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Patricia J. Thompson

Methodist Episcopal minister, missionary to Liberia, and expert stone mason, was born on Newport Island, Rhode Island, the son of Amos Brown, an elder in the Baptist Church. When George S. Brown was two years old, he moved with his family to Windham, Connecticut, and two years later to Ashford, Connecticut, where he grew up. According to his Journal (p. 8) Brown finally found himself in Kingsbury, New York, in order to recover from the effects of many years of carousing. He earned his living by building stonewalls, charging $1/day and a night's room and lodging for every rod (16.5 feet).

In 1828 Brown was converted by some Baptist friends but soon came under the influence of the Reverend William Ryder, whom he describes in his Journal p 19 as a Holy Ghost man an exhorter in the Methodist Episcopal Church He finally was led to join ...

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minister and Harlem civil rights leader, was born in Fairmount (Somerset County), Maryland, the son of Isaac and Emmeline Williams Cullen, who had been slaves. The youngest of eleven children, Cullen grew up in poverty, his father having passed away two months after his birth. He moved to Baltimore with his mother at age twelve and worked for a physician while attending Maryland State Normal School (later Towson University). He then taught public school in Fairmount for two years before entering Morgan College (later Morgan State University), an Episcopalian seminary in Baltimore; between his first and second year of studies, he also worked as a waiter in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He had received a preacher's license while in Fairmount and was ordained in 1900.

Cullen's religious awakening had taken place in September 1894 at Sharp Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore and he had preached his ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

college president and ordained Christian Methodist Episcopal minister, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, one of five children and the only son of Dorothy Jewell Duffy and George Tony French, Sr. Residing in Louisville's West End, his mother worked as a file clerk and his father was an employee for the Department of Defense Mapping Agency. When George was seven his father sat him down and foretold that someday his only son would become President of the United States. French, Sr., explained, as young George listened closely, that 95 percent of the U.S. Presidents had been attorneys, then members of Congress before attaining the White House. French, Jr., was thus set on his path. With his eye on politics, eleven-year-old French, Jr., sat intently with a tape recorder and microphone directed at his family's television set as the 1973 Senate hearings on the Watergate Scandal and subsequent Nixon resignation ...

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Michele Valerie Ronnick

professor of ancient Greek, philologist, ordained Methodist minister in the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, and missionary to the Congo, was born in Hephzibah, Georgia, not far from Augusta, to Gabriel and Sarah Gilbert. His parents were field hands, and scholars are not certain whether John was born free or enslaved. Some sources give his birth date as 6 July 1864. As a child he was eager to learn, but he had to mix long hours of farm work with brief periods of school. At last overwhelmed by poverty he was forced to withdraw from the Baptist Seminary in Augusta. After a three-year hiatus from schooling he resumed his work when Dr. George Williams Walker, a Methodist pastor who had come to Augusta to teach in 1884, and Warren A. Candler pastor of Augusta s St John Church offered him assistance With the help ...

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Kate Clifford Larson

preacher, farmer, and Underground Railroad agent, was born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Although details of his early life and parents are unknown, he probably spent his childhood and young adulthood laboring for white masters in Caroline and Dorchester counties, eventually settling near the town of East New Market with his owner, Henry Nichols. Of mixed race background, possibly American Indian and African descent, Green was eventually manumitted in 1832 by a provision in Nichols's will that required Green be sold for a term of five years and then set free. Green, however, purchased his own freedom within the year.

Green married an enslaved woman named Catherine, also known as Kitty and they had two children who survived to adulthood Though Kitty and their children were owned by a different man it appears that they were allowed to live with Green in ...

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Charles P. Toombs

and prototype for the title character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). Josiah Henson was born a slave in Charles County, Maryland, on 15 June 1789. The details of his life are recorded in The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself (1849). As a very young child Henson states that he was largely unaware that his life was in any way remarkable. It was not until the death of his master, Dr. McPherson and the sale of his mother and siblings that the real horrors and anxieties of slave life impressed him After his family is sold he recalls earlier times when his mother was sexually assaulted and his father was mutilated In spite of the cruel treatment his mother received at the hands of so called Christians she taught him ...

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Elizabeth Zoe Vicary

escaped slave and preacher, was born in Charles County, Maryland, on a farm owned by Francis Newman. As a child Henson frequently saw his parents abused and severely beaten. On one occasion, as a punishment for defending his wife, Henson's father was sentenced to a physical mutilation that left him permanently scarred. Although he was raised without religion, Henson was immediately converted to Christianity after his first exposure to it at a revivalist camp meeting. As a young boy, he was sold to Isaac Riley.

Because of his unusual strength and intelligence Henson was made superintendent of the farm at a young age He managed the plantation well doubling the annual crop production One day during an argument at a neighboring farm Henson defended his master in an argument with the other plantation s overseer In revenge the overseer and three of his slaves waylaid Henson one ...

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Peter Hudson

Josiah Henson was originally thought to be the model for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. He was born into slavery in Charles County, Maryland, but showed such loyalty and devotion that his owner, Isaac Riley, granted him exceptional privileges and responsibilities, and allowed him to work as a Methodist Episcopal preacher. Through his meager salary as a preacher, Henson was able to save almost $300, which he hoped would buy his freedom. Riley agreed with Henson on a price of $450, but knowing that Henson was illiterate, Riley changed the contract to $1,000 and then made plans to sell him. Henson learned of these betrayals and fearing forced separation from his family decided to escape to Canada, settling in Dresden, Canada West (Ontario).

Henson became a British patriot while in Canada and led a volunteer brigade against William Lyon Mackenzie and the Americans ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and grand master of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge, was born in Kennet Township, Pennsylvania, the son of Levi Hood and Harriet Walker. James and his eleven siblings lived so close to the Delaware border, where most blacks were still enslaved, that he could say he “slept in Pennsylvania and drank water from a Delaware spring” (Martin, 23–24). Levi Hood was a minister of the Union Church of Africans in Delaware and used his small farm in Pennsylvania as a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaping slaves. Harriet Walker had been a member of Richard Allen's Bethel Church in Philadelphia, which in 1816 became the mother congregation of the African Methodist Episcopal AME Church Though not an ordained minister the public role that she played in her husband s church as an exhorter was unique ...

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A preacher's son, James Walker Hood was born in Kennett Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. He was licensed to preach in New York in 1856 by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AMEZ) and, in 1860 was ordained deacon in New Haven Connecticut He did missionary work in Nova ...

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Jari Christopher Honora

statesman, minister, educator, businessman, and attorney, was born on the plantation of Dr. Francois Marie Prevost near Donaldsonville, Ascension Parish, Louisiana. He is purported to have been born to Rosemond Landry, a white laborer on the Prevost plantation and Marcelite, his slave mistress. He was born with the name Caliste. According to Landry's unpublished autobiography, he resided with a free couple of color and was educated at a school conducted for free children. Despite his owner's wish that he be freed, when Dr. Prevost's estate was settled on 16 May 1854 Caliste was auctioned off to Marius St Colombe Bringier a wealthy sugar planter in Ascension Parish He was sold for $1 665 Landry continued his education on Houmas the Bringier plantation and was trusted enough to live in the mansion He served various roles on Houmas Plantation eventually earning the position of superintendent ...

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Randall J. Stephens

author, Methodist Episcopal Church minister, educator, advocate of black self-help, and champion of Wesleyan perfectionism, was born a slave to Tom and Namie Lowery on the estate of John Frierson in Sumter County South Carolina As a young man Lowery was a house servant for his master and mistress on the Puddin Swamp plantation He learned to read and write early and developed a deep appreciation for the religious piety of his Methodist owners He later recalled his close relationship with the Friersons sleeping in the same room with them on a pallet next to their bed kindling fires for them and sounding the plantation s call for work each morning He also ran errands for the family on a pony bought for his use and he accompanied his owner on business trips to the county seat All this it appears gave Lowery certain ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

clergyman and diplomat, was born in Belize, British Honduras, a son of Emmanuel and Ann F. (Bending) Lyon, both of Jamaican descent. He moved with his parents in the 1870s to the United States, where he was educated privately in New Orleans, Louisiana, then at the Gilbert Industrial School in La Teche, Louisiana.

Lyon attended Straight University (now Dillard University) and New Orleans University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1888, and later a master's degree. He later took courses at Union Theological Seminary of New York, and in the 1890s, received a doctorate in Divinity from Wiley University (now Wiley College) in Marshall, Texas. While still an undergraduate, he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister, serving a series of Louisiana pastorates: La Teche in 1883, followed by three New Orleans churches (Mallalieu, Thompson, and Simpson). In 1894 he was appointed conference Sunday ...

Article

minister and author, was born in the area around Centerville, Queen Anne's County, Maryland. He was one of three children born to an enslaved woman from Virginia and a free black man from Maryland whose names are unknown. Offley's mother was freed by her master's will, and that document also ordered Offley and his sister freed at age twenty-five. Apparently, a codicil to the will required that Offley's younger brother be similarly freed at twenty-five, but Offley's mistress destroyed it before probate.

This complex but not uncommon arrangement a mix of free and enslaved people within a family could well have led to significant problems First it was likely that Offley s mistress and her children having already destroyed part of the will and so enslaving his brother for life might have attempted to sell off Offley and his sister Second Maryland like several states with strict black codes ...

Article

Carolyn Wilkins

minister, was born in Shelbyville, Kentucky, to John Robinson, the son of a wealthy white farmer, and his black domestic servant Emmaline Goode (née Riggs). Lucy Wallace, an African American laundry woman, adopted Robinson and inspired him to become a minister. In 1890 Robinson became one of the first black students to attend Indiana University, and he continued his studies at Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1894 Robinson joined the Lexington Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (an alliance of ministers serving black congregations in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois). In 1898 he married Juanita Kercheval. The couple had two children: Lucile (born in 1899) and Juanita Marjory (born in 1904). They also adopted Charles (born in 1894), Robinson's son from a relationship with an unknown woman, and Fredricka (born in 1901), a Liberian orphan.

Between 1899 and 1905 Robinson was the pastor ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

minister and author, was born a slave in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the son of Fanny and Nathan Snowden, slaves belonging to Nicolas Harden and Ely Dorsey, respectively. John's maternal grandmother, Sarah Minty Barrikee, was stolen from a coastal African village in Guinea in 1767 or 1768. There she had a husband and child whom she never saw again. The Hardens were Catholic and introduced her to Christianity through their Catholic faith. Sarah regaled her children and grandchildren with stories about Africa and the traditions of her people until her death in 1823 or 1824. Thomas Collier a white Englishman was John s maternal grandfather Family lore has it that only the anti miscegenation laws of the period prevented them from marrying Little is known of John s paternal lineage except that his paternal grandfather was a slave named John Snowden and ...

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Patricia J. Thompson

Methodist Episcopal minister and antislavery activist, was born in Maryland apparently as a slave. Little is known of Samuel Snowden's early life though there are a number of references to his having been a former slave. In an address before the fourth New England Anti-Slavery Convention held in Boston, Massachusetts in 1837 he talks about his experience as a slave in the cornfields but gives no further information about when and where that was or how and when he came to be a free man.

Snowden first appears in the North in Portland, Maine, in the early 1800s where he was described in land records, first as a laborer and later as a yeoman (a small farmer who tills his own soil). On 3 January 1808 Snowden married Nancy Marsh from Monmouth, Maine, and they had at least one child, a daughter Isabella Though no death record has ...

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Christopher J. Anderson

licensed minister and Methodist missionary, was born in Powhatan County, Virginia, to parents of African and European ancestry. His mother and father, whose names and occupations are not known, were practicing Baptists of noted reputation. Nor is it known whether Stewart had any siblings. During his childhood Stewart received religious instruction from his parents and attended a winter school for African American boys. He was an excellent singer and worked as a dyer. In adulthood those acquainted with Stewart described his physical appearance as light-skinned, five feet eight inches and one hundred forty pounds (Love, 338).

In 1806 or 1807 at age twenty one Stewart left Virginia for Marietta Ohio During his travels Stewart was robbed of all personal belongings and upon reaching his destination struggled with poverty and with being away from his family Stewart eventually found work as a sugar maker which helped him earn money ...

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Carolyn Wilkins

minister, was born in La Grange, Kentucky, the second son of John Sweeney, a mason, and his wife, Mary Sweeney. He was educated at Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute (later known as Kentucky State University), Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, and Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in Oberlin, Ohio.

Sweeney began his career in 1911 at Sycamore Methodist Episcopal Church in Pee Wee Valley, Kentucky. For the next twenty-nine years, he belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church's Lexington Conference, an alliance of ministers serving black congregations in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois. In 1910 he married Mary Ford. Their only child, Benjamin, was born the following year. Sweeney and Ford divorced in 1921, and in 1922 he married Alberta King, a social worker. The couple had four children: Samuel Jr., John, Paul, and Elizabeth.

Sweeney served as Ohio District Superintendent for ...

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Horace Clarence Boyer

(b Berlin, MD, July 7, 1851/59; d Philadelphia, July 26, 1933). American composer of gospel songs . He worked as a janitor at the Bainbridge Street Methodist Church, Philadelphia, while preparing for the Methodist ministry at the Brandywine Institute and through correspondence with the Boston Theological Seminary. In 1885 he passed the ministerial examination and began a series of pastorates in New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware, and in 1902 became pastor of the Bainbridge Street Church. A very popular preacher, he frequently made nationwide tours and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity by Bennett College, North Carolina.

Tindley began composing gospel songs as early as 1901 (I’ll overcome someday and What are they doing in heaven) and continued to publish works that captured the musical interest of the black religious community until 1926 His compositions draw on the ...