Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biography Abbie K. Mason, 1861-1908


By Janira Teague, Ph.D., UCLA

Born in New York in September of 1861, Abbie K. Mason was a wife, mother and temperance reformer. In 1888, she married Rev. James E. Mason (b. 1858), a pastor at Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (Zion), the oldest African American church in Rochester, New York. By 1900, Abbie had given birth to four children, but she had just one living child, an eleven year-old daughter named Kittie. Beyond her family life, she participated in the women's rights movement. Specifically, she was a founding member and the inaugural president of a branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) in August of 1901. Eight women joined the chapter along with her. The majority attended Zion, which had a storied history of fighting for advancements for women and African Americans.

Abolitionists and women's rights advocates, including Abbie, contributed to Zion's distinguished legacy. She held W.C.T.U. meetings in Zion's basement and participated in a church conference that highlighted the achievements of Frederick Douglass. Douglass, an ex-slave who became a prominent nineteenth-century orator and statesmen, published his anti-slavery weekly, the North Star, in Zion's basement. He also led the efforts to make the original church building a stop on the Underground Railroad, which sheltered Harriet Tubman and other escaped slaves. Furthermore, Douglass's friend and leader of the suffrage movement, Susan B. Anthony, gave her last public speech at Zion before her death in 1906.

On August 7, 1908 Abbie K. Mason passed away leaving behind her daughter Kittie, husband James, and a legacy of championing women.


1900 United States Federal Census, Rochester Ward 19, Monroe County, New York; p. 107, family 43, dwelling 43, lines 6-8, June 2, 1900;

Death Certificate for Abbie K Mason, 7 August 1908, File No. 33858, New York Death Index. Copy found on

1910 United States Federal Census, Manhattan, Ward 12--has listing for James E. Mason, a boarder, widowed, and a clergyman. Daughter Kittie not residing with him.

"Eloquent Paper on Frederick Douglass: Read Before A.M.E. Zion's Conference by John W. Thompson." Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY), July. 5, 1900.

"Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church."
(accessed June 8, 2018).

"New Union Organized.: Members of Zion M. E. Church form a W.C.T.U." Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY), Aug. 8, 1901.

"To a Pastor's Wife.: A Reception Given to Mrs. J. Harvey Anderson, Last Evening." Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY), May. 3, 1896.

Yale-New Haven Teacher Institute. "The Church Community: The Oldest Black Church, Past and Present."
(accessed June 8, 2018).


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