JOHN WESLEY CROMWELL , 1902 African American Negro Genealogy


TYPE: Antique Photograph

Date published:1902

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JOHN WESLEY CROMWELL, the twelfth child and seventh son of Willis H. and Elizabeth Carney Cromwell, was born at Portsmouth, Va., September 5, 1846. In 1851 the family moved to Philadelphia, where he entered the public schools and subsequently the Institute for Colored Youth, graduating In 1864. He taught at Columbia, Pa., after which he established a private school in his native town. Under the auspices of Northern charitable associations he. taught at Spanish Neck and Little Gunpowder in Maryland, Providence Church, Scott Farm, Charlotte County and Wytheville, Va. On the inauguration of the public school system he became principal of the Dill’s Bakery School in Richmond, Va., and in the following summer taught near the scene of the Nat Turner Insurrection in Southampton County in the same State. Mr. Cromwell took an active part in the reconstruction of Virginia, was delegate to the first State Republican Convention, did jury service in the United States Court for the term at which the case of Jefferson Davis was calendared, and was a clerk in the reconstruction Constitutional Convention. A shot, fired with deadly intent, grazed his clothing while at Spanish Neck, Md., where the church in which the school was taught was burned to the ground, and he was twice forced to face the muzzles of revolvers in Virginia, because of his work as an educator. In 1871 he entered the law department of Howard University, graduating from there in 1874. In 1872, after a competitive examination, having distanced two hundred and forty applicants, he received a $1,200 appointment in the Treasury Department, in which he was twice promoted, by the same method, within twenty months. In 1885, in the early days of the Cleveland administration, he was removed as an offensive partisan, having established and conducted since 1876 The People’s Advocate,a weekly journal of more than local influence. He then began the practice of law in connection with his Journalistic work. In 1889 he was tendered and he accepted a principalship of one of the grammar schools of Washington, D. C., the position he still holds. In 1875 he was chosen at Richmond the president of the Virginia Educational and Historical Association and was four times re-elected. He has served two terms as the president of the Bethel Literary,with which he has been ofilcially connected for twenty years. He was one of the original members of the American Negro Academy founded by Rev. Alexander Cruinmell, and is its corresponding secretary. In 1873 he was married to Miss Lacy A. MeGuinn, of Richmond, Va. Six children survive of that marriage, the eldest being Miss Otelta Cromwell, the first Colored graduate (1900) of Smith College, Mass.


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