From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

McCray, Mary F.

(born: 1837  -  died: 1894) 

Mary F. McCray, born a slave in Kentucky, was the wife of S. J. McCray. She was freed at the age of 21 after the woman who owned her family, Miss Polly Adams, died in 1859.

Fannie, her husband, and family moved to De Smet in the Dakota Territory, establishing the first church and sunday school of the community in their home. Mary, who could not read or write, would become one of the first African American women licensed to preach in the territory, serving as pastor of the Free Methodist Church.

Mary and her husband also founded the first school for African Americans in De Smet. When their crops failed, the McCray family returned to Ohio, where Mary and S. J. founded the First Holiness Church of Lima.

For more see "Mary F. McCray" in vol. 5 of the African American National Biography, edited by H. L. Gates, Jr. and E. B. Higginbotham; and The Life of Mary F. McCray, by her husband and son [available online at UNC University Library, Documenting the American South].

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“McCray, Mary F.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-11-28 18:06:25