|Birth: ||Jan. 23, 1837|
|Death: ||Feb. 25, 1915|
A Black preacher, she was one of the most powerful evangelists and effective missionaries of the nineteenth century. The eldest of 13 slave chlldren born to parents on adjoining farms, her father bought his own freedom and eventually that of his wife and family. They moved to Pennsylvania.
Amanda married twice. Both husbands died, the first serving with an African-American unit in the Civil War. Her four children all died.
She had only a few months formal education but had been an avid church presence. By 1869 she felt called to the preaching ministry where people responded to her engaging personality, her rich contralto voice and her spiritual power.
For nine years she preached in African Methodist Episcopal churches and at "holiness" meetings throughout the East and Midwest. Support for this ministry came almost entirely from spontaneous donations which came, she believed, from people's response to urgings of the Holy Spirit.
In 1878 friends urged her to answer a call to preach in England. She then preached at churches in Africa, briefly, on her way to ministry in India for two years. James Thoburn, Methodist Episcopal bishop and missionary to India, testified he learned more of value to him as a preacher of Christian truth from Amanda Smith than from any other person. [Quote from Donald W. and Deane K. Dayton, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage, (New York, Harper & Row, 1976.)]
In 1890 she returned to America, and then, possibly at the suggestion of Francis Williard who was head of the Women's Christian Temperance Movement, she came to the Chicago area to Harvey, IL. There she published "An Autobiography, the Story of the Lord's Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith the Colored Evangelist."
From the book sales, her own savings and other fundraising activites, in 1899 she opened Amanda Smith Industrial Home for Colored Orphan Children in Harvey, IL. This home burned down in 1918 and was never rebuilt.
Supporting the home was a continual struggle, and her failing health led to retirement in Florida where she was given a home by George Sebring, a supporter and real estate developer. There she died; white ministers of Sebring, FL acted as pallbearers to the train which returned her body to Chicago. Her funeral on Mar. 1, 1915 at Quinn Chapel of African Methodist Episcopal Church was one of the largest in the history of the African-American commuinty in Chicago.
Her grave was unmarked and almost lost until research by the members of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women of Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist church found her and placed a headstone on her grave on Sat. Mar. 30, 1991. On April 23, 1991, the House of Representatives of the State of Illinois adopted a special resolution honoring the memory of her rare achievements.
NOTE: Material for this memorial came from Elliott Wright, Holy Company: Christian Heroes and Heroines, (New York, Macmillan, 1980) and from the column "Time Frame" by Rev. Larry McClellan in the Star, Jan. 30, 1994.
Washington Memory Gardens
Created by: Rosetta
Record added: Aug 03, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11471296
Added: Apr. 17, 2012
Added: Jul. 5, 2010
All who heard you sang your praises and blessed the Lord for your ministry. Well done, good and faithful servant.|
Added: Jan. 11, 2007
|There is 1 more note not showing...|
Click here to view all notes...