Catherine Ferguson

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Catherine Ferguson started the first Sunday School in New York City. Her birth date and birth place are unknown, because her mother was a black slave.

Early Life

When she was eight years old, Catherine's mother was bought by another family. She never saw her mother again. Though this was a hard loss for her, Catherine, or Katy, did not become bitter. Instead, she was compassionate to orphans of any race. Katy was placed under the care of a kindly woman who was a strong Christian. The woman brought Katy to church and taught her about God. When Katy was sixteen years old, a benevolent woman, who believed slavery was wrong, bought Katy's freedom. Katy was married two years later and began a family of her own. She had two children, though both died as infants. This loss motivated Katy to continue God's work, which was meant for her.

The First Sunday School in New York City

Katy began holding a Sunday school for local children in her home in 1793. The Sunday school is believed to be the first Sunday school in New York City. After learning that Katy needed more room for he Sunday school, a local pastor offered the basement of his church to Katy. The Sunday school, called The Murray Street Sabbath School, thrived with many children. As well as teaching children about God, Katy helped 48 starving children find good homes that would meet their needs. Catherine Ferguson died in 1854. In 1920, The Katy Ferguson Home for unwed mothers was founded in honor of this compassionate woman.

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