Notable African Americans of Southeastern Ohio

Bagby, Sara Lucy
Former recaptured slave. Lived in Athens (ca. 1866/67). See John E. Vacha's "The Case of Sara Lucy Bagby" Ohio History.

Bell, James Madison (1825-1902)
Born in Gallipolis, Ohio; first (?) Black poet in Ohio; author of The Day of the War (1864), The Progress of Liberty (1866), and Triumph of Liberty (1870). See Poetical Works of James Madison Bell.

Benson, James E.
Third Black Ohio University trustee (1892-1911); from Cleveland; businessman, active in Republican politics ...

Edwin C. Berry (1854-1931)Berry, Edwin C. (1854-1931)
The "Black Horatio Algier" of Athens;
Owner and co-founder of the City Restaurant,
the Hotel Berry "one of the finest and most elegant hotels
in the State of Ohio"; Member National Negro Business League;
Trustee of Wilberforce University



Anthony Binga (1843-1919)Binga, Anthony (1843-1919)
Afro-Canadian born educator and Baptist minister.
Principal of the Albany Enterprise Academy (1869-1872).
Later in Richmond, Va.



Blackburn, John R. (1841-1937)
graduate of Dartmouth College (1862); educator and Masonic leader. First Black Ohio University trustee (1885-1892); from Cincinnati. Papers at Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.

Booker T. Washington Literary Club, 1907-1916?
Later B.T.W. Literary Society. President Rev. George Washington of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Town & gown entity catering to the Afro-Americans students at Ohio University. Minie Bell is in the Annual Reception in Honor of the Summer School (O.U) photograph taken July 27, 1909. View the group photo of the B.T.W.L.C.

Edward A. Bouchet (1852-1918)Bouchet, Edward A. (1852-1918)
First Black member of Phi Beta Kappa; First Black Ph.D. in the US
(Yale University, 1876 - in Physics).
Principal of Lincoln High School, Gallipolis, Ohio (1908-1918)
- a segregated facility !



Bryant, Isaac Vinton (1856-193-?)

Prominent religious leader of S.E.O. and West Virginia. B. in Lawrence County, Ohio, pastored churches in the Providence Baptist Association (Athens, Gallipolis, etc). Frequent speaker at Emancipation Celebrations. Papers in private hands.

Burrington, Violet (175?-1829)
First African American resident of Athens, Ohio -arrived in 1803 (from Marietta); daughter of Peter (Pero) Burrington. Originally from Connecticut. Associated with the Perkins Family.

James Edwin Campbell (1867-1896)Campbell, James Edwin (1867-1896)
Poet, editor and short story writer of national prominence;
Educator - President of West Virginia Colored Institute
[now West Virginia State College]
Born, raised & died in Pomeroy, Ohio;
Precursor & friend of Paul Laurence Dunbar;
Author of _Driftings and Gleanings_ (1887) and
Echoes from the Cabin and Elsewhere_ (1895).
Photo courtesy of West Viriginia State College Archives.



Carr, Arthur D. (1885-1966)
Athens High School Graduate (1902); 1905 Ohio University Graduate. Quarterback of the 1903/4 Ohio U. football team. "Prominent colored physician of Washington, D.C., was owner of a portion of the land recently (1929) purchased as a site for the new Ohio University (Peden) Stadium". Graduate of Howard University Medical School (1912), later taught there for many years (45).

Clifford, Carrie Williams (1862-1934)
Chillicothe born author, activist of national repute, businesswoman. President, Ohio Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. Author: The Widening Light (1922); Race Rhymes (1911); Sowing for Others to Reap: a Collection of Papers ...O.F.C.W.C (1900) Collection reissued in 1971 (with bio) The Widening Light.

Corbin, Joseph Carter (1833-1911)
Third Black to graduate from Ohio University, with BA in 1853. Honorary MA (twice !); editor of The Colored Citizen (Cincinnati, Ohio 1863-69); President of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (1873-1890); Superintendent of Public Education/State of Arkansas.  The University of Arkansas recently commisioned a portrait of Corbin, painted by John Newman.

Davis, Christopher C. d. 1881
Victim of the Albany (Lee Township) / Athens, Ohio lynching mob on November 21, 1881. The murder occurred on the "Old South Bridge" in Athens, Ohio. One of a series of Southeastern Ohio lynchings...Reinforced the climate of insecurity of African Americans in the area, with further intimidation of the Black community by the hooded gentry ...

Davis, James (1787-1862)
Claimed to be the First Afro-American born in the State of Ohio ! Born in Marietta, Ohio March 6th, 1787. Died in Dayton, Ohio

Davis, Richard L. (1864-1900)
American labor leader (Knights of Labor); one of the founders of the UMWA (United Mine Workers of America) African-American Miners in the UMWA

Davison, Andrew Jackson (1847-1922)
Black Athens County, Ohio office seeker (Democratic candidate for Prosecuting Attorney in 1878. Orator on the stump for Black Democrats. Author.)

Eliza Brown Davison (1840?-1912)Davison, Eliza Brown (1840?-1912)
Attendant/cook to the family of General George A. Custer
and a valiant heroin in her own right. She was visited by
Mrs. Libbie B. Custer in Athens in 1899. Spouse of A.J. Davison (above).
A monument was erected in her honor in the West State Street
(Athens, Ohio) Cemetery.


Elliott, Mary A.
Businesswoman, spouse of Dr. Noah A. Elliott, sister of Olivia Davidson unofficial advisor to Booker T. Washington (her brother-in-law), the founder of Tuskegee University

Elliott, Noah A. MD
Civil War Veteran in medical capacity; African Methodist Episcopal Church. minister (Church was on Pratt St. in Athens); benefactor of the Colored YMCA branch in Columbus, Ohio

Ferguson, R.W.E. (Ralph Waldo Emerson) (1861-1917)
Albany, Ohio born printer, editor, journalist; founder and editor of _Waldo's Diadem_ (a Monthly) published from 1883/4-1896. At the time one of the two serials published in the State. Later published a Black newspaper in Albany (1913/14).

Thomas Jefferson FurgusonFurguson, Thomas Jefferson (1830-1887)
Founder/Principal/President of the Albany Enterprise Academy (1863- 1886) in Athens Co.; co-founder Ohio Colored Teachers' Association (1861-187?); author of numerous pamphlets: Negro Education: The Hope of the Race (1866); president of the Mass Convention of the Colored Voters of Athens County (1879); member of the Albany City Council; 1st Black to serve on a jury in Athens County (1880).


Graham, Allan E. (18??-1852)

Baptist minister, columnist for the Palladium of Liberty (Columbus Ohio African American newspaper, 1843/4). Author of A Looking Glass for the Family, Columbus, Ohio: (1844). Served as pastor of the Union Baptist Church in Cincinnati, also in Columbus, Ohio. Died Jan. 28, 1852 in Savannah (Guysville, Athens Co.)

Milton M. Holland (1844-1910)Holland, Milton M. (1844-1910)
Albany resident, student at the Albany Manual Labor Academy;
Member of the Attucks Guard;
Recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor
for service at the Battle of Bull Run;
Graduate of Howard University Law School (1872);
Founder of the Alpha Insurance Company in D.C. (1892)

Jackson, A. J.
Educator, poet. Graduate of the Albany Enterprise Academy, 1868/9. Author of A Vision of Life, and Other Poems Hillsborough, Ohio : Printed at the Highland News Office, 1869. Taught in Pike County, Ohio

Jackson, Bessie J. (1898-197?)
Gallia County resident; wrote Born in Poverty (An Autobiography) Gallipolis, Ohio: Simms Print., (1980) 30 pp. (Lambert Lands, etc.)

Johnson, Beulah A.
Premier African American historian of Gallia County. The late Mrs. Johnson taught in the Lincoln School in Gallia County; later in the integrated school. Graduate of Rio Grande College. Work taken up by her daughter Ms. Sara J. Davis Sow (Rio Grande College Staff) and Mrs. Barbara Scott.

J. McHenry JonesJones, J. McHenry
President of West Virginia State College
Photo courtesy of West Virginia State College Archives





Keels, Russell E.
Community leader, minister, Pres. Emancipation Day Celebration in Gallia County, Ohio.; Officer Southeastern Ohio Branch of the NAACP (1993)

McSimpson, Joshua AKA Simpson, J. Mc.
(Abolitionist & author /Morgan County/Zanesville) Bio/bibliographic data Emancipation Car Songster; J. McSimpson; 1854 A 1969 reprint of Simpson's work - yes, another form of his name - was issued. It is a reprint of the 1874 edition with a different title. A digitized version of the 1874 work is part of the Chadwick-Healey database on CD ROM which is accessible from some libraries. J. McSimpson is one of the most prominent Afro-American abolitionists. Born in Morgan County, Ohio, he died in Zanesville, Ohio.

Miller, Armistead (1830-1865)
NC born Athenian who migrated to Liberia in 1852. Graduate of Ashmun Institute (Now Lincoln University, Pa.). Author of Liberia Described ..._ Voluminous correspondence. in ACS Collections at Library of Congress 's Manuscript Div.

Moreland, John Frederic (Rev.)
2nd. Ohio University (AA) trustee (1892-96); Methodist Episcopalian minister from Cincinnati.

NAACP (Southeastern Ohio Branch) 1993 Officers: President: Bruce Rogers, Lawrence County, Ohio VP Russell E. Keels Gallia County VP James Crump Jackson County VP Michael C. Pride Lawrence Co., Ohio

Newspapers (African-American/Southeastern Ohio)
Albany, Ohio Waldo's Diadem (1884-1894) R.W.E. Ferguson Albany, Ohio Our Message (1913-1914) R.W.E. Ferguson (both monthlies) Ironton,Ohio The Spokesman (1886) Chas. A. Johnson Portsmouth, Ohio Pilot (1924-1926?) ????? Portsmouth, Ohio The Colored News (1924-??) ????? Zanesville, Ohio Advocate (1909-1916?) Ed. Buhn Zanesville, Ohio Christian Intelligencer(185?) A. R. Green

Parker, John P. (1827-1900)
Parker was one of only a few African Americans to obtain a U.S. patent in the 19th century. Parker was also active in the Underground Railroad and is believed to have assisted many slaves to escape from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. In the 1880s, Parker recounted his life as an Underground Railroad conductor in a series of interviews with journalist Frank M. Gregg. These interviews have recently been edited by Stuart Seely Sprague and published as His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad. (from National Park Service, see link above)

Edward Jenkins Roye (1815-1872)Roye, Edward Jenkins (1815-1872)
Roye was born in Newark, Ohio and attended Ohio University 
from 1832 to 1835, later graduating from Oberlin College. 
Roye became the fifth president of Liberia in 1870, the only
Ohioan to become president of a foreign country.


Templeton, John N. (1804?-1851)
John Newton Templeton was born a slave in South Carolina around 1805 and was emancipated by his owner's will in 1813,
whereupon Rev. William Williamson, son of the owner and a staunch Presbyterian abolitionist, took Templeton and
his family to Adams County, Ohio, where he received his early education. With the aid of Rev. Robert Wilson,
president of Ohio University during this period, Templeton entered Ohio University in 1824, resided at Wilson's
home as a family servant, and received a B.A. degree on September 17, 1828. (from "A Black History of Athens County and Ohio University").  Read Templeton's speech regarding Ohio's laws requiring African Americans to post a $500 bond in order to live in the state.  


Olivia Davidson Washington

Washington, Olivia A. Davidson  (       -1889)
Educator and nurse, Olivia Davidson married Booker T. Washington,
in Athens, Ohio in August, 1886.  Washington writes about his wife, Olivia,
in chapters 8, 9, 10, 12, and 13 of his autobiography, Up from Slavery.
According to Mr. Washington, "no single individual did more toward laying
the foundations of the Tuskegee Institute as to insure the successful work
that has been done here than Olivia Davidson."


Ohio African American newspapers were distributed throughout the area. The Indiana Freeman also had correspondents, ditto for the Plain Dealer (Detroit), The Pittsburgh Courier, etc. Some (white) papers in the area had ""colored news" sections written by African American contributors (e.g.. Nelsonville Tribune). African American editors were frequent speakers at religious meetings, emancipation celebrations, political rallies, etc.

RETURN TO AFROAM Southeastern Ohio
Want to read more bios. or suggest someone to add? - contact me!

(c) 1998 Michel S. Perdreau Baechler