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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Wilson in Wilson County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Owen L. W. Smith

1851~1926

 
 
Owen L. W. Smith Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, April 18, 2013
1. Owen L. W. Smith Marker
Inscription.
U.S. minister to Liberia,
1898-1902; born into
slavery. Pastor, St. John
A.M.E. Zion Church
in Wilson. Lived 1/10 mi. N.

 
Erected 2001 by Division of Archives and History. (Marker Number F-64.)
 
Location. 35° 43.289′ N, 77° 54.319′ W. Marker is in Wilson, North Carolina, in Wilson County. Marker is at the intersection of Pender Street and Smith Street, on the right when traveling south on Pender Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wilson NC 27893, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. R.D.W. Connor (approx. ¼ mile away); First ABC Store (approx. ¼ mile away); Wilson County Civil War Memorial (approx. 0.4 miles away); Henry G. Conner (approx. 0.4 miles away); Combat Wounded Veterans (approx. 0.4 miles away); Hackney Wagon Company (approx. 0.4 miles away); Military Hospital (approx. 0.4 miles away); P.D. Gold (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wilson.
 
Regarding Owen L. W. Smith. The State Department was among the first agencies to appoint blacks to positions of prominence and one of the few to continue to do so beyond Reconstruction
Owen L. W. Smith Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, April 18, 2013
2. Owen L. W. Smith Marker


through World War I. African Americans were part of the diplomatic service, on the ministerial level in Liberia and Haiti (where Frederick Douglass served, 1889-1891) and on the consular level in other countries. Four North Carolinians served as minister resident and consul general (the top diplomatic post) in Monrovia, Liberia. Owen Lun West Smith was the last in that line. It is noteworthy that another North Carolinian, Andrew Cartwright, was a leading A.M.E. Zion missionary in Liberia.

Owen L. W. Smith was born into slavery in Sampson County in 1851. He followed the Confederate Army as a personal servant but by war’s end had joined Federal forces and was part of Sherman’s army at Bentonville and the Grand Parade in Washington, D.C. He taught school briefly and studied at the University of South Carolina, 1874-1876. In 1880 he was converted at a camp meeting and the next year began to preach. Active in the A.M.E. Zion Church, he served or built churches across eastern North Carolina. Smith served as presiding elder; secretary of the Sunday School convention; private secretary to Bishop John Small; conference delegate; and corresponding editor of the Star of Zion.

In 1885 Smith took up a pastorate at St. John’s in Wilson where he lived the rest of his life. In 1897 he sought the diplomatic post and received endorsements from the governor, attorney general,
Owen L. W. Smith Marker at the intersection of Pender Street and Smith Street image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, April 18, 2013
3. Owen L. W. Smith Marker at the intersection of Pender Street and Smith Street
congressmen, and others. From a field of forty-three applicants he was the choice of President William McKinley. During his first of four years in Liberia he received an honorary doctorate from Livingstone College. Smith, who failed in efforts to gain other diplomatic postings, died in 1926 and is buried in Wilson. (North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources)
 
Categories. Notable Persons
 
Owen L. W. Smith image. Click for full size.
North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources, `
4. Owen L. W. Smith
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 12, 2013, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 335 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 12, 2013, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.
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