Bishop Matthew Wesley Clair
African American Methodist bishop and resident of Covington. Matthew Wesley Clair was born on October 21, 1865 in Union, West Virginia to Anthony and Ollie Green Clair. Matthew Wesley Clair earned numerous degrees, including: Classics and Theology, Morgan College, Baltimore, Maryland 1889; PhB, Bennett College, Greensboro, North Carolina 1897, PhD, Bennett 1901; DD, Howard 1911; LLD, Morgan College 1918 and an LLD Wilberforce University in Ohio (1928). Clair was ordained a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1889. His early assignments included pastorates at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia 1889-1893; Stuanton, Virginia 1893-1896; Ebenezer Church in Washington D.C. 1896-1897; Presiding Elder of the Washington D.C. District 1897-1902; Asbury Church in Washington D.C. 1902-1919. While at Asbury Church, Clair oversaw the construction of a new $80,000 church. In 1920, Matthew Wesley Clair was appointed a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
He was assigned to Monrovia, Liberia in Africa. Clair remained in Liberia until 1924, when he was transferred to Covington, Kentucky. Clair’s territory included all of Kentucky and Tennessee. His residence in Covington was located at 1040 Russell Street. He retired in 1936 at the age of 70. Matthew Wesley Clair married Eva Florence Wilson on 2, 1926. The couple had three sons: Rev. Matthew Clair Jr., John Clair and Graton Clair. In June 1943, Clair traveled to Washington D.C. to preside over the funeral services of his brother. While in Washington D.C. Clair died on June 28, 1943 at the age of 82.
Kentucky Post, January 16, 1995, p. 4k; W. Augustus Low, ed., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York) p. 272; Who was Who in America (Chicago: Marquis Publishing) 1950, Vol. 2, p. 115.