Rev. Owen L.W. Smith, US Minister to Liberia


Rev. Owen Lun West Smith (1851-1926)


Adora Estelle Oden Smith (1870-1906) of Beaufort, NC. Adora was Rev. Smith’s second wife. His first wife, Lucy Ann Jackson, was  murdered by his insane sister,Millie, on July 6, 1891. Adora and Owen had three children that died young. Rev. Smith’s third wife was Cynthia Ann King Isler (1868-1921) of Grifton, NC. She had four children from a previous marriage. (gleaned from the unpublished  writings of Hugh B. Johnston)

Today I stumbled upon a trove of materials about the the trailblazing Rev. Owen L.W. Smith (1851-1926).  Rev. Smith was born into slavery in Giddenville, Sampson County, NC to Ollen Smith and Maria Hicks and  was a servant in the Confederate army but escaped to become a soldier in the US army and fought  at the Battle of Bentonville.  He later rose to prominence in Wilson as the pastor of the the St. John AME Zion Church and Presiding Elder of the New Bern District of the North Carolina Conference.  Rev. Smith caught the eye of some prominent elected officials and was appointed by President William McKinley as Minister and Consul General to Liberia. You can find lovely post about him over at Black-Wide Awake.

Below are some of his letters printed in the Star of Zion, a Charlotte, NC based newspaper of the AME Zion Church.  You can find more on our Flickr page.



I like his description of first seeing Ireland as he sailed into Queenstown (now Cork). This was the first sight I ever saw of Ireland as I sailed into Cork on an overnight ferry from Swansea, Wales.