Samuel Nathaniel Vass, D.D. was born the year 1866 in North Carolina, the son of an enslaved woman and white father. He attended St. Augustine’s School in Raleigh, NC, and is profiled in a written history of the school, A Record of Fifty Years, 1867-1917.
Rev. Vass was a missionary, like my forebear, Rev. John H. Turner, B.D. (b. 1854, in Southampton County, VA). In working with the American Publication Society, Mattaponi District Baptist Sunday-School Convention, and the Virginia Baptist State Sunday School Convention, Rev. Vass was closely connected to my 3rd great-grandfather, Rev. John H. Turner.
In fact, according to the Mattaponi District Baptist Sunday-School Convention, minutes of July 19th and 20th, 1894, (in which Rev. Turner served as chairman), Rev. Turner commended Rev. Vass on his work and made motion for him to receive a donation of $5.00. That would equate to a sum of $161.98 in 2021 dollars, per the Westegg Inflation Calculator.
Unlike my Rev. Turner, there’s a great deal of source material about Rev. Dr. Vass, right on the Internet. For example, Dr. Rev. Vass corresponded with Dr. W.E.B. DuBois in the early 1900’s and copies of the letters are online:
Further, in the written work, An Outline of Baptist History A Splendid Reference Work For Busy Workers A Record of the Struggles and Triumphs of Baptist Pioneers and Builders, by N.H. Plus, D.D. (1911), a section of Chapter 12 was written by Rev. Vass, and is viewable online:
Rev. Vass’ biography is written in, Who’s Who Among the Colored Baptists (1913, Samuel William Bacote):
Rev. Dr. Vass was married to Mary Elizabeth Haywood (1866-1920) in 1885 and they had at least four children: Maude Lillian (Vass) Bass (1886–1986), Rufus Samuel Vass (1887–1957), Baby Girl Vass (1890–1891), Horace B. Vass (b.1894).
Dr. Vass was widowed in 1920. In 1921, he married Edna E. Mitchell (1874-1935).
As of 1931, Rev. Dr. Vass was still working tirelessly in the ministry, according to an Aug 8, 1931 article in The New York Age.
Raleigh, North Carolina newspaper, The News and Observer, reported the 1938 passing of Dr. Vass in its September 30 edition.
Rev. Dr. Vass’ legacy lives on.
My forebear, Rev. Turner, was connected to many leading ministry men of his day. For whatever reason, Rev. Turner’s legacy, notwithstanding his living legacy-us, remains obscure. The FAN Club method of researching, as illustrated and pioneered by Elizabeth Shown Mills, is important for those researching family history because the ties may just lead to new discoveries. It is amazing to have access to this history that truly connects us all.
Remembering those that came before…
The Genealogy Situation Room