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Texas Independence Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Brenham: African American Catholic Community


This is among Texas' oldest communities of African American Catholics. In the late 1840s, the Spann family, settlers from South Carolina, brought slaves to the area. The Catholic settlers and their slaves worshipped together at first, and the nearby Old Catholic cemetery, which is still active, contains markers for both the Spann family and their slaves, the Sweeds. African American Catholics formed their own distinct congregation here in 1888 under the leadership of Father Martin Francis Huhn, who conducted Mass in the same log building once used by the original settlers and slaves. Descendants of the Spann and Sweed families continued to share a connection through their Catholic heritage. In 1969, land deeded to descendants of the Sweed family by the Spann family became the site of a new church building, the Blessed Virgin Mary Chapel, and a hall for the African American Catholic community. More recently, in 1995, the town constructed the newest church building, which continues to serve Brenham's African American Catholics, including descendants of the Sweed family.

Watch the following video to learn more about Freedmen's Communities in Texas. This video was produced for inclusion in the African Americans in Texas mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. For more information about the mobile tour and African American cultural heritage in Texas, visit the African American Heritage theme page at the following link: http://texastimetravel.com/travel-themes/main-african-american-heritage


Location

  • 17370 Sweed Road
  • Brenham, Texas
  • 77880

Contact

Hours & Fees

  • Daily. This is an active parish, please be respectful of services.

  • Free


Map & Directions

12 miles northeast of Brenham on SH 105, then north-northwest on CR100/Sweed Road