Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History lived an African American woman named Luella Ruth Brown Boyer who launched her hair care business and became the first Black woman in Washington state to do so.
Luella Ruth Brown was born in the state of Iowa in September of 1869 to parents Lewis, a teamster, and Elizabeth A. Brown. She was one of the descendants of the first enslaved to be brought to Jamestown, Virginia from Africa. She grew up with five siblings. In Iowa, her father owned real estate worth $300 and personal estate of $500, according to the 1900 Census.
A teamster is a horse team driver or stableman.
On May 20, 1897, Luella Ruth Brown got married in Butte, Silver Bow, Montana, making her a Boyer. Her husband’s name was John C. Boyer, and he was an African American barber who was originally from Pennsylvania, according to the 1900 Census. Her husband was 25 years older than she. They lived in Lewiston, Nez Perce, Idaho in a rented home.
By the year 1910, she was already widowed, and left to raise a daughter on her own which her and her husband had adopted in 1903. Their daughter’s name was Ester M. Boyer. At this time, she was already an employer, owning her own Hairdressing parlor as a skilled hair dresser and living on Hewitt Avenue in Snohomish, Washington. She rented a home, and she is known as the first Black Female Business Owner in the state.
It was also in this same year of 1910 that she married her second husband, an African American man named Bertrand Brint at Cath Priest, Snohomish, Washington. He was about ten years younger than her and originally from Missouri.
*Some information on the web erroneously lists her second husband, Brint, as a white man, however, according to handwritten, original recorded documents of the Washington State Archives Marriage Records, he was in fact African American, upon careful inspection and research by Black Entrepreneur History. This was his first marriage as well.*
Although still not too much is known about her business beyond that, the mark she made in history is remarkable as the firsts always pave the way.
Luella Ruth Brown Boyer Brent’s Death
Luella passed away on December 18, 1912 in Everett, Snohomish County, Washington, USA, and she was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in the same city. She was 44 years of age.
- Year: 1900; Census Place: Lewiston, Nez Perce, Idaho; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0087; FHL microfilm: 1240234
- Ancestry.com. Montana, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1865-1993 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
- Year: 1910; Census Place: Everett Ward 3, Snohomish, Washington; Roll: T624_1668; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0280; FHL microfilm: 1375681
- Washington State Archives; Olympia, Washington; Washington Marriage Records, 1854-2013; Marriage Records for 1910