The Elmore Bolling Foundation
In 1931, Elmore married Bertha Mae Nowden Peterson and became a deacon at Hopewell Baptist Church. Shortly thereafter, he started his livestock business and used the proceeds to buy a Model T Ford which he converted into a truck. Soon, he was making a living by hauling bone, kindling, scrap iron and tin from Lowndes County to Montgomery (town). As the business flourished, he bought a ton and a half truck and began transporting persons to town to shop. On Sundays, he carried parishioners to various Lowndes County churches. With the help of his wife and children, Elmore was able to offer his riders prepared foods and drinks. Ice cream was a favorite of his clientele. His children made excellent ice cream crankers. Even though his children were very important to his businesses, he was ever mindful of the importance of education. Since the plantations schools were in session only four months of the year, Elmore placed Louis and Elmore Jr., in school in town. They returned home every Friday to prepare for the weekend Fish Fry.
Many farmers hired Elmore to haul feed and animals to the stockyard to sell. As his reputation for reliability spread, many whites began to patronize him. Solid success in business allowed Elmore to buy his first tractor-trailer truck.
After purchasing the tractor-trailer, the “short truck” became the “milk truck.” Elmore employed drivers to pick up milk from sharecroppers and dairies and transport the milk to the big dairy at Whittle. This provided a needed source of income particularly when cotton was out of season. His clientele worked hard toward earning the monthly “milk check” and was delighted to go to town on “check day”.
Soon, Elmore earned the reputation of being a philanthropist. People often commented that, “the only way Elmore would not help you, is that you didn’t ask.” If a person did not have money, Elmore would let him/her ride free. And, if someone could not repay a loan, Elmore canceled the debt. He employed farm hands and grew many plants, including cotton, corn, sugar cane, millet, and peanuts. Further, he raised livestock such as hogs, cows, goats, geese, guinea and chickens.
Elmore’s trucking business was so successful that he bought a brand new tractor-trailer and hired more drivers. He was known to pay well and often better than the white farmers. He provided a place for his employees to live. He often said, “as long as a man will work, he has a place to stay.”
After acquiring property and establishing a multiple use general merchandise store with gasoline tank, certain whites determined that Elmore was “making more money that the average white man”. He was gunned down on December 4, 1947. The arrested white man stated Elmore “insulted my wife on the phone” as the motive for the murder. The NAACP and local residents determined that he was murdered because “he was too prosperous to be a Negro”