Farmersville barbers share birthday and century of experience cutting hair

The front of Mug & Brush barbershop, Farmersville. Left to right are Jim Erisman, Brittany Denny and Gary Keener. CONTRIBUTED
The front of Mug & Brush barbershop, Farmersville. Left to right are Jim Erisman, Brittany Denny and Gary Keener. CONTRIBUTED

Plotted in 1832 with a population of a little more than a thousand people, change has happened to Farmersville in the last 50 to 100 years.

They had more businesses, for one.

Farmersville’s only barber shop today is the Mug and Brush, 41 East Center Street, where co-owners Jim Erisman and Gary Keener work. And they share May 11 birthdays.

“Small businesses have gone by the wayside,” said Erisman, who has lived his 67 years in Farmersville.

He and Keener, with 75 years in Farmersville, have worked together as barbers since 1988.

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In 1972 Erisman had his own shop, the “Male Image.” Then, in 1988, Keener joined him and they worked together for a year before moving to a new location in the same block.

“Gary and I first met in church at Slifers Presbyterian church, and ever since, we have been together,” said Erisman.

They have been friends for years.

“They call us the book of knowledge,” said Erisman.

“He spreads the bull,” said Gary Keener.

“When we first began our barber shop there was only one other, but after he died, his wife sold it and it was made into a beauty shop,” said Erisman.

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Combined, the two men have nearly 100 years of experience as barbers.

“Next year will be my 50th year making men handsome,” said Erisman. “Gary took 10 years off working at The Dupps Company in Germantown.

“We put four chairs in here for we thought at one time there would be 4 barbers in here, but that day never came,” said Erisman.

Today there are two chairs for the barber and two for the cosmetologist.

His sister, Sherry Wallace, a beautician, came to the Mug and Brush nearly a decade ago and in 2018, she retired after 50 years as a beautician.

Brittany Denny worked with Sherry Wallace before she retired.

Denny is from West Chester. She and her husband, Alex, and their three children, now reside in Germanton. Her clientele is growing.

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Erisman lives with his 93-year-old father. His fiancé, Cindy Hawes, has five children and 13 grandchildren, while Erisman has two daughters in New Lebanon and five grandchildren.

Keener is married to Francis “Evelyn” and has two sons in Farmersville, four grandchildren and is expecting a great-grandchild.

Farmersville is in the center of Valley View School District. The remaining businesses include a local hardware store, restaurants, delicatessen, convenience store, local bank and insurance office.

“Our local fire association is one of the top fire service companies in a 35-mile range,” said Erisman. “They are all very concerned personnel and they treat their fire and rescue patients as if they were family.”

Erisman talks about a unique 22-acre bottle farm west of town that many do not remember but is part of Farmersville history.

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A descendant of Jackson Township settlers, Winter Zellar (Zero) Swartsel, born 1876, had his home and land overflow with items collected when he traveled the world. Swartsel said American people were wasteful and abused their environment. His farmland became his artist’s canvas filled with the thousands of items he collected from the “wasteful.”

Swartsel passed away in 1953.

Erisman said, “He willed his land to the Village of Farmersville and now there is a Farmersville Jackson Township Community park. There is a swimming pool, volley ball, shelter houses, basketball, fishing pond.

“After his death a bulldozer buried the historic bottles. None was saved.”

Contributing writer’s contact: shirl54bel@gmail.com