Clinton Caldwell Boone

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Clinton Caldwell Boone
Clinton Caldwell Boone.png
Evangelist, Physician, Dentist, Educator
Born 9 May 1872
Hertford County, North Carolina
Died 1939
Spouse(s) Eva Roberta Coles

Reverend Clinton Caldwell Boone (9 May 1872 –1939) was an African-American minister, dentist and medical missionary in the Congo and Liberia. The son of Rev. Lemuel Washington Boone and Charlotte Chavis Boone, he played an important role as a missionary for the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention and the American Baptist Missionary Union, now the American Baptist International Ministries.

Early life and education


Clinton Caldwell Boone was born in Hertford County, North Carolina on May 9, 1872 to Charlotte Chavis Boone and Reverend Lemuel Washington Boone.[1] His parents were well known as early African American baptist leaders for their commitment to missionary work and education. After the Civil War, Reverend Lemuel Washington Boone founded many churches for people of color. He co-founded and was the first president of the Roanoke Missionary Association, as well as a founding trustee of Shaw University and the first president of the state baptist association for African Americans.[1]


At the age of 19, Clinton Caldwell Boone won a scholarship to Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. While at Virginia Union University, he attended the Waters Normal Institute and the Richmond Theological Seminary and graduated with a B. D. (Bachelor of Divinity) in 1900.

Marriages and Personal Life

Marriage to Eva Roberta Coles-Boone

While attending Virginia Union University, Boone met his first wife Eva Roberta Coles, a student at the neighboring Hartshorn Memorial College for women. Eva graduated from Hartshorn in 1899, and left for her hometown of Charlottesville to teach. Boone graduated a year after her and they were married on January 16, 1901.[2]

Marriage to Rachel Tharps Boone

Boone married his second wife, Rachel Tharps, in 1919 when he traveled to America. Rachel Tharps was also a graduate of Hartshorn Memorial College. In 1920, they returned to Monrovia in time for Providence Baptist Church's one hundredth year anniversary and celebration later in 1922.[3]


The Boones had two children, Clinton Caldwell Boone Jr., and Rachel H. C. Boone, while in Liberia.The Boones permanently left Liberia for America in 1926.

Missionary work

Work in the Congo

After graduating from seminary school in 1900, Boone began his missionary work with the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention. He and his wife, Eva Roberta Coles, left for the Belgian Congo in 1901 to serve as missionaries. They were jointly sponsored by the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention and the American Baptist Missionary Union. They arrived at the Palaballa station in the Katanga province of the Congo May 24 of the same year. While in the Congo, Boone worked as a preacher and educator. He preached and taught the people in Congolese, while his wife Eva taught at a kindergarten for the village children and ran a sewing school for the village women. Even though Eva faced resistance from the women since, the men were the ones who traditionally did the sewing, after some time, the women eventually came around to the idea. They loved Eva dearly and had a deep sense of respect for her; they referred to her as "Mama Bunu."[4]

Boone and his wife faced many challenges in the Congo. As a religious leader, Boone faced difficulties in getting the natives to not drive he and other evangelists away. The natives also burnt down the schoolhouse that Boone and those who he worked with had built. The matter was settled when the Congo authorities became involved and the people got to decide whether they wanted to follow Catholicism or Protestantism.[5] They settled on Protestantism and they eventually came around to the idea of having the school rebuilt. The Boones faced another difficulty when they lost their baby due to the harsh conditions in the Congo.

Medical training

Boone's work as a medical missionary did not begin until after the passing of his first wife, Eva Coles. After Eva's death, Boone and the natives were very devastated.[4] Boone was alone for a time, but was grateful to receive an order to be transferred from Palabala station to another station called Ikoko.[6] Boone stayed at Ikoko for a short time and was later transferred to Lukunga station, to work with another evangelist, Mr. Moody and his wife, in building a new church there. Although their main work was to preach and spread the gospel, they often gave out simple remedies such as castor oil, quinine, laudanum, epsom salts, etc.[7] The need for a hospital and medically trained evangelists became apparent so a hospital along with a new schoolhouse was built. During that time, Boone took up a keen interest in medical training and was encouraged by Mrs. Moody.

During his time at Lukunga, Boone saw and treated patients from all over the Congo with problems such as "malaria fever, persistent malaria, hemorrhagic fever, smallpox, leprosy, measles, tonsillitis, meningitis, pleuritis, pericarditis, consumption, pneumonia, sleeping sickness, cancer and ulcers."[7] He also performed an amputation, his first surgery, on a man whose broken leg had developed an ulcer to the bone.[7] Boone wrote that his success with the amputation, along with another, inspired him to return to America to study medicine.

After his five years of service in the Congo, Boone returned to America in 1906. During that time, he attended medical school at the Leonard Hall Medical School at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Work in the Republic of Liberia

Upon graduating from medical school at Shaw University in 1910, Boone left America, as a Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention medical missionary, for the newly established Republic of Liberia.[8] He was stationed in Brewerville where he worked as a medical missionary. He was later transferred to Monrovia where he opened a day school[8] and became the pastor of Providence Baptist Church, Liberia's very first church that was founded by Lott Carey,[9] in 1918. Boone also served as Secretary of the American Legation when the acting secretary took a furlough to America. He put his medical missionary work on hold at that time but returned to medical missionary work following the secretary's return.[10]

While in Liberia, Boone treated patients with yaws, tonsillitis, meningitis, pneumonia, smallpox, hookworm, pinworm, tapeworm, guinea worm, malaria, heart lesions, black water fever (jaundice), and intermittent malaria. Boone also performed a successful Caesarian section on a woman whose fetus was tied by a witch doctor.[11]

Further medical training

After nine years of medical service in Liberia, Boone was granted a furlough to America in 1919. Seeing the need for a dentist because the only dentist in Liberia died from the flu epidemic, Boone studied mechanical dentistry at the Bodee Dental School in New York City with the help of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention.


Boone drowned in the James River at Richmond, Virginia in July 1939.[12]


Congo As I Saw It

"I do not regret a single sacrifice that I have made for the redemption of Africa and if I had ten thousand other lives I would be delighted to spend them all to lift up the fallen and care for the dying in Africa."

p. 93

Documents Boone's time as an evangelist, educator, and medical missionary in the Congo from 1901-1906. Congo as I Saw it details Boone’s journey which was funded by the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention (LCC), to the Congo as well as his first hand account of living in the Congo as a missionary for five years. Clinton used data and first hand experiences to write about the country and its people. He founded a school, and was able to teach and preach to his students in their native tongue of Congolese. Boone’s wife Eva helped him to run the school. She took over the children’s school, and she started a sewing school to teach the women how to sew. Congo as I Saw it, contains history and facts about the Congo. Boone captured day to day experiences and cataloged the animals, plants, the daily lives of the Congolese people, as well as the nature of the missionary work he did in the Congo.

Liberia As I Know It

Was written in the same style as Congo as I Saw it, documents Boone's as a pastor and medical missionary in Liberia from 1910-1926. He also wrote about Liberia’s interesting history, as the West African country that was established by free African Americans from America. He documented and cataloged many things about Liberia, including its climate, the animals found there, the plants, as well as information about the government and politics of the times.


  1. ^ a b Jones, Marvin. "Winton Triangle presentation at LW Boone Family Reunion". Chowan Discovery Group. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  2. ^ Culpepper, Reggie. "Eva Roberta Coles-Boone". HBCU Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  3. ^ Boone, Clinton C (1929). Liberia as I know it. Richmond. p. 100.
  4. ^ a b Boone, Clintion C (1927). Congo as I saw it. New York: J. J. Little and Ives Company. pp. 61–63.
  5. ^ Boone, Clinton C (1927). Congo as I saw it. New York: J. J. Little and Ives Company. pp. 68–70.
  6. ^ Boone, Clinton C (1927). Congo as I saw it. New York: J. J. Little and Ives Company. p. 76.
  7. ^ a b c Boone, Clinton C (1927). Congo as I saw it. New York: J. J. Little and Ives Company. p. 47.
  8. ^ a b Walston, Vaughn J.; Robert J., Stevens (2002). African-American Experience in World Mission: A Call Beyond Community, Volume 1. William Carey Library. p. 43.
  9. ^ Boone, Clinton C (1929). Liberia as I know it. Richmond. pp. xi.
  10. ^ Boone, Clinton C (1929). Liberia as I know it. Richmond. pp. x.
  11. ^ Boone, Clinton C. (1929). Liberia as I know it. Richmond. p. 125.
  12. ^ Shavit, David (1989). The United States in Africa - A Historical Dictionary. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 25. ISBN 0-313-25887-2.

External links

  • Clinton Caldwell Boone and Rachel Tharps
  • Clinton Caldwell Boone at Find a Grave
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