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 19 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 19 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Wrangling over offices the first two years caused loss. Desertion of the
white boss carpenter came next, followed by his men and colored caulkers,
together with the loss of a number of patrons; the desertion of the colored
manager, Samuel Dogherty, with his followers next occurred, and other minor
desertions caused the company loss of money and prestige.

After twelve years a series of mishaps wearing away of the fixed capital
for which no precaution had been taken, occurred. The larger of two railways
used for docking ships wore out. It took one year to repair it at a cost of $6,000.
The white firm that repaired it left a flaw, which later caused the ship yard
a loss of much money and prestige. Ships, in several instances, were wedged
in the track and were extricated only at a great cost and delay.

The lack of trained managers was also another hindrance. The colored
caulkers were most experienced workmen, but none had had any training or
experience in the role of manager. But the final and greatest cause was the
refusal of the owners of the ground to release the yard to the colored company
except at an enormous rate of increase. The ground rent was doubled; that
is, instead of $2,000 they now demanded $4,000. With the change which had
now come about in the construction of ships from wooden bottoms to steel and
with the increasing number of ships of larger tonnage which could not be
accommodated by the company, the management of the Chesapeake Marine
and Dry Dock Co. gave up business.

The stockholders lost outright. It is said, however, that the loss of no one
person was great as the stock was very widely distributed.

The organization of the ship company saved the colored caulkers, for they
are now members of the white caulkers union. The failure of the whites in
driving out the colored caulkers put an end to their efforts to drive colored
labor out of other fields. And although the company failed, it must surely
have been an object lesson to the whites as well as to the blacks of the power
and capability of the colored people in their industrial development.

Cash accounts of three later years follow, showing the main causes of
ultimate failure :

1. High wages.

2. Few repairs.
-. 3. Rent.

The concern lost money in the Freedman s Bank.*

*Cf. Section 14.


Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans




Total business
Cash receipts and balances

Paid out-
Ground rent

$ 27,454.95



$ 20,688.78


$ 27,783.42













$ 25,632.15

$ 19,790.24

$ 26,395.25

Bills receivable

(Dec. 23) 378.17

(Dec. 27) 178.94

(Dec. 24) 577.28

Material on hand
Bills pavable



Sinkin 01 fund

2 000 00

Co-operative Stores, 1865-1870

Upon the testimony of several reliable persons we are informed of the organi
zation of numerous co-operative stores during the period immediately follow
ing the Civil war, 1865-1870. They are said to have lived for short periods but
appeared prosperous while they lasted. A man by the name of Deaver is
mentioned as the manager for one of these stores.

Following the period of co-operative stores there sprang up several years
later a Co-operative Building and Loan Association.

Samaritan Temple

About 1880 a secret order known as the Good Samaritans formed a joint stock
company. The stock was sold to individuals and lodges. A building, situated
at the corner of Saratoga and Calvert streets, was purchased for $10,000. The
original price, $20,000, was halved by placing a mortgage of $10,000 on the
ground, subject to an annual ground rent. The hall was unusually large, ex
tending half the block on Saratoga street, five stories high, with a width of 30
feet or more on Calvert street. The ground floor was left for business pur
poses, the second and third floors for halls proper, and the rest of the building
as lodge rooms.

From the general use made of the entire building the company should have
realized a handsome profit. It is now impossible to discover what the profits
were or what losses the stockholders sustained. After having the property
for twenty years it slipped out of control of the stock company. Some of the
promoters of the project were : . George Meyers, Wm. E. Wilkes, J. Seaton, J.
M. Ralph, I. Oliver, W. H. Chester.

The Afro-American Ledger

The Afro-American Ledger, a weekly paper, was started in 1891 by the Rev.
Win. Alexander and half a dozen others associated with him. The paper cir
culated at first largely among the Baptist communicants and was regarded
as the Baptist organ. From a financial standpoint it was very successful,
numbering at the time of its failure 2,500 paid subscribers. Its failure was
caused by the failure of the Northwestern Family Supply Co., which had
bought a controlling interest in the paper and paid for the same by an issue
of its stock to the original owners of the paper, resulting, unfortunately, in a

Co-operative Business 155

total loss to them, as the stock of the Northwestern Family Supply Co. was
worthless in 1895. The A fro- American Ledger, however, was revived under
another management, and is today the chief colored organ of the State.

The North Baltimore Permanent Building and Loan Association

This Association was organized in 1893 with a capital stock of $10,000. At its
height it had about forty-five members. Of the $10,000 capital not more than
$5,000 was paid in. At the expiration of six years the company was dissolved
without material loss to any one.

Rev. G. R. Waller was for five years president of the Association. Other
prominent members were : Benjamin Hamilton, Wm. Fisher, Secretary ; G. W.
Dyer, Treasurer.

The Association owned in its own name one large dwelling on Courtland
street, near Franklin. This dwelling was used as the office of the Association
and as a night school, which was conducted by the President, Mr. Waller, and
other members of the Association.

The cause which brought the corporation to an untimely end was the lend
ing of money to members on their notes with their stock as security. This
practice resulted in a gradual retirement of the stock the notes were never
paid and the collapse of the company.

The Northwestern Family Supply Co.

The Northwestern Family Supply Co., the largest co-operative undertaking
since the failure of the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Co., and
possibly the largest in its circulation among the people in the history of co
operative enterprises among the Negroes of Baltimore, was started in 1894 by
a pork butcher, colored, of Lafayette Market. As the name suggests, the com
pany dealt in a full line of groceries, meats and other necessities.

The company was capitalized at $50,000. Stock was sold at $5 and $10 a share.
It is difficult to say just how much was actually paid in when business began ;
but at the high tide of success there are said to have been 2,000 members.

The main store was located on Fremont avenue, near Lafayette, and three
branch stores were located in different sections of the city. That the com
pany did a very large business is also attested by the six or seven delivery
wagons which were kept busy delivering goods to all parts of the city. The
manager, Mr. Daly, says that one month the gross receipts were $10,000. Ex
orbitant dividends of from 10 to 20 per cent were paid.

From the extensive membership, from the very nature of the business, here
was a company that promised flattering success. But never was permanent
success less probable nor wan ton ignorance of simple business principles more
rampant. Had there been only a fair amount of correct business principles
applied in the management of its stores, the Northwestern Family Supply
Co. might have been in existence today, a giant business establishment of the
city and a credit to the race. But nobody knew anything. The clerks in the
stores could not wrap bundles or weigh out 16 ounces to the pound. The
butchers they were all butchers could not cut meat; the buyers knew noth
ing of buying ; there was needless loss on every hand. The general manager,
unable to neglect his own business, left the unwieldy plant without active
management. Add to these causes the final blunder, each stockholder was
allowed to deal out in goods the amount he had paid in stock, and the won
der is that the corporation lasted two years. The inevitable crash came with
almost a total loss to the stockholders that had not dealt out their stock in

156 Economic Co=operation Among Negro Americans

A very great benefit, however, is claimed for the Northwestern Family
Supply Co. It is said to have implanted in the breasts of the colored people
a hankering after business of their own. This much is certain: the seed has
been sown by some means, for numerous little stores of all kinds, but chiefly
grocery stores, are scattered throughout the northwestern section of the city.

The Lexington Savings Bank

Following in the wake of the Northwestern Family Supply Co., came the
Lexington Savings Bank. It was organized in 1895 by Lawyer E. J. Waring,
who was made its President. Some of the stockholders were : E. J. Waring,
J. H. Murphy, Julius Johnson and others. Its capital stock was $25,000, but it
started business with not more than $5,000, $2,500 of which was controlled by
the President, Of the amount held by Mr. Waring $2,000 belonged in equal
parts to two white men, Messrs. Cooper and Singer. The bank did business
satisfactorily for a short period. The first large deposit, a deposit of $100, was
made by Mr. J. H. Murphy. After something less than a year the bank was
compelled to close its doors. The failure was caused by the loaning of money
on insufficient security. The loss to depositors and stockholders was insig
nificant. It is said Messrs. Cooper and Singer lost nothing, but that the Presi
dent was bankrupted through his business manipulations.

Although the money loss was slight, the confidence and credit of Negro
business enterprises and the faith of Negroes themselves in them, were shaken
as by nothing else because of the confidence and admiration in which Mr. E. J.
Waring was held.

The Home Shoe Co., and The Lancet Publishing: Co.

The last chapter of defunct stock companies can be told in a word : lack of
capital, lack of active business management, and in case of the first, lack of
prudence on the part of the Board of Directors.

Both of these companies were started about the same time, February, 1902,
and were located in the same building, 600 North Eutaw street. The Home
Shoe Co. was capitalized at $3,000, to deal in men s, women s and children s
shoes. The store was opened in mid-season, the middle of August, before
$1,000 of the capital stock had been paid in. Bad judgment in the selection of
employees, bad site for store and insufficient capital, were causes of the failure.

For several months a fairly good business was done, but the money had
simply to be turned back into stock to increase the line of goods. When the
time came to put in the spring stock, the capital was insufficient and business
gradually dwindled until late in the summer, the corporation sold out to one
of its members for 6 cents on the dollar.

The total amount of capital paid in was $1,700. The loss was confined almost
entirely to the twelve Directors, who were the original founders.

The Lancet Publishing Co., job printers and publishers of a weekly, lasted
until November, 1905. The plant was owned by nine or ten men, who lost 90
per cent or more of all they had invested. The exact amount of the loss is not-

One possibly depressing feature about the failure of these two companies is
that they were managed and owned by the most intelligent colored men of
the city, lawyers, doctors, school teachers and business men. But almost with
out exception these men had no knowledge of the particular business at hand ;
so that, so far as these enterprises were concerned, they were just as ignorant
as the unlettered masses.

Co-operative Business


The following is a list of certain typical co-operative business con
ducted by Negroes in the United States. It is not, of course, anything
approaching a complete list:

Western Repair Automobile Co.,

Washington, I). C.
Golden Chest and Freeman Mining

Co., Denver, Col.
Star Coal Co., Des Moines, Iowa.
The Rolesville Colored Saw Mill Co.,

Raleigh, N. C.
Bruno Manufacturing Co., Boston,

Razor Strop and Leather Goods Co.,

New York, N. Y.
Lewis Cigar Co., Philadelphia, Pa.

(a) Productive Co-operation.

1. Florida Printing and Improvement 8.

Co., Jacksonville, Fla.

2. Hill Horseshoe and Overshoe Co., 9.

Denver, Col.

8. Spencer Red Brick Co., Spencer, 10.
N. Y. 11.

4. Savannah Mattress Co., Savannah,

Ga. 12.

5. Black Diamond Development Co.,

Chicago, 111. 13.

6. Crescent Manufacturing Co., Lynch-

burg,Va. 14.

7. Brown Manufacturing Co., Los An

geles, Cal.

(b) Co-operation in Transportation.

1. Colored Railroad, Wilmington, N. C.

2. Automobile Co., Nahville, Term.

3. North Jacksonville Street Railway, Town and Improvement Co., Jacksonville,


(c) Distributive Co-operation.

1. Afro- American Co., Baltimore, Md.

2. Warren Hot Springs Furniture and

Undertaking Co., Hot Springs,

3. Relief Joint Stock Co., Little Rock,


4. Cordele Enterprise, Cordele, Ga.

5. Colorado Springs Mercantile Co.,

Colorado Springs, Col.

6. Commercial Pioneer Institution,

Cambridge, Mass.

7. Wyandotte Drug Co., Kansas City,


8. Women s Exchange, Frankfort, Ky.
W. Sandy W. Trice & Co,, Chicago, 111.

10. Tribune Publishing Co., Oklahoma

City, Okla.

11. Savannah Pharmacy, Savannah, Ga.

12. The People s Drug Store, Cleveland,


13. The People s Shoe Co., Atlanta, Ga.

14. Iowa State Bystander Co., Des

Moines, Iowa.

15. Farmers Improvement Co., Paris,


16. Philadelphia Storage and Cleaning

Co., Philadelphia, Pa.

17. Afro-American News, Marlin,Tex.

18. The Artesian Drug Co., Albany, Ga.

19. The Advocate Publishing Co., Port

land, Ore.
ito. Commercial Shoe Co., Macon, Ga.

21. Colored Business Men s Association,

Indianapolis, Ind.

22. The Students Tea Co., Richmond,


23. The Kansas City Embalming and

Casket Co., Kansas City, Kan.

24. People s Trading Co., Albany, Ga.

25. Union Publishing Co., Atlanta, Ga.

26. Gate City Drug Store, Atlanta, Ga.

27. People s Shoe Co., Savannah, Ga.

28. Savannah Shoe and Mercantile Co.,

Savannah, Ga.

29. Little Dan Publishing Co., Ameri-

cus, Ga.

30. Franklin County Colored Fair Asso

ciation, Frankfort, Ky.

31. Bugle Publishing Co., Frankfort,Ky.

32. Woman s Loyal League, Grand Rap

ids, Mich.

33. The Weldon Co., Brooklyn, N. Y.

34. New York Age Publishing Co., New

York, N. Y.

85. Record Publishing Co., Richmond,

36. Capitol Shoe Co., Richmond, Va.

37. St. John s Intermediate Relief, Nor

folk, Va.

38. People s Drug Co., Lynchburg, Va.

39. Mercantile Co., Marlin. Tex.

40. Langstoii Mercantile Association,

Langston, Okla.

Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans


41. The Raleigh Co-operative Grocery 71.

Store, Raleigh, N. C. 72.

42. Co-operative Grocery Store, Louis- 73.

iana, Mo. .- 74.

48. Pulliam Grocery Co., Talladega, Ala.

44. American Swiss Commercial Co., 75.

Los Angeles, Oal. 76.

45. Afro-American Co-operative Co.,

Los Angeles, Cal. 77.

46. Canadian Second-Hand Store, Los ^78.

Angeles, Cal.

47. California Publishing Co., Los An- 79.

geles, Cal. 80.

48. Sunset Investment Co., Los Angeles,

Cal. 81.

49. Green Willow Park Association,

Washington, D. C. 82.

50. Lake View Park Association, Wash

ington, D. O. 88.
61. National Amusement Co., Washing
ton, D. O. 84.

52. National Colored People s Co-opera- 85.

tive Union, Washington, D. O.

53. Jane Moseley Steamboat Co., Wash- 86.

ington, D. O.

54. Sunny South Amusement Co., 87.

Washington, D. O.

55. The People s Advocate, Washing- 88.

ton, D. C.

56. Colored American Loan Co., Den- 89.

ver, Col.

57. Afro-American Co-operative Con- 90.

cern, Athens, Ga.

58. Canadian Employment Co., Des 91.

Moines, Iowa. 92.

59. Douglass Improvement Co., Des

Moines, la. 93.

60. Superior Laundry Co., Des Moines,

Iowa. 94.

61. Electric Carpet Dusting Co.. Des

Moines, Iowa. 95.

62. Hyde Carpet Cleaning and Moth

Exterminator Co., Des Moines, la. 96.

63. Colored American Steamboat Co.,

Norfolk, Va. 97.

64. White Light Bicycle Co., Norfolk,

Va. 98.

65. Virginia Laundry, N orf oik, Va.

66. Women s Business Association, 99.

Norfolk, Va.

67. Women s Exchange, Norfolk, Va. 100.

68. Satisfied Orchestra, Ft. Worth, Tex.

69. Ft. Worth Silver Cornet Band Co., - 101.

Ft. Worth, Tex. 102.

70. Woman s Grocery Co., Richmond,

Va. 103.

Hercules Co., Huntington, W. Va.

Hampton Supply Co., Hampton, Va.

Weekly Saving Co., Lynchburg, Va.

Tidewater Union Undertakers, Nor
folk, Va.

Tri-City Auto Co. , Norfolk, Va.

Oil City Grocery Co., Beaumont,

Oil City Drug Co., Beaumont, Tex.

Workingmen s Co-operative Union,
Hampton, Va.

Bay Shore Hotel, Hampton, Va.

Parkwood Cemetery Association,
Chicago, 111.

Afro- American News Office, Chica
go, 111.

Wyandotte Mercantile Co., Kansas
City, Kan.

Wyandotte Cemetery Co., Kansas
City, Kan.

Excelsior Grocery Co., Boston, Mass.

Franklin Burial Association, Bos
ton, Mass.

Public Cash Grocery Store, Boston,

E. B. Haskins Tailoring Co., Boston,

Coffer & Jerido, Ice Cream Dealers,
Boston, Mass.

Armory Hill Carpet Cleaning Co.,
Boston, Mass.

Amory Hill Carpet Cleaning Co.,
Springfield, Mass.

People s Coal Co., Baltimore, Md.

Queen Commercial Enterprise, Bal
timore, Md.

Druid Hill Hand and Steam Laun
dry, Baltimore, Md.

Good Hope Joint Stock Association,
Baltimore, Md.

St. Paul Window 7 Washing Co., St.
Paul, Minn.

Colored Co-operation of America.
Ithaca, N. Y.

New Amsterdam Musical Associa
tion, New York, N. Y.

The Weldon Realty Co., New York,
N. Y.

True Reformers Burial Association ,
New York, N. Y.

United Benevolent Association,
New York, N. Y.

Colored Grocery Co., Augusta, Ga.

Greenwood Grocery Co., Greenwood,

J. H. Zedricks .& Co., Chicago, 111.

Co-operative Business

(d) Real Estate and Credit,





Industrial Realty and Investment
Co., Terre Haute, Ind.

Twin City Realty Co., Winston-
Salein, N. C.

Western Realty and Land Co., Tulsa,
Ind. Ter.

Masonic Building Association, Sa
vannah, Ga.

Pickens Realty and Trust Co., Mus-
kogee, Ind. Ter.

Union Investment Co., Jacksonville,

The Pioneer Real Estate Co., Omaha,

The Queen Improvement Co., Balti
more, Md.

Samaritan Joint Stock Association,
Baltimore, Md.

Nazarite Joint Stock Co., Baltimore,

West End Loan and Investment Co.,
Baltimore, Md.

Metropolitan Realty Co., Baltimore,

Industrial Loan Realty Co., Minne
apolis, Minn.

United Realty Co., New York, N. Y.

Building and Loan Association,
Hampton, Va.

Cambridge Realty Association, Cam
bridge, Mass.

The Orgen Realty Investment Co.,
Houston, Tex.

18. The Afro- American Real Estate Co.,

Baltimore, Md.

19. Douglas Investment Co., Pittsburg,


20. Pittsburg Savings and Investment

Co., Pittsburg, Pa.

21. Gold Real Estate and Investment

Co., Pittsburg, Pa.

22. Eureka Investment Co., Philadel

phia, Pa.

28. Pacific Investment Co., Philadel
phia, Pa.

24. Home Extension Co., Philadelphia,


25. Banner Realty Co., Philadelphia, Pa.

26. Rhode Island Investment and Loan

Co., Newport, R. I.

27. Real Estate Co., Montgomery, Ala.

28. Southern California Real Estate and

Investment Co., Los Angeles, Cal.

29. The Citizen s Investment Co., Den

ver, Col.

30. Western Loan Association, Denver,


81. Hyde Real Estate and Investment

Co., Des Moines, Iowa.

82. Enterprise Investment Co., Des

Moines, Iowa.

83. Afro-American Realty Co., New

York, N.Y.

34. The Mohawk Realty Co., Cleveland,

Most of these are now in operation, although some few may have
recently suspended. A great many firms are of a semi-co-operative
nature, but we are studying those with a number of co-operators
always three or four, and usually from ten to 100 or more. There follow
many instances of living and defunct enterprises, illustrating the
varying kinds of attempts:

Productive Co-operation

This is, of course, the most rarely suceesful, as the history of co-opera
tion among all nations proves:

The Coleman Manufacturing Company was established in 1897, in Concord,
N.C., by several colored men, represented by a President and a Board of
Directors. -They went to work calmly to see whether or not the colored people
throughout the United States were interested in organizations of that kind,
and the influx of letters and money that came in tells me, and tells you and
every one, that the Negro is interested in a cotton factory and has one built
there in North Carolina, and is going to build another one next year. The
plant of the Coleman Manufacturing Company is valued at ,$100,000, is a three
story brick structure that you can set Parker Memorial Hall in the corner of.

It has a 270 horse power Corliss engine there and machinery that will com
pare favorable with any in or around Boston

160 Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans

We employ between 200 and 230 colored boys and girls, and only last week
sent to Charleston for 50 more, and just as soon as we begin the building
of this other mill, in December, we intend to employ 100 colored mechanics.
We manufacture there cotton goods and yarns. You can judge of the
machinery there when the greatest machinist in the country, representing
the great Parker Company, only last week pronounced the machinery in the
Coleman Manufacturing Company s works the best in Cabarrus county,
North Carolina.*

Just as this mill was well started, Mr. Coleman died, and a white
company bought the mill and is running it with white help.

The New Century Cotton Mills, Dallas, Texas, began operation and training
of its operatives January 5, 1903, superintended by trained expert officers from
the mills of New England. The operatives were gathered from among the
colored youth of our city, none of whom had ever before entered the door of a
cotton mill.

The mill is equipped with 3,000 spindles, complete for making warp yarns,
and has the latest improved machinery. The main building was a remodeled
business block, containing, with the new additions, 20,000 feet of floor space,
with three acres of land in the mill grounds. The textile equipment, sprinkler
system, private electric light plant, railroad switch, etc., furnish every facility
and appliance for economical and convenient operation. It has from its first
inception and will ever be the object of the management to make the mill
strictly and purely a race institution, representing in every feature the actual
accomplishments, in their respective lines, of the tradesmen of our race. For
example, every one of the 500,000 bricks used in the construction of buildings
were laid by colored mechanics; every piece of lumber or timber framed into
this mill plant is the work of colored men; the erection of all machinery,
boilers, engines, lines of shafting and counter shafts, the erection of all textile
machines, the erection of the complete automatic sprinkler system for fire
protection and the installing of the complete electric lighting system, were
all accomplished by colored men, under proper supervision and instruction ;
and the mill stands today the pride of every laboring man of color within our
city as the evidence of their ability to do things

The mill is now employing seventy-two operatives on the day run in its
various departments, and in this, the eight months since training began, they
are putting out daily the standard production for which the mill was de
signed, viz : Three thousand pounds of warp yards per day

The New Century Cotton Mills has consumed 800 bales of cotton in the first
seven months of its operation.

The mill has paid more than $10,000 in wages to its employees.

The mill has trained 150 operatives, and contemplates running double time

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 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 19 of 22)