Rev. David Elias Dibble
Reverend David Elias Dibble was one of Texas’s first ordained Black Methodist ministers. Each Sunday, he stood before a small Houston congregation to spread the gospel—a passion that ultimately became his life’s work. The efforts of his leadership are reflected by several of Houston’s most historic establishments.
Rev. Dibble, as many called him, founded Trinity United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in Houston. For years, the church operated as a small school to educate newly freed slaves after Emancipation. Several of his church members helped lay the groundwork for Wiley College and Texas Southern University, two Historically Black colleges and Universities that remain pillars of the Black community.
Dibble was born enslaved in Georgia and brought to Texas in 1837. He remained illiterate while enslaved but later taught himself to read and write. Although he was a carpenter by trade, in 1864, Dibbles became an anointed preacher. Through ministry, he became a voice for the people and a pioneering missionary.
While many knew Dibble as a respected minister, his role as a religious leader expanded beyond the pulpit.
In 1872 he helped establish Emancipation Park alongside Jack Yates, Richard Brock, and Richard Allen. The landmark park became the go-to space to celebrate Juneteenth. It remains the oldest park in Texas and draws in hundreds yearly to celebrate and honor the founder’s legacy. Initially, Trinity United Methodist Church and Antioch Missionary were the go-tos for the annual festive picnics to celebrations.
Dibble founded many Black establishments: Mutual Aid Society, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free & Accepted Masons of Texas, Magnolia Lodge No. 3., and Olivewood Cemetery.
He united families in marriage and worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau to help provide food, housing, medical aid, education, etc. His charitable work continued until he died in 1885. Dibble’s legacy remains that of a religious leader and missionary for the people, especially those in the historic 3rd ward Houston.