II. Business and Industry

Peoples Temple businesses in Jonestown fell under the responsibility of two departments: II. Business & Industry and X. Small Shops. The distinction is not clearly specified but it appears that Business & Industry has to do with business external to the Temple; whereas Small Shops has to do with business internal to Temple.

Kay Nelson and Hue Fortson were listed as the heads of the Business and Industry department.

Assembled from lists and records found in the FBI documents, the jobs and workers listed in the Business and Industry department may be found in this pdf file:

Business & Industry Department Jobs and Personnel Listing

Several sets of minutes give an idea of what business considerations were being evaluated in summer 1978. These included: Downriver businesses, Rheaviana’s license for sales, purchases abroad, Guyanese taxes, and more.

Business Audit Committee Meetings June and July 1978

With Jim Jones’ frugal nature – he was always interested in saving money here and making money there – it was natural that Peoples Temple would look to ways to bring in money using materials at hand.

One business dealt with commercial use of the Temple boats: the Cudjoe, in freight hauling between Georgetown and Guyana ports along the coast and rivers to Port Kaituma (as well as transporting goods for the Temple); and the Albatross, in freight hauling between Georgetown and such Caribbean ports as Port of Spain in Trinidad. On November 18, 1978, the Albatross – which had just been purchased in spring 1978 – was on its first commercial trip to Trinidad.

Other businesses included stores run by the Temple in Port Kaituma and nearby Kumaca. These evolved from work by Patty Cartmell and Rheaviana Beam who scouted up and down river, buying and trading goods for food for Jonestown. Temple stores sold items brought in from Georgetown or as well as dolls and wooden toys made in Jonestown by its residents.

At the time of the deaths in November 1978, plans were underway to warehouse materials at Port Kaituma for other enterprises. Gene Chaikin had also proposed expanding the Port Kaituma and Kumaca businesses to possibly include a “Night Club” for weekend events and dancing to raise money.

Money making, night club in Kumaca & Warehousing in Port Kaituma

Cottage 39 served as the Sewing Center, where people made items for community residents and for sale to the outside. Commercial orders included custom-made t-shirts for several conferences, a stuffed “mouse doll,” etc. In August 1978, Ruby Carroll, who headed the sewing business, asked for more space and workers to meet expanding commercial orders.

Sewing Department Request to Expand workers August 1978
Sewing Department Report 28 Sept 1978

The community had shoe and watch repair services for its own needs, but outside business in these trades was developing as well. Among those involved in these ventures were Mike Rozynko, Bruce Oliver and Chuck Beikman.

Rita Tupper headed the letter writing which was organized under this department. All mail – both for letter-writing campaigns as well as incoming and outgoing personal letters – were channeled through her.

– Don Beck

 

Last modified on October 20th, 2013.
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