Arthur Bunyan Caldwell.

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

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has never yet failed to make good with any work entrusted
to him. When the Centenary movement was inaugurated,
his district led not only the North Carolina Conference, but
the whole Chattanooga area.

Dr. Cook has been signally honored by institutions, both
North and South, at least three having conferred on him
the D. D. degree. Among the secret orders he is identified
with the Masons, of which he is Grand Lecturer, and the
Odd Fellows of which he is Grand Chaplain. While pastor-
ing at Leakesville he taught in the graded school. His
property interests and investments are at High Point and
in Granville Co.

Zechariah Alexander

Among the enterprising business men of Charlotte, who
have not found it necessary to leave the home town in order
to succeed, is Zechariah Alexander, the popular Superin-
tendent of the Charlotte District for the North Carolina



Mutual Life Insurance Co. He is a native of Charlotte,
where he was born March 1, 1877. His father, Andrew
Alexander, was a shoemaker, and his mother, before her
marriage, was Miss Martha King. His paternal grandfa-
ther, Rev. Samuel Alexander, was a pioneer preacher of
the A. M. E. Zion Church in Mecklenburg Co. His mater-
nal grandfather, William King, was a trestle builder. In
the absence of written records, he knows little else of his

When he cams of school age, young Alexander attended
the Charlotte public schools. He was an apt student and
an energetic boy. When, however, he aspired to a college
education, the way was not easy. He was almost without
means and his parents were not financially able to see him
through school. He learned the barber trade and worked
at that, though wages were low and his earnings small.
He entered Biddle University and completed the Normal
Course in 1896.

On the outbreak of the Spanish- American war he en-
lsted and was Sergt.-Major. During the European War
he served as a member of the Registration Board for the
first and the last drafts under appointment by the Gov-

After finishing school and before enlisting in the army,
Mr. Alexander was bookke'ner for The W. H. Houser Brick
Co. Returning from the army, he resumed work with the
same concern, with which he rema'n'd as long as it was in
business. After that he ao;a'n took up his old trade of lath-
ing and contract work till attracted to the insurance field.

He has been engaged in insurance work since 1902.
That he has remained with the same company for so many
years and has been entrusted with the work of as important
a district as that of Charlotte speaks well for both his
character and his ability. The work has steadily grown
under his administration.

Mr. Alexander is an active member of the Friendship
Baptist Church, in which he is Cha'rman of the Trustee
Board and Asst. Supt. of the Sunday School. In politics,


he is a Republican and among the secret orders is identified
with the Masons, Mystic Shrine, Pythians and Eastern Star
in all of which he is prominent officially. He is Trustee of
the Colored Reform School Asso. of N. C. and Treasurer
of the Colored Auxiliary Associated Charities.

Mr. Alexander believes that real progress must be
based on tripartite education, that is, the education of the
head, the heart and the hand, and the proper use of the
ballot. He owns an attractive home in Charlotte.

On June 1, 1905, he was married to Miss Louise Bates
McCullough of Charlotte. She was educated at Scotia Semi-
nary. They have four children, Zechariah, Jr. ; Fred Doug-
las, Louie Franklin, and Kelly Miller Alexander.

William Bradshaw Sharp

In the quaint old town of Hertford, on the coast of
North Carolina, is a successful young physician who is
making a place for himself in that section of the State. Dr.
William Brawshaw Sharp was born in Hertford Co. on
April 3, 1878. His parents, who were plain country people,
were Simon and Anne Ward) Sharp. Simon Sharp was the
son of James and Celia Sharp. Dr. Sharp's mother was a
daughter of Sarah. The boy grew up on the farm in Hert-
ford Co. and went to the public school. Here he made good
progress and early aspired to a higher education. The State
Normal was then being conducted at the old town of Ply-
mouth, and he went there for his normal training, gradu-
ating in 1897. In the meantime he had begun teaching in
the rural schools of his home county and kept up this work
for several years, later teaching in both Martin and Hert-
ford Counties. When ready for his college course he matri-
culated at Leonard Medical College, where he won his M. D.
degree in 1901. Following that he did post-graduate work
at the Long Island Medical, Brooklyn, and in 1902 began
the practice in his home town of Harrellsville and remained


there for four years. In 1907 he located at Hertford, where
he has since resided. Here he has a splendid field. Two
years after coming to Hertford he established a drug store
which he has carried on successfully in connection with his

Dr. Sharp at one time considered locating in Arkansas
and passed the State Board there but after looking over
the field he decided that there was nothing better than his
native State, and so returned to North Carolina.

In politics he is a Republican though he has taken no
active part in party affairs beyond exercising the franchise.
He belongs to the Masons, Odd Fellows and Pythians, and
is a member of the Baptist church. He is a friend and
supporter of education and believes that the real progress of
the race depends on the right sort of training.

His investments and property interests are in and
around Hertford. He owns a comfortable home, several
houses and lots and a nice farm, and has found time to
carry on considerable farming in connection with all his
other work. His principal crops are corn, cotton and
peanuts. During the war he took an active part in all
the patriotic enterprises.

William George Avant

It is a far cry from the ancient days of bitter credal
differences to the present era of such tolerance of all de-
nominations that a certain latitudinarianism prevails. Yet
now and then we find that the informing spirit of religion
is as real a power as ever since it impels an individual who
has reached a point of deserved honor and leadership in one
church to abandon the ripening fruits of his reward, that he
may follow his conviction that he can serve God better in
another, although he may serve himself far less well, from
a semi-worldly standpoint, especially when the world itself
grants freely that no particular faith embraces all truths,



while in any sect which fears God and loves its fellow man
there is truth enough for light and leading.

In the story of Rev. William George Avant, D. D., two
forms of greatness are, illustrated. One, the greatness of
honest achievement. The other, the greatness of renounc-
ing. Where both these factors combine in one man we have
one who is, like Paul, capacitated to be an inspiration for all
time though he may not meet the hour of destiny at the
turning point which establishes epochs and brings undying

Dr. Avant was born at Wilmington, N. C., just after
the war on August 16, 1867, when the status of the race in
America was peculiarly chaotic. As his name implies, he
is partly of French descent, his grandfather having been
Capt. Charles Avant, a Frenchman who married a slave girl,
Polly Howe. His maternal grandparents were Jehu Poi-
sang, a slave owner and his slave, Nancy, who was a prin-
cess stolen from the Guinea tribe in Africa. His great
grandmother on the paternal side was an Indian. Dr.
Avant's parents were Charles Wesley and Sarah Julia
(Poisang) Avant. They had fourteen other children and
our subject was early under the necessity of lending his aid
toward the support of his large family and is self-made in
the sense that he worked his own way through school. The
influence of his mother and of the church were great factors
in the formation of fine character, but he did not have the
public and parental assistance that are now available in an
era of prosperity and good schools at every turn.

He first attended the public schools of Wilmington and
then did his preparatory work at the St. Augustine School,
Raleigh. This being a Protestant Episcopal Institution, and
the boy of religious turn of mind and great intellectual
promise, and having been called to the ministry at the age
of sixteen, it was logical for him to continue in the Epis-
copal faith and later to become one of the conspicuous or-
naments of its ministry. Dr. Avant did not study books
exclusively, but learned the several trades of carpentry,
printing and book-binding, thus equipping himself for an


earning capacity apart from the ministry. His earnings not
only made possible his higher education but his knowledge
was of great practical benefit in the building of five churches.

He attended Howard University, at Washington, D. C,
from which he was graduated in 1894, and the Payne Divin-
ity School, of Petersburg, Va., taking three years in Theol-
ogy. In recognition of his attainments, Livingstone Col-
lege, at Salisbury, conferred upon his the degree of D. D.

From his first ordination he was noted as a power in
the denomination, and after serving as Rector of the St.
Cyprian Episcopal Church at New Bern was made Arch-
deacon for the colored work in the Diocese of East Caro-
lina. On February 22, 1916, Dr. Avant severed his con-
nection with the Episcopal Church and took up the pastor-
ate of churches of the Christian denomination at New Bern
and Maysville. This important step was taken from a sense
that he was not in full harmony with the church of his
nearly years and the conscientious course was to unite with
and serve God through a church which more fully reflected
his own religious views.

Dr. Avant has always stood high in the fraternal or-
ders and having held important offices in the Masonic
Grand Lodge and its allied organizations, such as the Scot-
tish Rite, and Mystic Shriners ; Supreme Patron of the Or-
der of the Eastern Star of the State of North Carolina; the
Knights of Pythias and other organizations and is now Pres-
ident of the Eastern Atlantic Christian Conference, as well
as Dean of Franklinton Christian College, Franklinton, N. C.

He is a man of very wide travel, and is eminently fitted
to hold and increase his leadership in whatsoever field he
selects. In his reading, he inclines to the English and
American Classics. He is active and interested in all the
wholesome out-door games of which the young people are

He has also won considerable distinction as a teacher,
having been Principal of the graded schools in New Bern
and Morehead City. In politics he is a Republican, though
not participating in party activities. He believes that if a


man will be honest and a real Christian and do his full
duty as required by the Father's will, the progress of the
race will take care of itself.

On August 16, 1899, Dr. Avant was married to Miss
Jane Elizabeth Dudley, a daughter of the Hon. Edward R.
and Caroline Dudley. They have five children: William
Leonard, Frank Hughe.s, Thelma Jane, Edward Richard and
Jane Elizabeth Avant.

John Wilton Black

The large contribution made by the farms to the busi-
ness and professional life of the nation has frequently been
remarked by the historian and the biographer; so it is not
surprising when we come to record the story of Dr. John
Wilton Black, a successful dentist of Rocky Mount, to learn
that he was born and reared on the farm. He is a native
of the historic old county of Robeson, having been born at
Red Springs on May 21, 1887. His father, James Black,
was a good farmer of that county and is still living. He
married Miss Virginia Murphy, a daughter of Amy Murphy.
Dr. Black's paternal grandmother was Flora Black.

Young Black went first to the public schools of his na-
tive county and passed from there to the State Normal
for three years. From this school he went to the St. Augus-
tine School for his academic work and remained there
three years. He took his dental course at Meharry Den-
tal College, Nashville, winning his D. D. S. degree in 1914.
He was an industrious and capable youth and worked dur-
ing the school terms and at hotel work during vacations,
so that he was able to complete his dental course without a
break. As he looks back over his boyhood, he recognizes
the large influence which a former teacher, Professor H. M.
Williams exerted over him. It was he who inspired the boy
to go to the Normal at Fayetteville.

On completion of his course at Nashville, Dr. Black


practised for a short time in Cedartown, Ga., but located
at Rocky Mount in 1917. He maintains attractive dental
parlors near the heart of the city and has already built up a
successful pratice. He owns an elegant home on Atlantic

Dr. Black is a member of the State Dental Association,
the Interstate Dental Association, and is identified with the
Masons, Pythians and other local orders. In politics he is
a Republican. He is an active and prominent member of
the A. M. E. Church, of which he is a Steward and Superin-
tendent of the Sunday School.

On May 28, 1918, he was married to Miss Annie Fen-
nell of Kerr, N. C. She is a daughter of Mrs. Grace Fennell.
Mrs. Black was graduated from the St. Augustine School
and is an accomplished teacher.

During the world war Dr. Black was commissioned 1 si
Lieut, in the Dental Corps, U. S. A., went abroad and served
in France eleven months in a professional capacity. His
experience in the dental profession during the war adds
much to his knowledge and skill as a dentist. He was pro-
moted to captain in the Dental Reserve Corps and still holds
this commission.

Furman Lawrence Brodie

It is probably true that a majority of the men who
have had their own way to make at times sympathize with
themselves and in some cases occasionally persuade them-
selves that they have had more difficulties than any one
whomsoever. It would perhaps be well for such to have
the opportunity to read the simple biography of some man
who really has overcome mountains of difficulty. The rec-
ord of Rev. Furman Lawrence Brodie of Charlotte, N. C,
would be illuminating on that point.

Dr. Brodie was born at Aiken, S. C, Dec. 4, 1885, son
of Alfred and Margaret Corley Brodie. His parents were




slaves and his father was a farmer after the war. His pa-
ternal grandparents were Thomas and Violet Kitching
Brodie, and maternal grandparents were Harry Ginyard
and Leah Corley.

Young Brodie had literally no early advantages. He
learned the alphabet at the age of sixteen and learned to
read at night time by the aid of a pine knot fire. He never
entered a school room until he was past twenty-two, when
he became a scholar in the Onarga, 111., public schools, where
he went six years, paying all expenses by his own labor.

Having been converted and feeling called to the min-
istry he entered the Theological Department of Biddle Uni-
versity, from which he graduated in 1888, being then nearly
thirty-two years old.

How many men do we see with the moral courage to
spend so many years of their young manhood in qualifying
for their work? In this case we see that from the stand-
point of the work to be done no better investment of the
time could have been made.

His first charge was Davidson and Bethpage churches
in North Carolina where he served one year. Thence to Mt.
Zion Church, Due West, S. C, where he remained more than
eleven years and during which period he organized a church
at Honea Path, S. C. Called back to Davidson he served
that charge for twelve years. In 1912 he was called to Mor-
ganton, N. C, to take charge of church and school work.
He remained there for seven years during which time in
addition to local work he organized churches at Hickory
and Marion, N. C. He was then called to the Brooklyn Pres-
byterian Church of Charlotte, N. C, where he is meeting
with a large measure of success along all lines.

As some measure of appreciation of his work and at-
tainments Biddle University conferred on him the degree
of Doctor of Divinity.

A notable feature of Dr. Brodie's work has not only
been its constructive character but its wide scope. Every-
where he has been he has left his mark in the shape of new
churches outside of his own regular field. In addition to


that nearly everywhere he has combined teaching with his
ministerial work, sometimes in public schools, sometimes in
parochial schools of his own establishment. With all this
he has reared a fine family of eleven children, giving them
the advantages he lacked.

A thoughtful man having knowledge of his work said:
"He has done and is doing better work than I could have
done with such a start."

Dr. Brodie was married July 31, 1889 to Annie Sarah
Pierce, daughter of Rowan and Amy C. Pierce. Of the
twelve children born to them the following survive : Beulah
B., Alfred A., Furman L., Jr., Milledge T., George C., Ma-
mie P., Annie M., Francis F., Mytle A., William P., and
Helen E. Brodie.

Dr. Brodie says that the greatest factor in shaping his
life was the advice and counsel of two Christian women.
He has been a man of one work, divided into two depart-
ments вАФ preaching and teaching. He has the Presbyterian
quality of thoroughness and has been a devoted student of
the Bible and Henry's Commentaries. He is widely trav-
eled, having covered the entire United States. Is a Republi-
can in politics and fraternally a Mason.

"Christian Education" is his shibboleth as the best
means of promoting the welfare of his race and certainly
there could not be a better or more practical. He has
wrought well and strongly. "A workman that needeth not
be ashamed."

William Henry Bruce

Among the business and professional men of the race,
none rank higher in intelligence or efficiency than do physi-
cians. While it is true that many of them h?ve had to
make their own way in school and earn the money for their
professional training, they have, at the same time, had con-
siderable opportunity for travel and as a rule one will find


the physician to be a man of broad visions and unusual in-
formation. This is true of Dr. William Henry Bruce ,of

He is a native of Vance Co., where he was born August
5, 1882. His mother was Sarah Cooper Bruce.

Dr. Bruce was married on October 5, 1911, to Miss
Mabel V. Merrick, of Durham. She is a daughter of the
late John Merrick, a story of whose life and work appears
elsewhere in this volume. She was educated at Kittrell
College. Dr. and Mrs. Bruce have two children, Wm. H.,
Jr., and Hazel Merrick Bruce.

Growing up in Vance Co., Dr. Bruce attended the
local public school and later the Henderson Normal School
at Henderson. At an early age, he made up his mind to
enter the Medical profession, and, while the way was not
easy, he was not discouraged by the difficulties ahead of
him, but, with unshaken determination, entered Leonard
Medical College at Raleigh. He spent his vacations working
at the North and was thus able to complete his course with-
out a break, winning his M. D. degree in 1907. Soon after
his graduation, he located at Winston-Salem, where he has
since resided and where he his built up a most successful
practice. He maintains modern offices in his own building
on Church Street, equipped with the most up-to-date appli-
ances known to the profession. While still comparatively
a young man, he has steadily built a practice which fully
occupies his time and takes an active interest in all that
relates to his profession. He is identified with both the
State and National Medical Associations. Since his gradu-
ation he has spent one year in post-graduate work.

Dr. Bruce has had an opportunity to study conditions
and needs among his people at close range ; and believes that
the progress of the race depends upon the right sort of edu-

He is a member "of the M. E. Church, and belongs to
the Odd Fellows. He is a Republican in politics, but beyond
exercising the franchise takes little active interest in politi-


cal matters. While in College he was an enthusiastic foot-
ball player.

Although most of this time for reading is devoted to
professional books, he considers that a part of his practice
and confines it to office hours. His favorite home reading
consists of History and Current Literature.

Dr. Bruce has handled his investments wisely and owns
attractive residence and business property at Winston-
Salem. He is an active figure in the professional and busi-
ness life of the city and takes a leading part in the move-
ments for the uplift of the race.

Oscar Sidney Bulloch

Every profession and every line of business has been
invaded by the farmer boys. This has been good not only
for the farmer boys but for the fields they have entered
as well. They have brought to their work faith, courage,
high ideals and a willingness to "pull their part" in every
worthy undertaking. The ministry is indebted to the farm
for some of its brightest lights and most forceful leaders.
Among the men of this type in North Carolina whose suc-
cessful career, both as educator and clergyman, has been
characterized by freshness, vigor and enthusiasm, is Rev.
Oscar Sidney Bullock, A. B., A. M., S. T. B., D. D., of High
Point. Dr. Bullock was born on his father's farm in Vance
Co., where he lived till he was twenty-two years of age.
His father, Horace Bullock, is still living (1920). His
mother, who, before her marriage, was Miss Emily Jones,
passed away when her son was only five years of age. For-
tunately for young Bullock, he was brought up in an atmos-
phere conducive to high ideals. He was converted before
he was twelve and the Baptist Church with which he was
identified had in its membership a number of teachers. He
had entered the local public schools when of age, but after
he was thirteen he did not go to school again until he was



twenty. He then entered the Normal School at Henderson,
where his progress was rapid. He taught one short term
school before completing his work at Henderson. He passed
from there to Lincoln University from which he was gradu-
ated with the A. B. degree in 1903. While at Henderson,
he had felt called to preach and had consecrated his life to
that work. So on completion of his college course he took
up Theology. In 1906 he completed the course and won
the S. T. B. degree. Later Lincoln University conferred
on him the degree of A. M. and later still that of D. D. He
worked his own way from start to finish without a cent's
assistance from any one. While at Lincoln most of his va-
cations were spent in hotel work at Atlantic City. During
his last vacation he was called to do supply work at the
Frendship Baptist Church at Charlotte and was by that
church ordained to the full work of the ministry.

After graduation, he located at High Point having ac-
cepted the call of the First Baptist Church of that progres-
sive little city. The church has had the most marked
growth and development of its history under his leadership.
A modern brick house of worship has been erected on East
Washington Street and the membership greatly strength-
ened. Along with his ministerial work Dr. Bullock has
also made a name for himself as a teacher. He has the
chair of mathematics at the High Point Industrial Institute,
with which he has been identified since 1906.

Dr. Bullock has an interesting family. On June 11,
1907, he was happily married to Miss Mehalah C. Morris of
Richmond, Va. She is a daughter of Berkley and Cornelia
Morris and was educated at Petersburg. They have two
children: Nancy Elizabeth Astor and Oscar Sidney Bullock,
Jr. The little girl is especially talented as a musician, hav-
ing given a public concert at six years of age.

Dr. Bullock is a man of good business ability. He has
an attractive home near his church besides other valuable
property at High Point. For twelve years he has been
Secretary of the N. C. State Convention and is a prominent
figure in the annual meetings of that body, being a member


of the Executive Board. Among the secret orders he is

Online LibraryArthur Bunyan CaldwellHistory of the American Negro and his institutions; (Volume 4) → online text (page 38 of 48)