Barber – Surname Lost?


Surname Saturday

Name Origin:

A barber cutting hair - Source: Pixabay Barber is an occupational name for a barber. Barbers of old not only cut hair and shaved beards, but also practiced surgery and pulled teeth.[i]

Today (2014 data), there are 86,641 people with the Barber surname in the United States, the most of any nation. In terms of rank within a nation, there are proportionally more people with the Barber surname in England, Wales, and Australia.[ii]

My Earliest Ancestor:

My earliest known Barber ancestor is my 2nd great grandfather, Franklin E Barber. Frank, as he was known, was born December, 1836 in Ohio.[iii]

In most of the census records Frank’s occupation was a painter. According to Ancestry.Com there were 147 Barber families enumerated in the 1840 Census. From the 1880 Census, we know his father was born in New York and his mother was born in Vermont.

I know nothing of his early life and only recently found him as Elisha F Barber in the 1870 Census living Trumbull county, Ohio. I need to confirm this finding though, because it appears that he and Sarah Blackhurst married in Albion, Michigan in 1869 and located in Ohio immediately after the marriage. Then they apparently moved back to Albion to be there during the 1880 Census.

Franklin and Sarah had two daughters, Ida Mae and Eva Louisa. With them the Barber name was lost from Frank’s descendants.

I still have not determined who Frank’s parents were. With only 147 Barber families in Ohio in 1840, I believe it may be possible to determine his family in Ohio. If I can, it may be that he will have siblings that carried the Barber name on.

Frank died on April 7, 1917 at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home. His is buried at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home Cemetery at plot 7, row 10, grave 13.

My Direct Barber Ancestors

#30 – Franklin Elisha Barber (1836-1917) – 2nd Great Grandfather.
#15 – Ida Mae Barber (1875-1953) – Great grandmother.
# 7 – Madonna Mae Montran (1893-1976) – Grandmother.
# 3 – My mother.
# 1 – Me.

My known relatives.

My records have 31 direct-line descendants identified over eight generations, which is less than 1% of my known Brown/Montran family tree. 


[i] Ancestry.Com – Barber Family History –
[ii] Forebears – Surname Meaning & Statistics, Internet website – | accessed 3 Apr 2016.
[iii] 1900 Census – Frank Barber – Inmate, Soldier’s Home, ED 148, Sheet 4A.
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100 Years Ago – Ida Mae Barber Knight – (1873-1953)

23 December 1914 – Ida Mae Barber Knight

Ida Mae Barber Knight

One hundred years ago Ida Mae Barber (Montran) (Fisher) (Holdsworth) Knight was living with her husband, Harvey Watson Knight, in their new home on Lawndale Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. At the time it was 628 Lawndale[1]. In 1923, Ida’s daughter Madonna (Donna), registered a song “Beautiful Mother of Mine” and indicted her home address as 1456 Lawndale. At first I thought this was very confusing, that Harvey and Ida would move eight blocks away on the same street. Then, when I looked at their neighbors, I saw that many of the neighbors also moved the eight blocks with them[2]. That made me realize that the street was renumbered sometime between Feb 1920 (Census Date which said 628 Lawndale) and Feb 1923 (Donna’s song registration which said 1456 Lawndale.)

The Knight household in 1914 consisted of Ida and her husband Harvey. Ida’s daughter from a previous marriage(?), Madonna (aka Donna), was in California working in the movies and working as a Mack Sennett bathing beauty. Ida’s father, Franklin, had died previously. Harvey’s parents are believed to still be in Chatham, Kent, Ontario, Canada. (There is no evidence that I have found that puts them anywhere else.) Ida’s Mother, Sarah H Blackhurst (Barber) had been living at 1419 Clay Avenue in 1910 with Ida, Madonna, and “Boarder” Harvey Knight. According to the 1920 Census, Sarah was living in Manhattan with Madonna who was on the road in a Vaudeville act. So in 1914, it is possible that Sarah was living eight miles away from Ida on Clay Ave or possibly living with Ida and Harvey on Lawndale. Ida’s sister, Eva Louisa Barber Goff, was probably living with her husband and daughter, about three and a half miles away on 15th Street.

Harvey Watson Knight’s
WWI Draft Registration
Thanks to Ancestry.Com and the
National Archives and Records Administration.

It doesn’t appear that the 40-year-old Ida worked outside of the home and is presumed to have been a housewife. Her husband, Harvey, was an engineer. In 1914 he probably worked for Ireland Matthews at Beard & Chatfield Aves., which is about 1 mile away. (He was working there in 1917 for certain – See WWI Draft Registration.) Today, that site is the location of the Roberto Clemente Academy a Pre-K to 5th grade which was built in 2001[3].

Of course the international news of the day was about the war in Europe. On this date, 23 December 1914, was the beginning of the now famous “Christmas Truce.” A German soldier, Karl Aldag, reported that both sides had been heard singing hymns in the trenches. German troops coming into the lines bring Christmas trees. Some men begin to place them on the parapets of the fire trenches. Local truce on the front of 23rd Brigade.[4]

Nationally, the country was still talking about the Boston Braves. A newspaper article in the New York Tribune on December 20th described how mid-season trades made by Boston Braves manager George Stallings helped the team move from last place to first place. According to Wikipedia, the 1914 Braves are the only team to have been in last place on the 4th of July and go on to win the pennant. The Braves continued on to be the first team to sweep the modern World Series. In 1953 the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee.

Detroit Front.jpg
Detroit Front” by W. G. MacFarlane – Postcard.
W.G. MacFarlane, Publisher, Buffalo, N.Y. Toronto.
Scanned Postcard, dated 1914.
Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The Detroit Tigers finished 4th in the American League in 1914; however, their famous outfielder, Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb, took the batting title with a .368 season. Movie goers were anticipating the release of Mary Pickford’s “Cinderella” The Campus Martius Park was opened. See Photo on right.

Also in 1914 Detroit the “inter urban” cars of the Detroit, Almont, Northern R. R., which linked Detroit with Almont, about 50 miles to the north began service.

First interurban cars on the Detroit, Almont and Northern Railroad, Almont, Michigan, July 1, 1914..jpg

[1] 1920 Census,, 1920; Detroit Ward 20, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_812; Page: 19B; Enumeration
District: 613; Image:. Harvey Knight

[2] 1930
Census,, Year: 1930; Census Place:
Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 1061; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0716;
Image: 77.0; FHL microfilm: 2340796.
[3] See
it to believe it Detroit Public Schools
[4] “The
Christmas Truce of 1914” –

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