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 Theophilus Gould Steward

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Theophilus Gould Steward

  • Birth 17 Apr 1843 Gouldtown, Cumberland County, New Jersey, USA
  • Death 11 Jan 1924 Wilberforce, Greene County, Ohio, USA
  • Burial Gouldtown, Cumberland County, New Jersey, USA
  • Memorial ID 13946780

African-American clergyman, teacher, and writer. One of six children of James Steward and Rebecca Gould Steward, Theophilus became a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in June of 1864 at the age of 21. Initially appointed to a church in South Camden, New Jersey, the following year Theophilus received an appointment to South Carolina, where he would meet his first wife, Elizabeth Gadsden, whom he married on January 1, 1866. After subsequent postings to Georgia in 1867 and to Delaware in 1871, Theophilus ventured to Haiti in 1873 on a mission to survey the scene for proposed missionary work by the AME Church. Unfortunately, church politics and financial problems contributed to his decision not to return, and Theophilus subsequently served the church in Brooklyn, New York, and later in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington DC, and Baltimore. In 1891, Theophilus was made Chaplain of the 25th U.S. Colored Infantry of Fort Missoula, Montana, only the third African-American to be so appointed after the Civil War. Here he would be assigned until 1898. 1893 would prove a sad year, with the death of not only his eldest son James back east, but also the death of his wife Elizabeth later that year at Fort Missoula. During the fall of 1896 he took a leave of absence and returned to Brooklyn where he married the widow Dr. Susan Smith McKinney--the first female African-American physician in the state of New York and third in the nation. 1898 would see the departure of the 25th USCI from Fort Missoula as they headed to Cuba during the Spanish American War. Steward did not venture to Cuba with his unit, however, being instead ordered to perform recruitment duties stateside. Later, in 1899, when his unit was sent to the Philippines, Theophilus again remained stateside, and during this time wrote a novel, "Charleston Love Story," as well as a historical account of African-American soldiers, entitled, "The Colored Regulars," which would not see publication until 1904 (later republished as "Buffalo Soldiers: The Colored Regulars in the United States Army." Later, in the fall of 1899, Steward's next assignment led him to follow his unit to the Philippines, where he became quite involved in the religious and educational lives of the Filipino people. In 1902, he returned to America, receiving a post at Fort Niobrara, Nebraska, and later, in 1906, at Fort McIntosh, Texas. In 1907 he applied for retirement from service, and received as his last assignment a post to Wilberforce, Ohio, where he would later join his wife Susan as a member of the faculty of Wilberforce University. A contemporary of W. E. B. DuBois, Steward's writings and other intellectual qualities were widely admired and he was a greatly respected member of the Wilberforce faculty. In 1913 he and his brother William published a book regarding the history and genealogy of their New Jersey hometown entitled, "Gouldtown: A Very Remarkable Settlement of Ancient Date." In 1914 Theophilus published "The Haitian Revolution," and in 1921 he published, "Fifty Years in the Gospel Ministry: From 1864-1914." A staunch advocate for equal rights, Theophilus wrote and spoke often regarding racism and the mistreatment of African-Americans. Theophilus passed from this life on January 11th, 1924, being praised as "one of African Methodism's greatest preachers" ("The Christian Recorder"). In his eulogy, D. M. Baxter stated, "the church has lost a great man, Wilberforce a splendid teacher and the race an advocate." (The primary source of information contained in this bio is William Seraile's biography, "Voice of Dissent: Theophilus Gould Steward and Black America," Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing Inc., 1991).

Bio by: Spaceman Spiff



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Spaceman Spiff
  • Added: 13 Apr 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 13946780
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Theophilus Gould Steward (17 Apr 1843–11 Jan 1924), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13946780, citing Gouldtown Memorial Park, Gouldtown, Cumberland County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .