From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Knox County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870

Knox County, located in southeastern Kentucky, was established in 1799 from a portion of Lincoln County and is surrounded by four counties. The county was named for Henry Knox, a bookseller from Boston, MA, who would become the first Secretary of War. Knox County industries included mining and oil after the discovery of oil in 1900. The county seat, Barbourville, was established in 1800 and named for James Barbour, who gave the land for the city site.

The 1800 county population was 1,109, according to the Second Census of Kentucky; 1,044 whites, 62 enslaved, and three free coloreds. In 1830 there was one free African American slave holder in Knox County. The population increased to 7,218 by 1860, according to the U.S. Federal Census, excluding the enslaved. Below are the numbers for the slave holders, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 123 slave owners
  • 414 Black slaves
  • 198 Mulatto slaves
  • 56 free Blacks
  • 143 free Mulattoes
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 115 slave owners
  • 311 Black slaves
  • 179 Mulatto slaves
  • 62 free Blacks
  • 123 free Mulattoes
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 279 Blacks
  • 365 Mulattoes
  • About 40 U.S. Colored Troops listed Knox County, KY, as their birth location.
For more see the Knox County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; A History of Knox County, Kentucky, by K. S. Warren; Marriage Certificate Book (Freemen's Marriage Register), 1851-1867, from the Knox County (KY) County Clerk; and Tax Assessment Books (1800-1892), from the Knox County (KY) County Clerk.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Knox County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Barbourville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: "Second census" of Kentucky, 1800; a privately compiled and published enumeration of tax payers appearing in the 79 manuscript volumes extant of tax lists of the 42 counties of Kentucky in existence in 1800
NKAA Source: The Kentucky encyclopedia
NKAA Source: A History of Knox County, Kentucky
NKAA Source: Marriage certificate book [Knox County]
NKAA Source: Tax assessment books

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  African American Slave Owners in Kentucky

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Knox County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed March 27, 2023,

Last modified: 2023-01-10 20:50:58