William Pettiford

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William Pettiford

William Reuben Pettiford (born January 20, 1847 in Granville County, North Carolina; died September 20, 1914 in Birmingham) was pastor of 16th Street Baptist Church from 1883 to 1893. He helped found the Alabama Penny Savings Bank in October 1890, and became its president in 1899. He was a leader in the efforts to lobby for the creation of Industrial High School for Black students. He worked with Charles Boothe to found a theology course in 1904 which grew into the Birmingham Baptist College.

Pettiford was an active member of the Birmingham Negro Business League and enjoyed the respect of many white leaders in Birmingham, even being recommended for appointment to Federal office by his peers. He was a friend of educator A. H. Parker and employed him as a secretary.

He died in September 1914 of heart failure. More than 3,000 people attended his funeral at 16th Street Baptist. Mayor George Ward and contractor Belton Gilreath and the Birmingham Baptist Association provided flowers. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery. His home after his pastorate, known as the Pettiford House, was listed in Historic Sites of Jefferson County, Alabama compiled by the Jefferson County Historical Commission. Pettiford was inducted into the Birmingham Business Hall of Fame in 2021.


  • "Tribute to Memory Noted Negro Pastor" [sic] (September 23, 1914) The Nashville Tennessean, p. 7
  • Harlan, Louis R., Raymond W. Smock, and Barbara S. Kraft, eds. The Booker T. Washington Papers. Vol. 5: 1899-1900. Campagne, IL: University of Illinois Press. p. 388
  • Satterfield, Carolyn Green (1976) "Historic Sites of Jefferson County, Alabama" Jefferson County Historical Commission
  • "William R. Pettiford" (June 12, 2022) Wikipedia - accessed June 12, 2022