Rev. Frost Pollitt and the History of the The African Church, later John Wesley M.E. Church, and currently the Charles Chipman Cultural Center, Salisbury, Maryland
There is an interesting connection to not only Frost but also his brother, George Pollitt, to the origins of The African Church, later to become the John Wesley M. E. Church of Salisbury, Maryland. George was about five years younger than Frost and after William Pollitt’s death continued as a slave under his widow, Sally Pollitt. On November 9, 1831, Sarah, or Sally, wrote a Deed of Manumission that would free her Negro George, aged 35, on January 1, 1836, or upon her death. Given that Sally died several years later, it appears that George was freed on the agreed on date.
Know all men by these presents that I Sarah Pollitt of Somerset County and State of Maryland for divers good causes and considerations me thereto moving have liberated manumitted and set free and by these presents do liberate manumit and set free and discharge from slavery my negro man George aged thirty five and able to gain a sufficient livelihood and maintenance which liberation and discharge from slavery is to take place at and from the first day of January eighteen hundred and thirty six, and if the said Sarah should die before the said first of January the said George is to be free at and from my death. In testimony whereof I have hereto set my hand and affixed my seal this ninth day of November eighteen hundred and thirty one.
It is our fortune that a Certificate of Freedom from Somerset County, Maryland was issued on June 19, 1849 for George Pollitt to replace his deed of manumission. It repeats the facts we already know about his manumission and gives us a detailed description of George, his trade, and age. Of particular interest is the fact that he is a native of Worcester County where as other sources give his brother, Frost’s nativity as Somerset County.
Maryland fet Whereas application hath been made to me the subscriber Clerk of Somerset County Court within the State of Maryland by a man of Colour named George Pollitt for a certificate of his freedom according to law. I do therefore certify that it appears from a deed of manumifsion, executed on the nineth day of November eighteen hundred & thirty one by Sarah Pollitt & duly recorded, that the said George Pollitt is free. He is five feet eight inches in height, his complexion is black, he has a scar on the middle knuckle of the right hand, he is a ship carpenter by trade, he is about 53 years of age & is a native of Worcester county, and he has made oath that the certificate of freedom granted him by George Handy former clerk of Somerset County on the 1st day of January 1836 is lost. In testimony whereof I hereto subscribe my name and affix the seal of Somerset County Court this 19th day of June 1849.
Wm G. Polk Clk
Although either a ship carpenter or laborer, George, was one of the five Free Black men who together purchased the land for the first African Church in Salisbury, along with Levin Huston, Elijah Pinkett, George James, and Micajah Toadvine. This land was the site where the church would be built at the current Northwest corner of the intersection of Salisbury Boulevard or Route 13 and Ocean City Highway or Route 50.
1838 Deed for the purchase of land for the African American Church in Salisbury, Maryland
Reference: 18 Aug 1838 Deed Trustees for the African Meth Church from Wm Williams, Worcester County, Maryland Land Records, Liber GMH No. 1, folio 468-470
This Indenture made this Eighteenth day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and thirty Eight
between William Williams of John and Annes Williams his wife of Somerset County and State of Maryland of the one part and Levin Houston, Elijah Pinkett, George Pollett, George James, and Micajah Toadvine as Trustees for affrican Methodist Episcopal Church in Salisbury part of Somerset and part of Worcester Countys and State afforesaid of the other part, Witnesseth that the said William Williams and Annes Williams his wife for and in consideration of the Sum of fifty dollars current money of the United States to them in hand paid by the said Leven Houston, Elijah Pinkett, George Pollitt, George James, and Micajah Toadvine, Trustees as aforesaid at or before the Sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof the said William Williams and Anne William his wife doth hereby acknowledge aquit exonerate and discharge the Said Leven Houston, Elijah Pinkett, George Pollitt, George James, and Micajah Toadvine,Trustees as aforesaid their heirs executors and administrators they the said William Williams and Annes Williams his wife hath wanted bargained sold aliened, unfilefed, conveyed and confirm unto the Said Leven Houston, Elijah Pinkett, George Pollitt, George James, and Micajah Toadvine,free collored persons trustees as aforesaid for the use of the Said Methodist Episcopal Church and their heirs and afsigns forever. All that lot of land lying near the Town of Salisbury being part of a tract of land called “Rais Ground” Lott Situated lying and being in Worcester County bounded and described as
Beginning at a poast Standing Seventeen and three quarter poles and three feet on the fifth line of the said tract of land and on the county road that lends from the said Town to the crossroads thence by and with the Said road South Seventy five degrees West three poles, thence North Twelve degrees East thirteen poles to intersect the Said fifth line at a poast thence by and with the Said fifth line South to the Beginning containing and now laid out for a Quarter of an acre of land more or less. Together with all and Singular the buildings improvements thereunto belonging or in anywise appertaining and the reversion and remainder unto ifsues and profets thereof and all the Estate right title and Estate and interest whatsoever, of them the said William Williams and Anne Williams his wife both at law and in Equity of into and out of the Said Log of ground or land and premises hereby bargained and sold or meant mentioned or intended hereby to be and every part and parcel thereof . To Have and To Hold the Said Lot or part of a tract of land so as aforesaid called and known by the name of the “Rais Ground Lot“ or by whatsoever name the same may be called. Together with all the buildings and appurtenances and all and Singular other the premises hereby bargained and sold and the said William Williams and Annes Williams his wife for themselves their heirs
Doth hereby covenant grant promise and agree to and with the said Levin Houston, Elijah Pinkett, George Pollitt, George James and Micajah Toadvine Trustees as aforesaid their heirs executors con
NOTE: Transcription not completed. Sorry! The deed only mentions George Pollitt, not Frost.
From my own understanding, the Race Ground lot perhaps had a tent or rudimentary wood frame building in which the Colored people met and worshiped. This is evidenced by the following 1848 deed in which it clearly states that the White trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church would erect or cause to be erected and built a house or place of worship for the use of the Coloured members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of America. I believe that the rationale for this deed is that in 1848, the only accepted General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was govern by the White men and as such only they could own the land for places of worship and permit the worship by Coloured people under the supervision of a White minister. Also, this deed predates the earliest conference for Coloured Preachers in Philadelphia by four years.
1848 Trustees of African Methodist Church to erect and build or cause to be erected and built thereon a house or place of worship for the use of the Coloured Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of America
Reference: 21 Jan 1848 Deed David Vance George W. Covington Samuel Williams Isaac Nichols Noah Rider Charles Davis Edward R. Weatherly asa Dashield and Benjamin W. Gordy from Trustees of African Methodist Church, Worcester County, Maryland Land Records, Liber EDM No. 1, folio 250, 251 & 252
Trustees of African Methodist Episcopal Church in Salisbury of Worcester County State of Maryland
Levin Huston, Elijah Pinkett, George Pollitt, and George James
Trustees of Methodist Episcopal Church in Salisbury in trust that they shall erect and build or cause to be erected and built thereon a house or place of worship for the use of the Coloured Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of America
David Vance, George W. Covington, Samuel Williams, Isac Nichols, Noah Rider, Charles Davis, Edward R. Weatherly, asa Dashield, and Benjamin W. Gordy
This Indenture made this Twenty first day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty eight between Levin Huston Elijah Pinkett George Pollitt and George James as trustees for the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Salisbury of Worcester County State of Maryland of the one part and David Vance George W. Covington Samuel Williams Isac Nichols Noah Rider Charles Davis Edward R. Weatherly asa Dashield and Benjamin W. Gordy Trustees in trust for the uses and purposes herein after Mentioned all of Somerset County in the State of Maryland aforesaid of the other Part. Witnefseth that the said Levin Houston Elijah Pinkett George Pollitt and George James as trustees for the african Methodist Episcopal Church near Salisbury for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar Specie to Levin Houston Elijah Pinkett George Pollitt and George James in hand paid at and upon the sealing and delivery of these Presents the Receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have
have given granted bargained sold released confirmed and conveyed and by these Presents do give grant bargain sell release confirm and convey unto them the said David Vance George W. Covington Samuel Williams Isac Nichols Noah Rider Charles Davis Edward R. Weatherly asa Dashield and Benjamin W. Gordy and their succefsors (trustees in trust for the uses and Purposes herein after declared and mentioned all the estate right title interest Property claim and demand whatsoever withier in law or equity which they the said Levin Houston Elijah Pinkett George Pollitt and George James have in to or upon all and singular a certain Lot a Piece of land Situate lying and being in the County of Worcester State aforesaid near the town of Salisbury which said Lot was conveyed to them by William Williams and anne his wife being part of a tract called the Race Ground Bounded and described as follows Beginning at a post standing seventeen and three quarter Poles and three feet in the fifth line of the said Tract of land called the Race Ground and on the County road that leads from the town of Salisbury to the crofs Roads thence leg and with the same road south seventy five degrees West three Poles thence North Twelve Degrees east Thirteen Poles to intersect the said fifth line at a Post thence by and with the said fifth line South to the beginning containing and laid out for a quarter of an acre of land more or lefs together with all and singular the houses woods waters ways Privileges and appurtenances these belonging or in any wise pertaining To Have and To Hold all and singular the above mentioned and described lot or piece of land lying situate and being as aforesaid together with all and singular the houses woods waters privileges and ways these to belonging or in any wise appertaining unto them the said David Vance George W. Covington, Samuel Williams Isac Nichols Noah Rider Charles Davis Edward H. Weatherly asa Dashield and Benjamin H. Gordy and their succefsors in office forever in trust that they shall erect and build or cause to be erected and built thereon a house or place of worship for the use of the Coloured Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of America according to the rules and discipline which from time to time may be agreed upon and adopted by the Ministers and Preachers of the said church at their General Conference in the United States of America and in further trust and confidence that they shall at all times forever hereafter Permit such Ministers and Preachers belong to the said Church as shall from time to time be duly authorized by the General Conference of the said Methodist Episcopal Church or by the annual Conferences authorized by the sd. General Conference to Preach and expouse Gods holy word therein and in further trust and confidence that when any one or more of the trustees before mentioned shall die or cease to be members of the sd Church then and in such case it shall be the duty of the Stationed Minister or Preacher authorized as aforesaid who shall have the pastoral charge of the members of the sd Church to call a meeting of the remain trustees as soon conveniently may be and when so met the said minster or preacher shall Proceed to nominate one or more Persons to fill a Place or Places of him or them whose office or offices has or have been vacated as aforesaid. Provided the Person or Persons so nominated shall have been one year a member or members of the Methodist E. Church and be at least twenty one years of age and the said trustees so assembled shall proceed to elect and by a majority of votes appoint the Person or persons so nominated to fill such vacancy or vacancies in order to Keep up the number of nine trustees forever and in case of an equal number of votes for and against the said Nomination the Stationed Minister or Preacher shall have the casting vote and the said Levin Houston Elijah Pinkett George Pollitt and George James doth by their Presents warrant and forever defend all and Singular the before mentioned and described lot or piece of land with the appurtenances thereto belonging unto them the said David Vance George W. Covington Samuel Williams Isaac Nichols Noah Rider Charles Davies Edward R. Weatherly asa Dashield and Benjamin H. Gordy and their succefsors chosen and appointed as aforesaid forever the claim or claims of them the sd Levin Houston Elijah Pinkett George Pollitt and George James their heirs or afsigns and from the claims of all persons whatever In Testimony whereof the sd Levin Houston Elijah Pinkett George Pollitt and George James have hereto set their hands and seals this day and year aforementioned.
Signed Sealed and Delivered Levin X Houston by his mark SEAL In Presence of Elijah X Pinkett by his mark SEAL George Maddox J.P. George X Pollitt by his mark SEAL B. J. Fish J.P. George X James by his mark SEAL
State of Maryland Worcester County To wit:
Be it remembered and it is hereby certified that on this twenty first day of January in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and forty eight before the subscribers two Justices of the peace of the State of Maryland in and for Worcester County personally appears Levin Houston Elijah Pinkett George Pollitt and George James as trustees for the affrican Methodist Episcopal church in Salisbury in said county they being Known to us to be the Persons who are named and described as and profefsing to be the parties the foregoing deed or indenture and did acknowledge the said Indenture severally and Jointly to be their respective act and deed for the use and purpose therein mentioned . In witnefs whereof we hereinto subscribe our names on the day and year aforesaid.
George Maddox J.P.
B. J. Fisk J. P.
January the twenty fourth day anno Domini Eighteen hundred and forty Eight then was delivered unto me the Subscriber the foregoing deed in order to be enrolled among the records of Worcester County which said deed together with the acknowledgement thereof thereon endorsed are accordingly recorded among the same records in Liber E.D.M. No. 1 folios 250, 251, & 252.
Edward D. Martin Clk
It was not until 1878 that we see a new name for the African Methodist Epsicopal Church, that of the John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church of Salisbury, Maryland. Several things are interesting to note here. A new generation has taken over as Trustees of the church, now some fifty years old: James James the son of George James; John Pinkett, the son of Elijah Pinkett; and Solomon T. Huston, the son of Levin Huston. Given that there were to be nine trustees, not all could be sons of the original five. But still this shows a patriarchal lineage that in my opinion recognizes the strong ties that families had to their churches at the time.
1878 Deed Trustees of John Wesley M.E. Church
Reference: 6 Jun 1878 Nancy White et al to Trustees of John Wesley M.E. Church, Wicomico County, Maryland Land Records, Liber SPT 3, f83 & 84
Deed Nancy White et al To Trustees of John Wesley
This deed, made this twenty sixth day of June the year Eighteen, and his hundred and seventy eight by us, Nancy White, John D. Johnson, Elizabeth V. Johnson wife and Annie J. White of Wicomico County State of Maryland witnesseth that in consid- M.E. Church deration of seventy five dollars, we the said Nancy White, John D. Johnson, Elizabeth V. Johnson wife and Annie J. White, do grant unto James James, John Pinkett, John Brittingham, Jeremiah Davis, Dodge D. Davis, Solomon T. Huston, Levin Rider, John Parker, and Stephen Peters, as Trustees of the John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church, in the United States of America, and their successors, all that tract of land lying both in Wicomico County Maryland and in that part of the Town of Salisbury named Jersey, being described in a deed now on file in the records of Wicomico County, which the said Levi J. Cathell received from Abram Dennis and wife Liber TFJR, folio 425, and which the said Abram Dennis received from John W. Maddox and wife by deed recorded among the land records of Somerset County Maryland dated 20th of December 1866, and more particularly described as follows,
All that lot of ground with improvements thereon situated, about one fourth of a mile from “Baileys” now “Humphreys Mills” on the west side of the County road leading from said Mills to the line of Delaware, beginning for the same, at the S.E. Corner of a lot of Wm. D. Parsons, and running a westerly direction, by and with said Parsons lot, to a street between the aforesaid lot and George Webbs lot, which line is one hundred and eighty feet, thence by and with said Maddox lot to the County road which is one hundred and Eighty four feet thence by and with said County road Fifty four feet to the beginning. In trust that the said premises shall be held, kept and maintained, and disposed of as a place of Divine worship for the use of the ministry and membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America, subject to the discipline, usage and ministerial appointment of said Church, as from time to time, authorized, and declared by the General Conference of said Church
and the annual conference in whose bounds the said premises are situate, and the said Trustees of said Church, shall at an time prevail such ministers, and preachers belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church, as shall from time to time be duly authorized by the General Conference of the ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America, or by the Annual Conference of the same – to preach and expound God’s holy word and to execute the discipline of said Church and to administer the sacraments therein.
Witness our hands and seals this twenty sixth day June Anno Domini eighteen hundred, and seventy-eight
State of Maryland, Wicomico County
Nancy White SEAL J. D. Johnson SEAL Lizzie V. Johnson SEAL Annie J. White SEAL
I hereby certify that on this twenty sixth day of June in the year Eighteen hundred and seventy-eight, before the subscriber, a Justice of the Peace of the State of Maryland in and for Wicomico County personally appeared the within named grantors and did each acknowledge the aforegoing to be their respective act . Joshua Johnson JP
Anno Domini 1878 September 20th. There was delivered unto me the subscriber the foregoing deed in order to be enrolled among the Land Records of Wicomico County which said deed together with the acknowledgement thereof thereon endorsed is accordingly enrolled among the same records in Liber SPT No. 3, Folios 83 & 84, on the day and year aforesaid.
Examined, and delivered to Isaac H. White, (Col’d) Aug 5, 1887
S. P. Toadvine Clerk
One person missing from these documents is Frost Pollitt. It is widely recognized that Frost Pollitt was one of the first or the first pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Salisbury. Concrete evidence to support this claim has never been found. During the early years of the African Church, 1838 to 1848, Frost is found in Somerset County, Maryland according to all land record transaction up to 1837. The next land record transaction comes in 1845 and then in 1850 he is listed as living in the Princess Anne District of Somerset County. In 1851, he is in Princess Ann, Maryland as documented by his recommendation to become a Deacon in the Philadelphia Conference. In 1860 & 1870, he is listed as living in Nutters District of Worcester County. So frankly, this scattering of locations does not help to support a residence in Salisbury. But then we must go back to the realization that Rev. Frost Pollitt was an itinerate preacher. He travelled to many areas; Philadelphia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Services were not always on Sunday but might have been held at night during the week as well. Please image that Frost preached a service in Snow Hill on Tuesday night and New Town, now Pocomoke, on Wednesday, and on Deals Island on Thursday and then headed back to Princess Ann or Salisbury for Saturday and Sunday meetings. ‘Old Frost’ got around.
It is with certainty that Frost’s son, the Rev. Charles Pullett, was assigned to the John Wesley M.E. Methodist Church. In his memoir, we learn that:
He joined the M. E. Church in slave days. He was licensed to preach by the white M. E. Church of his town, and for many years before the organization of the Delaware Conference, served as a preacher. When the Delaware Conference was organized in 1864 he presented himself for membership at John Wesley M. E. Church, Philadelphia. He was appointed by Bishop Edmund S. James to Salisbury Circuit and served this Circuit, extending from Laurel. Del., to Nanticoke, Md., for three years [1864 – 1866]
We do known from the Minutes of the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Church that the following appointments were made and the preachers mentioned served the churches or circuits for these years.
1864 Wycomico, Charles Pollett Manokin, Frost Pollett 1865 Wycomico, Charles Pollett Manokin, Frost Pollett 1866 Wycomico, Charles Pollett
Wycomico was the old spelling for Wicomico and presumably meant the circuit including the John Wesley M. E. Church in Salisbury which would have been the largest church in the circuit. Manokin refers to the Manokin River area or circuit which would have included Princess Ann.
In conclusion, not only where Frost’s parents members of the local Methodist Episcopal Church but their sons Frost and George were as well. Their sister, Tamar Pollitt Burris, is buried in the church graveyard of Mt. Calvary M. E. Church in Fruitland, Maryland. She is the only sibling known to have a marked grave. Most undoubtedly, she was a member of that Methodist Episcopal church.