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´╗┐Title: A Narrative of the Life of Rev. Noah Davis, A Colored Man - Written by Himself, At The Age of Fifty-Four
Author: Davis, Noah, 1804-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Narrative of the Life of Rev. Noah Davis, A Colored Man - Written by Himself, At The Age of Fifty-Four" ***

produced from images generously made available by the
Library of Congress)


The object of the writer, in preparing this account of himself, is to


Having already, within twelve years past, purchased himself, his wife,
and five of his children, at a cost, altogether, of over _four thousand
dollars_, he now earnestly desires a humane and christian public to


for the purpose of finishing the task in which he has so long and
anxiously labored.

God has blessed him in an extraordinary manner, not only by granting
freedom to him and so large a portion of his family, but by giving him
the hope of the gospel, and permitting him to preach that gospel among
his own people--in which calling he has been engaged for about
twenty-five years.


The building, of which the above cut is an imperfect representation,
fronts as above 100 feet on Saratoga street, and 46 feet on Calvert
street. The house is of brick, and cost over $18,000.--(See page 45.)










No. 484 West Baltimore St.

ENTERED according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1859, by NOAH
DAVIS, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of Maryland.




Early Life in Virginia--Example of Pious Parents.


Apprenticed to the Shoe-making--Learns housework--Intemperance--"A negro
can't be trusted"--Learning how to write and cipher.


Religious Experience--Conviction and Conversion.


Marriage--License to Preach--Purchase of Freedom--Call to Baltimore.


Experience in Baltimore--Education--Purchase of a Wife
and two Children--Great Distress of Mind--Generous Assistance--Church


A New Movement in Baltimore--Erection of a Meeting
House for the African Baptist Church--Heavy Indebtedness--Account
of the Enterprise.


Account of a Visit to the northern Cities--True Friends.


Conclusion--Object of this Book.



Early Life in Virginia--Example of Pious Parents.

I was born a slave, in Madison county, Virginia, March, 1804. My father,
John Davis, and his family, belonged to Robert Patten, Esq., a wealthy
merchant, residing in Fredericksburg--who was also owner, in connection
with Mr. John Thom, of a large merchant mill, located on "Crooked Run,"
a stream running between Madison and Culpepper counties. My father was
the head miller in that large establishment, in which responsible
station he was much respected.

There I was born, and remained until I was twelve years old. Mr. Patten
was always considered one of the best of masters, allowing his servants
many privileges; but my father enjoyed more than many others. Both he
and my mother were pious members of a Baptist church, and from their
godly example, I formed a determination, before I had reached my
twelfth year, that if I was spared to become a man, I would try to be as
good as my parents. My father could read a little, and make figures, but
could scarcely write at all. His custom, on those Sabbaths when we
remained at home, was to spend his time in instructing his children, or
the neighboring servants, out of a New Testament, sent him from
Fredericksburg by one of his older sons. I fancy I can see him now,
sitting under his bush arbor, reading that precious book to many
attentive hearers around him.

Such was the esteem I had for my pious father, that I have kept that
blessed book ever since his death, for his sake; and it was the first
New Testament I read, after I felt the pardoning love of God in my soul.

My father died, August 20, 1826, aged 60 years. My mother, Jane Davis,
at the death of my father, removed from the farm, where my father died,
and spent the remainder of her days in Fredericksburg, with her
children. She lived to good old age, and fell asleep in Jesus, Dec. 24,

My father had been allowed to keep a cow and horse, for his own use; and
to raise and feed his hogs and poultry from the mill. He had the
privilege of keeping his children with him, until they were old enough
to put out to such trades as they might choose. I had several brothers
and one sister. Two of my brothers, one older, the other younger than
myself, lived with our parents, at this place. My oldest brother worked
in the mill, with my father, while my youngest brother and I did little
else than play about home, and wait upon our mother. I had several
playmates, besides my brothers, and among them were the sons of Col.
Thom, and the servant boys who stayed at his house. Although many years
have passed away since, it gives me pleasure, even now, to recollect the
happy seasons I enjoyed with the playmates of my childhood.

But this pleasant state of things was not to continue long. The owners
of the mill and farm concluded to sell out the whole concern. My father
and his family then removed to another farm, belonging to our owner,
located in Culpepper county, near Stevensburg. Here I remained nearly two
years, working, part of the time, with a carpenter, who was building a
summer residence for my master; and the rest of the time, assisting my
father to cultivate as much ground as he and his family could tend. Here
I learned something of a farmer's life. The overseer, Mr. Daniel Brown,
had the reputation of being one of the best overseers in the county. But
my father's family was not put under him further than for his
protection; for after our owner sold the mill, he set my parents free,
and allowed them to maintain themselves, by cultivating as much ground
on the farm as they needed.

Sometimes my father would leave his little place in charge of my brother
Robert and myself, and would hire himself to work in some mill, or go
peddling poultry, vegetables, &c., at some of the market places around.


Apprenticed to the shoe-making--Learns housework--Intemperance--"A negro
can't be trusted"--Learning how to write and cipher.

In December, 1818, for the first time in my life, I left my parents, to
go a distance from home; and I was sad at the thought of parting with
those whom I loved and reverenced more than any persons on earth. But
the expectation of seeing Fredericksburg, a place which, from all I had
then learned, I supposed must be the greatest place in the world,
reconciled me somewhat with the necessity of saying Good-bye to the dear
ones at home. I arrived at Fredericksburg, after a day and a half's
travel, in a wagon--a distance of some fifty miles. Having arrived in
town, a boy green from the country, I was astonished and delighted at
what appeared to me the splendor and beauty of the place. I spent a
merry Christmas at my old master's stately mansion, along with my older
brother, and for a while forgot the home on the farm.

But soon, another home was selected for me, where I might learn a
trade, and as I preferred the boot and shoe-making, I was put to Mr.
Thomas Wright, a man of sterling integrity, who was considered the best
workman in the whole town. Here I had an older brother living, which was
some inducement for my going to live with Mr. Wright. I was bound, to
serve until I should be twenty-one years old. This was in January, 1819.

Upon entering with Mr. Wright, I learned that the colored boys had to
serve one year with Mrs. Wright, in the house and kitchen. The object of
this was to train them for future usefulness, when called from the shop,
to serve as waiters or cooks. Mrs. Wright was a good manager, and a very
particular housekeeper. I used to think she was too particular. But I
have learned better since. I have often wished, when I have been seeking
homes for my children, that I could find one like Mrs. Wright. She would
spare no pains to teach her servants how she wanted her work done; and
then she would spare no pains to make them do it. I have often looked
back, with feelings of gratitude and veneration, to that pious lady, for
her untiring perseverance in training me up in the way I should go. But
she is gone, as I trust, to receive the reward of righteousness, in a
better world.

After I had been under Mrs. Wright's special charge the first year, she
could leave me to cook a dinner, or clean the house, or do anything she
might set me at, without her being present. I was now considered fit to
take my seat among the hands in the shop.

Here I found quite a new state of things. The shoemakers, at that time,
in Fredericksburg, were considered the most intemperate of any class of
men in the place; and as the apprentice-boys had always to be very
obliging to the journeymen, in order to get along pleasantly with them,
it was my duty to be runner for the shop; and I was soon trained how to
bring liquor among the men with such secresy as to prevent the boss, who
had forbidden it to come on the premises, from knowing it.

But, in those days, the drinking of ardent spirits was a common
practice, even among christians. With such examples all around, I soon
learned the habit of drinking, along with every other vile habit to
which my companions were addicted. It was true in my case, that "evil
communications corrupt good manners;" and had it not been for the
strictness with which my boss and his amiable lady watched over me, I
should in all probability have become a confirmed drunkard, before my
time was out. But they held the reins over me, and kept me in, until I
had served out my apprenticeship.

I can say, however, that, much as I was inclined to other vices and
sins, Mr. Wright readily gave me a recommendation for honesty,
truthfulness, and goodness of character. In fact, he had felt such
confidence in me, that he would often leave his shoe store in my care,
when he would have to go to the north, for a supply of stock. And I can
truly say, that I never deceived him, when he thus trusted me. Nothing
would mortify me as much, as to hear it said, "A negro can't be
trusted." This saying would always nerve me with a determination _to be
trustworthy_.--If I was trusted, I would deserve to be trusted. I wanted
to show that principle was not confined to color. But I have been led to
look at it since, and have thought that perhaps it was more pride than
principle in me, at that time, for I was a wicked sinner.

The first idea I ever got of writing, was from trying to imitate my
employer, who used to write the names of his customers on the lining of
the boots and shoes, as he gave them out to be made. So I tried to make
letters, and soon succeeded in writing my name, and then the word
Fredericksburg, and so on. My father had previously taught me the
alphabet, in the spelling book, before I had left the mill. After I
became religious, I would carry my father's New Testament to church, and
always try to get to meeting in time to hear the preacher read a chapter
before sermon. If he named the chapter before reading it, I would soon
find it. In this way, I gathered much information in pronouncing many
hard words in the Scriptures.

It was a long time before I learned the meaning of the numeral letters
put in the Bible over the chapters. I had often seen them in the
spelling book running alongside a column of figures; but no one ever
told me that they were put there for the same use as the figures.


Religious Experience--Conviction--Conversion.

Just about the close of my apprenticeship, and as I began to feel myself
a man, I commenced to visit the girls, which induced me to go still
more frequently to church.

At that time, there were four churches in Fredericksburg. The colored
people had apartments for worship with the white people, at each of
these churches. They were Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian and

I had no particular preference for any one of these denominations, more
than another; but, went wherever my favorites went. One night a young
lady invited me to go to the Methodist church, where a prayer-meeting
was to be held. During the meeting, a venerable old gentleman rose to
his feet, and related an account of the sudden death of a young lady,
which he had read in a newspapers. When he related that solemn
circumstance, it so affected me, that I felt as if I was about to die,
in a sudden manner also.

Having always, from parental training, purposed in my mind to become
religious before I died, I thought that now was the time to begin to
pray. But I could not try to pray in the church, for I was afraid that
the girls would laugh at me. Yet I became so troubled, that I left the
house, girls and all, intending to seek some place where I might pray.
But to my horror and surprise, when I got out of the church, this
reflection occurred to me, "God is in heaven, and you are on earth:--how
can He hear you?" O, what distress of mind I now felt! I began to wonder
how God could hear my prayer; for, sure enough, He was in heaven, and I
on the earth. In my perplexity, I started for home.

Just before I reached the shop, where I slept, this thought struck me,
if possible with more force than the former reflection: "God does see
you!" It really appeared to me as if I could see that God was indeed
looking at me; and not only so, but I felt that He had been looking at
me all my life. I now said to myself, "It is of no use for me to
pray.--If God has seen all my wickedness, as I feel that He has, then
there is no mercy for me."

So I ran to my lodging-place, and tried to hide myself in a dark room.
But this was useless; for it appeared that God could see me in the dark,
as well as in the light.

I now felt constrained to beg for mercy, and spent the time in trying to
obtain pardon for my sins. But the morning came, and the hour drew near
for the hands to go to work, and I was still unhappy.

I felt so very different to what I had always felt, that I tried to
examine my impressions of the previous night, to learn if it was true
that God did see me or not; for I thought my imagination might have
deceived me.

Up to this time, I was not fully convinced that God knew all about me.
So I began to study about the matter. As I sat on the shoe-bench, I
picked up a bunch of bristles, and selecting one of the smallest, I
began to wonder, if God could see an object so small as that. No sooner
had this inquiry arose in my heart, than it appeared to me, that the
Lord could not only see the bristle, but that He beheld me, as plainly
as I saw the little object in my hand; and not only so, but that God was
then looking through me, just as I would hold up a tumbler of clear
water to the sun and look through it. This was enough. I felt that I
must pray, or perish; and now I began to pray.

But it really seemed, that the more I prayed the less hope there was for
me. Still I could not stop praying; for I felt that God was angry with
me. I had sinned against his holy laws; and now, if He should cut me
off, and send me to hell, it was but right. These thoughts followed me
day and night, for five weeks, before I felt relief. At length, one day,
while sitting on my shoe bench, I felt that my time had come when I must
die. What troubled me most, was that I should have to appear before God,
in all my sins;--O, what horror filled my soul at the thought!

I began to wonder what I must do. I knew I was not prepared for death
and the Judgment. It is true that two of my shopmates, at that time,
were members of the church; but they did not seem to care for my soul.
All the rest of the hands were as wicked as myself. "What shall I do?"
was in my mind, all the time I sat at work.

The reflection occurred to me, "Your mother is a christian; it may be
she can save you." But this suggestion appeared to be offensive to God.
Then came another thought,--"As my master was a rich man, could he not
do something to help me?" But I found no relief in either ... and while
I sat thus, hoping and praying, light broke into my mind--all my trouble
left me in an instant.

I felt such a love and peace flowing in my soul, that I could not sit
longer; I sprang to my feet, and cried out, "Glory to God!" It seemed to
me, that God, whom I had beheld, a few seconds previously, angry with
me, was now well-pleased. I could not tell why this great change had
taken place in me; and my shopmates were surprised at my conduct,
saying, that I must be getting crazy. But, just at this moment, the
thought came into my mind, that I was converted; still, as I felt so
very different from what I had expected to feel, I could not see how
that could be. I concluded to run and see my mother, and ask her how
people felt, when they got converted. So I went, right away, to my
mother's house, some five or six squares from the shop.

When I reached the door of her house, it appeared to me that everything
was new and bright. I went in, and sat down. Mother asked me how I was.
I told her, I felt _right smart_. This was a new sound from me; for my
answers to this question had long been--"_poorly_." But now came the
trial; to ask mother how people felt, when they were converted. I felt
ashamed to ask the question; so I went into another room; and seeing a
hymn book lying on the table, I took it up. The first hymn that struck
my sight began with these words:

     "When converts first begin to sing,
     Their happy souls are on the wing--
     Their theme is all redeeming love;
     Fain would they be with Christ above.
     With admiration they behold
     The love of Christ, which can't be told," &c.

These lines expressed my feelings precisely, and being encouraged from
them, I went to my mother, and asked her the question--"How do people
feel, when they get converted?" She replied, "Do you think you are
converted?" Now, this was a severe trial; for, although I felt that I
was really changed, yet I wanted to hear from her, before I could decide
whether I was actually converted, or not. I replied, "No." Then she
said, "My son, the devil makes people think themselves converted,
sometimes." I arose, and left immediately, believing that the devil had
made a fool of me. I returned to my shop, more determined to pray than
ever before.

I arrived, and took my seat, and tried to get under that same weight,
that I had felt pressing me down, but a short while before. But it
seemed to me that I could not; and, instead of feeling sad, I felt
joyful in my heart; and while trying to pray, I thought the Saviour
appeared to me. I thought I saw God smiling upon me, through Christ, His
Son. My soul was filled with love to God and Jesus Christ. It appeared
to me, I saw a fullness in Jesus Christ, to save every sinner who would
come to Him. And I felt, that if I was only converted, I would tell all
sinners how precious the Saviour was. But I could not think myself
converted yet, because I could not see what I had done, for God to
pardon my sins. Still I felt a love to Him for what He had done for my

Then I began to think upon my shopmates--and, O what pity ran through my
soul for them. I wished to pray for them; but I felt so unworthy, that I
could not do it. At last I promised the Lord that if He would convert my
soul, I would talk to them.

... It was several months after that, before I was made to realize this to
be the work of God; and when it was made plain, O what joy it did bring
to my poor soul!

I shortly became a member of the Baptist church, and was baptized, in
company with some twenty others, by Rev. Geo. F. Adams, who was then
pastor of the Baptist church in Fredericksburg--September 19, 1831. This
church then contained about three hundred colored members.


Marriage--License to Preach--Purchase of Freedom--A Call to Baltimore.

I had not been a member of the church a great while, before I formed an
attachment to a young woman, who ultimately became my wife. I have ever
regarded her as the special gift of God to me. She embraced religion
about the same time that I did. We had been acquainted with each other
for several years previous, and although we associated frequently in the
same social circle together; yet nothing of a special liking had
manifested itself until the day she was baptized.

But we were both slaves, and of course had to get the consent of our
owners, before we went further. My wife belonged to the late Carter L.
Stephenson, Esq., who was a brother to Hon. Andrew Stephenson, of Va. My
wife's master was quite indulgent to the servants about the house. He
never restrained visitors from coming on his premises to visit his
domestics. It was said he had the likeliest set of servant girls in the
town; and though I cannot say I got the prettiest, yet I think I got
the best one among them. We have lived happily together, as husband and
wife, for the last twenty-eight years. We have had nine children--seven
born in slavery, and two since my wife's freedom. Five out of the seven
in slavery I have bought--two are still in bondage.

Before long, the brethren chose me to fill the office of a deacon. But
it never seemed to me to be the place that God designed for me; though I
felt willing to do whatever lay in my power for God's glory and the good
of His people. The impression made upon my mind at my conversion, to
talk to sinners, increased on me, until I could wait no longer.

I related my convictions of duty to my brethren, and particularly to one
who was always held in high esteem for his piety and excellent
character--a colored brother, Armistead Walker. My case was first
brought by him before the colored portion of the church; and after a
full hearing of my statement, by the white brethren, with regard to my
call to preach, &c., I was licensed to preach the gospel, and exhort
sinners to repentance, as opportunity might be afforded. I had ample
opportunities at that time, for doing good, by preaching to my fellow
men, both in town and country.

Several other colored brethren, about this time, gave evidence of having
been called of God, to the work of preaching the gospel. Among these was
a dear brother, named Alexander Daniel. He was a bright and shining
light, among our people, and everything considered, I think he was the
best preacher of color I ever heard. But alas, he is no more! He was
esteemed as a christian minister, and his friends, both white and
colored, united in erecting a monument over his grave.

In my attempts to preach the gospel to my fellow sinners, I often felt
embarrassed, not knowing how to read a chapter in the Bible correctly.
My desires now increased for such a knowledge of the sacred Scriptures,
as would enable me to read a chapter publicly to my hearers. I thought
that if I had all my time at my own command, I would devote it all to
divine things. This desire I think, led me more than anything else, to
ask permission of my master, Dr. F. Patten, to purchase my freedom. I
made this a subject of prayer, both night and day, that God would show
me what he would have me do. I felt encouraged to hope that I should
find favor with my owner, as he had always treated me kindly. But how
shall I get the purchase money, provided he grants my request?--This
appeared a difficult matter, but I thought if my master would give me a
chance, that I should be able to raise the money.

I went to him, and stated my wishes, informing him why I wanted to be
free--that I had been led to believe the Lord had converted my soul, and
had called me to talk to sinners. He granted my request, without a
single objection, fixing my price at five hundred dollars.

But now I had to tell him that I had no money, and that I desired him to
grant me another request; which was, to let me travel and find friends,
who would give me the money. After learning my wishes fully, he
consented, and told me, when I got ready to start, he would give me a
pass, to go where I pleased.

I thanked him sincerely for this privilege, and after making
arrangements, in the way of obtaining suitable letters of
recommendation, I left Fredericksburg, in June, 1845, for Philadelphia,
New York, Boston, &c.

After spending nearly four months in visiting the northern cities, I
returned home, with about one hundred and fifty dollars, greatly

Previous to going north, I had raised about a hundred and fifty dollars,
which I had already paid on my debt.

The cause of my failure to raise all the money, I believe, was that I
was unaccustomed to addressing large congregations of strangers; and
often, when I was favored with an opportunity of presenting my case to
the people, I would feel such embarrassment that I could scarcely say
anything. And I met another obstacle, which discouraged me very much;
which was, that some persons would tell me they sympathized with me, in
my efforts to get free; but they said it was against their principles to
give money, to buy slaves. I confess, this was new to me, and would cut
me down much in my spirits--still I found generous and noble-hearted
friends, who treated me with every mark of kindness.

I began to wonder to myself, whether God was in this matter, or not; and
if so, why I had not succeeded. However, having returned home, I went
to work at my trade, for the purpose of earning the remainder of the
money. Having paid what I was able, toward my debt, and reserving enough
to open a shop, upon my own account, my old boss, Mr. Wright, my true
and constant friend, became my protector, so that I might carry on my
business lawfully. In this, however, I was not very successful; but I
had not been long engaged at it, before I received a communication from
my white Baptist friends in Baltimore, through my pastor, Rev. Sam'l
Smith, informing me that if I would come to Baltimore, and accept an
appointment as missionary to the colored people of that city, they would
assist me in raising the balance of the money then due upon myself.

This was indeed an unexpected, and to me an undesired call. I began to
think, how can I leave my wife and seven small children, to go to
Baltimore to live, a distance of more than a hundred miles from them.
This, I thought, could not be. I thought my children would need my
watchful care, more now than at any other time. It is true, they were
all slaves, belonging to a rich widow lady. But she had always given me
the entire control of my family. Now, if I should leave them at their
tender age, mischief might befall them. Still, as the letter from
Baltimore was from gentlemen of the best standing, it became me to give
them an answer. This I could not do, without first consulting my master.
I did so, and after giving the matter a careful consideration, he
thought I had better go and see those gentlemen--he was perfectly
willing to leave the matter to me.

The result was, that I accepted the offer of the brethren in Baltimore;
and by them I was enabled to pay the debt I owed; and I have never had
cause to repent it--though I had misgivings sometimes, when I would get
into trouble.

But I have found those who were my friends at first, are my friends
still. In a few weeks after I had arrived in Baltimore, (1847,) the
white Baptists who were favorable to the mission in behalf of the
colored people, secured for me an appointment as missionary of the
Domestic Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, in connection with
the Maryland Baptist Union Association. I now felt a debt of gratitude
to these dear friends, that I could not show more acceptably to them,
than by engaging heartily in the work to which I had been thus called. I
went to work, first, by hiring a room in a private house, where I would
collect what few children I could get together, in a Sabbath school. I
continued in this place for nearly a year, teaching the little children,
and preaching to a few grown persons, who would come in at times to hear
what this Baptist man had to say; and who, after satisfying their
curiosity, would generally leave me. During my stay in this locality, I
could not find half a dozen colored Baptists, who would take hold with
me in this missionary enterprise. There were some few attached to the
white churches; but only two of those showed any disposition to help me
in this great and good work. I found that everybody loved to go with the
multitude, and it was truly up-hill work with me. I found some who are
called Anti-Mission, or Old School Baptists, who, when I called upon
them, would ask of what faith I was,--and when I would reply, that I
belonged to what I understood to be the Regular Baptists, they would
answer, "Then you are not of our faith," &c.

Now I felt lonely indeed, separated far from home, from family, from
dear brethren and friends; thrown among strangers in a strange place.
Those I came to benefit, stood aloof from me, and seemed to look upon
all my movements with distrust and suspicion, and opposed to all I was
trying to do for the moral and spiritual benefit of our degraded race.
But, thanks be to God, all I found in Baltimore were not of this stamp.
Those of the white Baptists who had been the means of calling me to this
field, adhered to me like brethren, indeed. Could I feel at liberty to
mention names, I would bring to notice some dear friends who have ever
stood by me, in all my efforts to do good, and whose acts of
disinterested benevolence have been rarely equaled. But their labors of
love are recorded on high, and I must forbear.


Experience in Baltimore--Education--Purchase of a Wife and two
Children--Great Distress of Mind--Generous Assistance--Church Matters.

When I came among the colored people of Baltimore, I found, to my
surprise, that they were advanced in education, quite beyond what I had
conceived of. Of course, as I never had such advantages, I was far
behind the people; and as this did not appear well in a preacher, I felt
very small, when comparing my abilities with others of a superior stamp.
I found that the great mass of colored professors of religion were
Methodists, whose piety and zeal seemed to carry all before them. There
were, at that time, some ten or eleven colored Methodist churches, one
Episcopalian, one Presbyterian; and one little Baptist church, located
upon the outskirts of the city. The most of the Methodist churches were
large and influential; and the Presbyterian church had one of the best
Sabbath schools for colored children in the city.

But the Baptist colored membership was looked upon as the smallest; and
under these circumstances, I was surrounded with discouragements;
although the ministers and brethren of other denominations have always
treated me with marked christian kindness.

I had never had a day's schooling; and coming to one of the first cities
in the Union, where the colored people had the advantages of schools,
and where their pulpits were occupied, Sabbath after Sabbath, by
comparatively intelligent colored ministers--what could I expect, but
that the people would turn away from one who was trying to preach in the
room of a private house, some fifteen by twenty feet? Yet, there was no
turning back: God had called me to the work, and it was His cause I was

I found, that to preach, like other preachers, I must improve my mind,
by reading the Bible and other good books, and by studying my own
language. I started afresh--I got a small stock of books, and the white
brethren loaned and gave me other useful volumes, to which they added a
word of instruction and encouragement, whenever an opportunity offered;
and the ministers cordially invited me to attend their Monday
ministerial conference meeting, which was very useful to me.

... I had now been in Baltimore more than a year. My wife and seven
children were still in Virginia. I went to see them as often as my
circumstances permitted--three or four times a year. About this time, my
wife's mistress agreed to sell to me my wife and our two youngest
children. The price fixed, was eight hundred dollars cash, and she gave
me twelve months to raise the money. The sun rose bright in my sky that
day; but before the year was out, my prospects were again in darkness.
Now I had two great burdens upon my mind: one to attend properly to my
missionary duty, the other to raise eight hundred dollars. During this
time we succeeded in getting a better place for the Sabbath school, and
there was a larger attendance upon my preaching, which demanded reading
and study, and also visiting, and increased my daily labors. On the
other hand, the year was running away, in which I had to raise eight
hundred dollars. So that I found myself at times in a great strait.

My plan to raise the money was, to secure the amount, first, by pledges,
before I collected any.... Finally, the year was more than passed away,
and I had upon my subscription list about one half of the money
needed. It was now considered that the children had increased in value
one hundred dollars, and I was told that I could have them, by paying in
cash six hundred dollars, and giving a bond, with good security, for
three hundred more, payable in twelve months. I had six weeks, in which
to consummate this matter. I felt deeply, that this was a time to pray
the Lord to help me, and for this my wife's prayers were fervently
offered with my own. I had left my wife in Virginia, and come to
Baltimore, a distance of over a hundred miles; I had been separated thus
for nearly three years; I had been trying to make arrangements to have
her with me, for over twelve months, and as yet had failed. We were
oppressed with the most gloomy forebodings, and could only kneel down
together and pray for God's direction and help.

I was in Fredericksburg, and had but one day longer to stay, and spend
with my wife. What could be done, must be done quickly. I went to my old
friend, Mr. Wright, and stated my case to him. After hearing of all I
had done, and the conditions I had to comply with, he told me that if I
would raise the six hundred dollars cash, he would endorse my bond for
the remaining three hundred.--This promise inspired me with new life.
The next thing was, how could the six hundred dollars be obtained in six
weeks. I had upon my subscription list and in pledges nearly four
hundred dollars. But this had to be collected from friends living in
Fredericksburg, Washington city, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

I left Fredericksburg, and spent a few days in Washington, to collect
what I could of the money promised to me there; and met much
encouragement, several friends doubling their subscriptions. When I
arrived in Baltimore, and made known the peculiar strait I was in, to my
joyful surprise, some of the friends who had pledged five dollars, gave
me ten; and one dear friend who had promised me ten dollars, for this
object, and who had previously contributed largely in the purchase of
myself, now gave me fifty. I began to count up, and in two weeks from
the time I commenced collecting, I had in hand four hundred dollars.
Presently, another very dear friend enquired of me how I was getting
along; and when I told him, he said, "Bring your money to me." I did
so. It lacked two hundred dollars to make the purchase. This, the best
friend I ever had in the world, made up the six hundred dollars, and
said, "Go, get your wife; and you can keep on collecting, and repay the
two hundred dollars when you get able."

I was now overcome with gratitude and joy, and knew not what to say; and
when I began to speak, he would not have any of my thanks. I went to my
boarding house, and shut myself up in my room, where I might give vent
to the gratitude of my heart: and, O, what a melting time I had! It was
to me a day of thanksgiving.

Having now in hand the six hundred dollars, and the promise of Mr.
Wright's security for three hundred more, I was, by twelve o'clock, next
day in Fredericksburg.

At first sight, my wife was surprised that I had come back so soon; for
it was only two weeks since I had left her; and when I informed her that
I had come after her and the children, she could hardly believe me. In a
few days, having duly arranged all things relative to the purchase and
removal, we left for Baltimore, with feelings commingled with joy and
sorrow--sorrow at parting with five of our older children, and our many
friends; and rejoicing in the prospect of remaining together permanently
in the missionary field, where God had called me to labor. I arrived in
Baltimore, with my wife and two little ones, November 5th, 1851, and
stopped with sister Hester Ann Hughes, a worthy member of the M. E.
Church, with whom I had been boarding for four years.

The Md. Baptist Union Association was now in session here, and it became
my duty to prepare my church letter and missionary report, for that
body. The church had now been organized just three years; commencing
with only four members, including the pastor. Our church statistics for
the year, as reported, were: Baptized, 2; Received by letter, 2; Present
number of members, 15.... Sabbath school much revived, under the special
efforts of several white brethren and sisters. Present number of Sunday
scholars, 50.

This year was a joyful one to me--my little church increasing, and the
Sabbath school flourishing, under the superintendence of the late truly
excellent brother James C. Crane, though he was with us but for a short
season. My wife and little ones were also with me, both in the church
and Sabbath school. I was a happy man, and felt more than ever inclined
to give thanks to God, and serve Him to the best of my ability.

My salary was only three hundred dollars a year; but with hard exertion
and close economy, together with my wife's taking in washing and going
out at day's work, we were enabled by the first of the year, to pay the
two hundred dollars our dear friend had loaned us, in raising the six
hundred dollars before spoken of. But the bond for three hundred dollars
was now due, and how must this be met? I studied out a plan; which was
to get some gentleman who might want a little servant girl, to take my
child, and advance me three hundred dollars for the purpose of paying my
note, which was now due in Virginia. In this plan I succeeded; and had
my own life insured for seven years for five hundred dollars, and made
it over to this gentleman, as security; until I ultimately paid him the
whole amount; though I was several years in paying it.

Among the number that joined our little church, was a young brother,
Jos. M. Harden, who was baptized by Dr. Fuller, but soon became a
valuable member with us, both in the church and Sunday school. He was
born in Baltimore, and had been early taught to read, and though he had
been at ten years old bound out, till he was twenty-one, his love of
books had made him far superior to colored people generally, and he was
very valuable to me. Things had gone on hopefully with me, and my little
church, though our progress was very slow. But we had to suffer a loss
in brother Harden's leaving us for the great missionary field in Africa,
where I trust the Lord has sent him for a great and happy work. But God
has blessed us in the person of brother Samuel W. Madden, whose labors
as a licensed preacher for several years have been invaluable to us.


A New Movement in Baltimore--Erection of a Meeting House for the African
Baptist Church--Heavy Indebtedness--Account of the Enterprise--Personal

For several years previous to Jan., 1855, our little church and Sunday
school had occupied a very inconvenient upper room on Courtland street.
Our particular friend, Mr. William Crane, with some other white persons
to aid him, was the devoted superintendent of our Sunday school, and the
unfailing friend of our own little church, as well as of me personally.
Mr. Crane had felt, with us, the great disadvantage of our place of
worship, and had exerted himself much to obtain a more commodious room
for us. But in July, 1853; he commenced an extraordinary effort in our
behalf, by purchasing a lot--one hundred feet by forty-six feet--with
three fronts, on Calvert, Saratoga and Davis streets, on which a chapel
building has been erected for us.

Our chapel was opened for worship Feb. 18, 1855; and Rev. Dr. Fuller
preached the opening sermon to a crowded audience.

On this occasion Mr. Wm. Crane read a detailed report of all the facts
relative to this building--a full copy of this report may be interesting
probably to my readers, and I have therefore obtained it, and here
present it, in connection with a picture of the building, which will be
found opposite the title page.


"The questions have often been asked in this vicinity during the last
six months, Who is putting up that large building called the 'Saratoga
Street African Baptist Chapel?' 'What are they putting it up for?'--'Who
will own it, when finished?' 'How much will it cost? and who will pay
for it?'"

These questions have often been answered, but it seems proper, and
indeed necessary, at this time to answer them plainly and clearly, for
the information of this large assembly.

First, then, I reply: This entire building has been reared under my
directions, in the name of the Saratoga street African Baptist Church.

This Church was organized with only four members, six years ago, with
brother Noah Davis, a missionary of the Md. Baptist Union Association,
as its pastor, who has labored most faithfully in his work. But,
although colored churches of the Baptist denomination in all of our
Southern and Western cities count their members by thousands, this
church has now only thirty members--but our hope and prayer is, that
established here in the centre of a population of full thirty thousand
colored people, God may bless the humble devoted efforts of His people,
and increase their numbers a hundred fold. Four years ago, the 1st of
January, we commenced a Sunday school in Courtland street,--where this
church has always held its regular meetings, which notwithstanding its
many discouragements--mostly from a want of devoted self-denying
teachers--has been unremittingly kept up morning and afternoon, till the
present time, with an attendance varying from thirty to over one hundred
scholars; and we feel assured that the hundreds of Bibles and
Testaments, tracts, &c., with the Sunday school instructions, and the
preaching of brother Davis will have laid the foundation for a lasting
blessing to his people. This little church and Sunday school have met
to-day for the first time in this building, and in the language of the
Psalmist David, probably on an occasion like this, we would exclaim,
"Send now, we beseech thee, O Lord--O Lord, we beseech thee, send now
prosperity!"--(Ps. 118: 25.)

But what are the objects for which this house has been built? I answer,
the first object was, to furnish such a room as this, for the use of
this church, where the gospel might be preached and its ordinances
administered, and where Sunday schools and religious associations might
be properly accommodated. The second was, to furnish rooms in the next
story, for a male high school at one end, and a female high school at
the other, and where colored missionaries for Africa might be educated
for that most important field of labor; with a large hall in the centre,
for a lecture room, or for any other religious, moral, or useful
purposes. The upper story has four separate rooms, finished for renting
to associations of colored people, with a view to paying whatever debt
may remain on the building, and for defraying its current expenses;--and
it is hoped that, at some future day, a reading room and a circulating
library for colored people may also be located here--the whole of it
combining a most respectable, central, commodious _Colored People's

But it is asked, who owns this building? I admit that it is an unusually
mixed up affair; but I will try to explain it. After a great deal of
searching and enquiring after a lot or building, where this Church and
Sunday school could have a settled home, about two years ago, I was
informed that this lot was for sale; and realizing instantly that my
cherished objects could here be accomplished I bought it without
hesitation, for five thousand dollars; but the loss of two years'
interest and the amount paid to tenants to move away, makes the cost of
the lot now full six thousand dollars. I obtained the deed of J. H. B.
Latrobe, Esq., who sold it, as trustee for the estate of Hugh Finley,
deceased, under an order of Court. After a charter of incorporation for
the Church had been made, I got Mr. Latrobe to draw up also this deed,
[here presenting it] which he says is a perfectly good one--from William
Crane and wife, to Geo. F. Adams, J. W. M. Williams, and John W. Ball,
as trustees for all concerned, conveying to this Church all my right
and title forever to all of the proposed building on this lot above the
first story: leaving me the basement and the cellar as my own property
forever, with the proviso, that the Church in its own name should put up
the entire building. But I agreed at the same time to subscribe five
thousand dollars on the subscription book of the Church towards erecting
it. So that I am now sole owner of the store and cellar under the
Chapel--the Church has no ownership there at all--but the Church is
legal owner of this Chapel and all the rooms above it. The Church
appointed me their agent to build the house, and as such I have made all
the contracts, paid out all the monies, and assumed all the liabilities.
Before commencing the building, as before stated, my own subscription

My brother, J. C. Crane, from whom I
expected efficient personal aid, gave..1,000

Bro. Franklin Wilson,..................1,000

A. Fuller Crane,.........................500

John W. Ball,............................250

J. B. Thomas,............................100

Among our colored friends, about.........200
Amounting to, say,....................$8,050

Since that time, the pressure on the money
market has prevented any general effort to
obtain subscriptions, but a city pastor has

A sister of the First Baptist Church.....100

Bro. Jonathan Batchelor, of Lynn, Mass...100
Making in all, a total of.............$8,400

The entire cost of the building, notwithstanding the most rigid economy,
will be over eighteen thousand dollars, and full half of this amount is
yet unprovided for. The bills are not all presented, but some of the
larger ones which have been settled by notes will be due in a short
time; while the largest one, the lumber bill, has six months to run yet,
so that I am bound to settle up and pay the entire balance of
expenditure on this house, as agent of the Church, within the coming six
months. And whatever amount of money I advance over and above the
subscriptions and collections must, of course, remain as a debt due me
by the Church, and be on interest until paid.

The last question, how is the money obtained to pay for the building?
has been partly answered; but a full explanation of it will depend on
what the friends of the object will now contribute toward paying for it.
I will subscribe one dollar for every ten dollars that may be subscribed
and paid on account of the Church debt within the year 1855. In other
words, I will add ten per cent to any amount which may be contributed. I
may remark, that in engaging in this project, I had not a dollar which I
wished to put out at interest. I want much more than my capital in my
mercantile business. I am in fact borrowing, to lend to the Church. But
it is God's cause, and I have had to trust in Him to bear me through it.
The failing health of my dear brother, J. C. Crane,[A] and the want of
his invaluable co-operation with me, as well as the lack of hearty,
zealous assistance on the part of many other brethren and friends, has
been painful to me. But I hope, now that the house is finished, the
friends of our Redeemer's cause and of the African race generally, may
not fail in lending their efficient aid.

[Footnote A: Died March 31, 1857. See Memoir of Southern Baptist
Publication Society.]

I have only to add, brethren, "the time is short;" we must all of us
soon appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to render an account of
all the talents committed to our charge. If God has given me a talent
for the acquisition of money over and above what my duty to my family
requires, I regard myself bound as a good steward to exert that talent
entirely for Him. I am not my own, and I feel perfectly assured that any
individual who possesses the tact and ability for acquiring money is
neccessarily (_sic._) the best qualified for a judicious and proper
disbursement of it; and I dare not try to leave my earthly acquisitions
in testamentary charitable bequests--to the inexperienced and uncertain
management of those who may come after me.

"May God help us to work for Him, and at last may we hear, 'Well done,
good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.'"

This paper was read to the congregation, probably a thousand people,
immediately after Dr. Fuller had preached the opening sermon, Feb. 18,
1855; and a collection was taken of about one hundred dollars.
Subsequent to this, a venerable widow lady of Baltimore contributed
$500, and other quite liberal donations were made.

On the 1st of July, 1855, Mr. Crane rendered a full account to the
Church and trustees, of all the monies received and bills paid on the
building; showing that the entire cost
of it was,............................$18,207,73

Total am't of collections credited,.....9,547,86
Leaving balance over-paid by him, .... $8,659,87

The trustees then gave Mr. Crane a bond for this balance, and a lease on
the building, until this debt, with interest on it, could be paid.

Our Church now had great cause of gratitude at finding ourselves in a
fine large Chapel, in the centre of our city--a room 100 feet long, and
19 feet high, with a gallery at each end, a baptistery, gas lights, and
sliding partitions, to make two closed rooms under the galleries, when
needed for the changing of clothes on baptismal occasions, as well as
for our Church prayer and conference meetings.

We were in hopes that we could rent out the large hall, together with
the six other spacious rooms in the two upper stories, for schools,
benevolent societies, &c., so as to pay the interest on our debt, if no
more; but so far, we have not been able to do this. My own trials, with
my family, have greatly retarded my efforts in this matter. We have had
the largest and best week-day school for colored children in the city--a
part of the time with three teachers and over one hundred scholars--but
for four years, no rent has been received from the school. The prices
for tuition have been so low, that they have hardly sustained the
teachers; but we trust that our people have derived much benefit from
them already, and hope they may receive much more good from them in the
future. Since the dedication of our Chapel, our Church has more than
doubled its membership, and the congregation has increased four-fold;
while on our baptizing occasions the hall is generally full. We have
always held three meetings for worship every Sunday, to accommodate many
servants, who have no command of their time, and also regular Wednesday
and Friday evening prayer and conference meetings. Our Sunday school has
always had two sessions a day--an hour and a half in the morning, and an
hour in the afternoon.

I have been necessarily much hindered in my own labors, from pecuniary
embarrassments, arising from the sale of my children, who were left in
Virginia--two daughters and three sons. The first of these, who was
about to be sold, and taken away South, was my oldest daughter; and it
was with great difficulty and the help of friends that I raised eight
hundred and fifty dollars, and got her on to Baltimore. But I was soon
called upon to make a similar effort to save my eldest son from being
sold far from me. Entirely unexpected, I received the painful news that
my boy was in one of the trader's jails in Richmond, and for sale. The
dealer knew me, and was disposed to let me have him, if I could get any
one to purchase him. I was, of course, deeply anxious to help my boy;
but I began to think that I had already drawn so heavily on the
liberality of all my friends, that to appeal to them again seemed out of
the question. I immediately wrote to the owners of my son, and received
an answer--that his price was fixed at seven hundred dollars.

The fact is, God had already done so much more for me and my family than
we had ever expected, that we could not tell what further help He might
give us, until we had asked Him for it; and we could but pray over this
trying affair. I hardly knew what else to do, but pray. The boy was
twenty years old, and had been accustomed to waiting in the house, for
the most respectable families. It occurred to me, that I might perhaps
get him a home near me, where we might see him and use our parental
influence over him. I thought it was possible, that I might find three
hundred persons among my friends in Baltimore, who would contribute one
dollar each to save my son, and that I might then obtain some friend in
Baltimore to advance four hundred dollars, and let my son work it out
with him: and give this friend a life insurance policy on the boy, as a
security. This plan seemed practicable, and I wrote to his owners,
asking for ten days to raise the money; which they granted me.

I now got my case made known publicly to the different colored
congregations in the city--and was very much surprised to find how many
friends I had, and how kindly they engaged in helping me. The result of
it was, that I obtained the three hundred dollars, and also a kind
friend to advance the four hundred dollars, within the ten days, and
recovered my son; who is now doing well, in working out the money
advanced on him.

So far, I felt that I had great reason to say, "Hitherto the Lord hath
helped me." I had obtained my own freedom and also that of my wife and
four children.

But three of my children were still in bondage. In 1856, the mistress of
these remaining ones died; and in settling up her estate, it became
necessary to sell all her servants at auction with her other property.
This was the decision of the Court; and commissioners were appointed to
carry out the sale, on the 1st of January, 1857. I felt now, that I had
gone as far as I could in getting my family free; for I felt very
certain that my daughter, about whom I felt the greatest anxiety, would
sell at auction for more money than I could get any of my friends in
Baltimore to give for her; and I saw no way to do any thing for the two
boys. I thought I had no chance of raising any more money myself, and I
could only pray the Lord to grant us His grace, to reconcile us and the
children, to whatever might come upon us. But before the end of the
year, when the sale was to take place, the time was extended six months
by the Court. My hopes now began to revive again; I began to think that
if I could be at the sale, my daughter, though a grown up girl might
possibly not bring over six or seven hundred dollars. In that case, I
might perhaps get six or twelve months time, and get some friend in
Baltimore to help me, as had been the case with my son. The sale was
postponed for six months longer, and finally occurred, Jan. 1, 1858.

The money panic, of 1857, had partially destroyed my hopes of doing
anything to relieve my daughter;--But I had secured the promise of a
kind friend in Baltimore, to go to Fredericksburg with me, and if he
liked the appearance of the boys, to buy one or both of them. But in
this I was disappointed; for on the day of sale this gentleman was
confined to his house by sickness. The sale went on. My oldest son, aged
twenty-one, sold for $560; and the younger one, just turning his
seventeenth year, brought $570. They were bought in by their young
master. But my daughter was run up to $990, by a slave trader, who after
the sale agreed to let my friends have her, for me, for eleven hundred
dollars. These friends were gentlemen of the first standing in the
place, who, out of kindness to me, whom they had well known for years,
gave their bond jointly for the amount, and in this case again I got the
girl's life insured for one thousand dollars as a security for them. The
girl was of course left in the hands of these gentlemen, in whom I had
the most implicit confidence.

I returned to Baltimore, and prepared for the redemption of my child. I
had a circular printed, showing the facts as they were, and scattered it
among my friends.


Account of A Visit to the northern Cities--True Friends.

During the winter and spring, I used every effort in my power in the way
of collecting funds, but, though I met with the most generous sympathy
and kindness from all my friends--up to the 1st of June I had in hand
only one hundred and fifty dollars. I then applied to the Mission Board,
for permission to travel and solicit funds to help me out of my
distress. This was readily granted me. Having obtained a certificate,
relative to the objects of my journey, signed by Rev. Franklin Wilson,
Secretary of our State Missionary Board, as well as by the pastors and
other friends in Baltimore, I started once more on this painful business
of begging money, to purchase my fifth child out of slavery. I went to
Philadelphia, and met with marked attention from the ministers of the
Baptist churches generally, and especially from Rev. Messrs. McKean,
Cole, and Griffith, with whom I had been acquainted in Baltimore; as
well as Revs. Messrs Cuthbert and Malcom, and the editors of the
Christian Chronicle, Presbyterian, &c. I obtained in this city nearly
two hundred dollars.

With a view to meet a particular friend in Boston, I was induced to
visit that city next. The many acts of kindness and sympathy I met with
there can never be effaced from my memory. I had a special introduction
to the Messrs. Gould and Lincoln, book publishers. To the latter, I owe
a lasting obligation.--Through him I obtained a hearing of my case in
Mr. Anderson's church, Roxbury, where I obtained very liberal aid, while
the pastor was absent, as well as in many other cases.

I called on Rev. Dr. Stow, who allowed my case to be presented to his
congregation, at an evening meeting, where I received some fifty
dollars. He also gave me a letter of commendation to the other Baptist
ministers, with a request that they would also sign it, which a large
number did. The article was then published gratuitously for me in the
"Watchman and Reflector" and "Christian Era." Rev. L. A. Grimes, pastor
of the 12th Baptist Church, (colored,) from the respectable position
which he occupied in the community, did much for me, in furthering my
cause, and introducing me to others, especially at the daily prayer

I had the great privilege and pleasure of mingling with the people of
God of every name, in these blessed meetings. The first I went to, was
at the old South Chapel. Here I felt at first greatly embarrassed when
called on to speak or pray. I thought that those who came to these
meetings must be among the most pious and intelligent people in Boston.
The kind manner in which they treated me, confirmed me in my impressions
of them. But the best meetings, I think I ever enjoyed on earth, for
such a length of time, (nearly two months,) was at what was called the
North street prayer meeting, or Father Mason's. This was in a large
upper room. It really appeared to me, that the most of those who met at
this place each day at twelve o'clock to spend an hour in prayer, to
tell what God had done for their souls, had been made "ready," by the
Spirit of God before they reached that sacred spot.--

I know, I shall fail to present a true picture of this heavenly place;
for such it was to me, and many others. But, it may be, that my own
peculiar circumstances may have rendered the meetings unusually
precious to me. But they were good to me in many respects. I was a poor
colored man, in distress, and needed christian sympathy. I found it
truly, among the many white friends with whom I met in the North street
prayer meeting. There, in that meeting, the dear friends would pray with
me and for me. In a word, I felt at times it was good for me to be
afflicted, for surely, if it had not been for my peculiar circumstances,
I should never have been inside the Old South Chapel, or North street
prayer meeting, where I enjoyed so much of God's presence, and found so
many real friends, in the midst of strangers. I felt that I realized
what the apostle Peter meant: "If need be, ye are in heaviness, through
manifold temptation, that the trials of your faith, being much more
precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might
be found unto praise and honor and glory, at the appearing of Jesus
Christ."--(1 Peter 1: 6,7.) Also, "For I will show him how
great things he must suffer for my name's sake."--(Acts 9: 16.) The
arguments I drew from these passages of Scripture were, to show that
when God wanted to purify our faith, and strengthen our confidence in
Him, He would send trials upon us. And to let us see how great the
things we must suffer for His name's sake, and to let us see too how
great the grace He gives us, to enable us to endure hardness, as good
soldiers of the cross.

Suffice it to say, the friends in Boston and its vicinity gave me about
four hundred dollars towards the purchase of my daughter. I had the
privilege of meeting the Baptist ministers in their conference meeting.
Here the Rev. Mr. Tilson, pastor of the First Baptist Church at Hingham,
invited me to spend a Sunday evening at his place, which I did, very
greatly to my own satisfaction and profit. During my stay in Boston, I
visited several of the smaller towns adjacent to it,--Lynn, Cambridge,
Melrose, Malden, Chelsea, and others, and I was kindly received at all
of them. I collected in Lynn something like $50, the most of which was
given to me by the members of the 2nd Baptist Church. Just before
leaving Boston, to my great and agreeable surprise, I met Dr. F. Patten,
surgeon in the U. S. Navy, (my former owner,) in the street, in that
city. I had not seen him for seven or eight years, and had no thought
of seeing him in Boston. He recognized me first, and spoke to me before
I knew he was near; but I instantly knew him. We greeted each other
heartily, and he invited me to visit him at Chelsea. This I did, the
same afternoon, and was kindly treated.

While I sat there with him and his children, and he was looking over my
subscription book, I was constrained to look back for fifteen years,
over all the way the Lord had brought me, since the day this same
gentleman had given me privilege to purchase my freedom, and handed me a
pass, saying, "I am not afraid of you running away, Noah--you may go
where you please." I reflected, suppose I had stayed away, when I was in
Boston, twelve years ago, begging money to buy myself--how would it be
with me and my family to-day? But I have tried to acknowledge the Lord
in all my ways, always asking counsel of Him, and I now feel that He has
kindly directed and kept me.

I also visited New Bedford, where I met a large number of my old
acquaintances from Virginia, and had the privilege of presenting my
object to several of the Churches, and I received in all about $50. I
next went to Providence, Rhode Island, where I spent a couple of weeks
greatly to my advantage. It was indeed "providence" to me. I was
permitted to present my case to nearly all the Baptist Churches in that
city. Five of these aided my cause; but their great kindness deserves
some particular notice. The first one I visited was Rev. Mr. Stone's,
whose congregation, with himself, greatly encouraged me. At the First
Church I told my story before an evening meeting, and shall never forget
the kindness of the pastor, the senior deacon, and others. I obtained
here nearly $100. I was kindly assisted by Rev. Mr. Keyser's Church, as
also the Fourth Baptist Church. But at the Central Baptist Church, Rev.
Mr. Fields', I found unbounded kindness and liberality. After seeing my
letters of recommendation, the pastor invited me to his prayer meeting,
where I was favored with the privilege of telling my story, freely. I
had been from home several months, and had collected in all about seven
hundred dollars, but still lacked about four hundred to accomplish my
object. I was receiving letters every week from my Church and family,
saying that my presence at home was greatly needed; but the idea of
going home without accomplishing my great object, filled me with
distress. While speaking to the meeting, and telling how God had
delivered me from time to time out of trials, I felt such a sense of my
condition, that for the moment I could not restrain my feelings--my
heart became so full, that it stopped all utterance. At the close of the
meeting, the people showed their sympathy for me by giving me a
collection of sixty one dollars.--One dear brother, (may the Lord bless
him!) came forward, and presenting me with a ten dollar bill, said,
"Brother Davis, give yourself no more trouble about that daughter.--You
say you have to stop in New York. Let me say, that when you get home,
whatever you lack of the four hundred dollars, write to me, and I will
send you a check for the balance." This was spoken in the presence of
the whole meeting. I felt completely at a loss for words of gratitude
and thanksgiving; and merely said, the day is broke, and the Lord has
appeared for me indeed!

I now left Providence, feeling in my heart that the place is rightly
called by that name, as far as I am concerned.

I then went to New York. In that great city, I met with considerable
assistance. I never started out, but it seemed that the Lord directed my
steps. I was allowed to address a prayer meeting of the First Baptist
Church, whose pastor was the late excellent Rev. A. K. Nott, and was
aided to the amount of over seventy dollars.

Rev. Dr. Lathrop, with much christian kindness, invited me to his night
meeting; but a severe rain prevented any attendance. He invited me
again, and then he was absent because of illness. I was depressed with
disappointment; but he had sent a request that I might be heard, (as I
afterward learned,) and I was called on to state my case to the
audience. I was taken by surprise, for the pastor's illness had taken
all hope from me of accomplishing anything there. Still I begun, by
telling my experience. I said that when it had pleased God to convert my
soul, I thought that all my trouble was gone, and gone forever; but I
had since learned that I was much mistaken--I had learned that "in the
world we shall have tribulation." I then went on to state my present
trouble and distress--and before I left the meeting, I received with
heart-felt gratitude, one hundred and thirty four dollars. This reminded
me of Providence.

Rev. Drs. Gillette and Armitage treated me with much generous sympathy,
as also did many others.

I visited Greenport on Long Island, where Rev. Henry Knapp kindly aided
me. Elders Swan and Read, and the brethren generally at New London,
aided me to the amount of about fifty dollars.


Conclusion--Object of this Book.

I now left the north, for home, and arrived there safely. My friends
greeted me cordially on my success in collecting money.

I still lacked, however, one hundred and forty-two dollars of the needed
eleven hundred. I had used every effort in my power to prevent the
necessity of having to call on my generous friend in Providence. But in
spite of all my endeavors, I had to make known to him this deficiency,
which he immediately and generously supplied, by remitting me a check
for the full amount.

I was now prepared to go after my daughter, which I did, December 1st,
1858; thus releasing her within one year from the time she was sold. She
is now with me, and doing well.

I received a promise from the young master of my two sons, at the time
he purchased them, that if I should succeed in paying for my daughter
during that year, he would let me know what I might have my two boys
for. At the time, my boys were about returning to Richmond, where they
had been hired out for several years. I charged them to let me hear a
good report of their conduct; and if I could do anything for them, after
I had got through with the purchase of their sister, I would do it. This
pledge I made to the boys, in the presence of their master's agent.

Having, through the aid of a kind Providence, been enabled to pay for my
daughter, I have felt it my duty to turn my attention toward redeeming
my word to my last children now in bondage.

But this, of course, has called up anxious thought and prayerful
meditation. I have also considered the peculiar condition of my
church--the large outlay of money in the erection of the building, and
the heavy debt hanging upon it, which is increased every year by the
interest. I have also considered how long I have been supported in this
field of labor by the Missionary Board of the Southern Baptist
Convention and the Maryland Baptist Union Association.

The question then occurred to me, Could I not, by _making a book_, do
something to relieve myself and my children, and ultimately, by the
same means, help my church, under its heavy debt, and also relieve the
Missionary Board from helping me. This idea struck me with so much
force, that I have yielded to it--that is, to write a short Narrative of
my own life, setting forth the trials and difficulties the Lord has
brought me through to this day, and offer it for sale to my friends
generally, as well as to the public at large; and I hope it may not only
aid me, but may serve to encourage others, who meet with similar
difficulties, to put their trust in God.




TEXT.--"But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of
his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an
infidel."--1 Tim. 5:8.

In this chapter, we have several christian duties set forth by the
apostle Paul, to Timothy, a young preacher of the gospel, who was to
teach other christians to observe them, as evidences of the genuineness
of their faith in Christ.

That faith which does not produce obedience to the commands of Jesus
must be regarded as defective. Religion requires us to love God, and all
men, and we must show our faith, by a life consistent with our

If human nature, fallen as it is, prompts men of the world to labor
zealously to supply their own temporal necessities and the wants of
those whom Providence has made to depend upon them, how much more will
it be expected of those who profess to have drank of that pure Fountain
of love, the Spirit of our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. God
has indeed doomed man to eat his bread in the sweat of his face; but as
if to reward him, he has connected with it a pleasure in the labor, and
especially, in our efforts to do good to others.

In speaking from these words, let us first consider what is here meant
by "providing" for "his own;" secondly, "and especially for those of his
own house;" thirdly, what it is to "deny the faith;" and lastly, draw a
comparison between the one who "hath denied the faith" and the

1. In the first place, we are to consider the duty enjoined in the text,
to provide for our own: which we understand to mean our own temporal
wants, such as food and raiment and every temporal benefit. Every man is
bound by the laws of nature to provide for himself the necessaries of
life, honestly in the sight of God and men, as far as in him lieth. This
both reason and common sense dictate. This religion inspires. "He that
will not work, shall not eat," is the teaching of the word of God.
"Provide things honest in the sight of all men," is the instruction of
the great apostle to the Gentiles; at the same time giving them an
example, by working with his own hands, to supply his necessities, and
the wants of those who were with him. I have heard it said that a lazy
person cannot be a christian, and the same idea seems to be supported in
my text.

"But if any provide not for his own." Religion benefits those who
possess it, by regulating their appetite for temporal things, as well as
giving them a relish for spiritual ones. While we are in love with sin,
we labor hard to enjoy its pleasures. How industriously do wicked men
labor for what they can eat, drink and wear. And shall a christian be
less active to secure for himself the necessaries of life?--he would
prove himself indeed to be worse than the infidel. But we have other
wants to be supplied, beside those of the body. God has given to all men
an intellectual nature--a mind, which distinguishes them from the
brutes. These minds are capable of improvement; and every man is under
obligation to make use of the means and opportunities which God has
given him for cultivating his mind, by educating himself, that he may be
useful to himself and those around him. But man is a social being as
well as an intellectual one. "God hath made of one blood, all nations of
men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth."--(Acts 17: 26.) Much of
our happiness, and usefulness in this world arises from this quality
which man possesses over the animal creation. And just in proportion, as
we shall cultivate, and refine our social and intellectual natures, just
in that proportion, shall we rise above the level of the savage and the

But man has a soul, which must be fitted for the enjoyment of God, here
and hereafter. Now to provide for the wants of the soul, is our highest
duty on earth.--Sin has unclothed us of that innocence in which our
Creator first made us, and the responsibility now rests upon every soul,
to provide a clothing which will stand the inspection of God himself.
This clothing, Christ has prepared through His sufferings, and death,
and it is given to all them that believe in Him. And surely, if it be
our duty to provide temporal things for ourselves, and for those of our
own house, how much more are we bound to seek and secure the one thing

2. But we will consider in the second place, what is meant by providing
for our own house?--"and especially for those of his own house?" House
here means family. First, we will consider the duty devolving upon a
christian parent, in making suitable provision for his own house, or
family. This embraces all we have urged as his duty to himself. It is
the duty of all parents, to provide for their families every temporal
good which adds to their own comfort or usefulness in life. And it is no
less the duty of parents to provide for the spiritual necessities of
their own families. And first--we shall consider the duty of parents, to
provide suitable training for their children. This is a duty which God
has enjoined and approves. He said of Abraham, "For I know him, that he
will command his children and his household after him, and they shall
keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may
bring upon Abraham, that which He hath spoken of him." The duty of
parents to train their children religiously, is clearly taught under the
gospel dispensation.

"And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Here, we have divine
authority, for teaching our children, the things, which make for their
good, both in this life and that which is to come. But it may be asked,
to what extent are parents bound to comply with these high and solemn
obligations? We answer, to the utmost of their ability. To whom much is
given, of him much is required, and to whom little is given, of him
little is required.--But all are bound to train up their children "in
the way they should go, that when they are old, they may not depart from
it." This duty is seen in the judgments which God has visited upon those
parents and children who have neglected to obey the Lord in this
particular.--(1 Samuel 2: 34.)

3. We are, in the third place, to enquire what it is to "deny the
faith." Much is said in the Scriptures about faith. Much depends upon
it. We are said to be "justified by faith," and "saved by faith;" we
"live by faith." And inasmuch, as such as are spoken of in the text are
said to be worse than an infidel, because they provide not for
themselves and families, thereby showing that they have denied the
faith, therefore let us try to consider what genuine faith is, and what
it is to deny it. This is the most important point in the subject now
before us. "Without faith it is impossible to please God."

We will consider some of the effects of this distinguishing grace. There
are several kinds of faith spoken of in the Bible. In one case, men are
said to "believe for a while." This faith is shown us in the parable
taught by our blessed Saviour, in the characters represented by the seed
sown upon the rock, "which for a while believe, and in time of
temptation fall away."--(Luke 8: 33.)

There is a faith which is called dead.--"Even so faith, if it hath not
works, is dead, being alone."--(James 2: 17.) But the faith which
enables the christian to obey the Saviour in all things, is said to
"work by love."--(Gal. 5: 6.) Now we say that those who have this faith,
will never deny it. The counterfeit may deceive, but the genuine cannot.
We say this faith cannot deny itself. All who are spoken of in the Old
Testament as having this faith never denied it. By it Abel made a more
excellent sacrifice to God than Cain. By it, Enoch walked with God, when
the other portion of mankind walked in the vain wicked imaginations of
their own hearts. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen
as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his house."
"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."

This is the grace which enables believers to renounce the pleasures of
sin, which are but for a season. It gives them a complete victory over
the world. It abideth with hope and charity. Now, whosoever professes
this faith, and then by his unholy life denies it, by neglecting to
provide for his own, and especially for those of his own house, makes it
manifest that he never had it. It is as unchangeable as its Author, for
it is the gift of God. It prompted Noah to labor over a hundred years,
to build an ark, to save his house. And what it has done, it will
continue to do, for those who have it. This is the principle in religion
which purifies the heart, overcomes the world, and causes christians to
love one another, whatever may be their circumstances, or color or rank
in life.

4. We are now in the fourth and last place to draw a comparison between
those who deny the faith, and an infidel. Now an infidel, is an
unbeliever in the religion of Christ.--Yet he provides for his own, and
especially for those of his own house. In this he is consistent with
himself. Here he acts from reason, and principles of nature. But the
individual who denies the faith, is one, who has taken upon himself the
solemn vow before God and men, that he will act out what his profession
supposes him to be in possession of, which is superior in its influence,
to the infidel's principles, yet he fails to do as much.

But again, an infidel is a bad man, and makes no pretensions to hide it.
But he who contradicts his profession, by denying it in the manner here
set forth, is worse for attempting to cover up a character, which in
itself is no better. But consider the effect produced by a false faith,
(and we have shown, that such a faith, as does not come up with the
infidel's, is false,) it does the person no harm. Many persons, when
they make a profession of faith, suppose it is the true faith, but after
a while, they find that their faith does not work by love, it does not
purify their hearts. They love sin secretly, as much as before. They
love worldly company as well as ever. And they find the employments,
which their profession enjoins upon them, irksome and dry. Such persons
are greatly deceived, yet they are ashamed to confess it, and throw off
the mask of profession. And such persons are often the greatest
fault-finders with those, whose true faith inspires them to endure
hardness, afflictions and deny themselves and take up their cross, so
that they may glorify their Saviour in their bodies and spirits which
are the Lord's.

In conclusion, dear brethren, let us, who have made a profession of
faith, examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith of the gospel, or
not. "Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you,
except ye be reprobates." AMEN.




(As quoted from the Minutes of their respective
bodies, for the year 1859.)

Sharp st. and Wesley Chapel, Meth. Ep.,     1812
Orchard st. and Asbury,         "           1508
Dallas st.,                     "            119
Bethel, Saratoga st.,     African M.E.,     1398
Ebenezer, Montgomery st.,      "   "         600
Union Bethel, Fell's Point,    "   "         100
Water's Chapel, Spring st.,    "   "          98
Mission   "     Tissia st.,    "   "          77
South Howard st. Chapel, Zion Meth.,         200
St. Thomas', Chesnut st., Meth. Prot.,        70
St. James', Saratoga st., Episcopal,         100
Presbyterian church, Madison st.,             69
First Baptist, cor. Young and Thomson st.,    99
Union Baptist, Lewis st.,                     63
Saratoga st. African Baptist Chapel,          73
Total Col'd Prot. Religious Popul'n,        6386


(Rendered to the S. S. Union, for 1859.)

                            B     C     O
                            I     O     L      F      M
                            B     N     S      E      A
                            L     V     .      M      L    S
                            E     E            .      E    C
                                  R     L                  H
                            R     S     I      T      T    O
                            E     I     B      E      E    L
                            A     '     R      A      A    A
                            D     N     '      C      C    R
                            S     S     Y      H      H    S
                            .     .     .      .      .    .
Sharp st.,  M.E.,                      200    15     15   200
Orchard st.,            "                      6      9   177
Asbury,                 "         2                  45   259
Dallas st.,             "                     20     17   250
John Wesley,            "              250    10     10   120
Bethel, African M.E.,       60   15    200    16     16   350
Ebenezer,     " "                                    27   178
Spring st.,   " "                      113           13   120
Allen chapel, " "                              6           58
Union Bethel, " "                                    11    86
Good Samaritan, "                              6           60
Tissia st.,    " "                     108            6    30
St. Thomas, M.P.,                      200     3      4    56
S. How'd st., Zion,                            5      7   102
Mt. Olive, Ind.,                               3      7    40
Presbyterian,                                 20     10   240
Episcopal,                             205     5      5    70
First Col'd Baptist,                    78     3      3    33
Union,        "                                      11    86
Saratoga st., "             40    1    250     8      6   150
Aggregate,                 106   18   1604    126   222  2665


This Seminary for colored people, was opened in the upper rooms of the
African Baptist Chapel building, in December, 1856, and in a few months,
over one hundred scholars, were in attendance. But from circumstances
which need not be narrated, in 1857, the school was removed away,
without any rent having ever been paid for the use of the rooms. A
second time a school has been collected of over one hundred scholars,
but, up to the present time, August, 1859, the trustees of the building
have never received any sort of compensation for the use of the rooms,
occupied by the Institute.

Mr. J. G. Goodridge, lately a teacher of a Public School, in York, Pa,
has now rented the rooms, and his friends feel great confidence in the
success of his labors.

It may be remarked, that the large colored population of Baltimore, now
from thirty to forty thousand souls, have no sort of Public School
provision made for them, by the city or state governments. They are left
entirely to themselves for any education they may obtain.

The above named Institute combines advantages for the education of
colored children far superior to any other in the city.


Prayer Meeting Hymn Book.

_Containing over three hundred Hymns, with many favorite Choruses._


This book is bound in leather, it convenient to carry in the pocket, and
has been received with much favor, many thousands having been sold
during the first year of its publication. It contains all the Hymns most
used in Prayer Meetings and Revivals; these have been collected from
many different volumes, no other single book containing all of them. It
is provided at a low price. The retail coat being only twenty-five
cents, it will circulate where larger and costlier volumes are
neglected; and being designed only for the circle of prayer and the
revival, will not interfere with the use of the regular Church Hymn

The Cheap Edition is furnished at the following prices:

_Single copies_,                       25 _cts._
_One dozen copies_,                 $2,25
_One hundred copies_,              $17,00

To please the various tastes of purchasers, three editions
in fine binding have been prepared, at the annexed prices:

_Roan_, 40 _cts._, _Full Gilt_, 60 _cts._, _Turkey mor._, 75 _cts._

The following lots are arranged for convenience:

16 plain at 25 cts., 4 roan at 40 cts., 2 gilt at 60 cts.
Being $6,80 worth of books for $5.

30 plain at 25 cts., 8 roan at 40 cts., 5 gilt at 60 cts.
Being $13,70 worth of books for $10.

60 plain at 25 cts., 16 roan at 40 cts., 11 gilt at 60 cts.

These packages can go by Express, or any means directed.

Character Book:




The object of this Book is to give a weekly report to parents of the
studies, attendance, deportment, standing and progress of pupils at
school. The CONDUCT of the pupil is marked under the head of General
Deportment, with the following degrees: Excellent, Good, Tolerable,
Unsatisfactory, Inattentive, Idle, Disorderly, Disrespectful, Careless.
A written excuse is required for every exercise omitted, or for leaving
school before the hour of dismissal. Parents or guardians are requested
to examine the weekly reports of the Character Book, sign their names to
them, and return the Book on Monday morning. A _good name_ is rather to
be chosen than great riches.

_Price to Teachers: Fifty cts. a dozen._

The First School Book.

_Illustrated with numerous Engravings._


This is an instructive Primer, for children, combining a series of
progressive spelling lessons, commencing with the alphabet, and
interspersed with simple rhymes and easy sentences in prose, accompanied
with many pictures. The Primer contains Dr. Watts' celebrated Cradle
Hymn, the verses entitled "Mary and her Lamb," the "Busy Bee," &c. Those
who wish to change from the heavy and badly printed "Spelling Books" in
present use, will find this to be more attractive to the young beginner,
and more likely to coax him a step forward in his first lessons.

The Testimony of a Hundred Witnesses:

_Or, the Instrumentalities by which Sinners are brought to Embrace the
Religion of Jesus Christ._


This Volume contains the history of One Hundred Conversions, written
mostly expressly for this publication, by Christian individuals in the
various evangelical denominations. It is, in a word,


In which each person relates briefly the experience of his own heart
concerning the great salvation. Among the number are about fifty
ministers, some of the most able and renowned of the past and present
ages. These interesting narratives show some of the causes which lead
sinners to become concerned for their eternal welfare,--their resistance
to the force of the Truth and the strivings of the Holy Spirit,--their
subsequent struggles against their own evil dispositions, or "carnal
mind,"--and their final perseverance toward the way of life, by true
repentance, and an acceptance through faith in Christ, of the blessings
which follow the love of God shed abroad in the soul.

Place this book in your family, and cause it to be circulated among your
neighbors, that it may awaken many sinners, and edify the saints of God.
Form clubs of a dozen or more, and send for the work, which will be
forwarded at $4.00 per dozen, cash, in any way directed. A single copy
sent by mail, post-paid, on receipt of fifty cents.

Canvassers can make good wages in selling this popular book. All orders
must be acccompanied (_sic._) by the cash, and addressed to the

The Career of John Mortal,


_Illustrated with several Engravings._


This volume presents several rapid and startling pictures of the career
of a man who enjoyed all the pleasures and profits of this world, and
neglected to honor God. John Mortal gained the whole world, and lost his
own soul. The style of the composition is partly allegorical and partly
narrative. It claims no credit for literary excellence, but is published
with the hope of arresting the attention of those who neglect to read
works of a heavier and more solemn appearance, and impressing their
minds with the worthlessness of human vanities and honors.

_Table of Contents._


The beginning of Life.--The first
disappointment.--Apprenticeship.--Follies of Youth.--Sin.


The Child has become a young Man.--He dissipates.--The revelers of
Vagrant Island.--Religion scoffed.--Follies and pains of an irregular
life.--Sickness.--The Friend in need.--Tempter.--"RECRUITS
WANTED."--Enlistment in a regiment of soldiers.--Col. Blood's speech.


The Army.--Advancement.--Mortal succeeds Col. Blood.--The fury of
War.--The slaughter.--Glory.--Unhappiness.--Honor to the brave.--Major


Mortal in love.--He becomes wealthy.--He travels.--Vesuvius.--The grave
of General Gog.--Gambling.--Ruin.


The last scene of all.--Dr. Popular Gospel.--Dimelover and Sharp die
hopefully.--John Mortal's last conversation with Mentor and
Tempter.--Despair and Death.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Narrative of the Life of Rev. Noah Davis, A Colored Man - Written by Himself, At The Age of Fifty-Four" ***

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