Sunday, March 24, 2013

John P. Clark, Lexington African American Barber

Among the advertisements on page four of the October 19, 1861, edition of Lexington Observer and Reporter are ones for "Fresh Oysters," "Sayre Female School," "Slate Roofing," - and yes, "FOR SALE, A Negro Woman, 22 years old, a good seamstress,  Cook, Washer and Ironer, and sold for no fault." Also among them is a listing announcing the movement of the barbershop of John P. Glark. (Apparently the typesetter got the spelling wrong; it is actually Clark.)

"Jno. P. Clark" was located in the 1870 census living in Ward Number 3 in Lexington. He is listed as a 52 years old black man whose occupation is "barber."  It seems that he was literate. Living with John was his wife Catherine, a 39 year old mulatto woman who is described as "keeping house," and marked as illiterate.

Clark was not able to be located in the 1860 census. I supposed it is possible that he was still a slave the year before the advertisement ran and thus would not be listed by name, but that is merely speculation.

However, another interesting record on Clark survives. He is listed on the books of the Freedman's Savings Bank. This record provides a plethora of family information. This record dates from July 3, 1871, and states that Clark was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, was "brought up" in Lexington, and resided on Main Street. It listed his occupation as barber and that he worked for Alfred Rainey. Like the census record this record has Clark's wife as Catherine, but unlike the census, it lists Ellen Pope as a daughter, although no age is given for Ellen. She was probably an adult in when the census was taken, and thus with a different last name, was probably already married and living in another household.

Amazingly, the Freedman's Savings Bank record also lists Clark's parents, Tumbler and Rhoda Clark; as well as his brother Robert, and sisters Sally and Martha.  This document also contains Clark's signature, proving what the census record indicated - that he was literate.

What a wonderful genealogy tool this would prove to be for someone searching Clark's tree.

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