Rosa Lou Barnes

Rosa Lou (Lulu) Barnes (1868-abt 1918) was featured in The National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race, Volume 1, and it’s not hard to understand why. She embodied the American dream in all she did. Born in Alabama, Rosa graduated from the Huntsville Normal Industrial Institute before moving to Savannah. She started out owning a grocery store on Price Street, which she ran for 10 years until 1893 before becoming a land tycoon. She bought 12 rent houses in Savannah as an investment.

Above this, she was also an initial stock holder and director in the Wage Earner’s Bank, which was the first bank of its kind in the country to reach 1 million dollars in deposits. Rosa also owned stock in the Standard Life Insurance Company.

Rosa was a part of fraternal organizations such as Freemason, Knights of Pythias, and Oddfellows. As such, she was a Grand Worthy Chancellor of the Court of Calanthe, Grand Worthy Superior of the Household of Ruth, and Past Grand Matron of the Eastern Star. These offshoots of their main fraternal organizations allowed women to participate.

Rosa Lou Barnes didn’t seem to notice that the white men of her time hoped to hold back Black men and women. In her world, where women were indispensable, she had much to accomplish, and accomplish it she did.

Rosa Lou Barnes in the Savannah Directory
Rosa’s husband died before she did, so Sol C Johnson overlooked her estate when she died.

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