Successful Business Owners
True, Mr. Carr's establishment at 269 West Main Street was a second-hand clothing store. But as you can tell from the fine feathered hats for women in the storefront window, and the men's suits hanging inside that it was no rinky-dink establishment. It was someplace African American men and women of the era could purchase clothing to look their finest when walking about town. And how distinguished they looked when posing for a photograph at the Holsinger Portrait Studio!
We know from the J.F. Bell Funereal Home records that George Carr's father, David Carr, had been born in Africa, and that his mother Elnora Garland Carr was born in Virginia. We also discover that George's wife's name was Virginia May Carr. Mr. Carr passed away In 1933. Virginia Carr obviously kept the doors of her husband's business open after his death, for she was listed in the 1934 city director as operating a second-hand clothing store at 265 West Main Street.
Another thing I wondered was how, as a young man, Mr. Buckner endured physically, emotionally, and mentally while serving as an enslaved body servant to Mr. Fife, a Confederate soldier, during the Civil War. What I do know is he survived, and once Freedom came, after working just a few years at the University of Virginia, he had saved enough money to open up a successful general store and grocery at 904 West Main Street in Charlottesville--a fine establishment that remained open until his death in 1923.
How inspiring to see him standing there so tall, refined, and dignified, despite being a survivor of such enduring times!
"Buckner had made a host of friends for himself during his long sojourn in the community and was especially liked by the residents in the University section. Many had formed the custom of stopping in to converse with him as a token of their esteem and the high place he had won for himself." *
George, Eileen's father, grew up in Charlottesville. He attended college, and obtained degrees from Hampton Institute and the Virginia Union University. He worked as a teacher, and economics and sociology instructor at the Tuskegee Institute. Later, he remarried and worked for the National League on Urban Conditions, and then served as the vice president and manager of the People's Finance Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri.
George caused quite a local stir when he wrote an opinion piece entitled "The New Negro" in the February 12, 1921 edition of The Charlottesville Messenger, an African American newspaper. In it he demanded better pay for African-American teachers and desegregation of streetcars in Charlottesville, among other things. He wrote: "We are tax payers and law abiding citizens. We know our strength and will accept nothing short of justice."
Despite being born into the institution of slavery, Mr. Inge graduated from Hampton Institute in 1879. For a few years, he taught at Jefferson School in Charlottesville.
Mr. Inge's grocery store was known throughout Charlottesville as a fine establishment. His patrons included the hospital of the University of Virginia, professors of the University, the Gleason Hotel, boarding houses, and fraternities. His store was the only supplier of fresh fish and oysters in the city, which were delivered by way of the C & O Railroad. Small game caught by local hunters; vegetables from the Inge's gardens, and eggs and poultry from their chickens were also sold there. Before the Model T came along, the Inges delivered their produce using a horse-and-buggy.
Children loved to purchase penny candy and five-cent ginger snaps from the glass jars sitting on the store's shelves. My main character's favorite thing to purchase at Mr. Inge's store is Mary Jane candies.
The Inge children all had successful careers. Three of his daughters were teachers. His sons' occupations included: an educator and high school principal in Texas, a biology department head at Hampton Institute, a New Jersey State Senator, a realtor, and two physicians. Thomas Ferguson Inge, Sr. (1903-1993) ran the store until 1979 along with his son, Thomas Ferguson Inge, Jr.
Mrs. Jackson had a big and generous heart. She ensured that every child at Jefferson School had a hot meal for lunch. She even helped establish the first hot lunch program within the city's public schools. During segregation, Mrs. Jackson was a huge supporter of Jefferson School's football team. She helped them acquire uniforms and with a truck owned by her family's business, she provided them with transportation to and from practice and away games. After home games, she fed both teams, their coaches and doctors. A hearty meal of meatball soup, which she scraped together on a dime, was typically on the menu.
According to oral, family history, Mrs. Jackson took domestic science classes at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. How did she gain admittance despite her racial status barring her? She got permission because the school believed she was attending classes in order to train African American girls to be excellent maids. In fact, she used her skills to teach her students to live respectably and independently.
How proud Mrs. Jackson's students must have been to be able to design and sew their own dresses like the eighth-grade graduation dress Viola Green Porter (1898-1985) is seen wearing above.
Mrs. Jackson's son William E. Jr. ( Bill "Post" Jackson) (1888-1972) ran a family business--Jackson Poster Advertising. It was a home-based operation installing advertising posts or billboards all over the area that provided the family a decent living. It was hard work, placing paste on the back of huge lithograph printouts then putting them together like a puzzle on a board. But they did it, and well, too!
2. "A. J. Buckner." Photo: Rufus W. Holsinger, 1918. Holsinger Studio Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA, Call No. 9862, Image ID. 33148, accessed September 10, 2023.
3. "Inge's Store, 331-333 Main Street, Charlottesville, Independent City, VA." Drawing: Johnson W Pitt, 1933. Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress, Image 8, accessed September 10, 2023.
4. Photo of oil painting of George Pinkney Inge by unknown artist, found in Inge's Store, 331-333 West Main Street Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia, compiled by Timothy L. Bishop, University of Virginia School of Architecture, 1979. Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, Call No.: SVA: No. 49:1979, YX001 117 764. Used with permission from the Estate of George P. Inge.
5. Photo of the inside of Inge's Grocery, date unknown, reprint found in “Inge’s Store Has a Place in Main Street’s History and Future," by Ray McGrath, The Daily Progress, November 11, 1979, used with permission from the Estate of George P. Inge.
6. Nannie Cox Jackson. Found in "Nannie Cox Jackson," CVillepedia. Accessed September 10, 2023.
7. "Viola Green" Photo: Rufus W. Holsinger, 1916. Holsinger Studio Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA, Call No. 9862, Image ID. 34283, accessed September 10, 2023.
8. William E. Jackson, Jr. Courtesy Teresa Walker Jackson Price.
9. Jackson Post Advertising Sign. Courtesy Teresa Walker Jackson Price.
- While I have diligently sought to establish and contact the copyright owners of these images, I believe their inclusion here is within the confines of fair use, and/or that they are in the public domain.
"Buckner, Eileen Wood." Daughters of Zion Cemetery, accessed September 9, 2023.
"Buckner, Geneva J. Tonsler." Daughters of Zion Cemetery, accessed September 9, 2023.
"Buckner, Louisa E." Daughters of Zion Cemetery, accessed September 9, 2023.
Correcting the Narrative. "Why Name a School for Nannie Cox Jackson?" December 3, 2019, accessed September 10, 2023.
CVillepedia. "George P. Inge." Accessed September 10, 2023.
CVillepedia. "Nannie Cox Jackson." Accessed September 10, 2023.
Daily Progress. "Progress Past." June 13, 2018, accessed September 10, 2023.
George Minor Carr J. F. Bell Funeral Home Records Entry. Digitized by the Virginia Center for Digital History, University of Virginia, accessed September 9, 2923.
Getting Word. "Nancy Colbert Scott." Monitcello.org, accessed September 10, 2023.
Heritage Trail. "Nannie Cox Jackson (1864-1953), Teacher." Jefferson Heritage Center, accessed September 10, 2023.
"Inge's Store: 331-333 West Main Street, Charlottesville, Virginia." Historic American Buildings Survey: HABS No. VA-1015. Digitized by the Library of Congress, accessed September 10, 2023.
Interview with Mrs. Teresa Jackson Walker Price. September 23, 2023.
Mangione, Wilma T., Editor. “Recollections of Thomas Ferguson Inge, Sr.” From Porch Swings to Patios: An Oral History Project of Charlottesville Neighborhoods, 1914-1980. The City of Charlottesville, 1990, accessed September 8, 2023.
McGrath, Ray. "Inge's Store Has a Place in Main Street's History and Future." Daily Progress, November 11, 1979.
Munro, J.F. "Anthony T. Buckner." Holsinger Portrait Project, February 10, 2022, accessed September 9, 2023.
Munro, Julia F. "George Carr." Holsinger Portrait Project. University of Virginia, February 10, 2022, accessed September 10, 2023.