Ex-slave who became the first African American priest in the Roman Catholic Church of America. He established St. Monica's Catholic Church on the South Side of Chicago.
During the American Civil War, he and his mother and siblings escaped from Missouri to the slavery-free state of Illinois, where they found work at a tobacco company.
He attended the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, Italy and became an ordained priest at the age of thirty-one.
The son of Peter Paul Tolton and Martha Jane Chisley, he was born into slavery in Missouri. The plantation owner's wife, Savilla Elliot, served as his godmother.
He and Frederick Douglass were both notable ex-slaves.