Saturday, March 29, 2014

Frankfort Barbers: Jones, Samuel, and Sims

This set of three barber advertisements struck me as intriguing when I ran across it in an 1846 issue of the Frankfort Commonwealth. I found myself wondering, did these three men request for their notices to be run together? Did they pool resources to potentially make their businesses more noticeable? Or, did the newspaper publisher just throw them together due to the similar services they provided? Evidence would seem to point to the former speculation as all the ads were listed as posting on January 1, 1846.

The top advertisement touted the shop of Q. B. Jones on Main Street. In 1850, Jones appeared in the census as a 40 year old black man worth $2000 in real estate; probably meaning he owned his shop. In his household was his wife Nancy, 22 years old, and their children, Orlando, Eugenia, and George.  Also listed in the home were Celeste Richards, Nancy Jones, Sarah Taylor, and a 30 year old mixed race barber named Jack Buckner, who likely worked in Jones' store.

By 1860, Jones had moved to Louisville's 6th Ward, but was still employed as a barber. In the census he was listed as owning $200 in personal property. He and Nancy were still married and son George still lived with the couple. In addition, other children listed were Ann, Dove, and Ellen. Also, a group of adult women lived in the Jones' home: S. Taylor, C. Allen, Bell Allen, and Fanny Allen.

Twenty years later, Jones was still in Louisville, but was listed as a "store keeper."  Nancy was noted in this census as "Nellie." Dudly Jones may have been a derivation of Dove in the 1860 census, as he was exactly 20 years older. Nellie Jones, 18, and Stella Jones 21, were marked as having attended school within the past year. The tradition of additional boarders in the Jones home continued as 35 year old Laura Bowman and 18 year old Henry Clayborn are also listed, both of whom had the occupation of "servant."   

The middle barber, Henry Samuel, advertised in the Commonwealth often during the 1840s, 50s, and 60s. His shop was on St. Clair near the Mansion House hotel.  A fire to the shop caused him to move in the 1850s a few doors down St. Clair. He was a well established Frankfort feature, who likely benefited from legislator business in the state capital. 

Barbers Nat (Nathaniel) Sims and Simuel "Sim" Ellis, noted in the bottom advertisement, worked in a shop on the southeast corner of Main and Ann Street, probably in the corner building shown below.

This building and those adjacent have since been demolished and the Farmer's Bank building (below) presently stands at that location. 

Sims is listed in the 1850 census as 35 years old and described as "mulatto." No real estate value is provided for Sims, so he likely rented the shop location in which he worked with Ellis. Sim Ellis is noted as 31 years old in 1850 with a black complexion, and in Nathaniel Sims' household.

In 1860, Nathaniel Sims was still cutting hair in Frankfort, where he was listed as 46 years old. Sims and Ellis seem to have parted ways in intervening years.

Along with these men, Frankfort supported at least seven other barbers in 1850. In 1860, that number reduced to a total of five barbers. Only Henry Samuel and Nathaniel Sims from the 1846 group of advertisements were listed as still cutting hair in the capital city on the eve of the Civil War.

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