Born a slave in 1779, Catherine Ferguson accompanied her mistress to church on Sundays until she was freed at sixteen by a white woman benefactor who paid $200 for Katy’s emancipation. Two years later, Katy married; by the time she was twenty, her husband and two infant children were dead. Katy, a fantastic baker, made wedding cakes and other delicacies to support herself. On the way to the market to sell her baked goods, she would see dozens of poor children and orphans who pulled at the strings of her heart. The indomitable Katy started teaching these waifs church classes in her home on what is now Warren Street in Manhattan, until a Dr. Mason lent her church basement to her in 1814. This is believed to be the origins of what we now call “Sunday school.” Katy’s classes were so popular that droves of poor black and white children came to learn. Soon, many young, unwed mothers started showing up, too. Katy took them home, cared for them, and taught them self-reliance. Katy died of cholera in 1854, but her work carried on in the Ferguson Home for Unwed Mothers, where kindness, good works, and good learning are the helping hands to a better life.
The Blog of Awesome Women / Katy Ferguson: Earth Angel
This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.
Original post found here.