Dr. Mattie Elizabeth Howard Coleman was a prominent figure in Nashville’s African American history. A 1906 graduate of Meharry Medical College’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Coleman was a medical, religious, and community service pioneer.
This weekend, Saturday, October 14th, Capers Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church will honor Dr. Coleman with a wreath laying at her internment site in Greenwood Cemetery. The church is celebrating the Centennial Celebration of the Women’s Missionary Council and invites members of the public to attend. More details are available here.
At its meeting in October 2016, the Tennessee Historical Commission approved 4 new historical markers for the state. One of the newest additions was a marker for Reverend Pharaoh H. Benson. Rev. Benson (1841-1905), was a former slave who was the founding pastor of Mt. Nebo Baptist Church. He was ordained by Rev. Nelson G. Merry.
Yesterday, I went to Mt. Nebo, located at the corner of Clifton Avenue and 26th Ave N, to take a picture of the marker.
I also did a little research on the family. Pharaoh and his wife Ellen would have at least 12 children, of which only 4 were alive by the time of the 1900 census. Their daughter Jane married William Henry Fort Sr. and their son, William H. Fort Jr., has a scrapbook of his time at Fisk university that has been digitized by the Tennessee State Libary & Archives.
Many thanks to all those involved who helped make this historical marker possible. It is a great testament to continuing the quest to preserve African-American history here in Nashville. If you are interested in keeping up with the work of the Historical Commission, you can learn more about them on their website where you can also sign-up for their periodic newsletter.