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

Born in Mexico, Lived in Kentucky, 1850-1920

(start date:  -  end date: ) 

This entry comes from reference questions asked by a researcher looking at the population of those who were born in Mexico and lived in Kentucky up through the end of WWI. A second part to the search looked at how the individuals were classified by race in U.S. Census records. Given that race was not noted consistently in the census for African Americans in Kentucky, it was a bit of a surprise that in Kentucky census records and death records, and in military records, those persons born in Mexico and having lived or died in Kentucky, and those who served in the military, most often their race was noted as "white" in the U.S. Census between 1850 and 1920. There were also a scattering of other race notations: black, colored, mulatto, Indian, Mexican, Spanish, some made-up notations, a combination of two or more of these, or nothing was listed in the column for race. There was not a large population of persons born in Mexico and living in Kentucky; there were no more than 43 prior to the 1920 Census. Also, it cannot be assumed that individuals self-identified in terms of race or knew what race had been noted in a government document. Other considerations in the research were as follows: were the persons born in Mexico, KY, located in Crittenden County, or were they born in a city named Mexico in another U.S. state; was it noted in the record that the person was born in Mexico (the country) and the person was also a citizen of Mexico (the country); was the person who was living in Kentucky a citizen of the United States or some other county, and had been born within the country of Mexico.

The census records contains the names of European emigrants whose child or children were born in Mexico (the country) prior to the entire family living in Kentucky. Individual names could not be relied upon as a hint about the person's nationality, race, or ethnicity. In the table below are totals for all persons who were born in Mexico (the country) and lived or died in Kentucky between 1850 and 1920. Please note that the table DOES NOT contain information on the adoption of Mexican children by non-Mexican parents. There is NO NOTATION of children born to a Mexican parent and a non-Mexican parent. There is NO NOTATION of individuals who were brought from Mexico and enslaved in Kentucky. Without a doubt, there were unique family dynamics, and there were enslaved Mexicans in Kentucky [see the Peter White entry in NKAA], but documenting such information requires research beyond the use of U.S. Census records, military records, and Kentucky Death Records. Slaves listed in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedules are not enumerated by name or country of origin, only the slave owners are listed by name.

For this NKAA Database entry, the start year is 1850, which was the first year the U.S. Census collected data on place of birth for each person. Up to the year 1870, the U.S. Census records were organized under the U.S. Federal Court system. Each district had a U.S. marshal who hired other marshals to administer the census. For the U.S. Territories, governors were responsible for the enumeration of their areas. The 1850 Census data was collected after the Mexican-American War that took place between April of 1846 and February of 1848. Added to the influence of the war were major political debates as to whether the newly acquired land from Mexico would become slave-holding territory or not. In Kentucky, the question of race had historically been recognized as black, mulatto, or white, all based on physical appearances. The same criteria applied to others who were born in Mexico and other countries. By 1850, the most immediate concern was how to extend and maintain the ways of the past within the newly acquired Mexican Territory. For more see the PBS site How the Mexican-American War Affected Slavery / The Abolitionist. Also, men from Kentucky rushed to the call to come fight for America during the Mexican-American War, and there were so many men who came forward that all could not be taken; nonetheless, there were more than 5,000 Kentucky fighting men in Mexico during the war. For more see the Kentucky Historical Society website Explore KY's Mexican American War, see also the LatinAmericanstudies.org site The Mexican War.

At the close of the war, if Mexican immigrants came to Kentucky accompanying the soldiers who were returning home, this information would not be noted in the 1850 U.S. Census record. Immigration data would not be collected for another 50 years; in the 1900 census, persons born in Mexico and living in Kentucky were placed within the previously defined race categories of either black, Mulatto, or white. The same was mostly true for the 1910 census. There were also additional notes added to a few entries, such as "Spanish" or "American." The population numbers for persons born in Mexico and living in Kentucky did not fluctuate much until the 1920 census was taken, and it showed an increase that was more than four-times the average between 1850 and 1910. The sudden increase of Mexicans in Kentucky had come about during the decade of the Mexican Revolution [Britannica.com], between 1910 and 1920 when thousands were fleeing Mexico. This was particularly true during the latter half of the decade and during WWI [Britannica.com] when American servicemen were fighting in Europe. Also included in the table below are the names of men who were born in Mexico and completed their WWI Draft Registration Cards in Kentucky, as well as those who were included in the draft registration records from Kentucky for the American Civil War.

Between 1910 and 1920, the increasing number of Mexicans in Kentucky was driven by the coal mining businesses in Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Hopkins, Letcher, Perry, Pike, and Union Counties. The coal companies had launched an international recruitment effort for coal miners. According to author Richard J. Callahan, in 1920, there were 92 Mexican miners in the Harlan coal mines [source: Work and Faith in the Kentucky Coal Fields: subject to dust by R. J. Callahan, p.77]. Mexicans made up 13% of the immigrant population in Benham, and they were the second largest group of immigrants in Benham [source: Factions and Corporate Political Strategies in Harlan County, Kentucky: implications for community sustainability (thesis) by A. R. Winston, pp.219-220]. See also the Benham Coal Company Records at Explore UK, the records are held at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center. [The number of coal miners in the table below is slightly less than was counted by Callahan; the census data would have been collected during the earlier months of 1920 and did not represent the entire calendar year.]

The table below is the initial response to the questions of the researcher who helped initiate this entry. At no time between 1850 and 1920 was there more than 10 persons noted as Black or Mulatto during each decade reviewed for  Mexicans living in Kentucky or who died in Kentucky. Overwhelmingly, persons born in Mexico who migrated to Kentucky were noted as white in the U.S. Federal Census. Even when the person recording the data was not sure how to note the race of Mexicans in Kentucky, the made-up notations of Ba, OP, Wt, Ot, and other notes were used, but all of these notations were marked-out and replaced with the letter "W" for "White." There was also the occasional notations such as P, Spanish, Malaysian, I for "Indian," Mw for "Mexican-White," or Y for "Yellow."


YEAR PERSONS BORN IN MEXICO LIVED IN KY COUNTIES OF
RACE OR ETHNICITY IN CENSUS
BIRTH YEAR RANGE SEX CHILDREN (under 18) YEAR OF IMMIGRATION OCCUPATIONS MARITAL STATUS NOTES
1850


42


Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jefferson, Kenton, Marion, Nelson, Todd, Warren, Washington Mexican -1,
Mulatto -2,
[Not noted for all others]
1801-1850 7 Females
35 Males
16   Blacksmith, 3 Boatmen, Fifer, Finisher, 4 Laborers, 2 Lutheran Ministers, Musician, Servant, Shoe Maker, Student in Nelson Co., 3 Tailors, ? Maker,
[Nothing noted] -15, [undecipherable] -7

*Fifer - non-combat foot soldier who played the fife [transverse flute] during battle.
[Not noted] No name for one person. Of the sixteen children under the age of 18, four children were in a household with their parents. Three of the children were listed as working.
1860



30



Barren, Breckinridge, Campbell, Green, Hardin, Jefferson, Kenton, Madison, Marion, McCracken, Mercer, Nelson, Washington Copper or Colored -1
Mulatto -1
[Not noted for all others]
1803-1858 9 Females
21 Males

12

  3 Carpenters, Finisher, Laborers, Loafer, Music Teacher, Shoe & Boot Maker, River Man, Servant, 3 Students in Nelson Co., 2 Tailors, Tobacconist, Watchman, [Nothing noted] -13 [Not noted]


Of the twelve children under the age of 18, six lived in a household with their parents.
1870 30 Adair, Boyle, Campbell, Daviess, Estill, Fayette, Franklin, Greenup, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, Kenton, Madison, Marion, Mercer, Montgomery, Nelson, Washington White -22
Black -3
Mulatto -3
[Marked Out]- 2
1802-1868 10 Females
20 Males
6   Barber, 3 Carpenters, Carriage Driver, Domestic Servant, Farmer, Home, 3 Keeping House, Music Teacher, 2 Farm Laborers, Laborer, Printer, Railroad, Sailor, Shoe Maker, 2 Students, Tailor, Wagon Maker, [Nothing noted] -5, [undecipherable] -1 [Not noted for all] Of the six children under the age of 18, they all lived in a household with their parents.
1880 24 Adair, Boyle, Campbell, Carroll, Franklin, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, Kenton, Logan, Lyon, McCracken, Mercer, Nelson, Union, Warren, Washington White -19
Black -2
Mulatto -2
I=Indian -1
1803-1858 6 Females
18 Males
3   At home, 2 Carpenters, Carriage Painter, 3 Farmers, Farm Hand, Hack Driver, 4 Keeping House, Musician, Planer in Mill, Servant, Shoe Maker, 3 Students, Tailor, [Nothing noted] -4 Single 9
Married 13
Widowed 2
Of the three children under the age of 18, they all lived in a household with their parents.
1900 31 Adair, Ballard, Boyle, Campbell, Christian, Fayette, Henderson, Hopkins, Jefferson, Kenton, Lincoln, McCracken, Mercer, Muhlenberg, Nicholas, Shelby, Trigg, Warren, Woodford White -24
Black -7
1834-1888


12 Females
19 Males
5 [Nothing noted] 18,
[Marked-out] 1,
Unknown 4,
1853, 1856, 1861, 1867, 1875, 1877, 1894, 1898
Barber, 4 Carpenters, Civil Engineer, Coachman, 2 Farmers, Hospital Corp - Military, House Girl, Jeweler, Laborer-Brick, Painter, Patient in Lunatic Asylum, Physician, Shoe Repairer, 5 Students, 2 Teachers, Teamster-Lumber, Wheelwright, [Nothing noted] -4, [undecipherable] -1 Single 13
Married 17
Widowed 1
Of the 5 children under the age of 18, four lived in a household with their parents.
1910 43 Ballard, Breathitt, Breckinridge, Campbell, Christian, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Hardin, Hart, Hopkins, Jefferson, Lincoln, Mercer, Trigg, Whitley, Woodford, Union White -23
White/American -5
White/Spanish -7
Black -3
Mulatto -3
Mulatto/Spanish-1
Spanish -1
1836-1909 22 Females
21 Males
7 [Nothing noted] 31,
Unknown 1,
NA 1,
1865, 1874, 1880, 1884, 1886, 1890, 1898, 1905, 1910 (2)
2 Bookkeepers, Coachman, Coal Miner, Farm Worker, Farmer, Housekeeper, Inmate-City Hospital-Steamboat, Laundress, Mining Engineer, Musician/Teacher, 2 Nun/Teachers, Physician, 2 Race Horse Grooms, School Teacher, 2 Servants, Theater, Timber Cutter, Undertaker, Quarry Worker, [Nothing noted] -19, [undecipherable] -1 Single 17
Married 23
Widowed 3
One person's age was marked-out.
Of the seven children under the age of 18, all lived in a household with their parents.
1920 161 Bell, Campbell, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hardin, Harlan, Henderson, Hopkins, Jefferson, Kenton, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Mercer, Perry, Pike, Spencer, Union White -52
Wt/White -35
Ot/White -46
OP/White -3
Ba/White -10
Mexican -2
Mulatto -2
Black -3
Mw=MexicanWhite-5
P=? -1
Y=Yellow -2
1833-1919 48 Females
113 Males
39 [Nothing noted] 8,
Marked-out 5,
Unknown 16,
[Undecipherable] 2, 1859, 1882 (2), 1888, 1895, 1898, 1900, 1907, 1910 (2), 1911, 1912 (5), 1913 (5), 1914, 1915 (18), 1916 (28), 1917 (9), 1918 (26), 1919 (27)
Bank Cashier, Blacksmith, Boarding House, 2 Carpenters, 67 Coal Miners, 2 Ditch Diggers, Doctor, Domestic, Electrician-Coal Mines, Errand Boy-Grocery Store, Farmer, Hotel Cook, Inmate-Laundress, Inmate - Shirt Maker, Laborer, 3 Laborer-Fort Knox, Life Insurance, Machine Shop, Minister, Publishing Company Subscriber, Seed Store, Soldier-Fort Knox, Soldier-Fort Thomas, Teacher, Wagon Maker, Waitress, [Nothing noted] -65 Single 96
Married 59
Widowed-6
Of the thirty-nine children under the age of 18, thirty-eight lived in a household with their parents.
WAR
YEAR
Draft Registration  NAME COUNTY WHERE REGISTERED RACE ON REGISTRATION CARD BIRTH YEAR BIRTH LOCATION CITIZENSHIP STATUS OCCUPATION HOME ADDRESS MARITAL STATUS NOTES
1863 Joseph Baldes Kentucky White 1838 Mexico   Carpenter   Married  
1863 Richard King Kentucky White 1831 Mexican   Finisher, Machinist   Married  
1863 Nathan Nolan Henderson White 1823 Mexico   None     15 years in the U.S. Service. Fought in the Mexican War.
1863 Peter Ross Kentucky   1823 Mexico   Boatman      
1917 Pete Casna Kenton White 1896 Gallop, Mexico Natural Born Citizen Covington Ice Cream Company - vendor 17 E. 2nd Street, Covington, KY Single  
1917 Manuel Leal Jefferson White 1893 Guanajuato, Mexico Alien - Mexican YMCA Building - painter 820 S. 3rd Street, Louisville, KY Single Claimed exemption from draft as alien.
  Frank Martimi Letcher White 1892 Lardo, Mexico Alien - Mexico The Consolidation Coal Company - miner Jenkins, KY Single Claimed exemption from draft as alien
1917 Antonio Perez Letcher Malaysian 1896 Mexico City, Mexico Alien - Mexico Consolidation Coal Company - miner Burdine, KY Single Private Infantry 6 months in Mexico
1917 Marcario Perez Letcher Malaysian 1889 Mexico City, Mexico Alien - Mexico Consolidation Coal Company - miner Burdine, KY Married Private Infantry 6 years in Mexico
1917 Paul Powell Jefferson White 1888 Saltillo, Mexico Alien - Mexico Baptist State Board - secretary 205 E. Chestnut, Louisville, KY Single Sergeant Infantry 3 months in Tennessee
1917 Juan Ruis Floyd White 1895 Del Riviera, Mexico Alien Declarant - Mexico Bates & Rogers - laborer Fed, KY Single Soldier in U.S. Army for 2 years
1917 Samuel Tejada Christian White 1890 Monclova, Mexico Alien - Mexico Montgomery-Perkins Co. - day laborer Hopkinsville, KY Single  
1918 Mike Ochoa Harlan White - Mexican 1897 Lampuga, Mexico Alien - Mexico U.S.C. & C. Company Inc. - miner Lampuga, Sonora, Mexico    
DEATH YEAR NUMBER OF DEATHS COUNTIES WHERE DEATHS OCCURRED RACE ON DEATH CERTIFICATES BIRTH YEAR BIRTH LOCATION BURIAL LOCATION OCCUPATION HOME ADDRESS MARITAL STATUS NOTES
1850-1860 1 Kenton   1849 Mexico City, Mexico Covington, KY     Single Females -1
Males
CAUSES: [Nothing noted]
1861-1870                   Females
Males
CAUSES:
1871-1880 1 Jefferson White 1844 Mexico Louisville, KY [Nothing noted] -1 Louisville, KY   Females
Males -1
CAUSES: Fever
1881-1890 2 Kenton White 1802, 1857 Mexico Cincinnati, OH
Covington, KY
[Nothing noted] -2 Kenton County, KY Single -1
Widowed -1
Females -1
Males -1
CAUSES: Osteitis, [Nothing noted] -1
1891-1900                   Females
Males
CAUSES:
1901-1910 3 Jefferson (2), Kenton Black, Indian, White 1841, 1855, 1885 Mexico Covington, KY
Louisville, KY-2
Carpenter, Domestic
[undecipherable] -1
Covington, KY -1
Louisville, KY - 1
[undecipherable] -1
Single -1
[Nothing noted] -1,
[undecipherable] -1
Females -1
Males -2
CAUSES: Accident, Strangulated hernia, [undecipherable] -1
1911-1920 8 Fayette, Franklin, Harlan, Jefferson (3), Owen, Pike Black, Mexican -4, White -3 1840, 1848, 1886, 1890, 1894, 1896, 1909, 1919 Mexico, Monteray, Mexico -1 Frankfort, KY Lexington, KY
Louisville, KY -2
Lynch, KY
Owenton, KY
Poor Fork, KY
Wolfpit, KY
Coachman, Coal Miner -3, House wife,
[Nothing noted] - 1
[undecipherable] -2
Frankfort, KY
Lexington, KY
Los Antiano, TX, [Nothing noted]-5
Single -5
Married -2
Widowed -1
Females -3
Males -5
CAUSES: Acute Bronchitis/Asthma, Appendicitis & Cholera, Asthma, Fell from 2nd story window, Gun Shot, Influenza, Slate fall in mine, Tuberculosis

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Crittenden County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Mexico, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Work and faith in the Kentucky coal fields: subject to dust
NKAA Source: Factions and corporate political strategies in Harlan County, Kentucky: implications for community sustainability (thesis)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  White, Peter

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Born in Mexico, Lived in Kentucky, 1850-1920,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 25, 2017, http://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/3134.

Last modified: 2017-09-21 16:37:07