top of page

Mirtzwa family barbering line may encompass 122 years

Fred Mirtzwa is pictured inside of his barber shop at 114 Bird Street in March 1951. His family may have been barbering in Hannibal for a continuous 122 years, until Fred’s death in 1972. Fred was remembered for giving free haircuts to the children at the Home of the Friendless. OTIS HOWELL PHOTO/STEVE CHOU COLLECTION.



“Shaving Bazaar, Temple of Fashion

The proprietor tenders his respects to the Gentlemen of Hannibal, and respectfully in forms them that his Barber shop is the place to visit when you wished to be shaved, shampooed or hair dressed, and as he is an experienced hand, flatters himself to execute all business at his command in the most satisfactory manner – to suite the exquisite taste of the most fastidious gent.

He will also pay particular attention to Bleeding and Cupping, and the cure of all surface diseases of the body, as he has passed a regular examination in the medical colleges. In this respect his services are particularly tendered to his German friends.

Shop on the southwest corner of Main and Bird streets. H. Schneider. Missouri Courier, Hannibal, Mo. Aug. 1, 1850.”


Henry Schneider was one of the earliest recorded barbers to serve Hannibal clientele. When the above advertisement was published in the Missouri Courier, citizens were caught up in the promise of easy riches associated with the California Gold Rush. The Liberty Fire Department, consisting of volunteer firefighters, had just been established to protect Hannibal buildings, and a fund-raising ball was scheduled for Valentine’s Day. And T.R. Selmes was both a leading Hannibal businessman and volunteer firefighter, operating a shop on Main Street, just a half block from Sam Clemens’ boyhood home.

By following an ancestry chart of Henry Schneider’s family – created with the help of old newspapers and public information accessed via - a calculated conclusion could be reached that when Henry advertised his trade in 1850, it was the start of a Hannibal family barbering legacy that would continue until 1972 – a total of 122 years.

Henry Schneider died just three years after the 1850 advertisement was published in the Missouri Courier newspaper.

A notice was placed by the Mystic Lodge No. 17, IOOF, in the Missouri Courier on Nov. 10, 1853, noting his death.

“Whereas, an Almighty Providence (after a protracted illness) has summoned from earth, our loved brother, Henry Schneider, leaving an extensive circle of friends and relatives, as well as our fraternity, to mourn his loss.

“Therefore Resolved, That, as a testimony of respect and sorrow, the members of this Lodge, wear the usual mourning for the space of thirty days.

“Resolved, That a committee of two be appointed, to furnish the surviving parents and relatives of our beloved brother, with a copy of these resolutions, and to assure them of our deep sympathy in their bereavement.”

D. Schneider

D. Schneider (presumably relation to Henry Schneider) advertised his shaving and hair dressing saloon, located on the northside of Bird Street between the Levee and Second street, in the 1859 and 1866 Hannibal city directories.

And calculating the family relationships further, in 1866, Miss Francis Schneider married Andrew Mertzwa at the end of the Civil War, on Dec. 9, 1866, in Marion County.

In 1873, Andrew Mirtzwa was barbering in a building located on the northeast corner of Main and Bird streets. In 1877, he opened a shop across the street, under the Planters House hotel on North Main Street, but by 1885, he had relocated his shop back to Main and Bird, and his son, Edward M. Mirtzwa, had joined the business. In 1892, Edward’s brother David was also barbering with the family.

Mirtzwa children

Children of Andrew and Frances Schneider Mirtzwa

Edward 1869-

Bertha 1872 (Connors)

David S. 1874

Cora E. 1876-1972

William Mirtzwa 1879

Ivan Fred Mirtzwa Nov. 11, 1884

Turn of the century

By 1901, Hannibal had transformed itself into an industrial town, the population standing at 12,587 and on the verge of significant growth. The Atlas Portland Cement Company opened south of Hannibal, bringing in a wave of immigrants to provide necessary labor. The shoe industry was brand new, generating even more jobs.

That same year, a barbers’ union was established in Hannibal, and affiliated with about 25 local barbers.

In 1906, those unionized barbers took a united stand, raising the price of a shave from a dime, to 15 cents.

While the 15 cents included a neck shave, hot towels were an additional 5 cents. The barbers also agreed to take a stand on holiday work – they would close all day on Christmas, Labor Day and the Fourth of July.

On the price increase, the Quincy Daily Herald reported on Oct. 31, 1906: “There are people who are not barbers who think that a dime for a shave, a nickel for a neck shave and a quarter for a hair cut is fair remuneration for the wielder of the shears and razors. Some have told the barbers so. And the barbers, they go on shaving.”


The 1910 census found the following members of Andrew Mirtzwa’s family living together at 221 N. Third Street:

Andrew Mirtzwa, widowed

Born 1843 in Germany, barber

Lived with son in law, Tony Connors and his wife Bertha, 221 North Third Street.

Family living at 221 N. Third:

Tony Connors, manager of a clubhouse

Bertha Connors wife, no children

Andrew Mirtzwa, father in law, barber

Edward Mirtzwa, Bertha’s brother, barber

Minnie Mirtzwa, Edward’s wife

Martin Bird, Andrew’s son in law, shoe maker at the shoe factory

Dora Bird, Martin Bird’s wife and Andrew’s daughter, stitcher at the shoe factory

Martin Bird (1879-1934)

Dora Mabel Mirtzwa Bird, 1883-1964

World War I

Andrew Mirtzwa’s youngest son, Ivan Fred Mirtzwa, registered for military service in 1918. He was 33, barbering for his father at 114 Bird Street, and was married to Mrs. Lilliam C. Mirtzwa. They lived at 508 Hill Street. Fred was short (5-foot-1) and slender, had blue eyes and brown hair.

Following the war, barbers united to change their hours of operation. Prior to the change, shops were open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. On Saturday nights, the shops were open until 10:30 p.m. The new hours were to be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and until 10 p.m. on Saturdays.

A price increase was also forthcoming in April 1920, but was resisted by some shop owners, including the shop now operated by Fred and David Mirtzwa on Bird Street, and their brother William’s shop in the Hannibal Trust Building. Shaves would increase from 20 to 25 cents, and haircuts from 40 to 50 cents.

Fred and William’s father, Andrew Mirtzwa died during August 1913, and is buried at Holy Family Cemetery.

In 1936, the Missouri Federation of Labor scheduled its annual convention in Hannibal convening for a three-day session. An estimated 350 to 400 state labor representatives were expected to attend. The three delegates from Hannibal were Fred Mirtzwa, Mrs. Della Wright and B.F. Brown.

In 1959, Fred Mirtzwa’s brother, William, died at the age of 80. Fred continued the business alone. He died Aug. 3, 1972, and is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

This photo is designed with an x to show the original location on East Bird Street of the law office of Mark Twain’s father. To the left of the building marked with the x is 114 East Bird Street, which housed the Mirtzwa barber shop for many years. STEVE CHOU COLLECTION

 Recent Posts 
bottom of page