joseph harrison

February is Black History Month

Joseph Christopher Harrison was born in 1814 on the Hemingway plantation where he was originally given the name of his owner. He ran away when at age 14, escaping to Boston where he changed his name to Harrison.

He taught himself to read and write and also learned barbering. At that time barbers not only cut hair and trimmed beards, they also performed small surgeries; they removed tonsils, teeth and did blood letting, using leeches.

In addition to his skill as a barber Harrison learned hair dying and clothes cleaning, with the dream of one day having his own business.

Harrison, and his his wife Emma, purchased a farm in Waterloo County where they raised a family, subsequently moving to Stratford around 1855.

He worked as a builder and then opened a shop at 106 Downie Street in Stratford. His business comprised dry cleaning, barbering and hairdressing.

His son Harvey was the tonsorial artist and barber.

harvey harrison
Harvey Harrison, son of Joseph

His daughter Harriet ran the Human Hair Emporium, providing what we now call “extensions,” but were then known as curls and switches. Joseph Christopher Harrison died in 1890.