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Biographical Index of Missionaries — Africa

Biographies are developed by PHC volunteers and staff from original research and from various published sources. This list is constantly being updated. Corrections and additional materials, such as photos or drawings will be made from time to time. There also is a missionary biographical listing being prepared for this web site. Eventually, there will be a master alphabetic combined index of ministers and missionaries to aid in searches. Thanks for your patience. Please email additional information or pictures to the PHC.

   Sources for information regarding mission personnel is given in italics. Major sources are the following:
- Arnold, Frank L., Long Road to Obsolescence: A North American Mission to Brazil. (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2008)
- Brown, Arthur Judson, One Hundred Years. (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1936)
- Brown, George Thompson, Earthern Vessels & Transcendent Power: American Presbyterians in China, 1837-1952. (Maryknoll, NY.: Orbis Books, 1997)
- Cogswell, James A., No Turning Back: A History of American Presbyterian Involvement in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1833-2000. (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2007)
- Latourette, Kenneth Scott, A History of the Expansion of Christianity, Vol. V- VI. (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1944)
- Moffett, Samuel Hugh, A History of Christianity in Asia, Vol. II: 1500-1900. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003)
- Nevin, Alfred, Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. 1884.
- Presbyterian Church U.S.A. General Assembly Minutes, 1789-1861, various volumes.
- Scott, Rev. E.C., Ministerial Directory of the Presbyterian Church, U.S., 1861-1941.
- Sweet, William Warren, The Story of Religion in America (New York & London, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1939)
- Thompson, Ernest Trice, Presbyterians in the South, Volume One, 1607-1861. (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1963)

Some of the Early Presbyterian Missionaries to Africa
The involvement of American Presbyterians in Africa began as accompaniment of freed slaves to Liberia. Mission work in Liberia was carried out 1833-1894; in Gabon 1843-1894; and on the island of Corisco 1850-1875.

PINNEY, Rev. John Brooke (sometimes listed as Brooks)
(December 25, 1806 - December 28, 1882)
LIBERIA. Originally a resident of Georgia. Appointed by Western Foreign Missionary Society of Synod of Pittsburgh Jan. 16, 1832. Arrived in Monrovia Feb. 16, 1833. First American Presbyterian missionary to serve in Africa, also first Protestant missionary to serve in Liberia. Served as Agent and Governor of the Board of Managers of the American Colonization Society, for freed slaves returned to Africa. Forced to retire in 1837, broken in health. However, later he became “an indefatigable agent of the Colonization Society, endeavoring to arouse the energies of the friends of that institution.” He returned in 1839 to scout additional missionary stations with Reverends Alward and Canfield, but returned to the U.S. that same year. Cogswell, 6f. Thompson, 296. The Missionary Herald, Vol. 20, 1844, p. 222. Click for additional bio information.

LIBERIA. Appointed by the Presbytery of Philadelphia in 1834 as “Negro assistant missionary.” Arrived in Liberia on Dec. 31, 1833, Temple returned to America around the summer of 1834 after the deaths on numerous missionaries from "African fever." Cogswell, 7. A.J. Brown, 206.

CLOUD, Rev. John & LAIRD, Rev. & Mrs. Matthew (Harriet Myer)
(December 9, 1801 - April 9, 1834) & (c. 1805 - May 4, 1834) & (1803 - May 3, 1834)
Presbyterian missionaries appointed to accompany Pinney to Liberia. However, four months after their arrival on Dec. 31,1833, all three died of dysentery.
John Cloud was born on December 9, 1801, in Cross Creek Township, Washington County, PA.He graduated from Jefferson College in 1830 and graduated from Allegheny Seminary in 1833. He was ordained on October 11, 1833 by the Presbytery of New York at the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City.
Matthew Laird was born about 1805 in Union County, PA. He studied at Milton Academy and graduated from Jefferson College in 1830. He finished his theological education at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1833, being ordained as a missionary on October 1, 1833 by the Presbytery of Northumberland. He had married schoolteacher Harriet Myer on September 30, 1833, in Lewisburg, PA. Harriet Myer was born in 1803 in Wysox, PA. Educated at Briarcliff (1827), she returned to Pennsylvania to start a school in Towanda, and then in 1832 in Lewisburg. The Lairds and John Cloud sailed from Norfolk, VA, on November 6, 1833, and arrived on December 31, 1833, in Liberia. A.J. Brown, 205.

FINLEY, Rev. Josiah F.C.
(c1807 - September 10, 1838)
LIBERIA. A graduate of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) in 1828 and son of Rev. Robert Finley — a founder of the American Colonization Society, Josiah F. C. Finley joined Pinney in Sept. 1834 as superintendent of schools in Monrovia. He built a mission house and started a small farm. However, in October 1835, he returned to America. J. F. C. Finley later returned to Liberia in 1837, supervising emigrants sponsored by the Mississippi State Colonization Society. He served as Governor of the Colony of Mississippi on the Sinoe river. Reportedly, Finley was murdered on September 10, 1838 in Liberia. A.J. Brown, 206. Wilkeson, 1839.

WILSON, Rev. & Mrs. John Leighton (Jane Elizabeth Bayard)
(Mar. 25, 1809 - July 13, 1886) & ( - July 16, 1885)
LIBERIA, GABON. Born Sumter Co., SC, Mar. 25, 1809. Union Col., 1827-1829; Columbia Seminary, 1831-1833. Appointed by Southern Board of Missions, auxiliary society to American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, in 1833. Served at Cape Palmas, Liberia with new colony of freed slaves. Returned to US to marry Jane Elizabeth Bayard on May 21, 1834; they returned to Liberia in 1834, serving there for next seven years. Traveled frequently to the interior. Formed seminary of boarding students. Began printing of Scripture in Greybo language. In 1842, transferred to Gabon, opening work at Baraka, an old slave barracks near Libreville. Served there until 1852. Author, “Western Africa, Its History, Condition & Prospects.” In 1853, elected one of Secretaries of Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, New York City. With outbreak of Civil War in 1861, moved to Columbia, SC, became Executive Secretary of Committee on Foreign Missions of Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America (later Presbyterian Church, U.S.). In 1876, committee headquarters moved to Baltimore, MD, where Wilson served until retirement in 1884. “Pioneer missionary in western Africa, he rendered notable service as linguist, evangelist, author, naturalist, humanitarian, and missionary statesman.” Died July 13, 1886. Cogswell, 7,17,21,68. Scott, 782. Hampden C. Dubose, Rev. John Leighton Wilson, D.D.: Missionary to Africa and Secretary of Foreign Missions (Richmond: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1895). John Miller Wells, Southern Presbyterian Worthies, Chapter II, “John Leighton Wilson: the Foreign Missionary.”(Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1936)

PRIEST, Rev. & Mrs. James M.
( - May 16, 1883)
LIBERIA. Born a slave in Kentucky, James M. Priest was educated by slaveholder Jane Anderson Meaux and sent to Liberia to examine the potential of the colony. On his return to the U.S., Priest received more education and was appointed a Presbyterian missionary. In 1843, he emigrated to Liberian under the auspices of the American Colonization Society and served for 40 years. He was among some 60 American Negro missionaries in Liberia. Served in King Will’s Town, then Greenville. After 1842, only Negro missionaries were sent to Liberia. James M. Priest (shown in the accompanying 1860 photograph) served as vice president of Liberia from 1864 to 1868, and later became a justice of the Liberian Supreme Court.

In April 1843, "The Presbytery of New York has just received under its care Mr. James M. PRIEST, a licentiate of the West Lexington Presbytery, and will ordain him on Sabbath evening next in the Rutgers-street Presbyterian church, (Rev. Dr. KREBS’) services to commence a half-past seven o’clock....Mr. Priest was raised as a slave. He belonged to a pious lady who desired to emancipate her slaves and send them to Africa. With a view to this good object, she sent out Mr. Priest to Liberia to examine the colony and bring back a report of the land. Since his return he has been educated, and now goes forth as a missionary of the Presbyterian Board, to preach the everlasting Gospel in long benighted Africa."

The 1851 Annual Report of the Massachusetts Colonization Society reported on the Liberian missions and the work of Priest: "The third station is on the Sinou river, one hundred and fifty miles down the coast from Monrovia, where, at the mouth of the river, is the town of Greenville, and a few miles higher up, the newer settlements of Readville and Rossville. It is under the care of the Rev. James M. Priest. The number of communicants, at the latest date, was thirty, and the field of labor was rapidly enlarging by immigration. The station is new, and it does not appear that any mission school had yet been organized." Cogswell, 7. A.J. Brown, 208, 212. 10th Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the Massachusetts Colonization Society, May 28, 1851. The African Repository, and Colonial Journal 1843, p. 129.

LIBERIA. Born in Meek Co., NC Dec. 21, 1811. Wife, Mrs. Catherine Sawyer. Student at Jackson College, Columbia, TN., 1836-42. Assembly Training School, 1842-44. Licensed in 1843, ordained 1844 by West Tennessee Presbytery. Sent by BFM to Liberia 1844. Colored teacher at Settra Kroo. “Goes daily to the native town. Has also visited Nanna Kroo and King Will’s Town.” Forced to leave because of declining health in 1849. Served churches in Ohio and Texas 1849-78. Infirm 1879-95. Died near Oakville, TX Oct. 27, 1895. Scott, p. 144.

VAN TYNE, Cecilia Ann
(1811 - March 22, 1886)
LIBERIA. Celia Van Tyne (also spelled Van Tine, Vantyne and Vantine - and once as Van Tyere - in various records) sailed to Liberia in February 1841 with Rev. J. P. Alward and Rev. O. K. Canfield and their wives. As an African-American, She served as a missionary teacher in Settra Kroo in Liberia. Celia returned to the U.S. in 1844 due to health issues. She later would spend seven years with Rev. Mr. Fletcher's family, a portion of this time being with him in his missionary labors in Brazil. On her return to Princeton, New Jersey, she became a teacher of the infant class in the black Sabbath School. In 1867, she went with Rev. L. W. Mudge, to Yonkers, and for ten years was the faithful and devoted nurse of his children. In her later years, she served as Bible reader and missionary among the African-American community in Philadelphia. She died on March 22, 1886, in Brooklyn, NY.

Additional Missionaries Mission/Country Comments
SAWYER, Rev. & Mrs. Robert W. LIBERIA 1842 - 1843. Built a school and served among natives in Settra Kroo. He died in 1843.
McDONOUGH, Mr. Washington LIBERIA Black teacher in Settra Kroo.
WILSON, Rev. & Mrs. T. LIBERIA Black teacher in Settra Kroo. She died in 1843. He died in 1847.
EDEN, Rev. James LIBERIA Served as pastor of Monrovia Church. “Removed by death” 1848. “Among the first who went to Liberia, much respected by acquaintances.”
LEPION, Miss Mary LIBERIA Joined mission in 1846 but “called away by death.”
ELLIS, Rev. & Mrs. H.W. LIBERIA Embark for Monrovia in 1847. “Supported by churches in Alabama and Mississippi by whose liberality he and his family were redeemed from slavery.” Ordained by Presbytery of Tuscaloosa. Succeeds Rev. Eden as pastor of church in Monrovia in 1848.
COKE, Miss Louisa A. LIBERIA Teacher at Settra Kroo. “A colored female highly qualified for teaching.”
In 1847 Liberia becomes an independent Republic. “Missionary work in Liberia is far less difficult than among native tribes.”
ALWARD, Rev. Jonathan P. and wife
( - April 21, 1841)
Cape Palmas
1839 and 1841. Rev. Alward passed away after about one month.
CANFIELD, Rev. Oren K. and wife
( - May 7, 1842)
Cape Palmas
1839 and 1841 - 1842, when Rev. Canfield passed away on May 7, 1842. Settra Kroo.

BUSHNELL, Rev. & Mrs. Albert (Lucina J. Boughton)
He served in Africa 1844-1879, until his death. She served 1853-1885. A.J. Brown, 245, 1096.

OGDEN, Rev. Thomas S. (& Phoebe E. Combs)
Served in Africa 1857-1861, until his death. She served 1857-1851, 1881-1908. A.J. Brown, 245, 1098.

MACKEY, Rev. & Mrs. James L. & SIMPSON, Rev. & Mrs. George L.
CORISCO. Sent by BFM in 1850 to form a new mission on island of Corisco, considering it more healthful than Liberia. However, all but Mr. Mackey died within first year. A.J. Brown, 213.

DeHEER, Rev. & Mrs. Cornelius (Anna Rosenberg)
CORISCO. Arrived in 1855. Work on Corisco showed progress, with outstations at three locations, and translations of Scripture portions into Benga language. Church organized in 1856 and a presbytery formed May 7, 1860, attached to Synod of New Jersey. He served until his death in 1889. She died in 1857. Second wife, Reubina H. Carpenter DeHeer, served 1864-1906. A.J. Brown, 213, 1097.

WILLIAMS, Rev. Edwin Theodore
LIBERIA, CORISCO. Born Savannah, GA, March 12, 1826. College of New Jersey, 1850; Princeton Seminary, 1850-53. 1st wife, Sarah Wells DuPre, Charleston, SC. 2nd wife, Mary Catherine Fleming, Savannah, GA. Missionary to Monrovia, Liberia, and Corisco, 1854-1860. Stated supply, Bryan Co., GA, 1862-63. Pastor, Quincy, FL, 1863-1866. Died August, 9, 1866. Scott, p. 773.

NASSAU, Rev. Dr. Robert Hamill
(October 11, 1835 - May 6, 1921)
GABON, SPANISH GUINEA. Princeton Seminary graduate Class of 1859. Appointed by ABCFM in 1861. First wife, Mrs. Mary C. Latta Nassau, served 1860-1870, until her death. Second wife, Mrs. Mary B. Foster Nassau, served 1881-1884, until her death. Along with Rev. Adolphus C. Good, developed work some 215 miles along the Ogowe River, organizing church at Baraka and mission stations at Angom, Kangwe and Talaguga. With transfer of work in Gabon to Paris Missionary Society in 1897, Nassau transferred to Spanish Guinea. Served 45 years, retiring in 1906. Died in Philadelphia, May 6, 1921. Sister, Isabella A. Nassau, served in Spanish Guinea 1868-1906, until her death June 12, 1906. “Most of the native ministers in Corisco Presbytery were trained by her.” Frederic Perry Noble, The Redemption of Africa (Chicago, New York, Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Co.,1899), 326. R.H. Nassau, My Ogowe (New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1914. A.J. Brown, 216, 247.

GOOD, Rev. Adolphus C. & Mrs. (Lydia B. Walker)
GABON, KAMERUN. After service in Gabon, he explored the hinterland of southern Kamerun; his pioneering work later led to founding of several mission stations. He reduced the Bulu language to writing and made a rough translation of the four Gospels. Died in Efulan, Kamerun December 13, 1894. Cogswell, 9. E.D. Parsons, A Life for Africa: Rev. Adolphus C. Good. (New York: Revell, 1900). A.J. Brown, 249.

PAULL, George
CORISCO, SPANISH GUINEA. Served on island of Corisco until 1865, when transferred to Spanish Guinea, first Protestant missionary in that country. Established mission station at Benito. After serving there three months, he died, May 14, 1865. “Paull’s labours, brief as they were, left a remarkable impress upon the natives and opened the way for the organization of a church of eighteen members, December 11, 1865.” Cogswell, 8. Latourette, V, 431. Samuel Wilson, George Paull of Benita, West Africa. A Memoir (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1872). A.J. Brown, 213f.

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