AGNES N. OZMAN (1870-1937)
Evangelist Agnes Ozman was assured a place in Pentecostal history when she became the first to speak in tongues at Charles Parham's Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas. Despite conflicting accounts about her expectations and sequence of events her experience is usually credited with establishing the validity of Parham's assertion that tongues speech evidenced Spirit baptism.
Ozman was born in Albany, Wisconsin, on September 15, 1870. She grew up in rural Nebraska, where she attended a Methodist Episcopal church. A participant in various nondenominational settings as well, she eventually espoused both premillennialism and healing. In 1892 she enrolled for the winter term at T. C. Horton's Bible school in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1894 she moved to New York to continue her training at A. B Simpson's training institute: Unsettled and driven by the need to pursue spiritual reality, she served briefly as a city missionary in Kansas City. From there she went, in the fall of 1900, to Parham's school in Topeka, Kansas.
After her tongues experience in 1901, Ozman returned to city missionary work. In Lincoln in 1906 she heard about Pentecostalism, related her earlier experience, and identified with the emerging movement. In 1911 she married Pentecostal preacher Philemon LaBerge. The two traveled about the country, holding meetings wherever possible. In 1917 LaBerge affiliated with the Assemblies of God, receiving credentials as an evangelist. She died in Los Angeles on November 29, 1937