Vernon, William Tecumseh, 1871-
William Tecumseh Vernon was born July 11, 1871, in Lebanon, Missouri to Adam and Margaret Vernon. After receiving his Bachelors degree at Lincoln University, he became a teacher in Bonne Terre, Missouri and was later principal of an African American school in Lebanon, Missouri.
Vernon was later ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church and earned a D.D. (Doctor Divinatis) at Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio. In 1896, Reverend Vernon began 10 years of service as President of the A.M.E.-sponsored Western University in Quindaro, Kansas. He married Emily Jane Embry, an instructor of Latin and mathematics at Western University, in 1906. Later that year, Reverend Vernon was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as Register of the United States Treasury, at that time the nation’s highest governmental post ever occupied by an African American.
During the later years of the Taft administration and before leaving government service in 1912, Vernon served as Supervisor of the United States Government Schools. From 1912-1920 he was President of Campbell College in Jackson, Mississippi, and later served as a pastor of Avery Chapel in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 1920, Reverend Vernon was consecrated a Bishop of the A.M.E. Church and was assigned to the 17th Episcopal District in South Africa. In the four years of his service, he was involved with the construction of many churches and schools. In 1923, he began a friendship with a young Nyasan named Hastings Kamuza Banda, who later became the leader of the Nyasa Independence Movement and President of Malawi.
After Bishop Vernon returned to the United States in 1924, he served as Bishop in areas throughout the South and Midwest. He returned to Kansas in 1933 to accept an appointment from Governor Alfred Landon as superintendent of the State Industrial Department at Western University. Five years later he retired.
Bishop William Tecumseh Vernon died July 25, 1944 and was succeeded in death three days later by his wife Emily.