Several residents of "The Fort" community were founders of the Oakland Baptist Church, which is located at the intersection of King Street and Braddock Road. The congregation started worshiping in a bush arbor as Oak Hill Baptist Mission in 1888 and moved to 3408 King Street in 1893. Despite the hardships associated with the community's relocation and the development of Fort Ward into a historical park, the Oakland Baptist Church and Cemetery survive and stand as symbols of the self-sufficiency, integrity, and longevity of this distinctive African American community.
Oakland Baptist Church Founders
Clara Shorts Adams
John Wesley Casey
Harriet McKnight Shorts
Daniel Simms Sr.
James William Terrell
The words of "Miss Lizabeth" make evident the church members' fervent sense of community, determination, and self-sufficiency:
"They weren't what you call builders, but they helped to build the church. Rev. Barnes, he had been sick. And in 1939 he was getting back on his feet pretty good. And Rev. Moore, he was helping him to finish the church up there as well. And then the fellas from the Episcopal High School and Seminary, when they had a breakfast break or a lunch break, they would come down here and help."
The Deacon Board set a strict moral and social code that guided the Oakland Baptist Church members' lives beyond the church walls. Deacon John Wesley Casey, a founder of the church and chairman of the Deacon Board, testified at the Fairfax County Circuit Court divorce case Bailey v. Bailey in 1909:
"... and we called her before the church board, as we have a board there to call up such things before them, and she said she was not going to stop ... and he said he was not going to stop, and under these circumstances we expelled them from the church."