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Sat, 12.13.1856

William Adger, Minister born

William Adger

*The birth of William Adger in 1856 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black minister.

He was born in Philadelphia, the son of Robert Adger and Mary Morong Adger. His father was a slave in South Carolina.  According to the United States censuses from 1850 to 1880, when Robert and Mary Adger arrived in Pennsylvania about 1848, they already had eight children; another five, including William, was the second youngest.  In 1850, Robert was a baker. Just ten years later, the 1860 census shows that Robert Adger kept a china store and had real estate valued at five thousand dollars and personal property worth about half that.  The 1870 and 1880 censuses listed him as a furniture dealer; in 1870, his wealth was estimated at twelve thousand dollars of real estate and six thousand dollars of personal property.

Together, his parents made sure all thirteen of their children were educated. The censuses indicate that all children started school at age five and continued until at least fourteen, often beyond that. In 1860, eight of the twelve children listed in the census attended school; the youngest student was William, and the eldest was seventeen-year-old Daniel.  The daughters in the family would become dressmakers and milliners after school.  At least three of the sons followed their father into the furniture business, as a cabinetmaker, an upholsterer, and furniture salesmen; another two sons are known to have worked in the post office.

William was the only one to attend college.  Adger graduated first, in 1875, from the Institute for Colored Youth (forerunner of Cheyney University), where he served as the secretary. In 1879, he enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania.  When he was awarded his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1883, Adger became the first Black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. While a Penn student, he lived in his father's home at 833 South Street, along with his parents, two unmarried sisters, and an unmarried brother (the upholsterer). His brother Robert, Jr. (a storekeeper like his father) also lived in the house with his wife and four young children. William was also a student in the Divinity School of the Episcopal Church, Philadelphia.

Adger had been a member of the Fraternal Association, primarily composed of former South Carolina residents.  He planned to become a minister during his early death in 1855. According to the October 20, 1885 issue of University Magazine, he died at the family home of hip disease. Burial was at the Church of the Crucifixion on Bainbridge Street near Eighth Street, where one of his brothers was the organist.

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