Fr. Augustine Tolton

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. 

The Brenner Library holds a variety  of materials relating to Fr. Tolton including newspaper articles, copies of letters, photos and essays written on his life by area historians.  Contact Patricia Tomczak at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 217-228-5351 for more information.

Fr. Tolton - Essay "They Call Him Fr. Gus" on the life of the First African-American Catholic priest.