Return to search page.
African American Blacksmiths in Kentucky
Start Year : 1880
A discussion of the number of African American blacksmiths in the U.S. can be found in the Negroes in the United States (1904), by W. E. B. DuBois, pp. 63-64 [available full-text at Google Book Search]. DuBois noted that there were 10,988 African American blacksmiths in 1890; the numbers had decreased to 10,100 by the year 1900. The total was moving toward that of 1880 when the U.S. Federal Census listed 8,130 African American blacksmiths, of which 642 had been born in Kentucky and 521 lived in Kentucky.
Geographic Region: Kentucky
Anderson, Sandford Woodford and Polly Ann
Sanford Anderson, Sr. (b.1836) was born in Kentucky, the son of a slave woman and her white master named Woodford. His mother was sold after he was born, and Anderson was given his freedom and his father's last name. When he was a young man, Sanford left his father's plantation and went to work on the Anderson farm; he then took the name Anderson as his last name. He married a slave named Polly Ann (b.1842) and established a blacksmith business. The family moved to [Springheld] Springfield, Ohio, in 1877 and Anderson supported his family with his new blacksmith business. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, the couple is listed with nine children, and all living in the Mad River District in Ohio. Dorothy Evans Bacon was the great-granddaughter of Sanford and Polly Anderson. Highlights of the Anderson family history can be found in the article "The Bacons: a fighting spirit on the color line," Newsweek, Special: Fiftieth Anniversary Issue, vol.101, issue 10, February, 1983, pp. 33-34, 36. The article includes a photo of Dorothy Evans [Bacon] and her parents.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Blacksmiths, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Kentucky / [Springheld] Springfield, Ohio
Ballard, John and Amanda
John (1830-1905) and Amanda Ballard (b. 1840-died before 1900) were the first African Americans to settle in the hills above Malibu; the site, Negrohead Mountain [a refined version of the name], was named in recognition of the Ballards early pioneering presence in the area. There was an effort underway to rename the peak Ballard Mountain. John Ballard, a former slave from Kentucky, was a blacksmith, a teamster, and a firewood salesman. He was a free man when the family arrived in Los Angeles in 1859. John was able to earn enough money to purchase 320 acres near Seminole Hot Springs, and the family later moved near Santa Monica. John helped found the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles; the services were first held in 1872 in the home of co-founder Biddy Mason. Mason, like Ballard, had been a former slave; she won her freedom, along with 13 others, in an 1856 California court case. Mason settled in the city of Los Angeles. It is not known how John Ballard gained his freedom. When the Ballards moved to their mountain home, the family was sometimes harassed; their house was burnt down in an attempt to run them out of the area, but the Ballards refused to leave. John, and Amanda, who was born in Texas, first appear in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. The couple had seven children according to the 1870 Census, all of whom were born in California. By 1900, John Ballard was a widow and his daughter Alice, who was a nurse, and two grandsons, were living with him. For more see Happy Days in Southern California, by F. H. Rindge [John Ballard is not referred to by name but rather as an "old colored neighbor"]; Heads and Tails -- and Odds and Ends, by J. H. Russell; B. Pool, "Negrohead Mountain might get new name," Los Angeles Times, 02/24/2009, Domestic News section; and R. McGrath, "Santa Monica peak renamed Ballard Mountain," Ventura County Star, 10/07/2009, Local section. For more on Biddy Mason see The Power of Place, by D. Hayden.
See video about John Ballard and the naming of Ballard Mountain, "Local activists responsible for 'Negrohead' Mountian name change," a thegriot.com/NBC News website.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration West, Religion & Church Work, Blacksmiths, 1st African American Families in Town
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Los Angeles, California
Berry, Isaac, Sr.
Birth Year : 1831
Death Year : 1914
Isaac Berry, Sr. was a violin player who was born a slave in Garrard County, KY. He was willed to one of his owner's daughters. The daughter married James Pratt, and the family moved to Missouri. With the permission of Mrs. Pratt, Berry ran away and James Pratt posted a $500 reward for Berry, dead or alive. Berry made his way to Ypsilanti, MI, [see George McCoy] by following the railroad tracks, the trip taking him three weeks. Members of the Underground Railroad helped Berry to make his way on to Detroit, then to Canada. Berry's daughter, Katy Pointer, was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, in 1864, and the family moved to Mecosta, MI, in 1877. Isaac Berry, Sr. was a blacksmith and a carpenter, he was the husband of Lucy, who was born in New York; both are last listed in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. The Berry family was among the early settlers of Morton Township in Mecosta, MI, where Isaac Berry built a school for Negro children and other structures. Isaac Berry, Sr. was born March 10, 1831 and died January 11, 1914 [source: Michigan Certificate of Death at Seeking Michigan, online digital archive]. For more see Negro Folktales in Michigan, edited by R. M. Dorson, and the online portion at oldsettlersreunion.com; and A northside view of slavery. The Refugee: or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada, by B. Drew (1856).
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Blacksmiths, Inheritance, Carpenters, Underground Railroad: Conductors, Escapes, Organizations, Research
Geographic Region: Garrard County, Kentucky / Missouri / Ypsilanti, Detroit, and Mecosta, Michigan / Canada
Birth Year : 1821
George Brent was born near Greensburg, KY; he and his parents were slaves owned by Louis C. Patterson. Brent's father gained his freedom and moved to Lexington, KY, where he secured a note for the purchase of his son. George Brent then moved to Lexington, was employed as a blacksmith and became a freeman when he paid off the note of $1,200 at the end of three years. A year prior to his freedom, George Brent married Mildred Smith, a free born woman from Campbellsville, KY. In 1837, the Brent family moved to Illinois, eventually settling in Springfield at 1417 East Adams Street. Springfield had become the capital of Illinois in 1837 thanks to the efforts of Abraham Lincoln and several others. The Brent family was among the first African Americans to settle in Sangamon County. George Brent became an ordained minister in 1864 and the following year was pastor of the Zion Baptist Church in Springfield. The church was formerly known as the Colored Baptist Church, that was started in 1838 [more information at the Zion Missionary Baptist Church website]. The first church building was constructed under the directorship of Rev. George Brent. He and three others made the bricks from which the church was built; Rev. Brent and the three men were owners of the brick yard. Rev. Brent was pastor of the Zion Baptist Church until 1887. George and Mildred Brent had four children in 1870, according to the U.S. Federal Census, February of that year, two of the children were killed when they were struck by lightning [see George Brent at Find A Grave]. For more see History of Sangamon County, Illinois; together with sketches of its cities by Inter-State Publishing Company (Chicago) [full-text available at Google Book Search]; and contact the Springfield, Illinois, African American History Foundation.
*The last name is spelled as Brents and Brentz in the census records.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Religion & Church Work, Blacksmiths, 1st African American Families in Town, Free African American Slave Owners, Killed by Lightning
Geographic Region: Greensburg, Green County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Campbellsville, Taylor County, Kentucky / Springfield, Illinois
Birth Year : 1824
Death Year : 1906
Richard Brock, born a slave in Kentucky, was given as a wedding present to the daughter of his master. The daughter moved to Houston, Texas, and brought Brock with her. Brock would become a leader in the Houston community: he owned a blacksmith business and became a land owner, he helped found two churches, and had part ownership of the Olivewood Cemetery. The cemetery was the first for African Americans within the Houston city limits. In 1870, Brock became the first African American Aldermen in the Houston city government. Brock is listed as a mulatto in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, and he and his wife Eliza (b.1837 in Alabama) were the parents of five children. They would have five more children. Richard Brock was co-founder of the first masonic lodge in Houston for African Americans and he helped found Emancipation Park. In 1900, Richard Brock was a widow living with three of his daughters and two grandchildren. The Richard Brock Elementary School in downtown Houston is named in his honor. For more see "Exhibit honors former slaves who emerged as pathfinders,"Houston Chronicle, 02/08/1987, Lifestyle section, p. 1.
See photo image and additional information about Richard Brock at Texas Trail Blazers, a Defender Network.com website.
Subjects: Businesses, Education and Educators, Migration West, Parks, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Religion & Church Work, Blacksmiths, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Fraternal Organizations
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Houston, Texas
Brown, Edward Hall
Birth Year : 1861
Death Year : 1946
Edward H. Brown was born in Henderson County, KY. He owned his own blacksmith business, beginning in 1898. Brown also owned a number of homes and held stock in mercantile interests and organizations. He was a member of the National Horseshoers Association and the Henderson Blacksmiths Association. He was the son of Michael and Susan Agnes Watson Brown. Michael Brown was also a leading blacksmith in Henderson, KY, and his son Edward learned the trade from his father. Edward H. Brown was the husband of Emma B. Coleman Brown (b.1883 in Louisville, KY) and after her death, he was married to Mary B. Brown [source: 1940 U.S. Federal Census]. Edward H. Brown made his home at 935 Clay Street in Henderson, KY, and his blacksmith shop was located at 422 First Street. He and Emma had five children: Michael, Rose, Lelia, Susan, and Andrew. Edward H. Brown died August 30, 1946 in Henderson, KY. For more see Who's Who of the Colored Race, 1915.
Subjects: Businesses, Jockeys, Horsemen, Horse Breeders, Trainers, & The Derby, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky
Birth Year : 1831
Death Year : 1875
Caldwell, a blacksmith, was born in Kentucky and later became an elected state senator in Mississippi. He was the husband of Margaret Ann Caldwell. In 1868, Charles Caldwell and the son of a judge were involved in a shootout that left the judge's son dead. Caldwell was tried by an all-white jury and found not guilty; he was the first African American in Mississippi to kill a white man and be found not guilty by the courts. Caldwell continued as a state senator and helped write the state constitution. He would later command an African American militia troop in Clinton, MS, and try unsuccessfully to prevent a race riot. The riot lasted for four days, and on Christmas Day, 1875, Caldwell was gunned down by a gang of whites. For more see A People's History of the United States: 1942-present (2003), by H. Zinn; and "Charles Caldwell, State Senator," in Great Black Men of Masonry, 1723-1982 (2002), by J. M. A. Cox.
Subjects: Blacksmiths, Migration South, Riots and Protests Outside Kentucky, Legislators (Outside Kentucky)
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Clinton, Mississippi
Cole, James H. and Mary D.
When James Cole died, he was the wealthiest African American in Michigan. He had been a slave born in 1837 in Mississippi. He had escaped and settled in Detroit. On his way to freedom, Cole passed through Kentucky and was aided by a slave family. He had been in Detroit a few years when he met a young girl who was a member of the Kentucky family that had helped him during his escape. Cole and the 13 year old girl, Mary D. (born 1850 in Kentucky), were later married; they would become the parents of several children, one of whom was Thomas A. Cole, the father of Florence Cole Talbert, a noted concert and operatic soprano, who performed in Kentucky in 1922. She was sponsored by the Progressive Choral Society of Bowling Green, KY. The recital took place at State Street Baptist Church. Talbert was assisted by Charles R. Taylor, a Howard University student, and R. Lillian Carpenter was the pianist. The Cole family fortune was earned by James H. Cole who was a carpenter, blacksmith, and real estate investor. James and Mary Cole are listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. For more see P. Turner, "In retrospect: Florence Cole Talbert - Our Divine Florence," The Black Perspective in Music, vol.12, issue 1 (Spring, 1984), pp. 57-79. For more on Florence Cole Talbert, see "The Progressive Choral Society of Bowling Green, Ky...," The Crisis, April 1922, v.23, issue 6, p.274; Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919, by T. Brooks; and The Negro Trail Blazers of California, by D. L. Beasley.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Blacksmiths, Carpenters, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Mississippi / Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan
Cox, Johnson Duncan
Birth Year : 1875
Death Year : 1952
Johnson D. Cox, born in Kentucky, was a teacher at Governor Street School in Evansville, Indiana. He was the husband of Eugenia D. Talbott Cox (b.1879 in Indiana) and the father of Alvalon C. Cox, and Elbert Frank Cox (1895-1969), the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. Johnson D. Cox would later marry school teacher Ethel Cox (b.1893 in Indiana), they are listed in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, where it is also noted that Johnson D. Cox attended one year of college and his wife had completed four years of college. Johnson D. Cox was a teacher and school principal in Evansville for 40 years. He was the son of Calvin and Annie Cox, and in 1880, the family lived in Allensville, KY, according to the U.S. Federal Census. By 1900, Johnson D. Cox was a school teacher in Pigeon, IN, and he and Eugenia had been married for five years and had two sons. The family was living in Evansville when the 1910 Census was taken, and Johnson D. Cox was employed as a school teacher. His son, Elbert Cox, began his teaching career at the Colored high school in Henderson, KY in 1917. He taught mathematics and physics for a year before leaving to join the Army during World War I. Elbert would go on to become a great educator. He was married to Beulah Kaufman, whose father, Lewis Kaufman (b.1853 in Indiana), had been a slave in Kentucky. Once freed, Lewis Kaufman left Kentucky for Princeton, Indiana, where he owned a blacksmith shop. For more see J. A. Donaldson and R. J. Fleming, "Elbert F. Cox: an early pioneer," The American Mathematical Monthly, vol.107, issue 2, (Feb., 2000), pp. 105-128; and "Evansville Honors the first Black Ph.D. in mathematics and his family, by T. M. Washington in Notices of the AMS, v.55, no.5, pp.588-589.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Fathers, Migration North, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Allensville, Todd County, Kentucky / Pigeon, Evansville, and Princeton, Indiana
Frankfort, KY, Klan Violence
Start Year : 1871
On March 25, 1871, a letter was sent to the U.S. Congress asking for protection from the Ku Klux Klan for the newly-freed African Americans in Kentucky. The letter was from Colored citizens of Frankfort & vicinity, signed by Henry Marrs, a teacher; Henry Lynn, a livery stable keeper; N. N. Trumbo, a grocer; Samuel Damsey; B. Smith, a blacksmith; and B. T. Crampton, a barber. The letter contained a list of 116 incidents of beatings, shootings, hangings, tarring and feathering, and other violence that had taken place around the state. For more see Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States, vol. 2, ed. by H. Aptheker.
Subjects: Barbers, Businesses, Freedom, Lynchings, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky
Gaddie, Daniel Abraham, Sr.
Birth Year : 1836
Death Year : 1911
Reverend D. A. Gaddie was born in Hart County, KY, the son of a slave owner whose last name was Jamison. He changed his last name to Gaddie after he was freed. Gaddie was a blacksmith and became an ordained minister in 1865. A very active member of the Association of the Kentucky Baptist, he was pastor of a number of churches in Louisville, including the Green Street Baptist Church during the 1870s. It is estimated that Rev. Gaddie baptized more than 1,000 people. Rev. Gaddie received an honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1887 from State University [later Simmons University] in Louisville, KY. Some sources say that he was a graduated of the school. Gaddie was also a member of the school's Board of Trustees for seven years, and of the Executive Board for 16 years. Rev. D. A. Gaddie's name can be found on a number of African American marriage certificates, including that of James Cambron and Lucenda Fry Cambron, married in 1895. For more see Afro-American Encyclopaedia: Or, the Thoughts, Doings..., by James T. Haley, p. 476 [available online at the UNC Library, Documenting the American South website]; the Daniel Abraham Gaddie entry in v.4 of the Afro-American Encyclopedia; and the Rev. Daniel Abraham Gaddie entry in Men of Mark by W. J. Simmons and H. M. Turner [available full view at Google Book Search].
See depiction of Reverend D. A. Gaddie on p.648 in Men of Mark by W. J. Simmons and H. M. Turner.
Subjects: Freedom, Kentucky African American Churches, Religion & Church Work, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Hart County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Birth Year : 1826
Death Year : 1895
Gudgell, born a slave in Kentucky, became a blacksmith, coppersmith, silversmith, and a wheelwright. He and his mother went with his father/master, Spence Gudgell, to Livingston County, Missouri, where he carved a walking stick that has also been described as a conjure remedy. The stick, the only surviving work of Gudgell, is at Yale University. For more about the carvings on the cane see B. J. Crouther, "Iconography of a Henry Gudgell Walking Stick," Southeastern College Art Conference Review, vol. 12, issue 3 (1993), pp. 187-191; and see "Missouri Wood Carving," The Afro-American Tradition in Decorative Arts, by J. M. Vlach, Cleveland Museum of Art.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Migration West, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Livingston County, Missouri
Harper, Nathaniel R.
Birth Year : 1846
Death Year : 1921
One of the first two African Americans to practice law in the Louisville courts, Nathaniel R. Harper was the first African American judge in Kentucky. He established the Harper Law School in his office. Nathaniel R. Harper was born in Indiana, the son of Hezekiah and Susan Harper who was born in 1828 in Kentucky. The family lived in Centre Township in Indianapolis, IN, and according to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, they were free and the family was supported by Hezekiah who was a blacksmith. Nathaniel was married to Maria [or Mariah] Harper, born 1851 in Pennsylvania. Kentucky Governor W. O. Bradley appointed Nathaniel Harper a member of the State Industrial Bureau. He was to investigate, organize, and encourage members of his race toward industrial ventures. Harper traveled the state assisting in the establishment of industrial societies. In 1872, Harper was co-founder of the newspaper Louisville Weekly Planet. Harper was owner of the Tallaboo Dramatic Company, and in 1912 the company was touring central Kentucky. For more see Kentucky Encyclopedia 2000 [electronic version available on UK campus and off campus via the proxy]; The Owl: The Newsletter for Employees of the University of Louisville, vol. 17, issue 1 (February 2002), p. 2; "Kentucky's Negro Lawyers," New York Times, 11/28/1871, p. 5; The Commercial history of the Southern States by Lipscomb and Johnston; and see the paragraph "Lawyer N. R. Harper's "Tallaboo"..., within the column "At Kentucky's Capital" in Freeman, 06/01/1912, p.4.
See photo image of Nathaniel R. Harper at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights website.
Subjects: Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Lawyers, Blacksmiths, Migration South, Judges, Appointments by Kentucky Governors, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Indiana / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Hayden, Anderson "Andrew" and Anna David Hayden
Anderson Hayden (1852-1911) was a former slave who owned a blacksmith business and real estate in Cynthiana, KY. Fairly well-off, he lived in a white neighborhood. Hayden's first name is given as Anderson in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census. He was born in Bourbon County, KY, the son of Anderson Hayden and Cynthia Sherman, according to his death certificate. He was the husband of Anna David Hayden (1855-1948) who was born in Harrison County, KY, the daughter of Baldwin David and Hannah Stauff, according to her death certificate. Anderson Hayden was in an asylum in Lexington, KY when he died in 1911, and his wife Anna died in Harrison County, KY. For more see Evidences of Progress Among Colored People, by G. F. Richings.
Subjects: Businesses, Blacksmiths, Realtors, Real Estate Brokers, Real Estate Investments
Geographic Region: Bourbon County, Kentucky / Cynthiana, Harrison County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Keene Industrial Institute (Keene, KY) /
Beattyville Industrial Institute (Beattyville, KY) / W. H. Parker
Start Year : 1900
The Keene Industrial Institute was located in Keene, Jessamine County, Kentucky. The school was established by W. H. Parker, November 12, 1900, and the first session was held from January-May, 1901. Parker, from Alabama, was a graduate of State University in Louisville [later Simmons University]. He came to Keene in 1899 to build a school on the order of Tuskegee Institute. Keene Industrial Institute was established with donations; W. H. Parker traveled throughout Kentucky and to northern states attempting to raise additional funds. In November, 1901, the school was visited by Virginia Dox from Boston. It was an impromptu visit that was encouraged by Dr. W. G. Frost, President of Berea College. Virginia Dox had raised money for schools in the West and in Mexico. She encouraged W. H. Parker to continue his efforts and they would pay off in the long run. W. H. Parker received small donations from the community and larger donations from persons in nearby counties. The girls dormitory was donated by A. J. Alexander of Woodburn, Spring Station, KY. Money for a new building had been donated by Senator J. M. Thomas of Bourbon County. Students were charged $5 per month for board and tuition. The shoe-making department for boys was headed by W. H. Cornell from Alabama, and it was thought to be the first time in Kentucky that a Colored institution participated in the shoe sales market. The school also offered sewing and cooking for the girls. In 1902, some equipment had been gathered for a blacksmith department. The school was then referred to as a normal and industrial institute. The school staff members were W. H. Parker; W. R. Dudley; Mrs. Ellsa Jones, matron; Horace D. Slatter, English and normal; J. E. Bookware, shoe-making; Mrs. Eliza Gaines, sewing; Miss Hannah M. Webster, English and normal; Rev. J. H. Brooks, Chaplain, history, Bible and English. After struggling year after year to keep Keene Industrial Institute afloat, it was announced in March 1903 that the school would be moved to Beattyville, KY, during the summer. The new school was located on five acres of land donated by Judge G. W. Gourley of Lexington. An adjoining 45 acres was available for lease, and if the school proved to be successful for Lee County, then the 45 acres could be purchased by the school trustees. The leased land was used as a farm. Boys who could not pay their board and tuition could work off their fees at the farm. The instruction for boys included carpentry and blacksmithing, and they could make additional money cutting cord wood and getting cross ties for railroad contractors. Girls who could not pay their tuition and board outright could work off their fees in the laundry or by sewing and cooking at the school. Mrs. Lizzie Johnson, from Paducah, KY, was over the Laundry Department and the primary grades. Miss Mamie L. Brooks, from Paducah, was the music instructor. Mrs. W. H. Parker taught mathematics and grammar. The new school building opened in the fall of 1903. The motto was "Obedience is our watchword." Miss Alice Brownlow, a musician from Mobile, Alabama, and sister to Mrs. W. H. Parker, arrived in Beattyville in November, 1903 to take part in the school's Industrial Congress celebration. There were 30 students at the school, all boys and men from Kentucky and several other states, aged 11 to 28. In September, 1904, W. H. Parker represented the school during the Mount Pleasant Association Messengers and Ministers Meeting held in Lexington, KY. W. H. Parker was also a politician, serving as an alternate-at-large for Beattyville for the Kentucky Delegation to the 1904 Republican National Convention in Chicago, where Theodore Roosevelt was nominated as Presidential candidate and Charles W. Fairbanks the Vice-Presidential candidate. For more see "Industrial Institute," Lexington Leader, 04/07/1901, p. 2; "The First Year," Lexington Leader, 05/17/1901, p. 4; "Keene Industrial Institute Notes," 08/14/1901, p. 7; "Keene Institute," Lexington Leader, 08/22/1901, p. 4; "Keene," Lexington Leader, 10/12/1902, p. 2; "Keene Institute," 11/14/1901, p. 2; "Parker's Plan," 12/26/1901, p. 2; "Splendid work," Lexington Leader, 03/23/1902, p. 4; "Keene School," Lexington Leader, 04/19/1903, p. 1; "K. N and I. I. Notes," The American Baptist, 11/13/1903, p. 3; "Mount Pleasant Association," The American Baptist, 09/23/1904, p. 3; and "Lee County. Beattyville." Citizen, 11/05/1903, p. 8. See also entries for African American Schools in the NKAA Database.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Blacksmiths, Carpenters, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Keene, Jessamine County, Kentucky / Beattyville, Lee County, Kentucky / Alabama
Birth Year : 1799
Death Year : 1880
Greenbury (or Greenberry) Logan was born in Kentucky, the son of David Logan, who was white. Greenbury may or may not have been a slave, though he was free when he left Kentucky for Missouri, where he was married and had five children. In 1831, Logan moved to Texas and became a blacksmith on the Bingham Plantation; he was one of the first African Americans to settle in Texas. He purchased the freedom of a slave name Caroline and married her. Logan fought at Velasco and later joined the Texas army and fought at Bexar, where he was wounded in the shoulder and lost use of one arm. No longer able to be a blacksmith, Logan and his wife opened a successful boarding house in Brazoria. The Constitution of 1836 stipulated that all freemen were to leave the Republic of Texas; Logan, like Nelson Kavanaugh, filed a petition with Congress, asking that he be allowed to remain in Texas. Whether the Texas Congress replied or not, the Logans remained in Texas, but their financial success began in decline in 1839. By 1845 they had lost all of their property. For more see Greenbury Logan, by N. Thompson, at The Handbook of Texas Online website; several articles in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, including H. Schoen, "The Free Negro in the Republic of Texas," vol. 41, issue 1, pp. 83-108; and In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, by Q. Taylor.
Subjects: Businesses, Migration West, Military & Veterans, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Brazoria, Texas
James Nelson was born a slave in Kentucky and he was a blacksmith. As a freeman, Nelson moved to Springfield, Ohio, where he maintained a successful business manufacturing IXL and Whiteley plows, wagons, and carts. His business catered to customers throughout the United States. Both Nelson and William Dixon are mentioned in the title The Sage of Tawawa as being "owners and operators of prosperous blacksmith shops" in Springfield [p. 33]. James Nelson's company is mentioned on p.274 of William's Springfield City Directory for 1890-91, the business was located at the corner of Main and Jackson, and Nelson lived at 12 N. Light Street. By 1893, the business name had changed to James Nelson and Sons, according to the city directory. For more see Evidences of Progress Among Colored People, by G. F. Richings [available full view at Google Book Search]; and full text at UNC Documenting the American South website.
Subjects: Businesses, Migration North, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Springfield, Ohio
Sam, an escaped slave from Kentucky, is believed to be the last fugitive slave sought in Janesville, Wisconsin. Sam was employed in William Eager's blacksmith shop in 1861 when Steuben, Sam's owner, arrived to take Sam back to Kentucky. Later that evening, Eager, with Sam and men from the city fire department, confronted Steuben at the local hotel; they were prepared to hang Steuben if he tried to take Sam back to Kentucky. Those inside the hotel led Steuben out the back door, and he rode off fast, heading South toward Beloit and the Wisconsin/Illinois border. The person from Janesville who had contacted Steuben about Sam's whereabouts was run out of town. For more see "Janesville residents refused to turn over a fugitive slave in 1861" [newspaper article full text online], at the Wisconsin Historical Society website.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Blacksmiths, Riots and Protests Outside Kentucky
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Janesville and Beloit, Wisconsin
Birth Year : 1806
Death Year : 1861
Sansbury was a 27 year old slave in Springfield, KY, when the cholera epidemic hit the city in 1833. George Sansbury, Louis' owner, fled the city along with many others. Prior to his leaving, George gave Louis the keys to his hotel and told him to take care of the business. Louis and Matilda Sims, a cook, took care of the hotel and several of the other businesses that owners left unattended when they tried to flee the cholera epidemic. Those who took flight were carrying the disease to their destinations. Though they were enslaved, Louis Sansbury and Matilda Simms did not try to escape, staying in town to treat the sick, bury the dead, and keep an eye on the town's abandoned businesses. Neither Louis nor Matilda became sick during the 1833 epidemic. In time the city rebounded, and when George Sansbury died in 1845, the city of Springfield purchased Louis's freedom in retribution for his dedication and care during the epidemic, and he was provided with a blacksmith shop. When another cholera epidemic hit in 1854, Louis Sansbury did as he had done before, taking care of the sick and burying the dead. Louis died in 1861 and is buried in an unmarked grave. In 2004, the city of Springfield recognized his heroic deeds by dedicating the first annual African American Heritage Week in his honor. For more see "Asiatic Cholera finds a hero" in It Happened in Kentucky, by M. O'Malley.
Subjects: Freedom, Medical Field, Health Care, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky
Smith, Effie Waller
Birth Year : 1879
Death Year : 1960
Effie Waller Smith was born in Pike County, KY, the daughter of Sibbie and Frank Waller, a blacksmith. Smith earned her teaching certificate at Kentucky Normal School for Colored Persons [now Kentucky State University]. She was a school teacher in Pike County and was certified by Superintendent Perry A. Cline in the early 1890s. Effie W. Smith was well-read in classical literature, she published three books of poetry, and her poems also appeared in literary magazines. She stopped publishing her work in 1917 at the age of 38. Her husband, Deputy Sheriff Charles Smith, had been killed in 1911 while serving a warrant, they were married two years. Effie W. Smith left Kentucky for Wisconsin in 1918 and is buried in the city of Neenah. A Kentucky Historical Marker [#1959] was placed at the police department in Pikeville in honor of Effie Waller Smith. For more see The Collected Works of Effie Waller Smith; Effie W. Smith in Kentucky Women, by E. K. Potter; Effie W. Smith in the Kentucky Encyclopedia 2000; "State honors Black poet...," Lexington Herald Leader, 12/11/01, p. B3; "Effie Waller Smith: An Echo Within the Hills," The Kentucky Review, Vol. 8, issue 3 (Autumn 1988), pp. 26-46; and W. R. Cummings, "History of the Perry A. Cline High School," Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal, vol. 9, no. 1-2 (Oct.-Nov. 1938), p. 49. See photo image and bio of Effie Waller Smith on pp. 131-132 in The Negro in Revelation, in History, and in Citizenship, by J. J. Pipkin.
See photo image of Effie Waller Smith at Great Black Kentuckians, a Kentucky Commission on Human Rights website.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration West, Poets, Corrections and Police, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Pike County, Kentucky / Neenah, Wisconsin