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Civil War veteran Rev. John H. Hector

John H. Hector photo in Belvidere Daily Republican (Belvidere, Illinois; August 19, 1908, page 4)
John H. Hector photo in Belvidere Daily Republican (Belvidere, Illinois; August 19, 1908, page 4)

Many of the people with additional questions following my presentation at the York Civil War Roundtable in February wanted to know more about York, PA particulars of Civil War veteran Rev. John H. Hector and details about his association with the son of John Brown. Only a few of the questions were answered in my post: York Hosts son of John Brown from Harper’s Ferry fame. This post answers the outstanding questions.

This is the best of the newspaper photos of Rev. John H. Hector that I discovered. In publicizing one his lecture/evangelist tours in 1908 this photo appeared in the August 19, 1908, issue of the Belvidere Daily Republican in Belvidere, Illinois. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.

I previously noted, “Rev. John H. Hector was in York at least from 1883 to 1884, per his association with the establishment of Post No. 369, G.A.R. Ministerial duties had Rev. Hector moving to Washington, D.C. about in 1885 and then in 1887 to California. California is supposedly where he formed a friendship with Jason Brown. Rev. Hector returned to York in 1890 for a year or two, again per picking up his activity with the local G.A.R. post. He would be back in York, on and off, several times before his death in York during 1914.”

I authored the article “After Civil War, Veterans Organize in York County; Black Veterans and the David E. Small Post, No. 369, G.A.R.;” published by the York County Heritage Trust in the 2015 Journal of York County Heritage; pages 14-33. In response for documentation on Rev. Hector’s activity with David E. Small Post, No. 369, G.A.R.; that article is well referenced with 177 endnotes. However more recent consultation of city directories, U.S. Census data, deed books and additional newspaper articles show Rev. Hector was in York, PA, for a much greater time than originally suspected.

During 1883 and 1884, Rev. Hector was pastor at A.M.E. Zion Church, located at 148 East King Street in York; he resided at 349 South Queen Street at that time. The A.M.E. Zion Church no longer stands at that location; its footprint is approximately within the east end of the present Bond Building on the corner of East King and South Queen Streets in York.

In 1889, Rev. Hector returned to York following pastoral stints in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. He resides at 309 South Queen Street from 1889 until 1891 and his occupation is listed as a clergyman. From 1892 to 1902, Rev. Hector resides at 104 East King Street and his occupation is listed as either a lecturer or evangelist for the rest of his life. From 1903 until his death in 1914, he resided at 116 East King Street. His widow, Eliza Hector, continued to reside at 116 East King Street and then 114 East King Street until her death in 1926. York appears to be the base of operations for many lecture/evangelist tours that Rev. Hector made; these were of duration of a day or two, or weeks; with his wife and/or daughter accompanying him on many speaking tours.

The speaking tour of Jason Brown and Rev. John H. Hector kicked off in York, Pa., during February 1891 and would last several months. This photo shows Jason Brown (left), second oldest son of abolitionist John Brown, and Rev. John H. Hector; photographed at the studio of Shadle & Busser, 20 S. George Street, York, Pa.

Jason Brown (left), son of abolitionist John Brown, and Rev. John H. Hector (Photo by Shadle & Busser, 20 S. George Street, York, PA; Submitted by Gussie Jones)
Jason Brown (left), son of abolitionist John Brown, and Rev. John H. Hector (Photo by Shadle & Busser, 20 S. George Street, York, PA; Submitted by Gussie Jones)

An article about their April 1891 stop in Philadelphia appears on the front page of the April 22, 1891 issue of The Times (Philadelphia, PA):

“JOHN BROWN’s MEMORY. The Son of Old Ossawattomie Faces an Audience at Dr. Conwell’s Church.

“With hair and beard whitened with age and with form bowed with weight of years Jason Brown, the son of old John Brown, of Ossawattomie, stood for a few moments last evening before a large audience at the Temple, corner of Broad and Berks streets, and spoke a few words regarding the life of his father.

“In a few simple faltering words he recalled the memorable days of Harper’s Ferry and the life and death of old John Brown, and also referred to his own thrilling experience on the borders of Kansas during the days of the Jayhawkers. In closing, he referred to the great interest his family has taken in the colored race, and said that in his opinion the race question would be settled in good time by the application of the Golden Rule.

“Thomas A. Fernley then introduced Rev. John H. Hector, a colored minister, of San Francisco, who is in charge of the movement to assist the members of old John Brown’s family, who have met with many reverses since the war. He told them how he had found Jason Brown and his sister in Pasadena, Cal., in destitute circumstances, and how he had started out to collect money to put them above want for the rest of their lives. Mr. Hector then delivered his lecture, entitled “Thrilling Reminiscences of the War,” which was received with great applause.

“Governor Pattison, who had been invited to preside over the meeting, sent a telegram late in the evening, saying that he had been detained at Harrisburg by pressing business, but heartily indorsed the work of Mr. Hector and the purpose for which the meeting was held. At the close of the lecture a large number of people went forward to meet Mr. Brown, and among them were many Grand Army men, whose eyes filled with tears as they grasped the hand of the son of the old hero.”

The Ossawattomie reference is associated with John Brown moving his family to Kansas from New York State in 1855; settling in Ossawattomie. That township became the abolitionist stronghold in the attempt to keep Kansas from being admitted to the union as a slave state.

In the Philadelphia article, Rev. John H. Hector is presented “of San Francisco.” That is where he was a minister from 1887 to 1889, and where he first met Jason Brown during one of his lecture trips to Southern California.

The final inquiry asked if any Rev. Hector descendants might still be in York. Newspaper accounts at various lectures have Rev. Hector’s daughter Geraldine as a singer. The last such reference, that I’ve located, occurred at a Rev. Hector lecture on July 21, 1912, at First Methodist Episcopal Church in Lead, South Dakota. I have not discovered what happened to Geraldine Hector after 1912.

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