1802 – 1899
Family, oral and written histories state that around 1803/1804 John Isaac Davis left the Louisville, Kentucky area bringing his infant daughter to the Miami Valley. The terms of his emancipation are not YET confirmed.
Little is known of the mother of Charity Davis except that she was a Cherokee woman who in 1802 gave birth to a daughter in Kentucky, free born because of her mother’s indigenous nativity. Further insuring the child’s freedom, it was then John Davis journeyed across the Ohio river to the first free state, settling on the banks of the Miami, in the village of Dayton.
In her youthful twenty’s, under the threat of criminal prosecution, Charity worked with Sojourner Truth on the Underground Railroad to guarantee safe passage of the fugitive enslaved to Canada. Charity became a conductor in Dayton’s Underground Railroad working with Dr. Hibbert Jewett and abolitionist Luther Bruen. Known as the “Colored nurse or Negro nurse” she trained and worked with Dr. Jewett.
As a survivor of several Dayton pro slavery mob attacks, that understandably forced many Black citizens to leave the area, Charity’s commitment to stay in the city, to reclaim and rebuild, became the tie that bound a “Mob torn town.”
Charity Broady was a charter member and trustee of the United Daughters of Zion who founded the “Mother Church,” First Wesleyan. Dayton’s first Black church was born,”Out of the smoke and ashes” of the 1841 pro slavery mob attacks on Dayton’s Black community called Africatown.
The United Daughters of Zion purchased the land, built two churches, in 1842 and 1854, then gifted the deed to First Wesleyan.
The “Mother Church” gave birth to the city’s first school for Black children and was the place where James Davis founded the abolitionist organization, The American Sons of Protection. The Church, became the epicenter of interracial worship and reform and over 180 years later, continues to serve.
Dedicating her life to reclaiming and rebuilding the Dayton community, Charity and other survivors of the Africatown attacks organized Black citizens who formed the Firewatchers. Rather than sleep at night, they gathered their families to sit outside, watching their roofs, and patrolling Dayton streets to guard against threatening pro slavery mobs.
“Auntie” Broady,” as she was known by her beloved Dayton community, was a defining pioneer, a child bride and wife to two husbands, mother to thirteen children, a freedom fighter, washer woman, nurse and early suffragist.
C. C. Broady is listed among the attendees at the 1851 Women’s Right Convention in Akron, Ohio where Sojourner Truth delivered the famed “Ain’t I A Woman Speech.” The enduring impact of Charity Davis Caesar Broady on the Dayton community cannot be overstated and may likely be unmatched. She was a pillar dedicated
to the protection of the Black citizenry and the unification of her treasured community.
Within her family archive is Jewelia G. Higgins’ hand written story detailing the life of her great grand mother Charity, she writes of the little girl Charity who, “Grew up with the city of Dayton.” She writes of Mother Charity’s love and adoration for her many friends in the village she watched become a metropolis.
It is quite likely that without the dedicated efforts of Charity Davis Caesar Broady, the 1800’s mob torn community of Dayton may not have survived the terror of hate to become the shining gem of Ohio.