African Americans originally came to Tarpon Springs in the mid-1880s to work in the lumber mills. In the 1890s, a number of sponge divers arrived from the Bahamas and Key West to harvest and prepare the wealth of sponges found in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Anclote River. Devoutly religious, these pioneers founded the African American Episcopal Church in 1887 and the Baptist Church in 1892. Union Academy School, the first African-American school in Tarpon Springs, was established in the early 1900s. The dedicated work ethic of early African-American settlers continues today. Many of their descendants serve as educators, politicians, and ministers.