The Journal of Negro History, Volume 7, 1922
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Volume VII


Table of Contents

Vol VII—January, 1922—No. 1

Slave Society on the Southern Plantation FRANCES L. HUNTER Evolution of the Negro Baptist Church WALTER H. BROOKS Early Negro Education in West Virginia C. G. WOODSON First Negro Churches in Washington JOHN W. CROMWELL Documents Communications Book Reviews Notes Proceedings of Annual Meeting

Vol VII—April, 1922—No. 2

Negro Congressmen a Generation After ALRUTHEUS A. TAYLOR Priority of the Silver Bluff Church WALTER H. BROOKS The Negroes in Mauritius A. F. FOKEER Documents Book Reviews Notes

Vol VII—July, 1922—No. 3

The Anderson Fugitive Case FRED LANDON A Negro Senator G. DAVID HOUSTON Lincoln's Emancipation Plan HARRY S. BLACKISTON The Journal of Isaaco LOUIS N. FEIPEL Communications Documents Book Reviews Notes

Vol VII—October, 1922—No. 4

Brazilian and United Status Slavery Compared HERBERT B. ALEXANDER Origins of Abolition in Santo Domingo GEORGE W. BROWN Canadian Negroes and the Rebellion of 1837 FRED LANDON Lott Cary, the Colonizing Missionary MILES MARK FISHER Communications Documents Book Reviews Notes






In the year 1619, memorable in the history of the United States, a Dutch trading vessel carried to the colonists of Virginia twenty Negroes from the West Indies and sold them as slaves, thus laying the foundation of slave society in the American colonies. In the seventeenth century slavery made but little progress in these parts of America, and during that whole period not more than twenty-five thousand slaves were brought to the colonies to work in the tobacco and rice fields of the South or to serve as maids, butlers, and coachmen in the North. The eighteenth century, however, saw a rapid increase in slavery, until the census of 1790, much to the surprise of most observers, showed a slave population of 679,679 living in every State and territory of the country except Massachusetts and Maine.

With the extensive development of various industries in the colonies, slavery soon left the North and was used exclusively in the South. There are several reasons for this shift. In the first place, the colonies of the North were settled by people from the lower and middle classes, who had been accustomed to working for themselves and who thus had no use for slaves, while the South was settled largely by adventurers, who had never worked and who looked upon labor as dishonorable. In the second place, the North had a temperate climate in which any man could safely work, while the heat of the South was so intense that a white man endangered his life by working in it, whereas the Negro was protected by facility of acclimation. Another cause was the difference in soil. The soil of the South was favorable to the growth of cotton, tobacco, rice, and sugar, the cultivation of which crops required large forces of organized and concentrated labor, which the slaves supplied. On the other hand, the soil of the North favored the raising of cereals, which required neither organized nor concentrated labor; for one man working alone was able to produce more than one man working in a group: and thus slave labor was of little or no advantage to the North. Then, too, its soil, lacking the fertility of that of the South, required considerable fertilizing, which slave labor did not have the intelligence to learn. Thus in 1750 the slaves included three per cent of the population of the New England colonies, nine per cent of the middle colonies, and twenty-five per cent of those south of the Potomac River.[1] By the end of the eighteenth century every State north of Maryland, with the exception of New Jersey, had provided for the immediate or gradual abolition of slavery, while the rise of the cotton industry, quickened by the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, had bound the institution on the South.

In order to understand the institutions of the South, it is first necessary to know something about the dominating class of people. The planters, numbering in 1860 about 384,750 and owning 2,308,518 slaves,[2] were first in the social scale and controlled affairs. "They included an aristocracy or gentry reflecting distinctions of colonial government, and expanding under influences that prevented an amalgamation of widely separated elements."[3]

The home of the planter was usually a large country house of ten or twelve rooms, situated on an elevation, or river bluff. The house was surrounded by a large porch, almost as tall as the house itself, the roofs of which were supported by rows of large white columns. Inside the house there was a large hall, with a wide stairway leading to another hall on the second floor. Opening from the hall on the first floor were the parlors, library and dining room, and, on the second floor, the living rooms of the family. The ceilings were high, and the windows tall and wide. The carpets were very plain, but very heavy, while on the walls were portraits of ancestors, of Washington, or of Calhoun. The house was surrounded by beautiful lawns with tall spreading trees and sometimes marble statues.[4] The home of the planter was indeed picturesque.

The typical planter's family was composed of about twelve sons and daughters, a "tall, lank, and rather weatherworn gentleman, and a slender, soft-voiced, weary-looking mother, unless one counts the inevitable guest or the old-maiden cousin, who, like the furniture or the servants, always formed part of a planter's household."[5] The planter, the master of the plantation, was usually well educated, honorable, and generous. His chief work was managing the plantation. He planned, ordered, and saw to the performance of the work. He also spent much time engaging in politics, caring more for the honor of the public station than for the remuneration, and often went on sporting trips, being used to out-of-door life from boyhood. "The high sense of personal worth, the habit of command, the tyranny engendered by the submission of the prostrate race, made the Southern gentleman jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,"[6] and, as a result, the duel was very common. Men went about fully armed and used their pistols with slight provocation. They were used to exercising absolute power over their dependents and became furious at opposition; thus a quarrel between one lord and another was, during the earlier period, usually settled by the pistol.

The mistress, usually mother of a large family of her own and over-mother of the pickaninnies, was the "chatelaine of the whole establishment." She supervised the domestic duties, superintended the household industries, was head nurse for the sick, and instructor in religion and morals for the family and for the slaves. She was highly honored and respected by the men, who showed her much consideration. "No patience was had with plans to bring women into competition with the men in the public life; but a generalization of the Pauline advice to the Corinthian church did not hinder the mother from exercising a gentle but firm sway over her husband and sons, while she set the example of virtue and modesty for her daughters."[7]

One of the chief characteristics of the Southern people was their hospitality, which was increased by the fact that they had few opportunities to extend it. Any traveler was welcome to eat at their tables, which were always loaded with meats, breads, seasonal vegetables, relishes, pickles, preserves, jellies, and cakes. He was willingly entertained until he again took up his journey. The general effect of the hospitality upon the status of the Southern society was similar to that of "some rosy afterglow upon a landscape, enhancing the charm of many features, and making attractive others that under a cold white light might mar the whole."[8]

Another prominent feature of the planters was their remarkable progress. Between 1859 and 1860 they had eleven thousand sons and daughters in Southern colleges, while the enrollment of New England colleges was only four thousand. The income of the higher institutions in the South was $700,000, while that of New England was $268,000. They also boasted of many prominent scholars, such as Francis Lieber, who was a professor at the University of South Carolina; Mr. Le Conte and Joseph Senat, who were great geologists and who were also professors at the University of South Carolina; Messrs. Ruffner, Wiley, Yansey, and Manly, prominent Southern educators; and many notable statesmen who went forth from the Southern universities. Does it not seem natural, then, that the Southern planters, who were so charming and so progressive, should dominate the political and social life of the South?

No picture of the planter, however, is "able to be free from the warm, underlying color, the object upon which his progress rested advantageously"—slavery. The attractive life of the planter was made possible by the fact that he had hundreds of slaves to perform the manual labor. The power of the master over the slave was very similar to that of a master over an indentured apprentice in Europe. Both the apprentice and the slave were bound for a term of years, the slave being bound for life. In both cases the master regulated and controlled the person and had absolute enjoyment of his labor. The prominent difference in their power was that the master of a slave could sell him to another, and had the right to sell his child born during slavery, while the master of an indentured apprentice could not so treat him. In both cases the master was an absolute despot.[9]

Since the master, although making the rules of the plantation, was frequently absent, and since the enforcement of the rules and the severity of the labor depended upon the overseer, it is helpful to know the general character of this important power in order to understand the labor of the slaves. He was usually ignorant, high-tempered, and brutal. Patrick Henry has described him as a most "abject, degraded, and unprincipled man." Such men usually worked the Negroes to the limit, having a Negro driver go with each gang of slaves in order to secure the utmost labor. In the light of these facts, it is easy to understand how the slaves might be mistreated, in spite of the benevolent intentions of the master. Yet the overseers were not wholly blamable for their cruelty, inasmuch as they were assured of work only as long as they pleased the master, who judged them by the good behavior of the slaves, the general condition of the plantation, and the size and quality of the crop. Calhoun has truthfully said that by displaying too great an interest in the size of the crop, the master unconsciously encouraged cruelty by the overseer.

As to the general severity of the work, writers differ. Rhodes, in his history of the United States, says that the slaves presented a picture of sadness and fear, and that they toiled from morning until night, working on an average of fifteen hours a day, while during the picking season on the cotton plantations they worked sixteen hours and during the grinding season on the sugar plantations they labored eighteen hours daily. On the other hand, Murat, in his history of the United States, says that the work of the slaves was less strenuous than that of the free workers of the North, that they worked from sunrise till three o'clock in the afternoon, resting two hours at noon and receiving Sunday as a holiday and a half holiday on Saturday, and that they received many privileges, such as farming a small piece of land for themselves and selling its products. According to him, the slaves were supremely happy and contented. Which of these views is correct, it is difficult to say, for it is doubtless true that some slaves were driven to the extreme, while others enjoyed a comparatively easy life. When it is remembered, however, that, since the Constitution forbade the importation of slaves after 1808, the price of slaves had steadily risen, it is safe to conclude that the work was no more severe to the slaves than was agricultural life to the whites in the North, for it was advantageous to the owner to keep the slave in good health as long as possible, and this was not to be accomplished by overworking him.

The family life of the Negro was regulated by the planter, who, in return for the service of the slave, provided him with food, clothing, shelter, and all the necessities of life. This part of slave life is very sad. "A slave, his wife, and their children, around that charmed centre, a family table, with its influence of love, instruction, discipline, humble as they necessarily would be, yet such as God has given them, are too seldom seen."[10] Negroes were married only that slaves might be bred for the master to sell. The Negro families ranged from fifteen to twenty-five children. A certain man in Virginia said that he was fortunate "because his women were uncommonly good breeders; he did not suppose there was a lot of women anywhere that bred faster than his; he never heard of babies coming faster than they did on his plantation; and every one of them, in his estimation, was worth two hundred dollars, as Negroes were selling then, the moment they drew breath."[11] Many people purchased Negro women because they were good breeders, making large fortunes by selling their children. This compulsory breeding naturally crushed the maternal instincts in Negro women. One month after the birth of a child, it was taken to a nursery and cared for by a servant until it was sold, while the mother worked in the field. Thus she neither fed, clothed, nor controlled her child, and consequently the usual love between mother and child was absent. This is well illustrated in the case of a certain slave mother, who, when dying, was asked how she felt about leaving her children and who replied: "O missis, you will take care of them; I don't mind them." It has been truthfully said that the most appalling feature of slavery was the lack of family life suffered by the Negro.

The Negroes lived in huts near the large house, which were usually log cabins with board floors and good chimneys and which were generally comfortable, but which, because of filth and indolence, presented a foul and wretched appearance. Indeed, the appearance of the slave himself was unfavorable. Olmsted describes him as "clumsy, awkward, gross, elephantine in all his expressions and demeanor." The clothing of the slave was of every variety, from the "smart mulatto lady's maid, who wore the still fresh dress that had been her mistress's, down to the pickaninny of three, five, or eight years of age, who went as nature made him."[12] The little Negroes usually wore only a shirt that reached to their knees, while the grown ones received two pairs of shoes, a new suit of clothes, and a hat each year.[13] Their food, as well as their clothes, varied according to the master, generally consisting of cornmeal, bacon, and molasses, while on some plantations they were allowed wheat flour, seasonal vegetables, and even chicken.[14] It is reasonable to judge that the living of the slaves was not very high, for it was to the interest of the master to bring the food and clothing of the slaves down to the lowest cost.

The education of the slaves was very displeasing to the planter. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana passed laws forbidding slaves being taught to read or write, although North Carolina slaves could be taught arithmetic. It was said that if they were educated they would read abolition papers and would be discontented. On the other hand, some of the planters contended that they should be taught to read in order that they might understand the Bible. The majority of Negroes, however, were illiterate. As to their religious education, there was much consideration. Southern people were very pious and orthodox in their faith and usually baptized their slaves, taught them the catechism, and then had them confirmed. Their favorite text, however, was "Servants obey in all things your masters." One can not blame the planter for his attitude towards the education of the slave; for, after all, his chief aim was to obtain the utmost work from him, and what educated man free to read and think for himself would really be willing to work as a slave for another?

The question which next presents itself is: "How could anyone justify such a system by which one man is enslaved to the other, sacrificing his right to life, liberty, and happiness that another might prosper?" In the first place, the planter argued that the Negroes were naturally inferior to the white race and could not enjoy the intellectual pursuits; for they had always been savages, having lived in savagery in Africa before taken into captivity and, even in the nineteenth century when freed in Hayti, returning to that state of civilization. From this fact it was argued that, inasmuch as the Negroes belonged to an inferior race, it was only natural that men should enslave them and that they should be controlled by their superiors. Chancellor Harper said: "It is the order of nature and of Heaven that the being of superior faculties and knowledge, and therefore of superior power, should control and dispose of those who are inferior."

The planter argued, secondly, that the Negro was happy and contented in slavery; for he was secure, working for the master, and in return receiving good care all of his life. He was relieved of all worry of sickness or old age, for he knew his master would have to care for him. In time of business depression it was not he who suffered, but the master. On the other hand, the free worker of the North labored for his employer during the best part of his life and then, when no longer able to work, or during business depression, was turned away and obliged to suffer from lack of care. It was maintained that the assertion that the Negro was not happy when he might be whipped was "pathos misapplied." If a man hired a white laborer who robbed him, he dismissed the worker, who was then sentenced to prison, thus disgracing his family, which then suffered from lack of support. On the other hand, a master could not discharge his slave, but whipped and corrected him. After the whipping the Negro felt no bad consequence and his family did not suffer from his wrong doings. It was asserted that the slave was happy and loved his master as a father, "looking up to him as his supporter, director, and defender." Dew inquired: "Why, then, since the slave is happy and happiness is the great object of all animated creation, should we endeavor to disturb his contentment by infusing into his mind a vain and indefinite desire for liberty, a something which he can not comprehend and which must inevitably dry up every source of his happiness?"

But the chief argument advanced was that slavery was the price of prosperity and progress of the South. The North had a moderate climate because of the sea breeze and elevation, and thus white men were able to till the soil, while the intense heat of the South rendered it impossible for the white man to work in the fields and made a large supply of black men necessary. As Harper said, "The products of slave labor furnished more than two-thirds of the materials of our commerce, employed in transporting and exchanging; and among the slaveholding States is to be found the greater market for all the productions of their industry, of whatever kind. The prosperity of those States, therefore, and the civilization of their cities have been for the most part created by the existence of slavery." In addition, slavery released the planter from manual labor and gave him more time to cultivate his mind, and thus the Southern planter was highly educated, cultured, and refined. In the mind of the planter, slavery was "the defence of human civilization." Students of economics, however, saw that it was an evil which had to pass away.



[1] Muzzey, History of the United States, p. 304.

[2] Ingle, Southern Sidelights, p. 18.

[3] Ibid., p. 18.

[4] Dodd, Cotton Kingdom, p. 71.

[5] Ibid., p. 72.

[6] Rhodes, History of the United States, Vol. I, p. 361.

[7] Ingle, Southern Sidelights, p. 45.

[8] Ibid., p. 40.

[9] DeBow, Industrial History of the United States, Vol. II, p. 303.

[10] Adams, Three Months in the South, p. 82.

[11] Rhodes, History of the United States, Vol. I, 317.

[12] Hart, Slavery and Abolition, p. 100.

[13] Dodd, Cotton Kingdom, p. 75.

[14] Hart, Slavery and Abolition, p. 100.


The freedom and local democracy of the Baptist Church enabled the Negroes to participate in the affairs thereof much earlier than they were so indulged in the other denominations. Pioneer Negro preachers and churches, therefore, first appeared in the Baptist Church. The development of the attitude of the Baptist Church toward the Negro, however, has been by cycles. The relations of the two races in church matters differ widely from what they were years ago. Members of both races formerly belonged to the same congregation, which in the beginning in this country ignored social distinctions. They have since then undergone radical changes to reach the present situation in which they have all but severed connection with each other.

In the beginning, the attitude of the so-called Christian whites toward the early Negro preachers was that of hostility. This opposition, however, did not come from the Baptists themselves, but from the master class. George Liele in the West Indies, Andrew Bryan in Georgia, and David George in Canada had much difficulty in their pioneer work, suffering many indignities and hardships. Andrew Bryan was whipped in a cruel and bloody manner but triumphed over persecution by his bold declaration that he was willing to die for Jesus. Rev. Mr. Moses, working in Virginia about this time, was often arrested and whipped for holding meetings. Others were excommunicated, but such opposition could not stay the progress of the work, for these pioneer preachers finally succeeded. This is attested by the resolution of the white Baptist Association expressing deep regret on the occasion of the death of Andrew Bryan.[1]

When the Baptists had won a standing after the grant of toleration in the United States and Negroes began to connect themselves with them, the status of the blacks in the Baptist Church had to be determined. Was the Negro to be a mere member in the back seat or a participant in the work of the Church? Under the labors of inspired white men thousands of Negroes were converted, baptized, set apart as churches, and instructed in all things which pertain to a life becoming the gospel of Christ. White persons, on the other hand, have been converted through the preaching of Negroes, and a few Negroes, even in the Southland, have been pastors of white Baptist churches. Speaking of the resignation of Mr. Thomas Armistead, who was pastor of the Portsmouth Church, in Virginia, until 1792, Robert B. Semple, in his History of the Baptists of Virginia, remarks: "After his resignation the church declined greatly. They employed Josiah Bishop, a black man of considerable talents, to preach to them. This, as might have been expected, could not answer in Virginia."[2]

Another instance of the same character is related by Mr. Semple, in connection with the Pettsworth or Gloucester Church. In his statement in regard to the death of Rev. Robert Hudgin, their first pastor, he observes that "This church continued to prosper moderately until Mr. Hudgin's death. They were then left without any person to go in and out before them. They at length did what it would hardly have been supposed would have been done by Virginians; they chose for their pastor William Lemon, a man of color." "He also died after several years. Since then," remarks Mr. Semple, "they have been destitute of stated ministerial aid." Here, then, is a man of color, who was pastor of a white Baptist Church in Virginia to the day of his death, covering a period of "several years."[3]

There is still another case, in which the order of things is reversed, and this the most remarkable in the history of the South. In 1798 there appeared in southwest Mississippi a colored Baptist preacher, Joseph Willis, a mulatto, who being duly licensed was very zealous to exercise his gift as a minister. In 1804 he crossed the Mississippi River and began a work into which he put a half century of earnest endeavor. After preaching at Vermillion and Plaquemine Brule for eight years, amidst hardships and bitter persecutions, unaided and alone, and sacrificing a small fortune in the struggle, he was able, with the aid of visiting ministers, to constitute the first Baptist Church at Bayou Chicot. Other churches, the fruits of his labors, soon sprang into being, and in 1818 the Louisiana Baptist Association was constituted, with these churches as a nucleus. Joseph Willis was pastor of the church at Bayou Chicot for a number of years. As moderator of the Louisiana Baptist Association he was honored and respected—indeed, beloved and spoken of as "Father Willis." That a Negro should have the honor of giving to Louisiana its first mixed Baptist church and of being the pastor of that church—that a Negro was the first moderator of Louisiana's first white Baptist association,[4] and rendered the denomination fifty years of service, causes us greatly to marvel in these days of race division and race antipathy.

The Negro members of white Baptist churches of this country were, as a rule, permitted to worship with their white brethren within certain fixed limits. The gap between them, however, tended to widen. Later they were allowed another hour for worship, with large bounds and privileges. Still later they were provided with all the privileges of the Baptist meeting house under the restrictions of the white churches to which they belonged. The master class gradually reached the position of separating the races in worship, but for the security of slavery they deemed it wise to hold the Negroes as members of the white churches.

It was argued that, in all nature, living creatures move instinctively in groups after their kind, and that the Negro and the white man, left to themselves, do the same thing, as is evidenced by the fact that the black slave was ever offending against the institution of slavery by holding religious services after his own liking where only his own people were present and shared in the devotion. In this manner the master justified himself in segregating his slave in the house of God and pointed to the Court of the Gentiles, in the Temple of Jehovah, in confirmation of the righteousness of his act. But for some reason the untutored black slave was never entirely at home in the white man's church, with its special place for Negroes. He knew that the master could be at ease in any part of his church edifice. It was all his and he moved about through its aisles as a free man, but the slave was limited in his privileges, and was counted a good man only as he kept within the limits assigned him.

When the Negroes in the white Baptist churches of the South became very numerous, services for their special benefit were held in the church edifices, usually in the afternoon, by the pastor and other persons who felt a deep interest in them. In these meetings the colored members of the church not only enjoyed the freedom of the place for the time being, but often listened with great satisfaction to the exhortations of one or more of their own brethren who spoke by permission from the floor and not from the pulpit platform. These Negro exhorters were encouraged to exercise a measure of spiritual oversight in the midst of their brethren and so help the church and pastor in caring for the flock. The segregated group, in a separate church edifice, meeting for worship at the same hours as the parent body, gave rise to the separate church altogether, with a white ministry. In this way many of the largest and most progressive Negro Baptist churches of the South had their beginnings amid the vicissitudes of life peculiar to a land of human bondage. The African Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia, under the direction of Dr. Robert Ryland, the white president of Richmond College, is a case in evidence.

Still another type of Negro Baptist church arose where there was no parent church of white persons in control of the offspring. There were churches of this character in Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, the British West Indies, Canada, and in far-off Africa, before the close of the eighteenth century. In these churches the members were of the black race. In Virginia and in Georgia churches of this class as well as others were admitted to membership in the oldest and best white Baptist associations, in which they at one time were given considerable attention.[5] It is worthy of note that Negro Baptist churches of this type were the first Negro Baptist churches in all the land and preceded by many years the first Negro churches of other denominations in America.

These churches, moreover, soon established themselves in spite of opposition, for they were accepted by the Baptist associations. The Negro Baptist Church organized at Silver Bluff, South Carolina, in 1773 or 1775, probably had no such connection, nor did that of George Liele in Savannah, established not long thereafter; but the Negro Baptist Church of Williamsburg, Virginia, sought membership in the Dover Association in 1791 and was accepted. This church, according to John W. Cromwell, who is himself a Methodist, was founded in the year 1776. In 1815 the Gillfield Baptist Church, of Petersburg, Virginia, a Negro congregation, united with the Portsmouth Association, an organization of white Baptists. Shortly after doing so this church invited the association to hold its approaching annual meeting with the Gillfield Baptist Church. The "invitation was accepted and the church appointed a committee to rent stables and to buy feed for the delegates' horses." Richard Kennard, from whose church record we quote, adds: "A committee was also appointed to furnish blacking and brushes with which to clean the delegates' boots and shoes, and to see to the general comfort of the delegates." We agree with Mr. Kennard in the reflection: "At that age there did not seem to be as much prejudice among Christians or as much separation as since."[6]

The second step in the development was that of expansion abroad. There had been planted Negro Baptist churches, like the First African Baptist Church of Augusta, Georgia, in 1793, and Amos's Church at New Providence, Bahama Islands, British West Indies, in 1788. George Liele carried the work of the Baptists into Jamaica in 1784; and David George extended it to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and finally into Sierra Leone about the same time. In this connection it may be remarked that because a Baptist church can arise and continue to exist as a self-originating, self-governing body without any consent or approval from without, the work of the denomination rapidly expanded. White ministers fully ordained to the ministry Negro Baptists, Negro Episcopalians and Negro Presbyterians and inducted them into pastorates, at a time when the Methodist Episcopal Church in America was not at first inclined to do so. This denomination, therefore, brought about that condition which resulted in the setting up of an independent African Methodist denomination under Peter Spencer in 1812, of another under Richard Allen in 1816, and still another under James Varick in 1820.

It should be remarked, moreover, that all Negro Baptist churches, except those in the South, which came out of white churches during slavery, had Negro pastors. Yet whatever their differences, Negro Baptists and white Baptists in America constituted one family until after the Civil War. Indeed there has never been any formal separation of the two groups. Each has simply followed the race instinct, in an age of freedom, while the one group cooperates with the other, North and South.

There were Negro Baptist churches in the South for more than a quarter of a century before they began to be constituted in the North, and about a half century before the first church of the kind was planted in the West. When in 1805, moreover, the first African Baptist church was organized at Boston, Massachusetts, it was not only the first Negro Baptist church in the North, but was also the only independent Negro church north except the St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Philadelphia, which had a Negro rector. The Boston African Baptist church had for its pastor a Negro, the Rev. Thomas Paul, a man of such intelligence and piety, such commanding presence and pleasing address, that pulpits everywhere in Massachusetts and in his native State of New Hampshire, were open to him, both before and after he became a minister in that city.

In the course of time Negro Baptist churches tended to associate among themselves, as they developed power independently of the white churches. There were in the South during the Negro's enslavement, however, no Negro Baptist associations which embraced their churches in any State or in any considerable part of a State; for all Negro Baptist churches were associated with white Baptist churches in the South. The "Richmond African Baptist Missionary Society," which was constituted at Richmond, Virginia, in 1815, was no exception to the rule. Lott Cary,[6] the chief spirit in that organization, and Mr. William Crane, a white merchant, its corresponding secretary, were members of the same church—not a Negro Baptist church, for there was no organization of the kind in Richmond at the time. Lott Cary was converted under the preaching of a white pastor. At the hands of that white pastor he was baptized, into the fellowship of the white church of which that pastor was the spiritual leader Lott Cary was received, and from that white church, the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia, Lott Cary went to plant the standard of Christ on the shores of Africa.

Negro Baptist associations in this country were the achievements of free men on free soil. The Providence Association of Ohio, organized in 1833, and the Wood River Association of Illinois, organized in 1838, led the way. The colored Baptist churches of the North and East organized in 1840, and the abolition of slavery as an American institution resulted in the nation-wide formation of Negro churches, local associations, State conventions, and larger groups. In 1866 a national convention which merged the forces of the North and South, the East and West, under the significant name, "The Consolidated American Baptist Missionary Convention," was organized. Its chief work was in the South and confined to the period of Reconstruction. In 1873 the West revived its organization under the name, "The Baptist General Association of the Western States and Territories," and the Northern churches did likewise in 1875 in the formation of "The New England Baptist Missionary Society." Each enlarged its borders until the two embraced the greater part of the whole country. In 1880 the Negro Baptists of the country formed their first national society to do work in foreign lands exclusively. The organization constituted at this time took the name, "The Baptist Foreign Mission Convention of the United States."

In 1886, at St. Louis, Missouri, the National Baptist Convention was formed, and the work of this organization was subsequently so modified that in it is unified all the national and international church work in which Negro Baptists of America were engaged. These efforts toward organization, however, were not altogether satisfactory, for the Baptists soon developed a factional struggle in regard to the question as to independent action or cooperation with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society and the American Baptist Home Mission Society. In 1897, in the Shiloh Baptist Church, Washington, D. C., the Lott Cary Baptist Foreign Missionary Convention was formed by certain churches in the Atlantic States which looked with disfavor on the independent mission work as conducted by the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention. Composed chiefly of men and women who were educated in the schools of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, this organization has from the first cooperated with Northern Baptists in the prosecution of its work.

At Chicago in 1915 there arose a more serious division in the forces of the National Baptist Convention as the result of differences of opinion in regard to the ownership of the Convention in the lands and chattels of its Publishing Board. As a result of these differences there have developed two groups of colored Baptists in this country, engaged in similar work, and each claims to be the National Baptist Convention—the original and only National Baptist Convention of Negro Baptists in America.

One of the results of the association of Negro churches has been education. Negro Baptists in a land of slavery were not supposed to be versed in the knowledge of books. But inasmuch as master and slave were instructed out of the same inspired writings Sabbath after Sabbath, the slave quite frequently was as familiar with the Bible as his master. Ignorance and illiteracy are not one and the same thing. An unlettered people may be learned in the word of God, and being made wise unto salvation, may present to the world no mean type of Christian life. Apart from the knowledge received through the regular preaching of the gospel by the best preachers of the Southland, it was not unlawful to impart verbal instruction to slaves, in Sunday-school exercises and, under other circumstances, in regard to any number of things which have to do with conduct and character and human comfort, so long as nothing was said to endanger the institution of slavery. But some Baptists appear to have given some measure of literary training to Negroes attached to their churches. Andrew Bryan, in one of his letters to Dr. John Rippon of London, England, in 1800, speaks of the fact that certain white friends in Savannah, Georgia, had purchased a man of color of many excellent qualities, the Rev. Henry Francis, and had given him his freedom that he might be a teacher to his people. Bryan himself then opened a school for the slaves on his plantation outside of Savannah. George Liele established a school in connection with his church in Jamaica, hoping to develop the minds of his communicants that he might properly edify their souls.

The First Baptist Church (white), Richmond, Virginia, moreover, conducted a school for the literary training and instruction of its Negro members. For several years Lott Cary was a student in this institution. The church at Williamsburg, Virginia, which was a Negro Baptist church from its beginning, that is, from 1776, must have done something for education, for it kept correct church records, in the handwriting of its own members. Many of the Negro Baptist preachers of the South, moreover, obtained some degree of scholarship by private instruction and so won the respect of the people among whom they lived. The close of the Civil War brought together a group of scholarly men, from the North and West, men of purpose and consecration, preachers of great power who were an inspiration to their less cultured and less scholarly brethren in the South, and these invaded our Southland to help forward the new order of things in the churches as well as in civil life.

To-day the Negro Baptists of America have more than 20,000 churches, with about two and a half million members and church property valued at more than forty million dollars. They are conducting orphan schools, homes for the aged poor, and institutions of learning, and are as zealous as ever in sending the gospel to people in foreign lands. Great has been the progress of Negro Baptists in America, but that progress was due in very great measure to Northern philanthropy during a quarter of a century after the Civil War and is promoted also to-day by the good will of Southern Baptists who have put at the disposal of Negro Baptists in the South thousands of dollars. But the greatest glory of Negro Baptists is the spirit of self-help and heroic sacrifice in the endeavor to help others, and that spirit is now everywhere prevalent.



[1] The resolution was: "The association is sensibly affected by the death of the Rev. Andrew Bryan, a man of color, and pastor of the first colored Church in Savannah. This son of Africa, after suffering inexpressible persecutions in the cause of his Divine Master, was at length permitted to discharge the duties of the ministry among his colored friends in peace and quiet, hundreds of whom, through his instrumentality, were brought to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. He closed his extensively useful, and amazingly luminous course, in the lively exercise of faith, and in the joyful hope of a happy immortality." See Benedict's History of the Baptists.

[2] Semple, History of the Baptists in Virginia, p. 355.

[3] Semple, History of the Baptists in Virginia, p. 356.

[4] The Negro Year Book, 1918-1919, p. 236; Benedict, History of the Baptists, 376.

[5] By way of comparison, be it further remembered, that the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was originally a member of the St. George Society, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and he and others withdrew from that body of white persons in 1787; but it was not until 1794, that Bishop Francis Asbury constituted the Bethel A. M. E. Church at Philadelphia, which claims to be the oldest Negro Methodist church in the country. The Zion Church, of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion connection, New York City, was founded in 1796, while the first church of Negro Episcopalians, the St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, was planted by Bishop William White in 1794. The Lombard Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, the oldest organization of Negro Presbyterians in America, was constituted in 1807, and not until 1829 was the first church of Negro Congregationalists, the Dixwell Avenue of New Haven, Conn., constituted.

[6] Richard Kennard's History of the Gillfield Baptist Church, p. 16.

[6] Let me quote here a paragraph from Sprague's Annals of the American Pulpit, Vol. VI, p. 583, (Ed. 1860, published by Robert Carter and Brother, New York.) The paragraph appears in an article which the publisher takes from Taylor's Memoirs.—Missionary Heroes and Martyrs.

"In 1850, the late Rev. Eli Ball of Virginia, visited all the Liberian Baptist Missionary Stations, as agent of the Southern Baptist Missionary Convention, and, with considerable difficulty, ascertained the spot where Lott Cary was buried. The next year, a small marble monument was sent out, and placed over the grave, with the following inscription:—

"On the front of the monument was—

LOTT CARY Born a slave in Virginia, 1780, Removed from Richmond to Africa, as a Missionary and Colonist, 1821, Was Pastor of the First Baptist Church, and an original settler and defender of the Colony at Monrovia. Died Acting Governor of Liberia Nov. 10th, 1828. His life was the progressive development of an able intellect and firm benevolent heart, under the influence of Freedom and an enlightened Christianity; and affords the amplest evidence of the capacity of his race to fill with dignity and usefulness the highest ecclesiastical and political stations. Of a truth God is no respecter of persons, But hath made of one blood all nations of men.

On the reverse—

Lott Gary's self-denying, self-sacrificing labors, as a self-taught Physician, as a Missionary and Pastor of a Church, and finally as Governor of the Colony, have inscribed his name indelibly on the page of history, not only as one of Nature's Noblemen, but as an eminent Philanthropist and Missionary of Jesus Christ.

'Aye, call it holy ground, The place where first they trod; They sought what here they found, Freedom to worship God.'"

That is, indeed, a remarkable utterance, coming from the Southern Baptist Missionary Convention, in the year 1851.


The early education of the Negro in West Virginia falls in three periods.[1] During the first period, it was largely restricted to such efforts as benevolent whites were disposed to make in behalf of those Negroes who had served them acceptably as slaves. This period, therefore, antedates the emancipation of the Negroes. Because of the scarcity of the slave population of Western Virginia, the 14,000 slaves scattered among the mountainous counties came into helpful contact with their masters, among whom the institution never lost its patriarchal aspect. Although it was both unlawful and in some parts of West Virginia unpopular to instruct Negroes, these masters, a law unto themselves, undertook to impart to these bondmen some modicum of knowledge. Upon the actual emancipation in 1865, when all restraint in this respect was abrogated, benevolent white persons, moved with compassion because of the benighted condition of Negroes, volunteered to offer them instruction. The first teachers of the Negroes in West Virginia, then, were white persons. The Negroes of Jefferson, Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, Kanawha, Mason, and Wood counties still point with pride to these white friends, who by their indefatigable work as teachers blazed the way in a field which to Negroes had been forbidden.

During the next period there came into these same parts the Union soldier, followed and sometimes accompanied by the missionary teachers sent out by the Freedmen's Relief Commissions of the North and by the Freedmen's Bureau. The efforts of the Union soldier could not be crowned with signal success for the reason that they were sporadic and this volunteer was not in every case well prepared for such service. The greatest impetus was given the cause when missionary teachers appeared in the State. Having the spirit of sacrifice which characterized the apostles of old, they endured the hardships resulting from social proscription and crude environment. With the funds which they secured from the agencies which they represented and which they could raise among the poor freedmen and their few sympathetic white friends, these teachers of the new day built or rented shanty-like school-houses in which they proclaimed the power of education as the great leverage by which the recently emancipated race could toil up to a position of recognition in this republic. The educational achievements of this class of teachers were significant, not so much because of the actual instruction given, but rather on account of the inspiration which set the whole body of Negroes throughout the State thinking and working to secure to themselves every facility for education vouchsafed to the most highly favored element of our population.

The third period in the early education of Negroes in West Virginia was reached when these pioneer teachers had wrought well enough to enable the Negroes to help themselves. Because of the rapid development of this industrial State and the consequent influx of Negroes from other commonwealths, however, the number of Negro teachers produced on the ground proved inadequate to the demand for instructors among the increasing and expanding Negro population of West Virginia. There went out to the other States the call for help, which was answered largely by workers from Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio. Virginia did not have many workers to spare, but from Baltimore, where, because of the liberal attitude of the whites toward the education of Negroes prior to the Civil War, a considerable group of Negroes had been trained, came a much larger number of volunteers. From Ohio, however, came as many as were obtained from both Virginia and Maryland, for the reason that, although the Negroes were early permitted to attend school in Ohio, race prejudice had not sufficiently diminished to permit them to instruct white persons in public schools. Looking out for a new field, their eyes quickly fell on the waiting harvest across the Ohio in West Virginia. Some of these workers from adjacent States, moreover, served the people not only as teachers but also as ministers of the gospel. They were largely instrumental in establishing practically all of the Methodist and Baptist churches in the State, and while they taught school during the week, they inspired and edified their congregations on Sunday.

The beginning of the education of the Negroes in West Virginia at public expense was delayed inasmuch as its first constitution, although it made provisions for free schools, did not extend the facilities of the same to the freedmen. In the report of the State Superintendent of Public Schools in 1864, therefore, he complained that the Negroes had been too long and too mercilessly deprived of this privilege. "I regret to report," said he, "that there are not schools for the children of this portion of our citizens; as the law stands I fear they will be compelled to remain in ignorance. I commend them to the favorable notice of the legislature."[2]

In 1866, therefore, the legislature enacted a law providing for the establishing of public schools for Negroes between the ages of six and twenty-one years. These schools had to maintain an average attendance of sixteen pupils or be closed. As Negro communities were not very large and the number of such children small, some of them scattered throughout the State were denied the opportunity to acquire an education. This law, therefore, was amended in 1867 so as to authorize local boards of education to establish a school whenever there were more than fifteen Negro children between the ages of six and twenty-one.[3]

The attitude of the State approved separation of the two races in the schools, but the first two laws bearing on Negro schools did not make this point clear. Upon revising the constitution in 1872, therefore, it was specifically provided that whites and blacks should not be taught in the same school.[4] Thereafter, however, the whites and blacks sometimes used the same school-houses. As the term consisted of only four months of twenty-two school days each, the whites would open school in September and vacate by Christmas, when the Negroes would take charge.

No further changes were made in the school law until 1899, when it was amended to the effect that the trustees in certain districts should establish one or more primary schools for Negro children between the ages of six and twenty-one years, and that said members of boards of education should establish such Negro schools whenever there were at least ten Negro pupils who resided in their district, and for a smaller number, if it were possible to do so.[5] This gave impetus to the movement for more intensive education among Negroes throughout their communities. Often Negro children in groups of only four or five were thus trained in the backward districts, where they received sufficient inspiration to come to larger schools for more systematic training.


Parkersburg enjoys the distinction of having established in this State the first school for Negroes supported by private funds. Having a desire to provide for their children the facilities of education long since denied to members of their race, a group of progressive Negroes met in Parkersburg in January, 1862, to translate their idea into action. Among these persons were Robert Thomas, Lafayette Wilson, William Sargent, R. W. Simmons, Charles Hicks, William Smith, and Matthew Thomas. They organized a board, which adopted a constitution and by-laws by which they were to be governed in carrying out this plan. They then proceeded to establish a subscription school requiring a tuition fee of one dollar a month of those who were able to pay; but poorer children were admitted free of charge. At this time there was a certain stigma attached to the idea of educating one's children at the expense of others or at the expense of the commonwealth. Persons able to pay for the instruction of their children were, therefore, willing to do so that they might not have a reputation for dependency or delinquency.[6]

The teachers first employed in Parkersburg were Sarah Trotter and Pocahontas Simmons, persons of color and Rev. S. E. Colburn, a white man. The number of pupils enrolled in the first year approached forty. To encourage Negroes in that city to avail themselves of their opportunity for their enlightenment, these teachers moved among the people from time to time, pointing out the necessity for more extensive preparation to discharge the functions of citizenship then devolving upon Negroes in their new State of freedom after the Civil War.[7]

Parkersburg enjoys also the distinction of having established the first free school for Negroes in the South. The work of the school organization of 1862 had been so well done that it was easily possible to interest school officials in the extension of school privileges to Negroes. The Parkersburg Weekly Times of June 7, 1866, carried a notice to the effect that the first public free school for the Negro children of the city of Parkersburg, West Virginia, had been opened in the school ward lately removed. "All colored children over six years of age and under twenty-one, as the law directs," continued the editor, "are at liberty to attend and are requested to do so." Rev. S. E. Colburn was the teacher. The private school then came to an end.[8]

It does not appear that the Reverend Mr. Colburn remained for a long time in this school, for at the close of the session in 1866 we have a record of an exhibition in Bank Hall under the charge of T. J. Ferguson. Ferguson was a versatile character among the Negroes at that time, participating extensively in politics during the reconstruction period, and contending for the enlargement of freedom and opportunity for their race. The next man of consequence after Ferguson was J. L. Camp, who served the system for eleven years. He passed among his people as a man of high character, and is remembered today as one of the most successful and inspiring workers to toil among the lowly in West Virginia. The Negro schools could then be turned over to teachers of the race who, having availed themselves of the opportunities for education, had become equipped for service among their own people. With the further organization of the public school system of Parkersburg, the Negro school was brought under the direction of the local superintendent of schools and given the same sort of instruction and inspection as that provided for the white schools. In the course of time the work developed from a primary into an intermediate and then into a grammar school.

Parkersburg is unique again, moreover, in having the first high school for Negroes in the State. This advanced phase of public school work was added in 1885, and the first class was graduated in 1887. For a number of years the Negro schools were housed in a frame building of two rooms, which was somewhat enlarged in 1883. This, moreover, has been followed by the erection of a brick structure with the modern conveniences for public schools, facilitating especially high school instruction, which under former conditions was handicapped. A new building known as the Sumner High School was constructed there in 1886, and A. W. Pegues, a graduate of the Richmond Institute, was made its first principal. He showed himself a studious man of intellectual bearing, but after serving in Parkersburg one year he resigned to accept a chair in Shaw University in North Carolina. He has since been made the head of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum of that State.[9]

Following Professor Pegues came T. D. Scott, who served in this high school five years, reorganizing the work and enlarging the curriculum. When he resigned in 1892 he became an instructor in natural science at Wilberforce University, of which he was an alumnus. Carter Harrison Barnett, a graduate of Dennison University, became principal in 1892 and served one year. Then came John Rupert Jefferson, who took charge of the institution in 1893, a position which he has successfully filled until the present time with the exception of one year when he was supplanted by Mr. B. S. Jackson, an alumnus of Howard University, who at the close of his first year's service gave way to Mr. Jefferson.[10]

Clarksburg followed in the wake of Parkersburg and soon bestirred itself in the direction of the education of Negro youth. The first school was established there in 1867, with an enrolment of thirty pupils under the direction of Miss Joe Gee. For her time she was well-prepared woman, using up-to-date methods, and was very successful in the work there for two and one-half years, at the expiration of which she married. Her successful work was due in no small measure to the cooperation of Mrs. Mary Rector, Mrs. Phyllis Henderson, Mr. Fred Siren, Jr., and Mrs. Harriet Beckwith. They did not own the school property, but conducted the work in a one-room ramshackled structure. Another group of ambitious Negroes established a school at Glen Falls, in the same county, in 1872, with Noe Johnson as the teacher.

Steps were soon taken to provide better educational facilities for Negroes in Clarksburg. On July 15, 1868, the Board of Education of that city accepted a bid of $1,147 to erect a one-story brick building to be used as a Negro school-house. This structure was completed and occupied by the end of the school year 1870. After the school had been better housed, the work was professionally organized and thereafter intelligently supervised to standardize instruction.

In the beginning of this new day the schools were successful in having a number of popular principals to serve them efficiently. Among these may be mentioned Charles Ankrum, a pioneer teacher, who was principal of the school from 1870 to 1873, J. A. Riley, a man of the same type serving from 1873-1874, G. F. Jones, a man of little more preparation than that of his predecessors, from 1874 to 1876, W. B. Jones, an honest worker, from 1876-1878, and M. W. Grayson, who served the system well from 1878 to 1889, doing much to lay the foundation upon which others built thereafter.[11]

The first Negro principal at Clarksburg, with extensive preparation as judged by the standards of today, was J. S. Williams, a graduate of Morgan College, who was the head of this school from 1889 to 1891. Mr. C. W. Boyd, a normal school graduate of Wilberforce University, served the system one year, that is, from 1891 to 1892, after which he became a teacher in the Charleston Negro Public Schools of which he is now the head. Then came Mr. Sherman H. Guss, the first Negro to receive a degree from Ohio State University. He made a special study of the needs of the school, forcefully presented them to the educational authorities, enlarged the school's facilities, and developed there a high school which ranks today as one of the best in the State. In 1901 Mr. Guss resigned to become instructor in Latin at the West Virginia Colored Institute, where he is still employed. He was followed by J. W. Robinson, a man of liberal and specialized education, who endeavored to maintain a high standard and to extend the influence of the Negro schools, adding much to develop an intellectual atmosphere through the enlargement of the school library and other accessories. After toiling in this city for a number of years he taught at St. Albans. He then accepted the principalship of the high school at Northfork, during his incumbency of which he has served as a member of the Advisory Council to the State Board of Education of West Virginia.

Weston did not lag far behind the other towns in making some provision for the education of Negroes. During the early years immediately following the Civil War, a white man of philanthropic tendency named Benjamin Owens taught a Negro school in an old church located not far from the head of Main Street extended in Weston. A local historian believes also that one Doctor Gordon's daughter taught in the same school. It does not appear that Owens was a man of exceptional intellectual attainment, but he had well mastered the fundamentals of education when working in the printing office of Horace Greeley in New York, where he learned to manifest interest in the man far down, and to make sacrifices for his cause. His work was so successful that the school was later established as a public institution supported by the State.

The next pioneer to lend a helping hand was George Jones who, after serving the Negroes in Weston as a teacher for a number of years, abandoned this field for a much larger work as a minister. Then came Misses Hattie Hood, Grace Rigsby, and Anna Wells, who taught in this school one or two years each. There appeared next W. P. Crump, who is referred to as the first Negro teacher of exceptional ability to toil in Weston. He did much to develop the school and exerted a beneficent influence upon the people. After serving them as instructor for a few years, he abandoned the work for a more lucrative employment elsewhere. The next teacher of importance was Mr. Frank Jefferson who also toiled successfully in these parts. Inasmuch as the salary at that time was unusually low compared with the compensation offered in other parts, he eventually gave up that work for other service.[12]

About 1898 there came Mr. L. O. Wilson, a man of scholarship, who later became a leader of power and influence throughout the State of West Virginia. He reorganized the school, improved the methods of instruction, and supplied it with a library. He endeared himself to the people here, as he did wherever he was known; and, although he was several times offered higher salaries elsewhere, he preferred to toil among the people of Weston for less compensation. The results which he obtained, while laboring among these people, stand as a monument justifying the sacrifice which he made to serve them.[13]

The next school of importance in this part of the State was that of Piedmont, since then designated as the Howard School. Educational efforts began in this section about six years after the Civil War. Prior to that time the few Negroes coming into Piedmont were too migratory to necessitate any outlay for their education. Some efforts were made to secure their education through private instruction in the fundamentals, and a little progress therein was noted. Years later there came such substantial friends of education as the Barneses, the Masons, the Thomases, the Biases, and the Redmons. There was no organized effort to establish a real public school, however, until the year 1877, when one John Brown, being influential with one Mr. Hyde, then President of the Board of Education, induced him to provide a school-room and hire a teacher for the instruction of the Negroes. The following persons, since known as Mrs. Emma Stewart (Mason), Miss Mary Thomas, Mr. John Brown, Jr., Miss Alice Brown, and Mr. Harry Bias, presented themselves as the first students of this school. One Mr. Ross, a white man, was the first instructor. The next teacher of this school was a white man, and he was followed by a member of his own race.

The early history of this school published in 1919 states that the attendance was regular and that after three years of conducting a private school the board of education formally established this as a public school in the year 1880, with Mrs. Steiglar, a white woman, as instructor. The school was still held in the private building which has since been occupied by the Williams, Redmon, and Taylor families of that vicinity. After this school was conducted thus for about ten years, there came a change which marked the epoch of progress in education in Piedmont. This was the time when the white teachers were exchanged for those of Negro blood, who having more interest in their race, and treating the pupils with more sympathy, achieved much greater success than their predecessors. This school has since been much developed under the direction of Mr. H. W. Hopewell and Miss M. Brooks.[14]

The early schools of Shepherdstown, Martinsburg, Harper's Ferry, and other places nearby in West Virginia were in the beginning largely private, and even when established as public schools accomplished little more than their predecessors until they received an impetus from without. The first stimulus came from Miss Mann, a niece of the great educator, Horace Mann. She was sent by the Christian Commission to Bolivar, near Harper's Ferry, to open a Negro school, which in spite of militant race prejudice she maintained a year.[15] Then came the establishment of Storer College by that philanthropic worker for the uplift of the Negro race, Rev. Nathan C. Brackett, a graduate of Dartmouth College, who had during the last year of the Civil War been attached to the Christian Mission of Sheridan's army in Virginia. Fortunately the agents of the Freedmen's Bureau in charge of the educational work among Negroes designated him as the superintendent of such schools to be established in the Shenandoah Valley. While he was thus organizing and directing the education of the Negroes in this section, Mr. John Storer, of Sanford, Maine, expressed a desire to set aside a fund of ten thousand dollars for the establishment of an institution of education for the freedmen on the condition that an equal amount should be raised by other persons within a specified period. As there was an increasing interest in the uplift of the freedmen throughout the country at this time, it was an easy matter to meet this condition with a similar contribution from another quarter. The additional funds came largely from the Free Baptists, in the principles of which this institution had its setting when established.

The work was begun, by special arrangement with the Federal agents, in dilapidated houses recently abandoned by the Union troops at Harper's Ferry. With the cooperation of friends the buildings were secured through the influence of James A. Garfield, then a member of Congress, and William Fessenden, then United States Senator from Maine. Mr. and Mrs. Brackett opened this school in October, 1867, with nineteen earnest students. Since then it has become a power for good, a factor in the development of actual Christian manhood and womanhood. For a number of years it was the only graded school for Negroes in the State of West Virginia, and had to supply many of the first teachers and ministers in West Virginia and even in the adjacent portions of Maryland and Virginia. The towns nearby caught the spirit of the uplift of the Negro from what was being done for the race in Storer College. This institution, of course, had its opposition; but wherever there was a helpful attitude toward the Negro, the work which it was doing in spite of its difficulties stood out as a shining light.[16]

Many of the early teachers of Storer College spent a part of their time working among Negroes in nearby communities. Mrs. Annie Dudley, a white woman connected with that institution, taught the first school at Shepherdstown. She had about twenty-five students and conducted a night and a day school. She was a well-educated, sympathetic woman who did much to lay the foundation for the Negro public school which was established there in 1872. The next popular teacher in the Eastern Panhandle was William B. Evans, who successfully taught in Shepherdstown, Keyser, Martinsburg, and Bolivar for forty-two years. His wife, Mrs. M. E. L. Evans, after beginning in Virginia, taught ten years at Storer, Summit Point, Smithfield, and Bolivar. William Arter taught thirty-two years at Kabletown, doing excellent work. The most prominent teacher that Shepherdstown had was John H. Hill. He graded the work of the school and endeavored to standardize instruction. He is still remembered in that community for the efficient work which he did. He was finally succeeded by Alexander Freeman when Mr. Hill became an instructor in the West Virginia Colored Institute, of which he later became principal.

About the same time the influence of Storer College was felt in Charles Town, the county seat of Jefferson County, where there was another settlement of Negroes. The first teacher of whom we have a record was one Enos Wilson, a Negro. He was a man of fair preparation through self-instruction. He had much enthusiasm in his work, exerted an influence for good, and won the respect of his people. In achieving his success he had the cooperation of Mr. William Hill, the grandfather of J. H. Hill. Although not well informed himself, William Hill believed in education and religion, and supported all uplift movements then taking shape among the Negroes.

Following Enos Wilson, who later became an instructor in another field, came L. L. Page, who building upon the foundation made by his predecessors rendered unusually valuable service. Like his predecessor he was a very good man and an enthusiastic worker. The people waited upon his words, answered his summons to social service, and supported him in his efforts to promote their general welfare. This is evidenced by the fact that he served his community acceptably about twenty-five years. He was succeeded by Phillip Jackson, who found the school sufficiently well developed to necessitate the employment of three teachers.

Not far away from this point Mrs. Emma Hart Brady opened a large school at Kearneysville, in Jefferson County, in 1869. She was a popular teacher for that day, used modern methods, and successfully instructed 80 or 90 students there for two terms. This school today, as it was then, is overcrowded and in need of better facilities.[16a]

Speaking generally, however, one must say that the education of the Negro in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia today is, after all, much more backward than in other parts. A good example of noble effort in behalf of the Negro was given, and the spirit with which workers should address themselves to the task was furnished by the founders and graduates of Storer College, but they were not supported by public sentiment among the whites of that section. Glancing at the map of West Virginia, one can readily see that the Eastern Panhandle is geographically a part of Maryland and Virginia, states which have not as yet been converted to the wisdom of making appropriations to Negro education equally as large as those providing for the education of the whites. The ardor of the successors of these early enthusiastic workers in that section, therefore, was dampened, and the results which they obtained fell far short of the aspiration of these pioneers to remake these freedmen that they might live as the citizens of a free republic.

A mere glance at the Negro schools in the northern section will show that these beginnings were confined to the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and its branches. There were not many Negroes living in the other northern counties of the State. In 1878, Moundsville in Marshall County welcomed a Negro woman, of Smithfield, Ohio, who taught its Negro public school. She had a fair preparation and rendered valuable service with the cooperation of such patrons as Mrs. Rollen, William Love, and Thomas McCoy. Because of the small Negro population in this town, however, this school has not rapidly developed, although the work of the teachers employed there has been efficient, as has been evidenced by their well-prepared eighth-grade students who have done excellently in more advanced schools.[17]

A little farther north, in Wheeling in Ohio County, Negro education had a better opportunity. Wheeling is geographically a part of Pennsylvania, and its attitude toward education has been determined to a large extent by the impetus given the cause in that progressive commonwealth. The spirit of fairness in dealing with the man far down in urban communities nearby, moreover, has been reflected to a certain extent in the policies of the educational authorities of Wheeling in dealing with the Negro. At an early date the Negroes of Wheeling were provided with elementary schools. Referring to the increasing interest in Negro education in 1866, State Superintendent White said: "An excellent school has been started in Wheeling and a few are reported in other places. The school-house in Wheeling cost about $2500. The school is conducted by a teacher of their own color and the behavior and scholarship of the pupils are worthy of imitation."

Here, as in the case of most Negro schools near the Ohio River and even in the central portion of the State, their first teachers came from Ohio, where they had the opportunity to attend the high schools and even colleges of high order, although they were not able to over-ride the race prejudice which barred them from the teaching corps in that free State. In Wheeling, moreover, the salaries paid were much more inviting than in many towns of West Virginia, and that city could easily employ the best equipped Negro teachers, who in the beginning came largely from Ohio.

The Wheeling school, then, fortunate in having the service of such teachers, developed about as rapidly as possible under the circumstances of a limited Negro population; for Wheeling is not in a Negro section, and the industrial aspect of the city not being inviting to Negro workers, the population of color did not rapidly increase. Because of the small enumeration thereby resulting, more extensive facilities could not be provided even when the board of education was favorably inclined. In 1897, however, when the pupils of all of the grades reached about three hundred, the city established the Lincoln High School, which had its development under the late J. McHenry Jones. He called to his assistance well-equipped teachers and succeeded in offering to the Negroes of that city practically the same course of study taught in the white high school, though at times some classes were too small to justify instruction in certain phases of specialized work.[18]


A more extensive movement for the education of the Negroes was taking place during these years in the central part of West Virginia, following the line of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and the New and Kanawha Rivers. This work did not arouse equal interest in all of the counties along these routes, but in Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, Fayette, Kanawha, Cabell and Mason Counties, reached a point of development deserving mention. It can be readily observed that this progress in education resulted largely from the early settlements of Negroes in the east-central counties of the State and from the influx of Negro laborers into the New and the Kanawha valleys to work on the salt works, and later from the migration of Negroes to the coal mines opened along the Chesapeake and Ohio and the Kanawha and Michigan Railroads. Negro schools, with such few exceptions as those at Marshes, in Raleigh County, at Madison and Uneeda in Boone County, at Red Sulphur Springs in Monroe County, and at Fayetteville in Fayette County, were unsuccessful when removed from those important thoroughfares.

The earliest teaching of the Negroes in the east-central counties of the State came as a result of the sympathetic interests of benevolent slaveholders who, living in a part of a State with a natural endowment unfavorable to the institution of slavery, failed as a whole to follow the fortunes of the slaveholders near the Atlantic Coast, and, hoping to see the ultimate extinction of the institution by gradual emancipation, gave the Negroes an opportunity for such preparation as they would need to discharge the functions of citizenship. Immediately after the War, when there was no public opinion proscribing such benevolence, sympathetic white persons privately instructed Negroes here and there. Such was the case at White Sulphur, long since known as a summer resort, attracting from afar persons of aristocratic bearing who, coming into contact with the Negro servants whom the resort required, not only proved helpful to them by way of contact, but gave them assistance in realizing limited educational aspirations. The private school in White Sulphur finally gave place to one established by the district. It had the support of the best white citizens of the community and was maintained largely by the enterprise of progressive Negroes seeking to provide for their children all facilities for education offered elsewhere. About the same time, that is, in 1866, the Freedmen's Bureau had a school in Lewisburg, under the direction of one Miss Woodford. After serving the people well for a year or two, this institution gave place to a public school.[19]

In Ronceverte, where the Negro population increased more rapidly and where these persons of color made more economic progress than in the case of White Sulphur, Negro education had a better chance. After passing through the stage of such private instruction as white persons interested in the man far down felt disposed to give, an actual school was opened in the early seventies with an enrolment of thirty pupils. The first teacher was Mr. Robert Keys of Charleston, West Virginia. Mr. Keys was well prepared for that time and served there creditably for two years. Mr. Keys had the support of such well-known families as the Crumps, the Capertons, the Gees, the Petersons, the Eldridges, the Browns, the Eubanks, the Williamses and the Hayneses. There served also Miss Carr of Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Benjamin Perkins of Lewisburg, West Virginia. Mr. Robert D. Riddle was also one of the early instructors. Mr. Riddle retired from teaching several years ago, but is still living in the city of Ronceverte, where he has distinguished himself as a successful truck farmer. Some years later Rev. R. D. W. Meadows, who has for a number of years served as a missionary in West Virginia, labored as a teacher in these parts, leaving a favorable impression on the system. The school was first taught in the small one-room house privately owned. When it increased in later years, it was found necessary to divide it so as to teach a part of the school in the Negro Baptist Church until the larger building could be provided. It is now a well-graded and junior high school with many modern facilities.[20]

Union, in Monroe County, was not unlike the other large settlements of this section having considerable Negro population. There was at times even as early as 1855 a healthy sentiment in favor of the improvement of the few slaves there, and this was not lost after the Civil War had ended. So general was the interest in behalf of the Negroes that this proved to be a most favorable community. Union was one of the first towns in that section to establish a public school for Negroes. At first there was some difficulty in having well prepared Negro teachers in the county itself; for one John Didell, a white man, was the first teacher of the public school. He had the support of such respectable Negroes as Julius Smalls, Andrew Bailey, Malinda Campbell, Henry Campbell, James Clair, Christopher Whitlock, and Charles Campbell. Two of the products of this school are Miss Charlotte Campbell and Bishop M. W. Clair of the Methodist Episcopal Church.[21] Among those who came in later to stimulate the first efforts of the teachers were Mrs. Leota Moss Claire, now a resident of Charleston, West Virginia, and J. M. Riddle who, after having taught at Sinks Grove in Monroe county and preached for several years in various parts of West Virginia, engaged in the ministry in Ohio and later went to California, where he is now serving as a State Missionary of the Baptist church.

In Summers County, the large settlement of Negroes was at Hinton. This place had a Negro school of fifteen pupils as early as 1878, with one T. J. Trinkle as instructor. He was a man of limited education, but prepared to help those who had not made advancement in the fundamentals. What he lacked in education he made up in moral influence, and his career is still remembered as a success. The cause of education among Negroes of Hinton was fearlessly supported by E. J. Pack and C. H. Payne, once a teacher in a rural district in this county himself and later a minister and a public servant in this country and abroad. The school in Hinton began in a one-room structure rented for four months, the length of the school term. Teachers were paid at the rate of $15, $25 and $30 a month for third, second, and first grade certificates respectively. It has recently developed into a well-graded school having a junior high school running nine months, with teachers paid at the rate of a combined monthly salary of $600.

The Negro public school experienced a later development in Fayette County than in the case of the counties nearer to the eastern border of the State or nearer the Ohio River; for, unlike those parts which had a larger number of slaves than the central and northern counties, Fayette County never before the eighties had Negro groups in sufficiently large numbers to warrant an outlay in education at public expense. The beginning of Negro education in this county was consequent upon the migration of Negroes to the coal fields. Many of them were interested in education and became its best patrons. Among those were Samuel Morgan, A. W. Slaughter, J. H. Shelton, J. D. Shelton, Aaron Chiles, Thomas Chiles, Randal Booker, Thomas Bradley, Oliver Jones, Ballard Rotan, Anderson Rotan, R. J. Perkins, Aaron Calloway, Mat Jordan, Henry Robinson, S. H. Hughes, Wellington Henderson, John Carrington, James Caul, George Moss, and Pleasant Thomas.

The first school established in Fayette County was that at Montgomery, in 1879. It was opened by H. B. Rice, a pioneer teacher in Kanawha Valley who had completed his education at Hampton Institute. For three years Mr. Rice taught in one room of the home of Thomas H. Norman, an intelligent and progressive Negro who, realizing the importance of education as a leverage in the uplift of his people, early made sacrifices for the establishment of this school. The school was then taught in a shanty. Inasmuch as at the end of one year, that is, by 1883, the Negro population had rapidly increased, this uncomfortable building was very much over-crowded and the school had to be divided so that part of it could be taught in the Baptist church nearby, until it secured better quarters. Among the teachers who toiled in this district were Mrs. A. G. Payne, Mrs. Anna Banks, Misses Sadie Howell, Julia Norman, Annie Parker, M. E. Eubank, Mrs. F. D. Railey, Mr. George Cuzzins, Mrs. M. A. W. Thompson, Miss L. O. Hopkins, Miss Lizzie Meadows, Mr. J. W. Scott, Miss Rebecca I. Bullard, Miss Mattie Payne Trent, Mrs. Lola M. Lavender Mack, Miss Nellie M. Lewis, Miss Ida M. King and Mr. H. H. Railey. The last mentioned not only attained distinction as the principal of this school, but so impressed his constituents as to be elected to the West Virginia Legislature.[22]

The impetus given to education at Montgomery was productive of desirable results in other towns in Fayette County. The second Negro school to be established in Fayette County was that Quinnimont in 1880. A storm of protest made the life of the teacher almost intolerable, although he was a white man. The school-house had to be guarded, but Rev. M. S. G. Abbot taught it two years. Then came Mr. R. D. Riddle, mentioned above in connection with the school at Ronceverte.[23]

At Eagle, not far from Montgomery, there settled groups of Negroes sufficiently large to necessitate educational facilities for their children. A large one-room school followed and this had not been established very long before it was necessary to employ two teachers. Among the prominent laborers in this field were Mrs. Mary Wilson-Johnson and Mrs. A. G. Payne. This work experienced most extensive growth under the direction of Miss A. L. Norman, Miss M. E. Shelton and Mr. A. C. Page.

There soon followed schools at Fire Creek, Hawk's Nest, Stone Cliff, Nuttallburg, Sewell, Fayetteville, and elsewhere in Fayette County. Prominent among the teachers serving in these towns were D. W. Calloway, A. T. Calloway, Miss L. E. Perry, Mrs. Lizzie Davis, Miss Bertha Morton, Mr. James Washington, Mrs. F. Donnelly Railey, Mrs. H. C. A. Washington, Mrs. J. B. Jordan-Campbell, C. G. Woodson, and Mrs. E. M. Dandridge. These teachers did not generally serve a long period in any one place, as there was a difference in salary in various districts and the best teachers usually sought the most lucrative positions; and sometimes, in the battle for bread and butter, the rather keen competition in certain districts led to the periodical dismissal of teachers without justifiable cause.

To those mentioned above, however, is due the credit for the development of the Negro schools in Fayette County. This is especially true of Mrs. E. M. Dandridge, who doubtless had a more beneficent influence in Fayette County than any teacher of color who toiled there. She taught for twenty-five years at Quinnimont, where she was not only a teacher but a moving spirit in all things promoting the social, moral, and religious welfare of the Negroes of her own and adjacent communities. She was fortunate in having a natural endowment superior to that of most persons and enjoyed, moreover, educational advantages considered exceptional for most Negroes of that day. She still lives to continue a noble work well begun and to complete a useful career in the same county where she cast her lot years ago.

For almost a generation earlier than this, Negro education had been launched with much better beginnings in the county of Kanawha. There were no free schools in West Virginia until 1866, but as in the case of several other settlements in the State, private schools were conducted for Negroes immediately after their emancipation. There had come into the county of Kanawha Rev. F. C. James, an Ohio Negro, the father of C. H. James, the wealthy wholesale produce merchant of Charleston. This pioneer was a man of fundamental education and unusual native ability. He opened at Chapel Hollow, or Salines, two and one-half miles from Malden, in 1865, probably the first Negro school in the Kanawha Valley. He thereafter taught elsewhere and later became the founder of the First Baptist Church of Charleston. The following year Miss Lucy James from Gallia County, Ohio, opened the first Negro school in Charleston. Among the first patrons were Matthew Dillon, Lewis Rogers, Alexander Payne, Lewis Jones, Perry Harden, Julius Whiting, and Harvey Morris. Mrs. Landonia Sims had charge of the school one year also. At this time Rev. Charles O. Fisher, a Methodist Episcopal minister of Maryland, had a private and select school which was later merged with the free public school. Between 1866 and 1869 Rev. J. W. Dansberry, another Methodist Episcopal minister from Baltimore, Maryland, belonging as did Mr. Fisher to the Washington Conference, served also as a teacher while preaching in this State. The Simpson M. E. Church, their main charge, was being developed during these years and was in 1867 housed in a comfortable building on Dickinson and Quarrier Streets. Mr. C. O. Fisher was a well-educated man, but Mr. Dansberry depended largely on natural attainments.

Rev. I. V. Bryant, who has toiled for many years in the Ohio Valley as a Baptist minister, started his public career as a teacher at Baker's Fort school, about two and one-half miles from Charleston. Rev. Harvey Morris, another minister, opened a public school at Sissonsville in 1873, Rev. J. C. Taylor another at Crown Hill in 1882, and not long thereafter this school was attended by such distinguished persons as Mrs. M. A. W. Thompson and Dr. A. Clayton Powell of New York City. This work in Kanawha County was accelerated too by the assistance from the Freedmen's Bureau which sent to this section C. H. Howard, brother of Gen. O. O. Howard, the head of the Freedmen's Bureau, to inspect the field, and later sent one Mr. Sharp to teach in Charleston.[24]

One of the first schools in Kanawha County was organized at Malden. Immediately after the Civil War this town had a much larger and more promising Negro population than the city of Charleston. Many Negroes had been brought to Kanawha County, and after their freedom many others came to labor in the salt works. This private school at Malden was conducted by Mr. William Davis, the first teacher of Booker T. Washington, who a few years before had come from Halesford, Virginia, to Malden.

Mr. Davis's career is more than interesting. He was born in Columbus, Ohio, November 27, 1848, remained there until his thirteenth year, spending parts of the years 1861, 1862, 1863 in Chillicothe. During these years he mastered the fundamentals of an English education. He moved back to Columbus in the fall of 1863. On December 18th of that year Mr. Davis enlisted in the Union "Light Guard," called "Lincoln's Body Guard," at Columbus. He served in the army eighteen months and was discharged at Camp Todd Barracks, Washington, D. C., June 24, 1865. He then returned to Columbus and after remaining there about a month went to Cincinnati, from which he proceeded to run on a boat from Gallipolis to Charleston for about a month.

About this time the people of Malden, under the wise guidance of Lewis Rice, a beloved pioneer minister, better known among the early Negroes of the State as Father Rice because of his persistent efforts in behalf of religion and education, had decided to establish a school for the education of their children. Mr. William Davis thereupon abandoned his work on the boat and became the teacher of this private school, established at Malden in the home of Father Rice, in 1865. As the school had to be conducted in the very bed-room of this philanthropist, it was necessary for him to take down his bed in the morning and bring in the benches, which would be replaced in the evening by the bed in its turn. The school was next held in the same church thereafter constructed, and finally in the schoolroom provided at public expense, as one of the schools of the county.

About the only white person who seemed to give any encouragement to the education of Negroes at Malden was General Lewis Ruffner. It seems, however, that his interest was not sufficient to provide those facilities necessary to ease the burden of this pioneer teacher. When we think, however, that out of this school came such useful teachers as William T. McKinney, H. B. Rice, and one of the world's greatest educators, Booker T. Washington, we must conclude that it was a success.

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