Star Cab: Alexandria, Virginia First African American Cab Company

The picture in the blog banner is a picture of three men who owned their

1940s-1950s Star Cab Staff

cabs and drove for “Star Cab Company” during the 1940s and 1950s. These men were Mr. Ike Marshall, Mr. Clarence McKenney, Sr., and Mr. Norman Reynolds, Sr; this picture was taken in the 400 block of South Columbus Street. Some other drivers who drove under the Star Cab Company were Mr. John Galloway, Mr. Samuel Taylor, Jr., and Mr. William Charity.

Mr. William Charity’s cab number was 22. Mr. Charity started driving for Star Cab in the early

Mr. William Charity

Mr. William Charity

 

1940s part-time. He had a full-time job in the Federal Government. He soon realized that he made more money driving the cab than he did on his full-time job. He quit his government job and started driving full-time for Star Cab. Mr. Charity has fond memories of driving; “the drivers back then dressed in uniforms and we were well respected by the people who knew us”, Mr. Charity stated in a home visit that I made with Mrs. Wilson’s great-great niece, Ms. Shenise Foster to his home. Mr. Charity was able to buy his home on the salary he made from the cab business as well as provide a good living for his wife and children. Today, Mr. Charity is the last man standing who once drove for “Star Cab.” Mr. Charity is 101-years-old and he has been a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church for over 90-years.

Who was this extra-ordinary African American business minded woman who started the “Star Cab Company?”

Star Cab was owned by an African American female named, Madeline Morton Wilson who had a remarkable sense for business. She was born in Orange, Virginia around 1903. She and her brother, Clarence Morton migrated to Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, D.C., when they were young. Mrs. Wilson appeared to have stayed in Alexandria, Virginia with an aunt, Elmira Morton Matthews who migrated earlier to Alexandria. In 1926 at the age of 23, Madeline Morton married Wadsworth Wilson who was 44-years-old. Prior to her marriage, she was living at 408 Oronoco Street, in Alexandria, VA; but, she reported on her marriage license that she was born in Orange, Virginia. Prior to Mr. Wadsworth Wilson’s marriage, he was living at 617 St. Asaph Street; he reported on his marriage license that he was born in Washington, DC. They were married by Father Joseph J. Kelly at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

In Mrs. Wilson’s short life, she was a woman that was on the move making independent business deals. She had her own business as a hairdresser. She purchased her family home at 700 North Patrick Street. Mrs. Wilson, her husband, her son, and for several years her young niece lived in the back half of the house. In the front part of the house, she had a hair salon and barber shop. She independently purchased several other properties in Alexandria. Many of her business transactions were recorded only in her name. One of her biggest business’ deals took place in 1940, when she started the “Star Cab Company.”

John “Buddy” Wilson second person from the right

Although her son, John “Buddy” Wilson ran the day to day operations, Mrs. Wilson was the owner. In 1945, she obtained business partners and incorporated the Cab Company into “Star Cab Association.” Her partners were:

Mrs. Pearl M. Willis – 909 Princess Street, Alexandria, Virginia
Mr. John Galloway, Jr – 233 North West Street, Alexandria, Virginia
Mr. Samuel Taylor, Jr – 318 North Alfred Street, Alexandria, Virginia

In 1950, Mrs. Wilson had passed away. In the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper, her obituary stated that she had a long illness. She died at Freedman Hospital in Washington, DC. Mrs. Wilson was survived by her husband, Wadsworth Wilson, her son, John (Buddy) Wilson, her brother, Clarence Morton of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and her aunt, Elmira Mayetta Morton Matthews of Massachusetts.

Mrs. Madeline Morton Wilson was the business genius in her family. After her death, three-years later in 1953 her husband, Wadsworth Wilson died. He was survived by his son, John (Buddy) Wilson, brother, John Wilson, and many nieces, and nephews. Shortly after the death of Madeline and Wadsworth, their son lost everything. He could not maintain all the property that his mother acquired. John “Buddy” Wilson died as a lonely man without his relatives near him.

The niece of Mrs. Madeline Morton Wilson lives in Cape May, New Jersey. She and her granddaughter, Shenise are currently researching their family history.

I want to thank Mrs. Carolyn Phillips McCrae and her nephew, Norman Reynolds, Jr., for providing the pictures of “Star Cab”. Norman, Jr., is the son of Norman Reynolds, Sr., who drove for Star Cab. Also, Ms. Shenise Foster, great-great niece of Mrs. Madeline Morton Wilson, provided three pictures including the one of Mr. Charity.

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6 Responses to Star Cab: Alexandria, Virginia First African American Cab Company

  1. Arlene Foster says:

    I like to personal thank Ms. Shenise Foster for showcasing a little bit of family history of Ms. Madeline Morton Wilson legacy and life story for all her surviving relatives to read. Awesome article much appreciated. Being the first black women CEO of businesses, cab company and real estate properties is rare during those times, and should be recongized for her contributions and accomplishments and should be displayed in the Black Histgory Muesum in Washington D.C. for all to see!!!!

  2. Donald Owens says:

    I remember most of these people. Mrs. Pearl Willis was a spiritual rock at Alfred Street Baptist Church under Reverend Adkins.

  3. S.F. says:

    Thank you for showcasing a side of Alexandria that does not get enough attention. Great article!

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