Arthur Bunyan Caldwell.

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

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from pastor of the local church to president of the State
Convention, has been preaching the Gospel for more than
thirty years. During that time he has with singleness of
heart devoted himself to the religious and educational lead-
ership of the people and has sought to train them mentally
and spiritually along right lines. Mr. Martin is a native
of Stokes Co., where he was born on March 25, 1853. Thus
it will be seen he was a boy twelve years of age at the end
of the war. He remembers distinctly many of the incidents
of that great struggle which brought emancipation to him
and to his people. His father's name was Baker Martin,
and was the son of Crecy Martin; his mother's name was
Leah Davis. Growing up in the country and working as a
farm hand during the hard years immediately following
the war, young Martin had but little opportunity for school-
ing until after he was married. In fact he was married
and had one child before he started to the country school
in Stokes Co.



He was married on Christmas day, 1875, to Miss Maria
Hilton, of Virginia. She bore him four children, two of
whom survive. They are Leah R. (Mrs. Poindexter) and
Sarah L. (Mrs. Bidding). About ten years after their
marriage Mrs. Martin passed to her eternal reward. Three
years later he married Miss Mary Black of Winston-Salem.

In the year of 1886, Mr. Martin was converted and at
once affiliated with the Primitive Baptist church in which
he was later to become such a prominent figure. Almost
immediately he felt called to preach the Gospel and began
preaching in April, 1887. In 1889 he was ordained to the
full work of the ministry by the Pleasant Union Baptist
church, with which he has long been identified. After mov-
ing to Winston-Salem he continued to attend school. He
finally entered the Slater Normal School, from which he
was graduated at the head of his class when he was forty-
nine years of age. He built and pastored the church at
Ridgeway. He also built the church at Winston-Salem
where the school is now conducted. He served the Dry Hol-
low church at Walnut Cove for five years. He also preached
at Leakesville for four years and built a new church there.
His standing in the denomination may be judged from the
fact that for five years he has been moderator of the Sandy
Ridge District Association.

Mr. Martin realized the importance of education and
taught for several terms in the public schools. Desiring
to give more particular attention to Bible study than was
possible in the public school, he established an associational
school at Cay Fork which ran two years. Lacking support
and co-operation there, the work was transferred to Win-
ston-Salem, where it has been maintained for eleven years
in connection with Mr. Martin's church work. It is known
as the Pleasant Union Primitive Baptist Bible Training
School. In addition to the many boys and girls trained
in the school for the ordinary duties of life several minis-
ters of the Gospel have been turned out by the school. Not
only has Mr. Martin had to carry on his work without proper
co-operation, but at times there has been open opposition.


He is identified with the official boards of the Primitive
Baptist church and is president of the North Carolina State
convention. For a number of years he was a merchant, but
recently has devoted his whole time to his church and
school. He owns fifty acres of farm land, as well as real
estate at Winston-Salem. Though getting a late start in
life, Mr. Martin has made for himself a record of progress
of which neither he nor the race need be ashamed.

John Payton Morris

Born in slavery and reared in poverty on the farm,
Rev. John Payton Morris, A. B., B. D., D. D., of Greensboro,
has nevertheless made his life count in the religious and
educational life of his people. He was born in Caswell Co.
on Jan. 23, 1861, just a few weeks before the outbreak of
the war which was to bring emancipation to him and to
his people. His parents were Payton and Esther Morris.
His grandmother was Celia Windsor and his grandfather,
James Williamson.

Young Morris grew up on the Caswell Co. farm and
went to the country public school after the war. The fam-
ily had soon after the war come into possession of a home
and fifty acres of land. The father of our subject built on
this place a log school house, the first in Caswell Co. for
colored people. The father had plans for the education of
his son, but passed away when the boy was only fourteen
years of age. It was necessary for him to support his
mother and two sisters and then to make his own way in
school. He entered Bennett College and completed the
course there in 1886. The following year he won his A. B.
degree at Clark University and in 1889 completed the theo-
logical course at Gammon Theological Seminary with the
degree of B. D. He had been converted when about twenty
years of age and called to the ministry about two years
later. In 1888 he joined the conference at Lenoir. After


his graduation in 1889, he was appointed to Bennett Col-
lege and assigned to the chair of mathematics and Greek.
Nearly half a hundred preachers passed through his de-
partment while he was at Bennett. Such was the charac-
ter of his work in the institution that he was retained until
1911. In recognition of his work and of his attainments
Clark University conferred on him the A. M. degree and
New Orleans University the degree of D. D.

In 1911 Dr. Morris, after nearly a quarter of a century
in the school room, entered upon the work of the pastorate
and was sent to the Berry Temple Station at Asheville,
where he remained for two years. From Asheville he went
to Laurinburg for two years after which he was promoted
to the superintendency. He has presided over the Greens-
boro district for six years.

Dr. Morris was a delegate to the Minneapolis General
Conference in 1912. He has been statistical secretary of
the annual conference for sixteen years and has also served
the same as secretary. He was a leader in the various war
drives. He believes that two things are involved in the per-
manent progress of the race. One is intellectual and spirit-
ual and has to do with Christian education; the other is
economic and has to do with property. His own invest-
ments are in and around Greensboro.

On Sept. 15, 1889, Dr. Morris was married to Miss Mary
E Waugh, of Winston-Salem. She too was educated at
Bennett College and was, before her marriage, a teacher.
They have eight children: Rev. Robt. G., who was a chaplain
in the army ; Lucy L. (Mrs. Tillman) , Agnes P. (Mrs. White-
man), J. P., Jr., Elsie G., Mary E., Esther and Frank B.

William Sutton

Dr. William Sutton, the founder and President of the
Eastern North Carolina Industrial Academy at New Bern,
has to his credit a succession of billiant achievements in
business, educational and religious life, which would be hard
to account for if we did not have some account of his re-
markable ancestry. There flows in his veins the blood of
royal African forefathers, while on the mother's side he
inherits a strain of Waccamaw Indian blood, which may ac-
count for the tenacity with which he holds on to the land
of which he has possessed himself during the years.

He was born in Bladen Co. on Sept. 15, 1858. His fa-
ther, Bachus Sutton, was a son of Thomas and Patty Sutton.
An early ancestor was educated in Europe and was of the
royal line in Sudan. He taught fter having been brought,
to America. Dr. Sutton's mother was, before her mar-
riage Miss Anna Maria Swindell, and was a daughter of
Isaac and Tyra Swindell.

The subject of this sketch was married on Jan. 1, 1873,
to Miss Harriet A. McCoy of Bladen Co. The names of
their living children' are Mary J., Anna M., Callie L., Alice
M., William E., Joseph P., Thomas D., Archie H., and Hat-
tie E. Sutton.

When the Freemen's Bureau opened schools in the
South immediately after the war, young Sutton laid the:
foundation of his education in those schools and later went'
to the academy at the historic old town of Elizabethtown for
four years. His progress was rapid and steady. Almost
from boyhood it was necessary for him to rely on his own
resources. He has done much private study and most of
his college work has been done under private teachers and
by means of correspondence courses. In this way he man-
aged to secure a liberal education, though it required years.
to do it. As a young man he worked on the farm and for


a while turned his hand to merchandising, but these were
used as a meaning of enabling him to fit himself for the
larger work he had set out to do. He was a mature man
of twenty-five before he came into the active work of the
church. Soon after that he consecrated his life to the min-
istry and joined the conference at New Bern under Bishop
Lomax in 1884. His early ambition was to become a teacher
and an orator, both of which he has accomplished and more,
for he has become a leader among his people in more than
one line and is in demand as a public speaker. In his
ministry he rose rapidly from circuit work to the district
and his work in every capacity has been vigorous and con-
structive. His first appointment was the Evergreen Cir-
cuit, which he served three years, built two churches, re-
paired two and added four hundred new members. He
taught school at the same time. He then went to Hender-
son, where he remained for six years, and while there was
principal of the city graded school. Here also he erected
two houses of worship, one in the city and one in the coun-
try and added five hundred new members. He went from
there to Hookerton, built one church, organized another and
added eighty members. From Hookerton he went to the
Goldsboro Station, where he raised six thousand dollars and
built the brick church to the eaves. He was then promoted
to the district and presided over the Goldsboro district
for two years. After that he had the New Bern district
ten years, the Wilmington district one year and was again
returned to the New Bern district.

Seeing the need of better educational facilities in the
eastern end of the State, he founded the Eastern N. C. Ind.
School in 1903 and has seen it grow — no, has made it grow
from its small beginnings to its present splendid propor-
tions with a faculty of seven, an enrollment of five hundred
and a plant worth at least fifteen thousand dollars.

Dr. Sutton is a prominent figure in his denominational
gatherings all the way from the district to the general con-
ferences. He belongs to the Masons. He is not only a
great general reader but is especially fond of the languages.


He believes that the two primary needs of the race today
are education and the building up of farm life.

Dr. Sutton is not only a popular preacher and a capa-
ble educator. He is also an able business man and ha«
extensive real estate holdings in several counties of Eastern


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