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African American Shoe Shiners and Shoe Repairers in Lexington, KY, 1930-1947
Start Year : 1930
End Year : 1947
By 1920, there were approximately 50,000 shoe repair shops in the United States. In Lexington,KY, there were many African Americans who supported their families as shoe repairers, shoe shiners, and shoe finishers. The making, repairing and caring of shoes were trades taught in Kentucky's African American normal and industrial institutes, orphanages, and schools for students with disabilities. During the economic depression, when jobs were few and the purchase of new shoes had drastically declined, skilled workers in other trades turned to shoe repair and shoe shining as a source of income. Very limited research has been done on these occupations, but very good documentation can be found in reference to Lexington, KY, and African Americans employed in the shoe care and repair market. Below are some of their names for the years 1930-1947. Many were WWI and WWII veterans. The information comes from Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directories, U.S. Federal Census Records, military registration records, death certificates, and other sources as noted.

[See also the NKAA entries African American Shoe Makers and Shoe Repairers in Lexington , KY, prior to 1900; African American Shoe Makers in Kentucky; and African American Shoe Makers from Kentucky.]

  • William Anderson was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe and Hat Shop (1939 directory). William and Luvenia Anderson lived at 252 E. 3rd Street (1940-41 directory).
  • William E. Anderson (b.1873) was a shoe shiner for M. Churchill Johnson. He had been a porter at his father's barber shop at the corner of Main and Upper Streets, according to his WWI draft registration card. Anderson lived at 321 E. 2nd Street (1940-41 directory) with his father Will Anderson. [see also NKAA entry Suter Brothers, Barbers]
  • Robert Arthur was a shoe repairman at Ben Snyder Inc. Robert and Mary Arthur lived at 668A Charlotte Court (1942 directory).
  • Thomas Atkins was a shoe shiner at Woodland Barber Shop. He lived at 543 E. 2nd Street (1937 directory).
  • Edward Bailey was a shoe shiner at E E Harber Shoe Repair Company. He lived at 150 N. Eastern Avenue (1947 directory).
  • Roosevelt Ballard was a shoe repairman at E E Harber Shoe Repair Company. He lived at 389 Patterson Street (1945 directory).
  • James W. Beatty was a shoe shiner at 204 Deweese Street (1942 directory).
  • Benjamin Bibbs (b.1880) was a shoe shiner at N Y Hat Cleaners (1931 directory). According to his WWI draft registration card, Bibbs had been a tinner at State University on Limestone [now University of Kentucky], and he and Lena Bibbs lived at 167 E. 7th Street.
  • William Bibbs was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners. He lived at 716 N. Limestone Street (1940-41 directory).
  • Coleman Bledshaw was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners. He was the husband of Artemesia Bledshaw, and the couple lived at 530 Lawrence Street (1940-41 directory).
  • Daniel Boone was a shoe shiner for Clyde R. Clem. Boone lived at 558 N. Upper Street (1937 directory).
  • Robert Brookter was a shoe repairman for Mrs. Sadie Bederman. He lived at 501 Patterson Street (1945 directory). [The last name Brookter was more common in Louisiana and Mississippi, than in Kentucky.]
  • Willie Brown (b.1916) was a shoe shiner at a shoe shining parlor in Lexington, KY. He and his wife Alice Brown lived at 374 E. 2nd Street. Willie Brown lived in Hopkinsville, KY, in 1935 (1940 U.S. Federal Census).
  • William Huston Bradshaw (b.1877) was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe Shop. He lived at 274 E. 2nd Street (1940-41 directory), and was the husband of Susie Bradshaw, according to his WWI draft registration card. 
  • Matthew Buckner was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners. Buckner lived at 448 Ohio Street (1937 directory).
  • Thomas Henry Buckner (b.1878) was a shoe shiner. He lived at 450 Chestnut Street (1943-44 directory). He had been a waiter at the Phoenix Hotel in downtown Lexington, according to his WWI draft registration card, and lived at 824 Charles Avenue with his wife Mollie Buckner.
  • Titus Buckner (1855-1936) was a shoe repairman (1931 directory). He had also been a shoemaker and was listed in William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82. Buckner was also a minister. Reverend Titus Buckner was born in Fayette County, KY. He was the husband of Julia Buckner, b.1856 in KY. The couple lived at 196 Eddie Street, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Titus Buckner was a widower by 1920, and Mattie Titus is listed as his wife in the 1931 city directory. Titus Buckner is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Lexington, KY, according to his death certificate.
  • Jesse Cawl (1911-1971) was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe Shop at 244 E. Short Street (1942 directory). He was born in Jefferson County, KY, and Eugene Booker is listed as his mother on the birth certificate. Cawl was a WWII veteran, he enlisted in Cincinnati, OH, on January 22, 1943, according to his Army enlistment record. Cawl died in Louisville, KY.
  • Felix Chapman (1906-1966) was a shoe maker in 1940 (U.S. Federal Census). He was also a shoe repairman and shoe finisher for Charles H. McAtee. Chapman lived at 366 E. 2nd Street (1939 directory and 1940-41 directory). He was later a shoe repairman at E E Harber Shoe Repair Company, and lived at 545 Wilson Street (1945 directory). Chapman had been a chauffeur and lived at 336 E. Short Street (1927 directory). Chapman died in Bourbon County, KY.
  • Marcus Caldwell was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners. Marcus and Sarah Caldwell lived at 507F S. Aspendale Drive (1939 directory).
  • Robert D. Claybourne (b.1880) was a shoe repairman at McGurk's Shoe Shop. He lived with his wife, Lollia Claybourne, and family at 357 Wilson Street (1947 directory). Claybourne, born in KY, had been a shoemaker at a shoe store in Louisville according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census.
  • Farris Craig (b.1890) was a shoe shiner for Fred D. Bostic. Craig lived at 352 Poplar Street (1937 directory). He is listed with his wife Anna H. Craig, and his step-daughter in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. He had been a porter in a barber shop owned by William Johnson in Lexington, KY, according to his WWI draft registration card. Craig was born in Danville, KY, the son of John and Jessie Craig, according to the 1900 Census.
  • Kenneth Craig (1923-1945) was a shoe repairman for Samuel Bederman. He lived in Versailles, KY (1943-44 directory). Craig was born in Buffalo, NY, the son of Clayton Coleman and Roy C. Craig, Sr., and according to his death certificate, his parents were Kentucky natives. Kenneth Craig died of tuberculosis in Lexington, KY.
  • Joseph Davis was a shoe repairman employed by Samuel Bederman. Davis lived at 324 Hickory Street (1931 directory). He was later a shoe shiner at Harber Shoe Repair Company, and lived at 501D N. Aspendale Avenue (1940-41 directory).
  • John Doty was a shoe shiner at Broadway Shine Parlor. He lived at 468 Kenton Street (1942 directory).
  • Loyal R. Drye (1901-1975) was a shoe shiner at Five Minute Hat Shop. Loyal and his wife Eliza lived at 178 Race Street (1931 directory). He died in Cincinnati, OH.
  • Jessie Edwards was a shoe shiner for Samuel Bederman. He lived at 327 Chestnut Street (1940-41 directory).
  • Ceola Evans (b.1913) was a shoe shiner at a shoe shining parlor. He and his wife Bessie Mary Spencer Evans and their two children lived with the Spencer family at 562 E. Third Street (1940 U.S. Federal Census).
  • Alphonso Fair was a shoe shiner employed by William T. Hurst. Alphonso and Mayme Fair lived at 446 Ash Street (1931 directory).
  • Nathaniel C. Farmer was a shoe repairman at 306 E. 2nd Street (1931 directory).
  • William Fisher was a shoe shiner at Broadway Shine Parlor. He lived at 197 Deweese Street (1947 directory).
  • Thomas Foster was a shoe shiner at Harber Shoe Repair Company. Foster lived at 313 Henry Street (1939 directory).
  • Lawrence Fox was a shoe shiner for Martin Berlin. Fox lived at 427 Kenton Street (1940-41 directory).
  • Mitchell Garth (b.1881) was a shoe shiner. He worked from his home at 133 W. Water Street (1937 directory). Garth was born in Alabama, and had been a janitor while a boarder at the home of Samuel Young on Corral Street, according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.
  • James A. Graves (b.1891) repaired shoes at his home, 523 S. Spring Street (1931 directory). He was born in Kentucky, the son of Florida Graves, according to the 1920 U.S. Census. James Graves later repaired shoes at 211 Deweese Street (1937 directory). James was the husband of Abbie Graves. The city directory entry reads "Shoe Repair Shop, I Doctor Shoes, Heel Them and Save Their Soles" (1945 directory).
  • Patrick Green was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe Shop (1947 directory).
  • Walker Green was a shoe finisher at McGurk's Shoe Shop. He lived at 726 Chiles Avenue (1945 directory).
  • Peter Harley was a shoe shiner at 164 Race Street (1943-44 directory).
  • Sam Harris (b.1880) was a shoe repairman at a shoe shop. He and his wife Deedie lived on 533 Jefferson Street in Lexington (1940 U.S. Federal Census).
  • Samuel M. Harrison (1874-1951) was a shoemaker and shoe repairman at 535 Jefferson Street, and he lived at 533 Jefferson Street (1931 directory). Harrison was born in Fayette County, KY, the son of Martha Allen Harrison and Essix Harrison, according to his death certificate. He was the husband of Cordelia Harrison. By the 1940s, Samuel Harrison had expanded his shoe repair business to include the making of artificial limbs (1943-44 directory). Samuel M. Harrison is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Lexington, KY.
  • John F. Holman was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe & Hat Shop. He lived at 150 N. Eastern Avenue (1943-44 directory).
  • Henry E. Howe (1911-1984) was a shoe finisher at a shoe shop in 1930 when he was living with his grandmother Mary Howe at 275 E. 4th Street, according to the U.S. Federal Census. He was later a shoe repairman at 607 N. Limestone, and was married to Nannie Howe. The couple lived at 275 E. 4th Street (1937 directory). A few years later, Henry Howe lived at 332 Ohio Street (1942 directory) with his wife Louise P. Howe (1945 directory), and he was still repairing shoes on N. Limestone.
  • Alex Hutsel was a shoe shiner employed by Samuel Bederman. Hutsel lived at 350 Deweese Street (1942 directory).
  • William Irvin was a shoe shiner for Robert E. Parris. Irvin lived at 549 Thomas Street (1937 directory).
  • Christ Jackson was listed as a laborer who lived at 180 Correll Street [Corral Street] in the R. C. Hellrigle and Co's Lexington City Directory 1877-78, and he was later a shoe shiner at Broadway Shine Parlor (1939 directory). Christ and Lillie Jackson lived at 309 Coleman Street (1939 directory and 1940-41 directory).
  • James L. Jackson was a shoe shiner who lived at 217 E. 2nd Street (1942 directory).
  • Robert Jackson was a shoe repairman for Sol Bederman. He and his wife Annabelle Jackson lived at 219 E. 2nd Street (1945 directory).
  • Roy Jackson was a shoe shiner at 314 Corral Street (1931 directory).
  • Robert E. Johnson was a shoe shiner for Samuel Bederman. He lived at 436 Kenton Street (1943-44 directory).
  • Shirley B. Johnson was a paperhanger when he and his wife Sidney lived at 553 Ohio Street (1931-32 directory). Shirley Johnson was later a shoe shiner at O K Barber Shop, and the couple lived at 145 Prall Street (1939 directory).
  • Chester Jones was a shoe repairman at 559 White Street (1937 directory). He was later a shoe shiner at the Lexington Shoe Hospital (1939 directory).
  • Lloyd Jones was a shoe finisher and shoe repairman at McGurk's Shoe and Hat Shop. Lloyd and Mary Jones lived at 684C Charlotte Court (1943-44 directory & 1945 directory).
  • Oliver Jones was a shoe shiner at 371 Corral Street (1937 directory).
  • William C. Jones repaired shoes at 243 Lee Street. He and his wife Callie C. Jones lived at 923 Whitney Avenue (1931 directory).
  • John L. Lawrence was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners. John and Mary Lawrence lived at 450 N. Upper Street (1940-41 directory).
  • David Lee was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe & Hat Shop. He lived at 736 N. Broadway (1943-44 directory).
  • Spurgeon L. Lewis (1911-1985) was a shoe shiner at Unique Shine Parlor. Lewis lived at 326 E. 2nd Street (1937 directory) with his parents, Henry S. and Elizabeth T. Lewis. There was a family of eight listed in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.
  • Joseph B. Lyons, Sr. was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners. Joseph and Sam Ella Lyons lived at 182 Eddie Street (1937 directory). They later lived at 507D S. Aspendale Drive (1942 directory). [He was the father of Donald W. Lyons, Sr. and Joseph B. Lyons, Jr.]
  • Robert Hamilton McClasky (b.1881) was a shoemaker at his home at 209 South Broadway, and was the husband of Clara M. McClasky, according to his WWI draft registration card. He is listed as a widow in the 1920 Census, he was sharing his home, 207 S. Broadway, with his brother John E. McClasky (b.1891) who was a shoe repairman. Both brothers were born in Kentucky. Robert McClasky was later a shoe repairman at 207 S. Broadway (1931 directory), and would become the owner of Tuskegee Shoe Shop, which had a separate entry in the city directory (1945 directory). The shop was located at his home. The directory entry reads "Tuskegee Shoe Shop, (c; Robert H. McClasky), 35 Years of Dependable Service, Shoe Repairing, and Rebuilding." He was the husband of Birdie McClasky (1945 directory).
  • Andrew McGee (1894-1942) was a shoe shiner for John K. Reeder. McGee lived at 346 Corral Street (1939 directory). He is listed in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census as a barber. He had earlier been a porter at Wiley & Fields, at the corner of Main and Broadway, according to McGee's WWI registration card. Andrew McGee was born in Kentucky, the son of Pollie Lee and William McGee, according to his death certificate. He lived with his grandmother when he was a child; Jane Lee was a widow who lived on Constitution Street in Lexington, KY, according to the 1900 Census. Andrew McGee was a WWI veteran and is buried in the National Cemetery in Nicholasville, KY.
  • Michael Miegel was a shoe shiner at Broadway Shine Parlor (1947 directory).
  • William Mells was a shoe shiner for Martin Berlin (1940-41 directory). He later shined shoes at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners. William and Jean Mells lived at 248 Jefferson Street (1942 directory). Jean Hamilton Mells was a 47 year old widow when she died in 1948, according to her death certificate.
  • Thomas Mells (1900-1967) was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners. Mells lived at 122 W. 4th Street (1942 directory), and later lived at 248 Jefferson Street (1943-44 directory). He died in Lexington, KY, according to the Social Security Death Index.
  • Thomas Mullen was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe Shop. He lived at 351 E. 3rd Street (1940-41 directory).
  • Robert Mundy (1915-1976) and Thomas L. Mundy (1916-1983) were brothers, both were shoe shiners at Harber Shoe Repair Company. Robert was the husband of Ruth Mundy and the couple lived at 419 Chestnut Street. Thomas Mundy lived at 243 Ann Street (1937 directory). The brothers were born in Kentucky, the sons of George and Sally Mundy. The family of seven is listed in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, they lived on Mary Street in Lexington, KY.
  • Edward M. Neal, Jr. was a shoe repairman at 508 Thomas Street (1937 directory).
  • Raymond Nichols was a shoe shiner for Henry Howe (above). Nichols lived at 738 N. Broadway (1939 directory).
  • Kenneth A. Paige (1903-1961) was a shoe repairman at 322 Chestnut Street in the 1930s. Kenneth and his wife Anna J. Paige lived at 219 W. 7th Street (1931 directory). Kenneth Paige is listed in the Lexington city directory for almost two decades, including his employment at E E Harber Shoe Repair Company (1942 directory). Paige was also a shoe repairman at Pinkston's, and lived at 351 Corral Street (1945 directory). He was owner of "Paige's Shoe Repair Shop, The House of Souls and Heels." The business was located at 211 Deweese Street (1947 directory).
  • Charles Palmer did shoe repairs at his home, 445 Chestnut Street. He was the husband of Anna B. Palmer (1931 directory).
  • John Nimrod Paul was born in 1885 in Russell County, KY. He was the husband of Emma Grider Paul, born in 1892 in Cumberland, KY. The couple lived in Russell Springs, KY, according to John Paul's WWI registration card. John Paul had a shoemaker's shop in Russell Springs according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. By 1930, the family of six lived in Lexington, KY, and John Paul did shoe repairs from their home at 457 Georgetown Street (1931 directory).
  • Felix Pearsall (1922) was a shoe shiner for Charles H. McAtee (1939 directory). He was the son of Katherine Pearsall who was a widow when listed in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.
  • Gilbert W. Potter (1910-1954) was a shoe shiner for Sol Bederman, and he and his wife Virginia lived at 667C Charlotte Court F (1945 directory). He had been a waiter (1937 directory), and was later a porter at Drake Hotel (1939 directory). Gilbert W. Potter served in the U.S. Army during WWII, he enlisted in Cincinnati, OH, October 23, 1942, according to his enlistment record.
  • William Reed (b.1924) was a shoe shiner in a barber shop. He was the son of Susy Reed. The family lived at 349 Wilson Street (1940 U.S. Federal Census).
  • Albert Rogers was a shoe shiner at Harber Shoe Repair Company. Rogers lived at 230 E. 2nd Street (1937 directory).
  • Jesse Ross shined shoes at N Y Hat Cleaners. He lived at 731 Whitney Avenue (1931 directory).
  • Paul L. Seals (1930-1985) was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe Shop. He lived at 500C N. Aspendale Drive (1947 directory). Seals was the son of Robert P. and Marjorie R. Seals, the family of four is listed in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.
  • Harry Shields was a shoe repairman. He lived at 248 E. Short Street (1942 directory). Shields was later a shoe repairman at Tuskegee Shoe Shop (1947 directory). He was the husband of Sarah Shields.
  • David Singleton was a shoe shiner for Sol Bederman. He lived at 248 E. 5th Street (1937 directory).
  • Jerry Smith was a shoe shiner at 118 W. Vine Street. He was the husband of Beatrice T. Smith (1947 directory).
  • John Smith repaired shoes at 401 1/2 Race Street. He and his wife Mary Smith lived at 562 Thomas Street (1931 directory).
  • Rudolph Smith was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe & Hat Shop. He lived at 374 E. 2nd Street (1943-44 directory). He was later a shoe shiner at E E Harber Shoe Repair Company, and lived at 428 Ash Street (1945 directory).
  • Thornton Smith was a shoe shiner at 390 Patterson Street. Smith lived at 721 Noble Avenue (1942 directory).
  • George W. Stewart was a shoe repairman at 337 N. Limestone. George and Leona P. Stewart lived at 341 N. Limestone (1937 directory).
  • George A. Stone was a shoe shiner and a shoe repairman at Harber Shoe Repair Company. Stone lived at 532 Emma Street (1939 directory), and later lived at 425 N. Upper Street (1943-44 directory).
  • A second George A. Stone was a shoe finisher at 417 E. 2nd Street. He was the husband of Rose L. Stone (1943-44 directory), the couple lived at 309 E. 2nd Street (1940-41 directory).
  • Albert Taylor was a shoe shiner. He lived at 133 Water Street (1940-41 directory).
  • Dillard Taylor (1884-1939) did shoe repairs at 801 Whitney Avenue. He was married to Lizzie Taylor (1931 directory). Dillard Taylor was born in Scott County, KY, the son of Litha Redd and George Taylor, according to his death certificate. He was buried in Georgetown, KY.
  • George T. Taylor (1900-1952) was a shoe repairman. He lived at 322 Chestnut Street (1942 directory). Taylor was later a shoe repairman at Third Street Bargain Store. George and Rosa Taylor lived at 316 Deweese Street (1945 directory). According to his death certificate, George T. Taylor was also a shoemaker. He was born in Macon, GA, the son of Eugenia and Lee Taylor. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Lexington, KY.
  • Ella B. Thomas was one of the few women who were employed as a shoe repairer. The business was at 337 N. Limestone, and Thomas lived at 341 N. Limestone (1931 directory).
  • James Tribble was a shoe shiner at McGurk's Shoe & Hat Shop. He lived at 753 Loraine Avenue (1943-44 directory).
  • Sanford Vinegar was a shoe shiner for George Miner. He lived at 477 W. 4th Street (1937 directory).
  • E. Waldo was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners located at 321 Wilson Street (1942 directory). He was the husband of Corine Waldo.
  • Joseph E. Walker was a shoe shiner. Joseph and Mozelle Walker lived at 157 N. Eastern Avenue (1945 directory).
  • Virgil Washington was a shoe repairman employed by Sol Bederman. Washington lived at 309 E. 6th Street (1931 directory).
  • Thompson Webb was a shoe shiner at Unique Shine Parlor. He was the husband of Hattie Webb (1939 directory).
  • Earl White was a shoe shiner for Sol Bederman. White lived at 702 Lindbergh Court (1940-41 directory).
  • Joseph White was a shoe repairman for Samuel Bederman. White lived at 343 E. 2nd Street (1937 directory).
  • Albert Wilkerson was a shoe shiner at State Cleaners. He lived at 413 Elm Street (1937 directory)
  • Jesse Williams was a shoe repairman at Harber Shoe Repair Company. Jesse and Clara Williams lived at 205 E. Euclid Avenue (1937 directory).
  • Jesse Williams, Jr. was a shoe repairman at E E Harber Shoe Repair Company. He lived at 248 Roosevelt Boulevard (1943-44 directory).
  • William Wilson was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters & Cleaners (1937 directory).
  • William Winchester was a shoe shiner at Lexington Hatters and Cleaners (1940-41 directory).
  • Harry E. Worsham was a shoe shiner at Lexington Shoe Hospital. Worsham lived at 445 Chestnut Street (1942 directory). He was later a shoe repairman for Mrs. Sadie Bederman (1945 directory).
  • Nathaniel Young was a shoe shiner at Martin's Barber Shop. Nathaniel and Luella Young lived at 108 York Street (1939 directory).

See 1907 photo image of shoe shiner on Lexington, KY street in University of Louisville Libraries: Digital Archives. For more information on shoe repairing in general, see The Shoe Industry by F. J. Allen. For more general information on African American shoe shiners see Encyclopedia of African American Business, v.2, K-Z, edited by J. C. Smith. See also Establishing and Operating a Shoe Repair Business by J. G. Schnitzer and C. R. Budd.


Subjects: Barbers, Businesses, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Russell Springs, Russell County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Bourbon County, Kentucky / Alabama / Cincinnati, Ohio / Macon, Georgia / Louisiana / Mississippi / Buffalo, New York



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