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2 & 3 Bible House




The following statement of facts relating to the work of the Church in Haiti is dedicated to the blessed memory of the faithful servants of God who took part therein, and who have since fallen asleep in Jesus, and do now rest from their labors in the Church Militant, in the Paradise of God, where they await their joyful resurrection, to wit:

The Rt. Rev. Thomas Church Brownell, D.D., LL.D., who gave me mission for the work of the Church in Haiti in 1861, and who took the first congregation organized in Port-au-Prince, in union with the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States;

The Rt. Rev. Alfred Lee, D.D., LL.D., the Rt. Rev. George Burgess, D.D., and the Rt. Rev. Arthur Cleveland Coxe, D.D., LL.D., who made Episcopal visitations to the Church in Haiti respectively in the years 1863, 1866, 1872;

The Rt. Rev. Benjamin Bosworth Smith, D.D., LL.D., who consecrated me to the Episcopate for the Church in Haiti in 1874;

The Rt. Rev. Horatio Potter, D.D., LL.D.. D.C.L., and the Rt. Rev. William Bacon Stevens, D.D., LL.D., who presented me for consecration, and who united with the Consecrator and four other Bishops in the Laying-on of Hands;

The Rt. Rev. William Rollinson Whittingham, D.D., LL.D., and the Rt. Rev. Thomas Atkinson, D.D., LL.D., who, with the first and third visiting Bishops named above, formed the Commission appointed by the House of Bishops as my Episcopal advisers, under the stipulations of the Covenant concluded between the two churches in 1874.

And it is herein most dutifully inscribed with sincere gratitude for their labors of love, to the honor and glory of Almighty God, and for the salvation of souls redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.



I was born in the western part of Washington City, near Georgetown, October 3d, 1829. I spent my boyhood, until my fifteenth year, in that city. I first attended an infant school taught by my elder sister, when but five years of age. At seven I entered another school taught also by a female teacher. At nine years I entered a third school, taught by a male principal. My grandfather, Reuben Holly, came to Washington from St. Mary's County, Maryland, in 1799, and worked on the U. S. Capitol, then building. His son, James Overton, my father, was then thirteen years old.

My parents were Roman Catholics, and I was brought up in that religion. The family attended Holy Trinity Church, Georgetown, as most conveniently situated to our residence, West 26th, Washington. I was baptized, confirmed, and made my first communion in that church. In 1844 my father removed to Brooklyn, N. Y. I still continued for several years to attend the Roman Catholic Church. The first Bible I ever possessed was a Douay Bible, given to me by a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Felix Varela, pastor of Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church, then situated in Chamber street, New York. He was said to be a relative of Queen Isabella, of Spain, and was a Spaniard by birth. He had a desire to send me to Rome to study for the priesthood, as I felt an inclination to labor in the ministry. However, the Bible he gave me, although full of explanatory notes in the Roman Catholic sense, gradually weaned me away from the unscriptural ways of that church, and when I was in my twenty-second year I withdrew from membership therein. In my twenty-fourth year I became a member of the Episcopal Church in Detroit, Michigan, and was immediately admitted a candidate for Holy Orders.


I WAS ordained deacon by Bishop McCoskry, in St. Paul's Church, Detroit, Michigan, June 17th, 1855. On the 1st of July following, I repaired to New York, with a letter from my Bishop recommending me as a missionary to Haiti, given to me at my earnest request.

The late Bishop (then Doctor) Bedell kindly consented to bring the matter before the Foreign Committee, of which he was a member. As the result, I received a commission from that committee to visit Haiti, and collect information as to what opening was there presented for the establishment of a mission of the church.

On the 11th of July following, I took passage from New York on a sailing vessel to execute this commission; and on the 31st of the same month I arrived at Port-au-Prince, the capital of the island, where I passed the following month of August in collecting the necessary information. In the meantime I preached in the Methodist and Baptist chapels of that city.

In the month of September following, I returned to New York and made my report to the Committee. The information collected was deemed encouraging, and hopes were held out to me that the Committee would appoint me as a missionary to the island as soon as the funds at its disposal would permit. In the triennial sermon preached before the Board of Missions by Bishop Bedell in 1859, in Richmond, Va., Haiti was therein named as one of the prospective fields having claims on the church for missionary work.

[8] Meanwhile, I engaged in the work of the ministry as Rector of St. Luke's Church, New Haven, Ct., where I was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Williams, then assistant Bishop of that diocese, on January 2d, 1856.


ON the 1st of May, 1861, I sailed from New Haven, Ct., as the pastor of a company of no persons emigrating to Haiti, in response to an invitation to that effect addressed to the colored people of the United States by the President of that island.

The Foreign Committee of the church had not then seen its way clear to establish the new mission. But the Bishop of Connecticut gave his approbation to my going as a missionary, and furnished me letters commendatory to the President of Haiti, in the absence of any Bishop of our communion resident in that island.

My first ministerial act, two days after my arrival in Port-au-Prince, was the administration of baptism to a child born on the passage, in the National Palace, the President of Haiti and Mrs. Geffrard standing as godfather and godmother of the child, at their earnest desire, because the company of emigrants, of which I was pastor, and in which the child was born, was destined to settle on the President's habitation, situated three miles from the capital.

The spacious hall of the President's private mansion on his habitation was placed at my disposal for holding the public services of the church on the Lord's Day.


WE were all naturally much elated at the very encouraging reception we had met with in such high places.

But in order that we might not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, an overruling Providence, higher than the princes of this world, saw fit to "visit us with trouble and to bring distress upon us. " A destructive fever broke out among the colonists, and in the short period of six months death had claimed forty-three of the company as its prey. As many as four persons in one day had been committed to their last resting-place. During the contagion five members of my own household had been laid away in the silent tomb. Of a family of eight persons, of which, when we sailed from New Haven, Ct., on the 1st of May, 1861, I was the head, by the 1st of February, 1862, nine months after our arrival in Haiti, only three remained alive, myself and my two little sons, aged respectively three and five years.

But amidst this terrible chastisement, God remembered me in mercy, by sanctifying His fatherly correction to me, in enduing my soul with patience under my affliction, and with resignation to His blessed will. He comforted me with a sense of His goodness; lifted up the light of His countenance upon me; and gave me peace by bringing to my spiritual apprehension that, as the last surviving apostle of Jesus was "in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ," on [9/10] the forlorn isle of Patmos, so, by His Divine Providence, He had brought this tribulation upon me for a similar end in this isle in the Caribbean Sea. St. John had a mission to fulfil, by command of the Lord, in writing to churches that had fallen away from their pristine Gospel integrity. I had come to Haiti to bear a pure Gospel testimony to a nominally Christian people whose knowledge of Christianity had been received from a church which had also fallen away from its original purity.


WHEN the work of death had suspended its terrible ravages, those who had recovered their health were for the most part discouraged and a majority of them resolved to return to the United States. About twenty decided to remain with me and consecrate the lives God had spared to His service, in bearing testimony to the Gospel among the people to whom, "In His Name," they had come.

The farm where we had settled, however, was no longer an inviting location for us. The situation was very unhealthy.

At this juncture an American resident in the city offered a large hall free of charge for the services of the church, if we would establish our mission work there. This offer was thankfully accepted, and our services began in town on the 4th of January, 1863, although most of us still continued to reside on the farm three miles [10/11] from town, for want of means to pay rent in the city.

Meanwhile, I visited the United States at the time of the General Convention of 1862, leaving my two motherless boys behind me, in the care of a member of the colony, as a guarantee of my return to Haiti, and to assure them that I would not desert them.

The object of my visit to the United States was to obtain a missionary stipend to enable me to hire a house in the city where I might remove from the country to carry on more effectively the work of the church there where it was now able to be transferred, thanks to the kindness of the American gentleman above referred to.

I received a small stipend from the American Church Missionary Society, which enabled me to hire a house in the city and remove thereto in February, 1863.

From that moment the work went on encouragingly, so that Holy Trinity Church, Port-au-Prince, was organized under the provisions of the canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, on the 25th of May, 1863; and it was taken into union with its General Convention, by an act to that effect emanating from Bishop Brownell, then presiding Bishop of that church.


BISHOP ALFRED LEE, of Delaware, visited the missions in November, 1863, and confirmed thirty-six candidates.

Bishop Burgess, of Maine, made a visitation thereto in March, 1866, confirmed twenty-seven candidates, [11/12] ordained two deacons, one of whom he advanced to the priesthood, and organized the Haitian Church Convocation. As the result of this visit, missions were established at Cape Haitian, Léogane and Aux Cayes, and some young Haitians were sent as students to the Mission House in Philadelphia.

Bishop Coxe, of Western New York, made the third Episcopal visitation to the mission in Haiti, arriving at Port-au-Prince November 22d, 1872.

Meanwhile a church, a rectory, and a school-house, had been built for the mission at Port-au-Prince, by the liberality of American churchmen, in memory of Bishop Burgess, who died on board ship in Haitian waters, at the close of his episcopal labors on earth in the Church of Haiti, just after he had embarked to return home. Two of the students that had been sent to the Mission House in Philadelphia, had also returned to their homes in Haiti, having been ordained deacons by Bishop Stevens, of Pennsylvania. They had already entered upon mission work respectively at Cayes and Jérémie.

Bishop Coxe presided at an extra session of the Haitian Church Convocation; confirmed fifty-three candidates; ordained six deacons, and five priests; and consecrated the new church to the worship of Almighty God.



THE work performed by Bishop Coxe during his visitation advanced the importance of the Haitian missions to such a degree that it was deemed advisable to set apart a Bishop for that missionary jurisdiction.

[16] Accordingly, at the General Convention of the American church held in New York in 1874, a covenant was concluded between the House of Bishops and the Haitian Convocation on November 3rd of that year.

Under this covenant the first Bishop of the church in Haiti was consecrated on the 8th day of the same month, in Grace Church, New York City, by Bishop Smith, then presiding Bishop of the church in the United States, assisted by six other Bishops, among whom was the Bishop of Kingston, Jamaica.

Since the consecration of the Bishop for Haiti he has confirmed upwards of 500 candidates, ordained ten deacons, and advanced nine deacons to the priesthood.


THE clergy of the church in Haiti are workingmen in both the literal and spiritual aspects of that word. Under the covenant between the two churches spoken of above, the Board of Missions give pecuniary aid to its clerical missionaries in Haiti. But the aid thus given, while most gratefully acknowledged, in no case, except that of the Bishop, exceeds one third of the amount necessary to support themselves and their families; for the necessaries of life cost very dear in Haiti. Hence, they are obliged to follow secular occupations to gain the other two-thirds necessary to make out their livelihood.

Two of the clergy are principals of government high schools, another is inspector of public schools in a district where he has fifty-three schools under his [16/17] supervision. Two others are associate Justices of the Peace; another is acting U. S. Deputy Consul, while all the clergy in the rural districts are cultivators of the soil, one of them being also one of the associate Justices of the Peace just referred to. Hence, they work every day in the week, like men of similar secular occupations, and devote Sunday and week-day evenings to the work of the blessed Gospel of Christ. Thus they have their full share of work-indeed, far too much for men to do in the exhausting heat of the tropics, where perpetual summer reigns from one end of the year to the other; without any of the bracing, invigorating temperature of Autumn, Winter, and Spring in the north temperate zone.


WHILE our mission work, like that of the first apostles, must have a foothold in the towns and cities, as the base of its operations, it is nevertheless true that the great work that needs to be accomplished in Haiti is in the rural districts, among the country people, who are, as a general thing, but one remove above African paganism.

It is, therefore, a matter of satisfaction to me to record the fact that the banner parish of the church in Haiti is situated in the mountains of Léogane. This station was created by Bishop Burgess in 1866, when he ordained a deacon for its ministerial oversight. Thirty-five memorialists had asked the Bishop to establish that mission station. When that missionary closed his earthly labors in 1880, three chapels had sprung up in [17/18] those mountains. In this present year (1896) there are two more chapels there, making five in all; and the city of Léogane has been invaded by those mountaineers, and a missionary station established there since March last, with an ordained missionary at its head.

There are two lay Readers, with permission to exhort in each of the five rural chapels. They also make missionary visits from house to house, and like St. Andrew, they return, bringing their brethren to the Lord Jesus.

These lay-helpers cultivate the soil to gain their livelihood, and they further take time to do this spiritual work without the hope of fee or other earthly reward.

The rural parishioners in general are not behind them in the work of self-sacrifice. By their own contributions, the land whereon to build those chapels was obtained, as well as the materials for the edifices; and with their own hands they have built those chapels without any pay being given them for their labor. The chapels are scattered over a district about twenty miles in length. Nearly 200 communicants are registered, and about 500 adherents in all are thereto attached.



IF we have been able to find in the mountains of Léogane, so many efficient lay helpers, this fact, under God, is due to a philanthropic native of Poland, who took part with the Haitians in their revolution, and on that account, though a European, was admitted to the full rights of Haitian citizenship.

He lived in those mountains, and imposed the duty upon himself of giving elementary instruction to the children of his neighbors. His own children, whom he had more thoroughly instructed, following the example of their father, continued to spread elementary instruction in this mountain district. Thus a larger number of adults are to be found there capable of reading and writing than in any similar rural district in Haiti. One of our first lay missionaries there is now ninety years of age, whose instruction by that Pole goes back to the first years of the present century. We have not been able to show similar results in the other rural districts, where we have stations established, because we cannot find in those other localities persons able to read and write as we find in Léogane. To use the Bible and Prayer Book, one at least must know how to read.

Instructed by this experience gained in the mountains of Léogane, the church in Haiti has organized a system of elementary schools in the rural districts, as an indispensable auxiliary of her mission; which must be preliminary to any further extension of that work. Nine such schools are now in operation.

For six years we were able to keep up in a very indifferent manner, for want of necessary means, an elementary normal school, where country young men pursued a three years' course of instruction. Most of the teachers in those schools passed through the three years' course of that normal school. For want of means to maintain it, we have been obliged to close the normal school provisionally.

It is of the utmost importance to the future of our [20/22] work in Haiti that the normal school should be reopened, and a training school established for our candidates for holy orders.



HEALING the body as well as saving the soul was made the Gospel work of our Lord and His apostles. What He thus united together no man has a right to separate. We may therefore rejoice at the fact that our missionary societies give increasing evidence, from year to year, that they begin to understand and appreciate this secret of the kingdom of God in evangelizing the nations.

To supplement our Gospel preaching by the testimony of the healing art, five physicians, sons of our clergy, born in Haiti, have been trained and graduated.

But to be useful to the poor in the gratuitous service they are willing to render, a dispensary is of the first necessity. This should be followed as soon as possible by a hospital. Some one of those to whom God has given an abundance of this world's goods should esteem it a privilege, for love of Him and suffering humanity, to give the funds necessary to establish both these needed institutions.


TWICE within the space of fifteen years our mission buildings have been swept away by fire. On the 3rd of June, 1873, just six months after Bishop Coxe had [22/23] solemnly consecrated the church in Port-au-Prince, a terrible conflagration destroyed church, rectory and schoolhouse.

In six months we had reconstructed the church and rectory, in an inferior style to that of the first edifices; and we occupied those new buildings in December of the same year.

Nearly fifteen years' occupation of those edifices rolled by, and on the 4th of July, 1888, they were also consumed by a devastating fire in the city of Port-au-Prince.

Circumstances were not then so favorable for rebuilding our mission edifices as after the previous fire. Full seven years therefore passed by before we were privileged to occupy, on the nth of August, 1895, the new church in brick and iron that has now been built.

Meanwhile, a schoolhouse, erected in 1892, served as a chapel for our services until the completion of the church. Previous to that year we had the privilege of holding one service on the Lord's day, in the Methodist church, by the kindness of that congregation.

A rectory is still the crying need of the mission in Port-au-Prince, and offers an opportunity to some generous friends of missions, usefully to exercise their liberality.



SAINT PAUL tells us that "that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual." (1 Cor. xv., 66.) I have however reversed the order of things set forth by the apostle, and spoken of those facts first which show the [23/25] spiritual claims that Haiti has upon American Christians. I come lastly to speak of the natural claims of that people upon the grateful remembrance of all patriotic American citizens.

During the revolutionary war, by which the independence of the United States was triumphantly achieved, free colored men, then colonists of France, volunteered to fight in that war of freedom. A body of them, variously estimated at from 800 to 1,100 men, took part in the battle of Savannah, Ga., in 1779, and did effective service.

Inspired by the example of the American revolutionary forefathers, they inaugurated a war of independence in Haiti, then called Santo Domingo; successfully accomplished their object, and in 1804 established the second independent nation in the new world. Having thus secured their own national independence, they next lent a helping hand to Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America; by whom five other independent nations were established in the new world. Five thousand Haitians followed Bolivar from victory to victory until this end was accomplished. Twenty-five thousand dollars were contributed by the Haitian Government to meet the necessities of that great liberator. It was only when those several independent states were established in the western hemisphere, towards the accomplishment of whose independence Haitians had so largely contributed, that it became possible to formulate the Monroe Doctrine. When Washington warned his countrymen against "entangling foreign alliances," this advice referred only to the European wars of Napoleon, then [25/26] in progress. The whole of the new world, outside of the United States, was in a colonial position. But when so many other independent states had arisen here, it became necessary to formulate a new policy to meet the situation. Monroe formulated that policy to meet those modified circumstances. Haiti had done as much as, not to say more than, any other American State to create that new situation.

This policy, thus tentatively enunciated in the Monroe Doctrine, now forms an appropriate basis on which the United States, as a great power, may claim the new world as the " sphere" of her influence, and so offset the policy of the great nations of Europe, who have agreed among themselves to bring the whole continent of Africa within their respective "spheres" of influence. This simply means that Americans do not intend quietly to submit to the application of such a policy to the new world, and that they propose to resist all incipient attempts at the same on our shores. Obsta principiis.

Aid and encouragement to organize reformed autonomous churches on the primitive basis of the Anglican Reformation, will be a powerful means to establish the sphere of influence whose watchword is, "America for the Americans. " Hence, the work to which we have put our hands in Haiti, Mexico, Cuba and Brazil, should be strengthened and prosecuted with a large-hearted, patriotic zeal; and supported with an open-handed generosity.


I WILL now make a practical conclusion, by recapitulating and summarizing the present wants of the Haitian Mission referred to in this statement, in commending the same to American Christian patriots for their generous contributions:

1. The construction of a rectory for the parish at Port-au-Prince.

2. Means to re-open and carry on the Primary Normal School.

3. A dispensary and hospital at Port-au-Prince.

4. A training school for candidates for holy orders.


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