Dixie Overland Wrecking Company

In 1934 Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Myles began the Dixie Overland Wrecking Company in West Monroe. Mrs. Myles also operated the Exchange Cafe then located at 101 Wood Street in West Monroe from 1928 to the 1940’s. The Myles’ operation included a motel, barber shop and bar. It was valued at $15,000 in 1941. Myles later became recognized as one of the outstanding spokesmen for Negro rights in West Monroe using his business as a base. Today, the business he started Myles Insurance Agency in West Monroe is still in operation.


January The Tailor

After graduating from Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in 1918 and working with men’s clothing in Monroe for eight years, I.B. January, Sr. opened “January The Tailor” in 1928 on 102 N. 6th Street. January was assisted for 12 years by Miss Sally Frazier. From his tailoring business base, January came in contact with many white patrons of prominence himself as an influential personality in the affairs of Monroe Negroes.

F. D. Thompson’s Nite Club

In 1941, F. D. Thompson invested 35 cent he earned from a boot back business into a night club venture called the Liberty Nite Club. Valued at $10,000 Thompson’s venture was the first night club by blacks or whites in Monroe. It was said that when Thompson was down to his last dollars he invested in a church convention and made $200. He took that and built a $10,000 cafe. He was later elected mayor of Little Harlem in Monroe.

Robinson’s Business College

Bernie and Emily P. Robinson began a venture in the business community in 1944 when they opened Robinson’s Business College. The Robinsons sought to help blacks succeed in business. Starting from a location off Jackson Street, the two built a thriving business which, over the years, assisted thousands of blacks to find meaningful employment in the business world. From his business base Bernie Robinson launched a life of political activity on behalf of Monroe blacks. After his retirement the school was sold and relocated to Jackson Street. Without the Robinsons however, it soon closed. Others And there were others who were active in business during the late 1930’s and 1940’s.

*In 1921 B. A. Willis of West Monroe started the Sunshine Dairy, a 110 cow dairy that served 300 Monroe families with fresh milk daily. Willis was assisted by his wife Florence Willis, Alonzo Willis, Sr., and Morris Willis. He was praised for having the lowest bacteria count among Louisiana Dairies.

*La Henrianna Johnson Carroll operated the La-Henrianna Beauty School in 1937 until the early 1970’s. Her school was qualified by the state board for Beauty Schools, and employed four licensed beauticians. Her investment total was $20,000.

*J. H. Miller opened the Miller Funeral Home a few years after he graduated from Embalming School in 1928. In 1940 his business had grown such that he employed 34 workers. Today his business, operated by his son Joseph Miller, Jr., employs over 150 workers in several cities and has been cited by Black Enterprise Magazine as one largest Black owned insurance companies in America.

*Jesse Goins operated a grocery and market at 2912 Jackson St. In 1927 he opened his establishment at 708 Dixie and operated until 1941. He was praised for being one of the few blacks who weathered the depression and was still in business in 1941.

*Marbles Bar B Que Sauce was the basis of success for H. H. Marbles and his wife Liller Maddox Marbles. Marbles operated his barbeque business from 1916 to his death in 1970. He patented a much sought after sauce that is still in demand today.

*Mary Cox’s Grocery and Market in West Monroe brought success to Mrs. Mary Cox. She was noted as being one of Louisiana’s most outstanding business women in 1941.

*Mr. Davis Duty operated a service station in the early 1940’s at 1316 Desiard Street. Mr. Duty was noted for selling a minimum of 6,000 gallons of gas per month, at a time when most residents were walking.

*Roosevelt Wright, Sr. and Ansley Reed opened the Courtesy Cab Co. in the 1940’s as well as a fruit and ice market. Courtesy Cab was one of the first cab companies to have two way radios in its nine brand new Ford Sedans.

*Willie J. “Teedlum” Smith operated the Ritz Night Club and the Savoy BallRoom in the Miller Roy Building. He brought many famous bands to the city as entertainment in his establishments.

*Mrs. Nellie Phillips Dorsey began the Lovely Brown Beauty and Barber Ship in 1923. Mrs. Dorsey a 1930 graduate of Southern University, employed six operators and her shop was located at 903 DeSiard. Her most famous product was Jones’ Hair Oil, which was a pressing oil. Among the Black business efforts of the 1930’s and 40’s was also the presence of several black doctors in Monroe and West Monroe who contributed greatly to the success and rise of black business efforts in the area.

*Dr. Anderson J. Chandler graduated from the University of Indiana School of Medicine in 1930 and began practice in Monroe as a medical doctor. Dr. Chandler believed that the best approach to the education of blacks in Louisiana was to first have sound leadership and secondly cleaning up the black community.

*Dr. M. W. Foster began practice in Monroe in 1937 after graduating from McHarry Medical College in 1934. By 1941 he had the largest medical practice in the city. Dr. Foster worked to get black doctors the right to practice and intern in state and city hospitals. He gained national notoriety when he delivered the Marshall Triplets in 1940 and by 1941 had delivered five sets of twins. He was a noted authority of obstetrics.

*Dr. Sullivan D. Hill graduated from MeHarry Medical College in 1923 and did intern work at City Hospital No. 2 in St. Louis Missouri. Dr. Hill specialized in the treatment of women. Dr. Hill was the school physician for Grambling State College.

*Dr. F. W. Johnson graduated from the Meharry Medical School of Dentistry in 1931 and served as the school dentist at Tuskegee Institute from 1932 to 1937. He was one of the few dentists of the South who had a civil service rating and was subject to call by the Federal Government. In 1941, he was described as “a jolly good fellow, capable, dependable and unmarried.”

*Dr. G. McClanahan graduated from Flint-Goodridge hospital and began his practice in Monroe in 1907. For many years he practiced from his home on Breard Street across from J. S. Clark Elementary School. He believed that the lack of training and initiative were the black man’s greatest problems.

*Dr. J. T. Miller and Dr. J. C. Roy are best remembered in Monroe as the architects of Negro enterprise in the 40’s. It was because of the work of these two doctors that the Miller-Roy Building was constructed by a black contractor Mr. John A. Beckwith. He was praised by the white community in a full page advertisement in the Monroe News Star signed by Arnold Bernstein, Mayor and the Central Savings and Bank.

*Dr. R. O. Pierce, a pharmacist, began operation with an initial capital investment of $1500 and by 1941 his business was valued at $20,000. The prescription section of his drug store was reported to have filled 85 prescriptions per day in 1941. In 1940 he was elected president of the Louisiana Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association. Dr. Pierce also owned the Pierce Ice Cream Company at 2112 Flynn Street.

*Dr. J. B. Thompson was recognized as an authority in the field of Dental Research. Dr. Thompson was commissioned by the state to do general operative work throughout the state of Louisiana in 1939. The state purchased a modern fully equipped dental laboratory housed in a trailor and employed three professionals in the field of dentistry under Dr. Thompson. He graduated from Meharry Medical College in 1933 and was married to Mrs. Zerita Mitchell Thompson, a teacher in the Monroe School System.

*Dr. A. M. Micheal also was a practicing dentist in Monroe during the 1930’s and 40’s until his death during a fire at a dance. And so it is...black businesses and professionals arose despite the dispute and debate during the 1930’s and 40’s. But they formed the nucleus for the black movement. Many of them stepped into the forefront to carry on the fight for liberation. Others stayed in the background and dedicated themselves to their professions and helping those in need.

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Names of Outstanding Black Businessmen in Monroe Black History

Miller, Joseph, Sr.