Sunday, May 8, 2016

Petersburg Black Barber - Edward Lockett

While looking through some editions of the Petersburg Daily Express in effort to find reactions to the Emancipation Proclamation, I happened upon an advertisement placed by free black barber Edward Lockett in the June 11, 1863, issue.

The ad notifies customers of Lockett's move from his "old stand at Jarratt's Hotel to the framed tenement at the corner of Washington and Union" streets. Lockett claims to have been a Petersburg institution, in that his ad mentions his thanks for patrons' business for the last twenty-nine years. Interestingly, when I searched the 1860 census for Lockett, it listed him as thirty-four years old. If the ad and census information are both correct, Lockett would have started barbering at about age eight or nine. I suppose that is possible, but highly doubtful.

The census information also showed Lockett as married to Jane E. (twenty-six), and had two children; Virginia A. (four) and Edward (two). The barber owned $800 in real estate and $100 in personal property. The Lockett family lived in the South Petersburg Ward in a largely black neighborhood. Their listed neighbors were mostly other free people of color families, who held jobs such as carpenter, tobacco stemmer, tobacco twister, laborer, hotel waiter, "waggoner," washer woman, plasterer, and gardener.

Lockett billed himself as a "Professor" in the advertisement. I have found other barbers who used this or similar terms to show themselves as being thoroughly skilled in their occupational "art." Such terms also ensured their customers of the barber's long experience, and thus proven ability.

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