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History of the American Negro and his institutions; (Volume 4) online

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Conference sitting at Louisville, Ky. His president diocese
consists of South Carolina and Georgia. The degree of
D. D. was conferred on him by the school at Pittsburg.

Bishop Bruce has not been active in politics but belongs
to the Masons, in which he is Deputy G. M. of the State.


Next after the Bible his favorite reading is History He is
a forceful speaker and through his writing has reached
perhaps more people than any other man in the denomina-
tion. He cares more for the fundamental things of charac-
ter and common sense than for appearances. He believes
that the permanent progress of the race must ultimately
rest on hard work, common sense and economy.

In May, 1894, Bishop Bruce was married to Henrietta
Foster, of Farmville, Va. They have an adopted child, Robt
B. Bruce, Jr.

(Note.) Since the above was written Bishop Bruce
has passed to his reward. He died on July 9, 1920 and
was laid to rest with impressive ceremonies attended bv
hundreds of people who miss and mourn this great leader
in Zion.

Commodore M. Reid

Rev. Commodore M. Reid now (1920), stationed at
St. James M. E. Church, Winston-Salem, N. C, is a native
of the Old North State, having been born in Cabarrus Co.
August 9, 1889. His father, James S. Reid, was also a min-
ister of the Gospel, and. his mother, before her marriage,
was Margaret Boger. His grandparents on the paternal
side were Jerry and Mamie Reid and on the maternal side
Jesse and Martha Boger. Rev. Reid's father was free-
born, but his mother was a slave before Emancipation.

As a boy he attended the local public school and when
ready for college matriculated at the A. & M., now the A.
& T. College at Greensboro, graduating from that institution
in 1907 and also did special correspondence work under the
direction of the Chicago University in Theology.

On May 29, 1908, Rev. Reid was married to Bertha Rus-
sell, a daughter of Charlie and Mary Russell, of Greens-
boro. Mrs. Reid was educated at Bennett College. They
have two children, Quinten E. and Commodore Reid, Jr.



Young Reid had the misfortune to lose his mother at
an early age and there was a large family of children be-
sides himself. They lived in the country and there could
hardly have been a more unpromising situation than that
which confronted our subject. He remembers now, as he
looks back over those days, that the Sunday School was a
steadying influence in his life and that he got from it much
of the inspiration that has been beneficial in his large suc-
cess. When he was about fourteen years of age, he was
converted and came into the work of the A. M. E. Church
and later definitely consecrated himself to the work of the
ministry. From boyhood he had felt that his life work
must be that of the ministry, but knowing the hardships of
the ministry he tried to get away from the call but finally
yielded. Speaking of his career as a preacher, he says :

"My first pastorate was Erie Mills Circuit containing
two churches, St. Stephens 'and Piney Grove. I was ap-
pointed to this circuit in July, 1913, in the middle of the
Conference year. That fall I was ordained Deacon by
Bishop Coppin, at Hickory, and sent to Coppin's Chapel,
Durham. This was a mission with nine women and chil-
dren as members. I resided at Raleigh and went back
and forth to Durham to my work. The membership in-
creased from nine to thirty and my report to the Conference
showed half of a $1,500 debt paid. I was pleased when as-
signed to Wayman's Chapel, Mt. Airy, but was very much
surprised on arriving to find the membership greatly re-
duced and dissatisfied because of a long standing debt. The
building had been purchased twenty-five years previously
at a cost of $800. Figures on the book showed that
$8,000.00 had been raised and yet they had a debt of $500.
My report to the next Conference showed the debt paid in
full. It was at this Conference that I was given Elder's or-
ders. I was retained at Mt. Airy for another year and re-
ported to the next Conference that the church building
had been repaired and the membership increased to 100.
My next assignment was the Burlington circuit, where I
was confronted by another mortgage. That, however,


proved the happiest year of my ministerial life, notwith-
standing I suffered a severe attack of Typhoid fever, which
was the first time I had ever needed the services of a doc-
tor. My people proved loyal and faithful in this my time
of distress and I shall never forget them. Naturally I
was anxious to return there for the second term and had been
promised the place by my Bishop. At St. James, Winston-
Salem, however, a condition arose which necessitated a
change, and to my surprise I was sent there. Again, one
of the first things I met on arrival was the record of a debt
of several thousand dollars which had hung over the present
building since its erection fifteen years before. The mem-
bership was small and seriously divided. On taking charge
I was told, with more frankness than courtesy, that I was
not wanted because of my youth. I was advised then that
they had had some pretty big men and that they had run
over all of them and that unless I was mighty strong they
would run over me like an ox over a brush heap. I am glad,
however, to say that I have been returned for a third term.
The church building is clear of debt. A new furnace, new
pews and electric lights have been added. The interior has
been painted, new carpet put on the floor, all at a cost of
nearly $4,000, which has been paid in full. The member-
ship has steadily grown till we now have over three hun-
dred on the roll."

Thus it will be seen that Rev. Reid has grown steadily
with his work and it is no small compliment to a man of
his age to have been appointed to such an exacting position.
The secret of his success is the direct, straight-forward way
he has of dealing with folks. He is not afraid to work
himself and impresses others with a desire to make things
go on the circuit or station where he happens to be at the
time. Before he entered the ministry he was a brick-layer
by trade and has frequently been able to make valuable sug-
gestions in connection with building and repair work.

In reading he, of course, puts the Bible first. After
that he has a love for the best English authors and the
work of the leading writers of his own race, such as Paul


Lawrence Dunbar, Prof. DuBois and others. Among the
secret orders he is identified with the Masons. He is of the
opinion that the best interests of the race will he promoted
when large numbers become more efficient in every sphere
of life. He says: "The National interests must ever lag
until every citizen is given a man's chance and Negroes par-
ticularly given equal rights."

Rev. Reid has served as Statistical Secretary of the
Annual Conference and Chairman of Committee on Susten-
tation. He was active in war work and his church made an
enviable record in the first Red Cross Campaign.

Junia Newton Bennett

Near Faison, N. C, is a school known as the Colored
Training and Industrial School, which has for years past
made its influence felt over a wide expanse of territory and
has contributed unmeasurably to the elevation of the race
for whose benefit it was launched. The members of Con-
gress from that district, the mayor of the town and leading
citizens in every walk of life have paid high tribute to the
work of this school and to the splendid Christian character
of its principal.

Junia Newton Bennett, the man to whose brain and
energy this institution owed its inception and its progress,
was born April 16, 1869, in Piney Grove Township, Sampson
Co., N. C. His mother's maiden name was Clarissa Har-
groves, and the boy lived with his grandparents, James and
Millie Hargroves. His grandfather was a shoemaker by
trade and did some farm work. At an early period the
boy's heart was fired by an ambition to work out a career
for himself in life. But with no father living and con-
demned as he was to a lot of poverty, the prospect for at-
taining the object of his ambition did not seem bright. But
with pluck and energy and a resolute determination to suc-
ceed, he started out to work his way through school. He



ifirst attended the Philosphian High School, Faison, N. C.
From there he went to St. Augustine College, Raleigh. For
three years he taught summer school and worked about
the buildings and grounds while in school.

He was a mere boy when he began teaching his first
school, which was the public school at Six Run, now called
Turkey, N. C. After that he taught two years in Pitt Co.,
-one in Green and one in Carteret. From that time till now
he has held steadily to the pursuit of his vocation as a
teacher, except as interrupted by his own studies and varied
by certain other incidental activities.

Prof. Bennett has been married twice. His first mar-
riage was on Mar. 4, 1895, to Elvina Herring of Faison.
Two children were born to this union, but both passed
.-away, as did their mother also. Subsequent to her death,
<our subject was married a second time on June 3, 1902 to
Lula C. Simpson, daughter of John and Mary Anne Samp-
son of Clinton. She was educated at Clinton and was, be-
fore her marriage, a teacher. They have eight children.
Their names are: Booker T., Mabel T., Hattie L., Lattie V.,
Dewey S., Lula E., Tessie S., and Blarney Bennett.

In 1888 Prof. Bennett founded, on 'his own place, near
Faison, the Colored Training and Industrial School, of which
he has been Principal throughout its history. At that time
he was the sole teacher. Now he has a faculty of four. The
enrollment was only eighteen at the start but has gone over
two hundred, while a substantial plant has been provided
:and the standard of work done by the institution raised.

Prof. Bennett stands high locally. He has served the
Piney Grove Township as Justice of the Peace and for six
;years has been Editor of "The Sun," an independent paper
^published at Faison.

He is a member of the Baptist Church and belongs to
l)oth the Odd Fellows and the Pythians, in both of which
^e is Secretary.

He has read widely, is fond of Poetry, of Milton, of
works on Physical Culture and kindred subjects, and works


of Biography, especially such as deal with the inspiring-
stories of the leaders of his race.

He urges persistently upon his people the importance
of co-operation. Teamwork is what he believes will win the
day. And he never forgets the importance of religious
principles as a guide to life. These he stresses unceasingly-
Some years ago Prof. Bennett began farming to>
strengthen his health. In addition) to supplies for the
school, he grows truck and the standard crops raised in that

Edward Franklin Rollins

Rev. Edward Franklin Rollins, now (1920) stationed
at the old town of Washington, is one of the most effective
men of the A. M. E. Zion connection in North Carolina. He
is widely known, even beyond his own denomination as "the
Blind Preacher." He was born March 6, 1876, at Holly-
Springs. His parents were Sam and Julia (Jones) Rollins..
His grandfathers were Henderson Rollins and Nathan Jones..

Very early in life, perhaps when he was not more than
five or six years old, young Rollins became impressed with
the fact that his work in life was to be that of the minis-
try. That impression grew upon him with the years and:
when he was converted at the age of twelve it was generally
accepted by all who knew him that he would be a preacher..
His entire education was shaped with that end in view. He
graduated from the Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and.
Blind in 1893. He has been blind since 1881, when both
eyes were accidentally shot out by another boy but what to-
many has proven a hopeless affliction he has overcome vic-
toriously by his courage, mental gifts and consecrated deter-
mination to be of service. Two years after his graduation,
he joined the Conference under Bishop Cicero R. Harris, at
Wilmington. His first pastorate was the Parkersburg cir-
cuit which he served for two years. From the beginning:



he was successful, going from his first appointment to the
Scotland Neck Mission where 'he preached for two years
with satisfactory results. After that he served the
Clarkston circuit three years, Elizabethtown circuit one
year, Carver's Creek circuit two years, Lake Waccamaw
circuit three years and Grifton circuit one year. He was
then appointed to station work and given the South Port
Station, where he preached for two years. From South
Port he was sent to the Metropolitan Church at Washington,,
which he served for five years. Rev. Rollins has been an
active and effective worker and has brought no less than
3,000 new members into his denomination.

On September 17, 1902, he was married to Mary A.
Kemp, a daughter of Louis and Freelove Kemp. They have
two children, James Maceo and Willie Dancey Rollins. Mrs.
Rollins is admirably equipped for the work she assumed'
when she married Rev. Rollins. On account of his blindness,
it is necessary for her to be his assistant, secretary and
guide. She enters into his work in the most cheerful and
cordial manner and together they are making their lives;
count for the Kingdom.

Among the secret and benevolent orders Rev. Rollins,
is identified with the Order of Love and Charity.

In 1916 Mr. Rollins was a delegate to the General Con-
ference of his church, which met in Louisville, Ky., and im
1920 was an alternate to the General Conference which
met in Knoxville, Tenn.

Perhaps no better light can be thrown on this man's;
character than a paragraph from a private letter written by
him where he says : "The Lord has graciously blessed me
and my work in bringing me from the lowest station in life^
to the present. Blindness has not been allowed to be an in-
surmountable hindrance but rather a blessing in disguise.'"

OlXLcw^ H 7m CvOyy^

William Henry McLean

One who sees clearly and speaks fearlessly in religious
matters, has said, "One great want of the times is a com-
manding ministry— a ministry of a piety at once sober and
earnest and of the mightiest moral power. Give us these
men, 'free of faith and of the Holy Ghost,' who will proclaim
old truth with new energy. Men of sound speech, who will
preach the truth as it is in Jesus, Who will preach it apostle-
wise, that is, 'first of all,' the source of all morals and the
inspiration of all charity — the sanctifier of every relation-
ship and the sweetener of every toil. Give us these men —
men' of zeal untiring — whose hearts of constancy quail not
although dull men sneer, and timid men blush, proud men
scorn, and cautious men deprecate and wicked men revile."

A man of the Baptist denomination who seeks to ren-
der this sort v of service is Rev. William Henry McLean,
B. Th., pastor of the First Baptist Church of Greenville.
Dr. McLean is a' man who, despite the limitations of his
educational opportunities, has succeeded on every field to
which he has gone. He is a native of Fayetteville, where
he was born Nov. 5, 1879. His parents were Wilson and
Sophia McLean. They were members of the Methodist
Church. On his mother's side there is a strain of Indian
blood and his great grandfather was said to have been a
full blooded African. Young McLean was reared by a
white man, Mr. John M. Martin, of Fayetteville. Mrs.
Martin taught him his alphabet. He remained with the
Martins till he was nearly a grown man and even to this
good day the relationship between them is most cordial.
He went to Grammar School one year and from there passed
to the State Normal for one year. After entering the min-
istry he went to the Theological department of Shaw Uni-
versity for t>tfo years, where he won his B. Th. degree.

Mr. McLean experienced the new birth when he was
about nineteen. A few months later he felt called to preach


and in 1896 was licensed by the First Baptist Church of
Fayetteville, and was ordained to the full work of the min-
istry the following year.

On September 14, 1897, he was happily married to Mary
Lou Butler, a daughter of Henry Butler of Clinton, N. C.
Mrs. McLean was educated at Hartshorne College and was,
before her marriage, an accomplished teacher. She bore
him one child, which is deceased. Mrs. McLean passed to
her reward on Sept. 6, 1918. She entered heartily into the.
work of her husband, who pays grateful tribute to her spirit
of helpful co-operation.

His first pastorate was the First Baptist Church of
Clinton, where he preached for eight months. At the end
of that time he accepted a call from St. Stephen's Baptist
Church of Boston to which he went in 1900 and remained
till 1908. In that time the membership grew from forty to
eight hundred forty, and a new house of' worship was erected
at an expense of sixty-five thousand dollars. He resigned
the work in Boston in 1908 and went to Wayne, Pa., near
Philadelphia, where he labored for eleven years. The
church membership was more than doubled and the founda-
tion laid for a new church. In 1919 he was called to Vir-
ginia by the Lott-Carey Convention to do Missionary work
and served in that capacity from April to September when
he resigned to accept the urgent call of the Baptist Church
at Greenville. Under his leadership the work is taking on
new life and his friends predict for him a splendid future on
this work. As an evangelist Dr. McLean has had great
success and apart from his own pastorates has had twenty-
seven hundred persons make profesisons in the meetings
which he has held.

In his own churches, he tries to do constructive work.
He believes in co-operation, rather than antagonism. He
stands for progress, for clean living, right teaching, a bet-
ter home life. He has frequently been honored by the
great denomination to which he belongs. He was for four
years First Vice-President of the Pa. Baptist State Conven- /
tion and Secretary of the Executive Board for five years.


He has since coming to Greenville organized the Community
of Welfare Betterment League. Among the secret orders
he is identified with the Masons. He owns a home at Green-

So the boy who began work at a hotel at 50 cents a
week is now the man, doing a man's work and occupying a
place of leadership, because he feared God and worked.

Calvin Scott Brown

Rev. Calvin Scott Brown, D. D., is one of the most dis-
tinguished citizens of North Carolina, and is also one of the
most' worthy. He has spent all of his life laboring among
the people of his race in his native State, and is known by
his people as few others.

Dr. Brown was born at Salisbury, N. C, March 23rd,
1859. His father was named Brown, and was a shoemaker
by trade, and he also served as a policeman. His mother's
name before marriage was Flora Backett, and both her fa-
ther and mother were mulattoes of Scotch-Irish descent.
His father was a mulatto of the same Scotch-Irish descent,
but his father's mother was a pure African. Dr. Brown
shows his Scotch-Irish blood by his keen intellect and won-
derful ability.

Young Brown attended the Freedman's School at Salis-
bury, and would not have pursued his studies further if
Northern friends had not come to his rescue. By their aid
he finally graduated from Shaw University at Raleigh, and
he was easily leader among his classmates and fellow pupils
along all lines. In school he distinguished himself as a
member of the brass band, and he was about as proficient in
one thing as another. From the beginning of his career
he showed marked ability as an organizer, and rose to prom-
inence in secret societies, at least in one, before he was out
of his teens. He had organizing genius of such high order
that even when a pupil at Shaw University, he planned a





Baptist Minister's Union for the State, and succeeded in
bringing the preachers of his denomination together from
all sections of the State. Before that time they could not
get together on account of disputes over various matters.
From the time Dr. Brown first interested himself in the
people of his own Missionary Baptist denomination in the
State until now he has wielded an influence that has easily
made him the leader of his denomination in the State, and
he comes as near being a real leader of all the people of
the Negro race in the State as any other man in North Caro-

Dr. Brown graduated from Shaw University in May,
1886, and during that same year, December 8th, he was
marired to Amaza Jeanette, daughter of William Drum-
mond and Julia Drummond of Lexington, Va. Miss Drum-
mond attended Shaw University one year, after graduating
from Hampton. Mrs. Brown has proven herself a true
companion and assistant to her husband. They have been
blessed with nine children, only one of whom is dead, and
her death was caused by accident. The Browns are a
strong, healthy family, and no doubt they will all make their
place in the world in their day. The children are in their
order: William Drummond, Flora B., Julia A., Calvin S.,
Purcell Tucker, Maria Ellen, Schley S., Eunice H., and
Christine, deceased. The first three are married, and the
two daughters have children, making Dr. Brown a grand-

Dr. Brown was a very poor boy, and knew what priva-
tion meant, and he made up his mind that if ever an oppor-
tunity offered for improving his condition he would certainly
leave no stone unturned, and he therefore deeply appreci-
ated the opportunity afforded him for finishing his studies
at Shaw University, and became a hard worker from the
first, and is one of the hardest working men in the State
today. He retires at a very early hour each night, and
rises very soon in the morning, and after making all the
fires, he goes at once to his office, where he works hard
until dinner and then on until supper, and this is his rou-


tine day in and day out, unless he is on the road. But it
must be said that he spends much time on the road, either
traveling the railroads to distant points, or going to his
churches over country roads. But he never remains away
from home long at a time, for his work is always on his

While still a student at Shaw University he was called
to become pastor of the Plains Baptist Church near Winton,
N. C, and he served that church for twenty-five years. As
soon as he finished at Shaw University he at once made his
home at Winton, and devoted himself to building up an acad-
emy which is today one of the best institutions of the class
in the entire State, and is now called Waters Academy. The
school is located in a section where the people had very poor
educational opportunities until Dr. Brown organized this
school, and they responded with their money liberally in
establishing and supporting his institution. Graduates
from Waters Academy are found in cities and sections cov-
ering many States and even in Africa, and Dr. Brown is
regarded as one of the leading educators and leaders in the
State. So far as the little town of Winton is concerned it
was he that put it on the map, for the best white people'
there look upon him as one of the best assets of the county
and town.

Dr. Brown has a fondness for writing, and he has es-
tablished and edited at least two papers, one of which he
set up himself and printed and mailed in the early days.
Standing at the head of various influential organizations
in and out of the State, from time to time he has been
called upon to deliver annual messages to the people, and
these documents will be found among the ablest literary and
philosophic productions credited to our people. He has not
been anxious to show himself a great reader, but rather a
great doer, and he states that the chief literary works that
have influenced him have been the Bible and religious


Dr. Brown is a minister of the Gospel and has pastored
several churches, but he has never pastored in a large city,


though he has been called there and urged to accept. On
the other hand he has spent his life among country churches,
and sometimes pastored as mairy as tive at a time. It is
needless to relate that his services there have been of in-
valuable help to his people. He studied agriculture and

Online LibraryArthur Bunyan CaldwellHistory of the American Negro and his institutions; (Volume 4) → online text (page 17 of 48)