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*Mathilda Beasley was born on this date in 1832. She was a Black teacher, seamstress, and nun.
Mathilda Taylor was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 14, 1832. She was baptized as a Catholic in 1869, possibly in preparation for her marriage to Abraham Beasley, a wealthy free Black restaurant owner in Savannah, who died in 1877.
With Catherine and Jane Deveaux, Beasley educated slaves in her home in Savannah, Georgia, before the Civil War, although this was illegal at the time. Later in life, after becoming a Franciscan nun in England, Beasley returned to the United States and founded a group of African American sisters in Georgia called the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. She unsuccessfully attempted to affiliate her group with the Franciscan Order.
She also started one of the first orphanages in the United States for Black girls, the St. Francis Home for Colored Orphans. Mathilda Taylor Beasley, the first Black nun to serve in Georgia, died on December 20, 1903. She was found dead in the cottage's private chapel. Next to her were her burial clothes, will, and instructions for her funeral.
She is buried in Savannah's Catholic Cemetery. Legacy A Georgia Historical Marker documenting her life was erected in 1988 in Savannah. In 2004, Beasley was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement Hall of Fame.