Christina Carteaux Bannister: Hairdresser • Entrepreneur • Abolitionist
Christina was born in Rhode Island in 1819 as a descendant of enslaved plantation workers. As a young woman, she moved to Boston and became a hairdresser and wigmaker. In the Boston directory of 1846 she is listed as milliner. Professionally she was known as
Madame Carteaux, Women's Hairdresser and Wigmaker.
She opened and ran several salons in Boston starting in 1847. She had great business and managerial skills. Her salons were very profitable and she grew prosperous. This was by no means usual and many business owners faced bankruptcy once or several times over the course of their working lives in trade.
Her first marriage to Desiline Carteaux did not last and by 1850 they were separated with Christina moving to Providence. She continued, however, using the surname Carteaux as it had been associated with her personal brand as a hairdresser.
She then married Edward Mitchell Bannister. He was an artist of the American Barbizon school. Christina's success made it possible for him to become a full-time painter. He founded the Providence Art Club and received awards for his paintings. The couple were activists, abolitionists and supported the Underground Railroad. Christina's salon and Edward's studio became hubs for the community and for political and creative exchange. They later retired and Christina died a wealthy and well-known woman in 1902.