It has been awhile since I posted to this blog, but I just had to share this story. This morning as I was perusing my Google Reader items, I came across a blog post from the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections blog. The blog post discusses a hymal of gospel songs originally published by Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, that was republished in the book Gospel Pearls by the National Baptist Convention Sunday School Publishing Board.
Given my experience with the African-American history of Nashville, I immediately recognized the name of the company as it was founded here in Nashville and I’ve read many a newspaper article about them and their employees; I’ve even visited the grave site of the company’s founder, Rev. Richard Henry Boyd.
As I kept reading the blog post, Nashville is never mentioned, but then I read the name of the woman who compiled Gospel Pearls — her name was Willa Townsend, and she even included one of her own hymnals in the publication. I recognized her name immediately too as I’d done some work on Willa’s family tree as I’d been contacted a couple of years ago by descendants of hers who found me via this blog. Willa Hadley was married to Dr. Arthur Townsend, a graduate of Meharry Medical College. A notice of their marriage appears in the 1902 issue of the alumni newsletter of Meharry, available on their website.
I cannot wait to share this new information with her descendants!