- Eric Gardner
Pillsbury was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts, to Oliver and Anna Smith Pillsbury. His ancestors had lived in New England since 1640. His father, a blacksmith, moved the growing family to Henniker, New Hampshire, in 1814 and took up farming. Pillsbury attended area schools and grew into his family's beliefs—temperance, abolition, and Congregationalism. After working as a farmhand and then moving to Massachusetts to work as a wagoner, Pillsbury returned to Henniker in 1832, joining the Congregational church there the following year.
Pillsbury studied at the Gilmantown Theological Seminary in New Hampshire between 1836 and 1838 and afterward completed a year at Andover Theological Seminary. He was licensed to preach and received an appointment at the Congregational church in Loudon, New Hampshire. Before beginning work in his congregation, Pillsbury spent two months as an agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society—most often traveling with Nathaniel Rogers the editor ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.