|Ann Wilkins as portrayed by a student from the Immaculate Conception School of Jamaica Estates, NY.||
My name is Ann Wilkins and I was born near West Point, New York in 1806. At the age of four I was already reading and by the age of nineteen I was a public school teacher.
In 1836 I was inspired by a speech given by an African Missionary who made a plea for the freed slaves from America who had resettled in Liberia and needed to be educated. When the collection plate was passed I placed a note with this message. "A sister who has but little money at command gives that little cheerfully and is willing to give her life as a female teacher if she is wanted."
On June 10, 1837 I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa a distant and mysterious dark land in those days as one of the first female missionaries of the time. When I reached my "Promised Land" I gathered the children opened my school and became their teacher.
I spent 19 years in Africa among the children and returned twice to America for a short period to regain my health. Finally due to illness I had to leave my beloved children and my school and return to America in 1856.
Within a year’s time I went to my heavenly rest and was laid at my childhood farm until it was sold. The Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society had me brought here to Maple Grove.
At my services Bishop James said the following: "She lived nobly, died gloriously, and has entered into her rest. Have not the angels shouted over it? Has not God smiled upon it? There is but one thing I would have otherwise: I would have her grave in Africa."
Ann Wilkins opened, as only a woman can do, a pathway in the wilderness of the human heart.
Presented May 22, 2004 by The Richmond Hill Historical Society, Maple Grove Cemetery, and The Immaculate Conception School of Jamaica Estates, NY (Dr. Charlene Jaffie, principal).
Copyright © 2004 Carl Ballenas & Nancy Cataldi.
No claim to Old Kew Gardens [.com] color photograph.