Alabama Pioneers Honored

BIOGRAPHY: John Wesley Alstork, D. D., LL.D. born September 1, 1852






Talladega and Montgomery County, Alabama

John Wesley Alstork was a bishop for the African Methodist Episcopal church. He was born September 1, 1852, at Talladega, Alabama, the son of the Rev. Frank and Mary Jane Alstork, who were greatly loved and honored. Talladega was one of the first places to be given colleges for the higher education of blacks after the Civil War. Bishop Alstork attended Talladega college, received the degree of D. D. from Livingstone college, N. C., in 1892, and that of LL. D. from Princeton College, Indiana, in 1908.

He was ordained A. M. E. in the Zion ministry, in 1882. He became financial secretary of the Alabama conference from 1884 until 1892, was A. M. E., Zion connection, from 1892 until 1900; and was a presiding elder from 1889 until 1900. “Though born a slave, Bishop Alstork persevered in acquiring an education till he had thoroughly prepared himself for the work he had to do in life.”He was elected bishop, May 14, 1900. He served as a delegate to the Ecumenical conference held in London in 1901, and in Toronto, Canada in 1911.

Although Bishop Alstork was thoroughly interested in the church and in all the work of the church, he still had time to show a great deal of interest in all the phases of education. He was a trustee of the Livingstone college, of the Lomax-Hannon high and industrial school at Greenville, of the Langridge academy at Montgomery, of the Atkinson college at Madisonville, Kentucky; of the Censor medical college of Louisville, Kentucky, and was chairman of the trustees of the Hale infirmary at Montgomery.

He was a member of the American Federation of Churches, of the Southern Sociological Congress. He was director of the Loan & Investment company of Montgomery. He was national grand master, F. and A., Ancient York Masons, Colored, and was lieutenant commander of the supreme council, Thirty-third Degree of Masonry.

Bishop Alstork married Miss Mamie Lawson (b. Dec. 25, 1855) in 1872 when only twenty years of age. “Mrs Alstork was a true helpmate to the Bishop and helped in his development.”

“Bishop Alstork traveled over the country and extensively in foreign lands. He was a loyal citizen of his country. During the war, he was a faithful worker in all war activities. His patriotism has been manifested m every war work campaign. He was a heavy purchaser of bonds, and a large contributor to Red Cross and Y. M. C. A. work. He owned a great deal of real estate and lived in his own beautiful home at 231 Cleveland Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama”

Bishop John Wesley Alstork died July 23, 1920, and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama and with his wife who died Jan 12, 1920. He left no children or their descendants. His brother, A. G. Alstork, age 56, was named as his executor of his will.

In his will, he was charitably inclined and made bequests to the Theological department of the Lomax-Hannon Industrial College, three hundred dollars for the training of young men and women for ministry of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; to the Hood Theological Seminary at Livingston College, Salisbury, North Carolina; as well as many other charitable causes, including ‘worthy students’ needing assistance.


  1. History of Alabama and dictionary of Alabama biography, Volume 3 By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen
  2. The National Cyclopedia of The Colored Race; Editor-in-Chief -CLEMENT RICHARDSON – President of Lincoln Institute Jefferson City, Mo. ASSOCIATE EDITORS Dr. C. V. ROMAN, Nashville, Tenn.Professor of Meharry Medical College; COPYRIGHT 1919; NATIONAL PUBLISHING CO., Inc.; MONTGOMERY, ALA.
  3. Find A Grave Memorial# 62491531  62491425
  4. The Southern Reporter, Volume 91 p. 797-798

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One comment

  1. Please reconsider the first line of this text. John Wesley Alstork was a Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AMEZ), not AME church. He was elected in 1900 as the 28th Bishop in the line of succession.