Edward Nathaniel Harleston

(1869 - 1919)

Edward Nathaniel Harleston was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1869. Early in life, he worked as a carpenter, machinist, and funeral home owner. After his first wife, Mattie Gadsen, died in 1895, he moved to Atlantic City and became superintendent of the Heinz Company Pier, where he gained a reputation for bravely rescuing drowning people. While working at the pier in 1907, he began self-publishing a leaflet of his own writing, which lawyer Robert Vann took on in 1910 and incorporated into the Pittsburgh Courier: one of the first Black-run newspapers in the United States. Harleston also published his sole volume of poetry, The Toiler’s Life, in 1907. His second marriage was to Lovenia Johnson, and from 1911 onward, he held a job as an office building superintendent in New York City. He died in 1919.