The Beginnings of Abyssinian


A group of African Americans who refused to accept segregated seating in the First Baptist Church of New York City formed the Abyssinian Baptist Church in lower Manhattan. The church name was inspired by the ancient name of Ethiopia, Abyssinia. The founders’ names:

Sally Allen

Joseph Allen

Abraham Carey

Pheba Cheeseman

Anthony Darling

Richard Dean

Sally Dean

Peggy Goldman

Pheba Green

Charlotte Johnson

Jane Jones

Jane Nickins

Isabella Simmons

Freelove Slocum

Hagar Tredwell

Reverend Thomas Paul, an African American minister from Boston, aided the new congregation in becoming organized as the first African American Baptist church in New York state and in purchasing its first home. After Thomas Paul returned to his church in the African Meeting House in Boston, his brother Benjamin Paul served as pastor from 1809 to 1810. In Abyssinian’s initial years, a series of pastors served for short tenures.