“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Springfield in Sangamon County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Florville's Barber Shop

Looking for Lincoln

Florville's Barber Shop Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 9, 2012
1. Florville's Barber Shop Marker
William Florville was Lincoln's barber for twenty-four years.
Florville, or de Fleurville ("Billy the Barber" to his white customers), was born in Haiti of French ancestry. He came to America at age fifteen and was a barber's apprentice in Baltimore.He moved to new Orleans, but left in fear that he might be illegally enslaved. While traveling along Illinois' Sangamon River in 1831 he met an axe-wielding young man in a red flannel shirt emerging from the woods---22-year-old Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln took Florville to New Salem for overnight lodging and saw him off to Springfield the next day. Here Florville opened the city's first barber shop, its first laundry, and over time became an affluent resident. Lincoln was his attorney. Florville was the father of five, a devoted Catholic,supported local charities, and was a popular musician. He was invited to join Springfield's dignitaries at the front of Lincoln's funeral procession. He chose instead to march at the rear where Springfield's African American delegation was assigned.

Barbering was closely identified with African Americans in Lincoln's era. In 1850 Springfield had

Billy the Barber image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 9, 2012
2. Billy the Barber
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no white barbers, yet almost a quarter of the men who headed the city's 27 black families were barbers. They lived in small clusters throughout the city. More than 20 lived within three blocks of Lincoln's home. Opportunities were severely limited. Most were employed as domestic servants or in servile trades. The 1850s were difficult years for Springfield's black community. Hardening racial attitudes and intimidation caused many to leave. European immigrants competed for menial jobs. By 1860 there were three German barbers in town.

Florville composed this witty advertisement in 1841, before he moved his shop to this location. Lincoln enjoyed loitering about the shop, sometimes forgetfully leaving law books here for days.
Erected by State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency & Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansIndustry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1831.
Location. 39° 47.967′ N, 89° 38.733′ W. Marker is in Springfield, Illinois, in Sangamon County. Marker is on East Monroe Street. Between 7th and 8th Streets. Touch for map

Wm. Florville's Ad image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 9, 2012
3. Wm. Florville's Ad
. Marker is in this post office area: Springfield IL 62702, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lincoln-Era Fire Companies (here, next to this marker); Lincoln's Carriage Maker (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Animal Problems (about 300 feet away); Lincoln's Horse (about 400 feet away); Kenneth Belton (about 400 feet away); Lincoln and Animals (about 400 feet away); The Children's Lincoln (about 400 feet away); Mary Lincoln's Family (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springfield.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 7, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 6, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 673 times since then and 80 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 6, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.

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Sep. 30, 2022