Williams, Hester (c1862-??)

Williams, Hester (c1862-??)

Pioneer in establishing schools for women and girls

Hester Williams, “Aunt Hester,” was a former slave who had little formal schooling, yet she pioneered in establishing schools for women and girls in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 1882 Hester Williams addressed the Louisiana Annual Conference and told of her work among the freedwomen. She had “a missionary hen named Dorcus,” which produced eight dollars for missions, and a row of sugar cane, which produced six dollars. This fourteen dollars was presented to the conference as a challenge to the church to match her funds in order to start more schools. Hester traveled to Detroit to speak to the annual meeting of the Woman’s Home Missionary Society in 1886, and to plead for funds to open the Hester Williams Industrial Home in Baton Rouge. She was granted two hundred dollars and was instrumental in starting five schools in her home in addition to the Hester Williams Home. These schools taught Bible, catechism, and sewing. Traveling by horseback, by wagon and mule, train, foot, and boat, she started other schools in at least seven other communities. She was a member of the Bureau of Youth People’s Work of the Louisiana Home Missionary Society.

Taken from They Went Out Not Knowing… An Encyclopedia of One Hundred Women in Mission (New York: Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 1986). Used with permission of United Methodist Women.