Friday, July 25, 2008

Mighty Western Women: Bridget "Biddy" Mason

Bridget "Biddy" Mason (1818-1891) a former Mississippi slave who gained her freedom for self & children in the 1850s; landowner, entrepreneur, and philanthropist in California; established the 1st black church in Los Angeles & engineered a series of shrewd real estate deals bringing her & her family wealth; made enough money to set up several homes for the homeless, sick, and old

From Wikipedia:

Bridget ("Biddy") Mason (born August 15, 1818 in Hancock County, Georgia - died January 15, 1891 in Los Angeles, California) was an African American nurse, and a California real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Mason worked in Los Angeles as a nurse and midwife. Saving carefully, she was one of the first African Americans to purchase land in the city. As a businesswoman she amassed a small fortune of nearly $300,000, which she shared generously with charities. She was instrumental in founding a traveler's aid center, an elementary school for black children, and was a founding member of First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the city's first and oldest black church.