Entrepreneurs of the Past – Pine Street Barber Shop


Joseph Thomas is pictured in the foreground here along with my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth (McKenney) Thomas and my father’s three older sisters.

As a small business owner myself, I love learning more about the businesses and financial ventures of my ancestors.  From farming the land, to owning the neighborhood restaurant or barbershop, I want to know how they made ends meet.

My great grandfather, Joseph Thomas (seen above), owned the Pine Street Barber Shop in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Oregon Hill neighborhood.  Oregon Hill at the time was known for it’s plucky, blue-collar residents and I’m sure Joseph heard his share of neighborhood gossip.  He was a religious man and attended Pine Street Baptist church, which was within walking distance of the home he shared with his wife Florence Funai Trent Thomas, and I have heard stories of how family gathered at his home every Sunday after church for a big meal.

Joseph was born in Amherst County, Virginia in 1885 and records of his employment range from a teamster (someone who drives a team of horses for the purposes of making deliveries) at the age of 14 to a waiter, a barber, and the manager of a barbershop before eventually coming to own his own business.

Here are a couple of pictures of the shop:


Pine Street Barber Shop at 324 S. Pine Street in Richmond, Virginia


Pine Street Barber Shop at 324 S. Pine Street in Richmond, Virginia. The door to the left of the shop led to an apartment upstairs.

The shop has changed hands two or three times since my great grandfather’s days.  I’ve been in touch with the current owner and am hoping to visit soon to see any old pictures or memorabilia he has.  Can’t wait!

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3 Responses to Entrepreneurs of the Past – Pine Street Barber Shop

  1. Joe Thomas says:

    Great job Melissa!. Really interesting. I cant wait to see if you find anything from the shop.

  2. barbsnow says:

    Nice story. It is this kind of information that makes genealogy research come alive.

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