Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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DescriptionPages of notes taken by Knox College Professor of Sociology, J. Howell Atwood from an interview with J. Britton. These notes are about barbers and barbershops in Galesburg, Illinois, probably during the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. The notes identify barbers and barbershops; they also relate stories about gambling and prostitution in some business establishments in Galesburg. Atwood conducted extensive research from 1930-1960 about the Galesburg African American community.
Named PersonBritton, John; Wells, Henry; Brown, Zachariah; Milburn, Joe; Cox, Sam; Webb, Ben; McCabe, Bob; Conger, John L.; Johnson, John;
CreatorAtwood, Jesse Howell;
IdentifierJ. Howell Atwood Manuscript Collection (box 8)
CollectionStruggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
Date Digital2010-04-23

Henry Wells owned a
barber shop -- right across
from the P.O. on Simmons St.
Had a high priced trade. Catered
to white men.
Zachariah Brown owned a
7 chair shop. He had the whole
floor where the AP is near the

Joe Milburn also owned
a shop - catered to trade
of both races. Near Prairie
& Simmons -- east of Pr. south
side of Simmons.

When I came there were no
white barbers. Sam Cox
was on the east side of Prairie
just so. of Main -- his was
a "white" shop.

Barbers J. Britton

Mr. Ben Webb had a
shop too. We had all the
barbering work. He was on the
so-west cor. of the square. That
was a bad corner -- basement
was full of liquor & gambling.
They did everything they were big
enough to do. In those days
there was a good deal of sentiment
vs that sort of thing - Mayor
Lake Sanborn broke the evil
up. Bob McCabe owned all
those bldgs. He wanted those in
his property to make money. I
was certainly surprised about
Prof. Conger. He was elected on
a reform ticket, but made no
effort to get them out. There were
liberals (whiskey) & temperance
parties then. Everybody
said he got a home out of
upholding illegal transactions
in liquor gambling, prostitution.
Prostitutes were up stairs.
That was where the wash rack
is now. McCabe owned a

frame bldg. John Johnson who
owned the hack line owned the
brick bldg. Barber shop
in front & restaurant in back.
"Pussy foot" Johnson (colored man) ran the
upstairs of the frame bldg.
They had dope & women there.
No relation to John Johnson.
J.J. was a high toned politician.
He formed political clubs.
He came here as a little boy --
lived on Tompkins St. In
his 40's he went to Peoria --
went broke.

Along about that same
time white men were going to
Ch-- to get barbering lessons.
The first thing we knew our
barbers were lacking trade.
One of the first white owned shops
had a Negro barber. As soon
as the white owner would get
started he'd have some
colored barbers in the shop
but they weren't allowed
to serve Negro trade. These
white owners immediately
drew the color-line on trade.
Hiatt & Wilson I think was
the 1st white-owned shop. It
was under the waiting room
on the present bus station on
east Main & the Sq.
Physical Descriptionhandwritten on 8.5 x 5.25 (half) sheet
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