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Sun, 12.10.1854

Edwin Berry, Businessman born

Edwin Berry

Edwin C. Berry, a Black businessman, was born on this date in 1854.

Berry was born at Oberlin, Ohio and was taken by his parents at the age of two years to Albany, Ohio, where unusual school facilities were offered African-American children. When he was old enough, he was sent to the Albany public schools, and when the Albany Enterprise Academy, a school for Black children, was built, he was able to attend it for a short time. Unfortunately, his father died in 1870 and young Berry was compelled, at the age of sixteen, to leave school and help provide for his family, in which there were eight children younger than himself.

In 1878, he married his schoolmate, Miss Mattie Madry,  Berry was often called the "Black Horatio Algier" of Athens.  He built a 22-room hotel, Hotel Berry, one of the finest and most elegant hotels in Ohio in Athens.  At the time of his retirement in 1921, he had a reputation as the most successful Black small-city hotel operator in the U.S. (1892).

Berry was a member of the National Negro Business League and Trustee of Wilberforce University. Edwin Berry died 1931.

Reference:
Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History
Volume 1, ISBN #0-02-897345-3, Pg 175
Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, Cornel West

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