There was one group of African-Americans in Charlottesville who were clearly members of the black middle class. They were known as the Four Hundreds. According to local legend, after emancipation, a group of African-Americans educated themselves and were able to get jobs that paid well. They had enough money to buy land, and each plot cost $400. Thus, the name Four Hundreds. Apparently, the first of the Four Hundreds was John West, who is pictured above.
The Four Hundreds weren't a social club that had regular meetings-instead they were certain families who were not only more well-off than the others, but fashioned themselves and were "looked to as leaders" within the African-American community.
Members of the Four Hundreds included "teachers, principals, and business owners." While Charles Coles owned a construction business, J.F. Bell ran a funeral home.
Other Four Hundred families included the Tonslers, Inges, and Jacksons.
According to the Reverend Carter Wicks, who lived during this time period, the Four Hundreds "were the big shots...They were what you call exclusive people, you know, money people."
Many Four Hundreds attended the First Baptist Church.
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