Sunday, March 20, 2016

Petersburg Barber Sought Lost Free Papers

After working eleven straight days, I planned on having a sleep-in Sunday. However, my internal alarm clock would not go into "snooze" mode, so I spent a good deal of the day reading and searching through old newspapers online.

In the December 27, 1855, edition of the Petersburg Daily Express, I came across the brief classified ad shown above. I had found similar ads in other papers, but this is the first I have located from a barber.

In it, free man of color and barber Richard Newsom offered a five dollar reward for the recovery of his "FREE PAPERS," which were lost, apparently on the Southside Railroad between Petersburg and Lynchburg.  A Richard Newsom, a nineteen year old mulatto man, appears in Richmond's 1850 census, but no occupation is given for him. I was not able to locate a Richard Newsom in the 1860 census. Perhaps Newsom had moved on from Petersburg by the time of the 1860 census.

Jarratt's Hotel was one of antebellum Petersburg's best lodgings. Like many other period hotels, it offered amenities for guests such as Newsome's barbershop, laundering services, and carting baggage service; most of these positions were held by free people of color or enslaved individuals rented out to hotel owners. Jarratt's was located at the southwest corner of Washington and Union Streets, where the city's transit station currently sits. The hotel was close to the Petersburg (Weldon) Railroad, which made it convenient for guest arriving in town from the south by that means of transportation.

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