David S Stokes

Left: David Stokes and his family, 1906. Right: Stokes & Wiley Grocery Store and Mercantile Hall, about 1912.

David Stokes, the son of Robert Stokes’ sister, came to Riverside after hearing from his uncle that Riverside offered better opportunities than he could find in the South. In 1905, he and associates built the Colored American Mercantile Hall at 2931 12th Street in Riverside.

According to The Colored Citizen newspaper, “This was the biggest enterprise undertaken by the colored people of Riverside.” It served as a multipurpose building for the Eastside African- and Mexican-American communities. It housed businesses and was home to the Black fraternal orders. David was treasurer of the Second Baptist Church and a member of the Orange Valley Lodge No. 13 Masons. He married Jannie May Williams, a member of another pioneering family. Jannie was the sister of Edward, Walter, Robert and Norman. They had five children: Cecil, Oscar, Walter, Wilhelmina and Maitland.