Joseph Crane Hartzell 1 June 1842 – 6 September 1929 ) was an American Missionary Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church who served in the United States and in Africa. He was elected in 1896.
Birth, Family and Early Years
Joseph was born of Methodist
parents on a farm near Moline, Illinois
. He was converted
to the Christian
faith as a boy. In 1863 he rescued four men from drowning in Lake Michigan
, being honored by the City of Evanston, Illinois
for his heroism. In 1869 Joseph married Miss Jennie Culver of Chicago
Joseph earned his own education, entering upon an eleven years' course of study at the age of sixteen. He earned a B.D.
degree in 1868 from Garrett Biblical Institute
. Prior to this, he had received a B.A.
degree from Illinois Wesleyan University
. Illinois Wesleyan and Allegheny College
both granted him the honorary degree
in 1875. He taught school for a period of time in the early and mid 1860s, before entering the ministry.
The Rev. Hartzell entered the Central Illinois Annual Conference
in the fall of 1866, being appointed Pastor
. In February 1870 he transferred to the Louisiana
Annual Conference of the M.E. Church
. He served for three years at Ames
Chapel (later the St. Charles Avenue
Methodist Church) in New Orleans
. This was the only Methodist church in New Orleans to remain with the northern branch of the Church after the division over slavery
in 1844. During the next nine years, Rev. Hartzell served as the Presiding Elder of various districts in the Louisiana Conference. For several years he also was a prominent member of the New Orleans School Board
In 1873 Rev. Hartzell began publication of The Sothwestern Christian Advocate, which he carried as a private enterprise until its adoption as an official paper of the M.E. Church by the 1876 General Conference. He was editor of this paper until February 1881, when he resigned to become the Assistant Secretary of the Freedmen's Aid Society. At the 1998 General Conference he was elected Corresponding Secretary of the Freedmen's Aid and Southern Education Society, to which office he was re-elected by the 1892 General Conference.
When the retirement of Bishop William Taylor
made necessary a successor
, the 1896 General Conference elected Dr. Hartzell Missionary Bishop for Africa. For the next four years, Bishop Hartzell traveled 70,000 miles performing the duties of his office. He presided over four Annual Sessions of the Liberia
Annual Conference. On 9 July 1897 he organized the Congo
Mission Conference. He also laid the foundations of the Mission in New and Old Umtali
. He received, as donations from the British South Africa Company
, valuable lots in New Umtali
. These came with appropriations of funds for the maintenance of a school among Europeans
, and a tract of several thousand acres with twelve buildings (worth over $100,000 at that time) at Old Umtali
, for the establishment of an industrial Mission.
Bishop Hartzell held the first sessions of the East Central Africa and West Central Africa Mission Conferences, where were each formed in 1901 from the Congo Mission Conference. He dedicated the St. Andrew's M.E. Church 20 September 1903, the first Methodist Episcopal Church erected for the use of white people in Africa. In the spring of 1910, Bishop Hartzell organized the American Mission in North Africa.
For his service in Africa Bishop Hartzell was made a Knight Commander of the Order for the Redemption of Africa by the Republic of Liberia. He retired at the 1916 General Conference.
Bishop Hartzell died 6 September 1929 as a result of injuries sustained during a robbery at his home in Blue Ash, Ohio. He was 87. He was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago. Hartzell Hall at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana is named in his honor.
- Comp. and edited, Christian Educators in Council, record of two important educational conventions, organized by Bishop Hartzell, who gave three addresses: The Freedmen Progressing, The Methodist Episcopal Church in the South Since the War, and a brief farewell word. Published, 1883.
- Address: Christian Work in Agricultural Districts, Second Ecumenical Conference, Washington, 1891.
- Address: The Open Door in Africa, First General Missionary Convention, Cleveland, 1903, also a pamphlet.
- Introduction, Springer, J.M., Heart of Central Africa, 1908.
- Minutes of African Mission Conferences presented to the General Conference, 1908. Autographed by Bishop Hartzell, in the Methodist Bishops' Collection at the library of Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
- Africa Diamond Jubilee Documents, Forward Movements, The Africa Mission, Diamond Investments in Africa, 1908-1909.
- Unification and Minorities, leaflet, n.d., in the Methodist Bishops' Collection.
- Leete, Frederick DeLand, Methodist Bishops. Nashville, The Methodist Publishing House, 1948.
- Joseph C. Hartzell Papers, Mss. 506, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.