Alonzo Herndon was born on on this date, July 21, in 1858. He was an African American businessman.
Born in Walton, Georgia on a farm near Social Circle, to Sophenie Herndon, a slave. His father was Frank Herndon, a white farmer to who owned his mother. The young Herndon was one of 25 slaves owned by his father, who never acknowledged paternity. He also had a younger brother, Thomas, as well as a number of half-brothers and half-sisters born to other slave women on his father’s farm. Herndon was a quick study academically. With one year of formal education he learned barbering in Jonesboro, Georgia, where in 1878 he opened his first barbershop.
Arriving in Atlanta in 1882, he worked his way to the top of the city’s barbering trade owning and operating three barbershops. The Crystal Palace on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta was considered one of the finest barbershops in Atlanta. In 1893, he married a young woman from Atlanta’s old black elite; Adrienne Elizabeth McNeil. She was a graduate and a faculty member of Atlanta University, teaching elocution and drama. He invested his barbering income in real estate, becoming by the early 1900’s the largest black property owner in Atlanta. [Continue reading at the African American Registry.]