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Alan K. Lamm

Civil War army chaplain and Baptist minister, was born in North Branford, near New Haven, Connecticut, to Ruel and Jereusha Asher. His paternal grandfather had been captured in the Guinea region of Africa at the age of four and was brought to America as a slave. Young Jeremiah grew up hearing fascinating tales of his grandfather's life, which included military service during the American Revolutionary War. Those stories would later inspire Asher in his own life.

Asher's father was a shoemaker who married a Native American woman from Hartford, Connecticut. Jeremiah grew up as a member of the only African American family in North Branford and was permitted to attend school along with white children. At the age of twelve he left school to help out his family financially, and over the next several years he worked as a farmhand, servant, and coachman. In 1833 he married Abigail Stewart ...


Kathryn Grover

the first officially designated black chaplain in the Union army, was born free in Norfolk, Virginia. His father and grandfather, Henry Jackson Sr. and Jr., had been vessel pilots on the rivers flowing into Chesapeake Bay; Jackson's father had been freed in 1811 and during the War of 1812 ran the British blockade. According to an unpublished 1848 autobiography William Jackson “learned all the arts of steamboating from the kitchen to the cabins from there to the machinery,” and until Nat Turner's 1831 insurrection Jackson worked in the barrooms of the steamers and freighters that traveled between Norfolk and both Baltimore and Charleston. Jackson's father, stung by laws curtailing the assembly of free blacks after the Turner revolt, went to Philadelphia to find shelter for the family, and his son followed in 1832.

From 1834 to 1835 Jackson served in the U.S. Navy onboard the sloop Vandalia ...


Patricia J. Thompson

Methodist minister, antislavery activist, and chaplain in the Civil War, was born in Norfolk, Connecticut, the son of former slaves, Jupiter and Fannie Mars.

Since his parents had escaped from their master, a Presbyterian minister, prior to his birth, John N. Mars grew up as a free man and was able to obtain six months of formal schooling. His brother James, however, born before their parents escape, remained a slave until his twenty-first birthday.

At age nineteen Mars left Connecticut and traveled to Spencertown and Ghent, New York, where he lived and worked for a number of years. Around 1824 he married Silvia Gordon and they had two sons, John S. (born c. 1832) and George (born c. 1835).

While living in the area Mars was converted in the Methodist Episcopal Church MEC and soon began to experience a call to preach He ...


Alan K. Lamm

Buffalo Soldier, U.S. Army chaplain, and African Methodist Episcopal (AME) pastor, was born a slave in Charleston, South Carolina, to L. S. and Susan Prioleau. After the Civil War he was educated at Charleston's public schools and Avery Institute. He then entered Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and in the winter months taught school at the Lyons Township in Orangeburg County. During the same period he joined the AME Church at St. Matthews, South Carolina, where his father served as pastor. Young Prioleau assisted his father and was eventually ordained.

After completing his education at Claflin in 1875, Prioleau served as pastor of the Double Springs Mission in Laurens County, South Carolina. In 1880 he entered Wilberforce University in Ohio where he pursued the bachelor of divinity degree He helped pay for his studies by working as a farmhand in nearby Green and Clark counties ...


Daniel W. Hamilton

Reconstruction politician, civil rights leader, and murder victim, was born free in Kentucky, the child of parents of mixed ethnicity whose names are unknown. When he was a child Randolph's family moved to Ohio, where he was educated in local schools. In 1854 he entered Oberlin College's preparatory department, before attending the college from 1857 to 1862. At Oberlin Randolph received instruction both in the liberal arts and at the college's theological seminary. Soon after graduation he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister. During the Civil War Randolph served as a chaplain in the Twenty-sixth Colored Infantry, which was dispatched to Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 1864.

After the war ended in 1865 Randolph applied for a position with the Freedmen s Bureau He was not initially given an appointment but was instead sent to South Carolina by the American Missionary Association a ...