Bissell Buzz 2016/7

The harvest season is drawing to a close with many farmers having carted their last bushels to the elevator.  The farmers’ households will return to a more peaceful  routine until the next planting or harvesting season.  The whole process has become totally mechanized, but the farming calendar and the various operations were the same in the pioneer days.  It just took them much longer for the process, but then again they did not have the vast acreages the modern farmer has today.

So many trades have totally disappeared.  Often it’s because of modernization where certain things go out of fashion or other times there are just not enough people left in a town to make it sustainable.  One of these trades is a barber and fortunately we still have a local barber in Phillipsburg.  At the Fort we have a barber chair that hails from a local barber shop, together with an old barber pole. That chair is so comfortable and beautiful with its solid brass footplate. Some of the prices as it was in 1938 were:

Shampoo – 25c

Shave – 15c

Haircut – 25c

Bath – 25c

Hair Singed – 25c

Hair singeing was a practice whereby a lighted taper (about 10 inches long and the thickness of a match) would be run over the patron’s hair, which was lifted first with a comb.  This practice they believed would seal split ends.  It may have done that, but I can just imagine the most unpleasant odor of burning hair hanging in the air.

Barber pole and ChairThe barber pole was originally red and white, but with and added blue stripe in the USA.  It is believed that this originated from the medieval barbers that also did minor surgical procedures, like tooth extraction and especially blood letting.  The red stripe therefore stood for the blood and the white for the bandages.  Bloodletting largely fell out of favor with the medical community in the 19th century.  So even though these practices are no longer being done by them, the traditional barber pole is still recognized all across the globe.

This coming Friday we will be hosting a Fun Friday for the kids again!  We will be holding a scavenger hunt and this will start just after 10a.m. It is free for children from 6 – 12 years.  Please confirm with us if your child will be joining us.

Come and visit the Fort and see most aspects of the Prairie pioneer life being showcased.  Our hours are Tuesday to Friday 9am – 4pm and Saturday 9am – 2pm.  Closed on Sundays and Mondays.  Regular updates and photos are posted on our Facebook page.

We can be contacted on (785) 543-6212 or on email at

Remember entrance is FREE. See ya at the Fort – hopefully soon!!

Ruby Wiehman – Curator