Houston Reedy served as the second pastor of Texas’s first organized African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Initially built on land set aside for slave services by local whites in 1848, the church at Twentieth and Broadway in Galveston was known as the Negro Methodist Episcopal Church South until it was reorganized by the AME in 1866.
Reedy was most likely born into slavery in DeKalb County, Tennessee, about 1832. He was the son of Louisa White. He became the pastor at the Galveston church in 1867 and served until 1868, when he moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Reedy registered with the Freedman’s Bank in December 1867 and listed Galveston as his residence and provided his own signature. His occupation was listed as minister/missionary, and the registration identified his wife, Harriet Wilhelmina Reedy, and three children—Harriet Louisa, Cassana, and A. J. During his tenure in Galveston, Reedy hosted the first two annual conferences of the AME Church. These conferences represented the first meetings of black Methodists that were conducted by African Americans themselves.
Sometime after Reedy left the church, it was renamed Reedy Chapel to commemorate his service to the congregation. The original building burned in 1885 but was rebuilt and survived the Galveston hurricane of 1900. In 2013 the church still stood at its original location, buffeted and scarred, preserved by care and several remodeling projects.
Reedy died of consumption in Baton Rouge in October 1869. According to census records, his wife was teaching school in Baton Rouge in 1870 and was living with two young children and another young teacher. The youngest child, Cordelia, was listed as a one year-old and born in Louisiana. Her sister Rosanna, age three, and born in Texas, was probably the Cassana listed in the Freedman’s Bank record. No other information explains what happened to A. J. or Harriet Louisa. Reverend Reedy’s twenty-six-year-old, New York-born wife, Harriet, was not left destitute by her husband’s death. In Baton Rouge, she owned the best house in her immediate neighborhood and claimed a personal estate of $100. Reedy’s mother, Louisa, still lived in Warren County, Tennessee, and maintained a household that included two teenage sons, one adult daughter, and another woman and child, perhaps another daughter and a grandchild.
No other information about Reedy’s life is currently known, but the parishioners at Reedy’s Galveston AME church recognized his qualities and contributions when they named their church for him.