Friday, February 20, 2015

21 Most Successful Black Entrepreneurs Throughout History

Stephen Smith grew up as an indentured servant in Pennsylvania. From a young age, he was assigned to work in the lumberyards by Thomas Boude, whose wealth stemmed from his extensive lumber business. After buying his freedom for $50 at the age of 21, he continued to work in the lumberyards until establishing his own lumber business in 1822, as well as dealing coal. By the 1850s, Smith was grossing $100,000 in annual sales. By 1857, Smith was worth $500,000 (approximately $13.5 million today). On top of being a businessman, Smith was a minister and served as chairman of the black abolitionist organization in Columbia, PA.


  1. This man, a true American Hero, and with partner William Whipper orchestrated the most complex, wealthy and secret Underground Railroad system in the United States.

    No where will you find a resistance in a town such like Columbia, PA. Current research is not only finding these men in our local area. They start a settlement in what is known as Dresden, Ontario, Canada in 1853. Where in years to come they own a lumber mill, general store and a tavern.

    William Whipper's summer cottage still exists in the town of Dresden. Known in Canada as the richest black man in the United States, William Whipper was groomed as a businessman, abolitionist and founders of the Free Society.

    Smith & Whipper Lumber Mill sat where is today's River Park Trails Building. Stephen Smith will be one of the Columbia's patriarchs of historical significance ever to walk our grounds. From indentured slave in Dauphin County, kidnapped at age four to Columbia by Thomas Boude.

    Primed to be a man of commerce, he would eventually be the largest stockholder of the Columbia Bank & Bridge Company. Though he should have been President of the bank, his skin color would prohibit that cause.

    Today on West Girard Avenue in Philadelphia you will find a twenty seven story subsidized housing building named after Stephen Smith.

    Not only is a business foundation jump starting, our historic foundation is penetrating across the United States.

  2. Indentured servant. In other words there was slavery in Columbia.

  3. Did the historical society ever check out the basements of the homes on south 2nd St. My grandparent lived across from St. Peter's church and she had a bricked off room in her basement. The bricked off entrance was falling apart but behind it was a room with shackles on the wall. That would make an interesting conversation amongst the town.