The Inspirational Life of Jane Edna Hunter

Jane Edna Harris Hunter was the daughter of a former slave and was born in a slave cabin on the Woodburn Farm in historic Pendleton, South Carolina on December 13, 1882. During her amazing life, she earned her nursing degree, law degree, founded the Phillis Wheatley Association and the National Phillis Wheatley Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio and was a Social Activist and a Millionaire. She also published her autobiography, A Nickel and A Prayer, which is sold below.

Note: The information on this page was gathered from various websites which are listed below as well as a power point presentation given by Dr. Rhondda Thomas of Clemson University and conversations with Pendleton Historic Foundation Board Member, Carol Burdette and The Jane Edna Hunter Project of Clemson University..
All profits from this page are donated to Friends of the Park for Veterans Park in Pendleton SC
Photo Credit: Portrait of Jane Edna Hunter courtesy of The Jane Edna Hunter Project, Clemson University - (not to be copied)


Documentary Film Project on the Life of Jane Edna Hunter from Pendleton S.C.

Seeking all types to portray characters related to the life of the founder of the Phillis Wheatley Association.

Selected cast members should be able to emote well during re-enactment sequences.

Filming will begin On or around August 11th, 2014 and primary production should be complete by September 30th, 2014.

The majority of the selected cast will film 1 or 2 days.

Leading cast members will film for multiple days during production and may be required to travel to Charleston or Cleveland, Ohio. (expenses paid)

While this is a predominantly African-American story, all races, ages and looks are needed.

Clemson Little Theatre in Pendleton, S.C. will be utilized for auditions on July 21 & 22 between 5-8pm

Call 864-314-0013 between 10a.m. and 7p.m. for more information and to register for a time slot.

The Clemson Little Theatre is located at 214 S. Mechanic St., Pendleton, 29670 and we will meet in their reception center next door at Cox Hall.

Linda D. Lavold

Casting agent for Dead Horse Productions, LLC

Fearless Trailer

The Jane Edna Hunter Documentary Coming Soon, We Hope!

This documentary is going to be wonderful and I hope the necessary funding will soon be raised.

Who Was Jane Edna Hunter?

Interesting Photos of Jane Edna Hunter

These photos were provided for use on this page by the The Jane Edna Hunter Project, Clemson University.

Nurse Jane E. Hunter

Girl Scouts meet at the Phillis Wheatley Association

The cabin at Woodburn where Jane was raised

Miss Hunter with graduates of the Sarah Hills Training School

Phillis Wheatley Association 1926

Jane was born in the Harris Cabin on the Woodburn Farm

A Reproduction of her cabin exists at Woodburn in Pendleton SC

Harris Cabin at Woodburn According to a Power Point Presentation that was given by Dr. Thomas at the Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast in Anderson SC on January 18, 2013:

Jane Edna Hunter was the daughter of Edward and Harriet Millner Harris and was born in December 1882. Jane’s father died when she was only 10 years old. Jane’s mother sent her off to do domestic work with only a grade school education. Jane was later allowed to complete her education at the Williams and Ferguson Academy, a boarding school for African American children in Abbeville, SC. She graduated Ferguson and Williams College and found a job as a domestic in Abbeville. Her mother forced her to marry a man 40 years older than she. This marriage only lasted one year and although Jane kept her husband’s name, “Hunter”, she separated from him which was basically unheard of during this time. She moved to Charleston and worked for Attorney Benjamin Rutledge, Jr. in his home on the battery. After receiving her nursing degree in Virginia, she moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1905.

Reproduction of the Harris Cabin by Carol Burdette:
The cabin that Jane was born in and lived in during her early years had deteriorated and was torn down but in the mid 2000′s the Pendleton Historic Foundation who owns Woodburn decided that it was important in the interpretation of history to build a replica of Jane’s birth cabin. After much research by Dr. Rhondda Thomas and her Creative Inquiry Class at Clemson University, the cabin was dedicated in 2008.

Photo Credit: Photo compliments of the Pendleton Historic Foundation and is not to be copied.

Woodburn Historic House

Located at 130 History Lane in Pendleton SC

Woodburn Historic House The Harris Cabin was on the property of the Woodburn Farm where Jane Edna Hunter was born on December 13, 1882. Woodburn Historic House was built in 1830 and was a working plantation where her parents were wage laborers.

Woodburn Historic House is maintained by the Pendleton Historic Foundation who offers guided tours and special programs throughout the year.

Photo Credit: Compliments of Pendleton Historic Foundation – not to be copied.

Jane makes her way from South Carolina to Ohio

Jane settles in Cleveland, Ohio in 1905

  • Woodburn Farm in Pendleton SC
  • Phillis Wheatley Association in Cleveland

Phillis Wheatley Association in Cleveland, Ohio

Jane Edna Hunter founded the Phillis Wheatley Association

Phillis Wheatley Association According to Dr. Thomas’s Power Point Presentation previously cited:

Jane found many of the same obstacles that she had experienced in SC when she moved to Cleveland in 1905. She had difficulty finding work as a nurse, could not find affordable housing or suitable recreation. She was finally hired as a private duty nurse for prominent families in Cleveland and even worked in a home on Millionaire’s Row.

On June 4, 1910, Jane’s mother passed away unexpectedly and Jane became very depressed and even considered suicide. On a train ride, she felt called to devote her life to helping young African American Southern women who reminded her of her mother. She became determined to find a way to provide adequate affordable housing for young girls as well as recreation. Through many trials and tribulations, Jane was able to accomplish that and much more.

According to Dr. Thomas, the association outgrew their place at the Winona Apartments and had served more than 10,000 women by 1920. Jane started a $600,000 capital campaign for a new building and summer camp. She completed law school at the Baldwin-Wallace Law School in Berea, Ohio and passed the Ohio Bar in 1925. John D. Rockefeller contributed $100,000 to the capital campaign for the Phillis Wheatley Association building on East 46th Street and Cedar Avenue which was completed in 1927. Jane continued to be very active in the association and became a millionaire by investing wisely in the stock market. Instead of enjoying her money herself, she established The National Phillis Wheatley Foundation awarding needs-based college scholarships to women born in South Carolina or Ohio. Jane Edna Hunter died in 1971 in Cleveland after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and is buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia – Photo by Christopher Busta-Peck. Author Christopher Busta-Peck granted permission for this photo to be used here. Not to be copied.

Why Did Jane Change the Name to The Phillis Wheatley Association?

Why did she title her book "A Nickel and A Prayer"?

Phillis Wheatley In 1911, Jane asked seven of her girlfriends to meet each week and give a nickel and say a prayer for the success of their newly founded Working Girls’ Home Association. Dr. Thomas explains that the association’s name was later changed to The Phillis Wheatley Association in honor of the first African American writer to publish a book and earn a living from her writing. Phillis Wheatley was born around 1753 in Gambia, Africa and sold as a slave to the Wheatley family in Boston in 1761. She was given her first name for the ship that carried her to America, The Phillis.

The association’s first year’s rent was paid in full by the founder of the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company, Henry Sherwin, and was first located at 2265 East 40th Street as a home for girls. They also assisted young women in finding jobs and later served meals and provided recreation.

Photo Credit: Portrait of Phillis Wheatley

Important Links for Jane Edna Hunter

Enjoy exploring for more information

After scrolling down this page, please come back to these links to learn more about this amazing woman.
The Jane Edna Hunter Project
This is a project of a Clemson Creative Inquiry Class under the direction of Dr. Rhondda Thomas - Clemson University English Department. Click this link to learn more about the project and to donate to this worthwhile cause.
Pendleton Historic Foundation: Ashtabula and Woodburn Historic Homes | Pendleton, SC
The Pendleton Historic Foundation is very involved in this project and is coordinating with Dr. Thomas and her class to see that this documentary becomes a reality.
The Phillis Wheatley Association - Home
The Phillis Wheatley Association was founded by Jane Edna Hunter in Cleveland, Ohio in 1911 to provide work, housing, training, support and much more to young African American Women.
New generation learning of Pendleton woman's life of service Anderson Independent Mail
When Sandra Gantt was a child, she heard stories of her distant relative, Jane Edna Hunter. Her grandmother even read stories to her from Hunter's autobiography, "A Nickel and a Prayer."
Dead Horse Productions
Dead Horse Productions will produce the documentary of Jane Edna Hunter's Life.
Town of Pendleton SC
Pendleton will be celebrating it's 225 birthday in 2015. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the documentary was ready by then. I sure hope it will be.

Jane Edna Hunter Project

Clemson University's Creative Inquiry Class Project

by Dr. Rhondda Robinson Thomas Department of English Clemson University

Dr. Thomas first became interested in the life of Jane Edna Hunter after reading her autobiography, A Nickel and a Prayer. She felt like more people needed to be made aware of this inspirational story and was further motivated to do something about it when she realized that the book was no longer in print. Dr. Thomas wrote a proposal to develop a Creative Inquiry Class to do further research on Jane Edna Hunter. Her proposal was approved and their first project was to publish an edited and annotated edition of the autobiography. They have plans for a full length documentary, a Jane Edna Hunter Club at Pendleton Elementary School and a Jane E Hunter Walking Trail at Woodburn Historic Home.
A Nickel and a Prayer: The Clemson Creative Inquiry Project
by Clemson University | video info
0 ratings | 313 views
curated content from YouTube

Jane Edna Hunter and Clemson University

The Creative Inquiry Class went to Cleveland to do research

Jane Edna Hunter and Clemson
by Clemson University | video info
0 ratings | 336 views
curated content from YouTube

Trailer for the Documentary "Jane"

Fundraising Efforts Have Begun For This Project

I am looking forward to this documentary becoming a reality.

Would You Like To Contribute To The Production of the Documentary?

If so, please mail your tax deductible donation to:
The Pendleton Historic Foundation
PO Box 444
Pendleton, SC 29670
(Designate for Jane E Hunter Documentary)
Donate Online
Jane E Hunter Project Donation Page

Carol Burdette Talks About The Jane Edna Hunter Project

Fascinating Exhibit at PPIM's 2012 Grits and Gospel Event

Carol Burdette, Pendleton Historic Foundation Board Member, displayed a very interesting exhibit of pictures and information about Jane Edna Hunter at Grits and Gospel. Grits and Gospel was a fundraiser sponsored by Pendleton Pride In Motion and held at the Pendleton Community Center.

Jane Edna Hunter Photos will be a part of the PDC Photo Exhibit

Sponsored by Pendleton District Commission

Dr. Rhondda Thomas spoke in January 2014 as part of the PHF Lecture Series

Pendleton Councilwoman Sandra Gantt is a Descendent of Jane Edna Hunter

Sandra shares her story of growing up in Pendleton in the 1950's on Squidoo



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  • COUNTRYLUTHIER Mar 04, 2014 @ 10:49 am
    Congrats on an informative lens from history and a well deserved LOTD recognition.
  • jsr54 Feb 25, 2014 @ 7:22 pm
    Thank you for introducing me to Jane Edna Hunter. I have always loved stories about Jane Addams and Jane Edna Hunter sounds like she did similar work in a different part of the country.
  • yoursfoolie Feb 23, 2014 @ 12:01 pm
    God, how she must have struggled... How many tears of discouragement and despair must she have cried as she carved a way, not only for herself but for all unfortunate sisters! What an inspirational lense ~ thank you!
  • DebMartin Feb 22, 2014 @ 7:44 pm
    A truly impressive woman. Thanks for sharing so much about Jane Edna Hunter. Love your work.
  • Michey Feb 22, 2014 @ 5:33 pm
    It is a special LOTD for a great personality who can be an example to follow. Thanks Nancy, I find out in your lens a lot of facts I don't know.
  • FreshStart7 Feb 21, 2014 @ 11:40 pm
    I never heard of Jane Edna Hunter before today, OhMe. Thanks for sharing on this inspiring African-American woman and Congratulations on winning this well deserved Lens of The day!
  • Frischy Feb 21, 2014 @ 10:35 pm
    A very interesting lens! Congratulations on LoTD!
  • Steve_Kaye Feb 21, 2014 @ 10:05 pm
    Wonderful, excellent lens. Congratulations on receiving the LOTD.
  • grammieo Feb 21, 2014 @ 8:26 pm
    This is an inspiration for everyone! Wow! I can just imagine all the hurdles she must have had to jump. Congratulations on LoTD it is well deserved!
  • Anonymous831 Feb 21, 2014 @ 8:05 pm
    Fantastic lens. Congrats on LOTD.
  • Feb 21, 2014 @ 8:01 pm
    Very inspirational lens. Congratulations on getting LotD!
  • flinnie Feb 21, 2014 @ 7:17 pm
    Hi I enjoyed reading this lens and learning about Ms.Hunter. Thanks for sharing this page, great lens. Congrats on LOTD.
  • tcaldy Feb 21, 2014 @ 4:52 pm
    Wonderful lens and great reading!
  • Joan4 Feb 21, 2014 @ 3:34 pm
    Congratulations on a well deserved Lens of the Day!!!
  • Umanitea-T-4Life Feb 21, 2014 @ 2:13 pm
    I learned a great deal in reading this piece. It is well written and extremely informative. Jane Edna Hunter is a heroine that I was/am unfamiliar with. But I am very intrigued by her history. And Phyllis Wheatley...from the Gambia? That is pretty amazing...I want to know more about her as well. From an entirely different perspective. History of our country and a particular race or creed is essential and critical in understanding how things evolve to get us to a particular place and time. And it is so vastly ignored these days by youth...and others who can care less...but we must do what you all are doing...we must preserve the history and plant a seed of knowledge and inspiration that will guide us to do the very thing and share the past lives of those who spearheaded a great movement and whose story should be told. I like the suggested reading as well and plan to explore those works too. Thank you for sharing this story.

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