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Brooks, Walter Henderson (30 August 1851–06 July 1945), clergyman, temperance leader, and poet, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks’s father was an enterprising slave who owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia’s wealthiest citizens, including his wife’s owner, German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife’s freedom in 1862 for $800. Still a slave, Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin & Yarborough tobacco firm. He woefully recalled his time there, writing: “It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands. What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of ‘the consequences’ of failing to do what was required of me.” When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline, Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother and began working in hotels, boardinghouses, and restaurants. In his youth he acquired the doctrines that served as the foundation for his life’s work. He learned temperance from his pastor, the Reverend ...

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Cannon, James, Jr. (13 November 1864–06 September 1944), southern Methodist bishop and temperance crusader, was born in Salisbury, Maryland, the son of James Cannon and Lydia Robertson Primrose, merchants. The family was prosperous and prominent in Delaware, where James’s uncle, William Cannon, was governor from 1863 to 1865. Possessed of strong southern sympathies, the Cannons moved to Salisbury, Maryland, at the time of the Civil War, where the family business continued to thrive. Longtime Methodists, the family abandoned the Methodist Episcopal church and helped to found the local congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. They were active in this congregation, in the Democratic party, and in the emerging local temperance movement....

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Comstock, Elizabeth Leslie Rous Wright (30 October 1815–03 August 1891), Quaker minister and reformer, was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, the daughter of William Rous, a shopkeeper, and Mary Kekwick. Her parents were Quakers with family ties to the Society of Friends going back to the seventeenth century. They reared her in a strict Quaker atmosphere, an upbringing reinforced by education in Quaker schools at Islington and Croyden. In 1839 Elizabeth Rous returned to Croyden as a teacher; in 1842 she joined the staff of the Friends school at Ackworth. She remained there until her marriage in 1848 to Leslie Wright, a Quaker market gardener of Walthamstow in Essex. They had one child. After her husband’s death in 1851, Elizabeth Wright kept a shop for a time at Bakewell in Devonshire. In 1854 she immigrated with her daughter and an unmarried sister to Belleville, Ontario. Four years later she married John T. Comstock, a prosperous Quaker farmer of Rollin, Michigan, where Elizabeth Comstock and her daughter moved....

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Leavitt, Mary Greenleaf Clement (22 September 1830–05 February 1912), reformer and temperance missionary, was born in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, the daughter of Joshua H. Clement, a Baptist minister, and Eliza Harvey. She received her early education in Hopkinton and Thetford, Vermont. At the age of sixteen she began to teach in schools in New Hampshire and Vermont. After a year of study at the Thetford Academy, she enrolled in the Massachusetts State Normal School at West Newton. She graduated in 1851 and taught in Dover, Massachusetts, then in Boston at the Quincy Grammar School (1852–1854) and the Boylston Grammar School (1854–1857). In 1857 she quit work to marry Thomas H. Leavitt, a land speculator from Greenfield, Massachusetts, with whom she had three daughters. Her husband was a spendthrift and was incapable of supporting his family, so in 1867 Leavitt opened a private school in her home. Opposed to the school, her husband left his family to settle in Nebraska. The couple divorced in 1878....

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McBride, F. Scott (29 July 1872–23 April 1955), clergyman and reformer, was born Francis Scott McBride in Carroll County, Ohio, the son of Francis McBride, an iron molder, and Harriet Miller. After studying at Mechanicstown (Ohio) Academy and Indiana State Normal School, he received a B.S. in 1898 from Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. Three years later he graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He had interrupted his education periodically to teach school in Carroll County....

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Way, Amanda (10 July 1828–24 February 1914), reformer and minister, was born in Winchester, Indiana, the daughter of Matthew Way, a farmer, teamster, and schoolteacher, and Hannah Martin. As a child she was painfully shy and self-conscious about being tall. She attended the local public schools and Randolph Seminary. After graduation she taught school for a time but opened a dressmaking and millinery shop when it became necessary for her to support her widowed mother in 1849....

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Willing, Jennie Fowler (22 January 1834–06 October 1916), evangelist, reformer, and church worker, was born in Burford, Canada West (present-day Ontario), the daughter of Horatio Fowler, a homesteader and participant in the Papineau Rebellion of 1837, and Harriet Ryan, the daughter of the founder of Canadian Methodism, Henry Ryan. The Fowlers settled in Newark, Illinois, following Horatio’s expulsion from Canada after the failure of the rebellion. Jennie was a sickly child and largely self-educated. Her first job was as a school teacher in Illinois at age fifteen....