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

The Bransfords

Nick and Matt [or Mat] Bransford and Stephen Bishop were slaves who served as guides at Mammoth Cave; Matt was a guide for 49 years, beginning in 1838. He was the son of Thomas Bransford and a slave woman. Henry Bransford, Matt's son, was a guide for 19 years. Matt W. and Lewis Bransford, Henry's sons, were also guides, Matt for 32 years. Lewis resigned in 1940, and in 1948 Mammoth Cave was turned over to the federal government. Eight of the Bransford men had been guides in Mammoth Cave. In 2002, Jerry Bransford became a guide at the cave, he is the great-great-grandson of Mat Bransford. For more see Kentucky's Black Heritage, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; Louisville Defender, 04/12/1942; The News-Enterprise (Hardin County, KY), 02/09/04; J. C. Schmitzer, "The sable guides of Mammoth Cave," Filson Club History Quarterly, vol. 67, issue 2 (1993), pp. 240-258; K. Ohlson, "Illuminating his heritage," American Profile, 11/8-14,2009, pp.6-7; and Making Their Mark: the signature of slavery at Mammoth Cave by J. Lyons. 

See photo image of Matt Bransford at NYPL Digital Gallery.

See photo image of William Bransford at NYPL Digital Gallery.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Bishop, Stephen
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 Louisville defender (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The News-enterprise (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Filson Club history quarterly (periodical)
NKAA Source: American profile (periodical)
NKAA Source: Making their mark : the signature of slavery at Mammoth Cave

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Negro Hotels in Kentucky

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“The Bransfords,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed February 2, 2023,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 17:51:27