Samuel W. Gordon, Barber, Messenger and Antiques Dealer

Celtic Cross monument on the
Gordon lot
Samuel W. Gordon, an African-American, was born in Philadelphia on October 25, 1845. He learned barbering as a teenager, a trade in which he engaged throughout his life, and soon moved to Washington, D.C., where in addition to being a barber he was a messenger for the U.S. Supreme Court. While there he frequently shaved Abraham Lincoln and, as he must have been pleased to recollect, had the honor of accompanying the president on the occasion of his delivering his address at Gettysburg.

Coming to Trenton, for 46 years he served as the private messenger for 15 governors—Joseph D. Bedle, George B. McClellan, George C. Ludlow, Leon Abbett, Robert S. Green, George T. Werts, John W. Griggs, Foster M. Voorhees, Franklin Murphy, Edward C. Stokes, John F. Fort, Woodrow Wilson, James F. Fielder, Walter E. Edge, and Edward I. Edwards—from 1875 to 1920.

When Woodrow Wilson was elected president and left the governor's office for the White House, however, he invited him to return to Washington, but Gordon thought better of it and declined the invitation. That turned out to be a good decision for during his service to the governors he took an interest in antiques, first as a collector and later a dealer, and became a recognized authority in the field.

On his death on July 11, 1920, at the age of 74 years, he left an estate of $120,000, which included an extensive collection of antiques that were sold at auction through the prestigious firm of Samuel T. Freeman and Company in Philadelphia.

In a show of respect for Gordon, eight honorary pallbearers at his funeral were former governors Edge, Fielder, Fort, Runyon, Stokes, and Voorhees, and former U.S. senators David Baird and James Smith Jr.

Gordon, who is interred in Section H, Lot 316, was twice married, first to Aurelia Hagadorn (1857–1889) and then to Ida J. Booth (1859–1924), both of whom are also interred here. The lot is marked by a Celtic Cross monument.

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