From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)
1900 Saloons and Bars.pdf
1910 Saloons and Bars.pdf
1920 Saloons and Bars.pdf

Saloon and Bar Employees in Kentucky, 1870-1920

(start date: 1860  -  end date: 1930) 

Written by Reinette Jones, July 15, 2020

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this entry is to bring recognition to the high level of African American employment at Kentucky saloons and bars during a period when the census showed that the African American male population in Kentucky was decreasing by record numbers. Saloons and bars are defined in this entry as public places with seating for customers who frequented the establishments for the purchase and consumption of liquor. These businesses have been depicted as adult male establishments with drinking, gambling, loose women, fights and killings and various other dangers, as well as general idleness and unemployed laziness. However, this does not accurately describe all aspects of saloons and bars of the past. These were also legitimate businesses that provided employment to family men as well as places for leisure conversation and comradery. There were women and children employees and a few women patrons. Drinking saloons and bars were located all over the United States, and that included Kentucky. African Americans were employed in all aspects of the saloon and bar businesses. The number of employees [of all races] were rreported as separate statistics in publications by the US. Census Bureau. In the 1900 Statistics of Populations, saloon keepers and bartenders were under the heading of "Domestic and Personal Service," while other employee numbers were included in the count of proprietors, porters, laborers, waiters, cooks, and other jobs. By looking at the saloon and bar employment as a whole without separating out the various jobs, it's revealed saloons and bars are major occupation establishements for Kentucky African Americans. The data collected for this entry was gathered from the individual census sheets. The work sheets used to gather the data are attached to this entry.

A specific search for saloon and bar owners only  would entail a search at the County Clerks' Offices in Kentucky. The business owners' names are available in the tax/fee and deed records and business license records. However, these records do not include the names of employees. Local newspapers have some of the names of those who applied for saloon and bar licenses, along with notices of license transfers, revoked licenses, notices of the lowering and raising of license prices, and results of local wet/dry elections. Other information in local newspaper articles include coverage of the anti-saloon and temperance movements.

Saloons and bars were regarded by temperance members as havens for crime and moral corruption, alcoholism, and a waste of the family income on drink. For others, the saloons and bars were places of leisure that provided an environment for discussion and debate of all matters important to men. For the state and the city, the saloon and bar businesses brought in revenues. In 1911, there were 21 saloons in Paris, KY, each of which paid $1,000 for their saloon license. The total $21,000 was a third of the amount necessary for running the city government. Source: "Proposed combine is unfounded," The Bourbon News, 4/4/1911, p. 4. 

There are many publications about Kentucky liquors and distilleries, required licensing, and the state laws concerning the business. Of late, there are also efforts to recover the history of African Americans in the liquor distillery industry in Kentucky. However, a subject that never made it into the books was the presence of African American employees in the Kentucky saloon and bar economies. Perhaps it was not thought to be an important matter, though it would have warranted the attention of the state labor board that there was a 53% increase in the employment of African Americans in Kentucky bars and saloons between 1900 and 1910. Most were porters, bartenders, and bar and saloon keepers. African Americans were employed in saloons and bars in a third of the 120 counties in Kentucky, with most in cities with the larger African American populations. 
   
The documenting of the early rise in employment is found in the 1870 U.S. Census, just after the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865 that was meant to free enslaved Africans, a time just after the repeal of Kentucky laws that had prohibited African Americans from gaining access to alcohol, saloons, and bars without permission from a white person. With emancipation, there was the possibility for African Americans to enjoy alcohol more freely in public places, to participate in the economy of owning a saloon or bar, and to earn wages working in saloons and bars.

The all-time high employment for African Americans in Kentucky saloons and bars was 612 employees, according to the 1910 U.S. Census. It was a short-lived employment boom for African American men because they were the majority of the 612 employees. At the same time, the census showed that the African American male population had drastically decreased during the period 1900-1930, one factor in the saloon and bar employment numbers for African Americans in Kentucky quickly falling to 76 employees by 1920. After another decade there were only a couple of African Americans enumerated in the U.S. Census as saloon and bar employees in Kentucky. It had taken 40 years for the largest number of African Americans to be employed in Kentucky saloons and bars (1870-1910), and in less than half as much time, it all disappeared.

Many other reasons contributed to the decline in the industry employment beyond the decrease in the African American male population. Another factor was the United States entered World War I in 1917. The food distribution had changed because ingredients used to make liquor were needed for military purposes and to feed U.S. civilians. More than 84,000 men from Kentucky served in the military. More than 43,000 African American men in Kentucky had attempted to serve by registering for service, according to the U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards (available in Ancestry). The military was segregated, and not all African Americans who registered got to serve. Other factors were the quarantine restrictions during the Pneumonia/Influenza Pandemic, 1918-1920; Alcohol Prohibition, 1920-1933; the Temperance Movement in Kentucky; the radiating impact of the Red Summer of 1919; Pro-Negro movements and organizations such as the NAACP and the UNIA in Kentucky; the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote in 1920; the Depression of 1920-21; and The Black Migration to northern and western destinations. 

SOURCES:  Kentucky Divisions of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), an NKAA Database entry; 1900 Census: Volume II. Population Part 2. Statistics of Population: Elements of the Population. Table LXXXIV. pp. cx1iv-cx1v (online); "Kentucky Slave Laws, In Brief" at the Shackles, Chains and Forgotten Souls webpage; L. Adams, "Tipling toward freedom: alcohol and emancipation," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, vol. 117, no. 2, Spring 2019, pp. 323-343 (online at Project Muse); Hometown Boys from Kentucky: Information and Statistics about WWI Service Members, an ABMC.gov website (online); Lisa Aug, "Honoring Black WWI Soldiers of Kentucky," ColumbiaMagazine, 2/03/2017 (online) ; "History of 1918 Flu Pandemic," a CDC website; The War on Alcohol: prohibition and the rise of the American state, by L McGirr; Negro Woman's Christian Temperance Union in Kentucky, an NKAA Database entry; 1919, the Year of Racial Violence. How African Americans Fought Back, by D. F. Krugler ; Negro Migration During the War, by E. J. Scott ; Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration, by S. A. Reich; Ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments (Kentucky), an NKAA Database entry; "African American Women and the Nineteenth Amendment, a nps.gov website; O. B. Waxman, "The Surprisingly Complex Link Between Prohibition and Women's Rights,Time (online), updated 1/18/2019; R. P. Murphy, "The Depression you've never heard of: 1920-1921," a Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) article (online); and The Forgotten Depression: 1921: the crash that cured itself, by J. Grant.  

1860 U.S. CENSUS:
In 1860, there were more than 10,000 saloon and bar keepers, bartenders, porters, waiters, and other employees listed in the U.S. Federal Census. Of that number, about 200 were African Americans, with a few from Kentucky: Stephen Stemp (b. 1828), and John Weetly Hall (b. 1818), both of whom lived in Chicago, IL; Charles Johnson (b. 1832), who lived in Fond Du Lac, WI; Thomas Foster (b. 1828) who lived in Marquette, MI; Henry Hall (b. 1810) who lived in Auburn, CA; and Nelson Patterson (b. 1830) who lived in Crawfordsville, IN.

BOOTLEGGERS AND BOOTLEGGING:
There were African American bootleggers in Kentucky. Bootlegging is the illegal production, sale, and distribution (by suppliers) of alcohol. It has often been attributed to African Americans in all periods before, during, and after Prohibition.

The prevalence of bootlegging by African Americans in Kentucky has not been included into this entry. Were they part of the saloon and bar economies in Kentucky? Yes, they were. However, there is no official documentation for the overall number of African American bootleggers in Kentucky or the scope of their activity in the past or the present. Studies have been completed about African American bootleggers in a few states, but Kentucky is not one of those states. While the term "bootlegger" will be found as the occupation of a few persons enumerated in the U.S. Census records, it is an anomaly. As a rule, bootleggers did not voluntarily tell the federal government (prosecutors) that they were selling liquor illegally, simply for the sake of the census. Adding the term "bootlegger" into the census record could very well have been the decision of the census taker and not the words of the person being enumerated. The occupations of saloon and bar employees would have been more likely included in the census records than the illegal occupations of bootleggers and associates. The names of some African Americans alleged to have been bootleggers in Kentucky can be found in court records and arrest references in Kentucky newspapers. There is a plethora of names in the snippets and articles freely available online at Chronicling America and the Kentucky Digital Newspaper Program (KDNP) at the University of Kentucky. There are also local newspapers available on microfilm in public and academic libraries in Kentucky.

See also the early bootlegging case of Commonwealth v White (a free Negro). In 1857, White was indicted under Revised Statute § 7 that made it unlawful for a free Negro to sell spirituous liquors. The case was appealed, and the courts decided the indictment was not valid because it did not determine to whom the sale was made and thus lacked the certainty of the offense as required by the Criminal Code. See A Digest of the Decisions of All the Courts of Kentucky, vol. 3, 1905, column 4853, Intoxicating Liquors, § 98. -Sale or Gift, item [c] (online at Google Books); and Wilson v Commonwealth in Reports of Civil and Criminal Cases Decided by the Court of Appeals of Kentucky [Bush's Reports], 1785-1951, Decision of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, September Term 1878, vol. XIV, pp. 159-160 (online at Google Books)].  

1870 U.S. CENSUS:
When the 1870 U.S. Census was completed, it was evident that there was a slow rise in the number of African American saloon and bar employees in Kentucky. It was a fairly silent growing period, with less than 50 African American employees. At the end of the U.S. Civil War, the late 1860s had been a time to test the race boundaries and the state laws that had barred African Americans from acting on their own accord to patronize saloons and bars and purchase liquor for their personal consumption. Saloons and bars were profiting businesses in 1870 and drinking money had no race. In the United States, saloon and bar work was dominated by male owners and employees. Benjamin Shipley, one of the younger African American employees in Kentucky, was a 16-year-old bartender in Louisville. He lived with his parents and four siblings, two of whom were in school.

Women in the saloon and bar businesses were less visible. In 1870 Kentucky, white women who were enumerated in the census as saloon and bar employees had mostly been born in other countries such as Ireland, Prussia, Württemberg, and Bavaria. They were few, but their numbers were about the same as African American women in the entire U.S. who were in the saloon and bar businesses. When looking at Kentucky only, African American women were almost nonexistent in the those businesses, the state of Kentucky barely contributing to the 30 or so African American women. The women were located in Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Indiana, New Jersey, and Kentucky. 

The African American woman saloon keeper in Kentucky was Celia Allen in Lexington, listed in the 1850 U.S. Census as a free person. In 1870, she was a 46-year-old Kentucky native living in the 2nd Ward. Her personal estate was valued at $500. In later years, Celia Allen was one of the senior women who lived at the Colored Orphan Home on Georgetown Road in Lexington. She died in 1901 and is buried in African Cemetery No. 2 [source: Kentucky Death Certificate No. 5528 (in Ancestry)]. The subject of African American women who were saloon keepers and bar keepers prior to the year 1900 is in need of additional research. Celia Allen's name is listed among the other African American saloon and bar employees in Kentucky (below), as they were noted in the 1870 U.S. Census. 

Bowling Green:  Robert Hanna, parlor in saloon 
Georgetown:  Joseph Jackson, saloon keeper 
Henderson:  William Rankin, clerk; Phillip Bell, James Horseley, Joseph DeChamp, and Henry Buckner, saloon keepers; Frank DeChamp and William DeChamp, clerks 
Lexington:  Claude Harvey, Nelson Robinson, Celia Allen (woman), Adam Mitchell, Jack Taylor, and George Lee, all saloon keepers; John Roberts, waiter; Horace Gaines, clerk 
Louisville:  George Haller, bar keeper; Josiah Davis and  Benjamin Shipley (16-years-old), bartenders; Wash Cowe, John Turner, Stephen Johnson, Dick Johnson, Samuel Clark, and Adam Weyhing, saloon keepers; Dan Hardin, works in saloon; Daniel Hardin, John Gilbert, and Martin Ramsey, porters; William Neal, waiter 
Paducah:  Samuel Scofield and John Wagoner, saloon keepers; Thompson Thompson, waiter; Henry Spinner, bar liq saloon
Paris:  Frank Allen and Allen Patterson, saloon keepers
Princeton:  Milton Wylie, clerk

1880 U.S CENSUS, 1900 U.S. CENSUS, and KENTUCKY NEWSPAPERS:
African Americans continued to find work in saloons and bars, the numbers increasing from 38 in 1870 to 63 in 1880 and 326 in 1900. For those who owned a saloon or bar, getting a license could be difficult because it was still thought that African Americans should have restricted access to alcohol. Therefore, there were African American saloons and bars that operated without a license, referred to as bootlegging joints.

African Americans were hired in white-owned establishments as well as colored-owned establishments. Customers were not always segregated by race inside saloons and bars, which   differed from the policy for most all other businesses in Kentucky. There were a plethora of  Kentucky newspaper articles about unlawful acts involving African American men who frequented white and colored-owned saloons and bars: robbings, stabbings, maimings, and murders, as well as murder victims at drinking establishments. There was prejudice toward saloons and bars as bad places with liquors that led men to do bad things.

With freedom of the enslaved, there were now African American men also owning and openly patronizing drinking establishments, though the drinking establishments were not purposefully attempting to promote integration. Newspaper articles and court cases made it pretty evident that having white and black men drinking in the same bar or saloon was not even close to being a panacea for racism, prejudice, and hate.   

One way to control African Americans' access to alcohol was to minimize the number of colored-owned saloons and bars and to keep them located in segregated neighborhoods. The town council in a city could veto a request for a saloon or bar license for any reason. Also, licenses were not cheap: in Midway in 1902, a saloon license cost $600-$900 per year [source: "The Town Council of Midway...," The Evening Bulletin, 1/20/1902, p. 3, col. 2. The value of $600 in 1902 was $17,888 in the year 2020.] Some white-owned saloons and bars did permit African Americans to patronize their establishments, but others did not, although there was no Kentucky law that said saloons and bars had to be segregated. However, there would be problems if it were thought that an establishment had too many African American patrons, such as was the case in Frankfort at the train depot area in 1892 [source: "The Depot nuisance," The Frankfort Roundabout, 9/10/1892, p. 6]. It was not uncommon for there to be fights in drinking establishments between African American and white men, regardless of who owned the bar. Joe King in Paducah was shot dead at a colored bar after a disagreement with several white men; Joe was quickly buried the next day because there were no suspects and no witnesses [source: "Body burned," The Paducah Evening Sun, 8/18/1906, p. 9].

The majority of the African American saloons and bars were male spaces with male employees, though there were about 55 African American women throughout the United States employed in drinking establishments, according to the 1880 U.S. Census.

In Louisville, Pauline Pierce was a waiter, a Kentucky native who shared a home with several other African Americans saloon workers. It was sometimes an odd affair how local ordinances were applied to African American women in saloons and bars in Kentucky. As with African American men, working in a saloon or bar was not the same as being a customer. One could be an employee of a white-owned bar that did not admit African Americans or of a bar that did not admit women. Pauline Pierce worked in a saloon in Louisville in 1880, but in Paducah, Mattie Washington and Ruth Ray were fined $5 for street-walking and visiting saloons in 1897 [source: Paducah Daily Sun, 7/23/1897, p. 4, col.  4]. In Hopkinsville, "A saloon man was fined $16 for permitting [N]egro women of bad repute in his saloon." Source: Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 6/30/1908, p. 4. There are no articles about the arrest of "upstanding" women who patronized saloons and bars. Kentucky law offered no leniency toward women saloon and bar owners. In 1899, P. C. Jett, a white woman in Pineville was convicted of selling liquor without a license. Jett's attorneys filed an appeal and the judgement was reversed [source: Jett v. Commonwealth, Court of Appeals of Kentucky, Feb. 28, 1899, The Southwestern Reporter, vol. 49, p. 786 (online at Google Books]. 

Children were also employed in saloons and bars. At least 70 African American children (less than 18 years old) in the United States were enumerated in the 1880 U.S. Census as saloon and bar employees, including a few girls who were waitresses. One of the youngest child employees was 10-year-old Willie Bird in Atlanta, GA, who  worked as a bar room boy. He lived at home with his mother, baby brother, and a boarder at 43 Hunter Street. In Kentucky, 12-year-old William Metcalf was employed in a Hopkinsville saloon. He was the oldest male and second oldest child among the five children of Milly Metcalf, a washerwoman. His name and the names and occupations of other African American employees in Kentucky are listed below. 

SOURCES: The first attempt at a child labor law in Kentucky was established in 1898 and pertained to boys. The 1902 version is considered the first real child labor law for Kentucky. An outline on the early development of Kentucky's child labor laws is available on p. 228 in the Index of Economic Material in Documents of the States of the United States, Kentucky, 1792-1904, by Adelaide R. Hasse (available online at Google Books). See "Child Labor in America: history, policy, and legislative issues" at EveryCRSReport.com; Child Labor in America: the epic legal struggle to protect children, by J. A. Fliter; and The Whiteness of Child Labor Reform in the New South, by S. Sallee. 

1880 U.S. Census:
Bowling Green:  Fielding Faster, clerk in bar room
Covington: 
 Henry Wilson, works in bar  
Elkton: 
Joseph Crabb, waiter
Frankfort: 
Horace Brady and H. B. Greenup, saloon keepers; Henry Stewart, Sam Willis, and Church Lewis, bar keepers
Franklin:  John Finn, saloon hand
Georgetown:  Moses Warren, servant; Merideth Noel (male), saloon keeper 
Harrodsburg:  Joseph Harris, saloon keeper
Hopkinsville:  Montgomery Trice, William Clark, Clark Williams, and Rodney Long, waiters; Nen Kirkpatrick, E. S. W. Glass, and Edward Glass, saloon keepers; Lewis Phelps, James Huff, and William Metcalf (12 years old), worked in saloons; Newton Campbell, John Hargraves, and Henry Bronaugh, bar keepers
Lebanon:  Pin Smith and Nathan Smith, saloon keepers; Richard Williams, bar keeper   
Lexington:  Adam Mitchell, Robert Woods, and George Lee, saloon keepers; William Scott, bar keeper; Robert Johnson, waiter in bar room  
Louisville:  Thomas Railey and Lewis Benedict, saloon porters; Sam Nichol, bar porter; Pauline Pierce (woman), Doc Douglass, Andrew Cross, Harrison Crumes, Benjamin Jackson, Major Snowden, John Allen, John Smithers, and M. McCarty, all waiters; William Payne, saloon keeper; Judge Lear, Virgil Garrison, Edward Beckwith, Joshu Harris, and Edward Warden, bar keepers; Henry Reynolds, bartender   
Newport:  Robert Brady, cook; Eleck Mayo, works in bar room
Paducah:  Arthur Woolfolk, Lawrence Glore, and Gabe Sasseen, saloon keepers; Robert Bass, stays in saloon; Ben Miyors, saloon; Joseph Bell and Charles Bardoe, works in saloons
Paris:  Will Marshall, bar room keeper
Winchester:  George Walker, saloon keeper

Kentucky Newspaper articles (selected):
Ashland:
  Charles Jenkins, a colored saloon keeper was murdered. Three colored men were sentenced for his murder. "Gets ninety-nine years," The Paducah Sun, 1/22/1906, p. 3.
Cloverport: 
Christmas night, Rastus Hall, bartender at the Saratoga Saloon (white), fired six shots at Eli Walker (colored). All six shots missed Eli Walker, who was in the bar with two or three other Negro men. Prior to the shooting all of the Negro men had been ordered out of the bar after a disagreement over a glass of water. "Reckless shooting," The Breckenridge News, 12/27/1899, front page.
Frankfort: 
The congregating of too many African Americans at the saloons and lunch houses near the Louisville and Nashville depot was making some white people uncomfortable. "The Depot nuisance," The Frankfort Roundabout, 9/10/1892, p. 6. 
Lexington: 
Tommy Lyons, from Lima, OH, ran a saloon with his wife and sister at the corner of Walnut and Short Streets. It was stated in the article that Lyons had run the business for about 50 years. He was having to fight against the protest of a nearby church in his efforts to get a saloon license. "They Colonized," The Mt. Sterling Advocate, 8/7/1894.
Hopkinsville:  John Postell, a colored saloon keeper, was denied the position of steward at the Western Lunatic Asylum. "Object to Postell," The Evening Bulletin, 2/7/1896, p. 3.
Marion:  William Harrigan, a white saloon owner, added a separate bar for colored customers. It was thought to be the only saloon with a white and colored bar. Crittenden Press, 12/18/1902, p. 10, col. 2.
Maysville:  James Bradford from Huntington, WV was in Maysville in 1905. He had cash and was looking to purchase property for a colored saloon. Daily Public Ledger, 9/13/1905, p. 1, col. 1.
Paducah:  Charles Smiley, who was African American, owned a saloon and restaurant on Kentucky Avenue. Two of his employees had had a disagreement. One employee was a porter at the bar, the other a cook in the restaurant. Shots were fired and the cook was killed. "George Miller is instantly killed," The Paducah Sun, 2/7/1906, p. 1.
Paris:  Porter and Spencer's Saloon in Paris was robbed. The saloon was closed when the thief smashed a front window, entered the premises, and got away with $150. Morris Hutsell, a Negro, was arrested because he had been in the saloon the night before the robbery. Hutsell was assumed to be the guilty person because he had sometime in the past served time for a smashed window robbery. The Bourbon News, 12/17/1907, p. 1. 
Winchester:  "Tallow Dick" Combs, from Beattyville, KY, was one of the ten men initially charged with complicity in the murder of Kentucky Gov. William Goebel. "Tallow Dick" was hired as a bartender at one of the four saloons owned by P. C. Jett in Winchester. All of the white bartenders who worked for Jett quit. Combs stayed and new bartenders were hired to replace the ones who had quit. "Stirs up a mess," The Adair County News, 10/3/1900, p. 4.

*NOTES: 
Additional newspaper articles about African Americans, saloons, and bars in Kentucky are freely available online at Chronicling America and the Kentucky Digital Newspaper Program (KDNP).

Within the NKAA Database, are the names and locations of African Americans who owned saloons and bars and those who were employees in Kentucky and other states, including Lewis Mitchell, jockeys Shelby D. "Pike" Barnes and James "Colle" Stone, Christopher Webb, Edward Shaw, and George Small. For more, see the NKAA Database subject search "Saloons and Bars (Liquor)."

1900 U.S. Census
Much had changed by the year 1900 when there were at least 326 African Americans employed in saloons and bars in 40 Kentucky cities. The number of employees was 8.6 times more than there had been in 1870. The majority in 1900  were 212 African American male porters, of which 96 were employed in Louisville, 26 in Covington, 13 in Paducah, 11 each in Lexington and Bowling Green, and eight or less in the remaining 35 cities. There was one woman, Mice S. Clark, a saloon keeper in Covington. A 47-year-old Kentucky native, she lived on 8th Street. Mice S. Clark and her son George Clark, a bartender, shared their home with a boarder. There were also a few teen employees; below are their names and locations. 

Covington:  Henry Nolan, 16, laborer. He lived with his mother and siblings on Second Street.  Johnny Martin, 16, saloon cleaner. He lived with his mother, brother, and a boarder. Fred Crawford, 16, saloon porter. He lived with his mother and siblings in Sparrow Alley. 
Louisville: Samuel Helms, 17, porter. He lived with his parents on Roselane Street. Brown Kennedy, 16, porter. He lived with his mother, siblings, and a cousin on Linden Street.
Paducah:  Mitch Caldwell Jr.. 16, saloon porter. He lived with his parents and siblings on Eighth Street.  

In the United States, there were more than 300 African American children, both boys and girls less than 18-years-old with some type of employment in saloons and bars., who were enumerated in the 1900 U.S. Census. But there are major errors on the census sheets, careless errors. Babies and children less than 5-years-old were enumerated with adult occupations such as saloon keepers. In most cases, it was an adult family member who was the actual saloon employee, the information mistakenly added to the child's entry on the data sheet. In spite of the errors, African American children had actually continued to be employed in saloons and bars. There were also women employees enumerated in the 1900 U.S. Census. The state of Kentucky was not a major contributor to the growing number of African American children and women employees. Among African Americans, adult males were the employees overwhelmingly hired in saloons and bars in Kentucky.  

*NOTE:  Attached to this entry is the work sheet used to gather data from the 1900 U.S. Census. Listed on the sheet are the cities, counties, and saloon and bar occupations held by 326 African Americans in Kentucky.

1910 U.S. CENSUS:
By 1910, the employment of African Americans in saloons and bars in Kentucky was at an all-time high of 612. These employees were located in 39 of the 120 Kentucky counties, almost one third of the state. The majority were the 410 porters, 190 of whom were employed in Louisville. The overall number of African American porters in Kentucky saloons and bars had almost doubled over the previous decade. There were also 96 bartenders and bar keepers, 28 saloon keepers, 26 cooks, 10 musicians, and 42 other employees. Even with a few new changes, the number one employment demand for African Americans in saloons continued to be for porters, including the 190 in Louisville. In 1910, the more than 650 saloons in Louisville were far beyond the number in any other city in the entire state.  

SOURCES: pp. 1758-1762 in Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1910; and S. C. Berigan, "Bars, Taverns, and Saloons" in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, pp. 68-70.  

The number of bar keepers and bartenders was a new inclusion in census occupations for African Americans in Kentucky. Enslaved African American men had been mixing and serving liquor for centuries. The time was right, once again, for the trend of African Americans as mixologists. There were 28 in Louisville, 24 in Lexington, and eight or less in 23 other cities. The cities of City Hall and Covington took it one step further; Sarah Hines was an African American woman bartender in Covington, and Telma McFortand (male) was a 16-year-old bartender in City Hall. Both saloons were really pushing the limits; no other city followed this practice. Telma McFortand was actually the second 16-year-old African American bartender in Kentucky; Benjamin Shipley had been a 16-year-old bartender in Louisville in 1870.

Another tactic by saloon owners was to offer a free meal with the purchase of a drink. This new idea resulted in an increase in the number of African American cooks hired by saloons and bars, from two in 1900 to 26 in 1910. Thirteen of the 20 African American cooks in Louisville saloons were women.

African American musicians were another new attraction in Kentucky saloons. This was not a new line of employment in the U.S. but rather new to  Kentucky. More specifically, it was a new thing in Louisville saloons, where all but one of the 10 African American musicians were employed: One musician was employed in a Driskill saloon.

SOURCES: For more information on Black bartenders, see D. Wondrich, A history of Black Bartenders online at The Bitter Southerner website; and The History of Black Bartenders, by D. Pittet, 9/1/2017 at the SevenFiftyDaily website. For more information on African American musicians performing in saloons, see Chapter 4 in The Soul of Pleasure: sentiment and sensation in Nineteenth Century American mass entertainment, by D. Monod.    

Agriculture was still the dominant employment for African American males in Kentucky in 1910. Those leaving the farm were said to be moving into the industries. Saloon and bar work did not fall into the categories of farming or industries.

There was definitely something, or many somethings, happening with the African American male employee numbers in Kentucky. In 1870, there were 108,219 African American males in Kentucky enumerated in the U.S. Census. The numbers increased to 133,618 when the 1890 U.S. Census was completed, and there was an increase to 142,179 when the 1900 U.S. Census was completed. Then in 1910 there was a much lower count: 131,492 African American males in Kentucky, a 10,687 decrease from the previous decade. The Census Bureau admitted that there had been an undercount in the 1910 Negro census. Could this account for the decreasing number of African American males in Kentucky, an omission? Or, perhaps it was in fact as it appeared, a major loss of African American males in Kentucky. The question of how and why there was such a large loss is still speculated about today.

In 1920 there was another loss; the total number of African American males was 118,548, 12,944 less than the count in the previous census. All of the speculation and occupation predictions meant little. In 1930, there was another decrease, down to 113,501 African American males in Kentucky, a loss of 5,407.

As the number of African American males began decreasing in Kentucky, the number of African American male saloon and bar employees increased. In 1910 there were 92,230 African American males over the age of 14 in Kentucky, and of that number, 6.365% (587) were working in saloons and bars. An adjustment needed to be made to the assessment that African Americans in Kentucky were leaving agriculture for the Kentucky industries. The 1910 U.S. Census sheets also showed that for the first time, more African American women in Kentucky (24) were employed in saloons and bars than African American children less than 18-years-old (16). In 1913, The American Year Book (volume 1912, p. 244) reported that Kentucky had made it a crime for a minor less than 18 to enter a saloon.

SOURCES: 1870 Census: Vol. I. The Statistics of the Population of the United States. The Table of Sex. Table XXII, The United States-1870-Continued, p. 608 (online); Compendium of the Eleventh Census: 1890. Part I-Population. Table 19-Population as Native and Foreign Born and White and Colored, Classified by Sex, By Counties: 1890 continued, p. 607; "The Negro Farmer," by W. E. B. DuBois, pp. 69-99, within Negroes in the United States, by W. C. Hunt, W. F. Wilcox, and W. E. B. DuBois1900 Census: V. II. Population, Part  2. Statistics of Population. Elements of the Population. Table V, p. xxii (online); 1910 Census: Volume 2. Population, Reports by States, with Statistics for Counties, Cities, and Other Civil Divisions, Alabama-Montana. Population-Kentucky, Table 7-Age for the State, p. 724 (online); 1920 Census: Volume 2. Population, General Report and Analytical Tables. Chapter 2: Sex Distribution. Table 2, p. 108 (online); 1930 Census: Volume 2. Population, General Report, Statistics by Subjects. Chapter 3, Sex Distribution, Table 2, p. 99 (online); and Kentucky's Black Heritage, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.

Hulda Scott was enumerated among the saloon keepers in the 1910 U.S. Census. Located in Lexington, she was a saloon owner, a 61-year-old Kentucky native born around 1849. She was a widowed mother of six adult children and rented a home at 967 W. High Street. Her mother and three boarders lived in her home. Very little was actually known about her, as indicated on her 1934 death certificate (in Ancestry). She was about 80 years old when she died from 3rd degree burns received when her house caught fire at 526 DeRhode Street in Lexington. She is buried in African Cemetery No. 2.

Callie Jones was enumerated in the 1910 U.S. Census as a teenaged female bar employee, a combination rarely recorded in the U.S. Census for Kentucky. The 16-year-old was a servant in a bar room in Louisville. She lived on Breckinridge Street with her cousin, other family members, and a boarder.

SOURCES: 1910 U.S. Census and Hulda Scott's Kentucky Death Certificate file #3284 (Ancestry).

African American Women, Saloon Employees in KY, 1910
Covington:  Sarah Hines, bartender
Lexington:  Agnace Williams, cook; Hulda Scott, saloon owner
Louisville:  Mary Hunter, Clara Smith, Mary Thorton, Arinise Graham, Lucinda Ford, Emma Chism, Amanda Brooks, Florence Thomas, Julie Coombs, Francis Hinkle, Cora Young, Anna Taylor, Nellie Cooper, all cooks; Bula Burkes and Minnie Lewis, dish washers; Delia Turpin, servant; Henrietta Whaley, waitress; Callie Jones (16-year-old), servant
Mt. Sterling:  Airo Lipton, server
Owensboro:  Mary Blue, wash woman
Paducah:  Rosa Williams, chambermaid

African American Children (less than 18-years-old), Saloon Employees in KY, 1910
City Hall:  Telma McFortand, 16, bartender; Richard Kimbell, 17, porter
Covington:  Charles Johnson, 16, porter
Harrodsburg:  George B. Fisher, 17, odd jobs
Henderson:  Marion Crow, 14, porter
Hopkinsville: William Killibrew, 16, porter
Louisville:  Emil Conn, 12; Lenard Winlock, 15; Isaac Lewis 15, Joseph Sturks, 16; William Dortch, 17, William Talbeit, 17; James G. Helm, 17; Montgomery Bell, 17; all porters. Callie Jones (female), 16, servant. 
Opera House:  Peyton Sanders, 17, porter

*NOTE:  Attached to this entry is the work sheet used to gather data from the 1910 U.S. Census. Listed on the sheet are the cities, counties, and saloon and bar occupations held by 612 African Americans in Kentucky.

1920 U.S. CENSUS
By 1920, African Americans were almost out of the saloon and bar businesses in Kentucky, the employment numbers plummeting from 612 in 1910 to 76 in 1920. There were 50 porters, 28 of whom were employed in Louisville. The 16 bartenders, bar keepers, and saloon keepers were in Lexington, Louisville, Newport, and Paducah. Ten persons were employed doing various other jobs. One teen, Leonard Anderson, 17, was employed as a porter in Louisville. He lived on Madison Street with his mother Lucy Anderson, a laundress. Abe Alexander was a saloon owner in Lexington, a 49-year-old Kentucky native who lived at Water Street and Mill with his wife, stepdaughter, and two roomers. There were no African American women saloon or bar employees enumerated in Kentucky in the 1920 U.S. Census.

By 1930, there were two African Americans enumerated in the U.S. Census as saloon and bar employees in Kentucky: James Page, a bartender in Covington and Landon Lee, a porter in Louisville. 

*NOTE:  Attached to this entry is the work sheet used to gather data from the 1920 U.S. Census. Listed on the sheet are the cities, counties, and saloon and bar occupations held by 76 African Americans in Kentucky.

Kentucky County & Region

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Kentucky Place (Town or City)

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References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: African Cemetery No. 2 (Lexington, KY)
NKAA Entry: Lexington's Colored Orphan Industrial Home
NKAA Entry: Combs, Richard "Tallow Dick"
NKAA Source: The Bourbon news (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)
NKAA Source: The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society (periodical)
NKAA Source: Columbia magazine (periodical)
NKAA Source: The War on alcohol : prohibition and the rise of the American state
NKAA Source: 1919, the year of racial violence : how African Americans fought back
NKAA Source: Negro migration during the war
NKAA Source: The Forgotten depression : 1921, the crash that cured itself
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration
NKAA Source: Time (periodical)
NKAA Source: The Evening bulletin (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Frankfort roundabout (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Paducah daily sun (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Hopkinsville Kentuckian (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Index of economic material in documents of the states of the United States: Kentucky, 1792-1904
NKAA Source: Child labor in America : the epic legal struggle to protect children
NKAA Source: The Whiteness of child labor reform in the New South
NKAA Source: The Paducah sun (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Mt. Sterling advocate (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Crittenden press (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Adair County news (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Caron's directory of the city of Louisville (annual)
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of Louisville
NKAA Source: The American year book (annual)
NKAA Source: Compendium of the eleventh census: 1890
NKAA Source: Negroes in the United States
NKAA Source: Kentucky's Black heritage; the role of the Black people in the history of Kentucky from pioneer days to the present
NKAA Source: The Breckinridge news (newspaper)
NKAA Source: A Digest of the decisions of all the courts of Kentucky reported in the Kentucky reports, the Southwestern reporter, and Kentucky law reporter to July, 1904 ...
NKAA Source: Reports of civil and criminal cases decided by the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, 1785-1951
NKAA Source: The Southwestern reporter (serial)
NKAA Source: The Soul of pleasure : sentiment and sensation in nineteenth-century American mass entertainment

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Saloon and Bar Employees in Kentucky, 1870-1920,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 30, 2023, http://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/300004112.

Last modified: 2022-11-09 18:39:00