Charity Davis Caesar Broady was born in Louisville in 1802.
Her mother was a Cherokee woman, and her father was a Black man. She was born free, because of her mother’s heritage, but to ensure her continued freedom, her father traveled with her across the Ohio river and up to the banks of the Miami river to settle in Dayton.
Very little is known about what became of her mother.
Dayton’s Underground Railroad
As early as her 20s, Broady started working alongside Sojourner Truth on the Underground Railroad to foster safe passage of enslaved persons on their way to freedom.
As a conductor in Dayton’s Underground Railroad, she worked with abolitionist Luther Bruen. She was trained as a nurse and also worked with Dr. Hibbert Jewett.
Although she and those like her came under frequent attacks, Broady was committed to stay in Dayton while others fled.
Dayton’s first Black church
Broady was a founding member of the United Daughters of Zion.
The group purchased land and built two churches. The first was built in 1842, and the second came in 1854. They then gifted the deed to First Wesleyan, which became known officially as Dayton’s first Black church.
The church is still active, and a message on its website reads in part, “The First Wesleyan Methodist Church is the Mother in Seniority of the black churches in Dayton, Ohio .. .The church has stood as a beacon light in the Dayton Community from Civil War days up to the present. Its mission has been to guide, direct and encourage all human kind in the ways of helpful service and Christian living.”
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Broady attended the 1851 Women’s Right Convention in Akron, where Sojourner Truth delivered her famed “Ain’t I A Woman” speech.
Inspired by the speech, Broady became an early participant of the Suffrage Movement, founding the Montgomery County Equal Suffrage Association.
Broady was the mother to 13 children, and generations of her family live on today.
She died in 1899 at the age of 97.
Her obituary in the Dayton Herald said she was survived by three children, three grandchildren, five great grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.