April 15, 2021
Mary Mathilda Winslow

Mary Mathilda Winslow

Mary Mathilda Winslow was born in Woodstock to Sarah Anne (Dubois) Winslow. She was the first black woman to attend the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. She graduated at the top of her class in 1905, earning a BA and the Montgomery-Campbell Prize for excellence in classics. 

Mary (Tilly) Winslow

Mary Mathilda Winslow’s paternal family can be traced back to the third governor of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Governor Edward Winslow, who sailed from England on the Mayflower.  His son, Edward Winslow Jr., ran off to Canada with an African maid, and together they started the black line of Winslows.  Mary’s father, Fairfax “ Faxie” Winslow was a carpenter.  Fairfax’ s father is Joseph Winslow.

May Dubois, Fairfax Winslow & Sarah Anne Winslow
(L-R) May Dubois (Sara’s sister), Fairfax Winslow (Mary’s Father), Sarah Anne (Dubois) Winslow (Mary’s Mother)

 Mary’s maternal grandfather was Henry Du Bois. Henry and his brother James were the sons of John Du Bois, and John’s father was Alfred, a French physician who common-law married a black woman from the West Indies. Alfred was also related to W. E. B. Du Bois.  Henry apparently developed a water clock that was so special that the governor wanted to buy it. The money offered was not enough and Henry decided not to sell it.  As far as we know, the invention died with him.

In addition to being an inventor, Henry was also the pilot of a ship that sailed along the St Lawrence River. Henry Du Bois was given a grant from the King of England. The grant was in the form of an island off the coast of Canada. Henry sailed to Liverpool, England and met and married Mary Ellen Delaney. Mary Ellen was born in Dublin, Ireland but was living in Liverpool when she met Henry. Their first daughter, Sarah Anne, was born in England according to the census records.

Henry returned to to New Brunswick with Mary Ellen and Sarah and settled down. He traded the land he received as a grant for three mules. Henry and Mary Ellen’s other child, May, was born in New Brunswick two years later. Sarah Anne DuBois married Fairfax Winslow and together they had seven children: Gertrude, Ethel, Ellen Elizabeth, Randolph, Mary Matilda, Ted and Alice Mabel. Perhaps it was the sailor in him that led Henry’s wandering spirit to permanently leave this family and father other children.  

Back row: Mary Matilda (age 13). Front row: Ethel, Ellen Elizabeth, and Gertrude

Mary Winslow’s siblings had very few children. Gertrude married twice but had no children. Randolph married once and had no children. Ethel married and had two daughters. Ellen Elizabeth married and had one son. Alice married and had ten births with two dying soon afterwards. Mary married a man from Birmingham, Alabama and had five children, two of whom died in early childhood. The three remaining children all graduated from college but not without a lot of hardship and sacrifice. Her youngest son, Jefferson Randolph McAlpine, became a surgeon and then a psychiatrist. During his career he served as a United States Army Captain during the Korean conflict. He was also appointed director of Mental Health in Washington, D. C. and subsequently, the commissioner of mental health for the State of Illinois. Dr McAlpine was also chief psychiatric consultant, Bureau of Social Security for the state of Connecticut.

Winslow family
L-R back row: Mary Matilda with her hand on her father, Randolph, Ethel and Gertrude. Seated are Fairfax and Sarah Anne. Also seated in the center row is Ellen Elizabeth. Front row: Alice and Ted

In 1955 my Mary Mathilda Winslow traveled from her home in Springfield, MA to New Brunswick for her fiftieth graduation reunion from UNB. On her way back to Springfield she visited our family in Bangor, and told us that she was thrilled to discover that no student at the university had surpassed her scholastic record. She appeared a little aggrieved when she learned that all of her classmates who attended the reunion were hugely successful and many were busy running Canada. 

Mary had difficulty finding suitable employment once she graduated from UNB. Despite her scholastic record whenever she applied to teach at a school she was quickly ushered in to the kitchen. Eventually, she was able to teach in Birmingham, Alabama and Springfield Massachusetts. Booker T. Washington became the first president and the first principal of Tuskegee Institute, a school founded by runaway slaves in 1881.  His goal was to gather the best and the brightest black people to help fulfill his undertaking of educating blacks. Most black people felt that education was the key to economic, social and political acceptance for their race.  Aunt Mary responded to Washington’s call. 

“I like to think that some of them (my Students) I have given a part of the two most precious gifts UNB gave to me; the ability to think and a clear knowledge of thought.” 1954–Mary Matilda Winslow McAlpine.

Source:
Helene Ertha Vann (Mary Winslow’s Neice) 
Kathie McAlpine (Mary Winslow’s Granddaughter)

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