Groves, Junius George(born: April 12, 1859 - died: August 17, 1925)
Junius G. Groves was born enslaved in Green County, KY. He was the son of Martin and Mary Anderson Groves. Junius was the husband of Matilda E. Stewart Groves. They were the parents of 14 children.
The story Junius Groves has been retold many times. He walked to Kansas City in 1897, where he worked for 40 cents per day. Groves was able to save enough money to purchase a nine-acre farm in Edwardsville, KS, which enabled him to later purchase a 500 acre produce farm there. At one time he produced more potatoes than any other farmer in the world. The harvest was so large that a private railroad track was built on his land by Union Pacific Railway for shipping the produce. Groves was known as the "Potato King of the World."
He also founded the community of Groves Center, KS, in 1913. Junius G. Groves had a grocery store and he built a golf course for African Americans. He helped found the Negro Business League, the Baptist Church, and other organizations for African Americans.
In 1925, the Junius G. Groves estate was valued at $100,000. There was said to be 400 acres in Wyandotte, Kansas, and 1,200 acres in Western, Kansas. The land was not to be divided. Junius G. Groves was said to be one of the wealthiest African Americans in the United States in the early 1900s. Though, just prior to his death in 1925, he had a lot of debt and there was a foreclosure suit on the home he and his wife Matilda built in 1910. The structure had 3 levels with 22 rooms. There was a fire at the home in June of 1964 and the building could not be saved. At the time of the fire, the house was owned by Mrs. Corinne E. Smith and was valued at $50,000.
Many, many articles have been written about Junius G. Groves. In 2021, a special ceremony was held for the induction of Junius G. Groves into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame.
For more see Junius K. Graves (sic) in The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; "Fire takes old home of Potato King," The Kansas City Star, 06/15/1964, p.29; "Potatoe King's sons must work," The Black Dispatch, 09/24/1925, front page; Tisa M. Anders, "Junius George Groves (1859-1925)" a BlackPast.org web page; Junius G. Groves, 'Potato King' to be enshrined in Kansas Business Hall of Fame.