First Bryan Baptist Church, Savannah, GA

First Bryan Baptist Church Historical Marker Georgia

The oldest, continuous African American Baptist church in the U.S., the First Bryan Baptist Church was founded in 1788 by Andrew Bryan, a Savannah slave. He served as the first pastor of the church and later purchased the current site of the church after he purchased his freedom in 1793. He paid “30 pounds of silver” (about $150.00) for the land, and the original church building was constructed in 1795. The land where the church was built is located on land that originally was part of the Yamacraw Indian Village.

The current structure was constructed between 1873 and 1888, and it was designed by John B. Hogg. The stained glass inside the church features some of the founding fathers of the African American church.

First Bryan Baptist Church, Savannah, GA

Historical Marker Inscription

First Bryan Baptist Church
Constituted 1788

First Bryan dates its founding to the constitution of the Ethiopian Church of Jesus Christ under Rev. Andrew Bryan in January 1788, making it one of the nation’s oldest African-American Baptist churches. Known later as First Colored Church, First African, and Third African, the congregation took the name First Bryan Baptist in 1867. Construction of the first church building began here in 1793 on property purchased by Reverend Bryan. The current building was completed in 1874. First Bryan ministers including Garrison Frazier and Ulysses Houston attended the nearby meeting of local black leaders with Gen. Sherman in January 1865 that resulted in Special Field Orders No. 15, promising confiscated coastal land to freed slaves. In the twentieth century, Civil Rights leader W.W. Law taught Sunday School at First Bryan for many years.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society and First Bryan Baptist Church.

Birthplace of John C. Fremont, Savannah, GA

John C. Fremont Historical Marker, Savannah, GA

Known as the “The Great Pathfinder”, John Charles Frémont was born in Savannah, Georgia, on January 21, 1813, and he was one of only two native Georgians that fought for the U.S. Army during the Civil War. During the years before the war, Frémont led several exploratory expeditions into the West. His goal was to create surveys and maps for the U.S. westward expansion.

During 1838 to 1839, he assisted Joseph Nicollet, a well-known scientist, in surveying the Upper Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Frémont became famous for his campaigns into the west during the 1840s, including one that involved crossing the Sierra Nevada during the winter. He was instrumental in securing California for the U.S. during the Mexican-American War, capturing the cities of Presidio, Santa Barbara and sections of Los Angeles.

Frémont was fortunate to strike gold during the California gold rush and was a California senator from 1850 to 1851. He unsuccessfully ran for president of the U.S. in 1856, becoming the first Republican Party candidate.

After the Civil War (1878 to 1887), Frémont would become the territorial governor of Arizona. He died on July 13, 1890.

Historic Marker Inscription

One of two native Georgians who served as generals in the U.S. Army during the Civil War, John C. Frémont was born nearby on January 21, 1813. As an army officer, his 1840s explorations of the American West gained him fame as the “Pathfinder.”  During the U.S.-Mexican War, Frémont seized California for the U.S. and was elected one of its first Senators in 1850.  Opposed to slavery’s expansion, he ran unsuccessfully in 1856 as the first Republican presidential candidate. During the Civil War, Frémont’s 1861 proclamation freeing all Confederate-owned slaves in Missouri was annulled by President Lincoln.  After lackluster performance as a combat commander, Frémont resigned from the U.S. Army in 1864.  He later served as governor of the Arizona Territory (1878-1881) and died in New York in 1890.

Erected for the Civil War 150 commemoration by the Georgia Historical Society, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the Georgia Battlefields Association


131 Yamacraw Village, Savannah, GA, 31401

32° 4′ 57.740″ N, 81° 5′ 55.900″ W

Andrew Bryan – Savannah, GA, Historical Marker

Andrew Bryan - Georgia Historical Markers

Andrew Bryan was born in 1737 on a plantation in Goose Creek, South Carolina, which is near Charleston. Born a slave, he served as a coachman and body servant for Jonathan Bryan. Jonathan Bryan, his brother Hugh and a number of other planters had been arrested for preaching to slaves. They had been part of a group of plantation owners who had been trying to evangelize to the slaves.

Andrew become a Baptist in 1782, converted by George Liele, who was the first black Georgian Baptist. Both Andrew and his wife, Hannah, were baptized by Liele. Andrew continued to preach to small groups near Savannah even after Liele left the area.

Andrew was supported by the planters, and he wound up building a shack for his flock, which even included a handful of white people. Still, there were a number of masters who refused to allow their slaves to be baptized. And, many Georgian masters forbade their slaves to listen to sermons by Andrew due to fears of uprisings and desertions. Many of the slaves who attended the sermons were imprisoned, harassed and whipped. Even Andrew was imprisoned. When released, Bryan’s masters allowed him to continue preaching on a barn on the property.

In 1788, a white minister by the name of Abraham Marshall officially recognized Andrew’s small flock. He baptized more than 40 members of the group and ordained Andrew. After Jonathan Bryan died, Andrew Bryan purchased his freedom and raised money to erect a church in Savannah, Georgia, in 1794.

Starting with 575 members in 1788, the First African Baptist Church grew to nearly 2,800 members in 1831. By 1800, there were two satellite churches.

Andrew died on October 12, 1812, and he is buried in Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetery.

Historical Marker Inscription

Andrew Bryan was born at Goose Creek, S.C. about 1716. He came to Savannah as a slave and here he was baptized by the Negro missionary, the Reverend George Leile, in 1781. Leile evacuated with the British in 1782 at the close of the American Revolution and Bryan took up his work. He preached at Yamacraw and Brampton Plantation. On January 20, 1788, the Reverend Abraham Marshall (White) and the Reverend Jessie Peter (Colored) ordained Andrew Bryan and certified the congregation at a Brampton barn as the Ethiopian Church of Jesus Christ.

The Reverend Bryan moved from place to place with his congregation and was even imprisoned and whipped for preaching during a time when whites feared any slave gathering as a focus for rebellion. He persevered and finally bought his and his family’s freedom and purchased this lot for his Church. Andrew Bryan pastored until his death, October 6, 1812. He is buried in Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetery.


The marker lies within the Yamacraw Square Park, which is located across the street from the First Bryan Baptist Church
565 West Bryan Street, Savannah, GA 31401

N 32° 04.937 W 081° 05.934