African American Educators and Preachers in Lowndes County in the early 1900s

The following excerpts are from the “Source Material for Mississippi History (Lowndes County) Vol. I Part 44” on pages 478-481. The information was compiled and written by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1939. The WPA was a federal agency created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 as a relief effort to hire millions of unemployed on government projects during the Great Depression.

The two volume compilation is located in the Local History Room with the call number CL 976.209 LOWNDES WOR.

Note: The following content and terminology is representative of the era in which it was written.  No changes were made to the text unless otherwise noted (typically due to a misspelling in the original text) in order to maintain historical accuracy.


Perhaps the most prominent educator of the past in Lowndes County was W.I. Mitchell, Superintendent and Principal of Union Academy over a long period of years.

The new Negro school erected in 1925, a grammar grade school in the opposite part of Columbus from Union Academy on Southside was named in his honor – “The Mitchell Memorial”. The successors of Mitchell were T.P. Harris and H.J. Hughes. These men were followed by R.E. Hunt, the 1937 incumbent.

I.C. Cousins and Beatrice Wayne Elzey are in charge of the Trade Building which houses the Manual Training and Home Economics Departments at Union Academy.

Hattie Coleman is a prominent educator, being Principal of Mitchell Memorial School.

Annie Will Alexander is an outstanding teacher at Union Academy; L.A. Roberts and Rebecca Bailey are present-day instructors of Union Academy faculty. Callie Bush, Evie Webb, and Bettie Hughes – all deceased – were prominent school people of the past. Avenue Thompson is a teacher in the Adult Education group, W.P.A.

Those living in Motley neighborhood on the Robinson Road are Augusta Harris, teacher at Bent Oak School and Leopold Harris at Allendale School.


One of the most prominent preachers of this section…was T.L. Jordan, of the Baptist denomination, now deceased. Ezell Fulton is a combination Baptist preacher and farmer; he is located in this same neighborhood, west of the river.

Rev. Phillip Green is a prominent Negro Baptist minister of Artesia.

The largest Negro Baptist Church in that section, southwest of Columbus, is at Penn Station, called Brownrigg Church.

A Methodist Church in and around this southwest section of Lowndes County is at Billups Gate, a small station on the M&O RR.

Another outstanding Negro preacher of Lowndes County who has done wonderful work as a pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Columbus is Isaac M. Mission.

Cornelius Williams, a county preacher in the Mayhew neighborhood, was very prominent for many years.

R.H. Thomas is a Negro preacher in Columbus.

Three deceased Negro pastors of past influence in Columbus were: E.R. Miller, Preacher Ferguson of the Methodist denomination, and Preacher Wright. We find the names of Barma G. Glen and Rev. Green as prominent Negro ministers also.

Silas Gambleton, who owns a small farm, is a rather outstanding preacher.

Rev. H. J. Fordham is the present-day minister in charge of the Seventh Day Adventist Faith…His church is on 9th Avenue North in Columbus.

Preacher Shumpert, a Republican, stands well as a Negro leader in Columbus. Shumpert had the distinction of attending as a delegate, the Ecumenical Conference in London some years ago. This Methodist Conference meets only every ten years.

Preacher Lewis (deceased)…was also a Columbus preacher.

Elder Gordon was a good preacher who lived in Lowndes County about 1907.

The Rev. Walls of Sanders Chapel located in Columbus is of the Methodist denomination.

The Rev. Ed Harris of the Woodlawn neighborhood was greatly beloved… He used to have a church called “True Zion” but the building blew away. He is still active, but quite advanced in years. Though classed as a Lowndes preacher since most of his activities have been around Woodlawn, he is at present in Alabama.

John Williams, a Methodist exponent of the gospel stationed at Billups Gate on the M&O RR for some time, was a prominent one in that neighborhood. 

Rev. John Jackson, a Baptist preacher who died in 1936 had charge of the Prairie Hill Church near Artesia….

Rev. Davidson is a Pastor of M.U. Baptist Church, Columbus.

Published in: on February 19, 2010 at 6:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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