REED, JACOB E. (1852-9 Oct. 1935), called by one historian "the black version of the Horatio Alger myth," coming to Cleveland with very little but becoming a wealthy businessman, was born in Harrisburg, Pa., son of Adam and Mary (Evans) Reed. He came to Cleveland in the late 1880s and worked as a waiter, streetcar conductor, and janitor before forming a partnership with Mathias Reitz to open a fish market in 1893. Located at the SHERIFF ST. MARKET and specializing in fish, oysters, and other seafood, their business did very well, supplying some of the city's leading hotels, restaurants, and families.
In about 1914, Reed bought out his partner, and Reitz & Reed became the Jacob E. Reed Co. Reed's extremely successful business made him a member of the small black elite at the turn of the century; he owned a PEERLESS touring car and was a member of the CLEVELAND AUTOMOBILE CLUB. He also owned his own home. Reed was active in civic and fraternal affairs in the black community. He was the first vice-president of the CLEVELAND ASSOC. OF COLORED MEN, a founding member of ST. ANDREW'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, a 33d-degree Mason, a member of the Elks, and an officer in the Odd Fellows. Reed was married three times. With his first wife, Rebecca, Reed had a daughter, Birdie. His second marriage was in 1918 to Emma Cleague (d. 1921). Reed's third wife, Rena Stowers, whom he married in 1928, survived him. Reed died in Cleveland and was buried in WOODLAND CEMETERY.