Carter G. Woodson: History of the Negro Church: Ch 4 The Independent Church Movement- Revisited

This year I will attempt to get through all of Carter G. Woodson’s (the father of Black History) History of the Negro Church. This post is on Chapter 4 The Independent Church Movement.

In my other post regarding chapter 4, Woodson recognized  Richard Allen as important figure and founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

A few days ago I was watching with Destructo-kid a cartoon history of Richard Allen. I vaguely remembered the name and as Allen’s life story was told, I realized that Woodson had written about him.

This is way more interesting than Woodson’s take.

Bad Photocopy- Unit Block of Bates St NW circa 1960something

Let’s break up some of these Washington Sanitary Improvement Co. (WSIC) posts with photos from the 1960s(?) or early 1970s (who knows) of former WSIC housing.

This image is from a photocopy of a photo. From the looks of it, it appears to be the unit block of Bates Street NW. My notes say it is Bates St NW facing west.

Bates St NW facing west. Southside of street to northside. Unit block.

I’ll try to compare it with today.

Carter G. Woodson: History of the Negro Church: Ch.5 Early Development

This year I will attempt to get through all of Carter G. Woodson’s (the father of Black History) History of the Negro Church. This post is on Chapter 5 – Early Development.

A major figure for the fifth chapter is a Christopher Rush.

Bishop Christopher Rush (1777–1873)

Rush was connected to the Zionist branch/ part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  He was active in New York in the late 18th century. He was a notable preacher and helped with the flourishing of the AME church after it experienced a moment of decline.

The chapter is half AME history and half Black Baptist church history.

For the Baptist portion the central figure is Andrew Marshall.

Something I did find interesting, and I don’t find much of this book interesting, was how some churches were organized. There would be churches where African Americans outnumbered the white congregation.

Carter G. Woodson: History of the Negro Church: Ch 4 The Independent Church Movement

This year I will attempt to get through all of Carter G. Woodson’s (the father of Black History) History of the Negro Church. This post is on Chapter 4 The Independent Church Movement.

I will pick out a few people mentioned in this chapter, because I have misplaced my notes for this chapter. One being Richard Allen in the late 1770s-1780s. Allen was born a slave, his ’employer’ allowed him to pursue his interest in preaching and allowed him to purchase his freedom. Woodson credits Allen for founding the African Methodist Church. Later he notes other gentlemen who were co-founders. He was active in Philadelphia and Baltimore.

As with the way of Protestantism, there is a bit of a split with the African Methodists. There were the followers of Richard Allen, the Allenists, and another group the Zionists.

Allen is mentioned throughout the chapter.

I must end this here because I do not want to re-read the chapter and I have no notes.

Carter G. Woodson: History of the Negro Church: Ch.3 Pioneer Negro Preachers

This year I will attempt to get through all of Carter G. Woodson’s (the father of Black History) History of the Negro Church. This post is on Chapter 3- Pioneer Negro Preachers

If I could create a subtitle for half of this book it would be Black People Doing Things Prior to Emancipation. In this case, for this chapter, it is preaching the Gospel.

Here Woodson looks at the Silver Bluff Baptist Church founded around 1774/1775. It was the first Black Baptist church in America in South Carolina. Slaves founded the church and enslaved men were its earliest ordained preachers, such as David George and George Liele.

Silver Bluff Baptist Church

The American Revolution happened. The war sends George and Liele out of SC. Then the chapter turns a particular focus on George Liele, who Woodson depends on a Dr. Walte H. Brooks for the biography and history of. Liele winds up in Jamaica, after he was released from slavery, where he preached to slaves there.

Rev. Andrew Bryan (1737–1812)

The next preacher is Andrew Bryan, who was influenced by Liele. The person who owned him and other whites encouraged Bryan’s preaching. He founded a church in Savannah, GA but not everyone was keen on this and there were challenges, to say the least, even after Bryan was ordained. When Bryan died in 1812, the white Savannah Baptist Association noted,

“This 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 extensive, useful, and amazingly luminous course in the lovely exercise of faith and in the joyful hope of a happy immortality.”

The Methodists produced Black Harry who worked with Bishop Francis Asbury. Harry had a gift for preaching, but was unfortunately illiterate.

Woodson covers the history other influential Black pastors working in the South and Northeast. These include John Gloucester (Presbyterian), Lemuel Haynes (Congregationalist), John Stewart (Methodist Episcopal), John Chavis (Presbyterian), and Henry Evans (Methodist). Most were born free, a few were college educated, all were protestants. So Woodson threw in the odd dig, once again, at the Catholic Church.

Carter G. Woodson: History of the Negro Church: Ch. 2 The Dawn of the New Day

Reprint from 2022.

For this year I’m just doing two chapters of Carter G. Woodson’s History of the Negro Church because I find the book a little less interesting. Finding an audiobook made this review easier than the one for the first chapter.

In this chapter he takes a look at the Methodists. Woodson does not give a history of Methodism. Maybe his audience of 1921 readers are familiar with the denomination and how it is one of the dissenting sects coming out of Anglicanism/ the Church of England. My quickie version is that Methodism was founded by Rev. John Wesley (with help from brother Charles) where they reached out to the middling and working classes. There was a difference in how they expressed their faith and that comes into play in this chapter.

Woodson focused on how Methodists tackled the question of slavery. The dates covered in this chapter range from 1750 to 1793, so mainly during the colonial period and before the Methodists broke from Anglicans.  The founder Wesley, as well as Thomas Coke, and Francis Asbury opposed slavery.

The Methodists later (1780-ish) required that members not be slaveholders. If a member held a slave, they were expected to not be a slaveholder 12 months. Local leadership were the ones who were supposed to enforce this rule. There were some exceptions made for spouses of slave owners and people who held legal title to people who were too young, too old or too disabled to live on their own.

Despite efforts to purge slave holding among their ranks, Methodism wasn’t as appealing to African Americans as the Baptist denomination. Whereas the Methodists were making real efforts to address slavery, the Baptists, because they were less organized in this effort, didn’t really address it.  The Baptists deferred to local sentiments and there was less of an abolitionist fervor.

Woodson mentions the Presbyterians, another protestant denomination. It appears they encouraged emancipation but did not require it.

The History of the Negro Church- Chapter 1 The Early Missionaries and the Negro

Oh my. I forgot I wrote this last year. Since I have no interest reinventing wheels, here’s chapter 1.

Carter G. Woodson, a Shaw resident, living and working on the 1500 block of 9th St NW, created Negro History Week. This later became Black History Month. Last year I reviewed Carter G. Woodson’s Mis-Education of the Negro. I thought I would review his other book The History of the Negro Church this year.

I’ve read the first chapter. I want to find who edited this thing and do bad things to their grave. If Dr. Woodson edited it, then, this is evidence that authors should get someone else to edit their work.
I’m going to start with something from the book’s preface:

Whether or not the author has done this task well is a question which the public must decide. This work does not represent what he desired to make it. Many facts of the past could not be obtained for the reason that several denominations have failed to keep records and facts known to persons now active in the church could not be collected because of indifference or the failure to understand the motives of the author. Not a few church officers and ministers, however, gladly cooperated with the author in giving and seeking information concerning their denominations.

Given the current lack of popularity, compared to Mis-Education, I will say he had not done his work well. It is a hard read.

My summation of chapter one is that Blacks were a second thought to European missionaries. When they did get around to bringing Christianity to those of African descent into the New World there was a resistance because of an unwritten law (no citations) that once slaves became Christian, they would need to be freed. Catholics didn’t try hard enough and Protestants were more successful at evangelization to Blacks in America.

The one thing I learned reading this chapter was that Quakers taught African American slaves to read in Virginia and North Carolina.

I just wish there were citations for this piece of information and that gets to my first pet peeve. This book is 100 years old and historians of this period have a bad habit of not providing citations to back up anything they wrote. In the copy I have, I do not see end notes, nor is there a bibliography at the end. I blame the time period.

The other pet peeve I’ve revealed early on, was the need for an editor. This was not written for a general audience. It has the charm of a graduate dissertation. He uses $4 words when a $.25 word would do. He’s overly wordy as if he’s getting paid, per word, like a Raymond Chandler novel. The deep need for an editor, someone to strike out some sentences and suggest a better way of making a point, just annoyed the heck out of me.

I just discovered there is an audio book of The History of the Negro Church from December 2020. I will try to listen to this and maybe I’ll do more than 2 chapters this month.

2023 Update- Looking at my notes it appears that he was annoyed that the early Spanish and French missionaries in America were not focused on Blacks. For the Spanish, that’s a no brainer because they exploited the existing population for labor and didn’t need to import Africans, except in some spots. And France had what is now Haiti, and that place ate people up in the machinery of sugar production. People didn’t live long enough.

This chapter covers the late 1600s to about 1764. Geographically it wanders into Latin and South America and the Caribbean.

Obligatory February Carter G. Woodson Post- 2023 The History of the Negro Church

It’s February again, which makes it Black History Month where Shaw’s most famous resident, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History, gets some recognition. In previous years I’ve reviewed his most famous book, the Mis-Education of the Negro. Please go on over to my post from 2022.

This would even bore poor Bishop Richard Allen

For something a little different for 2023, we’ll look at another book of his, The History of the Negro Church. I did not like this book because it was gawdawful boring. It was informative, but dull. Despite that, it is this month’s book and we’ll look at every stinking chapter. Maybe you too may learn something about the Black church.

This book is Methodist heavy. There are many denominations in American Christianity and a fair number of majority Black churches in more than a handful of those denominations. Woodson does mention the Catholic and Anglican churches but he doesn’t seem to care for them.

I have seen write ups that claim Dr. Woodson was an atheist. His Wikipedia article says he was an “outspoken detractor of the Christian Church.” I don’t really get that from this book. He seems more like an agnostic. He’s not against the Black church, he’s just not impressed with it. In Mis-Education, he spends far more time bad mouthing ‘educated Negroes’ than he does the Christian church. He’s not a believer but he seems okay with those who are, to a point. In this book, he sees the churches as a means to an ends and an organizing body of the community he cares about. He’s very interested in the denominations’ approach to slavery and how/if they addressed it and pushed back against it. And that’s why it is Methodist heavy.

Lastly, the book was originally published in 1921 and was his 3rd book. The more notable Mis-Education of the Negro, was published in 1933, long after establishing Negro History Week (which became a month, decades after his death), other achievements, and developing the skill to write for a more general audience.

Bad Photocopy-Maybe 200 block of Bates Street NW circa 1960-1970s

The image below is a scan of a photocopy of a photograph of a row of Bates Street NW homes. The notation says it is the 100 block of Bates but that set of three 2nd floor bay windows in a row between two bay-less houses looks like 204 to 208 Bates Street NW. But I’m not 100% sure.

204-208 Bates Street NW, Washington DC looking south

If I have the right block, it appears the original stairs were done away with.

WSIC-1950 Sell Off- 222 Q Street NW

The Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) was a late 19th century charitable capitalism experiment that ended in the 1950s. This blog started looking at the homes that were supposed to be sold to African American home buyers, after decades of mainly renting to white tenants.

photo of property

Looking at WSIC properties they tend to have a pattern where the properties were sold to a three business partners, Nathaniel J. Taube, Nathan Levin and James B. Evans as the Colonial Investment Co. for $3 million dollars. Those partners sold to African American buyers. There was usually a foreclosure. Then the property wound up in the hands of George Basiliko and or the DC Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA). Then there was the odd lucky ones who managed to avoid that fate.

  • December 1950 (recorded 1/18/51) Evans, Levin and Taube sold one-half of 222 Q St NW to Clarence Gayles.
  • December 1950 (recorded 1/18/1951) Mr. Gayles borrowed $3,125 from Colonial Investment Co. favorite trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
  • February 1951 Evans, Levin and Taube sold the other one-half of 222 Q St NW to Mildred and Willie E. Sessoms.
  • February 1951 the Sessoms borrowed $3,275 from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
  • January 1951 (recorded 5/1/1951) Gayles sold his half to Sylvia and Clayton Watson.
  • Unfortunately, June 1958 Gayles (the Watsons) lost their half to foreclosure and via auction, it was returned to Evans, Taube and new partner Harry A. Badt.
  • June 1958 (recorded 11/14/1958) The Badts (Harry & wife) transferred their interest in this and other properties to Nathan Levin’s family (wife Rose, children Lawrence, Myron Levin and Ruth Wagman).
  • June 1959, as part of a larger package, Evans, Taube, Badt (and their wives) and Levin’s survivors sell their interest in 222 Q St NW to Sophia and George Basiliko.
  • March 1962 the Sessoms paid off their mortgage.
  • February and March 1978 Delores Simpkins purchased both halves of 222 Q St NW from widower Willie Sessoms and George Basiliko.

This property, despite part of it falling under George Basiliko’s ownership, did not transfer over to the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA).