My Contribution: I was an active member of Harrisburg’s Eighth Ward. As director of the Martha Washington Association, I organized important social gatherings, including a concert and performance for the Fifth Annual Reunion of Colored People in Harrisburg. As Vice President of the Zion Workers, I hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner to fundraise for Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church.
My Legacy: I served my community as a noble governor of the Miriam Household of Ruth, No. 1, one of the most successful lodges of the organization in the country. I donated my time, energy, and financial resources to strengthen Harrisburg institutions, including several schools and Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church, a congregation that still thrives today.
About Me: At “the fifth annual reunion of the colored people of Carlisle, Mechanicsburg, Middletown, and this city… The Martha Washington Society, directed by Mrs. Susan Sophes, was present in costume.” — Harrisburg Daily Patriot, April 21, 1881.
“A Christmas entertainment will be given at Sible & Clark’s hall by the Zion Workers of Wesley Union Church. Mrs. Sophes will have charge of the entertainment, which is for the benefit of the church.”
— Harrisburg Telegraph, December 21, 1887.
Full Name: Susan Sophes; Susan Spence (after 1905)
Birth Date: February 8 in 1840-1848 (estimates based on census records and obituary
Death Date: March 22, 1926
Place of Birth: Clear Spring, Maryland
Race: Mulatto” (1870 and 1880 Federal Censuses) and Black (1900 Federal Census)
Places of Residence: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: 239 Cranberry Avenue (1877-1884), 412 South Street (1900-1901), 217 N. River Avenue (1904-1905), 416 South Street (1908), 702 State Street (1910), 638 Walnut (1911-1912), 816 James Street (1913-1921), 814 Cowden Street (1924), and 817 James (1926).
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Resident; work; church; social events
Family Members: Husband: M1: William Henry So- phes. Husband: M2: Marshall Spence, m. September 1905, d. by 1908. Son: William “Willie” Sophes (adopted), d. March 12, 1889. • Education: Unknown
Occupations: Keeping House. Janitor (DeWitt Building). Mother. Organizer. Church Woman
Church Membership: Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church (stewardess).
Activism: Martha Washington Association (director), Zion Workers (vice president), Altar Club (president), Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church (stewardess), and Miriam Household of Ruth No. 1 Grand United Order of Oddfellows (Noble Governor); donated to Colored Day Nursery
Connections: William Howard Day, Josephine Bibb, Hannah Jones, Joseph L. Thomas, James Auter, Matilda Stewart, Joseph Popel, John Q. Adams, and Frisby Battis.