From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

African American Shoe Makers, Repairers, Shiners - Covington, Kenton County, KY

(start date:  -  end date: ) 

The business of making shoes was a good business in northern Kentucky, though in Covington there were very few African American shoemakers, shiners, and repairers. In the 1880 U.S. Census there were two African American shoemakers in Covington, KY: Edward Mason and Alonzo Taylor. Edward Mason had been making shoes as early as 1869, and both he and Alonzo Taylor may have formerly been slaves. All other shoemakers in Covington in 1880 were listed in the census as whites who were born in the United States, or were immigrants or the children of immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and Prussia, along with a few from England, Canada, and France. As far back as 1861, the majority of the boot and shoemakers in Covington were immigrants from Germany and Ireland. There are 37 names listed under the heading of "BOOTS AND SHOES" on pp.1-2 of the "Covington Business Mirror" published within Williams' Covington Directory. City Guide [1861]. The race and nationality of each person was not included in the directory, but may be found in the U.S. Census records. By 1900, there were 75 names within the city directory with 23 businesses under the heading "Boots and Shoes," along with 52 names under the heading of "Boot and Shoe Makers and Repairers," and one "Boot and Shoe Upper Manufacturer" [source: pp.243-244 in the "Covington Business Directory" within Williams' Covington and Newport Directory 1900-1901]. Forty years later, shoes were no longer being made by hand. In the Covington directory was listed 12 "Shoe Dealers-Retailers," and 39 "Shoe Repairers" [source: p.696 in Williams' Covington (Kenton County, KY) City Directory 1940-41]. Overall, during the 20th Century the majority of the African Americans in the shoe business in Covington, KY, were shoe shiners at barber shops, in parlors, or they did business from their homes. There were porters (janitors) and a maid at the shoe stores. Matthew J. Sharp, who lived in Covington, was a porter for about 37 years at the Cohen Shoe Company located in Cincinnati, OH. At least two persons were employed at a shoe factory: Charles Jordon worked in a stockroom, and John Green was a laster. With the migration of African Americans to Chicago, IL, Albert Brown took along his trade as a boot black, which was his occupation prior to his death in 1925. His son William Brown, who was born in Covington, was also a shoe shiner and repaired shoes in Chicago, he died in 1928. In Covington, for African American men in general, the business of shining shoes or being a porter (janitor) in a shoe store were short-term employments until a better job came along. Coleman Kelly was a shoe shiner in a parlor where he earned money for college. When he graduated from college, Coleman Kelly returned to Covington and was a school teacher. George Cammax was 14 years old when he was hired to shine shoes at a barber shop. The one African American who made a long term career of making shoes and repairing shoes in Covington, KY, was Milton B. Lee who owned his business for at least 37 years. Milton B. Lee is named as a shoemaker in the city directory as early as 1908, and he continued to be listed as a shoe repairer up to 1945. In the table below are the names and additional information about the African American shoemakers, repairers, and shoe shiners in and from Covington, KY, from 1869-1951.
 

NAME BUSINESS LOCATION YEAR SOURCES NOTES
Albert C. Brown (1885-1925) Boot Black at Parlor Chicago, IL 1920 U.S. Census Supported wife Edna and six sons.
Family left Kentucky about 1907. 
Albert C. Brown (1885-1925) Boot Black at Parlor
Chicago, IL 1925 Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths Index Born in Covington; Died in Chicago; Parents Charley and 
Rachel Conner Brown; Husband of Edna Douglas Brown.
William Brown (1905-1928) Boot Black, Shoe Repairer Chicago, IL 1928 Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths Index Born in Covington; Died in Chicago; Oldest son of
Albert C. Brown & Edna Douglas Brown.
William Brown (b.1921) Shoe Shiner at Barber Shop   1940 U.S. Census  
George W. Cammax (1916-1946) Shoe Shiner at Barber Shop   1930 U.S. Census; and California Death Index George Wesley Cammax died in Los Angeles, CA.
Frazier Coleman (1891-1967) Shoe Shiner at Barber Shop   1910 U.S. Census; p.66 in Williams' Covington and Newport Directory 1910-1911
and U.S. Social Security Death Index
Also a waiter in 1910. A barber in Covingtonby 1918.
Died in Cincinnati, OH.
Samuel Davis (b.1893) Porter at Shoe Store   1920 U.S. Census  
Emma Douglas (b.1875) Maid at Shoe Store   1910 U.S. Census  
Herbert L. Esaw (b.1912) Shoe Shiner 216 Harvey Street 1928 p.89 & p.285 in
Williams' Covington and Newport Directory for 1928-29
 
Herbert L. Esaw (b.1912) Shoe Shiner at Parlor   1930 U.S. Census Born in South Carolina.
John Green (b.1881) Laster at Shoe Factory   1910 U.S. Census * In 1883, the laser machine was invented by Jan Earnst Matzeliger, the machine attached the upper shoe to the inner sole.
Richard Leonard Hayden (1895-1955) Boot Black at Barber Shop   1930 U.S. Census; and Kentucky Death Index Find A Grave
Bishop W. Howard, Sr. (1894-1961) Porter at Shoe Store   1910 U.S. Census; 1900 & 1930 U.S. Census;
WWI Draft Registration Card; and
Ohio Deaths, Certificate #31006
Born in Lexington, KY: Son of Tom and Laura Howard.
By 1917, was employed in a restaurant.
By 1930 moved to Ohio and died in Springfield.
Rogers Jackson (1899-1940) Shoe Shiner at Parlor   1920 U.S. Census; Kentucky Death Index  
Charles Jordon (1891) Stock Room at Shoe Factory   1920 U.S. Census; WWI Draft Registration Card Born in Virginia.
Coleman Kelly (1912) Shoe Shiner at Shoe Parlor   1930 U.S. Census; 1940 U.S. Census By 1940, Coleman Kelly was a college graduate who
taught school in Covington.
Scott Lambkins (1902-1954) Shoe Shiner at Parlor   1920 U.S. Census; Illinois, Cook County, Deaths Left Kentucky and was a bartender in Chicago
prior to his death. Buried in Covington, KY.
Milton B. Lee (1867-1951) Boot and Shoemaker and Repairer   1908 p.282 in Williams' Covington and Newport Directory 1908-1909  
Milton B. Lee (1867-1951) Shoemaker, Owned Shop   1910 U.S. Census  
Milton B. Lee (1867-1951) Shoe Repairer, Owned Shop 47 E. 11th Street 1916 p.145 in Williams' Covington and Newport Directory 1916-1917  
Milton B. Lee (1867-1951) Shoe Repairer, Owned Shop   1920 U.S. Census  
Milton B. Lee (1867-1951) Shoe Repairer, Owned Shop   1930 U.S. Census  
Milton B. Lee (1867-1951) Shoe Repairer, Owned Shop   1940 U.S. Census  
Milton B. Lee (1867-1951) Shoe Repairer, Owned Shop   1945 p.654 in Williams' Covington (Kenton County, KY.) City Directory 1945;
Kentucky Death Certificate File No.116 51 25310, Registrar's No.1139
Buried in Union Baptist Cemetery in Cincinnati, OH.
Joseph Mack (b.1913) Shoe Shiner   1940 U.S. Census  
Edward Mason (b.1821) Shoemaker 1038 Bank Lick 1869 p.86 in Williams' Covington Directory for 1869  
Edward Mason (b.1821) Shoemaker 50 Madison Street 1880 U.S. Census  
James O'Neal, Jr. (b.1924) Shoe Shiner   1940 U.S. Census  
George Owens (b.1882) Porter at Shoe Store   1920 U.S. Census  
Samuel A. Payne (1888-1932) Shoe Shiner at Parlor 18 E. 5th Street 1920 U.S. Census; p.178 in Williams' Covington and Newport Directory 1920-1921  
Samuel A. Payne (1888-1932) Shoe Shiner at Bus Station   1930 U.S. Census; WWI Draft Registration Card;
Kentucky Death Certificate File No.24099
 
Matthew Johnson Sharp (1889-1962) Porter at Dan Cohen Shoe Co. 426 E. 4th Street Cincinnati, OH 1914 p.215 in Williams' Covington and Newport Directory 1914-1915  
Matthew Johnson Sharp (1889-1962) Porter at Dan Cohen Shoe Co. 426 E. 4th Street Cincinnati, OH 1918 WWI Draft Registration Card Born in Georgetown, KY.
Matthew Johnson Sharp (1889-1962) Porter at Dan Cohen Shoe Co. 426 E. 4th Street Cincinnati, OH 1920 U.S. Census  
Matthew Johnson Sharp (1889-1962) Porter at Dan Cohen Shoe Co. 426 E. 4th Street Cincinnati, OH 1930 U.S. Census  
Matthew Johnson Sharp (1889-1962) Porter at Dan Cohen Shoe Co. 426 E. 4th Street Cincinnati, OH 1940 U.S. Census; WWII Draft Registration Card  
Matthew Johnson Sharp (1889-1962) Porter at Dan Cohen Shoe Co. 426 E. 4th Street Cincinnati, OH 1951 p.346 in Williams' Covington (Kenton County, KY.) City Directory 1951 Find A Grave
Buried in Cincinnati, OH.
Irvin S. St.Clair (b.1890) Boot Black   1910 U.S. Census; p.229 in Williams' Covington and Newport Directory 1910-1911  
Saunders Streams (b.1915) Shoe Shiner   1926 p.1657 in Williams' Cincinnati Directory 1926-27  
Saunders Streams (b.1915) Shoe Shiner   1940 U.S. Census; p.381 in Williams' Covington
(Kenton County, KY.) City Directory 1940-41
 
Alonzo W. Taylor (b.1864) Shoemaker   1880 U.S. Census  
Alonzo W. Taylor (b.1864) Shoemaker   1882 p.142 in
Williams' Covington and Newport Directory 1882-83
 
David Waters (b.1909) Shoe Shiner   1940 U.S. Census  
William Williams (b.1899) Shoe Shiner at Parlor   1920 U.S. Census  

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Kenton County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Covington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Williams' Covington directory. City guide [1861]
NKAA Source: Williams' Covington and Newport directory. Including Dayton, Bellevue, Fort Thomas, Latonia, Ludlow and Bromley, Kentucky; also a Cincinnati classified business directory (serial)
NKAA Source: William's Covington (Kenton, Co., Ky) City Directory (serial)
NKAA Source: Williams' Covington and Newport directory. Including Dayton, Bellevue, Fort Thomas, Latonia, Ludlow and Bromley, Kentucky; also a Cincinnati classified business directory (serial)
NKAA Source: William's Covington (Kenton, Co., Ky) City Directory (serial)
NKAA Source: Williams' Covington directory for 1869
NKAA Source: William's Covington (Kenton, Co., Ky) City Directory (serial)
NKAA Source: Williams' Cincinnati directory (serial)

Social Bookmarking

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Shoe Makers, Repairers, Shiners - Covington, Kenton County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 22, 2017, http://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/3151.

Last modified: 2017-08-19 05:34:05