Prior to the Civil War, Samuel Raymond Scottron’s father worked as a barber and baggage master on a boat that ferried passengers from the Hudson River to New York City and Albany. When the war broke out, his father was forced to join the Third United States Colored Infantry, a black regiment stationed at Morris Island, South Carolina.
According to the Campbell House Museum, Scottron chose to represent his father on the Black regiment in 1863.
He moved to Fernandina, FL, after serving his term in the war, and was an active participant in the first general election in 1864 that allowed new freedmen to exercise their voting rights.
Scottron was given the opportunity to represent his constituents at the National Colored Convention in Syracuse, New York, in 1865. He ran a grocery store chain in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Lakeville, Tallahassee, and Palatka, Florida. When his business was struggling, he decided to relocate to the north.
In Springfield, MA, where he later settled, he decided to open a barbershop in the hope that his fortunes would improve. While working as a barber, he noticed that his customers were having difficulty seeing the sides, back, and top of their heads in the hand-held mirrors.
This gave birth to his adjustable mirror invention, which allowed customers to see the back of their heads while being shaved. On March 31, 1868, he patented this invention as the Scottron Adjustable Mirror under patent number 76253. The mirrors were placed opposite each other so that people could see every side of their heads while being barbered.
He is said to have stated that the goal of his invention was to allow people to see themselves as others would while in a barbershop. Scottron’s name became synonymous with his adjustable mirror, and as its popularity grew, it was prominently featured in all of his biographies. Despite its popularity in the late 1800s, it has been noticeably absent from stores in recent years.
Scottron was born in Philadelphia in February 1841 to Samuel J. Scottron and Jane Maria Robinson. He was the couple’s second child. Despite spending his formative years in Philadelphia, his family relocated to New York in 1849 and to Brooklyn, NY in 1852.
Scottron was also the inventor of the adjustable window cornice, pole tip, curtain rod, cornice, and supporting bracket. Between 1880 and 1893, they were all patented.
Scottron died in Brooklyn, New York, on October 14, 1908.