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Steven J. Niven

lieutenant‐governor of South Carolina and the leading nineteenth century African American freemason, was born in Philadelphia to parents whose names have not been recorded. His father was a free person of color from Haiti and his mother was a white Englishwoman. Gleaves was educated in Philadelphia and New Orleans, and as a young man worked as a steward on steamboats along the Mississippi River.

Gleaves first came to prominence as an organizer of Masonic lodges in Pennsylvania and Ohio. While black freemasonry had gained a foothold under Prince Hall in Massachusetts in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, by the 1840s, Pennsylvania was the center of black fraternalism, and Gleaves would become one of the Order's leading evangelists before the Civil War. In 1846 the year he was first initiated as a brother mason the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge of Prince Hall Masons appointed Gleaves a District Deputy Grand ...

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Mathias Hanses

a cowboy and town founder most famous for honoring enduring pioneers with single white flowers, was born in Orangeville, Texas, the eldest son of two former slaves, Alex and Annie Hooks. While still at the Hooks Plantation, located outside of Texarkana, Alex had learned to read and write (his owner taught him in defiance of the law and used him as a bookkeeper), which helped him avoid the economic toils so many penniless freedmen faced in the postbellum South. In Orangeville, Alex Hooks became a preacher and prominent educator in that tiny town's black community, and the Bible, accordingly, played a dominant role in the education of his five sons and three daughters. Wiry, skinny Mathew Hooks soon went by the nickname Bones and developed such rugged attitudes and salt of the earth perseverance as would enable his successes in the Lone Star State Among them were ...