John Dunjee

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John Dunjee
John Dunjee Dungy as featured in Still's The Underground Railroad Records

John William Dunjee (also John Dungy or John Dungee) (1833 – 1903) was an American missionary, educator, Baptist minister, publisher, agent of Storer College and founder of Baptist churches across the United States.

Early life and education[edit]

John William Dungy was born a slave in New Kent County/Charles City County, Virginia, in 1833 to the Ferrell family. His family asserted that President John Tyler was his father and Dungy's mother was a slave.[1] John William's absentee owners, the Ferrell family heirs, hired him out to former Virginia governor John Munford Gregory, and while working for Gregory in the winter of 1859 inside the family's house, Dungy learned that the Ferrells were going to take him to Alabama shortly.[2] He then decided to make his escape to freedom in Canada through the Underground railroad with the help of William Still (who later published an account of Dunjee's escape) and others, landing in the port of Philadelphia in February. He arrived in Hamilton, Canada, on the 15th of that month where he stayed for several years, worked as a barber, studied at night, and got married to Lydia Ann Taylor.[3] and returned to the United States at the conclusion of the Civil War revisiting Richmond. From 1866 to 1868 John Dungy studied at Bates College (also known as the Maine State Seminary) in Lewiston, Maine, where he lived and studied with other former slaves, Alexander Sanders and Hamilton Keyes[4] (later a student[5] and incorporator of Storer College[6] and member of the Storer Singers in 1873[7]). Dungy then studied at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he changed his name to "Dunjee" when he was informed about the "correct" spelling.


He next became a minister with the Baptist Home Missionary Society. He traveled throughout the country from New England to the South to the Midwest preaching and starting new Baptist churches for African Americans in mainly rural areas. Dunjee also played a particularly prominent role in supporting Storer College as an agent for the school, a Freewill Baptist College for African Americans in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as well as many other institutions such as Spelman College, Shaw College, Hampton College, and Langston University. Dunjee's friends included such well-known figures as Frederick Douglass. Additionally, Dunjee founded the Harper's Ferry Messenger in 1882 and served as business manager.[8] His children Drusilla Dunjee Houston, a historian, and Roscoe Dunjee later contributed to the Messenger and were editors of the Black Dispatch in Oklahoma. John Dunjee died in Oklahoma City in 1903.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln's Journey to Emancipation at
  2. ^ Still, "Still's Underground Rail Road Records", p. 543.
  3. ^ Still, "Still's Underground Rail Road Records", p. 542
  4. ^ Timothy Larson, Faith by Their Works, Bates College Thesis, Chapter 2 (2005)
  5. ^
  6. ^ Acts of the Legislature of West Virginia (West Virginia 1868) pg. 206
  7. ^
  8. ^ Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission - African American Studies, "Harper's Ferry Messenger" (webpage).

External links[edit]