Beginning in 1918, for more than six decades the Echols family was central to the history and development of the First Shiloh Baptist Church of Buffalo, New York. Rev. E.J. Echols, Sr. served as Pastor of First Shiloh for 43 years (1918-1961); and his son Rev. E.J. Echols, Jr. succeeded him and was pastor for 22 years (1962-1984). The Echols Family name is well known and respected in the African American community of Buffalo. Like the Nash family name, the Echols family name is an icon in the 20th century history of the Buffalo African American community.
The project to microfilm the church papers of the Echols Family was initiated by Mrs. Willie Mae Johnson, Chairperson of the First Shiloh Baptist Church History Committee. She worked with Ms. Marsha A. Echols, and Ms. Judith M. Echols, who had assembled a core collection of Echols’ Family papers. The two women had organized the said papers and put them in file folders.That basic collection was turned over to Mrs. Johnson. Mrs. Johnson solicited and added other papers, photos and church records from persons who had been members of First Shiloh during the Echols’ eras. In addition, more papers were added from the First Shiloh church archives. The papers from the church archives were assembled and organized by the First Shiloh History Committee, working first under the leadership of Mrs. Leah Hodges and then under the leadership of Mrs. Johnson. After more than four years of collecting and assembling, the result is a fairly substantial collection of papers and over 300 photographs that highlight the involvement of the Echols’ family in the origin and growth of First Shiloh.
The papers were indexed and prepared for microfilming by Monroe and Freddie Mae Fordham. The papers were microfilmed by James Prokos, a student at Buffalo State College. Prokos worked under the supervision of Buffalo State College’s Fordham Center for Regional History. The more than 300 photographs were scanned to a CD-R by Monroe Fordham and cataloged under the title, “Echols’ Family Church Photo Album.” The photo and microfilmed collections are cataloged with the “Buffalo Afro-American Collection,” and the “Buffalo State College Regional History Collection.”