McCreary County (KY) Free Blacks and Free Mulattoes, 1920-1930
McCreary County was the last county established in Kentucky. It is located in southeastern Kentucky and was developed in 1912 from portions of Pulaski, Wayne, and Whitley counties, and is bordered by those counties and Laurel County, and the state of Tennessee. The county was home to the Beatty Oil Well drilled in 1818 and thought to be the first oil well in Kentucky; the well was located in present day McCreary County [formerly Wayne County].
The county seat is the unincorporated town of Whitley City, which was known as Coolidge until 1880 when the Cincinnati and Southern Railroad placed a depot in the area and named it Whitley. The town was later renamed Whitley City, which is the census-designated place (CDP). [CDP is a concentration of population that is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau for statistical purposes only.]
McCreary County was named for James B. McCreary, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War who served as a Kentucky House Member, Governor of Kentucky, and a U.S. House Member and Senator. It was during McCreary's first term as governor that the Kentucky A&M College [University of Kentucky] was separated from Kentucky University [Transylvania University]. In 1920, the population of McCreary County was 11,682 and that increased to 14,377 by 1930, according to the U.S. Federal Census. The county was formed well after slaves were freed by the 13th Amendment. Below are the number of African Americans in the county 1920-1930.
1920 U.S. Federal Census
- 24 Blacks [most with the last names Simpson and Logan]
- 2 Mulattoes [Emma Baker and Cristine Simpson]
- 2 Coloreds [Juanita Gains and Lafayett R. Kincaid]
- At least 2 Blacks from McCreary County registered during the WWI Draft [Price Stigall and Henry Logan]
1930 U.S. Federal Census
- 9 Blacks [last names Brown, Davis, Hudson, Napper, Simpson, Simson, Stegall, and Stigall]
- 27 Negroes
1940 U.S. Federal Census
- 40 Negroes
For more see the McCreary County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by J. E. Kleber; The First Oil Well in Kentucky by W. R. Jillson; Rural Health Care Oral History Project by T. H. Gatewood and K. L. Smith; and The Negro Population in Kentucky by A. L. Coleman and D. I. Kim.