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"Biddy" Mason, From Slave to LA's First Millionaire and Philanthropist in 1880s

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Bridget "Biddy" Mason, a slave who became a millionaire and philanthropist in Los Angeles, Ca. True rags to riches heartwarming story.

Bridget "Biddy" Mason

Bridget "Biddy" Mason

Bridget "Biddy" Mason

Bridget "Biddy" Mason

Enslaved Pioneer Who Walked to Freedom

The true story of a remarkable woman, first as a slave, petitioning the courts for her freedom, the first African American woman to own land in Los Angeles, California, establishing the first AME Church in LA, accumulating a fortune yet giving away as a philanthropist.

The hardships and adversaries she faced but overcame as she left a legacy of kindness, compassion, and wealth to her community.

Bridget "Biddy" Mason was born a slave in 1818, becoming John Smithson's property on his plantation. Smithson later sold her to Robert and Rebecca Smith when she was only eighteen. Bridget learning how to care for the farm animals and nursing becoming a midwife. Little is known of her early years or who were her parents. This is the story of Bridget walking across the plains 1700 miles behind the wagon trains, caring for her master and his family along with her three children. It was an exhausting trip full of hardships, first to Utah, then California, where she sued in court and won her freedom. Unable to read or write, yet after ten years of work, she saved $250. and bought her first piece of property in Los Angeles, California.

Mormon Trail West

Mormon Trail West

States of Travel

States of Travel

Timeline of Bridget "Biddy" Mason

  • 1818 Born a slave in either Georgia or Mississippi, parents unknown.
  • 1836 Bridget becomes the property of Robert and Rebecca Smith.
  • 1856 Smith and his family convert to the Morman faith and move to Utah with Bridget and other slaves walking the 1700 miles behind the wagon train.
  • 1865 Smith, family, and slaves moved to San Bernadino, Ca.
  • 1866 Bridget petitions court for her freedom in a landmark court case and wins her freedom.
  • Bridget and her children move to Los Angeles and, with her life savings of ten years, buy her homestead being the first African American to own land in Los Angeles.
  • 1872 Bridget establishes the First AME Church of Los Angeles, donating the land.
  • 1880 Bridget acts as a midwife for the community, nurses the sick, and works with Dr. Griffin.
  • 1891 Bridget dies in Los Angeles and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
  • 1988 A memorial is placed on her grave, attended by the mayor and thousands of mourners.
  • 1988 Los Angeles declares a Biddy Mason Day.
  • 1989 The Biddy Mason Wall is installed in downtown Los Angeles, 81 feet long, 8 feet high of black concrete defining her life.
  • 2003 The Biddy Mason non-profit Charitable Foundation is founded. At 2270 Harvard Road, Los Angeles, 323-697-5378.
  • 1988 Los Angeles declares Biddy Mason Day
Los Angeles, Ca 1869

Los Angeles, Ca 1869

Biddy's Deed With Her Mark X

Biddy's Deed With Her Mark X

Biddy's Wall Monument

Biddy's Wall Monument

Biddy Grave Memorial

Biddy Grave Memorial

Biddy's Legacy

Biddy devoted herself to the poor of Los Angeles. She had a standing order at the local store to cover food costs for those affected by the major flood with no money. She was a midwife to all races, birthing thousands, and became known as "Aunt Biddy". She helped train nurses to aid in the city, often visiting the prisoners lending medicine and aid to them.

Biddy died worth millions, was an exceptional philanthropist, and will always have a special place in Los Angeles history. Ahe leaves as a beloved pioneer of Los Angeles, Ca.

biddy-mason-from-slave-to-las-first-millionaire-and-philanthropist-in-1880s

Comments

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on April 02, 2021:

Thank you, Rosina, appreciate your comments.

Rosina S Khan on April 02, 2021:

Biddy Mason was a wonderful African American woman. Her journey was very impressive, which has a lot to teach us. Thanks, Fran, for sharing the interesting account of this woman.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on April 01, 2021:

Panela, thank you for visiting. I agree Biddy was remarkable yet humble in her life.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on April 01, 2021:

MG, thank you for visiting. I too, enjoy learning something I wasn't aware of. History is full of unknowns.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on April 01, 2021:

Very interesting. It's always good education to know about something that you don't know. In that respect, it was an education for me.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2021:

Biddy sure was a remarkable woman. This is a very informative article, Fran. I had never heard of this woman before.

Have a good Easter weekend.

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