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James G. Spady

One of thirteen children, Robert Mara Adger was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His father, Robert Adger, was black, and his mother, Mary Ann Morong, was Native American. In 1848 the family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Adger's father first found a job as a waiter in the Old Merchant's Hotel. Later, while working as a nurse, he industriously saved enough funds to open a furniture business. He was involved in many activities and was a founder of the Benjamin Banneker Institute.

Robert Mara Adger received his early training at the Bird School, an early black educational institution in the United States. During his teenage years, he worked in his father's furniture stores, which had expanded from one in 1850 to three by 1858 Serving as a manager provided him with the business experience that he later found valuable as director of the Philadelphia Building and ...

Article

John N. Ingham

Banks, Charles (25 March 1873–1923), banker and businessman was born in a log cabin in Clarksdale Mississippi the son of Daniel Banks and Sallie Ann maiden name unknown poor African American farmers Banks grew up in extreme poverty but was educated in the local public schools and later attended Rust University in nearby Holly Springs Returning to Clarksdale he speculated in land and cotton After marrying Trenna A Booze of Natchez Mississippi in 1893 Banks engaged her brother Eugene P Booze as his apprentice teaching him how to trade cotton and to work his general store Banks Co In 1904 Banks and Booze resettled in the black owned town of Mound Bayou Temporarily leaving the merchandising business Banks established the Bank of Mound Bayou owning roughly two thirds of its stock and serving as cashier as well as operating head Several years later in 1909 Banks and ...

Article

John N. Ingham

banker and businessman, was born in a log cabin in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the son of Daniel Banks and Sallie Ann (maiden name unknown), poor farmers. Banks grew up in extreme poverty but was educated in the local public schools and later attended Rust University in nearby Holly Springs, Mississippi. Returning to Clarksdale, he speculated in land and cotton. After marrying Trenna A. Booze of Natchez, Mississippi, in 1893 Banks engaged her brother, Eugene P. Booze, as his apprentice, teaching Booze how to trade cotton and work his general store, Banks & Co. In 1904 Banks and Booze resettled in the black-owned town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Temporarily leaving the merchandising business, Banks established the Bank of Mound Bayou, owning roughly two-thirds of its stock and serving as cashier as well as operating head. Several years later, in 1909 Banks and Booze founded the Farmer s Cooperative Mercantile ...

Article

John N. Ingham

Jesse Binga was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Robert Binga, Jr., a barber, and Adelphia Powers, a builder and real estate owner. (Nearly all sources cite William W. Binga as Jesse Binga's father, but all are based on a December 1927 article by Inez V. Cantley in Crisis, which may not be reliable. A family member, Anthony J. Binga, Sr., after conducting research in the census records from the Courts of Records of the Dominion of Canada, claimed that Jesse Binga's father was Robert Binga, Jr. Who's Who in Colored America [1928–1929] also names Robert Binga as Jesse Binga's father.) The Binga family owned and managed real estate properties, and, according to a number of sources, it was Adelphia Binga who possessed most of the family s business acumen As a youngster Binga helped his mother collect rents on the family s ...

Article

John N. Ingham

businessman, banker, and real estate investor, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Robert Binga Jr., a barber, and Adelphia Powers, a builder and real estate owner. Nearly all sources cite William W. Binga as Jesse Binga's father, but all are based on a December 1927 article by Inez V. Cantley in Crisis, which may not be reliable. A family member, Anthony J. Binga Sr., after conducting research in the census records from the Courts of Records of the Dominion of Canada, claimed that Jesse Binga's father was Robert Binga Jr.Who's Who in Colored America (1928–1929) also names Robert Binga as Jesse Binga's father.

The Binga family owned and managed real estate properties and according to a number of sources it was Adelphia Binga who possessed most of the family s business acumen As a youngster Jesse helped his mother collect rents on ...

Article

David Michel

publisher, entrepreneur, and banker, was born to Richard Henry Boyd, a publisher, and the former Harriet Moore in Grimes County, Texas, one of nine children. Henry Allen went to public school in Palestine, Texas, and attended the West Union Baptist Church. The Boyd family later moved to San Antonio and Henry found work at the local postal office. He became the first black to be hired as a postal clerk in San Antonio. He married Lula M. Smith, who bore him a daughter, Katherine. Lula did not live long after her daughter's birth. In 1908 he married again, this time to Georgia Ann Bradford. Around the early 1900s Henry Allen moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the request of his father who had preceded him there. R. H. Boyd was making a name for himself in Nashville as founder and secretary treasurer of the National Baptist ...

Article

Leigh Kimmel

politician and the first African American statewide elected officeholder in Illinois, was born in Centralia, Illinois, the son of Earl, a worker with the Illinois Central Railroad, and Emma Burris. His family also ran a store to supplement his father's railroad wages. Because both of his parents were busy during the day, when Burris was four years old he would often accompany his older siblings to school, where he would sit on the platform outside the door, listening to the class being conducted inside.

While he attended Centralia Township High School he was active in sports becoming an All State defensive safety in football in spite of being only five feet six inches inches tall He also became increasingly aware of racial discrimination in his community during high school and at sixteen he helped to integrate the Centralia public pool When the city unofficially designated the pool for whites only ...

Article

Steven Leikin

diplomat, preacher, and author, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Sallie Montgomery. Nothing is known of his biological father. His mother, however, was an African American, and Dennis was of mixed race parentage. In 1897 he was adopted by Green Dennis, a contractor, and Cornelia Walker. During his youth Dennis was known as the “mulatto child evangelist,” and he preached to church congregations in the African American community of Atlanta before he was five years old. By the age of fifteen he had toured churches throughout the United States and England and addressed hundreds of thousands of people.

Despite his success as an evangelist Dennis had ambitions to move beyond this evangelical milieu. In 1913, unschooled but unquestionably bright, he applied to Phillips Exeter Academy and gained admission. He graduated within two years and in 1915 entered Harvard.

Dennis s decisions to ...

Article

Lynne B. Feldman

entrepreneur, was born Arthur George Gaston in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Tom Gaston, a railroad worker, and Rosa Gaston (maiden name unknown), a cook. He grew up in poverty in rural Alabama before he and his mother moved to Birmingham, Alabama, after his father's death. He attended, and for a good time resided at, Tuggle Institute, where he received a moral and industrial education. In 1910 he graduated from the school with a tenth grade certificate. Before and after graduation he worked at a number of part-time jobs, including selling subscriptions for the Birmingham Reporter.

Gaston served in World War I in France as a sergeant in the 317th Ammunition Train of the all black 92nd Division of the U S army Upon his return to the United States he briefly worked at a dry cleaning factory for five dollars a day before landing a job ...

Article

Efraim Barak

Egyptian economist and banker, was born in the al-Jamaliya quarter of Cairo to a family of Bedouin origin that migrated to Cairo several years earlier from a village in the vicinity of the Delta. His family belonged to the middle class and his father Hasan Muhammad Harb worked at the government railroad administration. In 1885 Harb completed his studies at the al Tawfiqiya high school in Cairo and began studying at the Khedival Law College Kuliyyat al Huquq which was at the end of the nineteenth century an incubator for many of the Egyptian nationalists and modernists such as Mustafa Kamil Muhamad Farid and Ahmad Lutfi al Sayyid In the college Harb obtained in depth knowledge in Western culture as well as in French culture and law which was the basis for the study of law in Egypt at the time Following his graduation he worked as a translator ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

businessman and politician, was born in Kaufman County in the eastern part of Texas to George McDonald, a native Tennessean who had once (reportedly) been owned by the Confederate officer and founder of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest. George was a farmer by trade. McDonald's mother, Flora Scott, was either a former slave or a freewoman, depending on the source. What appears certain is that she was from Alabama and died when McDonald was still very young. His father soon married a woman named Belle Crouch. Education in the family was a matter of great importance; McDonald was in fact named after William Shakespeare and the former U.S. president James Madison. He attended local schools and graduated from high school around 1884 As a young man he took work from a local cattle rancher and lawyer named Z T Adams who discussed the law ...

Article

Willard B. Gatewood

Mitchell, John, Jr. (11 July 1863–03 December 1929), newspaper editor and banker was born near Richmond Virginia on the estate of James Lyons where his parents John Mitchell and Rebecca maiden name unknown were house slaves After gaining their freedom the Mitchells were employed by Lyons as servants in his mansion in the city where their son performed various chores and became a keen observer of the rituals of polite society practiced there Mitchell s mother exerted the decisive influence on him during his formative years she instilled in him a fierce sense of racial pride instructed him in the ways of gentlemanly conduct and insisted on his regular attendance at the First African Baptist Church where he was baptized at the age of fourteen Over the objections of her white employer Rebecca Mitchell arranged for her son s education first in a private school and later ...

Article

Willard B. Gatewood

newspaper editor and banker, was born near Richmond, Virginia, on the estate of James Lyons, where his parents, John Mitchell and Rebecca maiden name unknown were house slaves After gaining their freedom the Mitchells were employed by Lyons as servants in his mansion in the city where their son performed various chores and became a keen observer of the rituals of polite society practiced there Mitchell s mother exerted a decisive influence on him during his formative years she instilled in him a fierce sense of racial pride instructed him in the ways of gentlemanly conduct and insisted on his regular attendance at the First African Baptist Church where he was baptized at the age of fourteen Over the objections of her white employer Rebecca Mitchell arranged for her son s education first in a private school and later in public schools An intensely competitive student with ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

attorney, West Virginia state legislator, business owner, founder and president of the West Virginia conference of NAACP branches, sometimes known in public as T. Gillis Nutter, was born in Princess Anne, Somerset County, Maryland, the son of William Nutter and Emma Henry Nutter.

He was educated in public schools in Maryland, and awarded the L.L.B. degree from Howard University Law School on 28 May 1898. For two years afterward he taught school and was a principal in Fairmount, Maryland. Nutter was admitted to the bar in Marion County, Indiana, in 1900, and moved to Charleston, West Virginia, in 1903 He established his reputation as a defense lawyer by convincing a jury in the Grice murder case to convict a black man charged with killing a white man of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder then in the case of Campbell Clark charged ...

Article

Alexa Benson Henderson

entrepreneur and founder of a bank and an insurance company, was born in Houston, Texas, the son of John Perry and Lucy Compton. Heman Perry, the second of nine children, grew to manhood in post-Reconstruction Texas. His father, a former Georgia slave, reputedly ran away to Texas, where he dabbled in various entrepreneurial activities; at times he operated a farm, traded cotton and other commodities, rented out drays, and worked as an insurance agent. Although without formal training himself, John Perry believed firmly in the value of education for his children. Heman completed only a few years of formal schooling, but his father encouraged his self-education through reading and practical business experience.

As a youth Perry helped his father with his various entrepreneurial endeavors often peddling farm products providing clerical help in the insurance work or assisting with buying and selling cotton These experiences and his father s ...

Article

E. C. Foster

physician, attorney, and political leader, was born in Holmes County, Mississippi, near the town of Ebenezer, the son of Charles Redmond, a former slave and blacksmith, and Esther Redmond, a former slave. In 1871 large numbers of blacks were elected to state and local government positions. Less than two years earlier a new state constitution had been put into effect that promised to make democracy a reality for both black and white Mississippians. Moreover, the abolition of slavery in the United States had occurred six years before Redmond's birth. After leaving the farm near Ebenezer along with the rest of his family, Redmond settled in Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he later attended Rust College. Upon graduation from Rust College in 1894 he entered the field of education and served both as a principal at Mississippi State Normal School in Holly Springs and as a ...

Article

Robert Fikes

minister, educational administrator, and civic activist, was born in Hayneville, Alabama, the son of Will Smith, a sharecropper, and Amanda (Tyler) Smith, a laundress. Valedictorian of his Miller's Ferry, Alabama, Presbyterian high school class, George worked his way through Knoxville College in Tennessee majoring in chemistry with a minor in biology and German. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, he was awarded his bachelor's degree in 1951, the same year that he married Irene Hightower; they eventually had three children.

Smith was taking graduate courses in education at Alabama State University while teaching high school in the rural town of Annemanie, Alabama, when a series of incidents of extreme racial brutality persuaded him to leave his job and his home state and enter the ministry, a career path that he had earlier rejected. In 1953 he enrolled at the Pittsburgh ...

Article

Melissa Nicole Stuckey

pharmacist, bank owner, and mayor of an African American community, was born David Johnson Turner, the fifth of twelve children, to Moses and Lucy (Lulu) Turner in Cass County, Texas. During his teen years, the Turners joined the steady stream of African Americans who left Texas and other Southern states for the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. Many black migrants were attracted to Indian Territory, which was divided up among the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, known as the Five Civilized Tribes. Moses and Lulu Turner rented a farm in the Seminole Nation, Indian Territory, where David Turner and his younger siblings came of age.

In 1895, Turner wed Minnie also a child of Texas migrants and the young couple began raising their own family on a rented farm near Turner s parents Within a few years however Turner moved his family to ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

teacher, businessman, banker, Republican Party activist, and longtime U.S. postmaster of Wilson, North Carolina, was born a slave near Castalia in Nash County, North Carolina, during the Civil War. The oldest son of five children born to carpenter Daniel Vick and Fannie (Blount) Vick, Samuel received his early education at Wilson Academy in Wilson, where the Vick family moved shortly after the war's end in 1865.

A gifted student, Vick excelled at his studies, and in 1880 he was admitted to Lincoln University (then the Ashmun Institute, after Jehudi Ashmun, leader of 1820s Liberia) in Pennsylvania, from which he received both a bachelor's and a master's degree in 1884 While his father helped finance his education Vick insisted on paying as much of his own expenses as possible by teaching school during summer vacations His philosophy of pragmatic independence guided his life thereafter ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

civil rights and women's rights activist, community leader, and the first black woman to found and become president of a chartered bank in America, was born in Richmond, Virginia, to Elizabeth “Lizzie” Draper, a former slave, and Eccles Cuthbert, a white writer. Unwed at the time of Maggie's birth, Lizzie Draper worked as an assistant cook in the home of Elizabeth Van Lew, an ardent abolitionist and Union spy. In 1869 Lizzie married William Mitchell, a former slave, who worked as Van Lew's butler and later as the headwaiter at the posh St. Charles Hotel. A son, Johnny, was born shortly after the family's move to downtown Richmond. In 1878 William was robbed and murdered, leaving Lizzie and her two young children without savings insurance benefits or financial support circumstances that informed Maggie s adult work on behalf of the economic status of black women Lizzie ...