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  • Kalyn McCall

The Professor is In: Dr. John H.T. Dean of Anaheim

Advertisement for Dean's Barber Shop [Anaheim Gazette October 29, 1870]

With the migration of white southerners to the Southland in the wake of the Civil War, more black Americans arrived in Orange County, some settling down although their records are slim. Despite the “Red” Rogers incident, one of the earliest successful semi-permanent black residents settled in Anaheim by the name of John H.T. Dean, serving as the town’s pioneer barber.

John H. T. Dean was either born in Massachusetts or Nassau, New Providence, the Bahamas in 1826. In 1870, the California Greater Register of Los Angeles voters lists Dean as age 42, born in Nassau, a resident of Los Angeles County, and barber. He had become, according to the voter register and subsequent additions, a naturalized citizen on June 15, 1857, and gained the ability to vote with the passage of the fifteenth amendment.

On October 29, 1870, the Anaheim Gazette - the first newspaper in what would become Orange County - released its first edition. In it, Dean advertised his “Bath House and Barber Shop” on Anaheim’s Los Angeles Street. Despite the competition over the years, Dean was successful and profitable businessmen, often praised for his impressive facilities. On June 8, 1872, the Anaheim Gazette announced the opening of his new shop on center street, writing:

THE BATH HOUSE - For a leading item this week, we have been taking a look at Mr. Dean’s new barber shop and bath house, which is to be opened for business to-day. The building itself is very neatly constructed and is an ornament to the street and neighborhood. The front room is fitted up for the barbering department, and the walls and ceiling are pleasantly grained and colored. In the rear of this are two bath rooms, where the long needed luxury of a good bath can at last be enjoyed. In the yard in the rear of the building is the heating apparatus, watertanks, ec., whence the supply of the “washing flued” is kept up. The public is invited to call and inspect the arrangements which have been made for their comfort.

Later, Dean would move from Los Angeles to Center Street.

Advertisement for Dean's Barber Shop [Anaheim Gazette October June 8, 1872]

By 1880, Dean reached a new milestone in his life. According to the 1880 Census, Dean - a mulatto - welcomed a baby girl in May with his wife Cordelia, also mulatto. Cordelia Dean, listed as “keeping house,” was born in California around 1857 to a mother from Pennsylvania and a father from Connecticut.

Advertisement for Dean's Barber Shop [Anaheim Gazette February 8, 1873]

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