Documenting William H. Heard Between 1881 and 1904

Robin Foster
by Robin Foster
William H. Heard, The Bright Side of African Life, Page 92, A.M.E. Publishing House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1898
William H. Heard, The Bright Side of African Life, Page 92, A.M.E. Publishing House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1898

In the blog post Finding Documentation for Your Ancestor’s Timeline we began gathering documents that will help us construct a timeline of his life. Today, we search for resources for documenting William H. Heard between 1881 and 1904.

We found some very good resources that serve to document William H. Heard (1850-1937) between 1881 and 1904. Finding documentation between years 1881-1904 is not easy because of so few records, but given his timeline, it was easy to find resources in each place he was located. If you have an ancestor who was in the same place at the same time as William H. Heard, see if the resources we brought forth also tell you anything about that ancestor.

1882: Assigned to Atlanta, worked federal railway mail clerk job from aiding An Independent Democrat’s campaign for Congress-Atlanta, Georgia

In order to find documentation of William H. Heard in Atlanta, Georgia, look among resources for Fulton County, Georgia.

1883: Gave up job for full time pastorate job-Aiken, South Carolina

To find William H. Heard when he started working full-time as a pastor, search Aiken County, South Carolina.

1885-1888: Mt. Zion, church, won railroad segregation lawsuit in 1887-Charleston, South Carolina

During 1885 to 1888, William H. Heard was stationed in Charleston, SC at Mt. Zion Church. Look for him among Charleston County, South Carolina resources.

In 1887, William H. Heard complained that he was not allowed to ride in first class accommodations while aboard the Georgia Railroad Company. He had to ride on the Jim Crow car on the Georgia Railroad. The Inter-State Commerce Commission heard the case:

New York Times, July 30, 1887:"No "Jim Crow cars"
New York Times, July 30, 1887:”No “Jim Crow cars”

1888: Allen Chapel, Presiding Elder of Lancaster District, Bethel Church

I need to determine the county and state where William H. Heard worked at Allen Chapel and Bethel Church. Then I can search for documentation on him in that place.

Before 1895: Served in churches in Delaware and Pennsylvania

William H. Heard served in Wilmington, Delaware during this period. That means I should be able to find documentation for him if I search through New Castle County, Delaware resources on the Research Wiki.

1895-1899: United States Minister Resident and Consul General to Liberia appointed by President Grover Cleveland, and Superintendent of Liberia Conference, built first A.M.E. Church-Monrovia, Liberia

On March 18, 2013, 200 Free Blacks Leave State of Georgia for Liberia on This Day in 1895 mentioned William H. Heard as one of the 200 blacks leaving for Liberia. In The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925, we learn that William H. Heard had even considered becoming a citizen of Liberia.

I also found the book, The Bright Side of African Life, written by Hon. William H. Heard in 1898. Heard said, “My only reason for attempting to write this book is to clear a sky that has always been cloudy, to bring to light many things that are hidden, to tell the truth where many have purposely dodged it, to make known the present and future of a great country, as I see it.”

Heard gave a great account of his time serving in Liberia. He also gave accounts of people who lived in the United States and where they settled in Liberia.

1899-1904: Served in church posts in Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia

Artisan-Lane Stock Images
Photo of Dr. William H. Heard, 1902, Artisan-Lane Stock Images

Dr. William H. Heard had this photograph published in 1902. Today, you can order a copy for $4.99. I was interested in the places where he served in the A.M.E. Church in Pennsylvania, New York, and Georgia. I wondered how in the world I would find the counties where he was in each state.

I tried to research him and did not find it until I read the description of the photograph just below the photograph on Artisan-Lane Stock Images. I can now look for documentation on him in those states because of a sentence which said: He pastored churches in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia; Aiken and Charleston, South Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and was appointed Minister Resident and Consul General to Liberia by President Grover Cleveland February, 1895.”

He served in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. That means I should look for documents on him in Philadelphia County, Pennsylania and Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. I am still looking for the county in New York where he served.

Sharpen the Saw

Have you an ancestor that could be found among any of the above resources? Tell us who you were able to find in our Facebook Group.

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