My Amazing Ancestors
The Binga Family
William W. Binga | 3rd Great Grandfather
- Born into slavery in Greenupsburg, Greenup, KY |1817 – 1890
- Escapes slavery from Newport, Campbell, Kentucky in 1836 with extended family and friends
- Fought along with his cousins under the leadership of Josiah Henson to protect Windsor, Ontario, CA in the Rebellion of 1837 & 38
- William settles in Detroit, MI in 1844, marries Adelphia Seymour-Powers and has a large family
- He works as a barber and property owner who builds two multi-unit row houses known as Binga Row. Read about it here
Some of the locations William W. Binga worked as a barber in Detroit, 1840’s & 50’s.
Binga Row tenement locations, William Binga’s last home in Detroit (Beaubien St. at Ohio), barbershop locations 1870’s – 80’s and slave plantation locations.
Moses William Binga – Son of William W. Binga & Adelphia Powers – 3rd Great Uncle
- Born free in Detroit, Wayne, MI 1851| Death Unknown
- Moses works as a barber and hostler (likely moving locomotives in and out of the roundhouse)
- He marries and relocates in Cincinnati, OH, having two daughters
- Moses is an inventor who keeps a shed on St. Antoine Street in Detroit to work on mechanical projects
- Moses invents street sprinkling apparatus that is patented on July 22, 1879
Martha Binga, Gordon, Winchester – Daughter of William W. Binga & Adelphia Powers – 3rd Great Aunt
- Born free in Detroit, Wayne, MI | 1856 – 1936
- She works as a tailoress/seamstress in Michigan and St. Paul, MN
- shortly after the death of her first husband, Martha marries John Randolph Winchester and the couple relocates to Chicago, IL
- Upon arrival in Chicago, John works as a janitor and Martha is an astrologer and fortune teller who publishes a monthly horoscope magazine and cookbook with tips for life and household management
- Martha and John establish a successful real estate brokerage firm and loan office
- Martha is the first African-American woman to establish an employment agency in Chicago, IL, and in 1909 assists 7,000 people in obtaining employment
Jesse Binga – Son of William W. Binga & Adelphia Powers – 3rd Great Uncle
- Born free in Detroit, Wayne, MI | 1865 – 1950
- Jesse assists his parents in their respective business ventures as a child and young adult, later working as a barber
- He drops out of high school and for two years studies constitutional law while working as a paralegal, with African-American attorney Thomas R. Crisup
- He travels the western territory between 1885 and 1893 as an itinerant barber, Pullman porter and real estate speculator.
- His parents, wife Frances Scott-Binga and son Bethune D. Binga join him in St. Paul, MN in the late 1880’s
- He settles in Chicago, IL in 1893, establishing a fancy fruit and vegetable business at 12th and Michigan Avenue, from which he operates a shoe shine stand and huckster wagon.
- The Binga’s divorce, Frances and Bethune return to her hometown Chatham Kent, Ontario, CA
- In the late 1890’s, Binga establishes the J. C. Binga & Co. realty enterprise
- By 1907, known as a defiant “block buster” Jesse Binga becomes a prosperous Chicago real estate broker offering rental units, real estate, loans, insurance, lease negotiation, property exchange and property management services
- After nearly a decade of dogged determination and controversial business dealings, Jesse Binga becomes a noted businessman who’s often referred to as a financier, capitalist and real estate mogul
- In 1908, he founds the first African-American owned bank in the northern United States (Jesse Binga Banker, Private Bank).
- In 1912, Jesse Binga marries wealthy socialite Ms. Eudora Johnson, the sister of John “Mushmouth” Johnson.
- Later, with financial help from his wife and obtaining a State charter he opens the Binga State Bank in 1921
- Jesse Binga builds the Binga State Bank and Binga Arcade buildings
Binga Private and State Banks:
Eudora Johnson, Johnson Family Home, Brother John “Mushmouth” Johnson & Mother Ellen Johnson.
Binga Real Estate, building construction and Associated Business Club & Exchange.
William H. Binga – Son of Joshua Binga & Lucia Benjamin – 1 Cousin 4X Removed
- Born in Detroit, MI | 1869 – 1950
- William is a phenomenal outfielder, adept at all defensive positions and a dependable batter
- His athletic skill and defensive performance capabilities provide him membership on several famous Negro League teams including Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis
- The Indianapolis Freeman refers to William H. Binga as, “the only third sacker (baseman) and surest hitter in the country”
- After signing with the Page Fence Giants, the Jackson Daily Citizen dubs Binga “the colored phenomenon of baseball”
Read the HOUR Magazine article about the Negro League Baseball Grave Marker Project, bestowing William H. Binga’s gravestone in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Cotillier Family
John Cotillier Jr. & William H. Cotillier – Sons of John Cotillier Sr. & Elizabeth Berry – 3rd Great Uncles
- John Jr. born a free Negro in Richmond, Henrico, VA | 1843 – 1915
- William born a free Negro in Pennsylvania | 1852 – 1889
- Arriving in Detroit, MI in 1865 John Jr. works as a painter and by 1870 he’s a cook on board a Detroit river boat
- During the 1880’s John Jr. and brother William H. Cotillier operate a restaurant, boarding house and barbershop across from the F & P M Rail Road Depot in Saginaw, MI
- In the 1880 Census, William H. Cotillier is listed at 403 Potter Street with his wife Mary Catherine, one servant, 2 barbers and 8 other boarders
The restaurant/boarding house is to the right of the large brick buildings across the street from the railroad yard.
Elizabeth Cotillier, Butler, Palmer – Daughter of Thomas B. Cotillier & Adelaide Binga – 2nd Great Aunt
- Elizabeth is born free in Detroit, Wayne, MI | 1863 – 1940
- She marries civil war veteran, cook and saloonist Charles A. Butler in 1889
- She works along with her husband serving food and drinks at 78 E. Fort Street in Detroit. Wayne, MI
- In 1890 they purchase a three story building at 63 Atwater East, operating a lodging house and restaurant (It is also their home)
- Charles dies in 1894 and Elizabeth sells the lodging house/restaurant to the owners of the Saloon next door. 63 Atwater E. becomes Union House.
- Sometime between 1895 & 1896, Elizabeth purchases another lodging house with Saloon at 221 Atwater East (It is also her home)
The 63 Atwater lodging house is to the right, just behind the larger Lawrence Hotel. The 221 Atwater Lodging house is across from the railroad yard.
James Charles Cotillier Sr. – Son of Thomas B. Cotillier & Adelaide Binga – 2nd Great Uncle
- Born in East Saginaw, Saginaw, MI | 1880 – 1946
- James worked as a day laborer, stock-man, salt packer, chef, machinist, locksmith, Insurance agent and real estate employee
- While living in Detroit, MI James writes the music and lyrics to the song “The Fighting Yankee Boys” and has it published on July 23, 1919
- In 1923, James marries Bessie Cantey in Chicago, IL and in 1928 their son James C. Cotillier Jr. is born
- James and Bessie operate a hardware store at 4451 South State Street in Chicago, IL
The Robinson Family
William Alfred Robinson – Son of Robert L. Robinson & Charlotte Binga – First Cousin 3X Removed
- Born in Saginaw, MI | 1870 – 1952
- He attends Saginaw public schools and graduates from the law school at Howard University
- For 21 years, William works with The Department of the Interior as a clerk for the United States Pension Office, while also practicing law
- He is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia on July 31, 1893, at the age of 23. Ten years later, he is admitted to practice in the Court of Appeals (same place) on February 5, 1903
- William marries Harriet M. Gardner, also a lawyer, on April 4, 1904 in Washington, DC
- He is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States of America on December 16, 1908
- In December of 1914, he travels to Chicago, IL to establish a second law office
- Later, William and Harriet operate law and real estate offices and later purchase a home at 2925 S. Wabash Ave. in Chicago, IL
- In 1919, he’s selected as part of a group of elite black Chicago professionals, for the incorporation and State charter of Binga Bank
- In 1921, he is elected to the board of directors of Binga State Bank
- He remains in Chicago for the rest of his life, having large property holdings and conducting a law practice
- At the time of his death, he is the oldest practicing African-American attorney in Chicago, IL