Sandwich First Baptist Church
Erected in 1851 on land donated by the Crown, the Sandwich First Baptist Church (a National Historic Site) represents the once numerous Black border-town churches which were built to serve the rapidly increasing numbers of Underground Railroad settlers. This church received, sheltered, and assisted many of these new arrivals. All members were required to aid in its construction by giving donations or making bricks. It replaced a log cabin on Hill Street in Olde Sandwich Towne whose use as a Black church dated back to the early 1820s.
Backstory and Context
A focal point for many local anti-slavery activities, the Sandwich First Baptist Church stands as an important symbol of that struggle. When a bounty hunter was seen in the area, a bell was rung and every person who heard the ringing of the bell picked up a bell and began to ring it so that those who had escaped from the South would have time to hide in a designated spot in the church. The pastor would lock the door at the hearing of the bell. When all the enslaved people were hidden away he would instruct his church to start singing "There’s a Stranger at the Door" and the church doors would be opened. Unable to find whoever they were looking for; the bounty hunter left the church and the area.
When you visit Sandwich First Baptist Church today, you will be transported back in time to discover what folklore and history have taught us.
George Williams was separated from half of his family at a very young age. He then lived in Ohio as a free man, but did not find as great success until he moved to Sandwich, Ontario.