Very early on in my Koonce project, I began searching the full-text newspaper resource of the Library of Congress, their Chronicling America collection. One of the hits that I would often get was to a cafe in Washington D.C. called Delmo Koonce Cafe. I was not able to learn more about the cafe however, but occasionally, I’ll revisit it and see if I can learn more. This last time I searched, I found some new information!
I learned from another newspaper blurb that the cafe was owned by J.S. Koonce. Since the advertisements I’ve seen have been in a black newspaper, the Colored American, I figured that the cafe was for blacks. This is the article I found from 1900 that names the owner.
“Untitled.” Colored American [Washington, D.C.] 9 June 1900: 2. Library of Congress: Chronicling America. Web. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83027091/1900-06-09/ed-1/seq-2/>
I did another Google search for Delmo Cafe and this time I got a new hit. My very own alma mater, Emory University, has an online collection called the Emory Women Writers Resource Project. In that collection, I found online a brochure from a convention held by the National Federation of Afro-American Women in June 1896. The brochure has an advertisement from the Delmo Cafe and I was able to learn more about them.
Information in the brochure states that the cafe was operated by J.S. & L.L. Koonce and they offered baked goods. The shop was located at 1905 7th St., N.W. Not surprisingly, this is just down the street from the historically black school, Howard University.
I also found another newspaper mention of them looking for a colored ice cream maker. The address now, in 1900, is now at 1606 M. St. NW, which is now much further away from Howard.
“Untitled.” Colored American [Washington, D.C.] 5 June 1900: 2. Library of Congress: Chronicling America. Web. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85054468/1900-06-05/ed-1/seq-7/>
Armed with the name & the location at two different points in time, I then set off to search the census records. Lo & behold, look who I find in the 1900 census of Washington, D.C. residing at 1606 M . St. NW!
26 year-old Jessie S. Koonce, born in November 1873 and his 18 year-old niece Estale who was born in January 1882. Both were born in Alabama with Jessie enumerated as “Confectioner” and Estale enumerated as “Waitress.” This is great! I wonder if I’ll be able to find out even more about them. Is there a connection with the Koonce families that I already know about in Alabama? Only time will tell.