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

Migration From Kentucky to Maine

No records have been located at this time to support that there was ever a major migration of escaped slaves from Kentucky who settled in Maine before or after the U.S. Civil War. This entry is in response to the reference question as to whether fugitive slaves from Kentucky, whose intended destination was Canada, may have settled in Maine. Looking at the logistics of the geographic distance, a slave leaving from Kentucky and going through Michigan was a much shorter route to Canada than traveling to Maine then going to Canada. Escaping slaves did not have the luxury of spare travel time when seeking their freedom. Traveling to Maine from Kentucky would have added hundreds of miles to the journey. At this time, no written history has been found that documents an escaped slave community from Kentucky, or any significant population of Kentucky-born African Americans living in the state of Maine. The Underground Railroad did run through Maine, and the route was used by slaves escaping to Canada, but not necessarily slaves from Kentucky. Also, no documentation has been located at this time to support the wonderings as to whether there were significant numbers of slaves in Maine who had been purchased in Kentucky. Answers to such wonderings will require very detailed research beyond this NKAA entry. There were slaves in Maine as early as the 1600s. Once slavery was determined to be illegal in Maine, there was a population of free African Americans, and in 1850 they numbered around 652 persons, and in 1860 there were about 739 persons [sources: U.S. Census records]. Maine had not become a state and was still part of Massachusetts when slavery there became illegal in 1783 [Kentucky would not become a state until 1790]. The Maine Antislavery Society was formed in 1834. Sources with more information on slavery and African Americans in Maine include the online article "'North to freedom' statue in Brewer only official Maine memorial to Underground Railroad," Bangor Daily News, 09/01/2012; The Second Maine Cavalry in the Civil War by Ned Smith; Colonial New England Slavery by P. A. Lenz; Massachusetts Freemen by M. J. Denis; "Slavery and Maine" 07/30/2011, an Affordable Acadia website; Maine History Online websiteMaine's Visible Black History by H. H. Price and G. E. Talbot; many other sources; and contact Maine State Library.

 

As for the freemen from Kentucky who were living in Maine, what is known about them comes from the U.S. Census and military records. Chad Hurd, a laborer born around 1805 in KY, and his family were living in Augusta, Maine in 1850. Hurds' wife Abigail was born in North Dakota, and their four children were all born in Maine. Isam Crawford from Bedford, KY, enlisted in the Union Army in Maine on November 15, 1864, and served with the 46th U.S. Colored Infantry [source: Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops, records at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and online at Ancestry.com]. In 1870, Kentucky natives, Wesley (b.1830) and Louisa Williams (b.1840), lived in Brownville, Maine with their six children. The oldest two children were born in Kentucky and the last four were born in Maine. Wesley Williams was employed in the slate quarry. Jonah Jackson, born around 1845 in Kentucky, lived with a family in Norway, Maine. Jackson worked on a farm. Josephine Williams, born around 1822 in Kentucky, lived in Portland, Maine. Her occupation is listed as keeping house. Samuel Guess, a day laborer from Kentucky, was born around 1829. Guess lived in Bangor, Maine, with his wife and three children; his wife was from Cape De Verde Islands. All of the children were born in Maine. Samuel Guess served in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War. He enlisted in Mane on April 3, 1865, and served with the 41st U.S. Colored Infantry. After 1870, less than five African Americans, who were born in Kentucky, are listed in the annual U.S. Census as living in the state of Maine, until the year 1900 when there were seven. 

 

As a side note, Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in Brunswick, Maine, where she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin which was published in 1852. The Stowe family had moved to Maine when Harriet's husband, Calvin Ellis Stowe, became an instructor at Bowdion College. Uncle Tom's Cabin was meant to educate northerners about the horrors of slavery in the south. The book was inspired by the slave narrative The Life of Josiah Henson; Josiah Henson, who was born in Maryland, was a slave in Owensboro, KY, before he escaped to Canada. Author Harriet Beecher Stowe was an abolitionist before and after she lived in Maine. She was born and died in Connecticut.

Coverage

Outside Kentucky Place Name

References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Second Maine Cavalry in the Civil War: a history and roster
NKAA Source: Colonial New England slavery: (African, African-American, Indian) in Massachusetts, NH and Maine
NKAA Source: Massachusetts freemen: an alphabetical listing of persons admitted to Freeman status from 1630 to 1691
NKAA Source: Maine's visible Black history: the first chronicle of its people
NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)
NKAA Source: Uncle Tom's Cabin
NKAA Source: The life of Josiah Henson formerly a slave, now an inhabitant of Canada

Social Bookmarking

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Migration From Kentucky to Maine,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 18, 2018, http://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/3180.

Last modified: 2017-08-16 20:21:54