Fr. Tolton was born as slave on a plantation in central Missouri. As as small child, he fled with his family to Quincy at the start of the Civil War. He was drawn to the priesthood from an early age but because of his race he was not accepted into any seminaries in the US. Instead, he received his training at the Vatican. He was ordained in 1886 and returned to Quincy to head a parish for African-American Catholics.
A few years later, he was transferred to Chicago to begin a parish there for African-Americans. During a heat wave in 1897, Fr. Tolton collapsed on the street and died. By his request, he was returned to Quincy for burial. Recently, the Archdiocese of Chicago has requested the Vatican to consider Fr. Augustus Tolton for sainthood.
Fr. Tolton - Essay "They Call Him Fr. Gus" on the life of the First African-American Catholic priest.