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Carl Moneyhon

John Edward Bush was born a slave in Moscow, Tennessee. In 1862 his master moved him and his mother to Arkansas to keep them from being freed when the Union army moved into western Tennessee. His mother died when Bush was only seven years old. He was educated in the freedmen's and public schools of Little Rock and was considered a good student by his teachers. He paid his school tuition by molding bricks. In 1876 he graduated from high school with honors and was immediately appointed principal of Capital Hill School, a public institution for African Americans in Little Rock. In 1878 he moved to Hot Springs, where he was named to head that city's African American high school.

In 1879 Bush returned to Little Rock, where he married Cora Winfrey, the daughter of a wealthy African American contractor, Solomon Winfrey The couple had four children ...

Article

Carl Moneyhon

businessman and politician, was born a slave in Moscow, Tennessee. Nothing is known about his father. In 1862 his master moved him and his mother, whose name is unknown, to Arkansas to keep them from being freed when the Union army moved into western Tennessee. Bush's mother died when he was seven years old. He was educated in the freedmen's and public schools of Little Rock, Arkansas, and was considered a good student by his teachers. He paid his school tuition by molding bricks. In 1876 he graduated from high school with honors and was immediately appointed principal of Capital Hill School, a public institution for African Americans in Little Rock. In 1878 he moved to Hot Springs, where he was named to head that city's African American high school.

In 1879 Bush returned to Little Rock, where he married Cora Winfrey the daughter of a wealthy contractor Solomon ...

Article

John N. Ingham

businessman and politician, was born a free person of color in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Bernard Cohen and Amelia Bingaman, a free woman of color. Although Cohen's father was Jewish, he was raised as and remained throughout his life a Roman Catholic. His parents died when he was in the fourth grade, whereupon he had to quit school, though he later attended Straight University in New Orleans for several years. As a boy Cohen became a cigar maker and later worked in a saloon. His entrée into the world of politics came during the period of Reconstruction, when he worked as a page in the state legislature, then meeting in New Orleans. There, Cohen became acquainted with several influential black Republicans, among them Oscar J. Dunn, C. C. Antoine, and P. B. S. Pinchback Pinchback founder of and dominant figure in the city ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

teacher, landowner, and businessman, was born to Caroline Cox (sometimes recorded as Caroline Griffin) on the Griffin plantation near Ebenezer, in Holmes County, Mississippi, on the eastern edge of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta. The name of Wayne's father is unknown, but several accounts suggest that his mother was widowed either shortly before or shortly after her son was born.

From an early age, perhaps as early as three or four, Cox worked in the cotton fields of the Griffith plantation alongside his mother. During the years of Reconstruction he benefited from the establishment of the first state-supported public schools for African American children in Mississippi. Though the school year was only a few weeks long, Cox displayed a precocious talent at the Holmes County School, and by age eleven he had completed all of the courses on offer in the school's rudimentary curriculum. In 1875 he won ...

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Marcus Shepard

lawyer, businessman, civil rights leader, and Chicago alderman, was born in Canton, Mississippi, to Edward Dickerson and Emma Garrett Fielding. Earl Dickerson's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Garrett, bought his freedom in the 1850s and owned a livery stable as well as several other properties in Canton. His business was destroyed during the Civil War, however, and by the time Earl was born the family lived in relative poverty. Edward Dickerson, who worked away from home as an upholsterer, died when Earl was five and he was raised by his mother, who did laundry for local whites, his paternal half-sister, and his maternal grandmother, who ran a small boarding house in Canton.

In 1906 Dickerson was sent to live with relatives in New Orleans where he attended the preparatory school of New Orleans University Unfortunately family finances forced him to return to Canton ...

Article

Edward C. Halperin

physician, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, the son of Smith Donnell, a real estate developer, and Lula Ingold. Donnell was raised in Greensboro, where he attended the public schools for African Americans and the high school operated by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University. He received an AB in 1911 from Howard University and an MD in 1915 from Harvard University. While at Harvard he studied under Milton J. Rosenau, the world-renowned scientist in preventive medicine and founder of the world's first school of public health, at Harvard in 1909. Since few hospitals would accept African Americans as interns at the time of Donnell's medical school graduation, he rotated as a fellow and observer at Boston City Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Children's Hospital from 1915 to 1916. Donnell's subsequent career was devoted to African American health education, insurance, and banking.

African ...

Article

Tom J. Ward

physician and businessman, was born in New Roads, Louisiana, the second of the seven children of George Frederick and Armantine (maiden name unknown) of Point Coupeé Parish, Louisiana. Frederick received his early education at the plantation school run by the wife of Louis F. Drouillard, the landlord for whom his parents were sharecroppers. In 1890 Frederick left Point Coupeé for New Orleans, where he enrolled at Straight University. He graduated in 1894, then enrolled at the New Orleans Medical College. Because he would not have been able to study in any of the city's hospitals because of his race, Frederick did not complete his medical education in New Orleans; instead, he left for Chicago in 1896 and enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons In Chicago he had the benefit of clinical training at Cook County Hospital Frederick received his MD from the College of ...

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

Alexa Benson Henderson

Herndon, Alonzo Franklin (26 June 1858–21 July 1927), barber and businessman, was born in Social Circle, Georgia, the son of a white father (name unknown) and a slave mother, Sophenia Herndon. Born on a farm in Walton County, forty miles east of Atlanta, he was a slave for the first seven and a half years of his life and, in his own words, “was very near it for twenty years more.” After emancipation, he worked as a laborer and peddler to help his family eke out a living in the hostile rural environment, where he was able to acquire only a few months of schooling. In 1878, with eleven dollars of savings, Herndon left his birthplace to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Settling in Atlanta in the early 1880s he obtained employment as a journeyman barber and soon purchased his first barbershop Herndon began building a clientele composed of ...

Article

Alexa Benson Henderson

barber and businessman, was born in Social Circle, Georgia, the son of a white father (name unknown) and a slave mother, Sophenia Herndon. Born on a farm in Walton County, forty miles east of Atlanta, he was a slave for the first seven and a half years of his life and, in his own words, “was very near it for twenty years more.” After emancipation, he worked as a laborer and peddler to help his family eke out a living in the hostile rural environment, where he was able to acquire only a few months of schooling. In 1878, with eleven dollars of savings, Herndon left his birthplace to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Settling in Atlanta in the early 1880s he obtained employment as a journeyman barber and soon purchased his first barbershop He began to build a clientele composed of the city s leading white lawyers judges ...

Article

Shennette Garrett-Scott

insurance executive, was born Norris Bumstead Herndon in Atlanta, Georgia, the only child of the actress and educator Elizabeth Adrienne Stephens McNeil and the entrepreneur and philanthropist Alonzo Franklin Herndon. Herndon's father, born a slave in nearby Walton County, Georgia, in 1858, was one of the most successful and respected black businessmen in the United States. In the 1880s Alonzo opened the Crystal Palace, an upscale barbershop on Peachtree Street that was reputed to be one of the largest and most elegant barbershops in the world. In 1905 Alonzo organized the Atlanta Mutual Insurance Association, which became one of the richest and most respected black-owned insurance companies in the United States. In 1922 the company changed its name to the Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

Alonzo hoped his son would take the reins of his business empire but Herndon who was close to his mother instead shared her ...

Article

Karen Cotton McDaniel

insurance salesperson, member of the Kentucky legislature, and civil rights activist, was born in Millersburg, Kentucky, to Anna Belle Leer, a domestic, and Charles Robert Jones, a white man and a son of the family for whom Leer worked. Mae was never introduced to her biological father, and he never acknowledged her as his child. Jones eventually married and had his own family, and sometimes they visited Mae and her mother. Mae, however, felt rejected by Jones and wanted nothing to do with him or his family. As the daughter of a white man who denied their relationship, Kidd faced discrimination in both the white and the black communities throughout her life.

When Mae was two years old, her mother married James William Taylor the man Mae considered to be her father and whose surname name she was given James Taylor was a tobacco ...

Article

Darius Young

U.S. Army lieutenant, businessman, Republican Party leader, and author, was born George Washington Lee to Reverend George and Hattie Lee in a small town in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Lee never knew his father. His parents separated shortly after his birth, and then his father died while Lee was still an infant. His mother single-handedly raised Lee and his older brother, Abner. She initially worked as a sharecropper for room and board. Hattie wanted a better lifestyle for her children, and every day she would hitch her wagon behind a mule and carry Lee and Abner several miles to the nearest county school. Lee remained on the cotton plantation until their landlord forced his family to leave. At that point the family packed their belongings and moved to the thriving town of Indianola, Mississippi.

Indianola was located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta and boasted one ...

Article

John N. Ingham

John Merrick was born a slave in Sampson County, North Carolina. Merrick never knew his father, but his mother, Martha, was a strong presence in his life. Little is known of Merrick's early years except that, to help support his mother and brother, he began working in a brickyard in Chapel Hill when he was twelve. In 1877 he moved with his family to Raleigh where he worked as a helper on the crew that constructed the original buildings on the campus of Shaw University Merrick could have remained in the construction trade he advanced to brick mason a highly skilled and relatively well paid occupation but he had far greater aspirations Merrick s first goal was to open his own barbershop one of the few business opportunities open to black Southerners at that time So he soon quit being a brick mason and took a menial job ...

Article

John N. Ingham

insurance company founder and entrepreneur, was born a slave in Sampson County, North Carolina. Merrick never knew his father, but his mother, Martha, was a strong presence in his life. Little is known of Merrick's early years, except that, to help support his mother and brother, he began working in a brickyard in Chapel Hill when he was twelve. In 1877 he moved with his family to Raleigh where he worked as a helper on the crew that constructed the original buildings on the campus of Shaw University Merrick could have remained in the construction trade he advanced to brick mason a highly skilled and relatively well paid occupation but he had far greater aspirations Merrick s first goal was to open his own barbershop one of the few business opportunities open to black southerners at that time So he soon quit being a brick mason and ...

Article

Edward C. Halperin

physician, was born in Rosindale, Columbus County (later Bladen County), North Carolina, the son of Israel Moore, a free black farmer, and Eliza (maiden name unknown). Moore's family was of African American, Native American, and European descent and had owned land and farmed in the Columbus County area since the early nineteenth century. He worked on the family farm and attended the local public elementary schools available to African Americans between the harvesting and planting seasons. After completing the eighth grade he attended the Whitin Normal School in Lumberton, North Carolina, and then the normal school in Fayetteville, North Carolina. His schooling was interspersed with periods when he worked on his father's farm and taught in the county school.

In 1885 Moore enrolled in Shaw University, an African American institution located in Raleigh, North Carolina. He entered the university's Leonard Medical School, which had opened in 1882 ...

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

Steven J. Niven

businessman and civic leader, was born in Columbus County, North Carolina, one of ten children of Benjamin McIver Spaulding and Margaret (Moore) Spaulding, who together ran a prosperous farm. The Spauldings were descendants of a tight-knit, self-reliant, and fiercely independent community of free people of color who had settled in southeastern North Carolina in the early nineteenth century. Benjamin Spaulding was also an accomplished blacksmith and furniture maker, and he served as county sheriff during Reconstruction. George White the last African American to represent a Southern district in Congress until the late 1960s was a neighbor Like his nine siblings Charles Spaulding learned the dignity of labor from an early age He recalled in an unpublished autobiography that when not working with their father tending crops the children were to be found helping their mother scrub the floors of their cabin or keeping the farmyard as pristine ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago (1915–1940), president of the National Baptist Convention from 1922 until his death in 1940, and president of Victory Mutual Life Insurance Co., was born in Eufala, Barbour County, Alabama, to Levi Shorter and Elizabeth Hill. His parents had previously been enslaved on opposite sides of the Alabama–Georgia state line. Williams, whose father adopted that surname as a new family name after marrying Hill, moved in 1877 with his family to Brazos Bottom, Texas, where his father saw better economic opportunity.

Converted and baptized in 1884 at Thankful Baptist Church, which numbered his parents among its founders, he was awarded a second-grade certificate in 1890, authorizing him to teach in public schools of Burleson County. He taught at River Lane School, eventually becoming the principal; on 16 August 1894 he married Georgia Lewis one of his former ...