Alabama Pioneers HonoredBiographiesGenealogy Information

BIOGRAPHY: Rev. John Belle ca. 1840 – African-American



(b. ca. 1840)

Northern Alabama

Rev. John Belle, of Courtland, was born in the State of Georgia and came to Alabama after the close of the war.

Decided I should be hung

He says: “In Stuart County, Ga., in the first part of 1861,1 followed the white preacher to his different preaching stations, and he would preach to the white people in the morning and I would speak to the colored people in the evening. I could not say anything about Moses and the children of Israel.”

“I went on preaching without any trouble for some little time, till at last, as I could read a little, it was decided that I should be hung.”

“As I was ready for execution, and as I was praying God for help, a dispute arose between the white people which resulted in my release. I again went on, till on one occasion when I had displeased my mistress with reference to some garden work, and when, as she started to strike me with the rake, and I fled, she reported to her husband that I had tried to kill her and that she only saved her life by running into the house out of my reach.”

“Of course, it was decided at once that I ought to and should die. On the night before I was to be executed, the lady became very ill and owned that she was only angry with me for getting out of her way and that I had done nothing. She died that night. ‘However, her dying words bad set me free and so I returned to my work for God, feeling that 1 could not die till my work should be accomplished.”

Principal work Northern Alabama

Brother Belle has labored in different States, but his principal labors have been in northern Alabama, where he has been one of the chief organizers of our work in this section, beginning his operations here in 1868.

It appears that Brother Belle was ordained in Helena, Ark., sometimesin 1867, the late Rev. J. T. White, who was then pastor of the First Colored Baptist Church, being one of the officiating presbytery.

He is still a strong man. For several years past he has been pastor at Iuka, Miss., and of the Red Bank Church in Lawrence county. His pleasant manners have always made him an agreeable companion to his brethren.


Excerpt from The Cyclopedia of the Colored Baptists of Alabama – Their Leaders and Their Work copyright 1896

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