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BRYANT, ELIZA

BRYANT, ELIZA (1827-13 May 1907) was the founder of the Cleveland Home For Aged Colored People (The ELIZA BRYANT CENTER) in 1897. It was the first nonreligious welfare institution supported by Cleveland's African American community and quickly became the most widely supported institution of the Black community.

Eliza was born in North Carolina to Polly Simmons, a slave and her master. In 1848 Polly Simmons was freed and moved north with her family, purchasing a home in Cleveland with funds from her master.

Once in Cleveland Eliza, like her mother, opened her home to newcomers until they found work and could support themselves. Around 1893 Eliza became aware of the need to care for aging AFRICAN AMERICANS left alone due to slavery. Denied admission to white homes for the aged, Eliza related their plight to her female church members. Aided by Sarah Green and Letithia Fleming, they tapped into the network of women in the churches and clubs of Cleveland. Their appeals for humane treatment won supporters as volunteers and as contributors. In January 1895 the board of trustees was selected with Emman Ransom as president over the all-female trustees. They met in each other's homes to make plans for the future.

Incorporated on 1 Sept. 1896, the Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People (The Eliza Bryant Center) opened on 11 Aug. 1897 at 284 Giddings (East 71st) Street.

In 1960, under reorganization, the institution was renamed the ELIZA BRYANT HOME to honor its founder.

Bryant married and had several children. She is buried in WOODLAND CEMETERY.