African Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop Alexander Wayman recalls serving Port Deposit, Steward Richard Randolph Disney of Cecil County “was one of the best I ever had in any church”

Coming up a childhood associate with Anna Murray on the Caroline County side of the Tuckahoe creek, 7th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Alexander Walker Wayman (1821 – 1895) first caught word of the reputation of rebellious Frederick Bailey in St. Michaels in 1836 and would subsequently meet Dr. Frederick Douglass in Philadelphia years later in the 1840s.

At nineteen years old, in 1840, Wayman left the wood frame churches of the Choptank River behind for Baltimore City. Following passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 Rev. Wayman was assigned to serve the Port Deposit Charge and communities abutting the ancient Susquehanna River in Cecil County, Maryland whose shores were crossed by unknown number of runaway slaves including Frederick Bailey escaping Baltimore City in 1838.

When assigned to Port Deposit in 1853 Wayman, a native of Caroline County, worked alongside Cecil County native Richard Randolph Disney.

Wayman recalled in the 1880s that Disney “was my Steward at Port Deposit, and was one of the best I ever had in any church.” Reportedly, in 1857 Disney was licensed to preach by the African Methodist Episcopal Church and pursuant made his way to Canada to aid fugitive slaves where he would become a Bishop in the British Methodist Episcopal Church.

After service in the Port Deposit Charge Wayman would travel the expanse of Western Maryland assisting congregations and leadership in Frederick, Hagerstown, Cumberland and Frostburg en route to his election as the 7th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In February 1895 Wayman eulogized Frederick Douglass, his friend of a half-century, at Metropolitan AME Church in downtown Washington City, around the corner from the White House.


        APRIL, 1853. I finished up my second year at Union Bethel Church, Washington, D. C., and went to meet the Baltimore Annual Conference, which met in Baltimore City. Bishop Nazrey presided for the first time over the Baltimore Conference. The members received him very cordially. The session was not a protracted one. J. R. Sterrett and John H. Gaines were admitted on trial. D. W. Moore, Jacob Brooks, M. F. Sluby, and Thomas H. Manning were ordained Deacons. Edward Chambers and John H. Henson were ordained Elders.

At the close of this Conference I was appointed to Port Deposit Circuit. It went a little hard with me after having spent five years in succession in Washington City to take a country circuit. But as I had promised years before to obey as a son in the Gospel, I went and had a very pleasant year.

        I was told by the authorities that the laws of the State were against my remaining there, as I came from the District of Columbia. I had four appointments, which I visited every two weeks. The present Bishop Dizney of the B. M. E. Church was my Steward at Port Deposit, and was one of the best I ever had in any church. The B. M. E. Church made a wise selection when they voted for him to fill the place of Bishop Nazrey.

        I found the people on this circuit very kind indeed, which made me think that after all, in some respects, a country life is more to be desired than a city one.

        During this winter there was a very deep snow, and I was bound up for several weeks at the house of Rev. Stephen P. Bayard. Having purchased two books on phonography, I resolved to learn how to write short-hand. On Monday morning I commenced, and Saturday night I was able to read the first lesson in the book without a teacher. I have never since doubted the capacity of a man to learn whatever he wishes to.


Wayman, Alexander Walker. My Recollections of African M. E. Ministers, or Forty Years’ Experience in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. 1881.


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.

Frederick Douglass and John Creswell; Maryland’s “Forgotten Abolitionist” from Port Deposit in Cecil County, Maryland

To uplift the lost history of Dr. Frederick Douglass on the Eastern Shore we must carefully consider the connections and contributions of Douglass to the ecosystem of Maryland’s expansive network of reformist circles including the church, secondary and higher education, editors, Women’s Rights, Civil Rights and temperance, among other issues and causes of progressive public policy and public administration.

From small-town council members to county commissioners to Baltimore mayors to governors to U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators, Dr. Douglass knew generations of Maryland politicians of both parties at the municipal, state and national levels.

As a Border State the sectional divisions of the Union and the Confederacy, which tore the country apart, divided and separated regions of Maryland, as well as prominent families. President Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus and deployment of federal troops to enforce martial law impacted Baltimore City and areas of the Eastern Shore.

With the adoption of a new state constitution in November 1864, which abolished slavery, the process of Reconstruction began in Maryland before the conclusion of armed conflict.

During the Reconstruction of Maryland a prominent lost figure of local and national influence was Port Deposit’s John Creswell (1828 – 1891), an associate of Dr. Frederick Douglass.

According to, ” Forgotten Abolitionist: John A. J. Creswell of Maryland” published by Dickinson College’s House Divided Project:

In 1864, Creswell helped secure passage of an antislavery constitution in Maryland, the first (and only) popular vote for abolition in any U.S. state. He also led off the final congressional debates for the Thirteenth Amendment in January 1865, with an eloquent address that showcased the changing times. Nor did Creswell stop with this newfound embrace of freedom. After the war, the Marylander also became an unlikely advocate for equality of opportunity. While serving as a Postmaster General during the Grant Administration, Creswell helped to integrate and modernize the federal post office system.

Douglass and Creswell share stage at 15th Amendment rally in Baltimore

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Staunton Spectator. 31 May 1870.

Due the persistent proclivity to continue to whitewash the history of Dr. Douglass in Maryland, and across the country, very little is known beyond base and rudimentary mythology.

Therefore it is incumbent and extra necessary for Old Anacostia Douglassonians to set up throughout the state of Maryland and on the Eastern Shore to uplift the sacred lost history whereas several statewide institutions supported with public dollars have contributed little to nothing to further a scholastic understanding of Dr. Douglass.

As evidence of the general nature of the Lost History of Douglass in the state of Maryland, a very generous and respected “street historian” out of the Upper Chesapeake / Lower Susquehanna region of the Delmarva was unfamiliar with the connections between U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and Postmaster General John Creswell and Dr. Douglass.

It appears from initial research Douglass and Creswell traveled in the same circles of Radical Republicans and Women’s Right advocates with Baltimore City being the crossroads of their collective activities and contributions.

Library of Congress.

The most noteworthy connection of Postmaster General Creswell and Dr. Frederick Douglass was the lecture stage they shared in May 1870 at parade festivities celebrating the passage of the 15th Amendment, which supported the first generation of African American Congressmen and Senators entering the halls of the United States Capitol.

This history has been tragically lost.

But remember we are getting a taxpayer funded statue of Douglass in Annapolis? Save me the vapidness and speechifying of the mythology. Enough with the disgraceful historical illiteracy of the state.

Show and tell the lost history of Dr. Douglass. Your time is up. It’s a new day in local history. Get at me before I get at the lost history.