Brown, Hallie Q.
|MRS. CATHERINE A. DELANY -- 1822--1894|
Mrs. Catherine A. Delany was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Felicia Fitzgerald, a native of Cork, Ireland, and Charles Richards a man of financial standing. His father, familiarly known as "Daddy Ben," was a man of considerable influence and wealth, for many years being the leading butcher of Pittsburgh. He is said to have erected and owned the first brick building in Pittsburgh. In this building for some years the Court held its sessions.
Catherine was united in marriage to a rising young physician, Dr. Martin R. Delany. His parents were pure Africans, coming directly from the South Coast to the state of Pennsylvania.
Catherine linked her life with a man who was destined to be a noted character in race history. During the great epidemic of black, Asiatic Cholera in Pittsburgh, while hundreds died from the scourge, Dr. Delany did not lose a single patient.
As a physician and ethnologist he spent a year on an exploring expedition in the interior of Africa with Mr. Robert Douglas and Prof. Robert Campbell of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On his return to England he was accorded high honor by Lord Brougham and other noted men and women of the nobility.
As a tribute and token of esteem, a social organization, composed of English and Scotch members, and an adjunct of the Royal Geographical Society, presented Dr. Delany with a handsome jeweled sword and a Field Marshal's uniform for his activities and research in Central Africa.
The couple lived in Pittsburgh until after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed and was actuated by the infamous Dred Scott decision which followed in its wake to leave this place. Hence in 1856 they moved to Chatham, Ontario. Again in 1864 they moved to Wilberforce University, Ohio, where they could educate their children and where they spent the remaining years of their lives.
Mrs. Delany was a woman of sterling character and marked attainments, an intense reader of history, the highest type of current and standard literature and the Holy Bible. To her children she was a heroine, the strong, self-reliant, faithful mother; their friend and confidante, sharing their joys and sorrows. She willingly sacrificed for the good of her family as well as for the community in which she lived. Her interest in and sympathy for the needy or suffering was untiring. At all times and seasons she heard the call of the distressed and ministered to their wants. Mrs. Delany was a faithful and devoted wife. During her husband's long career and varied activities she kept the home and reared their children to man's and woman's estate. Eleven children were born to this couple. Four died in infancy. Major and Mrs. Delany decided that the children should be named for illustrious members of their own race, and these are the seven who reached their majority. Toussaint L'Ouverture, Charles Lenox Remond, Alexandre Dumas, Saint Cyprian, Faustin Soulouque, Placido Rameses, Hallie Amelia, Ethiopia. And they arose and called her blessed!