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The Conversion and Early Life of Pastor Elisha Green
A Black Baptist Minister In Maysville, KY
Written by Himself

      I was converted on the farm of Mr. Walter Warder, about three miles to the left of Mayslick, Mason County. When converted I was plowing. It was one Friday morning, between 9 and 10 o'clock. Shortly after my conversion, I was taken down with scarlet fever. It was about six months after that I was baptized at Nicholas' Ford, on the North Fork of Licking river, by the Rev. Walter Warder.

      In 1835 I married Miss Susan Young. In 1838 I left my wife in the neighborhood of Mayslick as a servant of Mrs. Sissen and came to Maysville. They did not get along together very well, and Mrs. Sissen sold her, as she thought, to Mr. Peck, of Washington, Ky., who was trading in colored people, or rather slaves, because in those times we were not known as colored people. She sold my wife with the expectation of sending her south, or "down the river," as the expression was. My master, John P. Dobbyns, gave the negro-trader the money and sent him out there. He bought and brought her to Maysville and, being unable to keep her, he sold her and three children to John C. Reid. I do not know how long Mr. Reid kept them, but I suppose about ten years. My master bought her back again, leaving her in the hands of Reid, with the three children. She remained with John P. Dobbyns until he failed financially. Having made a final failure, they put her and the children up at the market for sale. For better information I will insert the following paper, which speaks itself:

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To the Public

Elder Elisha Green, the bearer hereof, is a minister in good and regular standing, of the Baptist Church, and an acceptable pastor of the African Church (Baptist) of the city of Maysville. By the pecuniary misfortune of the gentleman who owned his wife and children they were thrown upon the market for sale, and Elder Green was induced by the advice of many friends to become the purchaser of his wife and two children, at the price of $850. His means (although he and his wife labor faithfully and live economically) will not enable him to meet the payments as they become due, and he has been counselled to seek assistance to enable him to meet his payment. We commend him to the kind consideration of the Christian public, and particularly to the members of the Baptist Church.
      Maysville, Ky., November 1, 1858.

H. RAY, Pastor of the Baptist Church, Maysville.

      These thirteen men, whose names are signed to the paper, were very generous, shown from the fact that when I told them I could not purchase my wife and children, they drew the money from the bank and said it was for me, saying: "If you never pay it, we will never trouble your family." I worked and made the money and paid it back in calls in the bank. Mr. Collins, one of the gentlemen on the list, told me to come and take this house in which I am at present. He charged me $4 per month as the rent. He said that when I had paid him $300 in rent, he would give me a deed to the property. But for the fact that I was $850 in debt because of my family, I was a little cautious about doing so. When I had paid for my family, property had advanced several dollars. He had been offered $500 for the house that I was in. I then, in order to possess it myself, gave him $500 for the property. One lesson I learned from this, and that was that it will not pay to rent.

      I had not been in Maysville long until I began a prayer meeting in the house of old sister Jennie Marshall, on Short street. A few brethren and sisters and myself continued to hold meetings in sister Marshall's

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house until the congregation became too large. We rented a house from Aunt Rosy Brannum. We stayed here till it became too small for the congregations. We then got a house for five years from Mr. Spalding, which house now stands by the side of the new church. I suppose you will be pleased to know how and by what movements I came to be a preacher, and also the incidents that pushed me forward to the occasion. I was sexton of the white Baptist Church for sixteen years, and while associated with them, seeing different displays and other movements in church, hearing various men preach, I, of course, was somewhat struck with the idea of doing something for God. I was not only sexton of the church, but a worshiper in there among the whites. They saw in me the gift to preach, and two or three of the deacons went to John P. Dobbyns, my master, and got the authority to license me. I knew nothing of it. This is the form of the license granted in those days to colored ministers, especially to myself:

      At a regular meeting of the Maysville Baptist Church, May 10, 1845, the following resolution was unanimously adopted: Be it

      Resolved, That Elisha Green, the property of John P. Dobbyns, of this city, has full liberty and permission from this day to exercise his gifts in the public before the colored population of this city or any others before whom in the providence of God he may be cast.
                E. F. METCALF, Church Clerk.

[From Life of the Rev. Elisha W. Green, 1888; UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South; via internet. The title is supplied. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

The complete title of this autobio is: Life of the Rev. Elisha W. Green, One of the Founders of the Kentucky Normal and Theological Institute--Now the State University at Louisville; Eleven Years Moderator of the Mt. Zion Baptist Association; Five Years Moderator of the Consolidated Baptist Educational Association and Over Thirty Years Pastor of the Colored Baptist Churches of Maysville and Paris. Written by Himself.


A new book from the University Press of Kentucky entitled The Assault on Elisha Green has been published - 2021.

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