Douglass, William J.(born: 1874 - died: 1938) William J. Douglass was a businessman in Cincinnati, OH. He was owner of the Palace Grill Restaurant at 2966 Gilbert Avenue. He had also been the director and vice-president of The Liberian Haberdashery Company, a wearing apparel business that was formed in 1919 as a $5,000 corporation. There were two stores located in Cincinnati. Thomas B. Richmond was the attorney for the business. Richmond owned his own law business. He was born 1886 in British Guiana, came to the U.S. in 1905, and became a citizen in 1912 [source: 1920 U.S. Federal Census].
The establishing of a corporation by African American men in Cincinnati, OH, was big news that was carried in the Crisis and in African American newspapers as far west as Washington state where the story was published in Cayton's Weekly newspaper. The corporation papers were filed August 27, 1919, and the business was listed in the Annual Report of the Secretary of State to the Governor and General Assembly of the State of Ohio, year ending June 30, 1920, p.64 [online at Google Books].
William J. Douglass was born in Madison County, KY, the son of Benjamin and Hattie Carpenter Douglass. He was the husband of Mary Banks Douglass who was also from Kentucky; they married in 1900. The couple lived on Gilbert Avenue, according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. Ten years later, William J. Douglass was still a restaurant proprietor. He was married to Ida Douglass, and the family of three lived on Churchill Avenue. William J. Douglass died February 20, 1938, according to the Ohio Certificate of Death file# 9938. For more about The Liberian Haberdashery see the first paragraph under the heading "Industry" in Cayton's Weekly, 10/18/1919, p.3. For more about William J. Douglass, see his entry in Cincinnati's Colored Citizens by W. P. Dabney.