At least 200 people were enslaved by the Jesuits in St. Louis. Descendants are now telling their stories
By Gabrielle Hays Education Dec 8, 2021 6:02 PM EST
ST. LOUIS – Against their wills, Thomas and Mary Brown, Moses and Nancy Queen, and Isaac and Susan Hawkins were taken from a White Marsh, Maryland, plantation in 1823, forced to leave their families and children 800 miles behind to help the Jesuits in their founding of the Missouri Mission.
Enslaved people were essential to what Jesuit institutions in St. Louis would become. The Jesuits moved another 16 to 18 enslaved people to St. Louis from Maryland in 1829, the same year the Society of Jesus took over St. Louis College, known today as St. Louis University.
Nearly 200 years later, descendants of people the Jesuits enslaved are learning and reclaiming the stories of their ancestors and pushing the institutions around them to tell a complete story, one that includes their families and the harm that was done.
“I believe souls can’t rest until fundamental wrongs are done right,” said Rashonda Alexander, one of the descendants.