#Junius Groves, a successful, self-educated, landowner, and farmer, became one of the wealthiest Black men in the twentieth century. He was born enslaved on April 12, 1859 in Kentucky. His success is due to his love and interest in science and agriculture.
Groves only had ninety cents to his name when he traveled to Kansas. He began farming by sharecropping near Edwardsville, Kansas. He married Matilda Stewart of Missouri, and within a few years they began purchasing their own land. He soon earned the title “Potato King of the World” in 1902 for growing the most bushels of potatoes per acre than anyone else in the world up to that point in time. Grove.
“Besides producing potatoes on his own farms, Groves, by 1900, bought and shipped potatoes, fruits and vegetables extensively throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The family also owned and operated a general merchandise store in Edwardsville, possessed stock in mines in Indian Territory and Mexico, stock in Kansas banks, and majority interest in the Kansas City Casket and Embalming.” (Blackpast.org)
Groves was the founder of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Society in 1886. He was also elected secretary of the Kaw Valley Potato Association in 1890. He employed up to fifty Black laborers, and he established a golf course for African Americans, it is believed it could have been the very first one.
By the first decade of the 20th century Groves net worth was estimated to be $80,000 and by 1904 $300,000. His family lived in a large mansion, with 22-rooms, running water, electric and telephones. The home was one of the largest in the area. Groves died in 1925. He was also inducted into the Bruce W. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center Hall of Fame in nearby Kansas City, Missouri.