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Benjamin Tucker Tanner

Illustration of Benjamin Tucker

1835 - 1923

Benjamin Tucker Tanner was born in Pittsburgh on Christmas Day of 1835 to Isabella and Hugh Tanner, an express wagon driver. As one of twelve children in a poor, working-class household, Benjamin Tanner delivered newspapers at age nine to supplement his family's income.

Educated at Avery College and Western Theological Seminary, Tanner received his ordination as a minister in 1862. While serving at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., Tanner, a lifelong advocate of education, founded two schools for freedmen, the first of their kind in the nation. He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Wilberforce College in 1878 and was elected a bishop of the A.M.E. Church in 1888. One of the denomination's leading intellectuals, he served as editor of two A.M.E. publications and wrote several books.

Several of Benjamin Tucker Tanner's children rose to prominence. His oldest daughter Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson (1864 - 1901) became the first female physician in Alabama, in 1891. Son Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859 - 1937) was the first African American painter to gain international acclaim and studied under Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Benjamin Tucker Tanner opened his account with Dollar Bank on Thursday, December 18, 1856, just a week shy of his 21st birthday. At the time, Tanner lived with his parents at 41 Enoch Street in Pittsburgh's Hill District, and was working his way through college as a barber in a shop on Fifth Avenue.

Account signature of Benjamin Tucker form 1856