Anders, Tisa M. "George Junius Groves." Black Past: African American History.
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Bolden, Tonya. No Small Potatoes. New York, Alfred Knopf, 2018.
"Junius Groves, Agribusiness Entrepreneur Born." African American Registry.
November 30, 2022.
Monica Countryman email@example.com
Quinter High School
Successful entrepreneurs are people who are ahead of others in their field. They invest their money into assets that have the opportunity to make them money, while they can be doing other work. They are opportunistic and work hard to advance their business, sometimes fighting through extraordinary obstacles. I am inspired by the story of Junius George Groves, who possessed the qualities of a successful entrepreneur and became an influential businessman, despite incredible barriers.
Junius Groves was born into slavery in 1859. He was enslaved until the emancipation after the Civil War (Bolden). After he was set free, he attended school for three months before deciding to join the Exodus of 1879. I learned in the amazing Kansas Book Award winning children's book, No Small Potatoes, by Toya Bolden that Groves walked over 500 miles while pursuing his dream! That amazing tenacity carried Groves to Edwardsville, Kansas. Junius had only 90 cents to his name when he got to Edwardsville, so he acquired a job with a local farmer and worked as a laborer. He quickly got a raise because of his work ethic and was quoted saying, "By keeping my eyes open, always attending to duty and doing more, rather than less, than was required of me, I soon succeeded in having my wages raised to 75 cents per day. This was considered a very fair price, and I felt that I was on the road to fortune” (“Junius George Groves").
Eventually, Junius saved up enough money to afford a marriage license and married Matilda Stewart (Anders). After his marriage, Junius and his wife started sharecropping potatoes. During this time, he studied the science of agriculture and started new practices to get better yields out of his crops. This worked and over the years his farm grew to over 500 acres in the Kaw Valley. He had 12 surviving children, and they must have inherited their father's work ethic and sheer will, because most of them attended Kansas Agricultural College and came back to the farm to assist Groves (Anders). They, along with over 50 employees, helped Junius earn the title, "Potato King of the World." He was ahead of everyone in his field in production and yields. After multiple years of record potato production, the Union Pacific railroad built a special spur to the Groves property to make it easier to load potatoes and ship them away.
Groves was always thinking ahead. Along with the farm, Junius had many other enterprises to generate income. Matilda and Junius owned a general store in Edwardsville. They also invested money into stock for mines in New Mexico and the Indian Territory. They had money invested into Kansas Bank stock. These are a few of the ways that Junius Groves invested his money into enterprises that could make him more money.
Though Junius was a very successful entrepreneur in his field of work and made a lot of money off of it, he was always willing to spread his good fortune to others in the Black community. Though he used some of his wealth for himself by building a huge house with all of the best amenities at the time, Groves also used his wealth to better his community and people throughout the country. In his community, he created and provided many jobs for Black and White people. He also built a golf course and community center for Black Americans in the area. Junius founded the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Society as well. The Negro Business League was co-founded by Groves. He served as the president of the League. He also served as the secretary of the Kaw Valley Potato Association and the vice president of the Sunflower State Agricultural Association ("Junius Groves, Agribusiness Entrepreneur Born").
Groves's influence on agricultural entrepreneurship was so important that even Booker T. Washington described him as the "most successful Negro farmer" in 1907. He inspired generations of Black farmers and tore down barriers in both business and agriculture while contributing to his community and knowledge in farming. His legacy lives on as children's books continue to tell his story and future agribusiness professionals such as myself find inspiration in his accomplishments.