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Monday, December 11, 2017

A Ghost of American Patriot Colonel Jacob Griffin Haunts Hopewell Junction, New York

by Michael Mauro DeBonis
©Copyright 2017. 
All rights reserved by the author.

He is one of the great patriots of the American Revolution, and he is barely known outside of his native Dutchess County, New York. Born in the Fishkills area of the State of New York circa 1729-1730 (sources vary), Jacob Griffin was a staunch Yankee Presbyterian, who wanted a clear and a complete parting of the ways with King George III of England and the rest of Empire of Great Britain. From the mid to the late 18th century the Thirteen Colonies of British North America experienced one huge wave of social upheaval after the other… the reasons of these societal changes being many and very subtly related to the other.

The political and philosophical fervor of this time period called The Enlightenment (or, also The Age of Reason) was to set the entire century of the 1700’s ablaze with new thinking that debunked superstition, religion and monarchical government and focused itself instead on rationalism, science and free and independent thinking. John Locke and Isaac Newton’s mathematical and logical ideas of looking at the world were quickly replacing “archaic” philosophies of the late Renaissance. Locke and Newton spearheaded England’s intellectual departure from older intellectual doctrines and were joined by other influential European thinkers such as the French Descartes, Voltaire and Rousseau.

In America, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson pined for personal liberty and socio-economic equality with an unmatched and definitive eloquence and wit. But with this new freethinking came radical notions that sought to overturn and (finally dump) the feudal system of mediaeval Western Europe and to replace it with an authentic remodeling of classical Greek and Roman democratic ideals. These defined themselves by a total doing away with kings and queens and entailed re-modifying parliaments with congresses. America had been caught up in this philosophical firestorm.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Decades in the Life of a Village as seen through its Historical Documents: Cherry Creek NY 1893 to 2017

By Sharon Howe Sweeting©Copyright 2017. 
All rights reserved by the author.

Preface and context:

The New York State government has endeavored to assist lower levels of government in reducing layers of political entities. Several villages in Western New York have voted to dissolve including the Village of Cherry Creek in view of high taxes and diminishing population. The vote occurred in February 2017 and the dissolution is to be complete by December 31, 2017. The Town Historian was asked to prepare a history of the Village as it dissolves.

The Village, within the Town of Cherry Creek which dates from the early 1800s, was incorporated on May 20, 1893, held its first election on June 17, 1893 and selected C.A. Mount president; I.S. Benton, W.R. Shepardson, and H. Clinton Mount as Trustees. Other officials included G. LeRoy Martin, clerk; G.W. Brown, treasurer and H.E. Safford as collector. “For many years lumbering was the principal business until the greater part of the neighboring forest had been cut down. But there has never been a lack of useful and profitable industries. Cherry Creek has never gone to sleep, or lost the active impetus given by the first enterprising settlers.”

“Among the progressive men of Cherry Creek, there stands no more prominent figure than that of Cyrus A. Mount. He is a descendent of an eminent family who were early settlers here. He was born here April 4, 1849, and laid the foundation of his early education in his native town and later graduated from the Forestville Free Academy. In early life he developed those qualities of mind and character which have since given him success in politics, in business and in social life.” He served as Postmaster (1874-1886); Justice of the Peace from 1872 for many years; president of the Business Man’s Association; president of the Board of Education and was Deputy Sheriff for several years. From: Historical and Biographical Sketch of Cherry Creek, Chautauqua County, New York by Chas. J. Shults, 1900.

The decade of the 1900s is represented by Poll Lists, official documents identifying dates, subjects of election and enumeration of the voters and endorsement by local officials. On March 15, 1904 23 votes were cast for Charles L. Wheeler, village president; Ernst Dye and C. LeRoy Edwards as trustees; Charles L. Frost, treasurer and Lewis E. Master collector. Verification signed by: A.H. Curtiss, president; Erwin and Champlain as trustees. On March 19, 1907 20 votes were cast for President Edson Skiff and Trustee William Bartlett. Chas L. Frost was elected treasurer and Clifford T. Skiff as collector. Election endorsed by President C.A. Mount, Trustees Rood and Gillett and Clerk Holcomb. On March 17, 1908 61 votes were cast for President Hiram Haskin, Trustee Geo. O Wilcox, Treasurer C.L. Frost and Collector C.T. Skiff. All Questions were declined related to Village Hall, Fire Chem. Engine, reimbursement of Hess and pay master (no further details mentioned). On August 23, 1910 a Special election was held for the purpose of raising $5000.00 extra for completing water works system in accordance to lowest bid. Passed 41 to 32.

The decade of the 1910s is represented by the Statement of Enumeration. Each town and village in New York was responsible for counting their inhabitants. On January 24, 1914, the village counted 654 inhabitants; 451 over 21 years of age and 203 under 21 years of age. No further census type information, such as address and occupation was listed. A prior Enumeration dated January 16, 1906 listed 691 inhabitants, 466 over 21 and 225 under 21. The 1914 statement was signed by President H.A. Damon and Trustees Annis and Butter.

Village Board Minutes were reviewed to track events in the 1920s which witnessed the nomenclature change of the leader of the village from President to Mayor. In 1920 H.A. Damon was the Mayor and Fowler served as Trustee. Guy E. Cooper served as Clerk followed by G.W. Lapham. In 1923, Georgia Drummer sued for alleged damages caused by defective sidewalks. On July 30, 1923 a Motor vehicle Ordinance was adopted related to speed (not to exceed 15 mph) and suitable mufflers. Motor cycle policeman Quaint was appointed. In 1924 the Office of Street Commissioner was placed on the ballot; E.H. Pease served. That same year the Cherry Creek Hose Company elected the following officers: Harry Hodges, Chief; Mark Dye, Asst. Fire Chief; Seneca LeBarron, lst Asst. foreman; Clayton Peters, 2nd and W.F. Henderson served as 3rd.. Fire Wardens were G.W. Lapham and Henry Reed. On September 1, 1925 Fred W. Young was engaged to installed 51 Street lights. A Special Election was called on May 5, 1926 to propose a meter water system: 36 yes to 9 nos. That same year a temporary loan of $27,500.00 was secured from the 1st National Bank of Jamestown to widen Main Street for a distance of 1515 feet. The Annual Report of 1927-28 showed receipts in General Fund as $9344.56 with distributions the same; while water fund receipts were $4562.91 with the same amount in disbursements. In 1929, the leadership passed from President H.A. Damon to Mayor G.S. Frost.

Mayoral Letter dated January 29, 1931 from Mayor G.S. Frost of Frost’s building supply, writes a succinct and powerful letter to the Executive Engineer, Division of Water Power and Control in Albany “Regarding Auxiliary Source of Water Supply, Village of Cherry Creek” after receiving literature from Mr. Suter on the Rules and Regulations governing water supply applications. Mayor Frost writes “in a very frank and brief manner, the actual conditions now existing in our Village…” “First; our Village water supply and system as installed in 1911 at a total cost of $30,000. We have and are paying on this bonded indebtedness $1,000.00 per year, together with the Interest; thus leaving us at the present time with a $10,000. debt remaining on our Village water system. I might also state that the present source of our water, which is the same as at the time of installation is from springs. Now during the past several years, these springs have suffered from drought, and have caused our Village Trustees to forbid the use of water for sprinkling purposes, etc… “

‘Thus, we of the Village have been hard put to figure out ways and means of not only securing additional water supply, but of the best quality. During the past twenty years that our water system has been in vogue, we have accumulated $1700.00 over and above our bonded indebtedness and running expenses. This amount is on interest account in the Cherry Creek National Bank.”

“Now before proceeding further in what we hope to do, I want to give you some other facts pertaining to our Village. The Village of Cherry Creek is what is termed a Village of 4th class, having a population of but 536. This being the exact number as per the last census of 1930. In the year 1925 our population was 619. In the year 1920 it was 527. In the year 1915 is was 720. I merely mention this that you might note the growth of our back-sliding over the term of fifteen years, and from this information you have a partial guess toward our future progress. Our Village also has at the present time a bonded indebtedness of $47,000 for a new school building erected in 1928. It also has a bonded indebtedness of $18,000 for the widening of our State Road through our Main Street. This was done in year 1926. Thus you may see that our small Village is carrying at the present time and will carry for years to come a large burden. Our only source of revenue other than yearly taxation is the sale of our water, and it’s that which we both want and must increase. We must increase it to retain our standard of living and increase it with pure quality.”

“Our Village has no manufacturers whatever. The only sales and users of our water, other than residential purposes is a Milk Plant and the Erie Rail Road Co. No doubt you are asking yourself, what has the Village, and why have they taken on so much with so small a population and little to do with”? My only answer could be, that we are in a rural district, surrounded by a splendid Dairy section. Our Village population consists and has long consisted of nearly all retired farmers. After selling or handing down to their kin their farms, they move into our Village, spend the remainder of their lives and earnings in what to them may be termed “solid comfort”. Thus our water, our schools, our good roads, our beautiful Village lying beneath the hills of our Chautauqua County afford them what they want. It’s home to them, and they are the ones, who over the term of years have brought it all about.”

He goes on to say that with the $1700.00 on deposit we plan to drill a well that will pump at least 50 gallons per minute which will not be in use at all times but only when the springs do not produce enough in quantity. He also mentions that the Village will not deposit $1000.00 with Mr. Suter’s office for a Surety Bond as required by the Rules and Regulations.

“Assuring you that any assistance and advise (sic) relative to our increasing or maintaining our Water System in a healthful and plentiful manner will be appreciated.” Signed: Mayor, Village of Cherry Creek (Letter is archived in the files of the Cherry Creek Town Museum)

1943/44 Field Book for Town Assessors: Another document related to the history of the village provides an alpha list of Property owners, location (street or road), names or surrounding properties (NESW), character of the Property (Res/Shop/Agri/Bank/Tool shed/ Res/cemetery), Quantity of Land or Linear dimensions, Full value of Real Property exclusive of Buildings and including buildings. Example: Hodges, Ellsworth, Main St. West side; surrounded by Wheeler(N), Street (E ) Delameter (S) and Merrill (W). Garage/Restaurant; land: 1/8; Values: exclusive of buildings $100.00 and with $5000.00. A 1946 Proposition by Mayor Irwin Milspaw: No 1: Shall Village Board appropriate a sum not to exceed $400.00 for Band Concerts, provided an equal amount be raised by subscription for the same purpose? Passed. No. 2: Shall Water Department raise about $4000.00 to extend a 4”water main on the Leon road 1200’ to Ruttenbur and Young properties? Failed.

1946 and 1950s are represented by several official Ordinances. “Lodgings deemed unfit for human habitation are to be vacated” : Signed by Mayor Irwin Milspaw and Trustees Floyd Buell and William Silleman (29 March 1946); Contract to Purchase Fire Truck Model 1 ½ ton Red Chevrolet Truck from Cherry Creek Motor Sales for $2673.00 (6 Jan 1950); Board Resolution authorizing an addition to the reconstruction of existing Water System at an estimated cost of $15,000.00; bonds to be issued (6 March 1950); Resolution that rent of Village hall to Town Board continue to be $100.00 per year (2 Jan 1951). Contract for lighting streets and public places by NYS Electric and Gas Corp. is authorized and empowered (5 Feb 1951).

The decades of the 1960s and 1970s seem to represent a period of lawlessness if the Oaths of Office are any indication. Deputies, Deputy Constables, Assistant Constables and Halloween Constables were all engaged; those who served in various capacities were: J. Colburn, Sr., Lawrence Miller, Emory J. Rose, Allan Steward, Clinton Brumagin, Jr. Robert LeBarron and William Lachut. In the 1970s the Fire Police were composed of: Emory Rose, Allan Steward, Paul Crooks, Lawrence E. Miller, G.W. VanWormer, Richard Madison, Charles Colvin, Patsy Monico, John Schweiger, Raymond Sheldon, Sr., James LaMotto, Clinton Brumagin, Jr., Robert Cooper, Paul Green, Donald M. Aaberg, Philip Gross, Chauncey W. Park, Jr., James W. Kriel, Dean Mount, Leo Belote, Robert Wm Cooper, Sr., Lawrence Duckwall, George L. Hodges, Jr., Richard A. North, Thomas R. Waag, James E. Rose, Allen Lachut, Richarde A. North, Edmund Sarno, Donald Casey, Dale Snyder and Elton Merchant. During the same period Oaths of Office were administered to: Mayor Monico; Trustee’s Wayland Dye, Allan Steward, David R. McCord, Richard H. Madison, Paul L. Peters, Robert F. Smith, Leonie L. Newcomb; Clerk/Treasurer Lottie Ingersoll and Election Inspectors: Arthusa Waite, Clara Hall, Gertrude Richardson, Mildred W. Fairbanks, Genevieve Champlin, Etole Ericsson, and Norma Brunswick.

1980s Village Board Minutes: These minutes are very precise and detailed listing all in attendance, their roles and the time they arrived for each meeting. On February 7, 1980, Mayor Edmund Sarno signed a Bond Anticipation Note for $5,000.00 @ 8 1.2.% interest to the 1st National Bank in Jamestown to pay “part of the cost of the purchase of a fire truck." Resolution offered by Robert Smith and Betty Milspaw and signed by Faye Colvin, Village Clerk. Charles E. Hunt elected mayor in 1981. On October 7, 1982, Ed Sarno was reappointed mayor after Robert Smith resigned due to moving away from the Village. In December 1985 Betty Milspaw was serving as Mayor. In 1986 the Village Board was asked by residents on how they expected to pay the debt for the sewer system. Appointments for the 1988-89 were Deputy Mayor Karl Miller and Clerk/Treasurer Brenda Gross. On May 5, 1988, the Board issued a letter to Residents to clean-up their properties.

1990s Village Board Minutes: Mayor B. Milspaw; Trustees Howe-Conklin, Pattyson and Karl Miller as Deputy and Fire Chief Ray Sheldon. Rob Frost attended as Supervisor ; Frost discussed Town Business, fire contract, youth program and the Transfer Station. 1990 also saw a Public Hearing on Recycling Law. March 12, 1991 a public hearing was held on Cable TV. In 1993 Mayor Karl Miller reported that the annual inspection from Chautauqua Department of Health that the water supply was being operated satisfactorily. Funding was requested for the 100th (1893-1993) Centennial celebrations. The first of several celebrations was held from June 12-13, 1993. Linda Toomey reported in the Post Journal on June 14th that the “Cherry Creek Centennial Ends with a Big Bang:” fireworks rekindle the dormant Cherry Creek spirit. Mayor Miller resigned on April 6, 1993 and Dean Mount was appointed. Trustee B. Hendricks and Mendle Johnson joined in the re-organization meeting. The re-finance of the wastewater treatment facility for $475,000 was complete in May 1994. In November of the same year Rick Young joined the Village as DPW. On Jan 10, 1995 an estimate to make the Village Hall ADA accessible was quoted at $90,000.00. In September 1995, Attorney Jerry Hyde led the discussion on the sewer loan payment schedule for 1996 to 2000 as: $33,000. for principal, interest of $4756.00 for a grand total of $37, 756. Board Members included Mayor Mount, Trustees: Betty Milspaw, Helen Howe, Bruce Hendricks and Mendle Johnson; Jody Farnham served as clerk-treasurer. September 7,1997 saw a brief discussion of dissolving the Village; all were opposed. And in January 1998 there was more discussion on the dissolution and a meeting was held at the school on March 31, 1998.

The decade of 2000 was dominated by squabbles between Mayor Dean Mount and Code Enforcement Officer Frank Watson over the demolition of the old school building. Post Journal news reporter Robert Rizzuto wrote on Feb. 14, 2008 that the project had been halted by the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation over whether proper permits had been issued. The questions mostly related to asbestos abatement. Demolition was begun before the Code Enforcement Officer had signed off. He was subsequently fired in a “closed door” session apparently in violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law. A 2010 invoice from the Village Archives shows a Lakewood company receiving payment for 50% of the demolition and asbestos abatement for $49,500.00. A misunderstanding with the County forced the Village to repay the remainder after only two years of County assistance. The tension was temporarily abated with the 2004 Sesqui-Centennial celebration headed by Historian Joyce Chase and Patty Frost. Events included a Memorial Day parade ending around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the old Highland Cemetery, a fashion show, parade, publication called “Century Old Buildings in Cherry Creek” and a church service.

Oral History: The 2010s highlighted tourism, history and cooperation between the town and the village in spite of the village dissolution vote in February 2017. Three trails focus on Cherry Creek: the Amish, the snowmobile and the Equestrian; each promotes local businesses. The 2015 Bicentennial celebration, managed by the Cherry Creek Community Association (CCCA), honored our first settler Joseph Kent’s arrival in 1815. Telephone pole flags were funded by a County-wide grant program. An elaborate historical parade was unfortunately rained out but the spirit was not diminished when several floats paraded before an old fashioned Town Picnic, the second since 1902, was held at the Cherry Creek Inn or George Nelson Frost’s farm. The Community Association, including villagers, townies and businesses worked together to rebuild the old ballpark bandstand, the playground, the mini park at the corner of Main and Center Streets, the summer concert series and memorial trees at Christmas. The horrific fire at the Trillium Lodge Restaurant on May 1, 2017 only increased the cooperation among locales with pleas to County officials to help with the rebuilding. The pending sale of Cockaigne Ski Resort and the wind power project producing green energy are two more boosts to the area.

We are looking forward to many more decades of life in a small rural area which I call the last frontier at the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.

About the author: Sharon Howe Sweeting is the Cherry Creek Town Historian.

Jacob Griffin and the Tavern of Time

By Michael Mauro DeBonis 

“I sat down and drank here, two hundred years ago,
the moon was young and silver, while fallen on the snow.

Green flames full with fire,
(freed from holy hearth)
lit my blue attire,
stained red by bloody earth.

This was the chair I sat in
during war with old King George.
Cold could get this cabin,
with no beer to gulp and gorge.

But these walls were strong and sturdy,
upon our Yankee ground.
Now what’s left is dirty,
and piles itself around.

The roof has crumbled into dust
long ages and ages ago…
the sun returned and brightly burned,
and smoked away the snow.
What has made my memory bust?

Freedom and liberty I do sing,
whether winter, or light of spring.
This is the place my dreams were born,
as my soul climbed up, and was moved by morn.

Mark these ruins not a grave,
but a cradle to an immortal cause.
Is a man’s living is all he will have?
While alive, does he deserve applause?

In being in our very own bones,
we walk far from graven stones.
Yet, within these windows,
I saw my best.
And it’s here my mind
has come to rest.”

About the poet: Michael Mauro DeBonis is a poet and a historian from Long Island, New York.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Busting Buckles: How Captain Caleb Brewster Broke The Devil’s Beltand Mariner By Moonlight

By Michael M. DeBonis

The greatest patriots of the Revolutionary War are innumerable and nameless. Most were soldiers and some were statesmen and diplomats. But to students of the American War for Independence, one name stands out as an undisputed paladin in the Yankee cause for liberty. His name is Caleb Brewster. Brewster was truly a jack-of-all-trades, as well as the proverbial master of many. A native Long Islander and a highly talented sailor and soldier, Caleb Brewster confronted Death countless times to bring success to the infant nation he was helping to create. Mister Brewster did such on land and sea. And more to the point, this outstanding member of Washington’s Continental Army was part of the most secret component of the American war machine against their British enemies. Caleb Brewster was a spy and he has a tale to be told.

Caleb Brewster was born in the month of September (1747) at Setauket, NY (Rose, 82). On the north shore of Long Island, and positioned on the Sound, Setauket was (and, to a large extent, still is) a small fishing and agricultural community, belonging to the Township of Brookhaven. Brewster was descended from a family who emigrated from England to the Colonies in the 1660’s (Rose, 79). The Brewster clan had been living in the village of Setauket for many generations, prior to the birth of Caleb (Rose, 79).

And it was to the sea that the young Caleb Brewster took to early in his youth (Flockerzi, 1). Dulled by farming life, Brewster enlisted as a sailor on a whaler, bound for Greenland, when he was just nineteen years of age (Rose, 82). Within a few years of becoming a whaleboatman, Caleb Brewster, already accustomed to a harsh life at sea, joined on a merchantman, which was headed for the English capitol (London). He gained further significant maritime expertise in his role aboard this vessel as mate (Rose, 82). Adding to Brewster’s nautical insights, this experience of his on the high seas would become very useful for Caleb later on. This was especially the case when Brewster was steering through the stark black evening skies and waters of the Long Island Sound to ferry (fellow Culper spy) Abraham Woodhull’s intelligence reports (intended for Benjamin Tallmadge and General George Washington) to and fro Setauket and the Connecticut coast.

By Caleb Brewster’s early twenties he was a “bull of man of man…physically huge and imposing,” (Kilmeade and Yaeger, 55) “and was using his…tremendous athletic skill,” (Kilmeade and Yaeger, 55) to “nuisance the British,” (Kilmeade and Yaeger, 55). This meant that Brewster (a staunch American patriot early on) stoically and courageously breached the so-called “Devil’s Belt,” a.k.a. the Long Island Sound, and he smuggled goods across those heavily patrolled British (and coincidentally American) waters…carefully and effectively…avoiding prying redcoat eyes and attention. Brewster did so by utilizing his own unique brand of stealth and skulking (Kilmeade and Yaeger, 55). Brewster’s hidden and mischievous conduct was a genuinely risky business. Likewise, Brewster’s clandestine behavior was spawned from an authentically strong desire to hurt any and all British military operations in the Long Island-Connecticut area, as well as to facilitate his own sincere wishes to assist his Yankee colonial comrades in separating from the English mother country.

Brewster was back in New York Colony in May 1775 (Rose, 83). He had then brazenly signed two official public documents formally backing the Continental Congress (Rose, 80 and 83) the first one being in May, and the other being in June. Brewster’s “quick wit and ribald sense of humor,” (Rose, 67) will embarrass, thwart and frustrate the British Army on more than one occasion. Yet, in spite of Caleb Brewster’s incredible defiance towards the dicey odds stacked against him, and the remainder of the Continental Army, it was his incessant and overwhelming presence of mind that kept Brewster out of British clutches throughout the war. The British Army and its Imperial Navy were better trained, funded and supplied than their American counterparts. It is this pervasive and concrete reality that will dictate Washington’s successful Fabian strategy, which he will use against the Crown. It was also this same fact, which acted as a major catalyst in the creation of Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, that prods Caleb Brewster into the murky and mired world of espionage.

In was in this same year (December) of 1775 that Caleb Brewster enlisted in the Suffolk County Militia “as second lieutenant,” (Rose, 83) but was subsequently advanced to a full lieutenant by Captain Selah Strong, “in the spring of 1776,” (Rose, 83). But after the disastrous Battle of New York (autumn of 1776), Caleb Brewster fled to Connecticut and Rhode Island, to attach himself to the Continentals there and he resumed his fight against the British (Rose, 83).

Brewster’s initial efforts against the British hence escalated from smuggler and soldier, and then (by necessity) to spy. Both aforementioned offences were punishable under British law by imprisonment (no mean experience in the 18th century)…but spying itself was purely and contemptuously regarded (by both the French and the English) as a hanging offense. This meant that one caught practicing the “dark arts,” as they are called, was considered guilty of a capital crime. Espionage was thought by European powers (at this time, specifically) as something worse than treason, as opposed to simply being only treason.

Brewster’s seemingly unlimited courage literally had no bounds. After the fall of New York City in late 1776, Caleb Brewster took part in no less than three significant skirmishes on Long Island against the redcoats, and was each time on the winning side of things (Rose, 83). Brewster “in early 1777…had transferred to the 2nd Continental Artillery, stationed in Connecticut…there…he remained until August 1778, when…[Brewster] wrote his first letter to General Washington,” (Rose, 83). As Washington had totally lost control and possession of Manhattan Island and all of Long Island to General Howe and the British Army the year before (1776), there existed for the great American General a gaping hole in his intelligence availability, precisely concerning NYC and Long Island.

As Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island were all the British Army’s main centers of operation during the War for Independence against the Continental Army, Washington needed a vital network of scouts and spies to discover how the British were planning to undo him. Finding out these secret facts: troops numbers and positions, docked ships and ship types, fort locations, etc., would allow General Washington to see ahead of time British war strategies and tactics being used against him. These pertinent details would permit the Continentals to avoid defeat at the hands of their British enemies, by allowing the Americans to successfully counter every move made opposing them, in advance. And the spy ring that was to come from Washington and his subordinates (Benjamin Tallmadge and Caleb Brewster amongst them) would become known today as Culper (Rose, 75).

Brewster was a perfect candidate to serve in the Culper Ring from its very inception. Courageous, cagy and supremely reliable Brewster was, thought the more sagacious and capable Major Benjamin Tallmadge (Washington’s new head of Army Intelligence). Caleb was a most splendid choice for utilization. The rugged Long Islander could be trusted in almost any and all circumstances to do his duty…and well Brewster would do it. As it so happened, Brewster was the second party to be included into the Culper Ring, with his childhood friend Abraham Woodhull being the first (Rose, 75). And it was with Tallmadge who was tasked (by Washington himself) to design and to oversee the Ring (Tallmadge, 29).

General George Washington met with Major Tallmadge on August 25th 1778 to discuss the specifics of the Culper Spy Ring’s operation (Kilmeade and Yaeger, 52-53) at White Plains, New York. Subsequently, the Culper Ring would begin functioning for the first time, with farmer Abraham Woodhull and housewife Anna Smith Strong, both of Setauket, Long Island, playing key roles within it. Woodhull would be the chief spy in the field…journeying 55 miles west into Manhattan to probe the British military situations there. Anna Smith Strong (from her seaside home) would act as the Ring’s signal person, carefully and subtly alerting the oceangoing Caleb Brewster, as to which cove to properly park his whaleboat. Anna Strong accomplished this by hanging her laundry from her clotheslines in unique, but nonchalant ways, as to which way to direct Brewster. This allowed Caleb to secretly and safely retrieve Woodhull’s intelligence reports from Culper dead drops…thus evading British patrols along Long Island’s (and Setauket’s) north shore.

And yet, Brewster (like Tallmadge, Woodhull and Strong) would be playing multiple roles within Culper’s overall schemata: messenger, raider, spy and soldier. Brewster’s knowledge and recollection of New York State’s and New England’s coastlines, coves and beaches was truly encyclopedic and photographic. Brewster’s prior history of being an expert seaman made him the optimum selection to carry messages back and forth across the Long Island Sound (The Devil’s Belt). Washington’s flow of information would always be secure (at least on Brewster’s end). Brewster was a sort of aquatic prairie dog, while seemingly dodging into one cove or inlet, he would miraculously reappear in an altogether different seaside spot, to the absolute amazement and anger of his British adversaries (Kilmeade and Yaeger, 55).

Brewster’s slick and quick disposition was matched only by his feistiness and loyalty. Every member of the Culper Ring had a friend in him, from Agent 711 (George Washington) right on down the line to Anna Strong, Abe Woodhull and all the rest. By early 1777, Brewster was once more a lieutenant in the Continental Army, though he was not in a New York unit…but was part of a Connecticut one (Rose, 83). And by 1778 (August) he initiated a correspondence with General Washington (Rose, 83).

Brewster had been communicating with Washington to inform the General “…on the state of the British warships in New York Harbor, as well as troop movements and naval preparations around Long Island,” (Kilmeade and Yaeger, 56). Brewster’s accounts to Washington were of mixed importance to the General, since the time it took to return Brewster’s intelligence dispatches to the American high command was slightly sluggish (Kilmeade and Yaeger, 56). Yet Brewster’s efforts for Washington revealed three major character traits of Caleb’s that were to impress the Commander-in-Chief: fidelity, daring and effectiveness. George Washington hence considered Brewster as a very valuable asset, specifically for purposes of espionage and the Culper Ring, which was subsequently to begin operating (Rose, 87).

Caleb Brewster’s close friend and fellow Setauket native Abraham Woodhull was the one who first prodded Benjamin Tallmadge to include Brewster into the Culper Spy Ring (Kilmeade and Yaeger, 55). The historical record is clear on two main facts concerning Captain Brewster: the first is, that in all of Brewster’s raids and forays from the shores of Connect to those of Long Island, he was never caught a single time…and the second is that Caleb Brewster visited Long Island (at least from 1778-1783) on hundreds of occasions. This was no mean feat of freakish magic or luck, but it was positive proof of Caleb Brewster’s severe skills of stealth, cleverness and undeniable competence.

During the Revolutionary War, the Devil’s Belt was heavily patrolled by the British in the south (Long Island) and the Americans in the north (Connecticut and Rhode Island). Britain took every tactical measure at its disposal to fortify Long Island, by strategically placing a chain of forts along the Island’s north shore from Brooklyn in the west, to Suffolk County in the east (See Map of Long Island in Rose’s Washington’s Spies). Fort Franklin at Suffolk’s Lloyd’s Neck was (by far) one of the most heavily manned, supplied and best designed of these strongholds (Rose, 235, and Tallmadge, 32 and 43). And other British outposts and supply depots existed elsewhere on Long Island. These included those at: Huntington, Northport, Smithtown, Setauket, Coram, Mastic and Southold (to name just a few).

This meant that (for the patriots) penetrating northern Long Island (by sea and land both) was extremely dangerous and almost impossible. But Brewster was an exceptional soldier and sailor. It was he who was successful in his early raid on Setauket (in 1776). Brewster was then (again) victorious in more successful raids (further bolstered personally by Major Tallmadge) at Lloyd’s Neck in 1779, at Fort Saint George (in Mastic) and at King George III’s supply magazine at Coram, both together, in November of 1780. Caleb’s final raid was at Fort Slango (Salonga) in late 1781(Tallmadge, 46).

The Devil’s Belt, being, “…110 miles long...,” (Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 17, 736) and (on average) “…10 to 25 miles wide,” (Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 17, 736) was, thus, a formidable geographic and geological obstacle in this sense: the Continentals, whether by whaleboat or sailboat, could almost never avoid being obvious when traversing it. The Long Island Sound’s relatively small size was the primary cause for this easy detection. The British, too, shared this problem. One could only hope (if a spy, soldier or even a smuggler) that cover of night or of a good fog were either present, should the necessity exist for one’s crossing. Brewster showed very good discrimination whenever confronted with this dilemma.

But, although Captain Caleb Brewster was brave and brilliant in his military pursuits, he was neither invincible nor perfect. “Setauket’s Caleb Brewster was perhaps the most bold and daring of the Revolutionary War spies, a boldness that occasionally put other patriots in danger,” (Tyler, 3). This is so (partially) because Brewster, “…was the only one of the Culper Spy Ring that the British eventually identified as a spy,” (Tyler, 3). As it turned out, during Brewster’s entire tenure with the Culpers, he was the only principal of the Spy Ring never to use his code name of 725 (Rose, 121) in formal Culper documents…because “…Being a bluff and reckless fellow willing to take his chances, he always insisted on scrawling his real name, on all of his correspondence,” (Rose, 75). This was (at least strategically) a real-life blunder. Speaking blatantly and factually, in the world of espionage, an ironclad alias is much more useful to a spy than a loaded weapon is. It shields a secret agent from not only detection by the agent’s enemies, but an effective alias helps to procure insulation from torture and criminal prosecution by the agent’s adversaries on behalf of the agent, additionally.

Brewster was, thus, committing a big no-no here with respect to other members of the Culper Ring. By his indiscretion in this specific capacity, Caleb Brewster jeopardized the entire covert integrity of the Spy Ring. This is so, because while his sly, evasive and ever-cautious personality successfully kept him out of Britain’s grasp for all the expanse of the American Revolution, the British could still strike Brewster by targeting those in Setauket, relatives and friends (e. g.), who were close to Caleb. That the British did not attack Captain Brewster in this way is much more a very good stroke of good luck, as opposed to him practicing sound and secure intelligence procedure.

A particular incident happened at Strong’s Neck (in Setauket) sometime during the war when Judge Selah Strong (husband of Culper spy Anna Smith Strong) and Captain Brewster were “walking one day…[and] they saw a British officer on the shore below. Brewster aimed his gun, but my ancestor stopped him, explaining that while Caleb could flee in his boat, he himself [Judge Strong] still lived here and would have to bear the brunt of the shooting,” (Tyler, 3). This tale (there is no reason to doubt its historic authenticity) was related by Anna and Selah Strong’s direct descendant, Kate W. Strong, in her July 1955 article, “Bits of Long Island History,” (Tyler, 6). This intercession of Judge Selah Strong on behalf of the unnamed British soldier indirectly saved the Culper Spy Ring from undue scrutiny by the occupying British authorities. If Caleb Brewster would have neutralized his British target, retribution could very well have been doled out by English redcoats stationed in Setauket, against the Strong family. This likely would have removed (unintentionally) Anna Smith Strong from the Culper Ring altogether, and hence hurt Washington’s intelligence efforts against those of King George III.

But in most other circumstances, Caleb Brewster was discreet, quick-witted and certainly cunning. Sometime during August of 1780 (Rose, 336…endnote 65), Brewster was at Strong’s Neck (once again) to recover another of Abraham Woodhull’s (and also Robert Townsend’s) intelligence reports to Washington. Hiding in Anna and Selah Strong’s “back garden,” (Rose, 234) Brewster, who was “…waiting for Woodhull,” (Rose, 234) had another unexpected British visitor come near the Strong’s home (Rose, 234). The British man was an officer of His Majesty’s 17th Royal Army Regiment, a lieutenant to be precise (Rose, 234).

The Army lieutenant “was out hunting,” (Rose, 234) very near to Brewster’s hiding spot (a coincidence). Brewster and his company removed the British soldier from off his horse’s saddle (Rose, 234) and they tried to take him [the British lieutenant] to Connecticut (as a prisoner). But Brewster smartly hesitated, knowing that the close proximity to Strong’s residence would prove exceptionally problematic (Rose, 234) to the Ring, and would unnecessarily draw local British and Tory focus to the Culpers, especially to Anna Strong. Brewster and his men released the redcoat officer, who “…would assume his assailants were thieves who chanced upon him rather than whaleboatmen on a more sensitive mission,” (Rose, 234). Caleb Brewster saved the Culper Ring in this instance to continue their fight for American freedom and autonomy.

As the Revolutionary War was winding down in December, 1782, Brewster was pursuing with his fleet of whaleboats some British naval vessels on the Long Island Sound (a.k.a. the Devil’s Belt), when he was wounded seriously in a firefight by enemy guns (Tallmadge, 48). “Capt. Brewster received a [musket] ball in his breast, which passed through his body (Tallmadge, 48), “…yet he recovered, and lived to be nearly 80 years old,” (Tallmadge, 49). Brewster’s physical and mental vigor were indeed superb and they would last him to his very end.

General Washington’s great victory over British General Lord Charles Cornwallis (at Yorktown, Virginia) the previous year (autumn 1781) had virtually brought the Yankee conflict with King George III and the British motherland to a total end. American independence had been finally achieved after eight years of very brutal, bloody and arduous battle. The impossible being brought to fruition, the Culper Spy Ring’s days were coming to an end. When the last of the British military and government departed American soil (from New York City, ironically) on November 25, 1783 (Tallmadge, 62) the need for the Culper Spy Ring no longer existed. All of the Spy Ring’s constituents returned to their peaceful civilian lives, minus Captain Caleb Brewster. It was Brewster who remained “…as an officer in the Revenue Cutter Service…” (Flockerzi, 3), an ancestor to the U. S. Coastguard. After some sixteen years of faithful participation in the Cutter Service and while earning a captain’s commission in 1801, Caleb Brewster left military life shortly following the end of the War of 1812 (Flockerzi, 3). Life at sea was always important to Caleb Brewster, whether it was fighting smugglers from aboard his Revenue Cutter’s vessel Active or making vital and vicious raids against redcoats and their strongholds on Long Island. Brewster was a successful blacksmith, ferryman, farmer, whaler, soldier and patriot throughout his long and prosperous life.

He died at Black Rock, Connecticut (at his farm) in the year 1827, with an esteemed and a very well founded reputation as “a hero,” (Flockerzi, 3). Yet his activity as one America’s and General George Washington’s most effective and valuable spies was not widely known until the 1939 publication of General Washington’s Spies on Long Island and in New York, by noted Americanist and New York historian Morton Pennypacker. The Culper Spy Ring had finally had gotten the respect of their nation (on the eve of WW II) after initially receiving it from an eternally grateful (but singular) Washington. It was Pennypacker (of Easthampton, Long Island) who was the first to skillfully and (historically speaking) to accurately cast the light on Washington’s Culper Spy Ring. This was a badly needed ray of sunshine that Morton Pennypacker blazed in opening up a piece of history to the American public which was not popularly or properly recognized. Caleb Brewster and all the remaining Culper spies had truly garnered a determined and a thorough historical researcher in Pennypacker, who made their obscure and long-forgotten tale breathe life once more. And it was the blood, bravery and brawn of Captain Caleb Brewster that broke the Devil’s Belt and shamed the British enemies that fought against him, time and time again. In this process, the country of the United States of America went from being a sublime political notion to becoming a concrete historical reality.

About the author: Michael Mauro DeBonis is a poet and a historian from Long Island, New York.

Works Cited: 

1)   “Long Island Sound,” Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 17, New York, NY, USA: The Americana Corporation, copyright 1970.
2)   USCG Petty Officer Alissa Flockerzi. “Caleb Brewster: Revolutionary War Hero,” Coast Guard Compass, USA, 9th of July 2014.
3)   Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger.  George Washington’s Secret Six.  New York, NY: Sentinel and Penguin Books, 2013-2014.
4)   Alexander Rose.  Washington’s Spies.  New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2006.
5)   Benjamin Tallmadge.  Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge.  London, England:  Forgotten Books, 2015.
6)   Beverly Tyler.  “A Case for Anna Smith Strong:  Her Relationship with the Setauket-Based Culper Spy Ring,” The Historian, vol. 52, Issue 1, East Setauket, NY, Winter 2015.


Mariner By Moonlight

                                    “I am a whisper, in wind and word.  Shadows are my shrouds.
                                    Ferrying phrases, I’m a midnight bird…
                                    an owl-eyed echo, deep in clouds.
                                    Black-skinned waters, white with fog,
                                    my oars roll through secrets, sea and bog.
                                    Stars are fixed in skies they roam:
                                    I beach my boat from off the foam.
                                    I flitter my form across the breeze
                                    to carry some voices over some seas.
                                    Quick am I to snatch my snare,
                                    I leave not a wrinkle in the air.
                                    I move as a moth through brush and trees,         
                                    I flip and dip and I tuck my knees.
                                    Behind some rock, I’ll set down on the ground…
                                    never I’ll make any sort of sound.
                                    My eyes are moving for ghosts and guests,
                                    for a spy in motion is not one who rests.
                                    I am here for notes, to grab and grip…
                                    from my hands, they’ll never slip.
                                    They tell of British soldier and ship.
                                    Words are pellucid, so none can read
                                    invisible thoughts, by specters made.
                                    I’m a squid in some water, in an ink-poured puff.
                                    But I have all my booty.  So, I leave off.” 

                                    --- Michael Mauro DeBonis, June 9, 2017.       

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The National Negro Business League in New York City, Niagara Falls, and Other Cities and Towns in New York State

by Michael Boston

In 1900 Booker T. Washington founded the National Negro Business League (NNBL), which was an organization designed to “stimulate” and “promote” business development among African Americans throughout the nation.[1] As a national leader, Washington consistently received numerous requests to speak throughout the country. En route to many of his engagements, he had the rare opportunity to observe many African Americans single-handedly engaged in business ventures. According to Washington, “the number of successful business men and women of the Negro race that I was continually coming in contact with during my travels throughout the country was a source of surprise and pleasure to me. My observations in this regard led me . . . to believe that the time had come for bringing together the leading and most successful colored men and women in the country who were engaged in business.”[2] Washington felt that if he could have these businesspersons meet and interact with one another, they would be further encouraged and inspire others in their respective communities to undertake entrepreneurial ventures. Moreover, during the winter of 1900, Washington, T. Thomas Fortune, the owner and editor of The New York Age[3], the leading African-American paper of the day, Emmett J. Scott, Washington’s official secretary, and other friends discussed strategies for bringing together African-American entrepreneurs and for promoting business development among African Americans.[4]

These men agreed that a meeting should be held in Boston, Massachusetts on Thursday and Friday, August 23 and 24. They viewed these dates as a good time for a meeting because they were considered slack periods for businesspersons, as well as for Washington, who had a demanding executive role at Tuskegee Institute. Moreover, during the summer of 1900, steamship lines and railroads had reduced rates to Boston.[5] To bring the meeting to fruition and promote business development, a list of business persons that resided throughout the country was compiled, and a circular was generated, inviting them to come to Boston for the first meeting. The requirement for actively participating was that an individual “be engaged in business.” Washington’s goal for the first meeting (and all ensuing ones) was to allow businesspersons to gain knowledge and encouragement from one another and motivate the delegates to establish local business leagues among African Americans in their respective communities.[6] Being a practical man, Washington would take pride in this because he felt that African Americans actually engaged in business ventures and expressing their “ups and downs” was more helpful than theoretical advice. Expressing himself further concerning the intent of the first meeting, Washington wrote:

It is very important that every line of business that any Negro man or woman is engaged in be represented. This meeting will present a great opportunity for us to show the world what progress we have made in business lines since our freedom. This organization is not in opposition to any other now in existence but is expected to do a distinct work that no other organization, now in existence, can do as well.[7]

From 1900 to 1915, the NNBL Annual meetings became the most popular occasions for Washington to espouse his entrepreneurial ideas. Washington grew to believe that entrepreneurial development was a critical means by which African Americans could make themselves “an indispensible asset” to the nation and thereby contribute toward ending “the Race Problem.” Following the pattern established at the First Annual meeting in Boston, Washington usually spoke twice. He would give opening remarks, usually after the invocation. These opening remarks were generally comments welcoming the delegates who had come from places near and far, and Washington would thank the local league that was responsible for sponsoring the annual meeting and the related social outings. Toward the end of the meeting, Washington would give his annual address. A larger audience, consisting of the usual NNBL delegates and non-delegates who had come just to hear Washington speak, would usually gather to hear him. In these addresses, Washington promoted his entrepreneurial ideas, telling delegates and non-delegates to 1) get practical education, to 2) find an economic niche, to 3) start small in business and grow large, to 4) pay the price of business success, to 5) put the attention of religious faith into the practices of their business activities, to 6) learn all they could about their business fields and never to become content, to 7) not be afraid to take risks, to 8) pioneer businesses and to 9) conduct business in all markets.

In conjunction with Washington’s rising hegemonic leadership status over Black America, the popularity of the NNBL increased and local branches were established throughout the nation—north, south, east and west. For instance, in 1906, 400 local leagues had been reported as being established; by 1909, The Tuskegee Student, a publication of Tuskegee Institute, reported that 500 local leagues were scattered throughout the country,[8] and for the years 1914-15, Monroe N. Work, author of The Negro Year Book, 1914-15, reported 295-chartered leagues.[9] How reliable these figures are is debatable,[10] but the NNBL by 1915 probably had close to 300 local leagues, which were generally identified by the fact that they had been chartered.[11] Most local business leagues operated in the southern states due to the higher preponderance of African Americans in that section, especially prior to the First and Second Great Migration movements.

Although most local business leagues operated in the South, local business league leaders of New York City strove to follow Washington’s directive of stimulating and promoting business development in their midst. Washington’s presence served as an inducement for this. As Tuskegee Institute experienced rapid growth, especially after Washington’s 1895 Atlanta Exposition Address, he was compelled to be away from campus six months a year, largely for fund-raising purposes. A significant portion of his time away from Tuskegee Institute was spent in New York City. There he interacted with a cohort of individuals who became crucial members of his “Tuskegee Machine”[12] and promoters of African-American business development.

T. Thomas Fortune, an intellectual leader and journalist who vehemently disagreed with Frederick Douglass’s stance that the Republican Party was the ship and all else was the sea, promoted African-American business development in the New York Age. He featured African-American entrepreneurs in his paper and advertised their “goods and services.” Perhaps no other newspaper in the country detailed the activities of the NNBL to the extent that the New York Age did. It featured the annual meeting from 1900 to 1915 and beyond, during the timeframe in which Fortune owned the paper and when ownership passed on to another Tuskegee Machine member—Fred Moore.[13] In fact, in 1900 at the first annual meeting, Fortune presented a paper titled “The Negro Publisher.”[14] He is credited for being a ghost writer for Washington’s book The Negro in Business, a work that strongly advocated African-American business development.[15] In helping to organize the NNBL, Fortune strongly believed “that economic development” was a means by which African Americans “could achieve real freedom.”

Philip A. Payton, Jr., who advertised in T. Thomas Fortune’s newspaper and who was another respectable member of the NNBL, in 1904, founded the Afro-American Realty Company, which was a firm that rented Harlem properties.[16] Payton, besides being commonly acknowledged as a successful businessman throughout a significant portion of his career, is most remembered for his activities in opening Harlem to African-American tenants. Reputedly, one angry Harlem realtor, in attempting to get back at another Harlem realtor, allowed Payton to rent apartments in one of his buildings to African Americans. This caused “white flight,” which thereby opened-up other rental properties and ultimately Harlem to African Americans.[17] And, as history has shown, Harlem grew to become one of the most, if not the most, cosmopolitan African-American community in the nation. Payton, due to his efforts, is often referred to as “the Father of Black Harlem.”

Payton, who was also instrumental in helping to organize the 1905 annual NNBL meeting in New York City, attributes his inspiration in organizing the Afro-American Realty Company to the ideas and work of Booker T. Washington. It was while he was in attendance at the 1902 annual NNBL meeting in Richmond, Virginia that he gained the inspiration to form his company.[18] Furthermore, after the Afro-American Realty Company was formed, Payton brought in other NNBL members as shareholders or members of his board of directors.[19] His most popular stockholder and board member was Emmett J. Scott, the corresponding secretary of the NNBL and Washington’s assistant.[20] Although the Afro-American Realty company had its problems and ultimately failed,[21] initially in the “Washingtonian framework,” Payton was viewed as a pioneer willing to venture out and take risks who was worthy of emulation.

With the NNBL becoming more “institutionalized” and “an expanding forum for Booker T. Washington to espouse his business ideas,” the Executive Committee of the NNBL decided to hire a “national organizer” in 1903 whose job was to travel throughout the country and help “revitalize” and “organize” local business leagues. That duty went to New York City resident Fred R. Moore, an individual who edited the Colored American Magazine, helped organize the 1905 annual NNBL meeting held in New York City who held economic ideas similar to Washington’s but at times more “nationalistic,” and likely introduced to Washington through his good friend T. Thomas Fortune.[22]

As national organizer until about 1907, Moore traveled throughout New York State promoting business development. He visited Poughkeepsie and spoke to a receptive audience.[23] He spoke at St. James A. M. E. Zion Church in Ithaca.[24] During the Antebellum Period, Harriett Tubman periodically worshipped at this church, which had been an Underground Railroad Station led at one time by a bold fugitive slave—“the Reverend Jeremiah Loguen.” Moore visited East Spencer where he met George W. Cook, who was a brick manufacturer and secretary of the local business league of Ithaca.[25] Considering his New York State travels, sources indicate that Moore spent the bulk of his time organizing in Manhattan and Brooklyn. This may have been in harmony with the outlook of Booker T. Washington because in 1906 he received a letter from Theodore W. Jones, an important Chicago Tuskegee Machine member who had advised Washington to have Moore operate mainly in the South and in cities in “northern” and “western locales” that had fairly large African-American populations.[26] The rationale was that local business leagues could survive and prosper best in these settings.

The NNBL and its impact on New York City expanded before Moore was made national organizer. A local branch of the NNBL was formed in 1900, the same year of the formation of the national organization.[27] Probably at the 1905 national annual meeting, held in New York City and largely organized by Fred Moore and A. Phillip Payton, Washington challenged New Yorkers to be more progressive in their creation and development of businesses. From a list entitled “What Negroes are Spending in New York and [the] Number of Businesses They Ought to Support,” Washington noted: “New York City has a Negro population of over 100,000. At a conservative estimate it is probable that for the necessaries of life, food, clothing, fuel, etc., these Negroes spend annually over $12,000,000.00….A deplorable fact is that very little of the immense sum spent annually by New York Negroes for the necessaries of life go to colored tradesmen because of that fact that there are not a very large number in the city.”[28] Perhaps in attempting to shame them, Washington further informed them that African-American economic development was occurring at a more rapid rate in other cities, particularly in the South.[29] This undoubtedly served as a catalyst to stimulate further African-American business development. Nonetheless, at this annual meeting, Washington also praised the New York City Local Business League delegates for their role in organizing the 1905 gathering (or the Sixth Annual Meeting of the National Negro Business League). In The Negro in Business, Washington Proclaimed that the 1905 gathering far surpassed any previous gathering that the League had had to date.[30] President Theodore Roosevelt sent a letter of encouragement to the delegates, emphasizing “that it [was] absolutely impossible to do good work in promoting the spiritual improvement of any race unless there [was] a foundation of material well-being….”[31] A number of other successful prominent whites addressed the delegates concerning economic development, including Oswald Garrison Villard, the grandson of William Lloyd Garrison, John Wanamaker, an enterprising Philadelphia businessman, Robert C. Ogden, a Philadelphia and New York City department store executive, and George Forster Peabody, a financial investor.[32] In terms of New York City Local League members that strove to promote business development in addressing the annual gathering, a D. Macon Webster of Brooklyn spoke on the “Business Interest of Greater New York,” while Charles W. Anderson, a collector for the Internal Revenue Service, first welcomed the guests and delegates to New York City and then spoke on behalf of the New York Business League.[33] All of these speakers supported the idea that “economic development” among African American would aid them immensely in the attainment of their rights in full.

The New York City Local Business League, following the lead of the NNBL, continued Washington’s and other organizers’ directive of promoting business development. James E. Garner, who was inspired by the rhetoric of the NNBL and who was appointed treasurer of the New York City local branch during its formation, continued to make his undertaking business a success.[34] John E. Nail, who had work for Phillip A. Payton’s Afro-American Realty Company, formed his own successful and prosperous real estate company.[35] William P. Moore, Charles H. Notis, Prof. B. H. Hawkins, James L. Jacobs, George H. Harris, William L. Pope, Richard Irving, Dora A. Miller, and Dora Cole Norman are a few of the many African Americans that attested to the positive influence of the NNBL in general and the New York City local branch in particular.[36]

The New York City Local Business League, in conjunction with an ever-increasing African-American population, fulfilled its mission, by helping to increase the number of Black New Yorkers engaged in business. First through periodicals, such as The New York Age, as aforementioned, they encouraged their readers to patronize black businesses whom they posited would ultimately hire black employees and look out for the wellbeing of the African-American community.[37] In 1899, in his monumental study, The Negro in Business, W. E. B. Du Bois recorded 63 African-American owned New York City businesses.[38] In 1901 Du Bois also reported that Black New Yorkers had invested at least $1,500,000 in business enterprises, mainly in real estate, catering, restaurants, undertaking professions, drugstores and hotels.[39] In 1907 The New York Age announced that there was a significant increase of Negroes entering business than ever before.[40] In 1909, George Edmund Hayes, who conducted a study titled “The Negro at Work in New York City, recorded 475 African-American owned and operated businesses.[41] With the constant influx of people of African descent settling in New Yok City, African-American entrepreneurs and those aiming to be businesspersons had an escalating market to offer their goods and services. Hence, from the date that the NNBL was formed until years past Booker T. Washington’s death, this trend continued, as depicted in Table I below[42]:

Table I: Black American Professionals (which includes Businesspersons),
    1900 to 1920

                   Year                   Males                Females

Although Table I does not prove conclusively that the New York City Local Business League increased the number of African-American businesses in New York City, members certainly felt that their proactive leadership had expanded the number of businesses.[43]

Proactive leadership from individuals such as Fred Moore, D. Macon Webster, James Garner, J. C. Napier, C. C. Spaulding, Arthur George Gaston, and Albon Holsey continued to guide the NNBL. A NNBL project that particularly impacted New York City along with New York State was the formation of the “Colored Merchants Association (CMA),” which was established in 1929. In the early life of the NNBL, Washington supporters, such as I. B. Beale and Charles Banks, had suggested to Washington that the NNBL undertake a national business project to reinforce “rhetoric” with “praxis.” No such business venture was initiated during Washington’s lifetime. However, Albon Hosley, who replaced Emmett Scott as principal secretary at Tuskegee Institute after Washington’s death, would be the individual that made the NNBL operate more complexly, by organizing cooperative grocery stores. The goal was to organize African-American grocers into cooperative buying units, create a standardized store service, promote cooperative advertising, and use the local league chapters, throughout the country, as coordinating agencies.[44] At the height of the CMA, 25 cooperative grocery stores existed throughout the nation, with “central headquarters” located in New York City. This project although ultimately unsuccessful, due to the enduring impact of the Great Depression along with insufficient patronage, further contributed toward disseminating Washington’s economic message throughout the nation in general and in New York State in particular.

After 1918 to about 1955, as a rule, New York State communities that had a noticeably sized African-American population, often forced into enclaves, “due to segregation,” frequently had a local branch of the NNBL or individuals heavily influenced by the business philosophy of Booker T. Washington. Besides New York City NNBL branches in Harlem and Brooklyn,[45] Niagara Falls, New York during the 1930s and early 1940s, had a local NNBL branch that regularly met at the Niagara Community Center, which was the hub of the Black Niagaran community, intersecting African Americans of different religious faiths as well as Blacks and Whites of various classes. Black Niagarans formed their local National Negro Business League Branch in 1931.[46] This occurred 16 years after Washington’s death.[47] T. J. Ireland was instrumental in the league’s operations from its beginnings until its ending in about 1941. He does not appear in the 1930 United States Census for the City of Niagara Falls, although he was in Niagara Falls by 1927.[48] For a number of years, Ireland served as president of the local league, orchestrating meetings and public forums, and representing the league before city officials. Frank W. Holloman, Henry Patterson, Fredrick Johnson, William Martin, Ray Water, and W. H. Davis actively participated in league functions and took on leadership positions. Of these individuals, Henry Patterson is the only one recorded in the 1930 United States Census.[49] Census enumerators listed him as 26 years of age, living on 22nd Street, which was in Ward 4, the ward that had the largest number of Black Niagarans. Census enumerators also recorded Patterson as being a laborer, performing furnace work at a carbide plant.[50]

Available evidence indicates that the local league functioned most effectively in encouraging its members and operating as a job referral agency but not in implementing Booker T. Washington’s ultimate aim—the fostering and expansion of business development among Black Niagarans, as is partially conveyed in Table II below.[51]

Table II: Number of Black Niagaran Entrepreneurs, 1900-1940

                                of                          Male                  Female
          Year          Black Population   Total Population     Entrepreneurs      Entrepreneurs

The Local League tended to meet regularly on Monday evenings at the Niagara Community Center. John W. Pollard, who headed the Niagara Community Center, actively participated in local league functions. Dr. Charles B. Hayes, who was the first medical doctor of African descent[52] in Niagara Falls, also actively participated and took on leadership positions.[53] They annually held a banquet in which members and other interested parties attended. This perhaps was a smaller version of the banquet given at the annual meetings of the National Negro Business League held in various cities throughout the nation. At the annual meeting, a series of events were always planned that included a banquet. During Booker T. Washington’s presidential years, his annual address always served as the apex of the national gatherings.[54] At these Local League banquets, members heard encouraging comments from fellow members.[55]

At a meeting held in 1932, the Niagara Falls Local Business League had visited the Men’s Club of Niagara Falls, Ontario.[56] W. B. Davis gave a history of the Niagara Falls Local Business League, while T. J. Ireland expressed hope for the future operations of the Local League.[57] A Frederick Jones led a discussion on Negro leadership.[58] This sparked an intense debate on what type of leadership could advance the Negro the farthest. The groups juxtaposed Booker T. Washington’s leadership against W. E. B. Du Bois’. For the attendees, this must have brought back memories of the Niagara Movement, which in 1905 used Niagara Falls, Ontario as one of its meeting sites. Their discussion grew to be too intense. Concerned leaders agreed to table the debate for the next meeting. Both groups agreed that “aggressive leadership” was needed to advance the Negro, whether in Canada or the United States. However, each side seemed to believe that the leader they supported best represented the most progressive form of leadership needed.

Like Booker T. Washington, the Niagara Falls Local Business League’s leadership attempted to establish relationships with white elites within the Niagaran community, a pattern that John W. Pollard also adhered to. They attended City Council Meetings and invited city officials to address their organization. For example, in 1932, Frank A. Jenss, the mayor of Niagara Falls, addressed their meetings, informing them that the structure of the city government needed to be changed for the betterment of Niagaran citizens.[59] In 1934 local Judge Thomas B. Lee gave an address before the Local League, whereby a mock trial was conducted to further inform league members of the operations of the judicial system.[60] In 1935 Francis D. Bowman of the Carborundum Company, one of Niagara Falls’ larger employers, addressed the Local League, with league members attentively listening to his lecture.[61] At a meeting before the city council and mayor, the Local League successfully got the city officials to denounce discrimination in any form.[62] Assuredly, in establishing these contacts, the Niagara Falls Local Business League believed that these men could aid them in some future endeavor. Booker T. Washington grew to believe that creating alliances with what he termed the better classes of Whites could serve to foster more progressive changes for African Americans.[63] The Niagara Falls Local Business League’s actions verify that they also embraced this concept.

The contacts with White elites aided the Niagara Falls Local Business League in assisting Black Niagarans in search of work during the Great Depression years. They held Niagara Community Center labor forums in which Local League members offered their advice on how job seekers could best obtain employment.[64] Pollard advised job seekers to “train themselves to fill a spot that is not already filled.”[65] Furthermore, he instructed them that if they went after a job hard enough they would obtain it.[66] These maxims coincide with teachings of Booker T. Washington, for example, when he proposed that if an individual made himself/herself an indispensable asset, he/she would always be in demand, and “that if there was no door opened to obtain an opportunity, then make one.”[67] In another incident, the Niagara Falls Local Business League heard reports that a number of local industries refused to hire any more Black employees, due to negative experiences they had encountered by granting a few Black Niagarans job opportunities.[68] The Niagara Falls Local Business League notified and informed local industries that for every bad African-American employee that they could come up with that the Niagara Falls Local Business League could supply data on numerous successful employees. In fact they informed local industries that they would happily serve as an employment agency for the industries, placing their credibility on the line. These statements in conjunction with their alliances seemed to have had an impact. “T. J. Ireland president of the Business League announced [in May of 1936] that eight men [had] been placed at the Union Carbide company plant within the past week through the cooperation of the personnel department of [that] company.”[69] Niagara Falls Local Business League members speculated that more jobs would soon become available, and they organized meetings at the Niagara Community Center to further encourage the unemployed to seek employment and to train them on their responsibilities of being good employees and teach them how bad work performance would adversely impact their racial group.[70]

Rochester, which is eighty-seven miles east of Niagara Falls, had a local NNBL that met regularly with members networking with one another. At one of their meetings in the mid 1920s, they met to elect their officers.[71] They called themselves “the Rochester Negro Business League.” Buffalo, which is a distance of seventy-four miles west of Rochester and twenty-one miles from Niagara Falls, also had a local NNBL branch. In 1910 Cornelius E. Ford, who was head of the Live Stock Commission Merchants of Buffalo, presented a paper at the Annual NNBL Conference in New York City; he titled his paper “Live Stock Dealing.”[72] Emmett Scott had asked him to present.[73] Ford informed Scott that it would be difficult for him to attend the meeting but somehow, he would make it.[74] “[In 1931] a group of about twenty members of the Negro Business League of Buffalo inspected the new plant of the Courier-Express [the main local newspaper,] at Main and Goodell Street Monday Evening. Among the group were Dr. Harold Robinson, president, Dr. M. S. McGuire, Chairman of the board of directors, and Mrs. Adelaide Tucker, secretary.”[75] Ten years later in 1941, A. P. Garrett served in a leadership capacity for the Buffalo local NNBL branch.[76]

Dr. Ezekiel E. Nelson, who resided in Buffalo, New York, was a physician and businessman, like Dr. Charles B. Hayes. Unlike A. P. Garrett, he was not a member of the NNBL. However, “[he] recall[ed] in later years that the Black uplift themes of the Washington era had a major influence [on] his thinking,”[77] as he had strongly considered attending Booker T. Washington’s school—Tuskegee Institute.[78] Like Washington, he espoused self-help and racial solidarity as viable strategies for the economic advancement of Buffalo’s African-American community.[79] Unlike Washington, he advocated “cooperative economics.” For more than three decades (1930 to 1970), Dr. Nelson worked with almost fanatical zeal to convince Black Buffalonians that cooperative economics and racial solidarity would enable the race to escape from poverty and economic oppression. He preached that by working together, pooling their resources, and supporting their cooperative enterprises, African Americans could build powerful economic institutions that would enable them to produce many of the goods and services that were needed and desired by the community. Supporting these types of business activities, he felt, would create jobs, particularly for the young, and create a higher standard of living for all involved in the cooperative ventures. And the profit generated could be reinvested into the community to establish new businesses. Thus, like Washington, who Dr. Nelson greatly admired and was impacted by, his adage was self-help.

At this writing, this author has “no conclusive evidence” of Washington’s economic influence on the cities of Syracuse and Albany, although Albon Holsey in 1932 did speak about African-American business development to more than two-hundred Albany citizens at the Morning Star Baptist Church.[80] Yet and still, the author strongly suspects that a future survey of sources covering African-American communities within these cities will convey similar results to other New York State cities and towns.

NNBL members generally did attempt to follow Booker T. Washington’s business directives. However, “racial barriers” prevented most of them from being “indispensible assets” to the broader community, as Washington desired, and thus contribute toward solving “the Race Problem.” With a greater influx of African Americans moving into northern communities during and after the First Great Migration[81], African-American entrepreneurs, in the words of John Sibley Butler, were detoured or relegated exclusively to a segregated African-American market.[82] Nevertheless, they strove to be successful entrepreneurs and leaders of their communities. Booker T. Washington’s promotion of business development in New York City and New York State, as well as other states, has made him not only “a champion of Black Business Development” but also “the Father of the Promotion of 20th Century Black Business Development.”[83]

About the author: Michael Boston is an African and African American Studies faculty at The College at Brockport.


[1]“Resolution and Recommendations Adopted by the National Negro Business League at its First Meeting held in Boston, August 23 and 24, 1900,” (The Booker T. Washington Papers, The Library of Congress), Microfilms: Reel no. 752, pp. 1-2.
[2]Booker T. Washington, The Negro in Business (Wichita, Kansas: DeVore and Sons, Inc., 1992), p. 199.
[3]Emma L. Thornbrough, “More Light on Booker T. Washington and the New York Age,”Journal of Negro History, 43, No. 1 (Jan. 1958), pp. 34-49. 
[4]Emmett J. Scott and Lyman Beecher Stowe, Booker T. Washington: Builder of a Civilization (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1917 New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1917), p. 185.
[5]Booker T. Washington, “Important to Colored Men and Women Engaged in Business Throughout the Country,” June 15, 1900, Tuskegee, Alabama,” (The Booker T. Washington Papers, The Library of Congress), Microfilms: Reel no. 416, pp. 1-2. 
[6]Frederick E. Drinker, Booker T. Washington: The Master Mind of a Child of Slavery (New York: Negro University Press, 1970), p. 119.
[7]Booker T. Washington, “Important to Colored Men and Women Engaged in Business Throughout the Country,” June 15, 1900, Tuskegee, Alabama,” The Booker T. Washington Papers, Washington, D. C.: The Library of Congress Microfilms: Reel no. 416, p. 2.
[8]“National Negro Business League at Louisville,” The Tuskegee Student,  21, (September 11, 1909):  p. 1.
[9]Monroe N. Work, Negro Yearbook, 1914-15 (Tuskegee, Alabama: Negro Yearbook Publishing Company, 1915), pp. 304-308.
[10]In giving his annual address for the NNBL meeting in 1909, Washington stated that there were at least 500 leagues and not exactly 500. Report of the Tenth Annual Convention of the National Negro Business League, Held in Louisville, KY., August 18-20, 1909 (A. M. E. Sunday School Union Print., 1909), p. 71.
[11]Charted here means a representative applied for his town of city to have a local branch of the National Negro Business League in their town or city.
[12]The Tuskegee Machine Thesis, by Louis Harlan, author of Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915, stated simply, argues that Booker T. Washington, in attempting to retain his hegemonic leadership over Black America, which was often viewed as controversial, had numerous willing accomplices throughout the nation that helped him to retain his stronghold.  They were often in important key positions.  They not only alerted Washington to his unknown enemies but also helped to sabotage some of their efforts to bring Washington down
[13]John Hope Franklin and August Meier, Black Leadership of the Twentieth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), p. 34.
[14]Kenneth Hamilton, Records of the National Negro Business League(Bethesda, MD.: University Publications of America, 1995), p. 5.
[15]John Hope Franklin and August Meier, Black Leadership of the Twentieth Century, p. 31.
[16]Philip A. Payton, Jr., “Afro-American Realty Company,” The Colored American Magazine, 8, (November 1904), pp. 682-691; Maceo C. Dailey, “Booker T. Washington and the Afro-American Realty Company,” Review of Black Political Economy, 8, (Winter 1978), pp. 184-201. 
[17]Gilbert Osofsky, Harlem: The Making of a Ghetto: Negro New York, 1890-1930(New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971), p. 94.
[18]Booker T. Washington, The Negro in Business, p. 153.
[19]“Growth of the Afro-American Realty Company” The Colored American Magazine, 10, (February 1906), pp. 102-118.
[20]Ibid., p. 116.
[21]Maceo C. Dailey, “Booker T. Washington and the Afro-American Realty Company,” pp. 190-197.
[22]John N. Ingham and Lynne B. Feldman, African-American Business Leaders, A Biographical Dictionary (Westport, C.T.: Greedwood Press, 1994), pp. 465-475.
[23]“Poughkeepsie Harvest Home,” The New York Age, November 14, 1907, p. 6.
[24]“To Interest Negroes,” Ithaca Daily News, April 2, 1906, p. 1.
[25]“Fred R. Moore to Booker T. Washington,” April 2, 1906, New York, New York, Box 21, Folder 197, National Negro Business League, The Booker T. Washington Collection, Tuskegee University Archives, p. 1; “Fred R. Moore to Booker T. Washington,” June 26, 1906, New York, New York, Box 24, Folder 206, National Negro Business League, The Booker T. Washington Collection, Tuskegee University Archives, pp. 1-8.
[26]“Theodore W. Jones to Booker T. Washington,” June 12, 1906, Box# 1, Albon L. Holsey Collection, Tuskegee University.
[27]Gilbert Osofsky, Harlem: The Making of a Ghetto, 97.
[28]Booker T. Washington, “What Negroes Are Spending in New York and [the] Number of Businesses They Ought to Support,” Booker T. Washington Papers, Cont. 548-549, Shelf No. 18, 185.2, reel no. 416, the Library of Congress.
[30]Booker T. Washington, The Negro in Business, 205.
[31]Ibid., 205-206.
[32]Ibid., 206.
[33]Ibid., 213-214.
[34]Gilbert Osofsky, Harlem: The Making of a Ghetto, 97.
[35]John N. Ingham and Lynne B. Feldman, African-American Business Leaders, A Biographical Dictionary, 477-483.
[36]William P. Moore, “Progressive Business Men of Brooklyn,” Voices of the Negro, Vol. 1, No. 7 (1904), pp. 304-308; Kenneth Hamilton, ed., Records of the National Negro Business League, Washington, D. C.: University Publication of America, 1995, p. 6 & p. 21.
[37]“National Negro Business League Celebrates Tenth Anniversary,” New York Age, August 18, 1910, p. 1.
[38]Seth, M Scheiner, Negro Mecca: A History of The Negro in New York City, 1865-1920(New York: New York University Press, 1965), 78.
[41]George Edmund Hayes, “The Negro at Work in New York City,” Studies in History, Economics and Public Law, Vol. 49, No. 3 (1912), p. 98.
[42]Seth, M Scheiner, Negro Mecca: A History of The Negro in New York City, 1865-1920, 224-225.
[43]“Afro-American Notes,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 8, 1907, p. 18; “New York Negro Business League Holds Big Meeting,” The New York Age, July 28, 1928, p. 2; “Good Advice To The Negroes: Booker T. Washington Preaches The Gospel of Work,” The Sun, June 7, 1909, p. 3.
[44]For more information on the CMA, see Vishnu V. Oak’s work, The Negro’s Adventure in General Business (Westport, Connecticut: Negro University Press, 1970), pp. 62-65 or John Burrows’s work, The Necessity of Myth: A History of the National Negro Business League, 1900-1945 (Auburn, Alabama: Hickory Hill Press, 1988),  pp. 127-149.
[45]John E. Bruce, “The Necessity for Business Leagues,” Voice of the Negro, Vol. I, no. 8 (1904), pp. 338-339; William P. Moore, “Progressive Business Men of Brooklyn, pp. 304-308.
[46]“Niagara Falls,” Chicago Defender, November 28, 1936, 9.
[47]  “Negro Business League Inspects New C-E Plant,” Buffalo, NY Courier-Express, February 18, 1931, 12; “Interesting Items Gleaned By The Age Correspondents,” The New York Age, March 13, 1926, 8.
[48]“T. J. Ireland Is dead at 67,” Niagara Falls, NY Gazette, September 15, 1970, 15.
[49]U.S. Census for 1930 the City of Niagara Falls, Reels # 44, 45, & 46. Niagara Falls Public Library, Niagara Falls, NY.
[51]U.S. Census for 1900: Town of Niagara, Niagara Falls City and LaSalle Village (Niagara Falls, NY: Niagara Falls Public Library), microfilm reel 23;
U.S. Census for 1910: Town of Niagara, City of Niagara Falls, Village of LaSalle (Niagara Falls, NY: Niagara Falls Public Library), Microfilm, reels 28 & 29;
U. S. Census for 1920 for the City of Niagara Falls, Town of Niagara Falls and Village of LaSalle, Sheets 1-32 (Niagara Falls Public Library), reels 33, 34, & 35;
U.S. Census for 1930, the City of Niagara Falls (Niagara Falls Public Library, NY: Niagara Falls Public Library), reels 44, 45, & 46;
1940 (Niagara County, Niagara Falls); Theodore Williamson, personal interview, May 13, 2002; Bill Williamson, personal interview, January 30, 2010.
[52]Dr. Charles B. Hayes was born in Jamaica, West Indies.
[53]“Niagara Falls,” Chicago, IL Defender, November 13, 1931, 20.
[54]“Annual Report of the Fifteenth Annual Convention: National Negro Business League, Held at Muskogee, Oklahoma, August 19-21, 1914,” (The Booker T. Washington Papers, The Library of Congress), Microfilms: Reel no. 754.
[55]“Business Men of Community Center Hold Annual Meeting,” Niagara Falls, NY Gazette, December 15, 1936, 11.
[56]“Community Center News,” Niagara Falls, NY Gazette, May 13, 1932, 2.
[59]“Falls Men Favor Government Change,” Lockport, NY Union-Sun and Journal, February 11, 1932, 10.
[60]“Community Center News,” Niagara Falls Gazette, May 25, 1934, 6.
[61]“Niagara Community Center Serves 48 Different Groups of Persons,” Niagara Falls, NY Gazette, April 13, 1935, 14.
[62]“Community Center News,” Niagara Falls Gazette, January 24, 1939, 6.
[63]Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915(New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 238-265.
[64]“New York State,” Chicago Defender, October 1, 1938, 11.
[65]“Our American Way,” Niagara Falls Gazette, April 17, 1940, 5.
[67]See Chapter 3 of Michael B. Boston, The Business Strategy of Booker T. Washington (Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida), 2010.
[68]“Community Center News,” Niagara Falls Gazette, May 22, 1936, 13.
[69]“Community Center News,” Niagara Falls Gazette, May 15, 1936, 14.
[71]“Interesting Items Gleaned By The Age Correspondents,” The New York Age, March 13, 1926, p. 8; “Interesting Items Gleaned By The Age Correspondents,” The New York Age, May 1, 1926, p. 8; 
[72]Kenneth Hamilton, Records of he National Negro Business League, p. 11.
[73]“Cornelius E. Ford to Emmett J. Scott.” August 13, 1910, Box 69, Folder 395, The Booker T. Washington Collection, Tuskegee University.
[75]“Negro Business League Inspects New C-E Plant,” Buffalo, NY Courier-Express, February 18, 1931, p. 12.
[76]“A. P. Garrett of the Buffalo Negro Business League,” Buffalo, NY Courier-Express, May 21, 1941, p. 8.
[77]Monroe Fordham, “The Buffalo Cooperative Economic Society, Inc., 1928-1961: A Black Self-help Organization,” Niagara Frontier, p. 42.
[79]Ibid., pp. 41-49.  Also in Buffalo, New York, Frank Merriweather Sr., who was an entrepreneur, named a political club after Booker T. Washington.  The prominent Buffalo undertaker, Sherman L. Walker was a member of the Booker T. Washington Political Club.  Consult “Throng of 1,200 Attend Rites for S. L. Walker,” The Buffalo Criterion, 3-9 January, 1970, p. 1, and my interview with Jessie Nash, Jr., March 28, 1995.   
[80]“Inter-Racial Group To Elect Tonight,” Albany, NY Evening News, January 21, 1932, p. 32.
[81]The First Great Migration refers to that period in United States history when hundreds of thousands of African Americans migrated out of the South during the First World War.  The dates for the First Great Migration are from 1914 to 1918, the beginnings of World War I to its end.  Cities, such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland, gained significant increases in their African-American population.
[82]John Sibley Butler, Entrepreneurship and Self-Help Among Black Americans: A Reconsideration of Race and Economics (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1991), pp.143-164.