An anomaly for his time
He could give you a shave or take a few inches off the top. Need a new timepiece? He could custom make one. He’d have just the right broach for the portrait he would offer to take. And if you weren’t careful, you could leave his shop on Sperryville’s Main Street with a new piece of property.
James Arthur Engham was “the original entrepreneur,” his grandson James Russell would later write. For decades Engham’s story earned little attention. Now, more than 80 years after his death, the man widely known as J.A. is remembered as a barber, jeweler, farmer, dentist and one of Rappahannock’s most successful African-American businessmen.