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Gouldtown - BOMA Minute

On this day, April 17 1843, Theophilus Gould Steward was born in Gouldtown, New Jersey. Gouldtown just might be the oldest so-called colored settlement in America, In 1675 an Englishman by the name of John Fenwick purchased the land. The black township derived its name however, from a black man named Gould who married Elizabeth Fenwick, granddaughter of the wealthy colonist. Their union caused a scandal which rocked the New Jersey for miles around and inflamed Fenwick with shame and disgrace. Intermarriage between blacks and whites in those days was taboo and in some states, forbidden. However, the couple toughed it out and raised a family.

Theophilus was rare in that he was raised in a free black family in a town owned by free black people in the mid-1800’s; rare indeed. In 1863, at age 20 he became an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Following the Civil War, Steward helped organize A.M.E. Churches in South Carolina and Georgia. He was also active in the Reconstruction efforts in Georgia. He graduated from the Episcopal Divinity School of Philadelphia. Later in 1881, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree from Wilberforce University.

This has been a Breath of My Ancestors Minute brought to you by the Institute of Radical Reconciliation… #WeMustNeverForget

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