In 1856, Preston’s Second Baptist Church was established by Reverend Richard Preston and was named Second Preston Church with reverend Benson Smithers as the pastor. Second Preston Church was one of the original member churches of the African Baptist Association of Nova Scotia, founded by Reverend Richard Preston in 1854. Sometime in the 1860s, Second Preston Church was re-named South Church. In 1879, the congregation reorganized and built a new building in the New Road settlement, now called North Preston, under the leadership of Reverend James Thomas, a Welshman by birth,. The members of South Church renamed their church and new building Saint Thomas Baptist Church out of their love for and in memory of their former pastor Reverend James Thomas who died before the official opening of the new building. Reverend Alexander Bailey became the pastor of the reorganized church. Reverend Edward Dixon succeeded Reverend Bailey as pastor in 1886. (From Church Websight).
About North Preston by Charles Stevenson
In a way, this was a place where black people lived and disserted to a better standard of living once, they found a better place to move to. This area of land was first settled by the black loyalists in the early eighteenth century. According to (King & Limerick) it’s confirmed that 150 different families moved there during the first migration. Unfortunately, only half of the families living there were granted land. Preston was quite different compared to other black communities in Nova Scotia at the time. It was comprised of both white and black people, but equality was nonexistent. It was evident that the white people there were given much more compared to the black people living there. (King & Limerick) mention that over time more and more black refugees left leaving only a quarter of the original number of freed slaves that migrated there. Although the land remained empty and without people, that soon would change. Due to the number of maroons in Jamaica, the British tried to sign a peace treaty with the slaves that freed themselves. This was quickly broken after the maroons tried to free the rest of the slaves, they were eventually sent to North Preston by the British for breaking the peace treaty. They were also treated the same as the black loyalists that came before, but due to their rebellious nature, they would eventually be moved to Sierra Leone. (King & Limerick) mention that the migrators after the Jamaicans would remain indefinitely in North Preston. While the War of 1812 was occurring, the British decided to promise the slaves freedom with a chance to live on a land of their own. Once these slaves were transported to North Preston they remained there. The descendants of the slaves currently live in North Preston today.
https://blackloyalist.com/cdc/communities/preston.htm. (n.d.). https://blackloyalist.com/cdc/communities/preston.htm
“Scene at North Preston, showing the Baptist church” courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives
Saint Thomas Baptist Church – courtesy of Saint Thomas Baptist Church.