Florville's Barber Shop
Looking for Lincoln
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
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 Americans • Industry & 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
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.