Former slaves as well as free blacks realized that education was critical to African-American aspirations. Immediately after the Civil War, the Shiloh Baptist Church organized a school for black students. The Freedmen's Bureau supported this effort, with funding, and Northern white teachers came to provide instruction. One such missionary, a woman from Ohio named Sophia Hatch taught students here and at other black schools in Fredericksburg until 1890.
In addition to promoting education, black churchmen became politically active. In 1876, the Reverend George Dixon and a group of residents proposed a slate of black candidates for local office. None were voted in, though, and the end of Reconstruction effectively curtailed further attempts to obtain black representation. Not until 1966 was a black person elected to Fredericksburg City Council. The candidate was Reverend Lawrence A. Davies, who subsequently ran for mayor in 1976 and served in that capacity until 1996.
(caption) Reverend Lawrence A. Davies became the pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) in 1962. He became the first black to hold elected office in Fredericksburg, serving first as a councilman and then as mayor.