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Wed, 04.07.1875

Henry W. Botts Sr., Minister born

Henry W. Botts Sr.

*Rev. Henry W. Botts Sr. was born on this date in 1875.  He was a Black minister and community activist.   

Henry Botts was born in Meadville, MO, one of six children of Thomas and Matilda Botts, who were enslaved on a plantation in Meadville, MO.  The children’s names were Thomas, Virginia, Margaret, William, Henry, and Elizabeth.  William, Henry, and Elizabeth were the first Bott's children to be born free on black Bott's land.  From 1860-1869 the town was called Bottsville after the slave masters who were also the town's founders.  In 1869 the name of the town was changed to Meadville to commemorate the building of the railroad throughout Missouri by Charles Mead, the engineer that led the construction of the Hannibal and St. Joseph line. 

Young Botts always had his sites on becoming a minister.  He trained himself from the time he was eight years old.  He would wake up at 4:00 am every morning to study the Bible and meditate.   At 13, senior ministers started grooming him to become a pastor.  By the age of 19, he was a traveling minister taking the gospel to small communities in Missouri. Soon after began his journey from Missouri to Nebraska.  

Around 1920, he was called to Mount Zion in Lincoln; Nebraska, and he was their pastor for eight years. The Nebraska Gazette in Lincoln, Missouri, followed and reported on his ministry weekly, reporting on the rapid growth of Mount Zion Baptist Church and his influence on community stability and growth in Lincoln.  In 1929 Botts began as the pastor of Zion Baptist Church in North Minneapolis, Minnesota, from 1929 to 1959.  He joined a small number of Blacks who made their way to Minnesota during the Great Migration.  When he arrived, the black population was less than 1% of the total population.  

As Zion Baptist Church grew, so did Rev. Botts's influence and impact on the community of black and white residents.  He was known as a “change agent” because he was compassionate, fearless, and could face the opposition with dignity and set the direction, which led to many negotiated agreements that improved the living conditions of blacks in Minnesota.  He joined the Board of the Phyllis Wheatley Settlement House and the NAACP.  Rev. Botts was one of the first pastors to invite the Minneapolis Urban League to hold its meetings at the Zion Baptist Church, where they became intricately involved in fighting for inclusion and equity locally.  

At his retirement celebration from Zion Baptist Church in 1959, there were proclamations and speakers from the Governor, Mayor, City, and Council Offices.  The National Baptist Convention sent speakers and resolutions from local and national departments.   Rev. Henry Wilson Botts Sr. died on October 1, 1967.  


When Destiny Calls

When Destiny Calls
Sharon Botts Garth
ISBN: 9781546260134

Image: Sharon Botts Garth

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