Monday, October 24, 2011

1880 Barber Shop

There is a new barber shop in Howell, just opened and includes a new twist -- Moe's will not only cut your hair and but will serve you a meal at your request. That's a new twist on the traditional barber shop; nothing like it must have been in the late 1800s when Charles Straws was one of the favored barbers in this village.

Mr. Straws was the child of a freed slave, and he and his mother moved north after the Civil War ended. He opened his barber shop in 1873 and by 1880 was well-respected and busy. I'm fairly certain a barber shop was the perfect place to find out the latest gossip, real estate transfers, and hard luck/good luck stories.

In 1880, the Reason House (also known as the Commercial Hotel), a brick structure at the southwest corner of South Grand and West Grand River Avenue was newly completed two years after the "Independence Hall" wooden-building had burned to the ground. The following blurb showed up in the local paper:

Charley Straws has removed his barber shop to the basement of the Reason block, where he will be pleased to meet all his old customers and as many new ones as may see fit to call.

I also found the following article and am wondering if this is a relative of Charles Straws:

Scott Straws has opened a barber shop in the old stand. He will also give lessons on the guitar to a limited number of scholars. Those wishing to avail themselves of this opportunity should apply immediately.

Later in the year, The fame of Mr. Scott Straws, of this place, as a teacher on the guitar, is spreading far and near, he having had an application from Evanston, Ill. He was compelled to decline, however, as he now has all the pupils he can accommodate at home.

Any thoughts or information?

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