William Massey


William Massey, minister, and educator, was born in Culpepper County, Virginia in 1843 or 1844. His mother was Mrs. Mildred Thompson; his father was unknown to him. He was sold from his mother at the auction block in Richmond, Virginia in 1856. Dr. Allen M. Hall who took him to Tennessee bought him. Mr. Hall sold him to a slave trader, John R. Massey, who in turn sold him to a cotton planter named J.B.Sterling, at Greenville Mississippi. William Massey tried to run away from slavery. He got as far as Memphis but was captured and returned to his master who made his feet fast in stocks. William Massey recounted how "a log and chain was placed upon my legs and I was forced to drag them around. During this sad experience of 1859 I professed a hope in Christ and my master licensed me to preach." When the Confederate Army in Mobile surrender he made his way to Union troops, and enlisted in the 8th Illinois Regiment and went with them to Mobile, then to New Orleans, Red River, Mississippi, Shreveport, Louisiana; Marshall, Texas: and Alexandria, Louisiana.

His first marriage before the Civil War produced one daughter, who for many years taught school in Texas. He was sold from his first wife during slavery and married again after the emancipation of the slaves. He had at least three children by Cora, his second wife. His second wife died in Feb 1899 in Austin. William Massey married yet again in 1900. He and his third wife, Mary, had at least one daughter.

His education was not extensive and he never went to school. His young mistress in Alexandria, VA taught him his alphabets. All he knows besides he taught himself. Still he made himself proficient in the primary grades and has taught very success schools. He was one the Freedmen's Bureau's teacher in Marshall, Texas. In 1869, along with the other bureau teacher, Caroline Poe, he helped found a new school building to replace the two rundown schoolhouses that had been the only places of education for black children in Marshall.

At the close of the war he joined Bethesda Baptist Church, Marshall, from which he was ordained in September 1867, by a presbytery of white brethren, among whom were Dr. A. E. Clemons and T. L. Scruggs and several deacons of the white church. Soon thereafter Rev. William Massey organized the "Colored Baptist Church" in his home. Soon the name "Bethesda" was chosen for the biblical pool where the sick and troubled went for healing. Members of this congregation included prominent business, educational, and political leaders.

The ministry of Reverend Massey spanned many years, during which his services proved invaluable, especially to the Missionary Baptists, who at that time had but few consecrated men in the field. He did both pastoral and evangelistic work. He was a pioneer. He pastored the church at Marshall for seven years; from Marshall he located at Waco, where he did commendable work for four years. The Calvert church calls him for six years. He also pastored at Austin, Navasota, Cold Springs, Weatherford, Pilot Point, Denison, San Angelo and other locations.

During his long career he converted over 3000 peoples and more than 2500 have been baptized. Rev. Massey was at one time the moderator of St. John Association and served as president of the Missionary and Educational Convention of Texas for fourteen years. Guadalupe College and a Presbyterian college conferred upon him the degree of D. D. Reverend Massey was one of the founders of the Thirteen District Association in Northern Louisiana. Rev. Massey was also President of the Texas State Convention. He is a life member of the National Baptist Convention and at one time served as one of it vice presidents

Reverend Massey is interred in Old Powder Mill Cemetery, in Marshall, Texas