I found this history of Bethel College in a book entitled History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. On November 3, 1921, the Alabama Conference of the African American Methodist Episcopal Church held their session at Bryantia Chapel Church in Prattville, Alabama with Rev. P.R. Thompson as pastor. Traveling from Wilberforce, Ohio was Rev. B. F. Lee and from Philadelphia was Bishop W. H. Heard. That night the “conference endorsed Bethel College at Montgomery and established it as an A. M. E. school.”
This article, Negro Methodist Conference Meets: Bethel College Endorsed by A.M.E. Churches appeared in The Montgomery Advertiser on November 4, 1921. It was shared with me by James Morgan III because his ancestor Presiding Elder W. J. Hightower was also present from Dothan, Alabama. Rev. William Jefferson Hightower was responsible for the “Dothan historic landmark”, Cherry Street African Methodist Episcopal Church, which rose from “an obscure chapel.” You can read more about Rev. Hightower and Cherry St. A.M.E. Church in It’s More than a Building: Cherry St. A.M.E. Church. Also attending the conference from Dothan were Revs. C. G. Hatcher and William Ryles.
Conference Covers Several Counties
I remember telling you that we had done four articles in the series on Bishop William H. Heard. I did a Google Search for Bishop William H. Heard in Alabama and did not find anything, but when I saw this article, I knew we needed another post. There are countless names of African Americans from different parts of Alabama. Each left a lasting legacy.
The conference in this article covers several counties: Montgomery, Autauga, Lowndes, Pike, Butler, Wilcox, Escambia, and “parts of other counties.” Some names included were:
- Dr. P W. Walls, Montgomery
- Rev. H. M. Lofton, Fitzpatrick
- Dr. G. W. Allen, editor Southern Christian Recorder, Nashville, TN
- Prof. Ira T., manager Sunday School Union, Nashville, TN
- Rev. A. P. Goy, Nashville, TN
- Dr. H. N. Newsome, Selma
- Dr. W. H. Mixon, Selma
- Dr. F. R. Sims, Montgomery; he is mentioned as the president of Bethel College above in the History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
- Rev. G. B. West, Montgomery district
- Rev. L. V. Starkey, Camden district
- Rev. S. P. Pryor, Andalusia district
- Rev. W. R. Ragland, Opelika
- Rev. E. L. Martin, Hurtsboro
- Rev. R. C. Dickerson, Eufaula
If you get a monthly subscription from Newspapers.com for $7.95, you will be able to search to see if it documents Montgomery area ancestors in The Montgomery Advertiser. Voting records, land deeds, probate records, church records and obituaries are just a portion of what can be found on your ancestor in historic newspapers.
Sharpen the Saw
Does this help you document A.M.E. ancestors living in Montgomery, Alabama or near there? Can you add any information about anyone mentioned in the article or about Bethel College? Let us know in our Facebook Group.