Everett J. Waring:

Personal and Family Life


Though he would eventually be celebrated for his efforts to help poor African Americans, Waring himself enjoyed a privileged upbringing. He was born on May 22, 1859 in Springfield, Ohio, the son of James S. Waring and Melinda C. Waring. James Waring, a "leading educator, being principal of the colored schools of both Springfield and Columbus," was born c. 1828 in Virginia. Melinda, ten years James' junior, was from Pennsylvania. According to family legend, James Waring was a descendant of Captain William Waring of Virginia and his wife, Lavinia, a former slave. James Waring himself was a mulatto, and Melinda was white; accordingly, Everett was often described as "very light-colored." Everett had one brother, Dr. C. C. Waring. Dr. Waring lived in Washington D. C. during Everett's residence in Baltimore. [1]

When Waring was twenty-six, he moved to Baltimore, where he met his future wife, Katie E. Johnson. She was "the daughter of a prominent barber," Harry H. Johnson. The couple was married by Rev. William H. Weaver on January 12, 1887. Katie was described as "a petite little woman of prepossessing appearance;" she and Everett had four "bright-eyed little children." Nothing is yet known about Waring's children, but some of his later descendants are known. The Honorable Michael Waring Lee, Waring's great nephew, continued Waring's tradition of innovation by becoming the first African American appointed to a chief judgeship in Maryland. Lee became Maryland's youngest judge at age thirty when he was named an Orphan's Court judge in 1983. On November 19, 1984 Lee was named Chief Judge of the Baltimore City Court and was the first African American chosen to head the Orphan's Court. Other Waring descendants have become attorneys, working for organizations such as Africare and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as for private law firms. [2]

Like most leaders of the African American community in Baltimore, Waring was active in church affairs. Shortly after his arrival in the city, Waring joined the Union Baptist Church. The pastor at Union Baptist was Rev. Harvey Johnson, the man who encouraged Waring to come to Baltimore and apply for admission to the bar. Waring later joined St. John's African Methodist Episcopal Church, and became the superintendent of the Sunday school there. According to newspaper reports, Waring was ordained as a minister sometime in 1897. [3]

Waring became active in Republican politics while he was living in Ohio. Even after moving to Baltimore, he maintained his interest in politics, traveling back to Columbus, Ohio in 1893 to give a speech for William McKinley. The Afro-American quoted an Ohio newspaper: "E. J. Waring . . . was perhaps, the first Afro-American to deliver a political speech in this city without referring to slavery and appealing to the passions of his auditors. Mr. Waring confined himself exclusively to the tariff and silver questions, contrasting the records of the two parties on these important issues, appealing to the reason only of his auditors. . . . The audience was a very large one, and many whites were present to hear him." [4]

By 1890, Waring had made enough money from his "lucrative" law practice to purchase a house at 507 Mosher St. in Baltimore. He and his family lived in this house, a "commodious three-story brick dwelling . . . comfortably and neatly furnished," for seven years. Waring apparently speculated heavily in real estate. He was known as a "large real estate owner, and had as many as 40 houses." In 1897, tax bills revealed that "over $10,000 worth of real and personal property" belonged to Waring, though many of his houses were mortgaged. Unfortunately, none of Waring's wills or inventories have been found, so the state of his finances after leaving Baltimore is unknown. [5]

Waring's participation in Baltimore community affairs began as soon as he arrived there, and by the time he left, Waring was known as "a leader for many years among his race." While living in Washington D. C., Waring attended Howard University Law School and did "considerable lecturing." He received his law degree in 1885, and shortly thereafter Reverend Harvey Johnson recruited Waring to come to Baltimore. Johnson was the founder of the Mutual Brotherhood of Liberty, a group formed to advocate and facilitate fair treatment for African Americans. The Brotherhood had been fighting Maryland's law restricting African Americans from practicing law in state courts, and needed a qualified African American lawyer like Waring to present to the Baltimore City Superior Court bar for admission. The bar accepted Waring, and he became an attorney for the Brotherhood. During his tenure with the group, Waring "challenged segregation on steamships, discrimination in insurance, and handled several racial issue cases." He also argued for the hiring of black schoolteachers, the desegregation of juries, and the eradication of lynching. Waring belonged to several fraternal and philanthropic organizations, including the Odd Fellows and the St. James Beneficial Society in Baltimore, and the Knights of Pythias in Philadelphia. When nationally prominent civil rights leader Ida Wells came to Baltimore, he chaired the meeting at which she spoke. In addition, Waring was responsible for the formation of the Lexington Savings Bank, the first bank in Maryland originated and run by African Americans. [6]


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