A list of Africans and African Americans baptized, married or buried by Saint James clergy as recorded in the church registers 1755-1884 and compiled by Leroy T. Hopkins Jr. PhD, Lancaster, PA. from the hardbound book of Saint James records at LancasterHistory.
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Click here to read the article.
Click here to visit the African American Historical Society of South Central Pennsylvania website and view The Negro Entry Book, 1820-49 with an explanatory article by Dr. Leroy T. Hopkins Jr., Journal of the Lancaster Country Historical Society, 88, no. 4, 1984.
For information about the relationship of local Episcopalians to the issue of slavery, read "Episcopalians and Slavery in Lancaster County from the Colonial Period to the Civil War"
by Mark C. Ebersole, Journal of the Lancaster Country Historical Society, vol. 105, no. 2, 2003.
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To find out more about the history of African Americans and the Episcopal Church, click here to view The Church Awakens: African Americans and the Episcopal Church.
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Major Thomas Boude
Boude was a parishioner whose family thwarted the attempted return to slavery of Nancy Smith, the mother of Stephen Smith, Boude's young indentured servant. This spontaneous action in 1804 in Columbia, PA has been interpreted as one early spark that helped to ignite the Underground Railroad Movement.
Smith remained an indentured servant, but purchased his freedom from Boude in 1816, eventually owning Boude’s lumber business and attaining great wealth. He became a leader in the Underground Railroad, an AME minister and a philanthropist.
(Photos: LancasterHistory and Philadelphia History Museum)
A New Church
In 1817 in a remarkable act of self-determination, 50 free African Saint James members, along with other Black families in the city, organized a new church. Leading white parishioners endorsed this bold initiative, though the stated motive for their support was the desire to maintain social control rather than assist in Black religious independence. The new church was known as Saint James African Church until 1848.
(Map of City of Lancaster, Moody & Bridgens, 1850 Courtesy of LancasterHistory)