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Black Settlers of Mound Bayou Had Skills Needed to Build Town - page 3 / 4





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Creativity All three family members decided to put their business skills and life experience to work developing the town they named Mound Bayou, after a stream that ran through the site. While they were excited and looked forward to their new entrepreneurial venture, recruiting settlers turned out to be a slow process. A plan was devised that allowed new residents to buy land from the railroad company for a specified amount per acre. Each land purchaser had five years to pay the total due. This idea, along with other creative financing techniques, enabled the new black town to be settled much faster than it normally would have been.

Opportunity follows struggle. It follows effort. It follows hard work. It doesn't come before.

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    Shelby Steele

Isaiah and Green opened a sawmill business, which provided a service to the farmers who settled in the regions bordering the town, and who needed to clear their lands of trees. Thanks to the sawmill, landowners could turn their wood into building timber and many other products that they then sold for profit. In this way, many of the settlers acquired the money necessary to make the payments on their lands. The main crop raised and sold by the farmers was cotton. As the town's population increased, more businesses were established. By 1902, eighteen businesses shipped merchandise through the Mound Bayou railroad station. The number of cotton gins grew to four and the sawmills to three. As commercial transactions increased, the need for a town bank became obvious.

Philosophy of Economic Empowerment

In 1904, Charles Banks, who believed that racial uplift was linked to economics, moved to Mound Bayou from Clarksdale, Mississippi. In Clarksdale, he had been a successful farmer. With the help of his brother, he had also operated a mercantile business. After learning about the enterprising spirit of the residents of Mound Bayou, Banks decided to relocate there. It wasn't too long before he made the necessary inroads into the banking business and teamed with some other interested parties to establish the Bank of Mound Bayou.

To create the initial funds needed to capitalize the bank, they sold shares of stock for $1 each at a meeting of the town's business leaders. This proved to be an extremely important

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