Information on the 5 African Americans who attended the Oct. 22, 1835 NYSASS mtg.
(material research compiled by Donna Dorrance Burdick, Town of smithfield Historian)
· Henry Berrian. Recommended by Peter Williams of New York City in letter of August 19, 1834, and by Simeon Jocelyn, also of New York City, in letter of August 22, 1834. One of six students who, in an 1836 letter, requests Smith to keep the school open. Attended the New York State Anti-Slavery Society meeting at Peterboro on October 22, 1835.4
· James Gloucester. Recommended by Theodore S. Wright of New York City in letter of June 26, 1834. Attended the New York State Anti-Slavery Society meeting at Peterboro on October 22, 1835.
James Gloucester was the son of the Rev. John Gloucester of Philadelphia. John was originally a slave known as Jack, born in Tennessee in 1776. In 1806 he was purchased by Gideon Blackburn, a renowned preacher, missionary, and educator in that state. With Blackburn’s help, John Gloucester gained his freedom.5 In 1809 he became pastor of the African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, the first black Presbyterian church in the country.6 Gloucester’s wife and their four children were eventually freed through the efforts of the Philadelphia Presbyterians. His sons John Jr., Jeremiah, Stephen, and James (who was born free) all became Presbyterian ministers.7 While in Peterboro, James joined the Presbyterian Church on July 6, 1834.8 In 1849, he became the founding pastor of the Siloam Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, New York, which still exists today.9 When Frederick Douglass spoke in Brooklyn, New York, in the late 1840s, he complimented Rev. Gloucester on allowing him to give his talk free of charge.10 In February 1858, following a visit to Douglass in Rochester, John Brown spent a week at Gloucester’s Brooklyn home, in an attempt to gain support from one of the chief black opinion-makers of the day. On March 16, Brown and a group of black leaders met at Philadelphia. Gloucester was unable to attend but pledged “$25 more.”11 After Brown’s jailing, a prayer meeting was held at the Siloam Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, with Rev. James Gloucester as a participant. On Martyr Day, December 2, 1859, at Shiloh Church in New York City, clergyman James Gloucester endorsed John Brown’s course.12 (Gloucester’s wife was named Emma or Elizabeth.)13
· William Howell. Leonard Bacon of New Haven, Connecticut, writes on behalf of William, “Smith’s new scholar,” in letter of September 16, 1835. Attended the New York State Anti-Slavery Society meeting at Peterboro on October 22, 1835.
· Henry Randall. Wilbur Fisk, President of Wesleyan University, Middletown, [Connecticut], writes on behalf of Henry in letter of February 25, 1835. Attended the New York State Anti-Slavery Society meeting at Peterboro on October 22, 1835.
· Elymas Rogers. Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet, Hartford, Connecticut, asks if Smith will admit Rogers (along with George Simms) in letter of December 2, 1834. One of six students who, in an 1836 letter, requests Smith to keep the school open. Attended the New York State Anti-Slavery Society meeting at Peterboro on October 22, 1835.
Elymas Payson Rogers was born February 10, 1815, in Madison, Connecticut, the son of Abel and Chloe (LaDue) Rogers. He traced his ancestry to an African great-grandmother, Old Tamar, whose slave ship was wrecked off the coast of Connecticut in the early eighteenth century. In the early 1830s, Elymas left his parents’ farm to work and attend school in Hartford. Following the closing of the Peterboro school, in the winter of 1836-1837, he taught in a public school for Negro children in Rochester, N. Y. That spring he entered Oneida Institute to prepare for the ministry. For the next five years, he alternated teaching in Rochester with studying in Whitesboro until he graduated from Oneida in the spring of 1841. Rogers settled in Newark, New Jersey, where he served as principal of a public school. He married Harriet E. Sherman of Rochester in August 1841. He was licensed by the New Brunswick Presbytery on February 7, 1844. He spent two years in charge of the Witherspoon Street Church in Princeton and received full ordination in 1845. On October 20, 1846, he became pastor of Plane Street Church in Newark and remained there fourteen years. A long-time member of the African Civilization Society, Elymas sailed on missionary work to Africa on November 5, 1860. After only fifty days on African soil, he fell ill and died on January 20, 1861. He is known for two erudite and topical satirical poems, “The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise Considered” (1854-1856) and “A Poem on the Fugitive Slave Law” (1855).18
4. Proceedings of the New York Anti-Slavery Convention, Held At Utica, October 21, and New York Anti-Slavery State Society, Held At Peterboro’, October 22, 1835. Utica, N.Y.: Standard & Democrat Office, 1835, p. 45 (listed with their teacher, C. Grant and his possible assistant, F. Dana, are Berrian, Gloucester, Howell, Randall, and Rogers).
5. George M. Apperson. “African Americans on the Tennessee Frontier,” TennesseeHistorical Quarterly, Spring 2000. Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee Historical Society, p. 3, p. 9-14.
6. Gary B. Nash. Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia’s Black Community 1720-1840. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988, p. 199-201.
6. Andrew E. Murray. Presbyterians and the Negro—A History. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Historical Society, 1966, p. 32.
7. Apperson, p. 15.
8. Records of Peterboro Presbyterian Church, Madison Co. Historical Society, Oneida, N. Y.
9. April 24, 2003 letter from Millicent M. Butler, Clerk of Session, Siloam Presbyterian Church.
10. Benjamin Quarles. Black Abolitionists. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969, p. 83.
11. Benjamin Quarles. Allies For Freedom: Blacks & John Brown. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974, p. 39-40.
12. Quarles, Black Abolitionists, p. 241-242.
13. Dorothy Sterling, editor. We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1984, p. 118, p. 218.
18. Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston editors. Dictionary of American Negro Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1982, p. 531.