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Pioneering Washington, D.C. Tour Company Run by African American Couple Urges Formation of National Ideal Benefit Society Lodges
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You may come up and use my house for calling the people together, your room and board will cost you nothing, if you can only get the work started, that will be all i would like.

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] JOHN W. and SALLIE M. STOCKTON. Typed Letter to Mr. A. W. Holmes of the National Ideal Benefit Society. On letterhead of the Sight Seeing Automobile and Investment Co. Washington, DC, February 8, 1913. 1 p.

Inventory #24741       Price: $650

John and Sallie Stockton, an African American couple, operated the Sight Seeing Automobile and Investment Co., an early tour business incorporated in January 1909 in Virginia and operated in the nation’s capital. An article in the December 18, 1909, issue of The Afro-American Ledger of Baltimore declared that the company “is prospering beyond the most sanguine expectations of its promoters. Its high-grade machines are in constant use and the big sight-seeing car is popular with parties who come from abroad to view the beauties of the nation’s capital.” By June 1913, however, an article in the Horseless Age reported that the company faced receivership proceedings in court. The complainants wanted the court to declare the company insolvent and prevent it from selling its assets.

Alexander W. Holmes (d. 1935) was the founder and first Supreme Master of the National Ideal Benefit Society, an African American fraternal organization chartered in July 1912. Its purpose was to provide benefits, charity, relief, and insurance to its members and their beneficiaries. Lodges were established in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Holmes was the Supreme Master until his death in January 1935. By that time, the Society had nearly 40,000 members.


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