Arthur Bunyan Caldwell.

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

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ple are beginning to use it as a medium through which the
North and South may come to some agreement as to the
best and wisest policy to promote pair play for the earnest,
self-respecting Negroes of our State."

Principal Charlotte Hawkins Brown, of Palmer Insti-
tute, has raised through her more immediate friends the
sum of $10,000 for the building fund, although as a matter
of fact, consideration given to the school, b3th in the North
and here in Greensboro, is largely based on the work and
personality of the principal, a woman of marked superiority,
whose long and patient and arduous labors have been fruit-
ful of impressive results."

In less than twenty years the Palmer Memorial Insti-
tute, of which she is principal and founder, has taken high
rank among the institutions of the South and Mrs. Brown
has become a national character. She is an easy talker and
is frequently sought to aid movements of state and national
interest. She is president of the Federation of Colored
Women's Clubs in the State of North Carolina and has been
an officer for a number of years of the National Association
of Colored Women's Clubs. She bears the distinction of be-
ing perhaps the only Negro woman in the South who has


been able to reach the heart of the Southerner and wrench
from his pockets ten or more thousand dollars for Negro
education. She has been invited into the white women's
club rooms, inta the schools and churches to take her mes-
sage from the school and for the uplift of the womanhood
of her race.

Aside from her school work, she has been largely
responsible for the great movement launched in North Caro-
lina to save the delinquent colored youth of the state, to-
wards which North Carolina's famous Governor Bickett
has so generously given his approval. She numbers among
her friends, president? of the leading universities of the
North, and is spoken of by Dr. Ghas. Eliot of Harvard fame,
as having done the nost constructive piece of work in that
she has brought together for the common good of the Ne-
groes of her section the leading white psople of that section
with the leading educators and financiers of the North. It
is no common thing for a Negro woman to be able to hold a
conference in Boston to which four bankers and merchants
of a Southern State would find their way in support of her

From a barren field of brush and straw there has
sprung up buildings in wood and brick to the value of
$150,000 or more and Sedal ; a, N. C, now known and recog-
nized as a rural center, is the work of Mrs. Brown. Her
choice of workers during the years of service, the result of
which has created what is known as "the Sedalia spirit,"
has been due largely to her keen insight into the character
of others. The faithfulness of these co-workers, the love
to a point of worship of the farming people in the neighbor-
hood, are all but a tribute to the ''faith in action" as demon-
strated in the life of Mrs. Brown.

One feels that the day of miracles is not past when she
repeats incident after incident of the remarkable answers to
prayers that have created the Palmer Memorial Institute.
It is refreshing in these times of skepticism and atheism
to find a well educated, refined man or woman of either race
claiming personal friendship with God.


The institution has furnished many teachers for the
rural schools. It has made it possible for its patrons to
have homes near the school. Its present enrollment is over
two hundred fifty students, half of whom are boarders,
with a corps of thirteen workers from the best schools
north and south.

Sedalia is a little rural village ten miles east of Greens-
boro, N. C., in which city Mrs. Brown has the profound
respect of the leading people of both races. To quote a
banker, this expression carries great weight: "Mrs.
Brown's name on a piece of paper can be cashed for any
amount of money in Greensboro." This is all the more
remarkable when one realizes that instead of accumulating
for herself she has made untold sacrifices to build the in-
stitution. It is confidence in her judgment and business
ability to carry out any project that makes merchants or
financiers her backers in any movement. It is interesting
to hear her tell how she has made friends of the Southern-
ers who looked upon the Boston product twenty years ago
as an exponent of social equality and race amalgamation.

The motto of her life has been, "Attempt great things
for God and expect great things from God;" and for this
she has been amply rewarded.

John Daniel Cowan

It is a far cry from a cotton patch in Due West, South
Carolina, to the Presiding Eldership of a great denomination
like the A. M. E. Church, with which Rev. John Daniel
Cowan, of Asheville, is identified.

The story of his life is full of human interest and, in a
way, typical of the progress of the race since emancipation.

He was born at Due West, S. C, July 13, 1873. His
father, Jesse Cowan, was a blacksmith and a farmer. He
worked hard, stood well in the community, and the son re-
members him as a man of sterling Christian character,



whose example and whose teachings started the boy in the
right direction. Jesse Cowan was a son of Daniel and Ada-
Jine Wright. The mother of our subject was Miss Maria R.
Sitton, before her marriage to Jesse Cowan. She was a
daughter of Myrinda Sitton. She was a woman of the
highest Christian character and exerted a most helpful
and powerful influence on the life of her son. Hers was an
exemplary life, of which the son today is justly proud.

There has for years been a Presbyterian parochial
school at Due West which, in a quiet way, has done splen-
did work in that immediate section. Rev. Dr. A. G. Davis
and the Rev. Dr. F. L. Brodie were his teachers in this
school. To this young Cowan went as a boy and passed
from there to Biddle University where he studied for two
years, 1893-1895. After his work at Biddle, he pursued a
private course in night school covering a period of four
years. It will thus be seen that he was preparing himself
for the serious work in life.

He was converted and joined the church when about
fifteen years of age and joined the Conference at Raleigh
in 1903 under Bishop B. F. Lee. He was ordained deacon
at Morganton, 1904, ordained elder at Winston-Salem, 1906,
by Wishop W. J. Gaines. Beginning with the smallest mis-
sion in the Western North Carolina Conference he has, by
faithfulness, loyalty and hard word risen steadily through
circuits and stations to the Presiding Eldership of the Mor-
ganton District, to which he was appointed in 1920.

His first pastorate was the Statesville Mission, one
year. After that he served the following charges: Mt.
Airy four years, Lenoir two years, Pittsboro three years,
Winston-Salem three years, Asheville four years. His re-
turn being desired at each place served.

Though frequently offered other honors, Dr. Cowan has
steadily declined them and has gone steadily ahead with
his work, preferring for the record to stand for itself.

He belongs to the Odd Fellows, the Pythians and the
St. Luke's. He believes that the best interests of the race
are to be promoted by proper teaching in the home, the


school and the church, by intelligent exercise of the fran-
chise and by the practical application of democracy.

Dr Cowan has attended two General Conferences.

In the summer of 1904, he was married to Miss Lelia E.
Rankin, a daughter of Alex and Pricilla Rankin Ifa.
Cowan was educated at Scotia Seminary and graduated in
1896 They have five children, Waldo E., David Vernon,
Horace B. J., Gladys M. and John Daniel, Jr.

Leavey James Melton

The Rev Leavey James Melton, who has for a number
of years been identified with the Presbyterian work of North
Carolina, is a native of the sister State of South Carolina,
having been born at Mechanicsville, S. C, on Christmas day,

His father, Manson Melton, was a farmer and our sub-
ject grew up on the farm and after coming of school age,
divided his time between the farm and the short term
schools of that day. His grandfather was Robert Melton.
The mother of our subject was, before her marriage, Miss
Eliza Jenkins. She was a daughter of John and Amy

Dr. Melton was married July 13, 1893, to Miss Rebecca
Cantey, a daughter of Fusler and Chaney Cantey of Char-
lotte N C. There are four living children by this mar-
riage They are Marian C, Hallie Q., Ona B., and Robert J.
Melton. The mother of these children passed away and
subsequently Dr. Melton married Miss Bessie Cathey. They
have four children: Blar.che L„ Aldrich P., Ruby and Olb.e
J. Melton.

At an early age Mr. Melton was led to consecrate his
life to the work of the Gospel ministry. With the purpose
of equipping himself for that important work he matricu-
lated at Biddle University from which he was graduated



with the B. D. degree in 1891. Since that time the same
institution has conferred on him the D. D. degree.

Dr Melton began his ministerial career at Wilson,
N C where he preached for seven years. After resigning
that work he went to McClintock and Mt. Olive. He is now
serving Cedar Grove and Matthews, where he has preached
for ten years. He is regarded as one of the strong men of
his church. He has traveled considerably in this country
and is well informed. Next after the Bible his favorite
reading includes the English Classics and American poets.

Among the secret orders he is identified with the Ma-
sons the Odd Fellows and the Pythians. He has attended
two general assemblies if his church. In politics he is a

Thomas Settles Marsh

The self-sacrifice the splendid enthusiasm, and the
personal devotion of many of the men who have consecrated
their lives to the Gospel ministry are worthy of imitation.
Not a few of them are men of such capacity, had they
turned their attention to business pursuits, their success
would have been assured. Among the successful young
men of the A. M. E. connection in North Carolina must be
mentioned Rev. Thomas Settles Marsh now (1919) stationed
at New Bern. Mr. Marsh was born in Grace Creek Town-
ship, Cumberland Co. on July 8, 1876. H : s father, William
Marsh, was a farmer and was the son of Rachel Marsh and
William Winsor Mr. Marsh's mother was before her mar-
riage, Miss Rosa A. Kirk, who was a daughter of Isabella
Kirk and Richmond Gri

Rev. Marsh went to the Kenley graded school as a boy
and later did his Theological work thr<
ence course. He w; led when

of age. Even before that he had frit that his work in life
must be that of the ministry. So it



after giving his heart to God he naturally turned his mind
to the work of preaching the Gospel. In 1906 he joined the
Conference at Wilmington under the late Bishop W. J.
Gaines. His first pastorate was a mission at Wilson, He
was successful from the beginning. While at Wilson he
built two churches and remodeled another. From Wilson
he went to Whiteville Circuit, where he preached for two
years and repaired three churches. His next appointment
was the Burgaw Circuit which he served for three years.
Here he built one church and remodeled two others. He
was then promoted to Station work and assigned to the
Eue Chapel Station in the historic old town of New Bern,
where he is now entering upon his fourth year.

Looking back over the years of his boyhood and youth
he feels that the greatest influences for good in his life
have beeri the church and Sunday School. He also owes
"much to personal contact with good men and, of course, to
his own studies. In his reading he gives first place to the
Bible. He believes that the acceptance and following of
•Jesus Christ would solve all our problems racial and oth-

In 1898 he was married to Miss Katie J. George, a
daughter of Frank and Catherine George. Oi the seven
children born to them the following are living: William H.,
Katie R., Naomi L., and Thomas S. Marsh, Jr.

Lovelace Brown Capehart

Dr. Lovelace Brown Capehart, A. B.. A. M., LL.B..
M. D., is a man of marked ability and real worth. He was
"born in Bertie Co, N. C, Sept. 28, 1863. His father was
•one of the most substantial white citizens of that section,
and his mother's name was Penelope Capehart. His ances-
tors on his father's side were French settlers in Louisiana
:and the ancestors of his mother's side were slaves.

Dr. Capehart was reared in the midst of adverse cir-



cumstances and had much to overcome to get a start in
life. He had no one to help him but his mother and no
one to advise him how to secure an education. But in some
way or other he managed to get a start sufficient to permit
him to enter the State Normal School at Elizabeth City.
From the beginning he showed himself possessed of a high
order of intellect, and his progress was rapid in his studies.
He afterward entered Shaw University about 1884, and re-
mained there through much effort until he was finally grad-
uated not only from the College Department, but until he
had also finished the course in the Law Department at the
same institution. He then accepted a position as an instruc-
tor in his Alma Mater, becoming professor of English,
which position he held successfully for eight years, after
which he resigned to accept a similar position in the Jackson
Baptist College, at Jackson, Miss. He remained in the far
South for several years and gathered valuable experience
which greatly helped him in his after life. He then re-
signed and return to Raleigh where he took up the study of
medicine at Leonard Medical College, and began the practice
•of medicine in Raleigh in 1907 and has continued there since.

Dr. Capehart was married to Miss Maggie Lillian Love
at Raleigh on March 3, 1893, and to this happy union have
been born six children, five of whom survive. The oldest
son, Henry Martin Tupper Capehart, died in infancy. The
second son, Lieut. Lovelace B. Capehart, Jr., served in the
Army in France. He is now married and engaged in Y.
M. C. A. work. The third child is a daughter, Miss Myrtle
Lillian, an accomplished young lady of engaging personality
and pleasing manners. The fourth child, Edwin L. Cape-
hait, served in the Navy during the World War.

Dr. Capehart's idea of the best solution of the problems
of the race is that the Negro should receive the full protec-
tion of the law as every other citizen, and be allowed to
work out his own destiny. He has full confidence in the
ability of his race to make good if given the proper chance:
One thing is certain, and that is if the race had only a few
"thousand men of the character and worth of Dr. Capehart


we should soon have no race problem on our hands. He
claims that he owes his success in life to his having been
reared at his mother's fireside out in the country away from
the allurements of city life as well as his being influenced
by the lives of distinguished persons that he early learned
to emulate, and most of all to the study and acquaintance
with the Bible. He is a member of the Baptist church.
In politics he is a Republican, but has never held nor sought
any political office. He is a member of the Pythians and
other organizations and is always regarded as a safe and
worthy leader.

Hammond Glasgow Pope

At the historic old town of Fayetteville, today, is an
enterprising young Baptist preacher who is bringing things
to pass. He is a native North Carolinian, and was born
at Wake Forest, May 2, 1886. His name is Hammond Glas-
gow Pope, and his father was Henry Pope, a farmer. The
boy himself grew up on the farm and was accustomed to
do all sorts of farm work before going to college. His pa-
ternal grandfather was Emanuel Pope. His mother, before
her marriage, was Carolina Hockaday, a daughter of Mingo
and Adaline Hockaday.

Young Peope went to the public school at Wake Forest
and passed from there to that justly celebrated institution,,
the National Training School, at Durham. Here he carried
on both his classical nd his theological training at the same
time. He had grown to manhood and was twenty-four
years of age before he was converted and joined the church.
Almost simultaneously with his conversion came the call
to the ministry. He was licensed to preach by the Olive
Branch Baptist church at Wake Forest and in 1914 was or-
dained to the full work of the ministry.

His first pastoral work was the Ebenezer Baptist
church of East Durham, where he preached for three and a



half years. He cleared the church of debt and before leav-
ing bought land and left $500.00 in the treasury to begin
the new building. He went from there to Mount Bright,
Hillsboro, where he preached for two and a half years. By
this time, the character of his work had become recognized
in the denomination, and in 1919 he was called to the First
Baptist church at Fayetteville which, under his leadership,
has taken on new life. He has given considerable attention
to evangelistic work and has before him a future bright
with promise.

On November 2, 1913, he was united in the bonds of
matrimony to Miss Eleanor Hawkins, a daughter of Henry
and Elizabeth Hawkins, of Franklinton. Mrs. Pope is an
accomplished woman, who enters heartily into the plans of
her husband. Of the four children born to them, three
girls and one boy, two have passed away, leaving them two
girls: Elizabeth G. and Ruby C. Pope.

Rev. Pope has found his chief inspiration in religion,
and in the lives of great men and women. In his reading
he gives first place to the Bible, but he is also a careful
student of history and gains help and good influence from
biography. He also likes to keep up with current magazines
and periodicals. He belongs to the Masons and Pythians.

Jacob Robert Nelson

The visitor to Asheville is impressed with one of the
splendid modern church buildings near the center of the
city ; and, on enquiry, finds that it is the Mount Zion Baptist
church, or perhaps he will more frequently be told that it is
"Dr. Nelson's church." The story of the development of
the work at Mt. Zion and the growth and progress of its
splendid pastor should be told wherever the race is strug-
gling to do a piece of constructive work. It is simply an-
other case of a man trusting God and doing the impossible.
Beginning with a congregation of five folks, in a little to-


bacco barn, the work has grown to magnificent proportions,
so that the congregation now numbers more than 2,000 mem-
bers and the structure, when completed, will represent a
value of at least $75,000.00. This is the tangible part of the
work, the part that can be seen and handled. The best part
of this fruitful pastorate of twenty-five years cannot be
measured in numbers, nor told in figures. The burdens that
have been lifted, the hearts that have been comforted, the
souls that have been saved is the best part of the record, and
is not recorded on earth.

Rev. Jacob Robert Nelson, the pastor of this church,
is a native of Tennessee, having been born at Beaver Creek
in Knox Co,, August 2, 1867. His father, Carrick Nelson,
was a Methodist preacher and the son was brought up in
the Methodist church and fter his conversion, joined that
denomination. His mother, before her marriage, was Miss
Amanda McComb, a daughter of Solomon and Maria Mc-

Young Nelson attended the local public schools and
later went to the Normal Institute at Maysville, Tenn., from
which he was graduated in 1884. He learned the blacksmith
trade and was a good blacksmith. He was also a fireman
on the railroad for some time, but could not get away from
the idea that he ought to preach the Gospel. Accordingly,
he was licensed to preach in 1895 and preached for some
time before his ordination. He had been called to the Mt.
Zion church at Asheville, and when he came to his first
service on that pastorate he found five persons assembled
in the little tobacco barn near the present site of the church.
Under his leadership they soon outgrew these quarters and
moved to a neighboring carpenter shop. This was also soon
overflowing and it was necessary to build a house of wor-
ship, which was done at an expense of about $6,000. With
fidelity and courage the young pastor went about his work,
while the congregation grew by leaps and bounds. The
church, at the time it was built, was thought to be commo-
dious enough for years, but it was soon overflowing and it
was seen that a new and modern house of worship was de-


manded. Accordingly, the plans were made, and now
(1920) a splendid brick edtfice with a large seating capacity
is nearing completion on Eagle Street.

Dr. Nelson finds that his great congregation occupies
all his time and energy. He used to give considerable
attention to evangelistic work outside of his own church,
but has not been able to do this in recent years. He was
for a number of years Moderator of the French Broad Bap-
tist Association and at one time president of the State Bap-
tist Convention. There is no man of his denomination in
Western North Carolina who is more prominent in the work
than is Dr. Nelson of the Mt. Zion Baptist church of Ashe-

On December 28, 1885, he was married to Miss Mary
Griffith, of Tennessee. She bore him seven children, three
of whom are living. They are John J., Dedrick and Lois
Nelson. On June 9 1894, Mrs. Nelson passed to her reward.
Subsequently, Dr. Nelson was married to Miss Hannah
Mitchell, then of Washington, D. C, but a native of North

Dr. Nelson's secret order affiliations are with the Ma-
sons. He has collected a good working library and knows
how to use his books. Next after the Bible, his favorite
reading consists of biography and history. In the early
part of his pastorate at Asheville, he ran a parochial school
there for five years and is still of the opinion that the prog-
ress of the race depends more upon Christian education than
anything else. He has property interests at Asheville and

Charles Loftin Walton Smith

In the professions and in business circles there is com-
ing to the front a class of young men who are destined to
make a large part for themselves in the race, and who today
stand as the best exponents of race progress and race cul-



ture. Among these must be mentioned Prof. Charles
Loftin Walton Smith of Smithfield who, after years of
faithful service as an educator, organized and incorporated
in his home town, the North Carolina Investment Com-
pany with an authorized capital of twenty-five thousand

Mr. Smith was born at Smithfield on July 8, 1883. His
father, A. W. Smith, is one of the most successful business
men of his race in that part of the State. His mother's
name was Mary Smith. The mother of our subject was
before her marriage to A. W. Smith, Miss Lina W. Thomas,
a daughter of John and Amanda Thomas.

Mr. Smith was married on April 3, 1902, to Miss Ella
M. Mason, a native of Halifax Co. Mrs. Smith was educated
at Shaw University and is herself an accomplished teacher.
They have a family of four attractive children. Their
names are Edith Mable, Lina May, A. Whitted, and Carlisle
W. Smith.

As a boy young Smith attended the local public school
and made a good record as a student. When ready for col-
lege, he matriculated at Shaw University, where he spent
three years in college work, winning the A. B. degree. Even
before completing his college course, he began teaching.
His first work was in his home county in the rural schools.
Some estimate of the character of his work as a teacher
may be formed from the fact that he was for seven years
supervisor of the colored schools of Johnston Co. Prof.
Smith passed the Civil Service Board and spent the years
of 1907 and 1908 in the government service in the Pensa-
cola Navy Yard, Florida, as a bookkeeper. He was also at
the Norfolk Navy Yard for one year, resigning here and
returning home, where he was placed at the head of the
Smithfield graded school until Sept., 1909, when he was
made supervisor. This was excellent preparation for the
business career on which he is now entering. In January,
1919, he organized the North Carolina Investment Company

Online LibraryArthur Bunyan CaldwellHistory of the American Negro and his institutions; (Volume 4) → online text (page 36 of 48)