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Wed, 09.19.1838

Susan Vashon, Teacher, and Abolitionist born

Susan Vashon

*Susan Paul Vashon was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on this date in 1838. She was a Black teacher and abolitionist.

From Boston, MA, her father, Elijah W. Smith, was a musical composer and cornet player, her mother, Anne Paul Smith, was a daughter of the Rev. Thomas Paul, who was the founder and pastor of the old Joy Street Church, Boston, where the American Anti-Slavery Society was organized.  Vashon lost her mother early and was raised by her maternal grandmother, Katherine Paul.  At sixteen, she graduated from Miss O'Mears' Seminary, Somerville, Mass., the only Black girl in her class and valedictorian. Her grandmother died, and she went to live with her father in Pittsburgh, Pa., where she was appointed teacher in the one colored school of that city.  At that school, Prof. George B. Vashon was the principal, who she married in 1857, and had seven children.

Her earlier early years gave her character a puritanical cast, and all through her life, she held close to the stable line. She was a mother, deeply so, and directed her children's lives with the personal guidance and watchful care of tender love and wise caution. She blended domestic excellence with an active interest in all movements for her people's moral and social uplift. The workshops she created were the home, the church, and the community. The Mother's Club to guide young girls, the Book Lovers' Club to develop literary taste, the Women's Federation to accomplish higher womanhood, and the church were the fields in which she led and molded thought and proved herself to be one of the most useful and cultured women of her day.

Possibly the most far-reaching of Mrs. Vashon's public services was the direction of several sanitary relief bazaars that netted thousands of dollars for the care of sick and wounded soldiers of the American Civil War, and for the housing of colored refugees in Pittsburgh, in the years 1864-65--the aftermath of the war between the states.  She was widowed on October 5, 1878.

Vashon taught in the public schools of Washington, D. C., from 1872 until 1880, being principal of the Thaddeus Stevens School. 134 In the fall of 1882, Vashon moved with her family to St. Louis, Missouri, where she lived; Susan Vashon passed away on November 27, 1912.

To become a High School Teacher

The Anti-Slavery Society


Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

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