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“Black Harry” Hoosier: The Story Behind Indiana’s Namesake

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 29, 2022 3:00 am

“Black Harry” Hoosier: The Story Behind Indiana’s Namesake

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 29, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, we learn how Indiana got its nickname as “The Hoosier State.” And how did people from Indiana come to be called “Hoosiers”? Here to answer these questions and tell the story is Dr. Stephen Flick, head of the Christian Heritage Fellowship.

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To learn more, visit Bose.com. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. To search for the Our American Stories podcast, go to the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. How did Indiana get its nickname as the Hoosier State and how did people from Indiana come to be known as Hoosiers? Here to answer these questions and to tell the story is Dr. Stephen Flick, head of the Christian Heritage Fellowship.

Let's take a listen. One such individual that has so deeply influenced our nation and one state in particular is a black man, a black Methodist preacher by the name of Harry Hoosier. John Wesley, the well-known evangelist and father of Methodism at one of his conferences in the British Isles in 1771, called for his itinerant ministers to volunteer to go to America. Among those who volunteered was a young man by the name of Francis Asbury.

In a few short years, Francis Asbury would rise to the highest office of bishop in America. Having traveled thousands upon thousands of miles, his face was more readily recognized than the father of our nation, George Washington. It was during the American Revolution that Francis Asbury asked Harry Hoosier to travel with him throughout all of the colonies from New England, the middle colonies and southern colonies. And it was there that Harry Hoosier gained a reputation as the most widely accepted and widely applauded minister of his day.

Harry Hoosier had been born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He had been born into slavery. He was purchased by a Methodist by the name of Henry Goff. And Mr. Goff invited his slaves, as well as those white inhabitants of his plantation in the Baltimore area, to prayers both morning and evening. It was out of this setting that Mr. Goff freed Harry Hoosier as the first anti-slavery movement began just prior to the American Revolution. And it was the Methodists who, with the Quakers, helped to champion this cause. And Harry Hoosier was among those that was the first to be liberated from slavery.

After being liberated, he became the traveling companion of Francis Asbury, and together they traveled thousands of miles carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ to both black and white. It's very significant that Harry Hoosier was more widely acclaimed as a preacher than any other minister, any other preacher, white or black. In fact, it was one of the three most important founding fathers, Dr. Benjamin Rush, who, along with George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Benjamin Rush was so impressed with Harry Hoosier's ability as a preacher that he said, making allowances for his illiteracy, he was the greatest orator in America. Many of those who heard the preaching of Harry Hoosier, who had been converted, as they moved out of the Appalachian Mountains and moved west, they're located in Indiana. Indiana became a strong haven for Methodism. Those individuals that located in Indiana assumed the name of Hoosiers because they had been so deeply and so thoroughly influenced by the preaching of Harry Hoosier. Like so many other terms that have arisen sometimes out of derision, this term Hoosier was also a term of derision for those who had come to believe in the anti-slavery message and who made their way into Indiana and other parts of the burgeoning nation. Professor William Pearson of Fisk University has said, As memories of the preacher Black Harry slipped away, and as the white people of the frontier adopted the nickname Hoosier for themselves, the term lost its original racial connotations and came to mean simply an illiterate, ignorant, or uncouth yahoo. For the thousands who flocked to hear Harry Hoosier preach, the name Hoosier was a memorial to both the man and his message of freedom from human bondage and freedom from the bondage of sin. People from Indiana should take pride in having the most distinctive state nickname, but they may justly exercise greater appreciation for the person whose name it was. And a terrific job on the production by Greg Hengler and a special thanks to Dr. Stephen Flick, head of the Christian Heritage Fellowship, for sharing Harry Hoosier's story. Born into slavery in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Harry was freed by a slave owner in Baltimore, Maryland. He would go on to travel the country preaching the gospel. No less an authority than Dr. Benjamin Rush was impressed. His man, well, his name was memorialized, as was his message.

And of course, the name for anyone who was listening meant freedom from human bondage and freedom from human sin. The story of Harry Hoosier here on Our American Story. Here at Our American Stories, we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith and love, stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-29 10:35:13 / 2022-11-29 10:38:51 / 4

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