The Untold Story Of A Real "Empire": Anthony Overton, The Ex-Slave That Became A Self-Made Business Tycoon
Born a slave in the waning months of the Civil War, Anthony Overton became the first African American to own a major conglomerate. His vast business empire included the Overton Hygienic Manufacturing Company, The Half-Century Magazine, Douglass National Bank, The Victory Life Insurance Company, The Great Northern Realty Company, and the Chicago Bee.
Overton was born on March 21, 1865 in Monroe, Louisiana to Anthony Overton and Martha Deberry Overton. During Reconstruction, Overton attended public school in Monroe before the family moved to Kansas in the 1870s. In 1881, Overton graduated from South Side High School in Topeka. Shortly afterwards he opened his first business venture, a fruit and grocery store in Topeka. Money earned from the business allowed Overton to graduate with a Bachelor of Law degree from Washburn College in Topeka in 1888. The same year, he married Clara Gregg. The couple had four children: Eva, Mabel, Frances, and Everett.
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