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.