According to my research, the original name of the road was called: The role of the nearby San Felipe-Harrisburg wagon road of 1831 in encouraging settlement of the area.

In this map, the Lovely Canada Baptist Church is item number 15, and is located near the intersection of San Felipe, Willowick, and West Lane.  Definitely in the heart of current-day River Oaks!



Zoom and distorted view:


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