Bertie County, NCGenWeb Project Page --African-Americn Leaders
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Reverend Bryant Lee
The Rev. Bryant Lee was born a slave, and attended the Connaritsa Baptist Church. After the War, he and about 60 other African-American members, who had attended Connaritsa and Republican Baptist Churches, formed the new worshipping community meeting in a Bush Arbor near Lewiston. It was later called Mt. Olive Baptist Church. The first church building was built on land purchased around 1886, near the Bush Arbor.
The church celebrates Founder's Day on the first Sunday in November, and the gravesite of Rev. Lee is visited at that time.
Rev. Lee's work in finding jobs for the congregation in his cotton gin as well as providing homes for orphaned children,
helped the Lewiston black community in those early days of freedom.
in 1884, Rev. Lee and several other individuals -- Noah Powell, Joshua Lee and Joseph Powell--founded Luella Baptis Church.
St. Luke Guide to African American History in Bertie County - (Benj. Speller and Le Rae Umfleet. page 6,7 )
Mr. Richard Biggs-Kelford
Mr. Richard Biggs, Kelford, was a leader in the black community in the Kelford area. He owned the Biggs Funeral Home and Pete Austin shared "he had a Model "T" hearse which was enclosed with glass so the coffin could be viewed from all four sides."
He is credited with being the founder of the First Baptist Church of Kelford in 1884.
He helped both white and black families with financial assistance.
William Stewart Etheridge was an early headmaster of Bertie Academy (one of the oldest private academies). This academy had an outstanding reputation.
He later became principal of Windsor School for Colored Students (we know for sure the date
1934 ) Around 1945, the name was changed to W.S. Etheridge High School in his honor.
Rankins Richards Institute for Negroes and
financed by people in the North became the Bertie Academy in 1901 and was located on Triangle Hill.
Parker David Robbins
Contributed by Harry Thompson and Benjamin Speller
An Artisan, merchant, legislator, framer of the
post Civil War North Carolina state Constitution,
postmaster, patenting inventor, and builder.
>Born near Colerain, Bertie County July 5, 1834.
Married Elizabeth Collins of Pleasant Plains Community of Hertford
In 1860 he was listed in the census in Powellsville, Bertie Co.
1873, moved to Harrellsville in Hertford Co.
Became Postmaster and patented farming machinery.
He is currently(Aug 2000)featured in the North Carolina Museum of History's
Exhibition on the Civil War in his Union
Uniform as Sergant-major of the Second U. S. Cavalry. (H. Thompson saw the
exhibit for the second time recently)
Parker Robbins as an example [Free Negroes had more trouble in some cases
than the former slaves of the community] left the area
and went to Duplin County abruptly (we think for that reason).
It did not help also that he was married to a white woman.
Up until that time free blacks were marrying anyone that wanted
to. This has not been mentioned in published history on him but
when I look at the Census Records, [not sure the date of the census
referred to] he is clearly the head of
a household in what is now Lewiston-Woodville with a white
female and two children in the house. I later discovered that
these were apparently not his children of record in any case.
Rev. D. L. Simons
Dr. D. L. Simons was born in Bertie County near Powellsville,
North Carolina. He was the son of Daniel Simons and Cherry Simons and
was educated in the public schools of Bertie County. He did further
study at the State Normal School, Now Elizabeth City State University
and Winston -Salem State University.
Although an educational leader, he made outstanding contributions
in the field of Christian education and religious activities throughout
the State of North Carolina.
Dr. Simons professed Christ at an early age and became a member of
Piney Wood Chapel Baptist Church and served as church clerk for more
than twenty years. Later he began his ministerial career and pastored a
number of churches in Bertie and Hertford Counties. Among these
churches were Mt. Ararat, St. Paul, St. Elmo, Ashland, Elm Grove, Mt.
Pleasant and Piney Wood Chapel Baptist Church.
His larger view of human relatationship was translated into reality
through the many aspects of fraternal, religious, and business
activities which he encouraged in his local community and state He was
for a number of years Moderator of the West Roanoke Association,
Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Chairman of
the Finance Committee of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, and
a member of the Tri- County Ministers Alliance.
A pioneer educator in Bertie County, He retired in 1952 after
forty years of continuous service as teacher and principal. In 1951
Shaw University conferred upon him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of
As a fraternal leader he served as Deputy Grand Master of the Most
Worshipful Prince Hall, Grand Lodge of Masons of Jurisdiction of North
Carolina, Worshipful Master and Chaplain of Masonic Lodge No. 312 of
Colerain, Secretary of the Endowment Board of Grand Lodge of the
Brothers and Sisters of Loving Charity of North Carolina, Elk and an
In June, 1917, He was joined in Holy Matrimony to Miss Florida E.
Jenkins of Ahoskie, N.C. To this union Two children were born.
In a career that spanned more than three score years, he was
brought in close contact with the Nation's best leaders. He won the
respect and influence of countless men and women throughout the
Biographic Sketch taken from the 1970 Centennial Program
Contributed by Brenda Hombre10@webtv.net
Dr. J. Jasper Freeman
Bertie Academy, Windsor, N.C.
C. G. White High School, Powellsville, N.C.
Rich Square Institute (now W. S. Creecy High School)
Public School Teacher:
Spring Hill Elementary School, 1929-1931
A.B. degree, Shaw University, Raleigh, N.C.
B. D. degree, Shaw Universty Divinity School, Raleigh, N.C.
M. A. degree, New York University, New York, N.Y.
Hampton Institute (sp)
Wheaton College, eaton, Ill.
Columbia University, New York, N.Y.
Union Theological Seminary, New York, N.Y.
Princeton Theological Seminary (3 summers) Princeton,N.J.
D.D. Virginia Theological Seminary and College,Lynchburgh, VA
Dr. Humane Letter, Shaw University
Positions Presently Held:
Recording Sec'ty. Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Miss. Con.
Trustee, Shaw University
Trustee, Virginia Theo. Seminary and College
Teacher, Norfolk State (12 yrs)
Teacher, Roanoke Institute (Unit of Shaw Univ.) since 1952
President, Hampton Inst. Ministers Conference
Pastor, Queen Street State Baptist Church since Oct. 1,1949
Previous Positions Held:
Pastor, Browns Missionary Baptist Church 1934-1939.
Pastor, New Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Roxboro, NC 1935-1939.
Pastor, Lawson Chapel Baptist Church, Person Co, NC 1937-1939.
Pastor, 1st. Baptist Church (L.P.) Norfolk, VA 1939-1949.
Pastor, 1st. Baptist Church, Powellsville,N.C. 1964-1970.
Recording Sect'y. Lott Crey Convention.
First Vice President, Hampton Inst. Ministers Conf.
Director, Police-Community Relations Board, Norfolk, Va.
President and sect"y Baptist Conf. Norfolk, Va.
Devotional speaker, Hampton Inst. Ministers conf.
Contributed by Brenda Sessoms: Hombre10@webtv.net
(From the program of the Piney Wood Chapel Baptist Church
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