Wednesday, July 31, 2013

George Morgan, Another Kentucky Black Barber

While I have not been surprised to find a number of African American barbers in antebellum and Civil War era Kentucky, I have been amazed by the advertising efforts made by some of these men to promote their businesses. At this time period it was a nominal freedom they experienced, but being a free man of color rather than a slave offered some blacks the opportunity to get on the socioeconomic ladder - albeit relegated to the bottom rungs. Still, placing advertisements in effort to boost one's business, and thus income, is quite an achievement for an African American man in a slave state.

I found the above notice in the Paris, Kentucky, Western Citizen newspaper in 1864. Curious to learn more, and with the help of my mother's research skills, Morgan's census records were found for both 1860 (shown below), and even 1850.

In 1860, Morgan was listed (on line 19) as a 35 year old single household black man, born in Kentucky, with personal property worth $300.00, and the noted occupation of barber. Many of the Kentucky barbers I have located have been labeled as mulatto, but Morgan is listed as "black."

The decade before, Morgan appeared to have been even more financially well off. In the 1850 census he is listed as a single, 29 year old single household black man, with real estate worth $600.00. One has to wonder how Morgan lost his valuable real estate between 1850 and 1860, and what his $300.00 personal property in 1860 included.

I would like to continue researching Kentucky's African American barbers of the antebellum and Civil War periods. Surely there are many more interesting things to find out about these men and their worlds.

1 comment:

  1. Not ante-bellum or Civil War, but a locally famous barber in Danville, Either One Richardson, was born in Estill Co, son of a barber. When born, the doctor asked his parents what to name him; they had different opinions, so his mother apparently said something like, "I don't care, either one." So the doctor named him "Either One.

    Check Brenda Edwards's article in the Danville paper --