Bridget “Biddy” Mason
Bridget Biddy Mason – Public domain image
Biddy Mason (August 15, 1818 – January 15, 1891) was an African-American nurse and a Californian real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist. She is the founder of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, California. Enslaved upon birth, she developed a variety of skills and developed knowledge of medicine, child care, and livestock care. In California, she successfully petitioned a court for her freedom.
Mason worked in Los Angeles as a nurse and midwife, delivering hundreds of babies during her career. Using her knowledge of herbal remedies, she risked her life to care for those affected by the smallpox epidemic in Los Angeles. One of her employers was the noted physician John Strother Griffin. Saving carefully, she was one of the first African American women to own land in Los Angeles. s a businesswoman, she amassed a relatively large fortune of nearly $300,000, which she shared generously with charities. Mason also fed and sheltered the poor, and visited prisoners. She was instrumental in founding a traveler’s aid center, and a school and day care center for black children, open to any child who had nowhere else to go. Because of her kind and giving spirit, many called her “Auntie Mason” or “Grandma Mason.”
Mason spoke fluent Spanish and was a well-known figure in the city. She dined on occasion at the home of Pio Pico, the last governor of Alta California and a wealthy Los Angeles land owner.
Bridget “Biddy” Mason died in Los Angeles in 1891 leaving a legacy for generations.
COPY Wagner, T. (2007, July 12) Bridget “Biddy” Mason (1818-1891). Retrieved from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/mason-bridget-biddy-1818-1891/
Posted in: Black History Project 2021, Helpful Resources