THE POTATO KING OF THE WORLD
Junius George was born into slavery in Louisville, Kentucky, April 12, 1859. He traveled to Kansas at the age of 19 as an Exoduster and worked at the meat packing houses in Armourdale, Ks and later moved to Edwardsville, Ks.
Groves purchased 80 acres of land in Edwardsville and began farming white potatoes. His business prospered and he became known as the "Potato King of the World" because he grew more bushels of potatoes per acre than anyone else in the world! The Union Pacific Railway even built a special spur to his property to ship his potatoes far and wide.
Junius was an incredible businessman, being a founding member of the Kansas State Negro Business League, the Kaw Valley Potato Association, the Sunflower State Agricultural Association, and the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Society.
At the height of his success he owned more than 500 acres and was featured in Booker T. Washington's book, The Negro in Business, (1907). On their extensive land, Groves and his wife, Matilda, built a 20-room mansion, which had electricity, hot and cold running water, and telephones.
Junius also looked to use his wealth to extend opportunity, founding the community of Groves Center near Edwardsville where African American families could buy small tracts of land to. He also built a golf course for African Americans, possibly the first such course in the county.
Junius Groves died in Edwardsville in 1925.