“Scraps of African Methodist Episcopal History” w/ mentions of early presence on the Eastern Shore (Rev. James Handy, 1902)

The first Annual Conference of the A. M. E. Church met in Baltimore, Md., April 12th, 1817. This session was held in the home of Mr. Samuel Williams (a fine two-story building), on High street. Members present were Bishop Richard Allen, who presided; Revs. Daniel Coker, Richard Williams, Edward Waters, Henry Harden, Don Carlos Hall; Revs. Jacob Tapsico and James Champion were visitors from Philadelphia. At this session, Henry Harden, Edward Waters and Charles Pierce were recommended for and ordained Deacons. Some progress had been made financially, in securing additional church property at Sculltown and Mt. Gilboa, in Baltimore County.

        The appointments made by Bishop Allen were:

        Rev. Henry Harden, Bethel Church, Baltimore, with oversight of Bearhill, Frederick Road, Mt. Gilboa, Sculltown and Fells’ Point.

        Assistants to Rev. H. Harden–Richard Williams and Edward Waters.

        Richard Allen, Jr., Secretary.

        The second session of the Baltimore Annual Conference met in Baltimore, Saturday, April 14, 1818, Rt. Rev. Richard Allen presiding. Richard Allen, Jr., Secretary. After devotional exercises, the roll was called, and seven members answered to their names: Bishop Richard Allen, Daniel Coker, Richard Williams, Edward Waters, Henry Harden, Charles Pierce, David Smith and Don Carlos Hall (in whose house the Conference was being held). At this Conference the first Connexional Book Steward was appointed, in the person of Don Carlos Hall.

Says Bishop Payne, in his History: “Possibly no man in the Conference had any conception of what he was doing to promote the influence and power of the Church when he voted for that simple resolution to appoint a Book Steward for the Conference.” At the same time Rev. Henry Harden was appointed book steward for the circuit. Henry Harden, Edward Waters and Richard Williams were elected and ordained elders.

        Appointments made by Bishop Allen:

        Bethel Church, Baltimore, Rev. Henry Harden.

        Union, Bear Hill, Rev. Edward Waters.

        Washington, D. C. (as Missionary), Rev. David Smith.

        Cecil County, Md. (as Missionary), Rev. Jeremiah Miller.

        Oxenhill, Md. (as Missionary), Rev. Peter Schureman.

        The third session of the Baltomore Conference met in Bethel Church, Baltimore, April 16th, 1819. Bishop Richard Allen presided. After religious exercises, Rev. Jacob Mathews called the roll, the following members answered to their names:

        Rt. Rev. Richard Allen, Rev. Henry Harden, Rev. David Smith, Rev. Charles Mathews, Rev. Edward Waters, Rev. Charles Pierce, Rev. Abner Coker, Rev. Shadrack Basset, Rev. John Foulks, Rev. James Chase, Rev. Jeremiah Miller.

        Two persons were admitted on trial at this session: Joseph Chanie and John White. David Smith and Edward Waters and Charles Pierce were ordained elders. This Conference licensed seven brethren to the office of exhorters in the Conference. Rev. Shadrack Bassett was appointed to the Eastern Shore.

        The Annual Conferences met in the following order: One in Baltimore, in April, 1817, and one in Philadelphia, in May, 1817.

        He organized churches at Easton, Denton and Ivory town, and extended the church to French Town, and the Rev. Jeremiah Miller organized churches at Cecilton, Port Deposit and Octorara. These pioneers of our church in Maryland spread the work from the Choptank, on the Eastern Shore, to the Susquehanna River. They were assisted in this work by Joseph Clare, Samuel Todd, Richard Boon, Stephen Standford, Henry Brown and Graves Holland.

        In 1820 we find Rev. David Smith pastor in charge at Washington, D. C.; Peter Schureman at Piscataway, in Prince George County, Md.; Jacob Richardson and J. P. B. Eddy, Frederick County, Md. These men were operating in the interest of the Church, but a permanent organization was not effected until two years later, 1824.

        The Baltimore Conference up to 1820, 1821, 1822, had not laid off its work regularly in stations and circuits. The first General Conference meeting in 1820 paid very little attention to this order of things. But in 1821, the Eastern Shore of Maryland was considered, by common consent, a part of the Baltimore Conference. At this session, the Rev. Jacob Mathews placed it, by motion, under the charge of the Elder in Baltimore; in fact, this Conference session largely transacted the business that should have been transacted by the General Conference. The local preachers were formally admitted to seats in the Annual Conference. This was brought about by motion of Brothers Harden and Webster. By motion of Rev. David Smith, they were deprived of a voice in the Conference against any one of the traveling preachers, except in case of a trial, and then only as witnesses. A “General Rule” was adopted for the government of churches. This rule, it seems, had been drawn up in the city of Philadelphia in July, while the first General Conference was in session; but to this fact no allusion was made, and it was first ratified by the Baltimore Conference for the government of all the churches. This fact indicates the mistaken view which the members of the General Conference entertained concerning their power as a general body.

        This Baltimore Annual Conference, had not only fixed the rules and regulations, but also named the place of meeting of the next General Conference in 1824, in Baltimore. The Annual Conference of 1823, met April 10, and at the opening a very few were present, but all the members answered to their names before the close of the session. Don Carlos Hall, having died during the year, the announcement of his death, together with the memorial services, caused a gloom of sadness over the whole conference. By a unanimous vote Brother Charles Hackett, a layman, was elected steward in his place.

        Henry Harden and Jacob Richardson were the movers in agreement which was reached, that the Annual Conference have the selection of delegates from the district of Baltimore to the General Conference.


Handy, James A. Scraps of African Methodist Episcopal History. 1902. P. 26 – 28.


Brief note on Rev. Lucius C. Matlack, radical abolitionist and author with close connections to Frederick Douglass and the Delmarva

Periphery yet central to the work of uncovering the lost history of Frederick Douglass on the Eastern Shore is uncovering the lost history of the abolitionist movement on the Delmarva.

While Quakers are most commonly valorized and identified with the abolitionist movement in the popular consciousness of the lay historian, the establishment and growth of the Methodist movement on the Eastern Shore is consequential to a more thorough understanding and fluency of the American Antislavery Movement.

Riding throughout the western expanse of the state of Maryland and the Delmarva Peninsula Francis Asbury carried forth a message, while although not abolitionist in nature was antislavery, consistent with the 1784 conference formalizing the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States which declared slaveholders ineligible for Methodist membership.

Out of this tradition emerged Lucius C. Matlack. Born a Quaker in Baltimore City in 1816, Matlack was educated in Philadelphia where he converted to Methodism. Due his proclivity for radical abolitionism he was expelled from the Philadelphia area in the late 1830s. Setting up in the area of Lowell, Massachusetts Matlack was admitted to the New England Conference where he became involved in publishing enterprises.

In 1849 Rev. Matlack wrote an introduction to Henry Bibb’s Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by Himself.

Henry Bibb (1815 – 1854)

During the Civil War Rev. Matlack served as a chaplain for a Union outfit out of Illinois. In 1867 the Philadelphia Conference, which had rejected Matlack in 1837 when he was foaming at the mouth with abolitionist fervent, unanimously admitted him and assigned him to the Elkton (Cecil County, Maryland) Charge.

In the early 1870s Rev. Matlack married a woman from Port Deposit, Maryland with the last name Stephenson, with whom one child was born. (Rev. R. K. Stephenson was Matlack’s brother-in-law.)

At the time of his death in June 1883 Rev. Matlack, formerly the presiding elder of the Wilmington Conference, was serving as pastor in Cambridge, Maryland down the Penninsula in Dorchester County. His funeral was held in Port Deposit.

Frederick Douglass and Rev. L. C. Matlack, associates across more than forty years

As a radical abolitionist minister, newspaper man and author Matlack and Douglass shared many overlapping connections and associations throughout New England, Philadelphia, Baltimore and the Delmarva.

An early adherent of the Garrisonian School of Abolitionist Thought, Dr. Frederick Douglass broke with his early benefactors in their departure from political life by supporting the Liberty Party and Free Soil Party. Whereas Garrison adopted a policy of political pacifism his disciple Douglass adopted a policy of radical political agitation.

National Era (Washington, D.C.) 20 September, 1855. P. 4

In 1855, after a meeting of the “General Convention of Radical Political Abolitionists” was held in Syracuse, New York a secondary meeting was organized in Boston, Massachusetts for the “purpose of discussing the Illegality and Unconstitutionality of Slavery, and the Power of the Federal Government over Slavery in the States.”

Advertised as “those expected to be in attendance and take part in the proceedings are Gerritt Smith, Lewis Tappan, S. S. Jocelyn, Frederick Douglass, A. Payne, L. C. Matlack, A. G. Beman,” and “others who may be announced hereafter.”

Contemporary scholarship has largely forgotten Rev. Matlack in fleeting mention and in totality of his life’s work, let alone his friendship and connections with Frederick Douglass across many decades.

In 1895 Dr. Douglass was one of the last old world abolitionists living, standing on the shoulders of thousands upon thousands, such as Rev. Matlack, who had preceded him in death but not memory.

To uplift the lost history of Douglass on the Shore we must uplift the lost and consequential local history.