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Brawley, Edward McKnight (18 March 1851–13 January 1923), Baptist minister, educator, and editor, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of free African-American parents, Ann L. (maiden name unknown) and James M. Brawley. Brawley’s parents took a keen interest in the education and professional development of their son, providing him private schooling in Charleston, sending him at the age of ten to Philadelphia to attend grammar school and the Institute for Colored Youth, and having him apprenticed to a shoemaker in Charleston from 1866 to 1869. He enrolled as the first theological student at Howard University for a few months in 1870; he transferred to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania in January 1871. The first African-American student at Bucknell, Brawley completed his education with the encouragement and financial support of a white couple named Griffith and his own work teaching vocal music and preaching during school vacations. The white Baptist church in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, with which he had affiliated, ordained him to the ministry the day after his graduation, 1 July 1875; he was examined by a board composed largely of professors and other learned individuals. In 1878 he received the A.M. from Bucknell and, in 1885, an honorary doctor of divinity degree from the State University in Louisville, Kentucky....

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Corrothers, James David (02 July 1869–12 February 1917), journalist, poet, and clergyman, was born in Chain Lake Settlement, Cass County, Michigan, a colony first settled by fugitive slaves in the 1840s. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (spelling later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born. Corrothers was legally adopted by his nonblack paternal grandfather, a pious and respected man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish origins, who raised young Corrothers in relative poverty. They lived in several roughneck towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where Corrothers attended school and became aware of racial hostility. In his boyhood family members introduced him to a rich vein of African-American folk tales that he would later draw upon for a number of his dialect sketches....

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Graves, James Robinson (10 April 1820–26 June 1893), Baptist preacher and editor, was born in Chester, Vermont, the son of Zuinglius Calvin Graves and Lois Schnell, farmers. His father died when Graves was an infant, and he received only rudimentary schooling. At the age of fifteen, he joined a Baptist church, although he had been reared in a Congregationalist family. He compensated for his lack of formal education through intensive private study, both before and after his family moved to Ohio when he was nineteen. He served as a schoolteacher, first at the Kingsville Academy in Kingsville, Ohio, and later at the Clear Creek Academy in Jessamine County, Kentucky. Meanwhile, he studied for the Baptist ministry and was ordained in 1842. He preached in Ohio for a short while before moving in the summer of 1845 to Nashville, Tennessee, where he opened an academy. That year he married Florence Spencer. After she died, he married Lou Snider. After her death, Graves married her sister, Georgie Snider. He had five children who survived him—three from his second marriage and two from his third marriage....

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Hatcher, William Eldridge (25 July 1834–24 August 1912), minister, editor, and author, was born in Bedford County, Virginia, near the Peaks of Otter, the son of Henry Hatcher and Mary Latham, farmers. His mother was a close relative of General Nathanael Greene, principal foe of British general ...

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Jeter, Jeremiah Bell (18 July 1802–18 February 1880), Southern Baptist minister and editor, was born in Bedford County, Virginia, the son of Pleasant Jeter and Jane Eke Hatcher, farmers. Jeter credited his mother with raising the family, and he remembered his father as a “thriftless dreamer.” Jeter never attended college; he was educated in the rural schools of Bedford County....

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Murray, Orson S. (23 October 1806–14 June 1885), Baptist minister, editor, and radical reformer, was born in Orwell, Vermont, the son of Jonathan Murray and Rosalinda Bascom, farmers. Murray grew up impoverished on a hardscrabble farm in Orwell, obtaining only a few years of schooling. His parents were devout Free Will Baptists, and as a teenager Murray felt called to the Baptist ministry. In 1828 he married Catherine Maria Higgins; the couple had nine children. Determined to have a classical education, he returned to school at the Shoreham and Castleton academies, completing his studies in 1832....

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Pendleton, James Madison (20 November 1811–04 March 1891), Baptist minister, professor, and journalist, was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, the son of John Pendleton and Frances J. Thompson, farmers. The year following Pendleton’s birth (he was named in honor of President Madison), the family relocated to a farm near Pembroke in Christian County, Kentucky, where he lived until he was twenty years old. In 1829, at age seventeen, he was baptized and joined Bethel Baptist Church, which licensed him to preach in 1831. He spent the next two years preaching at various churches in or around Christian County. Hopkinsville Baptist Church ordained him to Christian ministry in 1833, when he enrolled in the Christian County Seminary in Hopkinsville where he studied until 1836, obtaining an education in the Greek and Latin classics. During this period, he continued to preach locally. His education was superior to that of most Baptist ministers west of the Appalachian Mountains in the nineteenth century. In 1837 he accepted an invitation to become the pastor of the Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he had a successful ministry for twenty years as the first Baptist pastor in western Kentucky to enter the ministry as a full-time profession. In 1838 he married Catherine Stockton Garnett; they had three daughters and two sons....

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Perry, Rufus Lewis (11 March 1834–18 June 1895), Baptist minister and editor, was born a slave on the plantation of Archibald W. Overton in Smith County, Tennessee, the son of Lewis Perry and Maria (maiden name unknown). His father, an able mechanic and cabinetmaker, was able to hire his own time from his owner and move his family to Nashville, where Perry was ranked as a free child and allowed to attend a school for free blacks. But when his father fled to freedom in Canada in 1841, the family was deprived of their temporary freedom and forced to return to Overton’s plantation....

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Potter, Ray (22 June 1795–01 March 1858), Baptist minister and businessman, was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, the son of Andrew Potter, a carpenter and revolutionary war veteran, and Minerva Remington. At the age of seventeen Potter experienced a dramatic conversion at the local Six Principle Baptist Church; that same year (1812) he married Minerva Bennett. They had nine children. In 1820 he and his family left the “closed communion” of the Six Principle Church and joined with Freewill Baptists who were then organizing a new church in Pawtucket, a prosperous mill village near the Massachusetts border. There Potter taught school to support his family, attended nightly meetings, and preached three times on Sunday. Converts into his new Freewill church came from rural families, who after moving into factory work were reluctant to attend the churches favored by mill owners and managers....

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Smith, Samuel Francis (21 October 1808–16 November 1895), editor, Baptist clergyman, and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Smith and Sarah Bryant. Young Smith was educated at both the Eliot School and the Boston Latin School, where he received the distinguished Franklin medal in 1825. At Harvard College, Smith became part of the famous class of 1829, which also included ...