African American pioneer honored in Huntsville - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

African American pioneer honored in Huntsville

(WAFF) -

Among Sergeant Major William H. Gaston's many achievements, he served with the 12th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops and was a three-term city alderman.

On Sunday a new headstone was placed at his gravesite during a ceremony attended by dozens of people.

Gaston was laid to rest at Glenwood Cemetery when he died in 1896. He was born into slavery but earned his freedom by joining the Union Army during the Civil War.

Gaston was also an associate pastor of St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Church in Huntsville, which is the oldest African American Church in Alabama and he founded a school for newly freed slaves.

The contributions of African Americans of that era to the area is unknown to many. St. Bartley pastor Reverend Jaymes Mooney said Gaston's story is a lesson in that history.

"It's important to recognize that many of the privileges we have, the foundation was laid down before us by people like William Gaston. The work he did with education. The work he did by serving his country. It's so important that as we move forward in the future that we, as well, remember those who have laid the foundations of the past."

Earthscope Huntsville City Schools is among the sponsors for the event in honor all 19th century African American Pioneers.

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