WILBERFORCE — Born a slave, Reverend Thomas Perkins became a free man at the age of 18. He and other free youths formed a group, hired a teacher and set up an “independent” school. He stayed on the plantation in Mississippi where he had been born, earning 50 cents a day. He was able to lease a portion of the plantation to farm and in 1892 purchased the entire 900 acre plantation. He became an ordained minister and later a presiding elder. In 1897, he came to Wilberforce, where he spent his remaining days.
Joan Baxter is a local resident and weekly historical columnist.