Born a slave, the son of slaves, the second of three children of Peter and Martha Tolton. Peter escaped to joined the Union Army in Saint Louis; his family never saw him again, and he died of dysentery. Augustus and his older brother were both working as field hands by age seven. In 1862 Martha and the children escaped to Quincy in non-slave Illinois. Studied at Quincy University, and then the Collegium Urbanum de Propaganda Fide in Rome, Italy. Ordained at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome on 24 April 1888; he celebrated his first Mass the next day in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He then returned to the United States to work as the first American diocesan priest of African descent. Pastor of the parish of Saint Joseph in Quincy. In 1889 he was assigned to ministry in Chicago, Illinois.
- “Father Augustus Tolton“. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 May 2014. Web. 2 June 2015. <>