Columbus shifting firm, America’s oldest operating Black-owned enterprise, celebrates 140 years

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EE Ward Moving & Storage, the oldest black-owned company in America, was founded in 1881.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – To have the title of oldest is impressive.

The oldest car, the oldest phone, but have you ever wondered what the oldest black-owned company is?

This title belongs to EE Ward Moving & Storage in Columbus.

It is also the first black-owned company in the United States. The company started there and is celebrating its 140th anniversary.

Family stories are often told. But pictures often tell the moments that come to mind but last forever in photo albums.

“This is my great-great-grandfather. This is my mom’s dad and mom, ”said Michelle Tudor.

The album lives the story of their family The Wards and their family business EE Ward Moving and Storage.

But there is no one better at telling this story than Dolores White – one of the oldest living stations in the family’s bloodline.

“It started with my great-great-grandfather, John T. Ward,” said White.

White, 87, said the origin of her family business was not the “American Dream.” Instead, she said its roots are rough, starting at a time when African Americans were socially perceived as less.

White’s grandfather, John T. Ward, and his wife, Catherine Ross, moved to Columbus in the 1830s.

“He ran a subway that carried runaway slaves,” White said.

Ward then realized what he had found in helping people gain freedom: a business.

Ward and his son William founded Ward Transfer Lines in 1881.

The current company name, EE Ward, was changed to be named after him after John’s son Edgar Earl died.

Over the next 100 years, the family business became an integral part of the black community.

“They went through depression, bigotry, and competition, but they made it anyway. They weren’t the kind of people who just wanted to get rich, they just wanted to take care of the family, ”White said.

They did that and successfully passed the business down from generation to generation.

Brian Brooks and his wife Dominique now own the company, headquartered in Grove City with an additional office in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He said the business that started with two horses and a buggy has now grown into a multi-million dollar company.

Deep within the walls of the business, Brooks said, is the result of hard work and dedication.

“You’ve only gotten through niches. It’s very important and very important to me because I think of many other long-standing companies, ”said Brooks.

If there’s one thing the last year has taught us, it’s important to stand up against the clock.

To last 140 years as a company means something to Michelle Tudor: it’s part of black history and a piece of American history.

“We helped the communities around us and it was a breath of fresh air and I’m so happy to see that,” said Tudor.

Brooks said the company is now one of the top companies in the state.

Over the years the company has never lost sight of its core values ​​of servitude and helping others.