ing the Faith Presbyterian church at Aberdeen and Emanuel
Presbyterian church at Southern Pines as pastor. New
houses of worship have been erected at both places.
Dr. Rankin has twice been a member of the General As-
sembly of the Presbyterian church in the U. S. A., first at
Winona Lake, in 1898, the second at Columbus, Ohio, 1918.
He serves as Moderator of the Synod of Catawba from Sept.,
1909, to Sept., 1910. He has also been Moderator of the
Yadkin Presbytery three times.
Dr. Rankin is a Mason. He has not been active in poli-
tics. He belongs to that type which wears well â€” whose
work in the community is appreciated more and more as the
years go by. This is because he and his wife put back of
their preaching and teaching simple consecrated lives pat-
terned after Him "who went about doing good."
James Samuel Hill
It is refreshing to find a man who seeks to get out of
the beaten paths and do some really constructive work for
himself, his community and his race. Such a man is James
Samuel Hill, President of the Forsyth Savings & Trust Com-
pany of Winston-Salem. With the development of a spirit
of co-operation among the colored people, mercantile and
commercial enterprises have sprung up, the benevolent and
secret orders have prospered and great insurance companies
have been organized, but the banking business has been of
slow growth among them. It has required men of excep-
tional ability along financial lines to organize and run banks
exclusively for the colored people. Mr. Hill is a man of this
JAMES SAMUEL HILL
NORTH CAROLINA EDITION 437
type and the success which has crowned his efforts and
those of his associates demonstrates what can be done in
this field of endeavor.
Mr. Hill was born in South Carolina, in the old town of
Jonesville, Union Co. just a few days after the close of the
war, on May 29, 1865. His parents were LaFayette and
Caroline Hill. His paternal grandparents were Friday and
Dorcas Hill. Mr. Hill's mother passed away when he was.
only four years of age, so that he was denied the loving care
of a mother during the formative years of his life. Young
Hill grew up on the farm and attended the rural school until
ready for college. Speaking of this period, he says:
"There were nine of us in the family. My oldest sister was.
the housekeeper until she married ; after her the next oldest
and so on to the third and fourth. I began work when
about eight years of age and did almost a man's work. Fa-
ther would send us to school for about sixty days a year,
but next term we would have to go over the same studies.
I remained on the cotton farm until I was nineteen. By
working at night, after having done the regular day's work,
I saved enough money to enter Biddle Institute.
"I was compelled to leave school for lack of means to
pay board. I returned to South Carolina and cut cord wood
through the day and hauled it to the railroad at night and
thus saved a little money and went back to school. In this
way I earned enough to continue in school until I could teach
the third grade and got a school at a salary of fifteen dol-
lars per month and saved nearly all of it by working morn-
ings and evenings with the people with whom I boarded.
In 1885, my health was not so good so I decided to-
leave school. I went to Rock Hill, S. C, and taught, holding
a second grade certificate and making a salary of thirty
dollars per month. At the end of three months I drew my
check for ninety dollars and thought I was a rich man.
Not being satisfied with a second grade, I decided to
go back to Biddle Institute. Having been persuaded by Rev.
S. Matoon, then President of the Institution, I returned
there until 1889. My class all scattered, we bade each other
438 HISTORY AMERICAN NEGRO
good bye, and then went in all directions. I went to Monroe,
N. C. and taught one summer. The following autumn I
secured a school at Rosendale, Columbus County, and taught
five months with a salary of thirty-five dollars per month
on a first grade certificate. Having heard so much of Win-
ston-Salem, N. C, I decided to make a visit, and having been
so impressed with this city, I decided to make it my home.
A few weeks after coming into this city, a meeting was
called to choose representatives for the Southern Exposition
which was held in Raleigh, N. C, I seemed to have been the
choice and was elected. Having filled the place satisfac-
torily to John T. Patrick, who was Secretary, I remained
there until it closed.
Returning to Winston-Salem, I was called to Boonville,
N. C, to teach out an unexpired term of a parochial school.
After returning again to Winston-Salem, a good number of
our best people saw the need of an Industrial School.
After discusisng the great need of such an institution, we
organized ourselves into a Board of Trusteed and then
founded what is known now as Slater Industrial School.
The next thing was to find some one who would travel
North and raise the finances. There was not one dollar in
hand and whoever went must bear his own expense. So I
was elected to go.
I took my own money and started. Being successful
in meeting and making friends, in two months time I raised
money enough to erect what is now known as the People's
Choice A. M. E. Zion Church. At that time no money was
to be had to run the school except what I raised North. The
third year the state made an offer, if we raised $1,000.00
the state would give a like amount, and thus the Slater
School grew to be considered one of the best Normal Schools
in North Carolina. After having spent eight years with
Slater, I resigned the work and took up the agency of Liv-
ingstone College Salisbury, N. C, which position I held
for twelve years. Time will not allow me to mention my
experience in raising money for the two schools. I had to
NORTH CAROLINA EDITION 439
undergo almost everything imaginable while soliciting for
Early in 1907 Mr. Hill and some friends at Winston-
Salem decided that the town was prepared for the organiza-
tion of a bank for colored people and the time ripe for it.
The institution was chartered January 31st and while he
was away from the city on his work as Field Solicitor for
Livingstone College, he was elected the first President of the
institution, which position he has held ever since. The bank
opened for business May 11, 1907, with $1,000. At this
writing (March, 1920), the bank has resources amounting
to $277,791.11. In addition to hundreds of checking ac-
counts, the bank maintains the various departments which
a modern banking institution requires, such as the Christ-
mas Savings and regular Savings Departments. In the lat-
ter there are more than one thousand depositors and the
institution has done much to encourage thrift and home
owning among the colored people. In order to further this
work, Mr. Hill and his associates in 1919 organized the Peo-
ple's Building & Loan Association, and Mr. Hill was elected
During hostilities Mr. Hill took an active part in all
the war work of the country. He is a Republican in poli-
tics though he has participated little in party affairs. He
is a prominent member of the Presbyterian Church, of
which he is a deacon, and also President of the Trustee
Board. He has not identified himself with the secret orders.
His favorite reading consists of History and Biography.
On June 28, 1894, Mr. Hill was married to Miss Sarah
L. Galloway, who was educated at Bennett College, Greens-
boro, N. C, and who was an accomplished teacher before
her marriage. They have five children: Harold L., Ed-
ward C, Lewis L., Leander and Annie Lee Hill. Mr. Hill
has had unusual opportunities for observing conditions
among his people and from every angle of view. He has
concluded that the principal need of the race is of the spirit
of co-operation among them.
John Henry Martin
The visitor to Rocky Mount is impressed by the effi-
cient manner in which the Baptist cause among the colored
people is handled in that progressive city and the pastor of
the St. James Baptist Church, which worships in a handsome
brick structure on East Thomas Street is among the leading
ministers of the State. Rev. John Henry Martin was born in
Rockingham Co. on October 19, 1872. His father, Henry
Clay Martin, who is still living (1920) was born in 1844
and married July 31, 1869. He had a large family of two
sons and seven daughters, and was the first colored teacher
in Rockingham Co. The mother of our subject was, be-
fore her marriage, Miss Mary A. Galaway. She was a
daughter of Stephen and Mary Galaway and died Dec. 1,
1907, at the age of sixty-three.
Mr. Martin's paternal grandparents were Landers Mar-
tin and Maria Martin. It is perhaps to the teaching and ex-
ample of his father that Mr. Martin is most largely indebted
for the position which he has won in life. Though of lim-
ited education, his father was anxious that his son be a
man of intelligence and education. Mr. Martin went first
to the public schools of Rockingham Co., and later to the
State Normal School after which he took a course of three
years in Theology. He was not only trained by his father
in books, but was also taught by him to work. He was not
converted until after he had grown to mature manhood and
was nearly twenty-five years of age before he decided to
take up the work of the ministry. In the meantime, he
had gone to Winston-Salem and secured employment in the
tobacco factories in that town, where he labored for nearly
twenty years. It was in this way that he happened to be
licensed by the First Baptist Church of Winston-Salem and
was ordained to the work of the ministry by his associa-
His first pastorate was at Leaksville in his home county
JOHN HENRY MARTIN
442 HISTORY AMERICAN NEGRO
where he preached for six years. While on that work a
new house of worship was erected. Soon after entering the-
the work there he was called to the Marl Hill Baptist
Church in Henry Co., Virginia. He also preached there for
six years and remodeled the church building. During this
pastorate more than three hundred persons were baptized
into the membership in the church. The Sunday School
was strengthened and made an important factor in the work.
From there he went to Shady Grove Church, Spencer, where
he spent a pleasant pastorate for six years and some months.
In 1908 he accepted the call to the St. James Baptist
Church, Rocky Mount, N. C. After going to this work, he
and his people found it necessary to rebuild, so a splendid
brick structure was erected at a cost of $25,000, which is
one of the best colored churches in that section. Every
church over which Mr. Martin has presided has had marked
growth in its membership and spiritual life. He is much
in demand for evangelistic service, not only in his State,
but in Virginia, South Carolina and other States as well.
He has brought into the church thousands of new members
and could spend his whole time in revival work if he undeiv
took to respond to all the requests that are made for his
He is a trustee of the Neuse River Institute, Weldon,
and also a member of the Executive Board of the Neuse
River Association. He devotes himself with singleness of
purpose to his ministerial labors and has no other interests.
The only secret orders with which he is identified are the-
Masons and the Odd Fellows. He is a Republican in poli-
tics though he has given little attention to party affairs.
His investments are at Rocky Mount and at his old home in
Leaksville. He believes that the greatest single need among"
his people is the right sort of education, by which he means
the development of the whole man, and then a chance to be::
Mr. Martin has been married twice. His first marriage-
was in 1886 to Miss Carrie Hamlin, of Leaksville. She was;,
a daughter of Peter and Martha Hamlin. Mr. Martin's sec-
NORTH CAROLINA EDITION 443
end marriage was to Miss Mamie E. Drain, of Salisbury a
daughter of Joshua and Phoebe Drain. She was educated
at Livingstone College and was a successful teacher at the
time of her marriage. They have two children, Herbert
and Iris Louise Martin.
Annanias Samuel Croom
There is no appointive power in the Baptist denomina-
tion. Each congregation chooses from the whole number
of Baptist ministers the one which the local church deems
best fitted to do its work. He is free to accept or reject
the call So when a man is found at the head of a splendid
and growing work in one of the important centers it is an
evidence of ability and not of favoritism. The story of
Kev. Annanias Samuel Croom, pastor of the Dixonville
Baptist church at Salisbury (1920), is a case in point. He
was born at LaGrange in Lenoir Co. June 30, 1879 His
father, also a Baptist minister, is Rev. Emperor Croom.
His mother, before her marriage, was Nancy Walters^ She
was a daughter of Bryant and Rachel Walters Young
Croom grew up on the farm, where he was accustomed to
do those things which the average farmer boy does The
home influence was good and at the early age of twelve he
experienced the new birth and joined the Ebenezer Baptist
church. Having yielded himself to the call to preach the
Gospel he was licensed by his home church in 1902 and six
months later ordained to the full work of the ministry He
began his education in the public school. Later he entered
the Brick School near Enfield where he went for seven years
He attended Virginia Union University for his Theological
course. â€ž % J *\
His parents being poor, the boy found it necessary to
make his own way in school. At the Brick School he was a
florist and dairyman. At one time he milked twenty cows-
daily and separated the milk and cream. He followed the
ANNANIAS SAMUEL CROOM
NORTH CAROLINA EDITION 445
same line of work after going to Richmond and thus made
his way through school. Through it all he refused to be
discouraged and held steadily to his purpose to equip him-
self for his work. He has had considerable experience as a
teacher, and, since coming to Salisbury, has had charge of
the Piedmont Institue which is now run in connection with
his church. He pastored the St. James Baptist Church,
Rocky Mount, for five years and raised money for a new
church which has since been erected. He preached at Shi-
loh, in Nash Co., five years and there bought considerable
material for a new house. He also preached for five years
at the Lisbon Street Baptist church at Clinton and here, too,
raised money for a new house. On Nov. 28, 1907, he came
to the Dixonville Baptist church at Salisbury. With his
coming the work took on new life and surpassed all previous
records. A modern brick house of worship was erected and a
splendid new parsonage built as well as a beautiful new site
for a school. The congregation has grown in numbers
and in spiritual power. The pastor has grown in power and
influence and is regarded as one of the strong men of the
denomination in the State. He is an attractive speaker and
is in demand as an evangelist. He is prominent in denomi-
national gatherings and has position on several of the boards.
He believes that the greatest need of the race is the right
sort of leadership, educational and religious. He has not
been active in politics. He is a Master Mason.
On Oct. 25, 1905, he was married to Miss Pearl Bullock
of Whitakers, N. C. She too, was educated at the Brick
School. They have two children, Dorcas and Blanch, who
are now in school.
Such, in the word, is the story of the country boy who
had the courage and the patience to fit himself for leader-
Ephraim Nitre Dent
The profession of teaching is one of the noblest and
most self-sacrificing of all the callings to which men devote
themselves. It is also a calling which, if meagre in its
financial returns, is yet rich in rewards of another and
higher kind. The teacher in teaching others teaches him-
self. In imparting to his pupils the knowledge of books he
refreshes his own recollection and strengthens his hold on
his own intellectual treasures. He also in coming in con-
tact with the understandings of the young receives a stimu-
lus for his own intellectual nature, and freshens his enthusi-
asms and his interest in life at the fountain of youthful
vigor and hopefulness. And he has with all of this the
added satisfaction of knowing that he is adding to the num-
ber of men and women of culture and training who will come
forward and take up the tasks of a new generation.
These reflections bear with marked appropriateness on
the career of Ephraim Nitre Dent, the subject of this sketch.
He has given his life to the work of teaching, and that in
the spirit of one who loves the work and loves those whom
he teaches. He was born in Warren Co., N. C, May 12,
1851. His mother's name was Diana Willams. By refer-
ence to the dates it will be seen that Mr. Dent was ten
years of age at the beginning of the war and a youth of
fifteen before emancipation came. Up to this time, he had,
of course, had no schooling. His eafly education was ob-
tained in the Presbyterian school at Louisburg , N. C.
Later he attended St. Augustine College at Raleigh, N. C,
and Biddle University at Charlotte. He was poor and was
forced to rely on his own unaided exertions in getting an
education and meeting his expenses during the time of his
school experiences. It was for this reason that he did not
carry his educational plans through to the full extent
prompted by his ambition and aspiration. He left school
in 1875, without having attained all that his heart was set
EPHRAIM NITRE DENT
448 HISTORY AMERICAN NEGRO
on, but with a rich heritage none the less, in the fruitage
of his years of study and of sturdy effort against adverse
He began his teaching work in Warren Co., N. C, the
county of his birth. He loves children and is keenly inter-
tested in the work of teaching. He has high ideals for the
work, and keeps ever before his mind the picture of the
true teacher and the great work, he is capable of accom-
plishing in the world when wholly dedicated to his work.
He has succeeded in his life calling and is at present princi-
pal of the graded school in Louisburg, with which he has
been identified for sixteen years.
Mr. Dent was married on Oct. 25, 1877, to Miss Lucy
Long Shaw, daughter of Mr. Matthew Shaw and Mrs. Mary
Shaw. They have twelve chilren. Thos living are : Giotto
N., Mary O., Vedeer L., Diana S., "Willie C, Bayette R.,
Ferdinand W., and Wyonette Elizabeth Dent.
He is an elder in the Presbyterian church. His chief
and favorite reading is the Bible, though with that he joins
the study of the best literature of our own day and country.
He desires greatly a better unedrstanding between races
and labors unceasingly to that end. He urges upon his peo-
ple that they seek by hard work and economy, not only to
become educated, but to become property owners and thus
to have a stake of their own in the soil of the country in
which they live.
Joseph Napoleon Mills
If there are those who doubt the place of prayer in the
life or the compelling power which comes from honesty of
purpose and steady perseverance they should study the
biographies of men like Dr. Joseph Napoleon Mills of Dur-
ham. Though born and reared in an unfavorable environ-
ment, he has by his own energy and capacity won a meas-
ure of success as a business and professional man of which
he hardly dreamed as a barefoot country boy.
JOSEPH NAPOLEON MILLS
450 HISTORY AMERICAN NEGRO
He was born at Richlands, N. C, Dec. 13, 1879. His fa-
ther, Lott W. Mills, was a farmer, and was the son of
Lott W. Mills, Sr., and Zilphia Mills. Dr. Mills' mother,
before her marriage, was Miss Caroline Henderson, a daugh-
ter of John and Margaret Henderson. On both sides, Dr.
Mills' family has been remarkable for its longevity. His
grandmother Henderson lived to the ripe old age of 102
Dr. Mills was married on Dec. 8, 1915, to Miss Bessie
Juanita Amey, a daughter of Cornelius and Sarah J. Amey
of Durham. She was educated at Shaw University. They
have (1919) one child, Joseph N. Mills, Jr.
After laying the foundation of his education in .the
public school young Mills entered Kittrell Normal and Indus-
trial School. He was an apt student and a hard worker
and once or twice combined the work of two years in one in
some of his classes. He remained at Kittrell until 1900.
The way was not easy, but the aspiring youth refused to be
discouraged, and, when ready to enter upon his medical
course, matriculated at Leonard Medical College, where he
won his M. D. degree in 1907. While at this institution,
his summer vacations were spent in hotel work at the North.
While in college he played baseball.
In 1907 he located at Durham and has built up a lucra-
tive practice and established himself firmly in the esteem of
In his reading the Bible finds first place. Of course,
as a progressive physician he finds it necessary to keep up
with the literature of his profession. After that he is most
interested in English literature and history. He is a Re-
publican in politics but beyond expressing the franchise
takes no active part in politics.
He is an active member of the A. M. E. church, Secy, of
the Trustee Board and Assistant Superintendent of the Sun-
day School. Among the secret orders he is identified with
the Masons, Odd Fellows, Pythians, Good Samaritans, Gid-
eons, and Royal Knights, for all of which he is medical ex-
NORTH CAROLINA EDITION 451
aminer. He is also one of the surgeons of the Lincoln Hos-
pital at Durham.
Dr. Mills has prospered in a material way and is one
of the well-to-do colored men of Durham, which is noted
for the prosperity of its colored people. He says, "My
honest conviction is that the Negro should seek recogni-
tion at the polls or ballot box, also strive to accumulate
something in the line of real estate."
Dr. Mills is Pres. of the Peoples Drug Co. and medical
examiner for the N. C. Mutual. He is a member of the
State and National medical organizations. During the war
he took an active part in the various campaigns nd drives.
William John Henry Booher
Dr. William John Henry Rooher, a successful physician
of Oxford is the only doctor of his race in the State from
He was born at Concord in that State on April 29,
1882. His father, William John Henry Booher, died before
the son was born. Mary Ann Menafee was his mother's
maiden name. Dr. Booher's paternal grandfather was Wil-
helm Jacomenah Hesslebac Boohah. Both the father and
grandfather were natives of German West Africa who emi-
grated to America and located in Canada.
As a small boy, young Booher attended the losal pub-
lic schools of Concord where practially all his school mates
were white. Later he and his mother came South and lived
at Columbus, Ga., for one year. After that they went to
Winter Park, Fla. It this new environment he found it hard
to understand why he should go to school where all the
students were Negroes. His struggles for an education
from that time forward can best be told in his own straight-
"My father died before I was born. Mother died when
I was fourteen years of age. We lived at the time in Win-
WILLIAM JOHN HENRY BOOHER
NORTH CAROLINA EDITION 453
-ter Park, Fla. I was left without means, so had to struggle
for even a livelihood. I had seen accounts of Tuskegee in
different papers and my mother had expressed a desire for
me to go there, so I was determined to go. I finally con-
sulted a good woman, Miss L. M. Abbott, who after the
death of my mother, had been very kind to me and a very
valuable help. She encouraged me in many ways, and,
^knowing I was without money, prepared a list, soliciting aid
from friends around the little village. In this way, I se-
cured enough money, with what I earned, to enter Tuskegee.
I was compelled to enter night school and work out my
board. The first years were very hard and embarrassing.
I had no source whatever from which to get money for
clothes and was at times without underwear and other
clothing necessary to health. Many times I have had to
wash a shirt at night in order to be presentable at school
the next day. Things went this way for some time, but
finally Mrs. Booker T. Washington learned of my condition
and sent me to the barrel room to supply myself with cloth-
ing. This gave me a push for some years as I began to
work at Tuskegee during summers and soon got ahead. I
graduated there in 1902. I was surprised during the sum-