John Carruthers Stanly, the mulatto son of prominent New Bern businessman, John Wright Stanly, was born into slavery, but gained his freedom at age twenty-one with the help of his owners, the Stewart family. The Stewarts also facilitated his education and his advancement in society. After gaining his freedom, Stanly owned and operated a successful barber shop, gaining him the nickname "Barber Jack." He later became a large-scale property owner, local entrepreneur, and one of the wealthiest men in Craven County in the early 19th century. He was able to purchase his own family members out of slavery and went on to become a slaveholder himself. He was, in fact, one of the largest slave owners in Craven County.