Sunday, July 12, 2015

Richmond Free Black Barber Advertisement

That November 21, 1859 issue of the Richmond Daily Dispatch was loaded with interesting goodies for me. Along with the stories on Congressman-elect Pryor and the barber who wanted to crop Brown's raiders ears, I found the above advertisement for Richmond free black barber R. C. Hobson.

Hobson styled himself as a "Practical Hair Cutter and [hair] Dresser. His business was located, like many free black barbers, under a local hotel - location, location, location. Hobson's shop was under the American Hotel,which was one of Richmond's more notable hotels. Similar to other black barbers, Hobson offered and listed in his advertisement a variety of services. He cut hair "in the latest and most approved style," dyed, and shampooed hair, and shaved faces.

Curious to learn more about Hobson, I located him in the 1860 census. He lived in Richmond's Second Ward, and it indeed lists him as a barber and thirty-eight years old. He is also listed as a mulatto, as are all of the members of his family household, who included: thirty-seven year old Martha A., a domestic and his wife; son Robert L. nineteen years old; daughter Mary F, five years old; Elmore Brown, a sixteen year old barber (probably an apprentice); and John Wilder, twenty-one years old and also a barber. Hobson appears to have been literate, as well as his wife Mary and John Wilder.

Hobson's listed worth shows him to be quite well off. He owned $3300 in real estate property and $352 in personal property. His wealth is not all that surprising as a free black barber, but it is still an impressive amount and shows his good business sense with investing in real estate.

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