Home » Black History » Today In Charleston History: January 15

Today In Charleston History: January 15


The German Friendly Society was organized in the home of Michael Kalteisen. The rules decreed that either German or English had to be spoken at the meetings. They still hold weekly meetings. 

German Friendly Society, Chalmers Street. close-up of marker on building.

German Friendly Society, Chalmers Street. close-up of marker on building. Photos byMark R. Jones

1778 – Disasters

A major fire started at the corner of Queen and Union (now State) Street. Aided by a blustery wind it burned across Charleston for seventeen hours, destroying hundreds of buildings, including most of the holdings of the Charleston Library Society, Peter Timothy’s printing shop, and Charles Pinckney, Junior’s house on Queen Street. The city was “smoking ruins, and the constant falling walls and chimneys.”


Charleston Councilman, John J. Lafar warned Rev. Morris Brown that the city would not tolerate “instructional school for slaves” as “education of such persons forbidden by law.”

Rev. Morris Brown

Rev. Morris Brown

Morris Brown was born a free black in Charleston in 1770. In 1813 he traveled to Philadelphia with another free black, Henry Drayton, to collaborate with the Rev. Richard Allen in the founding of the country’s first African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Brown was a prosperous shoemaker by trade and charismatic religious leader in Charleston’s black community.  Brown and Drayton were ordained as pastors by Allen and returned to Charleston with the goal of establishing an AME congregation locally.

They discovered their church, Bethel Methodist, was embroiled in a controversy. White church trustees had voted to construct a hearse house (a carriage house / garage for storing hearses) on top of the black cemetery. Brown and Drayton led an exodus of 4300 free blacks and slaves from the church and began construction of an independent African Methodist Church at the corner of Anson and Boundary (now Calhoun) Streets.

White Charlestonians regarded the black church as “dangerous bastions of slave autonomy” and routinely disrupted the services and threatened to close the churches. Their fear was that a “latter-day Moses” would emerge from the congregation, so every Sunday service was attended by “white authorities routinely … in the back pews.”

Councilman Lafar’s warning to Rev. Brown was a not-so-subtle reminder that the city white authorities were watching their activities. 


2 thoughts on “Today In Charleston History: January 15

  1. My ancestor, Henry Mood, lived on Coming St. near the College of Charleston and attended Bethel Methodist Church. He taught the Sunday School class for the young son’s of the free black members of the Church. His father was a silversmith and lay reader in the church. After the attempted Vessey slave rebellion was broken up, schools for free blacks were closed. Henry’s father had declared bankruptcy after a quantity of silver for people to be made into silver items was stolen so the family was in no position to pay for him to go to college. Henry was hired to run a school for these free black young men which funded Henry to attend the College of Charleston. He hired his younger brother, help him in the school which was held in the afternoon after CofC classes. Four of the Mood brothers funded their education this way to attend the CofC. All became Methodist ministers. Henry latter became President of Columbia College in Columbia. SC. One his younger brothers, Francis Asbury Mood went to Texas and became the first Chancellor of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas the oldest college in Texas.


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