Althea & Alonzo Edmiston served in Congo

Althea Brown 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 and 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 1904 Alonzo Edmiston joined the mission. The next year, he and Althea got married and moved in together. They had three children. At the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Board in the East in 1906, Althea Edmonton spoke. She also spoke at Fisk University, where she gave the commencement address in 1921, and at the Missionary Conference of Negro Women in 1922. (1935). In 1922, the Edmistons worked at Mushenge, where the Congo’s royal family lived and worked together. In the future, they worked with Lulus, the Zappo Zaps, and the Luba people, among other groups of people. At the Mutoto Girls’ Home, Althea Edmiston was in charge for three years, and she was in charge of the day-school system for four more years.

Altheas’s work was as a nurse and also in the area of linguistics. Her work was excellent because she did linguistics without prior training. She ensured that a grammar and dictionary resource was published in the local Bushong language. 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.

Alonzo Edmiston taught agriculture and maintained a boys’ home as part of the Morrison Bible School. “Am still busy getting things in order and getting business in shape to open the Agricultural School next month,” Edmiston wrote in his diary entry for July 12, 1918. “16 or 20 boys of the farm have already given their names to come in after this month is finished. I see great things in front of us for the work. Still, there is no end to the hard work to be done to get the work started and keep it going”.

Althea passed away on June 9, 1937, in Mutoto. Her illness was sleeping sickness and malaria.

At the end of 1940, Alonzo Edmiston came home from the mission field and settled in Selma, Alabama. For the next ten years, he kept talking about foreign missions at churches, schools, and colleges in the South. On December 5, 1954, he passed away.

Two books that tell much of the story:

A Higher Mission: The Careers of Alonzo and Althea Brown Edmiston in Central Africa