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Lewis Woodson


Lewis Woodson

Lewis Woodson

Dates alive: 
Minister; Teacher; Barber

Born in Greenbrier County, Virginia, Lewis Woodson moved with his family to Chillicothe, Ohio, about 1821.  He became a teacher and a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church.  In 1831 Woodson, his wife, Caroline Robinson, and their children relocated to Pittsburgh, where he started the first school for black children in the city and worked as a barber.

A trustee of Wilberforce University in Xenia, Ohio, Woodson was instrumental in its founding in 1863 as the first college owned and operated by African Americans.  He was a dedicated abolitionist, active in the Underground Railroad.  His newspaper writings forcefully advocated separate and independent institutions, like churches, schools, and communities, for African Americans, leading one author to call him the “Father of Black Nationalism.”


  • Thomas Woodson 1790-1879
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  • Lewis Woodson (1806-1878)
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