Althea was born in 1874 in Alabama. Her parents were emancipated from slavery, and she was raised on her father’s farm in Mississippi.
She attended Fisk University, graduated in 1901. Althea was commissioned as a missionary in 1901 by the Southern Presbyterian Church. She sailed for the Congo in 1902 and worked at a mission station run by William Henry Sheppard – another Black American Missionary.
In 1905 she married Alonzo Edmiston and they had two sons, both born in the Congo Region. Her husband was also a Black Missionary.
Altheas’s work was as a nurse and also in the area of linguistics. Her work was amazing because she did the linguistics work without any prior training. In the local Bushong language, she ensured that a a grammar and dictionary resource was published. Liturgical and educational materials were translated by Althea so that there was a small library printed for her students to read in their own language.
She passed away in 1937.
Two books that tell the story: