W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du Bois.

Economic co-operation among Negro Americans. Report of a social study made by Atlanta University under the patronage of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. together with the proceedings of the 12th Conference for the Study of the Negro Problems, held at Atlanta University, on Tuesday, May t online

. (page 13 of 22)
Online LibraryW. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du BoisEconomic co-operation among Negro Americans. Report of a social study made by Atlanta University under the patronage of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. together with the proceedings of the 12th Conference for the Study of the Negro Problems, held at Atlanta University, on Tuesday, May t → online text (page 13 of 22)
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People s Mutual Aid Association Helena, A rk.

The Alpha Insurance Co Washington, D. C.

Industrial Savings Society. .. Wilmington, Del.

Mutual Insurance Co Athens, Ga.

Georgia Southern Home Aid Insurance Co Augusta, Ga.

Standard Beneficial and Relief Oo Baltimore, Md.

People s Beneficial and Fraternal Co Baltimore, Md.

Cosmopolitan Beneficial Association St. Paul, Minn.

Long Island Industrial Association Brooklyn, N. Y.

United Aid Benevolent Association New York, N. Y.

Children s Aid Society . .Cincinnati, Ohio

* Report of the Hampton Conference, No. 8, pp. 15-16, 18.


Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans

Mutual Reliable Aid Society Philadelphia, Pa.

Fidelity Mercantile Fraternity Norfolk, Va.

Consumers Co-operative Fraternity Norfolk, Va.

United Brotherhood Fraternity Norfolk, Va.

The list makes no pretentious to completeness and could be greatly
extended. Such Negro insurance societies have had various external

A fro- American insurance companies were forging ahead so rapidly that the
^legislature of Virginia passed a law with the expressed purpose to put the
Afro-American companies out of business, during the year of 1903, and raise
the state license of insurance companies to $200 and 1 per cent on gross receipts.
These enactments simply caused the Afro-American companies to hustle more
and they paid the taxes. These legislators met again; passed a law to this
effect: In order for insurance companies paying sick and death claims to
continue to do business they must deposit in the state treasury the round sum
of $10,000 as a security to their policy holders. Many thought that Virginia
would be a grave yard for Afro-American insurance companies. White agents
on their route told Afro-Americans holding policies in Afro-American com
panies, that their moneys were lost and they had better join the white compa
nies. The Virginia Beneficial and Insurance Co., and three other Afro-Ameri
can companies individually put up their $10,000 and today there are more Afro-
American insurance companies, with home offices in the state, doing business
. than there are white. %

Most of the laws referred to are to protect policy holders, but the
Negro societies have noticed that Southern legislatures; only began to
awaken to this need of protection when Negro societies began driving
the whites out of business.

Virginia was the first center of this development, because of the ex
traordinary growth of Negro industrial insurance there:

We find on investigation that in the state of Virginia quite a number of in
surance organizations have been formed, and in the report of the Auditor of
Public Accounts for the year 1902, we find the following report which will
give some idea of the magnitude of the insurance business as conducted by
Negroes in the state of Virginia. There are quite a number of insurance com
panies and fraternal societies in the state that do not as yet make reports to
the Auditor. According to the official directory of the city of Richmond
there are in that city alone sixteen insurance companies conducted by Negroes :




in force


American Benefit
Richmond Benefit
Southern Aid Society of Virginia
United Aid
Benevolent Aid and Relief Association
Grand Fountain United Order True Reformers.


$ 653,521


$ 617,106


$ 3,449,170



If a complete report could be had of the business which the colored insur
ance companies and the fraternal societies are doing in the state of Virginia it

t New York A ye.

Beneficial and Insurance Societies 101

would show that more than 300,000 colored men, women and children carry
some form of insurance. This means a great deal for the business conditions
of the people of this state, since these organizations not only provide for the
relief of the policy holders in sickness, but a large part of the money paid out
on the account of death claims finds permanent investment in various forms. *

The career of one Negro insurance society has been so remarkable
that it deserves especial study. Most of the following facts are from a
United States Government investigation:

The True Reformers constitutes probably the most remarkable Negro
organization in the country. The association has its headquarters in Rich
mond, Va., and its history in brief is as follows:

The Grand Fountain

The association was organized in January, 1881, by Rev. William Washing
ton Browne, an ex-slave of Habersham county, Ga., as a fraternal beneficiary
institution, composed of male and female members, and began with 100 mem
bers and a capital of $150. On April 4, 1883, or over two years later, the circuit
court of the city of Richmond, Va., granted a regular charter of incorporation
as a joint stock company to Browne and his associates under the name of "The
Grand Fountain of the United Order of True Reformers." The chief purpose
of incorporation was to provide what is to be known as an endowment or
mutual benefit fund; the capital stock was "to be not less than $100 nor more
than $10,000, to be divided into shares of the value of $5 each ;" the company
was to hold real estate " not to exceed in value the sum of $25,000 ;" the princi
pal office was to be kept in the city of Richmond, and officers named in the
charter for the year were Rev. William W. Browne, Richmond, Va., Grand
Worthy Master; Eliza Allen, Petersburg, Va., Grand Worthy~STTstress ; R, T.
Q.uarles f Ashland. Va.. Grand Worthy Vice-Master ; S. W. Button. Richmond.
Va., Grand Worthy Chaplain; Peter H^Wonlfolk , Richmond, Va., Grand
Worthy Secretary; Robert I. Clarke, Centralia, Va., Grand Worthy Treasurer.
These, with six others, composed the Board of Directors for the first year.
Thus the True Reformers started on their way as a full-fledged joint stock
corporation, whose chief aim was to provide a form of what is known as
mutual beneficial insurance for its members. In 1898 the charter was amended
so that a part of section 2 should read as follows : " The said corporation shall
issue certificates of membership to its members and shall pay death benefits
to the heirs, assigns, personal or legal representatives of the deceased mem- 1
bers;" and section 4, as follows: "The real estate to be held shall not exceed*
in value the sum of five hundred thousand ($500,000) dollars."

Up to December, 1901, the last report of the organization shows that it had .
paid in death claims $606,000, and in sick, $1,500,000, and that the membership
was over 50,000, having increased 18,000 in the preceding year. The increase in
twenty years from a membership of 100 and a capital of $150 to a membership
of over 50,000, and with real estate aggregating $223,500 in value, constitutes an
excellent showing.

But it is not the growth nor even the existence of the Grand Fountain of
the True Reformers as a mutual insurance association, with its small army of
employees, that causes it to be considered here ; it is the affiliated by-products,
to use an industrial expression, that are of interest and thai may prove to be
of great economic value to the Negro race, t

The report of the order for 1907 with the "by-products" or affiliated depart
ments is as follows:

The Fountain Department has grown from four Fountains or lodges in 1881,
to 2,678 Fountains or lodges in January, 1907. The 100 members have grown

* Hampton Conference, No. 7.

f Bulletin of the United States Department of Labor, No. 41, pp. 807-14.


Economic Co=operation Among Negro Americans

to more than 100,000, who have been initiated into the order, and of whom there
are now benefited in the Fountains 50,636. There have been 8,322 deaths in the
Senior Fountain, for which there has been paid ,$979,440.55.

The joining fees of this department are from $4.60 to $6.60, and persons are
admitted from 18 to 60 years of age. Monthly dues, 55 cents for eight months
and 60 cents for four months are paid into the Fountain by each member. No
extra tax or assessment is levied to pay the death benefits.

In 1885 there was organized and put in operation a department for the chil
dren knowm as the Rosebud Department. For twenty-one years this depart
ment was in operation under the management of the Grand Fountain and
more than 30,000 children have been entered into this department. Children
are taken from 2 to 18 years of age. The joining fee is 50 cents, monthly dues
are 16 cents. Sick benefits range from $1 down to 25 cents per week, accord
ing to the length of time sick. There have been 727 deaths in this class for
which the sum of $23,214 has been paid.

The class department of the Mutual Benefit Degree was introduced in 1885
for the purpose of paying to members of the Fountain department an addi
tional amount in death claims of from $200 to $1,000. This department, like the
others, has grown and increased, from time to time, until today there are 5,980
members. There have been 1,134 deaths in the twenty-two years, for which
there has been paid to the heirs of deceased members $354,334.70.

The following tables will give the ages, joining fees and dues of each of the
classes :

Class "B" Table



Value of
after 1 Yr.

Value of
before 1 yr.


ly dues

18 to 25. . .
25 to 30
30 to 35
35 to 40
40 to 45

$ 2 50
2 75
3 00
3 25
3 50

$ 200 00
200 00
200 00
200 00
140 00

$ 100 00
100 00
100 00
100 00
70 00

$ 4 75
4 75
4 75
5 70
5 70

$ 20

45 to 50
50 to 55
55 to 60

3 75
4 00
4 25

115 00
90 00
65 00

58 00
45 00
33 00

6 65
6 65

7 70


Class "E" Table



Value of
after 1 Yr.

Value of
before 1 yr.


ly dues

18 to 25. . .
25 to 30

$ 5 00
5 25

$ 500 00
500 00

$ 250 00
250 00

$12 60
12 60

$ 3 15
3 15

30 to 35
35 to 40
40 to 45
45 to 50
50 to 55

5 50
5 75
6 00
6 25
6 50

500 00
500 00
500 00
500 00
500 00

250 00
250 00
250 00
250 00

15 60
15 60
20 48
20 48
28 48

3 90
8 90
5 12
5 12

5 87

Class "M" Table



Value of


ly dues

18 to 30
30 to 35

$11 00
12 00

$1,000 00
900 00

$21 00
25 56

$ 5 25
6 39

35 to 40
40 to 45
45 to 50

12 50
13 00
13 50

900 00
800 00
700 00

25 56
26 04
26 04

6 39
6 51
6 51

Beneficial and Insurance Societies 103

The benefits paid by all departments to date have been :

8,322 Fountain deaths $ U79,440.55

727 Rosebud deaths 23,214.00

542 Class B deaths 90,444 75

591 (Jlass E deaths 263,714.95

1 Class M death 175.00

Total, 10,193 deaths $1,356,989.25

This amount paid in death benefits is not all that has been paid, for the va
rious subordinate Fountains have paid over a million and a half dollars in sick
benefits, making a grand total paid to members by the Grand Fountain and
its subordinate lodges of $2,856,989.25.

Savings Bank

In 1887 the necessity for a repository for the funds of the organization was
made very evident when at the organization of a subordinate Fountain in
Charlotte county, Virginia, the funds collected were entrusted to a white store
keeper by the treasurer for safe keeping. The white storekeeper passed the
word amongst his neighbors, and it was determined by them to break up the \
organization. Feeling between the races was running very high because of a
recent lynching in the neighborhood. This strange condition of affairs led to /
the organization of the savings bank: The Savings Bank of the Grand Foun- /
tain, United Order of True Reformers, was chartered by the Virginia Legisla
ture March, 1888, and went into operation April 3, 1889, receiving $1,200 on de
posit the first day.

The capital stock was placed at $100,000, each share being $5. The by-laws
provided that only members of the Grand Fountain could take stock, and one
person was only allowed to take a limited amount. In this way it was sought
by the founders to perpetuate the bank and prevent the possible pooling of
the stock. In thirteen years from the date of the charter the whole amount
of capital stock was taken up.

The bank receives deposits of from one dollar up, and pa.ys interest at the
rate of 3 per cent on all deposits. The business for the first five months of the
bank amounted to $9,881.28 in deposits. Today it has :

Capital stock paid in . . $ 100,000 00

Surplus fund 95,000 00

Undivided profits, less amount paid for interest, expenses and taxes 29,136 95

Individual deposits subject to check 125,526 76

Time certificates of deposit .......

Total $ 560,409 82

The Reformers Mercantile and Industrial Association

The Reformers Mercantile and Industrial Association was incorporated
December 14, 1899. This department conducts a system of stores doing an an- \
uual business of over $100,000. The principal one of these stores is located at
Richmond, Va.

The Reformer


The Reformer, a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 19,000 copies, is pub- \
lished by the Reformers Mercantile and Industrial Association. A general
printing department is conducted by the Reformer, where all classes of print
ing is neatly and quickly done.

Hotel Reformer

The Hotel Reformer, located at So. 900 North Sixth street, Richmond, Va,
has accommodation for 150 guests.

104 Economic Co=ope ration Among Negro Americans

Old Folks Home

An Old Folks Home located at Westham, Henrico county, Va., six miles
west of Richmond, is established for the benefit of the old members of the
colored race. Westham farm, on which the home is located, consists of 634%
acres, of which 200 acres have been cut up for Brownsville, a colored town.

The Old Folks Home is supported by voluntary contributions made by the
various members of the organization and the friendly public. Inmates are
taken regardless of their religious belief or fraternal connection.

s Reformer Building and Loan Association, incorporated

The Reformer Building and Loan Association, incorporated under the laws
of the State of Virginia, has as its object the encouragement of industry, fru
gality, home building and saving among its members. Its offices are located
at No. 604 North Second street, Richmond, Va.

Real Estate Department

The Real Estate Department of the Grand Fountain was established in 11)02,
and controls the property holdings of the organization. It has under its con
trol twenty-seven buildings and three farms, with a total value of $400,000,
which belong to the institution, and leases for the benefit of the institution
twenty-three other buildings.

Brief summaries of the business of thirty other Negro industrial in
surance societies follow:

1. Progressive Benefit Association, Charleston, S. C. Fees 5 to 40 cents per
week, to be collected by agents. Sickness is reported at the office, and paid
one week after report on doctor s certificate. Death claims are paid one week
after reported. Business: 1904, $10,744 ; 1905, $10,102; 1906, $10,331 ; 1907 to July 1,

2. The American Life and Benefit Insurance Co., Durham, N. C. Chartered
February, 1906. Business: Amount paid in 1906-7, $5,235.15 ; amount paid out,

3. The American Beneficial Insurance Co., Richmond, Va. Two hundred
stockholders. Branch establishments in all cities and towns of Virginia and
the District of Columbia. Business: 1902-3, $61,177.34; 1903-4, $60,657.80; 1904-5,
$76,278.80; 1905-6, $83,951.60 ; 1906-7, $89,453.84. Total paid up capital, $15,000. Real
estate owned in Richmond and Newport News, $5,000. "It was organized Aug
ust, 1902, in the city of Richmond, with the present officers in charge. It had
a healthy start from the beginning, for within three weeks after the President
made the call for those who desired to take stock to meet him, $8,700 in cash
was paid in. Sixty thousand persons have taken policies with us during these
five years."

4. Home Protective Association. Members in State, 2,000; lodges, 100.
Methods of operation : On the assessment plan. Total income for 190(3-7, $18,000 ;
real estate owned, $4,500. " The association was organized three years ago with
ten charter members."

5. Mutual Improvement Society, Washington, I). C. Members, 6,000, with
branch offices in twenty-five States of the Union. Business: Two years, 1906-7,
$60,000. "Society was incorporated March 1, 1897."

6. Union Mutual Aid Association, Jacksonville, Fla. Branch establish
ments throughout principal cities and towns of Florida. Business done in the
last three years, $50,000; total capital, $5,000. Real estate owned: Bridge and
Union streets.

Beneficial and Insurance Societies 105

7. United Aid and Benevolent Association of America, Jersey City, N. J.
Branch establishments: New York City, New Rochelle, Tarrytown, White
Plains, Nyack, and Saratoga Springs, N. Y.,Lakewood, Asbury Park, Newark,
N. J., Columbia, S. C. Insures against sickness, accident and death and fire in
the insurance department. In the real estate department, rents, leases, buys
and sells ; takes first and second mortgages, and loans money. Business : Last
year, the receipts for the Insurance Department, $17,672.75; in the Real Estate
Department, $11,591.81, making a total of $29,263.56. Paid out last year for sick
claims, $4,620.50, and $2,532.25 in death claims, total $7,152.75, leaving a balance
of $10,520; capital, $10,000. Real estate owned: New York and New Jersey.
"The United Aid and Benevolent Association was organized June 10, 1901, and
incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey in the same year. On
June 10, 1907, the company had been in operation six years. Since that time,
we have insured about 15,000 persons. Our realty company is incorporated for

8. Union Benefit Association, Savannah, Ga., with 25,009 members. Branch
offices : Atlanta, Ga., Charleston, S. C., Thomasville, Ga., Albany, Ga., Beaufort,
S, C., Rincon, Ga., Bluffton, S. C., Guyton, Ga., Daufuskie, S. C., Summerville,
S. C., Jesup, Ga. Mutual co-operative upon the assessment plan. Total income
for 1906, $24,282.20. "The association was organized in 1903; since that time we
have written up over $700,000 worth of business. The business is gradually
increasing and warrants over 200 employees."

9. The Gallilean Fishermen Joint Stock Association owns a building worth
$5,000. Baltimore, Md., 1906.

10. The Stock Association of the Grand United Order of the Sons and
Daughters of Good Hope. Baltimore, Md.

11. The Grand United Order of the Sons and Daughters of Moses owns a
building worth $9,000. Baltimore, Md.

12. Benevolent and Relief Association, Guthrie, Okla. Capital stock $5,000,

13. Co-operative Insurance Co., Hannibal, Mo. The company is about one
year old and it has 1,000 members. 1906.

14. National Benefit Association, Jacksonville, Fla. Capital stock $10,000.

15. The Afro-American Industrial and Benefit Association, Jacksonville,
Fla. Paid up capital stock $10,000.

16. Toilers Mutual Life Insurance Co., Tarboro, N. C. Directors, 11 ; busi
ness done in 1906-7, $2,982,85. No capital; an assessment company. "Com
menced business March 5, 1906."

17. Star of Zion Relief Accident Corporation, Boydton,Va. Membership,
2,500. Benefits: From 5 to 49 years 18 cents to 25 cents. After twelve months
a member is benefited by a policy of $100, which matures in twelve or fourteen
years, followed by a continued policy of $100 to $300 at same rates. In the Ac
cident Department sick and accident and death benefits are paid according to
age. For $2 per week one receives $100 at death 10 per cent every ten years,
minus what you draw out. After five years one-half of the initiation fee is
paid back, on written application, complying with the rules of the Supreme
Fountain. After thirty years membership policies are paid off. Fees: $3 to
join, 30 cents per month ; in city, 60 cents per month. Benefits from $25 to $50.
Capital stock, $10,000. Business done in two years, 1906-7, about $10,000, with a
paid capital of $1,000. Real estate, $2,500. "Chartered under the laws of Vir
ginia May 9, 1904." One of the main features of the order is its Reformation
Department, intended to reclaim the fallen youth of the race.

18. People s Mutual Aid Association, Little Rock, Ark. Branch establish
ments at Pine Bluff, Helena, Fort Smith, Texarkana, Wynne, Mariaiina, Arka-

106 Economic Co=operation Among Negro Americans

delphia, Brinkley, Jonesboro, Hot Springs, Batesville, Clarendon, DeValls
Bluff, Cotton Plant, Camden and Forrest City, Ark., Muskogee, South McAl-
lester, Ardmore and Chickasha, Indian Territory. Business done in 1906-7,
,f 63,923.10; 1907, $237,449. Capital paid up, $50,000. "Organized July 1, 1904.
Twenty-three thousand, five hundred and seventy-eight members to date.
Since the association was organized we have met with wonderful success.
Today we are employing 125 young men and women. Prospects bid fair for
an opening of at least 150 more during the next two years. Connected with
Capital City Savings Bank."

19. North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association, Durham, N. C., has
110,000 members; fifty-one branch offices, twenty-nine in North Carolina and
twelve in South Carolina. Insurance on the assessment plan. We also write
straight life and endowment insurance. Policies are collected weekly, month
ly and annually by over 400 agents through fifty-one branch offices. Total
business in 1906, $117,000. Twenty-five thousand dollars worth of real estate
in Durham, N. C. "This company was organized in April, 1899, w r ith seven
directors. After operating two years five of these men became discouraged
and the entire business was bought by John Merrick, A. M. Moore and C. C.
Spaulding. Now we are paying an average of $150 per day for benefits and
our business is in a prosperous condition, having never been sued for a single
legal claim."

20. National Benefit Association, Washington, D. C, Thirty-nine stock
holders and 27,888 members. Branch offices in Newark, New Brunswick and
Camden, N. J., Providence, R. I., New York, N. Y., and Pittsburg, Steelton,
Williamsport, Wilkesbarre, Harrisburg and Philadelphia. Pa. Business done
1902, $12,920.67 ; 1903, $13,896.13 ; 1904, $18,015.92 ; 1905, $28,283.99 ; 1906, $43,270.34. Total
paid up capital, $5,000. No stock for sale. Real estate owned : Home otfice,
f20,000 ; four unimproved lots in Anacostia, D. C., $1,000; otherwise invested,
$20,000. Organized in 1899. In event of sickness or accident a weekly benefit
of $1.50 to $8, and of death from $12 to $125.

21. Keystone Aid and Insurance Society, Philadelphia, Pa. Membership
13,000. Business 1906, $47,580.73; 1907 (six months), $32,463.39. Total capital,
$10,000. Reserve added to capital increases it to $16,500.29. Real estate owned :
Home office. "Incorporated July 12, 1902, under the laws of Pennsylvania.
Has in five years paid out in the conducting of the business over $150,000."

22. The Hand in Hand Fraternity, Washington, D. C. A fraternal insur
ance organization, incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia.
Issues policies from $100 to $500. Collects premiums or assessments.

23. The Guarantee Aid and Relief Society, Savannah, Ga. Branch offices in
Atlanta, Americus, Albany, Augusta, Dawson, Cuthbert and Richland, Ga.
Business done in 1906, $15,971.38.

24. Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., Durham, N. C. Membership 20,000,
with branch offices in about seventy towns throughout North Carolina. In
1906-7 $15,000 worth of business, including both new and old business. No capi
tal. " Charter secured during the latter part of 1903. Commenced doing busi
ness in February, 1904. Very little business was done until 1905, and the
greatest business done was in 1906. The management has been changed sev
eral times, and under the present management the company is seeing its
brightest days. Plans are at present on foot to organize another company, to
be a stock company (capital stock $100,000), to do exclusively a life business.
The present company will ultimately be absorbed by the new company."

25. The Atlanta Mutual Insurance Association, Atlanta, Ga. Branch offices
in Augusta, Savannah, Columbus, Albany, Macon, Stockbridge, Covington,

Beneficial and Insurance Societies


Conyers, Forsyth, Athens, Cartersville, Tallapoosa, Douglasville, Austell and

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryW. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du BoisEconomic co-operation among Negro Americans. Report of a social study made by Atlanta University under the patronage of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. together with the proceedings of the 12th Conference for the Study of the Negro Problems, held at Atlanta University, on Tuesday, May t → online text (page 13 of 22)