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L. S Gaillard.

Dr. Brawley's life has been divided between work in
the ministry and in education. He served as the first presi-
dent of Selma University, Selma, Ala., was the organizer and
first president of Morris College, Sumter, S. C, for many
years was District Secretary of the American Baptist Pub-
lication Society for the South Atlantic States, for eight
years wrote the Advanced Quarterly for the National Bap-
tist Publishing Board, and most recently has served as Pro-
fessor of Evangelism and Old Testament Literature at
Shaw University, Raleigh, N. C. He has also served as pas-
tor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church, Selma, Ala., Spring-
field Baptist Church, Greenville, S. C, Harrison Street Bap-
tist Church, Palatka, Fla., First Baptist Church, Fernan-
dina, Fla., and White Rock Baptist Church, Durham, N. C.
The last of these pastorates, extending from 1912 to 1920
was in many ways the most distinguished, and at his resig-
nation Dr. Brawley was given a handsome purse and a silver
loving cup. He is the author of "The Negro Baptist Pulpit"
(Philadelphia, 1890), "Commentary on Mark," "Sin and Sal-
vation," "Church Finances" and many other pamphlets and
tracts. For many years he has been known as the foremost
scholar among the Negro Baptists of the country ; scores of
young people have been inspired by his example and precept
to seek an education; and in various other ways he has
rendered far-reaching service, traveling both throughout
the eastern portion of the United States and in England.

Jesse Willis Peele

Among the young men of North Carolina who have
made their mark in the educational life of the State must
be mentioned Prof. Jesse Willis Peele, of Goldsboro. He is
one of those young men who has not found it necessary to
away from his own home in order to succeed in life. He
was born at Goldsboro, November 25, 1881. His father,
the late Willis Peele, was a baggage porter, and his mother,
before her marriage, was Miss Mary Wright. His paternal
grandparents were Andrew and Mary Peele.

Prof. Peele is well equipped educationally. He first
attended the local graded schools and later the State Nor-
mal at Goldsboro. He did his college work at Biddle Uni-
versity, completing the course in 1904, and winning his
A. B. degree. Later the A. M. degree was conferred on
him by the same institution.

On December 22, 1908, he was married to Miss Hattie
J. Williams, a daughter of Holley and Martha Williams of
Warsaw. They have two children, Dorothy L. and Willis G.

From boyhood Professor Peele has looked forward to a
career as a teacher -and studied at the normal school and
at college with that object in view. He began his work as a
teacher in the rural schools and passed from there to the
r/rincipalship of the Rocky Mount School, where he taught
for two years. At the end of this period he was called
back to his home town and has for twelve years past been
assistant principal of the city graded schools of Goldsboro.
In this capacity he has given eminent satisfaction not only
to the members of his board, but to the patrons of the
school as well.

Though not active in politics he is nominally a
Republican and is a member of the Presbyterian Church, in
which he is deacon and secretary of the board of deacons.
Among the secret and benevolent orders he holds member-



ship in the Pythians, Knights of Gideon and Courts of
Calanthe. He believes that the progress of the race de-
pends upon education, co-operation and commerce.

Note. вАФ Since the above was written, Prof. Peele passed.
away on Feb. 1, 1920. H e was laid to rest two days later,
the funeral being held at the Shiloh Presbyterian church..
The various fraternal orders with which he was identified
paid their tributes according to the rituals of their respect-
ive orders.

Walter Lewis McNair

Dr. Walter Lewis McNair, a druggist of Greensboro, is.
one of those sturdy men who by patient perseverance and
hard work has won a measure of success in his chosen pro-
fession which is a credit to him and to his native State.
He was born at Hamlet in Richmond Co., on Nov. 4, 1868.
His father, Camus McNair, was a farmer. He was a loyal
and trusted servant. Even after the war he managed the
estate of his mistresses until they all passed away, some
fifteen or more years after emancipation. Later came busi-
ness reverses, the result of inefficient management. Un-
der these conditions, the subject of our sketch was doomed
to years of hard work with little pay. Dr. McNair's mother
was, before her marriage, Rebecca McMillian. His paternal
grandmother was Jane McNair. His mother's father was
Rev. James McMillian, who lived in Columbia, S. C.

Young McNair laid the foundation of his education in
the public schools of Laurinburg, but when he aspired to a
higher education the way was not easy. He went to work
for an elder brother who promised to see him through school.
His never got beyond the stage of promises, so it was not
strange that the boy broke away and began working for
himself. He worked at whatever offered and saved his
money. He entered the preparatory department of Biddle
University and remained in that institution for four years~



Having decided to take up pharmacy, he matriculated at the
Leonard School of Pharmacy, Shaw University, where he
won his Ph. G. degree in 1897. He was engaged in Raleigh
for a while and then went into the Spanish-American War
as a hospital steward. On his return, he went into the
drug business for himself in Greensboro, where he has since
resided and prospered. He has an up-to-date, attractive
store on East Market Street.

Looking back now over the days of his boyhood and
youth he is of the opinion that the greatest single factor
in shaping his life and giving right direction to his thinking
was his early attendance and love of the Sunday School.

Dr. McNair has been married twice. On Aug. 15, 1900,
he was married to Miss Rosa Jones, a daughter of Adam
and Rebecca Jones. They had two children, Walter L., Jr.,
and Cecil McNair. In 1906 the mother of these children
passed away. On Jan. 8, 1908, Dr. McNair was married to
Miss Roxie E. Brooks of Danville, Va. Their children are
James, Kermit, Wilber and Gurney McNair.

Dr. McNair is a prominent lay member of the Presby-
terian Church, with which he has been identified since boy-
hood. He has been an elder in the church for a number of
years and has twice been a commissioner to the Presbyterian
General Assembly, which is the highest court of the denomi-
nation. He is now asst. Supt. of his local S. S.

He is active in the work of the secret and benevolent
societies and also in state and local civic organizations. He
belongs to the Masons, Pythians, Eastern Star, Court of
Calanthe and the Elks. He is Vice President of the local
building and loan association and also Vice President of the
N. C. State Fair and Industrial Association.

He is recognized as a conservative business man and
stands well with both his white and colored neighbors. His
work has been of the constructive sort and few of his
neighbors in his boyhood days would have been bold enough
to have predicted the successful business career to which
he has attained.


Edward Walter Smith

Dr. Edward Walter Smith, a successful young dentist
of Winston-Salem, is a native of Georgia, having been born
at Cuthbert in that State on October 20, 1884. His father,
Rev. R. V. Smith, was a minister of the A. M. E. church,
but died while the boy was still young. His mother's name
was Lula Smith. Although orphaned at an early age, Dr.
Smith had the advantage of being reared in the home of
his uncle, Rev. L. H. Smith, a Methodist minister of Macon.
Here he had not only the benefit of good home training,
but was also given the excellent opportunity for an educa-
tion afforded by the local schools and by the Ballard Nor-
mal at Macon. After leaving Macon he went to a private
school in New York.

At an early age he decided to take up dentistry as a
profession and matriculated in the dental department at
Howard University, at Washington, from which he was
graduated with the D. D. S. degree in 1910. While at How-
ard he spent his summer vacations in hotel work at the
North and in the Pullman service. The latter gave him a
fine opportunity to see every part of America and he found
this experience very valuable. He was an enthusiastic ten-
nis player while in college.

After his graduation he returned to Macon and prac-
ticed with Dr. Braswell of that city until the fall of 1910.
He then located at Winston-Salem, where he has since re-
sided and where he has steadily built up a good practice.

On June 13, 1914, he was married to Miss Willie Holt,
a daughter of Rev. K. C. Holt of Greensboro. Mrs. Smith
was educated at Scotia Seminary, Concord, and at Kittrell
College. They have one son, Edward Walter, Jr.

As would be expected, Dr. Smith is a member of the
A. M. E. Church, in which he is a steward and a trustee.
His secret order affiliations are with the Pythians and Ma-
sons. He is also identified with the State Medical and Den-



tal Association and is chairman of the executive committee
of that organization. He was at one time a Vice President
of the National Medical and Dental Association. He was a
member of the general conferences of his church which met
at Philadelphia, 1916, and St. Louis, 1920. He owns an
attractive home and other property at Winston-Salem and
takes an active part in the religious, social and business af-
fairs of the race in that city. He was one of the incorpo-
rators of the Citizens Bank & Trust Co. of Winston-Salem.

William Henry Bryant

Rev. William Henry Bryant, D. D., of Kinston, is a
product of the coast country of North Carolina, having
been born in Craven Co. on Nov. 2, 1879. The family moved
away from that part of the State, however, when he was
only seven years of age. His father, George Bryant, was a
farmer and his mother was Nancy Bryant. She was a
daughter of Louis L. Bryant.

When he came of school age, the subject of our b.'og-
raphy went to the local public school in Craven Co. Later,
under considerable difficulty, he attended the Roanoke Col-
legiate and Theological Institute from which he was gradu-
ated with the B. Th. degree in 1907. His religious experi-
ence dates back to the days of his boyhood. He gave his
heart to God at the early age of nine and had begun to
speak in public by the time he was twelve. He had the
misfortune to lose his mother when still young and his
father passed away a little later. Not only was he com-
pletely orphaned but he was also under the necessity of
making his own way in school. As far back as he can re-
member he was ambitious to make a man of himself.

As he grew toward maturity, he realized more and more
the beauty and dignity of service and was irresistibly
drawn toward the ministry. At the age of twenty-four he



was licensed and in 1905 was ordained to the full work of
the ministry by the Roanoke Baptist Association. He
taught school for three years at the McDaniel Normal
School at Kinston.

As a preacher he has had a fruitful ministry and has
added many new members to the churches he has served.
His first regular pastorate, after his ordination was the
Bell Street Baptist Church of Elizabeth City, which he
served one year. He went from there to Rich Square, where
in a single year his work was marked by an increase of
two hundred members. From Rich Square he went to the
First Church at James City, which he served for three
years. His next pastorate was at Plymouth, where he
preached for three years and added two hundred to the
membership. A splendid new house of worship was erected
while he was on the work at Plymouth. In 1912 he resigned
his work at Plymouth to accept the call of the First Bap-
tist Church at Kinston. Here, as at his other pastorates,
success has attended his efforts and at least four hundred
new members have been added to the church. He was for a
while head of the Deacon's Union of the Bear Creek Asso-
ciation. He has also served as a member of the Executive
Board of the Association and as Treasurer of the Sunday
School Convention. He received his degree of Doctor of
Divinity from Washington D. C, American School of Cor-
respondence, in 1912. He is a forceful and pleasing speaker
and a man of attractive personality. He has been unusually
successful in evangelistic work and is frequently called on
by his brethren to assist them in their revival work. Dur-
ing the World War he was a special Lecturer and took an
active part in all the drives.

On June 6, 1907, Dr. Bryant was united in marriage to
Miss Georgia M. Lawson, of Springfield, Mass. She was
educated at Wayland Seminary and is a woman of culture
and refinement. She is an accomplished teacher and was
before her marriage a teacher at the great Tuskegee School.
She enters heartily into the work of her husband and to-


gether they are exerting a powerful influence for good
among the people whom they serve. Mrs. Bryant conducts
a small private school at her home.

Nathaniel Edward Jackson

It has been said, ''Without earnestness no man is ever
great, or does really great things. He may be the cleverest
of men; he may be brilliant, entertaining, popular; but he
will want weight if he lacks earnestness in the pursuit of
his chosen line of work."

One of the earnest, successful physicians of eastern
North Carolina is Dr. Nathaniel Edward Jackson, of Laurin-
burg. He is a native of the old town of Carthage in Moore
Co., where he was born June 5, 1880. His parents were
Isaac and Fanny Jackson.

When he came of school age young Jackson entered
Dayton Academy and went from there to Hamilton Semi-
nary at Carthage. With the increase of knowledge came
a broadening of his outlook on life and a growth of his
ideals. He aspired to a college education but the way
was not easy. He managed, however, to enter the A. and
M. College at Greensboro, where he spent three years.
While here he decided to take up medicine. Notwithstand-
ing the fact that he was without means and under the neces-
sity of making his own way he went to it with enthusiasm
and a tenacity of purpose which has characterized his later
work. He went to Leonard Medical College and won his
M. D. degree in l c >07. His summer vacations were spent
at the north on the boats or at the hotels. In 1908 he
located at Laurinburg, where he has since resided and prac-
ticed. Not content with merely being admitted to the
practice, he has done considerable post graduate work, es-
pecially in obstetrics and surgery. He spent several months
in Philadelphia at the Lying-in Charity Hospital, and for
three years spent some time each year at the Freedmen's


Hospital, where he specialized in surgery. He has for sev-
eral years run a hospital in connection with his practice.

In Feb., 1909, Dr. Jackson ws married to Miss Jessie
Smitherman of High Point. She was educated at Bennett
College. They have three children: Annie M., Nathaniel
E., Jr., and Dennis F. Jackson.

As a student Dr. Jackson was popular and was an active
baseball player. He has traveled considerably and is a well
informed man along various lines. Next after the litera-
ture of his profession his favorite reading is along the line
of religious history. He is an active member of the M. E.
church, in which he is a trustee. He has for several years
been the Superintendent of his Sunday School. He belongs
to the Pythians and is identified with the State and Na-
tional Medical Societies. Dr. Jackson owns property at
Carthage, but his investments have been made at Laurin-
burg, where he owns an attractive home and other valuable

Henry Philbert Lankford

Success is not an accident. Rather, it comes as the
result of carefully though out, vigorously wrought out
plans. One of the progressive, forward looking young men
of the A. M. E. Zion Connection who with singleness of
purpose devotes all his time and talents to the work of the
ministry is Rev. Henry Philbert Lankford of Gastonia
(1919). He is a native of Virginia though the range of his
work has extended from Pennsylvania to Georgia. He was
born in Southampton Co., Va. on Oct. 5, 1884. His parents
were Allen G. and Laura A. Lankford. His paternal grand-
parents were Ned and Agnes Lankford and the maternal
grandparents were Alfred and Laura Freeman. Allen
Lankford was a man of education, having graduated from
Hampton Institute. So oar subject had the advantage of
exceptional home training. He laid the foundation of his



education in the Virginia public schools and went through
the ninth grade at Portsmouth. He then went to the St.
Paul School at Lawrenceville, Va., where he took his
mechanical course. Later he did his literary work at Eden-
ton, N. C, where he won his B. S. degree.

In 1907 he was converted and in just a little more than
two weeks was licensed to preach. He entered into the
work with characteristic zeal and wholeheartedness. In the
fall of the same year he joined the Virginia Conference
under Bishop J. W. Smith, and was assigned to the Roper
Circuit in N. C, which he served one year. He was then
transferred to the Philadelphia and Baltimore Conference
and pastored the church at Lincoln University, Pa., for
three years while pursuing special studies and theology in
that institution. He completed the course and won his
S. T. B. degree. His next appointment was at Media, Pa.,
where he preached one year and completed the house of
worship. While on this work he was married in 1912 to
Miss Helen V. Myers of Media. She passed away later the
same year.

Rev. Lankford was again transferred and sent to the
Western North Carolina Conference and stationed at the sec-
ond church, Salisbury, where he preached one year, when
another transfer took him to the South Georgia Conference
under appointment to Augusta. He remained in Augusta
three years and the work prospered under his hand. Both
a new house of worship and a parsonage were erected while
he was there. From Augusta he was sent back to the
Western N. C. Conference and stationed at the First Church,
Salisbury, for three years. The church was cleared of debt
under his administration and in 1917, he was sent to his
present work at Gastonia where a new parsonage has been
erected. Rev. Lankford has attended two general confer-
ences and was while in Georgia chairman of the Georgia
delegation. He belongs to the Masons. When in school
he was active in college athletics and played both baseball
and football. He has not been active in politics. His
favorite reading is History.


On June 4, 1913, he was married to Miss Annie J.
Sherrill of Landis, N. C. She was educated at Livingstone
College and taught in the public schools of Spencer before
her marriage. They have one child, Henry P. Lankford, Jr.

Assyria Dickerson Avery

A great man once said, "The spirit and tone of your
home will have great influence on your children. If it is>
what it ought to be, it will fasten convictions upon their
minds." This has been true in the home life of Thomas
and Elizabeth Avery of Burke Co., whose home, though
humble, was rich in good influences. Their sons have
made their mark in life. One of the boys, Rev. Assyria
Dickerson Avery, is a prominent minister of the A. M. E.
connection in N. C, now (1919) stationed at Raleigh. He
was born near Morganton on Feb. 11, 1886, and grew up-
on the farm in that beautiful hill country, and attended the
local public school. Later he went to Waters Academy and
then went to Kittrell College for his Normal and Theologi-
cal courses. From earliest boyhood he nurtured in his,
heart a feeling that he was to be a minister of the GospeL
At fourteen he gave his heart to God and by the time he
was seventeen was fully committed to the ministry as his.
life work. He was admitted, on trial, in 1904, and awarded
a scholarship ati Kittrell. On the completion of his course
in 1908 he joined, the Conference at Asheville under Bishop.
Coppin and went to his first regular appointment, the Mt.
Zion Mission at North Durham. Such was the quality of
his work that he was promoted from the mission directly to>
station work, where he was sent to the St. Matthews Station,
at Raleigh where he preached for three years. The church
property was greatly improved and the membership)
strengthened. His next appointment was Bethel Station at.
Charlotte, which he served four years. Here he found it
necessary to put a new roof on the house and reduced the
indebtedness of the church more than four thousand dollars..


In less than ten years he had made for himself a prominent
place in his denomination and commanded the best appoint-
ments in the connection. So from Charlotte he was sent
l>ack to the Capital City, and assigned to the St. Paul Sta-
tion where he is now (1919) entering upon his fourth year,
and where he has reduced a burdensome debt of thirteen
thousand dollars nearly half.

In his reading the Book of books, of course, has first
place. It is not strange that after that his next favorite is
History, for, as Kossuth says, "History is the revelation of

During the earlier years of his ministry Rev. Avery did
considerable evangelistic work, apart from his own pastor-

Among the secret and benevolent societies, he is identi-
fied with the Masons ,the Pythians and the Order of St.
I^uke. He is of the opinion that the great need of the race
is better education.

On June 10, 1913, he was 'united in matrimony to Miss
:Mamie Gregory of Wilmington, who was also educated at
Xittrell. Of the three children born to them two are liv-
ing. They are Lillian E. and Mamie G. Avery. Mr. Avery
"has recently purchased an attractive home at Raleigh.

John Adams Cotton

Rev. John Adams Cotton, B. S., A. B., D. D., for sixteen
years has had charge of the Presbyterian Church at Hen-
derson and for the same length of time has presided over
the Henderson Normal Institute. He was born just after
-the war, on July 13, 1865, at Manchester, Ky. His father,
Nelson Cotton, was a farmer and was the son of Jesse Cot-
ton and his wife, Annie Griffin Cotton. Jesse Cotton was
free-born and moved from Virginia to Kentucky about 1815.
Annie Griffin was one-fourth Indian. Dr. Cotton's mother,
More her marriage, was Miss Silphia Carroll, daughter of



David and Susie Carroll, of Tennessee. Dr. Cotton was
married in Oberlin, Ohio, August 16, 1900, to Miss Maud
Brooks, a daughter of Square and Blanche (Harris) Brooks.
They have one child, Carroll Blanche Cotton. Mrs. Cotton
was educated at Oberlin and is herself an accomplished

In working out his education, Dr. Cotton attended sev-
eral schools. He had no financial resources, nor where his
parents in position to assist in his education. So it came
to pass that the young man had to work at whatever offered
in order to pay his way through school. During these
years of struggle, he was prompted by a sincere desire to
help the race. He attended Berea College, Kentucky, for
four years, three years in the preparatory department and
one in college. He passed from Berea to Knoxville College,
from which he has the B. S. and the A. B. degrees. He
won the latter in 1893. He took his theological course,
leading to the B. D. degree in 1898, at Pittsburgh, Pa.
Later the National Training School at Durham, in resogni-
tion of his attainments and his work in North Carolina, con-
ferred on him the degree of D. D.

He came into the work of the church when about twen-'
ty-seven years old and was ordained to the ministry in 1898.
Coming out of college, he was called to Cleveland, Tenn.,
where he preached for four years. In fact, it may be said
that he created the colored Presbyterian work at Cleveland,
as there was no organization when he went there. After
four years he left a thriving church of fifty members and
in the meantime had built a school with an enrollment of
200. After this pastorate of four years at Cleveland he
was called to the work at Henderson, wliere he has since
resided and where the work has greatly prospered under
his administration. The enrollment of the Henderson In-

Online LibraryArthur Bunyan CaldwellHistory of the American Negro and his institutions; (Volume 4) → online text (page 27 of 48)