Back in the days of slavery, many slave masters and overseers often failed to acknowledge the fact that African-Americans were intelligent, innovative, and creative despite the oppression they faced and the disadvantages endured. In many cases, African-Americans were responsible for some of the world’s greatest creations even though white people were known to take credit for their work. However, there were a few who had the ability to overcome those oppressive obstacles and succeed in a world of misfortune.
Bridget “Biddy” Mason was definitely one of those people. If you haven’t heard of Biddy Mason, her story is absolutely fascinating and you’ll be surprised to learn how she acquired so much wealth. She’s now considered the first African-American female real estate mogul.
Born A Slave:
On August 15, 1818, Biddy Mason was born on a Mississippi plantation owned by Robert Marion Smith and Rebbecca (Crosby) Smith. In 1847, she relocated to Utah with the Smith family and began a medical career as a midwife and nurse. But, when the Smiths moved to San Bernardino, CA things actually worked out in Mason’s favor more than anyone. She managed to outsmart her slave master by learning the truth about her rights; rights her slavemaster have been totally unaware of when they relocated to California. While in California, she crossed paths with Charles Owens and others within the black community in Los Angeles, she learned that California had been “admitted to the Union in 1850 as a free state,” according to the AA Registry.
Owens helped Mason petition the court for her freedom and it was granted for her and her daughters as slavery was no longer allowed in California. Once her freedom was granted, Mason began her journey as an entrepreneur. With strategic planning and frugal living, Mason managed to use her career to gain wealth in order to become independent and invest in her future. With the money she made as a nurse and midwife, she started investing in profitable real estate and the doors began to open.
The Rise Of A Real Estate Mogul:
Ten years after being granted her freedom, Mason had relocated to Los Angeles, CA and she was able to purchase her first property in the city for $250.00 and became the first black woman to own land in Los Angeles. In 1884, she sold a parcel of the land for approximately $1500 and reportedly invested the funds to develop a building with rental spaces for commercial purposes. As a result of careful decisions, excellent money management, and great discipline, Mason amassed more than $300,000 in wealth. However, she didn’t stop at creating opportunities for herself.
As a founding member of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Mason was also known for her generous donations to charities and other philanthropic projects. Her legacy also opened doors for her family members. At one time her grandson, was considered one of the wealthiest men in Los Angeles, CA. Biddy Mason is probably one of the most extraordinary entrepreneurs in history because she managed to rise to a level of success many people can’t even fathom. With the cards she was dealt in life, she still managed to prevail.