The oldest Black-owned businesses in the U.S. still operating today

Ben Ebuka March 09, 2023
The oldest Black-owned businesses in the U.S. still operating today
John T. Ward founded E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co. in 1881. Pic Credit:

E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co. (1881)

E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co. is the oldest known Black-owned business in the United States, still operating continuously, as recognized by the United States Department of Commerce.

143 years ago (1881), John T. Ward started a transport firm known today as E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co. 14 decades ago, Ward served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Ohio, where he assisted slaves to escape from bondage to freedom. The Columbus Dispatch reported that during the Civil War, Ward worked as a contractor for the military, transporting equipment and supplies for the U.S. Army to Camp Chase.

Ward discovered that his skills and experience as a conductor and transporter could be a good opportunity in the business world. Together with his son William Ward, they established a company known then as Ward Transfer Line. Towards the end of the 19th century, the company was renamed E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co. The company that started its business with only two horses and a wagon 14 decades ago has transformed into one of the major moving companies, assisting businesses and individuals to move supplies and other goods.

The Ward family owned the company for 120 years. Eldon Ward, the grandson of William Ward, led the family business from the mid-1940s until his retirement in 1996. Delores White, the niece of Eldon, led the company as the CEO from 1996 to 2001, making her the last member of the Ward family to lead the company, and Eldon Ward sold the company to Brooks, the godson of Eldon.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 9, 2023


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