Right the Record: Dr. Elijah Barber, Jr.


Elijah Barber, Jr. born on December 20, 1898, to Elijah Sr. and Lucinda Brown Barber in Orange County, VA, and was raised by his grandparents in the rural community of True Blue. Education beyond elementary school was not available to African Americans until 1948, but the family understood the need to be well educated. They sent young Elijah to the Jennie Dean Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth to further his education. He also attended Armstrong High School in Washington, DC prior to entering Howard University. After receiving his medical degree, Dr. Barber returned to Culpeper, established a general practice, raised a family, and was an avid racehorse enthusiast.

Portrait of Dr. Elijah Barber


  • Dr. Barber was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry Reserve Corps by the War Department according to the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper August 10, 1925. His commission likely followed his service in the Howard University ROTC program.


  • He worked his way through college to pay for his education and expenses and graduated from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. in 1930.
  • He returned to Culpeper in 1931 to establish his medical practice where he was the first and only African American doctor in Culpeper and the surrounding area.
  • His practice was in an office at 226 East Davis Street. His patients were both African American with just as many or more white patients. Often on Saturdays, folks lined up outside of his office when the inside was full.
  • In later years, the Town of Culpeper erected a “Doctor Parking” sign in front of his office to ensure that he always had parking.

Newspaper clipping of Dr. Elijah Barber and a horse


  • He also had an office in his residence where he treated patients in emergency situations before and after regular office hours and weekends, before and after Culpeper Memorial Hospital opened in 1960.
  • As an African American doctor, he never had doctor-hospital privileges at Culpeper Memorial Hospital, now UVA Medical Center.

Dr. Elijah Barber and his wife


  • He continued his medical practice and made house calls until he retired in 1988 at the age of 90, practicing medicine for fifty-seven years.
  • Both African American and white citizens respected Dr. Barber. He had an outstanding personality – outgoing, understanding and very sympathetic to everyone in the public and most of all, his patients. He talked a great deal and told many jokes.
  • His home and farm of thirty-seven acres were located on Rixeyville Road/Route 229 North, just beyond the entrance to Culpeper County High School at the present day Eggbornsville Road. There he lived with his family – wife, son, and daughter, along with his sister who had a separate dwelling on the property.
  • Medicine was his first passion as he was obligated to his patients and most of all to his family.
  • Horses were his second passion. He raised them on his farm and raced them at Charlestown, West Virginia; and he established and supported the Culpeper Colored Hunt Club and the Culpeper Colored Horse Show.


  • At the time of Dr. Barber’s death on April 9, 1992, he was survived by his daughter, son and two granddaughters. He is buried beside his wife Priscilla (died 1985) in Shiloh Baptist Church Cemetery in Woodville, Rappahannock County, Virginia.
  • Dr. Barber’s brief biography and personal memorabilia were featured in The Museum of Culpeper History in 1996 at the East Davis Street location.
  • Dr. Barber’s first marriage was to Miss Landonia Lightfoot, daughter of J.E.R. Lightfoot. There were no children from this union and the marriage ended in divorce. Dr. Barber’s second marriage was to Miss Josephine Priscilla Wallace of Woodville, Rappahannock County, Virginia. They had one daughter and one son.

An old newspaper clipping of Dr. Elijah Barber

Barber’s Medical Office

Dr. Barber’s medical practice was located at 226 East Davis Street. His office was on the ground floor, to the right of the building’s front entrance.
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