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

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

Shelby County, formed in 1792 from portions of Jefferson County, was named in honor of the first Kentucky Governor, Isaac Shelby. The county is located in north-central Kentucky and surrounded by six counties. The county seat, Shelbyville, was also named for Governor Shelby. Shelby County was the 12th county formed in Kentucky, and according to the Second Census of Kentucky, in 1800 the total population was 8,191, with 6,681 whites, 23 free coloreds, and 1,487 slaves. In 1830, there were four free African American slave owners: one in Shelby County and three in Shelbyville. By 1860, the population was 9,799, excluding the slaves. Below are the number of slave owners, slaves, and free Blacks and Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 1,266 slave owners
  • 5,875 Black slaves
  • 908 Mulatto slaves
  • 138 free Blacks
  • 55 free Mulattoes
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 1,192 slave owners
  • 5,668 Black slaves
  • 998 Mulatto slaves
  • 103 free Blacks
  • 61 free Mulattoes
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 3,260 Blacks
  • 2,070 Mulattoes
  • About 296 U.S. Colored Troops listed Shelby County, KY, as their birth location.
For more see the Shelby County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; 1924 Third Annual Fair and Premium List of New Colored Shelby County Fair Association, Inc.; Whitney M. Young, Sr. Papers; Oral History Interview with Maurice Rabb; and History of Shelby County, Kentucky. by G. L. Willis.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Shelby County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Shelbyville, 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: 1924 [Nineteen Twenty-Four] third annual fair and premium list of New Colored Shelby County Fair Association, Inc.
NKAA Source: Whitney M. Young, Sr. papers
NKAA Source: Oral history interview with Maurice Rabb
NKAA Source: History of Shelby County, Kentucky

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  African American Slave Owners in Kentucky

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Shelby County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed November 27, 2022,

Last modified: 2022-10-30 11:39:04