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Jordan Winston Early
*Jordan Winston Early was born on this date in 1814. He was a Black Methodist preacher.
Jordan Early was born into slavery in Franklin County, Virginia. After his mother's death, when Early was three, he and his siblings were cared for by a maternal aunt, an uncle who taught him astronomy, and an older woman on the plantation known as "Aunt Milly." Sold separately from his parents, he became a minister at 12.
Early and his family were taken by their enslavers to Missouri in 1826, where Early joined the Methodist Church and was emancipated in the same year. While working on a riverboat, he learned how to read and write. Joining the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1832, Early worked to build more local congregations. In 1836, he became an AME preacher. He helped expand the church in St. Louis, New Orleans, Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee. By 1838, he was ordained a deacon.
In 1843, he married Louisa Carter, and they had eight children, four of whom survived to adulthood. They sent their children to Wilberforce University. In the late 1850s, Early evangelized in Tennessee and founded the Olive Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church congregation in Kirkwood, Missouri.
After Louisa died in 1862, he married Sarah Jane Early on September 24, 1868. The couple was prominent in spreading Methodism and black nationalism; his wife taught wherever he preached, serving as a principal in four cities. The couple retired to Nashville in 1888. His wife wrote a biography of her husband and his rise from slavery among postwar slave narratives. Jordan W. Early died on November 19, 1903.