The biography was written by F.Jack Hurley and David Evans, published in 1981 by University of TN Press. It says that Stokes had a blacksmith shop and that he would shoe the feet of racehorses and get hired to play at parties for wealthy whites. He'd bring Bukka along to the gigs. This would have been in the 1940's.
As Bukka recalled:
"I got with Frank Stokes, and him and me got to playing for rich white folks' parties. And we wouldn't just play; they would have us stopping and talking and just carrying on for them. Man say, "Hell! Y'all ain't got to work yourself to death for a hundred dollars here. Rest some. Eat some. Drink some." It'd be like that; and lots of times I'd come home with a hundred and Frank would have a hundred. Did I like Memphis? Man, I made a lot of money. I had to like it."