Mother Matelda Beasley

Mother Matelda Beasley

Mother Matelda Beasley

When Mathilde (later spelled Mathilda) Taylor was born on November 14, 1832 in New Orleans, to Caroline, a slave owned by James C. Taylor, few would have believed that she would later successfully defy the very laws that kept her and her mother from their freedom. It was speculated that her father was Native American and Mathilda inherited her “extreme height and her commanding figure� from him.

Little is known of Mathilda’s early years in Louisiana and there is no record of how she achieved her freedom to move to Savannah as a young woman. But by 1859, records indicate that she had been operating a secret school for African-American children at a time in history when “punishment for teaching slaves or free person of color to read� was a “fine and whipping.� Facing great personal risks, she was committed to educating children who otherwise would have no opportunity for schooling and because there is little information about her school, she seems to have achieved her goal of keeping her efforts from the authorities.  Continue reading

Bishop William H. Miles

Bishop_W_H_MilesWilliam Henry Miles (1828-1892) was a founder and the first senior bishop of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America, a Methodist denomination formed in 1870 to serve African-American Methodists in the American South. Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama is named in his honor.

Miles was born in Springfield, Kentucky. He was a slave of Mrs. Mary Miles; when she died in 1854, she willed William his freedom (although he was not freed until 1864)

James Varick

James VarickJames Varick was born near Newburgh, New York, on January 10, 1750. His mother was a slave of the Varicks, or Van Varicks, and was later freed. His father, Richard, was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, where he was baptized in the Dutch Church. The family lived in New York City while James Varick was young, where he acquired an elementary education in New York schools. For many years, he worked as a shoemaker and later as a tobacco cutter to support himself and his family, because the church with which he was associated did not pay its preachers. About 1790, he married Aurelia Jones. The couple had four sons and three daughters. Continue reading

‘Black’ Harry Hosier

hhosierHarry Hosier (c.1750â – May 1806), better known during his life as “Black Harry”, was a black Methodist preacher during the Second Great Awakening in the early United States. Dr. Benjamin Rush said that, “making allowances for his illiteracy, he was the greatest orator in America”.

His style was widely influential but he was never formally ordained by the Methodist Episcopal Church or the Rev. Richard Allen’s separate African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.

Richard Allen

Richard Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and the Free African Society. He was born a slave in Philadelphia and with his family was sold to Stockley Sturgis, the owner of a plantation near Dover, Delaware.

With the permission of his master, Allen joined the Methodist Society, learned to read and write and started to preach at Methodist meetings. After his conversion, Allen said that he worked harder to prove that religion did not make slave worse servants. At Allen’s request, a Methodist meeting was held in the Sturgis’ home.  Continue reading

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