Sunday, January 24, 2016
Some More Virginia Antebellum Black Barbers
Having some time due to being homebound from the effects of our most recent snowstorm, I spent some time searching through the 1860 census for black barbers in a few Virginia cities and towns. I see several similarities between what I found in Kentucky and what I am finding in Virginia. I suppose with both states being upper-South localities, and with Kentucky's direct relationship with it's mother state, that should not be surprising.
The trend that many black barbers accumulated some wealth from their work continued to be true, especially those that were older and thus able to gather wealth and make investments over their years. The practice of some of the more experienced barbers having younger barbers in their households, likely as apprentices, continued as well.
Here is a list of what I found from four Virginia locations:
Christopher Smith, 52 years old, mulatto, $400 in real estate
Daniel Williams, 60 years old, black, no wealth noted
Leander Hansen, 33 years old, mulatto, $125 in personal property
John H. Jackson, 13 years old, black, no wealth noted (listed in household with Hansen's family)
William R. Pride, 39 years old, mulatto, $125 in personal property
Thomas Gladman, 38 years old, black, $100 in personal property
Henry Sydnor, 61 years old, mulatto, $800 in real estate, $710 in personal property
Nathan Vasser, 12 years old, mulatto, no wealth noted (listed as apprentice and in Sydnor's household)
Albert Alexander, 24 years old, mulatto, no wealth noted
Royall Morgan, 30 years old, mulatto, no wealth noted
Samuel W. Goff, 14 years old, mulatto, no wealth noted
Robert Campbell, 67 years old, black, $10,000 in real estate, $9000 in personal property
Lewis Campbell, 23 years old, black, no wealth noted
Thomas Campbell, 32 years old, black, $1500 in real estate, $400 in personal property (not listed in household as Campbell's above, but likely related)
Lewisburg, VA (now West Virginia)
Jabez Holmes, 40 years old, mulatto, $250 real estate, $300 personal property
Aaron Rives, 23 years old, black, no wealth noted
Charles Alexander, 22 years old, mulatto, no wealth noted
John J. Taylor, 33 years old, mulatto, $500 in real estate, $200 in personal property
Henry Taliaferro, 30 years old, mulatto, not wealth noted
I am interested in seeing if I can find out more about Lynchburg's Henry Sydnor and Staunton's Robert Campbell and Thomas Campbell. These three men's outstanding wealth in comparison to their peers is intriguing.
Another thing that interests me, but seems it would be difficult to fully determine, is the level of competition these men had among each other. For example, in a city such as Fredericksburg, how much did Rives, Alexander, Taylor, and Taliaferro try to out-position each other for their patrons' business. Was there a price war for their haircutting and shaving services, or did they try to offer more amenities such as free cigars or coffee than their business rivals to gain or steal customers. I have not had the opportunity to search period newspapers for barber advertisements as much as I did in Kentucky. But, hopefully, I can find some in the near future that will shed a little light on how these men attempted to appeal to customers and market their services.