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Loren Schweninger

James Thomas Rapier was born of free parents in Florence, Alabama, the son of John H. Rapier, a barber, and Susan (maiden name unknown). As a youngster, he was sent to live with his father's mother, Sally Thomas, and his father's half-brother, James Thomas, after whom Rapier was named, and to attend school in Nashville, Tennessee. Sally and James Thomas, although legally slaves, hired their own time and lived autonomous lives. Young Rapier thrived under their care and learned to read and write.

At the age of nineteen Rapier was sent by his father to Buxton, Canada West, an all-black settlement, to continue his education. At a school founded by the Presbyterian minister William King he studied Latin Greek mathematics and the Bible He also underwent a religious conversion and later taught school in the settlement My coming to Canada is worth all the world to ...