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 21 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 21 of 22)
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exchanged; cash or installment plan. Formed partnership August, 1907.
Capital paid up, $5,000.

J. T. T. Warren has been in the business fifteen years. Each member of the
firm are property owners. You will find us rated in Bradstreet, I think.

The Kansas City Embalming and Casket Co., 1014 North Fifth street, Kansas
City, Kan. A corporation. Organized in 1901 ; capital, $2,000. Business:

1903. . . .$5,000 | 1904. . . .$6,000 | 1905. . . .$6,000 | 1906. . . .$8,753 | 1907. . . .$9,000

Cemeteries have already been noticed. They are combined with
undertaking, and sometimes become business corporations like the

The Union Development Co. (Incorporated), Louisville, Ky. Owners of the
Greenwood Cemetery.

Co-operative Business 169

Fourth Annual Report, Fiscal Year Ending July 31, 1907

Receipts from cemetery, etc $ 1,785 25

Receipts from sale of stock 10175

Total $ 1,887 00

Balance brought forward 194 76

Total receipts $ 2,081 76


Interest on bonds $ 550 00

O. M. Phillips US 85

General expenses, etc 1,84717

Total $ 2,011 02

By balance 70 74

Total $ 2,081 76

Balance due O. M. Phillips on account pur
chase 8 4,677 00

Balance due on bonds 19,900 00

Total $ 24,577 10

Assets $ 30,235 00

Liabilities 24,577 10

Capital Stock

Original number shares 6,000

Total number sold 631

Balance 5,369

FRANK H. ANTI/E, Secretary, E. C. MALONE, President,
1940 Grayson street. 923 Nineteenth street.

Discrimination in certain lines of retail business often lead to colored
stores. Clerks sometimes refuse to fit Negroes shoes, hence enter
prises like the following:

Commercial Shoe Co., Macon, Ga. Business 1906 and 1907, $3,476.44 ; paid up
capital, $1,500. Began June 26, 1906, and has steadily gained patronage.

The People s Shoe Co. (Incorporated), Atlanta, Ga. Number of partners or
members, about fifty-seven (57); business 1906-1907, approximately $15,000.

The charter was granted under the laws of Georgia in the year 1901 but re
mained dormant until October, 1905, when it was purchased by the present
owners, who sold enough stock to open the business in March, 1906. The offi
cers are elected by the stockholders at a meeting held in October of each year
for that purpose and for transacting any other business specified in the con
stitution of the corporation.

The business has met with the success expected of it by those who are finan
cially interested in it, and is gradually increasing.

A few millinery stores are starting, like the following:

Women s Exchange, Frankfort, Ky. Number of partners or members, five
(5) ; business 1906-1907, $1,500; paid up capital, $500. Opened March 1, 1906, with

We simply desired to awaken interest among our people along business
lines for women, as there had been so many failures (men) here. We are all
housekeepers. Had we the entire charge we could soon build a fine business ;
employ one girl. Each member has a day on "duty" to give direct-personal
attention to work. Unusual, with women, we have never had one unkind
word or unpleasant feeling.

Various forms of house service have developed into co-operative

170 Economic Co=operation Among Negro Americans

businesses, as catering, cleaning, supplying cut wood and coal in small
quantities, etc.

In Philadelphia a Caterers 1 Supply Co., established 10 years ago, is a
co-operative concern for supplying dishes, linen, etc., to the members.
It has a stock worth $10,000.

There are numbers of establishments like The Model Carpet Cleaning
and Storage Co., of Philadelphia, which

Since its incorporation has purchased and is now operating the plant located
at 610 and <U2 South Seventeenth street. And in June of this year it pur
chased the building situated at 614 and 616 South Seventeenth street, where
the general business of the company will be conducted. In this building there
are two stores, a large banquet and dance hall, and in addition sufficient room
to hold several hundred loads of furniture.

The Young Men s Business Association, of Richmond, Va., reports:
Twenty of us organized by putting up one dollar each. Later we put up
larger amounts until now each of the company has $250 worth of stock in the
concern. There are nine other stock holders owning from one to live shares
each. We made some investments in real estate. We opened the wood and
coal business in a small way January 1, 1906, at the corner of Adam and Leigh
streets, where we are yet in business. We first put $500 in the business, and
later put more until we now have about $3,000 invested. The first year our
business amounted to $4,311.06; last year we delivered from our yard 689 cords
of wood and 1,292 tons of coal, amounting to $1.2,859.15. Our sales for the first
three months of this year are 773 tons of coal and 215 5-7 cords of wood, amount
ing to $6,381.63. Amount of business done from January 2, 1906, to April 1, 1908,
$23,551.84. We own 100 acres of timber land 15 miles of our city. We have 29
stockholders, 20 of whom constitute the Board of Directors.

Another kind of co-operation is the agriculture fair associations, of
which there are a dozen or more. A report of one of the most succees-
ful follows:

Agricultural and Mechanical Association of Colored People, Lexington,
Ky. Fifty-seven members, representing 227 shares of stock. Holds annual
fairs for the exhibition of all kind of farm products, horses, cattle, fowls, etc.,
racing and other amusements. In 1906 our receipts were about $8,000, and 1907
a little over $10,000. Paid up capital, 227 shares of stock at $10 per share;
$10,000 in real estate in Lexington, Ky. Organized in 1869, and has been in
successful operation to the present. The dividends very often amount to more
than the original cost of stock.

Real Estate and Credit Societies

Most of the operations of beneficial and insurance societies fall under
this head. The early land buying operations began with the Elgin As
sociation, Canada, in 1850. Some of these are:

The Elgin Settlement, 1850. Financed by whites and bought by Negroes.

Within fifteen years from the commencement of the settlement all the land
purchased by the association was allotted and peopled by one thousand col
ored settlers. Farms were cleared, houses built after a prescribed model,
roads opened up, and school-houses, a brick hotel and industrial buildings

The Dawn Settlement, Dresden, Can., 1842, Purchased 300 acres.

Co-operative Business 171

Refugees Home, Windsor, Can., 1852. Forty lots of 25 acres each were
bought the first year.

Ohio Settlements. These were made before the war, and with little or no
outside aid, except in Brown county. In 1840 there were owned in

Pike county 2,225 acres

Shelby county 4,286 acres

Dark county 4,000 acres

Brown county

Recent efforts are:

Calhoun, Ala., 1897. The buying of 3,000 acres by 71 men. Property worth

Mound Bayou, Miss. Mound Bayou is situated near the center of the great
Yazoo Delta, in Bolivar county, Miss., about midway between Memphis and
Vicksburg, and near 20 miles east of the Mississippi river and a like distance
from the hills that form the western boundary of the delta, the name is de
rived from a large mound (relic, of a true historic people), situated at the
junction of two prominent bayous comprising a most important part of the
natural drainage system of that locality.

In February, 1888, the first settlers began to move in, not to stop in the town,
but to occupy log shanties on lands that they had begun to clear ; about a
month later ground w T as cleared for a small store house and two dwellings,
one to be occupied by the family of my cousin and the other by my own
family. There was hardly a spare inch of earth s surface unoccupied by
vigorous roots, driven foith by the wonderful power of the virgin soil. We
had to grub a small spot in the front yard to form a safe playground for the

There being no lands available for cultivation, the community had to adapt
itself to timber work for subsistence and gradually enlarge farm work as
lands were cleared. About the year 1890 the original survey of Mound Bayou
was made, embracing about 20 acres, and a few years later the town w r as regu
larly incorporated, the charter being signed by Governor A. J. McLauren and
Hon. Joseph F. Power, Secretary of State. At that time there was one fair
country store and two small business houses altogether, employing a capital
of about $3,000 and doing an annual business of possibly $5,000. During a
period of ten years, various additions have been made till the town now em
braces about 75 acres, regularly laid out, having more than I 1 /., miles of plank
sidewalk, lighted with large oil and gasoline street lamps, a population of 400,
many living in neat and cosy homes, surrounded by a neighboring population
of over 2,500, largely occupying their own farms, ranging from 20 to (300 acres,
comprising altogether 30,000 acres, over one-fourth of which is in cultivation,
producing a variety of crops, mostly cotton, present average production of the
latter about 3,500 bales.

The sixth annual report to the League shows over forty business establish
ments covering nearly every necessity of the retail and supply trade, and em
ploying an aggregate capital of over $90,000, and doing an annual business of
about $75,000, to which may be added a post office money order business of
$20,000 and clearings of the local bank of over $500,000 annually. Mound Bayou
ranks about tenth among the intermediate stations on the main line of rail
road between Vicksburg and Memphis, and the depot business amounts to
something like $30,000 per year, making a total of near three-quarters of a mil
lion dollars of business, where twenty years ago there was practically none
whatever. There are eleven credible public buildings, including two graded

172 Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans

schools, one public school and town hall, altogether valued at exceeding

Of the 44 business proprietors, 17 own their places of business, as well as
homes, while 12 of the remainder own homes or plantations. Only one of the
principal merchants is not a property holder in the settlement. He owns a
home and property in an adjoining State. The principal additions to the rank
of merchants comes from prosperous, energetic farmers who have improved
their places, lease to tenants, and remove to town for business, educational
and social advantages.*

Athens, Ga. More than three years ago in a suburban section of Athens,
Ga., a meeting was held for giving the farmers a practical talk. It was sug
gested that they organize into an association. This met with approval, and
an organization known as the Mutual Benefit Association was formed. The
object of this organization was the buying of land, the building and improve
ment of homes, and the construction of a model community school.

At cotton selling time in the fall of 1900 more than a hundred dollars was
placed in the treasury. It may be added that the number of active members
had been reduced to ten because certain ones did not have sufficient funds to
put in. It happened about this time that a very desirable tract of land was
offered for sale for debt. This tract contained 40 acres of frontage along the
public highway, and had a house which though antiquated was serviceable.
The titles were investigated and by the middle of December the transaction
was closed. The amount charged for the place was $350. The bond for title
was secured for $100 and the other amounts were to be made in three payments
with legal interest. Three years were given in which to pay this money, but
these energetic farmers succeeded in paying the entire debt in two years. For
the second payment, December, 1901, $112.50 was raised and last of all $167, with
which the deed was taken up. In addition to this last amount, enough money
was raised to take up, the following January, another place which adjoined
the one previously purchased, t

The Kowaliga experiment has been mentioned. t Other efforts are
making at Tuskegee, Ala., Hilton Head, S. C., and elsewhere.

A remarkable Negro organization is the following:

The Farmers Improvement Society of Texas. Chartered by the State of

Total number of branches 415

Total number of members 1(),()00

Total number of acres owned by members. . . 70,216

Number of cows 5,216

Number of horses and mules 9,860

Total taxable valuation of members property $1,260,427

We Pledge Our Members

1st. To fight the credit or mortgage system, which is the Negro s second

2d. To improve our method of farming, we want closer attention to busi
ness, improved stock, better crops and better financial returns.

3d. To co-operate in buying and selling. We can buy cheaper by buying
together. By selling together we can sell higher. By co-operation, stores can
be established and manufactories built and our boys and girls given employ

* National Negro Business League, 1905, pp. 184-5.
t Report of Miss Judia Jackson at the Hampton Conference. } Cf. p. 162.

Co-operative Business 173

4th. To care for the sick and bury the dead. In this the Farmers Improve
ment Society excels any organization on earth for the amount of money ex
pended. For instance: Any branch, no matter how small, can at the end of
the first year give $1.50 a week for sickness and $20 for death, if you organize
early enough in the year to follow the General Order No. 6. All this at a cost
of only 10 cents per month. By sending only $1.05 to the Annual Convocation
you will give your heirs as much as $100. Besides this you will be cared for in
sickness as tenderly as though you were paying 75 cents or more per month,
the usual cost in other societies. A man occasionally gets down at a critical
period in his crop. Your fellow members will save your crop free of charge.

5th. To buy and improve homes. The Christian home is the unit of civili
zation. We believe in good homes and good people inside of them with plenty
of good food raised at home or bought for cash. We are uniting the race for
these grand purposes. Besides all this and best of all the Farmers Improve
ment Society has established an Agricultural and Industrial College in which
your children will receive a first-class training at a cost of only $50 a year.

Branches are established in about four hundred different communities in
Texas and Oklahoma. Meetings are held semi-monthly ; supplies are bought
under co-operative system in February and November of each year. Compe
tition among members in raising best crops and stock; agricultural fairs and
lectures. Amount raised and spent under co-operation in 190(5, $25,000, in
round numbers; 1905, $15,000; 1904, $7,000.

No real estate is owned by the organization except halls to meet in owned by
branches, estimated value $20,000, and about ten stores with average stock of
about $400.

Organized by R. L. Smith, December, 1890. The effect of the movement to
break up the credit system was so marked that in six years other coinmuities
were induced to accept the plan.

There are large numbers of real estate companies:

Afro- American Realty Company, 67 West 134th St., New York City. Three
hundred and fifty stockholders. Real estate along lines that will better the
housing conditions of Negro tenants. Methods of operation : buying and leas
ing , of city tenant property. Paid up capital, $71,520. Real estate owned,
$483,000 Nos. 24, 26, 28 and 30 W. 136th street; 24, 26 and 28 W. 140th street; 303
W. 149th street, and 302 W. 150th street, New York City.

This company has recently been in financial difficulties but still sur
Mohawk Realty Co., Cleveland, O. Capital, $10,000; 4 years old.

Commercial Pioneer Institution, Cambridge Mass. Business : commercial,
real estate, employment, printing, etc. The business is under the direction of
the President as manager, with the assistance of the Directors and Trustees.
Business has averaged from $1,000 to $1,200, 1906-1907. Paid up capital, about
$750; real estate owned, $5,400.

Twin City Realty, Winston-Salem, N. C. Business 1906, $2,000; 1907, $3,000.

Industrial Realty Co., Terre Haute, Ind. Eighty-two stockholders. Gen
eral loan and investment, collecting rents, acting as agents to buy and sell
real estate. Business is managed by a Board of Directors, consisting of seven
members. Board of Directors is elected by stockholders. The Board elects
from its own number a President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary.
We have been organized just two months. Our net earnings the first month
were $1.25, the second month $16.60; capital, $245.90.

174 Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans

The company was organized in April, 1907. Incorporated under the laws of
the State of Indiana with a capital stock of $10,000 divided into 2,000 shares of
$5 each. The subscribers of these shares could either pay cash for them or pay
for them at the rate of 10 cents per month on each share. At present we have
sold 732 shares. This brings into the treasury $73.20 per month. When the
2,000 shares are all subscribed for we will have an income of $200 per month for
fifty months, when the $10,000 will be paid up. All of this money is put out at
interest, none of the principal being used for expenses.

At present none of the officers receive any salary for their services. They
all follow their respective vocations and look after the interest of the company
betw r een times. Our leading colored physician gives us office space, light and
heat free. Other services are not charged for.

Colorado Mercantile Co., Colorado Springs, Col. Forty-three members ; ar
ranges short loans. Business, 1904-1907, $20,000 ; capital, $1,970.

Western Realty and Land Co., Tulsa, Okla. Three partners. General real
estate business and employment agency in connection. Buy, sell, lease, rent
and locate land ; collect rents ; agents for other firms and dealers ; secure em
ployment for colored help, and all work in the above named lines. Methods
of operation : Buying and selling for ourselves, as well as a general broker s
business for individuals and larger companies, mostly white, as our President
is perhaps the best posted land man in the Creek Nation, knowing personally
the heads or relatives of over five thousand allottees in the Creek Nation. Our
regular commission is 5 per cent on first thousand dollars and 2% per cent on
the remaining thousands. Total business done 1906 through this office, $25,000.
In 1907, up to date, about $12,000; paid up capital, $7,000 ; real estate owned,
about 3,000 acres, in the Creek Nation.

Started February 24, 1906. Ottawa Gurley, President; Joe Roach,Vice-Presi-
dent ; Perry Johnson, Treasurer ; George P. Johnson, Secretary ; W. L. McKee r
Manager. March 17, 1907, O. W. Gurley was forced to resign and sell his inter
est, the company assuming his interest. W. L. McKee was elected President.
On July 22, 1907, Joseph Roach was killed by a train, and his interest was
bought from his widow and consumed by the company, leaving the officers as
they now stand. Perry Johnson is a silent partner, residing in Muskogee and
having charge of the racing track there, owning some of the finest head of
racing stock in the Southwest.

Building and loan associations have had several periods of waxing
and waning; at present they are increasing.

In 1840 the Iron Chest Co. of Cincinnati, O., accumulated funds and
erected a block of buildings which still stands. Brackett says:

A building loan society formed in 1867, in South Baltimore, handled from
$12,000 to $15,000. The shares matured in seven years. Another society was
formed in 1881, and another in 1886. The membership was never very large.
The par value of each share was $125, issue of shares limited to 1,000.

Another series of associations in East Baltimore, in 1868, had 100 members
and probably facilitated the purchase of forty or fifty houses.

At the Hampton Conference, in 1898, seventeen building and loan
associations were reported in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Dis
trict of Columbia, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Arkansas. An account
of several follows :

The Bureau Building and Loan Association, Philadelphia, Pa. Six hundred
members. Assists its members to purchase homes. Monthly savings on the
fourth Thursday of each month ; $41,586.79 in 1906-1907 ; assets, $139,308.65. In
corporated February, 1888. Money loaned at no higher rate than 6 per cent.

Co-operative Business


There have been secured through its aid 140 homes for as many Negro fami
lies in the city of Philadelphia, which have an average valuation of $2,500, or
an aggregate value of $350,000. The average monthly receipts of the associa
tion is $3,000, and the assets $125,000. The association has paid to the stock
holders of matured stock within the last six years $75,200. On Thursday, the
24th instant, the eleventh series will have matured, when $7,550 will be paid,
making a grand total of $82,750 paid to the stockholders within the last six
years, which represents the accumulated savings of the 500 members connected
with it.

The Western Building and Loan Association, Muskogee, I. T. Members, 44.
We sell shares on monthly installments and build for members, taking first
mortgage on property. Twenty-four hundred dollars worth of business in
1906, $2,500 in 1907 ; capital, $2,500. Two lots in Reeves Addition, Muskogee, I. T.
Organized January 27, 1906; incorporated February 7, 1906.

Norfolk Home Building and Loan Association, Norfolk, Va. About 500
shares of stock subscribed; making loans to stockholders for home building
improvement; business, $3,500 for 1906; for 1907 to July 1, $3,700; author
ized capital, $50,000; weekly payments 25 cents per share on stock.

The enterprise was organized January 1, 1906. The growth was very slow
first year; much more rapid this year. Loans are made to stockholders on
their stock secured by mortgage on real estate. Have loaned about |6,000 in
sums ranging from $50 to $1,000. Numbers are availing themselves of this
opportunity to purchase or build small homes and pay for them on weekly

Pioneer Building and Loan Association, Greensboro, N. C. Eight hundred
and five shares held by about 100 members. Branches at High Point and
Ashboro, N. C. Twenty-five cents per share per week collected from mem
bers and put to purchase and improve homes. Each share at maturity will be
worth $100. We lend on real estate and on stock, but make it a point to own
more directly.

Organized in 1902 by a man who had previously organized two in Wilming
ton, N. C. the first Negro association in this State. Now we have more than
a dozen in this State. Association is composed exclusively of Negro stock
holders, except two white men, who are experienced bookkeepers and
accountants, and w T ho serve upon our finance committee. This association has
lent to its stockholders for the purchase of homes, etc., nearly $12,000. It is
earning larger profits per share than any other organization of its kind in the
State. It proposes to establish a bank in Greensboro as soon as the proposed
one now under consideration in Winston is finally finished or disposed of;
that is, as soon as the permanent organization has been well perfected.


$ 377 87

8,799 0(>

193 80

905 96

2,061 41

131 50



1 98

1,298 09

$13,803 86


Balance from third year.

Dues $ 2,162 50

Interest 113 79

Expense 277 29

Bills payable 1,761 70
Admission fee
Withdrawal fee

Transfer fee

Bills receivable 5 50

Real estate loans 4,094 15

Stock loans 4,576 72

Dividends 78 17

Cash on hand January 1, 1907 610 16

Total $13,803 86


Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans

A ssets
Cash on hand January 1, 1907.

Stock loans

Real estate loans

Dues unpaid

Fines -."

Interest unpaid

Taxes advanced


Bills receivable

Office supplies


\ 610 16

6,6<> 2 45

11,930 85

100 25

16 35

24 SO

42 26

4 50

52 82


.$19,447 57


Dues advanced.


Bills payable. ..
Profits .


.$16,053 50
62 75
17 71

. 1,713 15
. 1,600 46

.$19,447 57

Exhibit of Series


No. of

No. of


Am^t paid
per share

per share

per share




$54 50

$10 50

$65 (K)




50 00
45 75

8 09
6 19

58 09
61 94




37 75

4 30

42 05




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21

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 21 of 22)