Dr. Richard B. Cook in his "Story of the Baptists in All Ages and Countries," says that the Island of Jamaica, W. I., first belonged to Spain, and then to England. After the Indians were driven off, the Island became populated by Spaniards and English. Negroes from America, and not Missionaries from England first began Baptist Missionary work on this Island." The Voice of Jubilee" said that as early as 1814, the English Baptist Missionaries on arriving at Jamaica found that black men from America had preached the Gospel there, and prepared a people to hail their coming, to receive their message and to assist in propagating the Gospel through the Island of Jamaica.
As early as 1783, Elder George Lisle went from Georgia to Jamaica as the slave of an English officer. At the close of the Revolutionary War and at the death of his master, he was left free. He preached the Gospel here with telling effect and organized the first Baptist Church on the Island.
At Kingston, moved by the ignorance and vice of his race, he preached to them at the racecourse and in his own "hired room." He organized a church of four members, who were refugees from America like himself. Like the Apostle Paul, he supported himself, as he preached the Gospel, by labor with his own hands. This Pioneer of pioneers told the story of the Cross to bond and free on neighboring plantations and to distant parts of the Island. His labors were blessed so abundantly that in about seven years he had baptised five hundred converts, and in 1793 built the first dissenting chapel in Jamaica. This subjected him and his followers to every kind of insult and persecution. He was thrown into prison for preaching sedition "loaded with irons and his feet fastened in the stocks, not even his wife nor his children were permitted to see him." He was imprisoned more than once, and was at one time tried for his life, but acquitted. Elders George Gives and T. N. Swingle were co-laborers of Brother Lisle They organized a Second Church of 700 at Kingston. Another church was established by Moses Baker, a converted drunkard, at Crooked Spring. One of Brother Lisle's contemporaries whose name I cannot obtain was "hung for preaching and baptising." Notwithstanding a rigidly enforced law from 1805 to 1814, forbidding preaching to slaves, the Word was preached with power and sinners converted by the hundred. Through the preaching of the Gospel these pioneers brought liberty to the souls of these bondmen; England's Emancipation Proclamation brought freedom to their bodies August 28, 1833.
Dr. R. B. Cooks says it was the correspondence of Elders George Lisle, Moses Baker and others, with Drs. Ryland and Rippon of England, that led finally to the sending out of the English Baptist Missionaries. That the work of these Missionaries was a success is evidenced by the fact that it not only became self-sustaining, but in 1842, there were 45 missionaries to leave for Africa, to take the Gospel to their brethren at home. Some one said to this departing Vanguard of African Missionaries, "Perhaps you will be made slaves by the heathen if you go." Their prompt reply was, "We have been made slaves for men; we can be made slaves for Christ."
A Jamaica Baptist by the name of Keith sold what he possessed, bought a few clothes only, and leaving his beloved companion for two years," worked his way to Africa and preached the Gospel on the very spot where he had been stolen." By 1887, the number of Jamaica churches had grown from the first church organized by Brother Lisle to 142 live Christian organizations with a membership of 31,000 reporting as many as 2,140 baptisms per year. Dr. Walter H. Brooks refers to Elder George Lisle as "The Black Apostle."
It seems that the work in Port-au-Prince, Hayti was more difficult than that in Jamaica. Elder W. C. Monroe, ordained in 1835 in New York, met with so much discouragement there that he abandoned the work, however it was afterwards resumed. In 1887 there were six churches, and five ministers in Hayti; and in all the West Indies 189 churches, 109 preachers, 37,564 members.
The first missionary from America to Africa was Elder Lot Carey. Although a slave in Richmond, Va., he applied himself to business and soon bought the freedom of himself and his two children for $850 in 1813. As early as 1807 he had joined the Baptist church, and in 1815, he became one of the prime movers in the formation of the African Missionary Society in Richmond, Va. Under very adverse circumstances they raised, within five years, $700 for missions. This was one of the first Missionary Societies of America; another being formed in Georgia soon after. Elders Carey and Colin Teague, both of Richmond, labored first among the Bassas, Monrovia, Liberia, where there was an American Colony as early as 1822. Here the first Christian church by Negro Missionaries was established, and six were baptised in 1823; nine more happy converts the following year. Elder Carey became pastor, and Brother Teague returned to Sierra Leone where they had first landed. Elder Carey extended the missionary work to Cape Grand Mount, among 'the Veys, one of the most powerful and intelligent tribes on the coast." He maintained missions at both places, and "manifested much energy and faithfulness in his labors, great sagacity in civil affairs, and remarkable power and earnestness as a preacher." At one time this missionary was Liberia's Vice-Governor, and became acting Governor during the absence of Governor Ashmun. One of the saddest tragedies on missionary fields occurred when Elder Carey was accidently killed by the explosion of gunpowder, November, 1828.
Elders A. W. Anderson, J. Lewis, and Elder H. Teague, son of Brother A. Teague, reinforced the white missionaries on the West Coast of Africa, there being some doubt as to whether the white missionaries could stand the climate. After the death or departure of the white brethren, the mission work was carried on by Elder J. Vonbrunn, a native Bassa.
Bishops J. Day, and A. L. Jones were sent to Africa in 1846, by the Southern Baptist Society, and from 1846 to 1856 other Negro missionaries were appointed, and in 14 Liberian villages, churches and schools were established. Two churches were organized in Sierra Leone. "In 1860 there were 24 stations, and churches, 18 pastors, 1,258 members, 26 teachers and 665 pupils." When this mission was closed in 1875, Missionaries W. J. Davis and W. W. Colley resumed work in Yoruba, where they were heartily received as "God men." Thousands had been converted while the work went on, and "many Godly men and women of the race were developed."
Elder J. Day was a very active missionary. He went to Liberia in 1830, "resigned a judgeship, and was elected Lieutenant-Governor in 1847. "In 1854, the church at Monrovia called him to its pastorate. While here he founded and presided over a high school in which were the following departments: Elementary, Classical, and Theological. This pioneer accomplished much at this place. He made extended preaching tours, and reported "a Sunday-school in every village and the word preached statedly to more than 10,000 heathens.
Elder J. T. Bowen founded the Yoruba Mission in 1850, and in 1853 other missionaries were sent out. Through the labors of Brother Bowen stations were opened, residences and chapels were built, and schools and churches established.
The first Negro Missionary sent out under appointment by a Colored Board was Bishop S. Cosby, in 1878. Virginia Baptists sent him forth to labor in their Fatherland. Brother Cosby had with him in the work Elder W. W. Colley instead of Missionary David who had returned home. Thus Brother Bowen opened the way for colored missionaries.
In 1879, South Carolina Baptists sent Elder H. N. Bouey as their missionary to Africa. He took charge of a missionary church at Royeville, where he labored three years and returned home. Brother Bouey labored here with marked success, permanently organizing churches and associations. Missionary J. O. Hayes was a contemporary of Bishop Bouey, and did effective work in Africa. As early as 1887, Dr. Cook said, including Western, Southern and Central Africa, where the Congo Mission is, there are three Associations, 81 churches, 55 ministers, and 3,012 members. The slogan of Colored Baptists everywhere was "Africa for Christ."
Bishop R. L. Perry, Ph. D., says (1887) "The million colored Baptists in the United States maintain their own churches, associations and missionary conventions. Their early history in the South was interwoven with the history of the white churches, but since emancipation they have made their own independent record in the South, just as they were doing in the North before the war. They began in the North about 80 years ago--that is the Joy Street Church, Boston, Mass., was constituted in 1805; the Abyssinian Church, New York, in 1808, and the First African Church, Philadelphia, in 1809. From these as mother churches others were established, till, in 1840, there had been such an increase in churches in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, that they then formed themselves into a Missionary Convention for work among their own race.
The work of this body was confined to the North, excepting an effort to establish a mission in Africa, till peace in 1865, enabled them to enter the South, to which their whole attention was given. At their 26th Anniversary, at Richmond, Va., August, 1886, this body united with the North Western and Southern Convention. The united bodies took the name of the Consolidated American Baptist Missionary Convention, and did a grand work in the South. Some difference of opinion arose as to jurisdiction and management at Richmond in 1877, which indicated approaching disruption. This Convention still exists, but the fields it once occupied are now worked by new organizations: the New England Baptist Missionary Convention in the North; the Baptist Foreign Missionary Convention of the United States and Territories in the West.
In each quarter of the United States--North, South, East and West, there are some strong churches and able men, who take the lead in mission work and denominational action in their respective societies. The Foreign Mission Convention of the South, and the General Association of the Western States and Territories, have Foreign Mission Stations in Africa, while the Consolidated Convention has a Mission Station, and owns good mission property in Port-au-Prince, Hayti."
I have quoted Dr. Perry at length that the reader might thoroughly understand these early beginnings. Ebenezer Baptist Church, New York, organized in 1825, and the Union Baptist Church in Cincinnati, constituted in 1827, follow in age the above mentioned churches.
In 1873, the Baptist General Association of the Western States and Territories came into existence and was made larger in 1880. Bishop R. De Baptist, speaking of further Baptist growth says that: "In 1853 a movement was begun in the Wood River Association, Illinois, to reach wider and more needy parts of the West, which resulted in the formation of the Western Colored Baptist Convention, which in 1864, was still further widened into the North Western and Southern Baptist Convention. The latter consolidated in 1867 with the American Baptist Missionary Convention, operating in the Eastern and North Eastern States, the new body taking the name of the Consolidated American Baptist Convention, which continued its work at home and abroad till 1879, as a united body, when the Western Churches withdrew and formed their own association.
The officers for 1887 were: Rev. W. H. Howard, M. D., Moderator; Rev. J. W. Cruchon and Rev. J. H. Oden, assistant moderators; Rev. J. L. Corron, Recording Secretary; Rev. T. L. Johnson, Corresponding Secretary; Rev. R. De Baptist, Treasurer. The income for the year was $5,136. Rev. T. L. Johnson, London, England, and Rev. J. W. Polk at home, are agents for collecting funds for the African Mission. Great interest has been awakened in the Congo Mission, Africa, and the Association appointed in 1886, Rev. J. W. Rickets and T. E. S. Scholes, M. D., as missionaries to the Congo Valley. Miss L. C. Fleming goes also as a missionary to the Congo country, whence her father was brought as a slave to this land. She is a graduate of Shaw University, and will be accompanied by Miss Faulkner and Miss Hamilton. They go under the Women's Societies of the East and West, which have already been doing a work among the women of the South through female teachers and missionaries.
The New England Baptist Missionary Convention was formed in 1875. Its field of operation is in the Northern and Eastern States. The minutes of 1886 show a list of 43 churches--open in Delaware, six in Pennsylvania, nine in New York, nine in New Jersey, four in Connecticut, two in Rhode Island, eleven in Massachusetts and one in Virginia. The main object of the Convention is to send out missionaries into destitute regions and to plant and build up churches within its reach. Its officers for 1887 are: President, Rev. R. D. Wynn; Vice-President, Rev. B. T. Moore; Recording Secretary, Rev. T. D. Miller, D. D.; Corresponding Secretary, Rev. W. T. Dixon; Treasurer, Rev. R. A. Motley; General Agent, Rev. R. L. Perry, Ph. D."
In 1880 the Baptist Foreign Missionary Convention was formed with the following officers: Bishop A. S. Jackson, President; Hon. J. J. Spelman, Secretary; Professor J. E. Jones, Corresponding Secretary; Elder R. Wells, Treasurer. The Executive Board was located at Richmond, Va. The Convention divided the country into the following districts for Foreign Mission work: 1st Virginia; 2nd--the Territory covered by the New England Convention; 3rd--South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. The receipts for 1886 were $4,473.
Elder J. H. Presley and wife, Elder W. W. Colley and wife, Bishop J. J. Coles and Bishop H. McKinney, were sent as missionaries to Africa in 1883. "Africa In Brief" is the name of a little book of Elder J. J. Coles in which he tells of the labors and trials of these missionaries in building up the Baptist Vey Mission. In 1886 the Convention sent to this mission Bishop J. J. Coles, who returned to America, Mrs. Cole, Elder and Mrs. E. B. Topp and Elder J. J. Diggs, Mrs. Diggs was soon to follow. The Foreign Missionary Force now (1887) consists of four ordained ministers, four native helpers and two women. There are two churches and 150 members. They had 100 baptisms within two and a half years.
When a call was made by Elder W. J. Simmons, D. D., the First National Baptist Convention of Colored Baptists came together August 25, 1886, at the First Baptist Church, St. Louis, Mo., Bishop J. R. Young, pastor. After Brother Simmons had called the brethren to order, a temporary organization was effected by calling Elder W. J. Shelton to the chair, and selecting W. H. Stewart, Secretary. The permanent election resulted in the election of the following officers; Bishop W. J. Simmons, D. D., President; Elder J. R. Young, 1st Vice-President; Elder T. L. Johnson, 2nd Vice President; Elder W. H. Steward, and Bishop S. T. Clanton, Recording Secretaries; Bishop R. De Baptist, Corresponding Secretary; Miss L. W. Smith, Historian; and Elder D. A. Gaddie, Treasurer. After the adoption of the Constitution, the body was made permanent, and "got down to work." The main object of the Convention given out by these pioneer fathers was "to unify the denomination in MISSION WORK."
Seventeen states were represented by 600 messengers and visitors at this initial meeting. Among them were graduates in Law, Medicine, Theology; Professors of Philosophy, German, French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew; Ex-State Representatives; Ex-Senators; Two Ex-Lieutenant Governors; Editors and Teachers not a few; and a Baptist Missionary from England. In line with the "Spirit of Missions" on which the fathers founded the Convention, Bishop T. L. Johnson said to this crowd of enthusiastic Baptists "Knox lifted up Germany, and it is for us to lift the heathen of the land of our fathers."
The second session of the Convention was held with the Third Baptist Church, Mobile, Ala., Dr. A. F. Owens, pastor--1887.
Professor Monroe N. Work, in his 1913 "Negro Year Book" says that the first Negro Baptist Association organized in the United States, was the Providence Baptist Association of Ohio, in 1836. Two years later the Wood River Baptist Association was organized in Illinois.
The earliest church beginnings were in the South. Just which is the first Negro Baptist church in America is a disputed question. The First African Baptist Church, Savannah, Ga., is claimed by some historians to be the oldest, while on the other hand Dr. Walter H. Brooks says: "The First Church of Negro Baptists, the very first and oldest, so far as authentic and trustworthy writings of the eighteenth century establish, was constituted at Silver Bluff, on Mr. Galphin's estate, a year or two before the Revolutionary War. "This church continued to worship here at Silver Bluff situated on the South Carolina side of Savannah River, in Aiken County just 12 miles from Augusta, Ga., until the latter part of 1778 when the vicissitudes of war drove the little flock into exile. Its exile simply meant to multiply it in other places. Elder David George was pastor of the Silver Bluff Church. This pastor and people finally moved to Savannah seeking safety and freedom under the British flag at the fall of Savannah. It seems that unavoidable changes brought on by the war forced the members of The Silver Bluff Church to disband; but in due time God raised up another man-- Elder Jesse Peter through whom he revived His work again and set it to going.
As the First African Baptist Church at Augusta, Ga., the Springfield Baptist Church--comes into existence we lose sight of the Silver Bluff Church, with Rev. Jesse Peter as pastor when the church is reported in a flourishing condition. The curtain rises and again we see a flock of devoted Christians, with Jesse Peters as pastor, but they are 12 miles away from Silver Bluff, S. Carolina, receiving the regulated touches of the Rev. Abram Marshall and another white minister, which gave the body standing and influence, as the First African Church of Augusta, Ga.
"If we presume, the Silver Bluff church is still with us, in another meeting place, and under a new name, the oldest Negro Baptist Church in this country to-day is that at Augusta, Ga., having existed at Silver Bluff, South Carolina from the period 1774-1775 to the year 1793, before becoming a Georgia Institution."
It seems that this church grew out of one of, the scattered parts of the Silver Bluff Church. There is some difference of opinion as to the founder and first pastor--some claiming that it was set up by Elder Andrew Bryan in 1788, others hold that this could not be. Dr. Walter H. Brooks says: "The Negro Baptist Church at Savannah, Ga., existed before Andrew Bryan became a Christian," and that Elder Lislie was the first pastor. Mr. Joseph Cook, of Euhaw, South Carolina, in a letter to Dr. John Rippon of London, England says: "A poor Negro commonly called Brother George, has been so highly favored of God as to plant the First Baptist church in Savannah, and another in Jamaica." From the time of Brother Lislie's departure for Jamaica in 1782 to the time of Bryan's ordination, 1788 the little flock at Savannah, Ga., was bitterly persecuted, but it stood the storm and fire of opposition, and outstripped in point of growth and numbers the other branches of Silver Bluff Baptist Church, and is today the acknowledged mother of American Negro Baptists.
In 1785 there was a Negro Baptist Church organized at Williamsburg, Va., but did not flourish to any large extent. There were other early church beginnings at Atlanta, Ga., New Orleans, La., and Galveston, Texas.
In 1887 there were, in the South at least 26 institutions of Higher Education for Negroes. The following schools had Negro Presidents, and for the most part were under the control of Negro Baptists:
State University of Louisville, Ky., founded by the late Dr. Wm. J. Simmons and others in 1873. Dr. Simmons had two assistants of whom only two were white. The University had three departments: College, Normal and Model school with 171 students. Property value of this school in 1887 was $18,000. First class of B. A.'s graduated in 1886.
Natchez College, Natchez, Miss., was organized in 1877. President P. A. Wardlaw had three instructors and 165 students.
Selma University, Selma, Ala., 1878. Dr. H. Woodsmall, President, in 1887 had seven instructors and 353 students--male and female with a property valuation of $15,000.
Brazoria Institute, Brazoria, Texas 1867. Professor H. S. Smothers was President. As early as 1887 he had trained 60 teachers for work among colored people.
Seguin Academy, Seguin, Tex., as early as 1887 had property valued at $1,400.
Hearne Academy, Hearne, Tex., was organized in 1881; by 1887 Professor W. F. Smith, principal had three teachers and 32 students with a property value of $4,000.
Western Union Institute, Asheville, N. C., was founded in 1884. Elder E. H. Lipscombe was President in 1887 with four teachers and 2000 students. Property valued at $5,000.
In 1887 there were several other Academies North Carolina; Winston Academy, Bishop C. S. Brown, A. B., Principal, costing $2,000; Garysburge High School, R. J. Walden, A. M., Principal, worth $1,500; High School at Warfor years pastor of the first white Baptist church renton, Bishop J. A. Whitted, B. A., Principal, valued at $5,000; Cedar Grove Academy, Elder R. H. Harris, Principal and at Goldsboro a lot had been purchased for a school site on which buildings were soon to be erected.
At Coalsmouth, W. Va., a school property formerly Shelton College had been purchased worth $25,000 and a school of high grade was to be soon opened with Elder C. H. Payne as President.
The Colored Baptists of Lynchburg, W. Va., perhaps, earlier than 1887 had bought a lot on which to erect a building and operate a school preparatory to Richmond Seminary.
At Little Rock, Ark, the Arkansas Baptist College was begun in 1886 under "a scholarly and competent President Professor J. H. Garnett.
The first, third and last of the above schools, and those that follow in this list, in 1887, were under the fostering care of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Dr. Morehouse said, "The Colored Baptists have raised apart from the Society's efforts, about $50,000 for property and teachers, chiefly for the schools at Selma, Live Oak, and Marshall, Texas.
By 1887 eight thousand students had enrolled in Home Mission schools.
Roger Williams University, Nashville, Tenn., the first school of the kind in order of time, began work in 1864. In 1887, President W. H. Stifler, D. D., had eight assistants and 126 young men and 87 young women. The property value was $85,000.
Wayland Seminary, Washington, D. C., opened its doors for the education of freed men in 1865. In 1887 President C. M. P. King, D. D., was assisted by six teachers with an enrollment of 126 students. Value of property at that time $10,000. Our race owes Dr. King a debt of gratitude, because as early as 1887 he had spent 18 years training Negro preachers and teachers.
In 1865, Shaw University began operations in Raleigh, North Carolina. By 1887, President H. M. Tupper, D. D., had a faculty of 20, and 402 students. Within 22 years after beginning this work, Dr. Tupper had built up a great University consisting of Esty Hall, Leonard Medical building, Chapel and Dining Hall Medical Dormitory and residences costing in all about $125,000. The Medical faculty was composed of the best white talent in Raleigh, while the Theological Department was in charge of Dr. T. E. Skinner, for years pastor of the First White Baptist in Raleigh, who said: "The work is itself an inspiration. The deportment is good, and far beyond any I have seen. The desire to learn is a most encouraging feature to the teacher, the ability to learn is fully equal to that of the white people, where the advantages have been the same."
Dr. C. H. Cory and other white friends of ours founded Richmond Theological Seminary, Richmond, Va., in 1867. Two of its faculty of four were Negroes. The student body numbered 64 as early as 1887.
Atlanta Seminary, (now Morehouse College) Atlanta, Ga., came into existence in 1867, and by 1887 President S. Graves, D. D., had five teachers and one hundred and fifty-three students.
Leland University, New Orleans, La., was organized in the basement of the Tulane Baptist Church for the education of freed men by Deacon Holbrook Chamberlain, in 1870, and by 1887 Acting President, Bishop M. C. Cole, was assisted by eight instructors with an enrollment of 221 students. Deacon Chamberlain endowed it with $95,000. Valuation of its property in 1887 was $85,000.
Columbia, South Carolina, is the seat of Benedict Institute (now Benedict College), which began work in 1870. President C. E. Becker as early as 1887 had four assistants and 218 students. His work was divided into four departments--Theological, Academic, Musical and Industrial.
In 1887 Bishop J. L. A. Fish was President of Florida Institute organized in 1880, at Live Oak, Fla. Teachers at that time numbered 6; students 96; and valuation was $7,000.
Jackson College, Jackson, Miss., was founded in 1877 not in Jackson, but in Natchez, Miss., and was afterwards moved to Jackson. President C. Ayer heroically began the work and by 1887 he had four assistants and 251 students. Property value at that time $30,000.
1887 was the year in which Bishop College was established at Marshall, Texas. President S. W. Culver with five assistants and 156 students was doing a splendid work in 1887. One of his teachers, Professor David Abner was a College graduate of the school. This school was named after the late Dr. Nathan Bishop whose widow liberally endowed it.
Spelman Seminary, Atlanta, Ga., was organized in 1887 for females only. Before the year 1887 Miss H. Giles, and Miss S. B. Packard had built up a splendid school for Negro girls, having a faculty of 20 with an enrollment of 555 scholars.
Hartshorn Memorial College, Richmond, Va., founded in 1884 was another female school. President L. B. Tefft in 1887 had an enrollment of 96 girls. Property value was $35,000.
The Creen Freedman School, Tullahassee, I. T., was established in 1883, Professor C. E. Burdick, Superintendent. In 1887 it had three teachers, 6 pupils and property valued at $6,000.
In 1887 there were in the Home Mission schools alone 23 Negro teachers; 2,739 scholars; 437 preparing to preach; 963 preparing to teach; 35 desiring to go to Africa as missionaries and 38 studying medicine.
African Expositor, Bishop N. F. Roberts, Raleigh, N. C.; American Baptist, Dr. William J. Simmons, and Brother W. H. Stewart, Louisville, Ky.; Arkansas Baptist, Dr. E. C. Morris, Little Rock, Ark.; Arkansas Review, Bishop J. T. White, Helena, Ark.; Baptist Advocate, Bishop A. S. Jackson, D. D., and Elder S. T. Clanton, D. D., New Orleans, La.; Baptist Beacon, Bishop W. R. Boone, B. D., Springfield, O.; Baptist Messenger, Hon. J. J. Spelman, Jackson, Miss.; Baptist Preacher, Elder A. R. Griggs, Dallas, Texas; Georgia Baptist, Bishop W. J. White, Augusta, Ga.; Baptist Signal, Bishop G. W. Gales, Greenville, Miss.; Living Way, Elder W. A. Brinkly, Memphis, Tenn.; Memphis Watchman, Brother J. T. Turner, Memphis, Tenn.; National Monitor, Bishop R. L. Perry, Ph. D., Brooklyn, N. Y.; Western Herald, Elders R. De Baptist, A. Johnson, R. M. Duling and T. L. Smith, Keokuk, Ia.; Richmond Planet, John Mitchell, Jr., Richmond, Va., West Virginia Enterprise, Elder C. H. Payne, Charleston, West Va.; Weekly, Bishops R. R. Wright and E. K. Love, Augusta Georgia; Baptist Watchover, Brother W. H. Anderson, Evansville, Indianapolis; Mountain Gleaner, Elder E. H. Lipscombe, Asheville, N. C.; C.; Baptist Pilot, Elders L. G. Jordan and F. G. Davis, Waco, Tex.; Baptist Tribune, Dr. E. M. Brawley, Columbia, S. C.; Baptist Leader, Bishop A. N. McEwen, Montgomery, Ala.; Herald, Brother J. C. Duke, Montgomery, Ala.; African Missions, Professor J. E. Jones, Richmond, Va.; The Caret, Elder C. D. Cooley, Newport News, Va.; Marion Headlight, Brother J. L. Fleming, Marion, Ark.; Pioneer Press, Brother J. R. Clifford, Martinsburge, West Va.; Golden Epoch, Brother C. H. W. Stewart, Helena, Ark.; Baptist Banner, Brother J. W. Browdwe, Columbus, Kans.; Texas Pioneer, Professor S. M. Smothers, Brazoria, Tex.; Seven Mansions, N. O. Bryant, Calvert, Tex.; Busy Bee, Brother E. J. Jones, Greenville, Miss.; Baptist Review (magazine), Bishop E. R. Carter, Atlanta, Ga.; Missouri Baptist Standard, Brother G. H. McDaniel, Palmyra, Mo.; Pulpit and Desk (quarterly), Bishop Bird Wilkins, B. D., St. Paul, Minn.
These are only some of the many papers--religious and secular published by Baptist Editors as early as 1887. Drs. Brawley and Perry said at that time that there were as many more, whose names could not be obtained.
Dr. Richard B. Cook says that the Mount Olivet Baptist Church, West 53d Street, New York City, was organized in 1878 with 21 members, and with five dollars in the treasury. At this time they worshipped in a hall and were under the care of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Chruch (white). Mount Olivet flourished under the pastorate of Bishop D. W. Wisher of Norfolk, Va. The church was organized and the pastor ordained on the same day, May 30th, 1878. Elder Armitage preaching the sermon.
It was not long before this hall became too small for the great crowds that came to hear the Gospel. Over 500 were added to the church by baptism, 250 by letter and 300 by experience. As early as 1886 this church had an active membership of 700, besides, $40,000 had been raised for church expenses; $6,000 for missions at home and abroad, and $16,000 for repairs and interest.
The Southern New York Association, April, 1884, assisted this membership in purchasing the splendid granite church edifice it now (1887) occupies. This was the church of Bishop Cheever, valued at $125,000, with a seating capacity of 2,000. Its organ cost $5,000. The dedication services occurred June 15th, 1884, Dr. Harvey Johnson preaching in the forenoon, Dr. Armitage in the afternoon and Bishop T. D. Miller at night. The dedication prayer was prayed by Bishop H. Williams, Jr. On the following Thursday the venerable Elder Cheever delivered an address of much interest, and a letter from the poet J. G. Whittier was read.
God gave this pioneer church many friends of means, among them were Bishop H. F. Barnes, S. S. Constant, and B. F. Judson who gave from $500 to $8,000. John D. Rockefeller, the richest of men, gave one-fourth of the entire cost of the property.
A Negro Baptist preacher whose name I cannot now obtain gathered a few Baptists in a private house in Baltimore, Md., in 1818, and in 1836 the first Baptist Church was organized in the State of Maryland. Moses Clayton, a Virginia slave, came to Baltimore in 1834. He could read, write, and speak with fluency. He worked at the carpenter's trade during the week and preached the Word with power and demonstration on Sundays. "He began a school with three children, two of them his own. Often he preached to an audience comprising his wife and two or three others, and spoke with much earnestness as if addressing a thousand." A church was formed with 8 or 10, and Bishop Moses Clayton was ordained pastor of Maryland's first church.
In 1865 Bishop L. Hicks being pastor, sufficient money was collected for a house of worship into which they moved from the old school house. In 1880 a larger house was built in a more suitable location, costing $16,000. The present pastor (1887) is Bishop J. C. Allen.
In 1852, the Union Baptist Church, Baltimore, Md., was organized with 57 members. Elder J. Cary was the first pastor. By 1887 the membership had grown from 57 in 1852 to 2,000. Bishop Harvey Johnson, who was pastor of this church prior to 1887, and is now pastor (1914), stands high in his community. He is a graduate of Wayland Seminary. He took charge of his church in 1872 with only 278 members. In 1876 they entered their new house of worship, which cost $20,000. All of this they paid in four years, excepting $500. The pastor of this church was the prime mover in bringing Maryland Baptists together in a State Convention. There were in the state as early, or earlier than 1887, 20 churches, 6,000 members, 15 ministers and $150,000 worth of church property.
Bishop Walter H. Brooks says that: "The Baptists of Washington, D. C., organized their first church and erected their first meeting house at the corner of 19th and I Streets, in 1802. There were six constituent members, all white. In process of time many colored persons were received as members. The house of worship had in 1833, become too small for the congregation and the old house was abandoned for a new one on 10th Street. The colored people were encouraged to continue in the old building. Finally the property was sold to the colored Baptists of the District. They had then, 1833, no church organization. They were members of the church on 10th street although they had their separate place of worship, and a Sunday-school for their children.
A number of colored Baptists who had come to Washington formed themselves into a Baptist Church in 1839. The church numbered four, of whom one, Emily Cook, now (1887) lives. As soon as the church was formed the colored members of the church on 10th Street, united with the new body and the property on 19th Street passed into their hands. In 1846 they numbered 202, from 1865 to 1873 they had increased from 370 to 1191, and in 1876 the membership was 1200, but a revision of the roll reduced it to 1086, the present number. The first pastor was Bishop S. White, and the present one is Dr. Walter H. Brooks.
From this church has gone out: The Second, Fourth, Fifth, Salem and Berean churches. Since 1860 other Baptist churches have sprung up that are not off-shoots of the First Church. There are today in the District between 20 and 30 Baptist Churches, many of which have a membership of between 1,000 and 1,800. They own some valuable church property, such as that of the Shiloh, First, Liberty, Fourth, Fifth, Berean, and others too numerous to name, which shows to what good use thousands of the money of this people have been put."
Revs. Brooks, Walker, Lee, Johnson, Howard, of the Zion Church, preach to large congregations.
I am informed that the First White Baptist Church of Richmond, Va., was organized with 14 members, in 1780, when Richmond was a village of 1800 inhabitants, one half of whom were Negroes. "Since 1863 the Colored Baptists have constituted themselves separately, and have their own associations," says one writer. The First African Baptist Church of Richmond existed before the War.
Bishop R. Ryland, D. D., President of Richmond College, was the pastor of this church for 25 years, and during his pastorate there baptised more than 3,800 persons. This house of worship was built between the years 1790 and 1800, and set apart for the use of the Colored Baptists, when the white Baptists erected for themselves a new church in 1841. This old Negro church house was historic, and was published in the list of places to be visited by the stranger in the city, who took Sunday for the purpose, to hear the excellent music. Within its walls some of the most important meetings have been held, and some of the most distinguished men have spoken.
The Virginia Convention of 1829-30 met here. Madison and Marshall were there. It was the last time these distinguished men held a seat in a public assembly.
In April, 1861, 'the largest meeting ever held in that church took place in behalf of the Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of the laws."
In 1864, a famous meeting took place in this Negro Church building, the object of which was to urge the people to renewed resistance to the Federal Army then thundering at the gates of Richmond. Addresses were made by Jefferson Davis, J. P. Benjamin and others.
Here also was held, after the surrender, a meeting of the Freedmen, "the first ever held in the South."
In those days such men as Horace Greely, Gerritt Davis, Henry Wilson, and General Howard addressed the multitudes in this old church house. The African Church was the place both before and after the war for all great meetings. This famous old Negro house of worship was torn down in 1876, to make way for the present elegant structure which costs $40,000, seats 2,500 people, and has an organ costing $2,500. Bishop J. H. Holmes, the present (1887) pastor, took charge in 1867 when the membership was three thousand. Since then 5,000 have been added, and eleven other churches have been organized of material from this church. In 1887, the Sunday-school numbered 600 pupils; the church collections amounting to $4,000 annually.
The pastor of this church, though born a slave, educated himself and became a power for good in his day; baptizing June, 1878, at one time, 268 souls; on another day 598, and at another time in 1887, two hundred believers. The Second Baptist Church has a membership of 3,000.
Another of the early organizations in Virginia is the church which was organized at Portsmouth in 1798.
The First Church, Manchester, Va., held its meetings apart from the whites the first time in 1821, at the house of Mrs. Nancy Rasfield. At this time they were few in number, and were a branch of the Spring Creek Church. Their numbers increased under their white pastors until when they purchased ground and erected a frame meeting house. These white pastors, however, were assisted by colored preachers. This church built its first brick house of worship in 1854, and in 1865, Bishop R. Wells, their first colored pastor took charge. He was followed in 1872 by Elder A. Binga. In 1869 they entered their present (1887) house of worship, which seats 1,400 people, and costs $18,000. Present membership is 1,512, after furnishing material for three churches within 15 years.
As early as 1887 the Fourth Church, Bishop E. Paine, pastor, numbers 1,400; Ebenezer, Elder R. Wells, pastor, 1,600; and the Second Baptist Church, Bishop W. Troy, pastor, 3,000. Elder John Jasper at this time was preaching to large congregations, and Bishop H. Williams was preparing a history of Negro Virginia Baptists.
The officers of the Virginia Baptist State Convention in 1887 were: Elder J. M. Armistead, President; Bishops A. Gordon, A. Truatt, A. H. Lewis, and H. W. Dickerson, Vice-Presidents; Bishop H. H. Mitchell, Corresponding Secretary; Elder A. Binga, Jr., Recording Secretary; and J. E. Farrar, Treasurer.
By 1887, this convention had employed six missionaries, raised $3,000 for missions, and paid to missionaries in Africa $2,250. The Secretary and Agent of their Foreign Mission Board was Bishop J. A. Taylor. Lynchburg Baptists had bought a $1,800 lot overlooking the city on which to establish a denominational school of high grade. West Virginia Baptists, in 1887, numbered 1800 with 25 churches, 3 associations and one State Convention, and the Executive Board had purchased school property for the erection of an Academic, Normal and Industrial School.
The originator of the school movement was Bishop C. H. Payne who was to be the President of the Institution.
It appears that they began their work with the organization of the First Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn. By 1887 this church had a membership of 2,500. Their house of worship cost $26,000 with a seating capacity of 1300. At this early date Tennessee Baptists also had a large house of worship at Memphis, for which they paid $100,000 cash. They had 10 associations in the state with more than 35,000 members.
Officers of their State Convention, at the 14th Anniversary held at Winchester in 1886 were: Bishop R. V. Vandervell, D. D., President; Elders C. C. Russell, J. Bransford and I. Trimble, Vice-Presidents; Bishop B. Frierson, Recording Secretary; Elder B. A. Franklin, Corresponding Secretary; and Elder A. Buchanan, Treasurer.
The Annual Sermon at this session was preached by Bishop S. M. Dickinson, and inspiring addresses were made by Bishops H. Wood-small and D. A. Franklin.
In 1887 Bishop N. F. Roberts said: "The State Convention of North Carolina was organized in 1886. Then the Colored Baptists had but few churches in the state, and most of these had neither house of worship nor pastor. There are now 500 ministers; 850 churches; 110,000 members; 850 Sunday-schools; 3500 teachers, and 75,000 scholars. There are several academies of high grade preparing students for Shaw University. During the last 20 years God has greatly prospered us. Our preachers have planted churches in many destitute fields, and the people are hearing the word with gladness. Over 8,000 were baptised last year. Many brethren of other denominations have learned the truth as we hold it and have united with us. Within the past year many of the churches have provided themselves with comfortable houses of worship."
Earlier than 1887, Brother W. H. Steward said that the Fifth Church, Louisville, Ky., formed in 1839, had the finest building and largest congregation in the state. Bishop J. H. Frank was pastor in 1887, and holds forth now (1914). His flock numbered 1500 about 30 years ago. The Fifth Church was a model church, having a splendid choir. Kentucky Baptists led other denominations in the state in point of numbers and actual Christian work.
Dr. Everets said: "The Colored Baptists are sharing the progressive spirit of the white churches, and have increased to fifteen churches, with almost five thousand members in Louisville.
Bishop C. C. Stum said that Elder G. W. Dupee was the Nestor of Kentucky Baptists. This Pioneer Baptist was the prime mover in most of the first Kentucky organizations. These early organizers wrought well in the matter of setting up churches, associations and conventions.
They held their 17th session of the General Association of Kentucky at Danville, in 1885. This shows that the fathers started this work as early as 1868. Officers of this Association in 1887 were: Bishop P. Johnson, Moderator; Elders D. A. Gaddie, P. H. Kennedy, Assistant Moderators; Brother W. H. Steward, Recording Secretary; Brother Q. B. Jones, Corresponding Secretary; and Bishop P. Alexander, Treasurer. Brother W. H. Steward was Chairman of Trustee Board. At this session 287 churches and 46,902 members were reported.
Officers of the State Women's Educational Convention: Mrs. A. V. Nelson, President; Mrs. M. B. Wallace, Secretary, and Miss L. C. Crittenden, Chairman Board of Managers.
In 1887, Dr. William J. Simmons was writing a History of Kentucky Negro Baptists, setting forth their wonderful achievements and marvelous growth.
Officers of North Carolina State Convention in 1887 were: Professor Roberts, President; Bishop A. M. Conway, Vice-President; Elder W. T. H. Woodward, Recording Secretary; Bishop J. O. Crosby, Corresponding Secretary; Bishop A. B. Williams, Treasurer; and Elder G. W. Holland, Auditor.
We are informed that the Baptist Educational Missionary and Sunday School Convention of South Carolina was doing a noble work before 1887, and its Secretary, Bishop J. J. Durham, M. D., had asked for as much as $5,000 in one year for missions.
President I. P. Brockenton said: "The Convention is one of the great levers in lifting our people; it has done a great deal toward lifting our ministry to its present height. One of its grand objects is to give to our churches an educated ministry."
Officers of this Convention in 1887 were: Brother I. P. Brockenton, President; Bishop J. C. Butler, Vice-President; Elder S. B. Stratfoot, Treasurer; Bishop J. J. Durham, M. D., Secretary; and E. M. Brawley, D. D., Historian. There were 100,000 Negro Baptists in the state of South Carolina in 1887.
Elsewhere in this chapter you will find full reference to the first Christian work done by Georgia Baptists. However, it may be of interest to add that the officers of their State Convention in 1887 were: Elder C. J. Bryan, President; Bishop U. L. Houston, Vice-President; Brother J. H. Brown, Secretary; Bishop T. J. Hornsby, Assistant Secretary; Elder C. H. Lyons, Corresponding Secretary, and Bishop J. T. Tolbert, Treasurer.
This Convention was organized by the Georgia Pioneers in 1870. At their 16th Anniversary in 1886 sermons were preached by Bishops C. T. James, F. M. Simmons, and C. C. Terry. There were in the state at that time 42 Associations; 1301 churches, with 134,489 members, which was claimed to be the largest Negro membership in any state. Two missionaries were employed by the Convention, and more than $1,000 were expended. The First Church, Savannah, Ga., claimed 4,000 members, and the First Church, Augusta, Ga., claimed a membership of 5,000. The Second Church was organized in 1803.
The officers of the General Convention in 1887 were: Bishop J. N. Stokes, President; Bishop T. Lancaster, Vice-President; Elder G. P. McKinney, Recording Secretary; Bishop J. B. Hankers, Corresponding Secretary; and P. S. Sommers, Treasurer. The 1887 Session of the Convention was called to order by Elder J. A. Potter, and Bishops J. Felder, and J. G. Ross preached the principal sermons at this session. Brother Ross was at that time pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., which had built a $2,000 parsonage, and sent Miss L. C. Fleming to Africa. As early as 1887 there were 27,000 Negro Baptists in the state, and more than $1300 was given in 1885 for the Florida Institute.
Officers of the Sunday School Convention were: Brother A. Dallas, President; Brother D. H. Brown, Recording Secretary; Brother J. W. Benton, Corresponding Secretary; and Bishop M. Wiggins, Treasurer.
Their work took organized form in a Conventional way in 1868 with Bishop Nathan Ashby as their first President. Then followed Elder J. Washington Stephens, in 1870; Bishop Prince Merrill, 1871-72; Elder James Foster, 1873-75; Bishop Mansfield Tyler, 1876-86; and Elder W. R. Pettiford, was elected President in 1887. There were at this time in the state 50 associations, 700 ministers, 800 churches, with 85,000 members. Valuation of their church property was $250,000.
Concerning pioneer work among these brethren, Hon. J. J. Spelman says, as early as or before 1886, that: "Mississippi had a State Convention, besides a General Association, having over 38,766 communicants, and a paper edited, and its whole mechanical department managed by colored men. They have also a College at Natchez worth $20,000 without a dollar of debt, with a President and faculty, all colored, and 165 students."
The officers of the General Association were: Bishop H. W. Bowen, Moderator; Elder A. Reed, Vice-Moderator; Bishop J. H. Nichols, Corresponding Secretary; Bishop H. M. Thompson, Recording Secretary; Hon. J. J. Spelman, Statistical Secretary; and Elder A. Durham, Treasurer.
State Sunday School Convention officers were: Hon. J. J. Spelman, President; Bishops H. Watson, and H. M. Thompson, Vice-Presidents; Elder T. L. Jordan, Corresponding Secretary; Bishop J. H. Nichols, Recording Secretary; and Brother L. R. Shepherd, Treasurer.
During the 1886 session of the Association, $400 were raised for African Missions, and farewell addresses were delivered by two of its members, namely, Bishop E. B. Topp and his wife. They went under appointment as missionaries to the Veys. The Introductory Sermon of this session was preached by Bishop G. W. Cohran; Doctrinal Sermon by Elder J. F. Boulden; Educational Sermon by Bishop T. L. Jordan, and the Temperance Sermon by Elder R. Ramsey. In 1887 Hon. J. J. Spelman was at work writing a History of Mississippi Negro Baptists.
Elder A. R. Griggs is quoted as saying in 1887 that: "The Colored Baptists of Texas began as an independent people, with the ordination of Bishop Reinhardt in 1866 by the white Baptists. In the same year they ordained Elder S. Cobb of Waco and organized the first colored Baptist church. In 1867, Bishop I. S. Campbell came to Texas as Missionary of the Consolidated Convention, and organized the first church of Galveston in 1867, and within a few months some 50 or 60 churches were formed by him, and the Lincoln Association was organized in 1867 at Houston. In 1880 this Association numbered 150 churches and 12,000 members. There are now 25 Associations, 795 churches, 664 Ministers, and 69,950 members.
The State Convention was organized in 1872, and the Sunday School Convention in 1880. The first denominational school for colored people originated in Dallas, in 1867, in the North Western Association, through the efforts of Bishop A. R. Griggs. It is still in operation at Brazoria. Bishop College and Hearne Academy are both Baptist Institutions. The latter was established by the colored State Convention, and to the former the colored Baptists contributed the lot, costing $3,500. The late T. Hill of Austin, a colored man, bequeathed $6,000 to Hearne Academy.
Seguin Academy was founded by the Guadalupe Association through the efforts of Elder W. B. Ball.
The first colored newspaper was started by Elder A. R. Griggs in 1867, and is known as the Baptist Pilot at Waco. To Elder I. S. Campbell, more than any other man, is due the credit for the formation of the present organizations in the state. In 1887 he celebrated his fiftieth year in the ministry and his twentieth year as pastor at Waco, where he has nearly completed the best brick church in the state. There are in the state 19 Women's Missionary Societies, and there has been collected for the year $13,474. The value of church property is $250,000.
Officers of the Texas State Convention were: Bishop W. Massey, President; Elder F. Hooks, Vice-President; Brother W. F. Smith, Recording Secretary; Professor David Abner, Jr., Corresponding Secretary; Brother A. Terrell, Treasurer; and Bishop A. R. Griggs, Superintendent of Missions.
Sunday School Convention officers: Bishop J. Toliver, President; Hon. J. H. Stewart, Secretary; Brother M. Dudley, Treasurer; and Elder A. R. Griggs, State Evangelist.
Before 1887 they had developed their work until 19 Associations had been organized, about 300 ministers ordained, more than 500 churches instituted with a membership of 30,000 members.
After their well-done work "the fathers" placed their mantles on the shoulders of younger men and went to their reward. The Presidential toga fell upon the shoulders of Bishop E. C. Morris, who has worn it successfully not only among Arkansas Baptists but among the Baptists of America. By 1887, their church and educational work was booming.
According to Bishop R. DeBaptist was among the colored farmers near Alton. They were free people, some of them owning farms. They organized the Salem Baptist Church near Alton which is the oldest Negro Baptist Church in the state. Three or four other churches were organized soon afterwards. Elder J. Livingston, Pioneer of Illinois Pioneers, with others organized the Wood River Association in 1838, which is probably the oldest Negro Baptist Association not only in the state of Illinois, but in the United States. By 1887, two Associations were the justly proud boast of Illinois Baptists--the Wood River with 48 churches; 3500 members and 40 ministers; and the Mount Olive with 45 churches; 2,000 members and 29 preachers. Elder De Baptist was pastor for nearly 19 years of one of the strongest churches in the Wood River Association, and instrumental in collecting and organizing six churches.
The Western Baptist Convention originated from a movement in the Wood River Association in 1853. In this organization the Negro Baptists of St. Louis, Mo., took part.
The Olivet Church, Chicago, had Bishop R. DeBaptist as pastor from 1863 to 1882, during which time the membership increased from 100 to 600. They had a lot in 1887 which alone cost $13,000. The Bethesda Church went out of Olivet in 1883 with 43 members while Bishop J. A. D. Podd was pastor.
Elder R. De Baptist said: "Probably the oldest Baptist Church in the West or Southwest is the First Church, St. Louis, Mo., organized about 1830. For years its first pastor was Rev. J. B. Meacham. He died in 1854 or '55, and was succeeded by Rev. E. Cartwright, who was laid aside in 1873. From this church a large number went out and formed the 2nd or 8th St. Church, now the Central. Its first pastor was Rev. J. R. Anderson who was perhaps the leading Baptist minister of his race at this period, at least in the West. He was educated, and learned his trade in the Printing Office of Rev. E. P. Lovejoy, Alton, Ill. He was pastor till his death in 1863."
According to information from Bishop R. H. Brown, the Central Church was organized in 1846, with 25 members and now (1887) numbers 800. 1941 members had been received, and $108,512 expended for the Gospel at home and abroad; property valuation was $30,000. Elder S. P. Anderson was pastor.
The Second Church, Kansas City, Mo., was organized by Bishop C. Moore and twelve others in 1866. Several times their house of worship was torn down to make room for the growing congregation. Bishop H. Roberson was pastor. Their membership in 1887 was 475, and property valuation was $50,000. The Pleasant Green Baptist Church of Kansas City was formed in 1881, with 8 members. Their house cost $3,300; their membership was 283, Bishop J. Morgan, pastor.
Through the efforts of Elder R. H. Brown the Berean Baptist Church of this same city was organized in 1882.
As early as 1887, Bishop R. De Baptist said that there were in the United States 1,071,902 colored Baptist Church members, organized into churches and associations. He said of the 311 associations organized, 255 reported 9,079 churches; 218 reported 4,590 ordained ministers; 90 reported 2,603 Sunday-schools; 94 reported 143,832 Sunday-school pupils; 58 reported $1,334,092 valuation of church property; 153 reported $181, 063.41 contributions for religious and educational work; 168 reported 39,151 baptisms.
In 1887, Dr. William J. Simmons said: "I claim that there are in the United States more colored Baptists than white Baptists, and more colored Baptists than all Pedo Baptists together." This is also the claim of the Author to-day (1914).
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