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Atwell, Joseph Sandiford
Birth Year : 1831
Death Year : 1881
Rev. Joseph S. Atwell, from Barbados, was the first colored man ordained a Deacon of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Kentucky, according to his obituary on p.5 of the New York Times, 10/10/1881. Rev. Atwell was Rector at St. Phillips Protestant Episcopal Church on Mulberry Street in New York City when he died of typhoid fever in 1881. He had attended Codrington College in Barbados, and came to the United States in 1863 to attend the Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated in 1866 and next came to Kentucky where he was ordained a deacon by Bishop Smith. Rev. Atwell was a missionary worker in Kentucky and next went to Petersburg, VA, where he was ordained a priest in 1868 and became Rector of the St. Stephen's Church and was head of a parish school. He then went to Savannah, GA, in 1873 and was Rector of the St. Stephen's Church. He went to New York in 1875. Rev. Joseph S. Atwell was the husband of Cordelia Jennings Atwell, a mulatto from Pennsylvania, and the father of Joseph, Robert, and Earnest Atwell [source: 1880 U.S. Federal Census]. The family lived at No.112 Waverley Place.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Immigration, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Barbados, Lesser Antilles / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania / Kentucky / Virginia / Savannah, Georgia / New York
Born in Mexico, Lived in Kentucky, 1850-1920
Start Year : 1850
End Year : 1920
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" 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 a 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|
||Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jefferson, Kenton, Marion, Nelson, Todd, Warren, Washington||Mexican -1,
[Not noted for all others]
|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.|
||Barren, Breckinridge, Campbell, Green, Hardin, Jefferson, Kenton, Madison, Marion, McCracken, Mercer, Nelson, Washington||Copper or Colored -1
[Not noted for all others]
||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
[Marked Out]- 2
|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
|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
|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
|5||[Nothing noted] 18,
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
|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
|7||[Nothing noted] 31,
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
|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
|39||[Nothing noted] 8,
[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
|Of the thirty-nine children under the age of 18, thirty-eight lived in a household with their parents.|
|Draft Registration NAME||COUNTY WHERE REGISTERED||RACE ON REGISTRATION CARD||BIRTH YEAR||BIRTH LOCATION||CITIZENSHIP STATUS||OCCUPATION||HOME ADDRESS||MARITAL STATUS||NOTES|
|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.|
|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
CAUSES: [Nothing noted]
|1871-1880||1||Jefferson||White||1844||Mexico||Louisville, KY||[Nothing noted] -1||Louisville, KY||Females
|1881-1890||2||Kenton||White||1802, 1857||Mexico||Cincinnati, OH
|[Nothing noted] -2||Kenton County, KY||Single -1
CAUSES: Osteitis, [Nothing noted] -1
|1901-1910||3||Jefferson (2), Kenton||Black, Indian, White||1841, 1855, 1885||Mexico||Covington, KY
|Covington, KY -1
Louisville, KY - 1
[Nothing noted] -1,
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
Poor Fork, KY
|Coachman, Coal Miner -3, House wife,
[Nothing noted] - 1
Los Antiano, TX, [Nothing noted]-5
CAUSES: Acute Bronchitis/Asthma, Appendicitis & Cholera, Asthma, Fell from 2nd story window, Gun Shot, Influenza, Slate fall in mine, Tuberculosis
Subjects: Immigration, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Race Categories, Mexico & Kentucky
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Mexico
Central and South American Immigration Association and Equal Rights League of the Western Continent
Start Year : 1885
Prior to the end of the Civil War, the formation of Negro colonies in Central and South America had been attempted by President Lincoln and others. In 1885, the idea was revisited by a Negro organization known as the Central and South American Immigration Association and Equal Rights League of the Western Continent. There were 50 prominent members from Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and a few other states. The group met for several years and in 1893 were prepared to put their plan into action: Negroes in the U.S. were to form colonies prior to each colony being deported to a new homeland in various countries in Central or South America. Colonel John M. Brown, a county clerk of Shawnee County, Kansas, was president of the organization, and S. W. Wine of Kansas City was secretary. The Brazilian government had given assurance that it would help the Negro colonists. There was strong opposition to the plan from Negro leaders throughout the U.S. There was also speculation that the southern Negro labor force would be depleted and the North would lose the best members of the Negro race. For more information see The Negro a Menace to American Civilization by R. W. Shufeldt [available full view at Google Book Search]; and "Negroes going to Brazil," New York Times, 04/03/1893, p. 8. See also Proposed American Negro Colony in New Granada.
Subjects: Immigration, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Colonies, Colonization
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Central America / Brazil, South America
Dock, Pong [Chinese in Covington, KY]
Birth Year : 1899
Pong Dock was a Chinese-American in Covington, KY. He was said to have been born in the United States where he lived for the first three years of his life before his family moved back to China. As a teen, Pong Dock was sent back to the U.S. and was the charge of Sing Lee, according to an article in The Hartford Herald, "State officials ponder very vexing problem: shall Chinese boy go to the white or colored schools of state?," 11/12/1913, p.1. Pong Dock was 14 years old when he registered for school in Covington, KY. The registration threw the city education system into a quandary; in Covington, there were schools for whites and schools for coloreds. The school system did not consider Pong Dock as colored or white. The matter was sent to the Kentucky Attorney General Marvel M. Logan [info at bioguide.congress.gov]. Logan sent the question back to the Superintendent of Covington Public Schools for a final decision. Pong Dock's caretaker did not want him to attend the schools for colored children. Kentucky school laws only pertained to the segregation of white students and colored students, but not Chinese students; though there were Chinese persons identified in the U.S. Census as "colored" and as "white." Concerning Pong Dock, the final decision about his education was that he would attend the First District School for whites on Scott Street in Covington. It is not known how long he attended the school. There were other Chinese-American children in Covington who attended classes at a Chinese Language program that was held at St. Xavier Catholic School in Cincinnati, OH. According to The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, Covington once had the largest population of Chinese in Kentucky, though no year or time period is given for when this was the case. The article goes on to say that the first mention of a Chinese person in Covington appeared in the Ticket newspaper in 1877, announcing the marriage of John Naw Lin to Mary Ann Morgan who was colored [of African descent]. Kentucky has never had a large Chinese population. Looking at the census records, it was found that the largest population of Chinese persons in Covington, KY, was 17 in the year 1900 and all were born in China. In 1910, there were 13, with 3 born in the U.S. The spelling of "Pong Dock" was not listed among the names in the U.S. Census records for Covington, KY in 1900, 1910, or 1920. For Kentucky overall, in the year 1900 there were about 52 residents who were born in China. A word of caution when looking in the census records for individuals who are Chinese, the letter "C" [for colored] was used to designate race for African Americans as well as other non-whites, especially Chinese persons. Sometimes there are made up notations such as "Yellow," or an individual who was born in China, and has parents who were born in China, is listed in the census as "white" or "black". The official instructions for both the 1900 and the 1910 census enumerators was to note persons who were Chinese with "Ch." For more about Pong Dock see "What shall be done with Pong Dock?" in the Los Angeles Herald, 11/25/1913, p.3; the Kenton County Public Library Chinese Americans website; and see "Asian Americans" on pp.40-41 in The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky. See also the Instuctions to Enumerators (1910) [.pdf] and Instructions to Enumerators (1900) [.pdf], both published by the Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census.
See image of Pong Dock in the article "Shall Chinese boy go to white or colored schools, Kentucky problem," The Day newspaper, 10/09/1913, p.8. Image online at Google News Archive. [The Day, published in New London, Connecticut]
Subjects: Education and Educators, Immigration, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / China
Foley, Shirley, Jr.
Birth Year : 1916
Born in Louisville, KY, Mr. Shirley Foley, Jr. was a 1938 graduate of Fisk University and a 1940 graduate of Indiana University. Foley was married to the late Mary Frances Eaves, who was also from Louisville. He lived in Silver Spring, MD. Foley worked for the federal government for 38 years, including a tour of duty in the Pentagon's Department of Defense, and later was with the U.S. Department of Labor. He also did a two year temporary assignment in the U.S. Virgin Islands, assisting in the establishment of the Federal Office for Alien Employment Certification. Foley retired from the U.S. Department of Labor as a Manpower Development Specialist and traveled all over the world. He is the great-grandson of Pvt. Calvin Byrd (a.k.a. Calvin Brown), a slave born in Louisville, who ran away and enlisted in the 108th Infantry in 1864. Foley is also the nephew of Esther Maxwell Barrens. This information came from Mr. Shirley Foley, Jr. For an overview of Alien Employment Certification, see A. Weber, "The Role of the U.S. Department of Labor in Immigration," International Migration Review, vol. 4, issue 3 (Summer 1970), pp. 31-46.
Subjects: Employment Services, Immigration, Migration North
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Silver Spring, Maryland
At the close of the Civil War, Kentucky and other southern states were faced with a labor shortage. The slaves were free and labor stabilization was an ongoing issue. Plantation owners across the south led the movement to bring in foreign labor, claiming it was necessary because paying wages for Negro labor had made the Negro prone to laziness and unreliability. Foreign laborers were sought from the north, Europe, and China. Approximately 3,500 persons, including a small contingency of Chinese immigrants, came to Kentucky, most settling in Louisville. It was not nearly enough to address the labor shortage, however. For more information see A History of Kentucky, by T. D. Clark; and R. T. Birthoff, "Southern Attitudes Toward Immigration, 1865-1914," The Journal of Southern History, vol. 17 (Aug. 1951), pp. 328-360.
Geographic Region: Kentucky
Jackson, James W.: Migration to Colorado
James W. Jackson was only one of the hundreds of African Americans who left Kentucky for the West. According to the Census Reports, there were 687 African Americans who had left Kentucky and moved to Colorado by 1900. African Americans were being enticed to Colorado, according to author Jesse T. Moore, Jr., in order to keep out the Chinese, who were seen as an economic threat to American labor. African Americans, on the other hand, were viewed as being acclimated to American ways and no real threat. In 1858, James Jackson, born a slave, left the area near Maxville, KY, and settled in Denver, where he became a successful businessman. Jackson was politically active on many levels and became the first African American to serve on the Colorado Republican State Committee. Jackson was also invited to speak with President Theodore Roosevelt concerning the condition of African Americans in the U.S. For more see J. T. Moore, Jr., "Seeking a New Life: Blacks in Post-Civil War Colorado," The Journal of Negro History, vol. 78, no. 3 (Summer, 1993), pp. 166-187.
Subjects: Businesses, Immigration, Migration West, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents
Geographic Region: Maxville, Washington County, Kentucky / Denver, Colorado
Birth Year : 1840
Death Year : 1917
The following information about Peter White comes from several sources, including the newspaper article: "Peter White says that he is aged 103: Native Mexican was brought to United States by Gen. Leslie Combs and was once a famous jockey. Was sold as a slave for $450," Leader, 04/19/1916, p.8, column 1. A copy of the article was provided by Yvonne Giles. The introduction to Peter White's life-story came from researcher Charlene Fletcher-Brown. Information from other sources includes the U.S. Federal Census; the 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules; The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by J. E. Kleber; and other sources as noted.
Peter White was born near Vera Cruz, Mexico. The name he was given at birth is not known, and his actual birth year was between 1830 and 1840, making him about 77 years old when he died in 1917. Peter White was brought to the United States by Leslie Combs at the close of the Mexican-American War [Encyclopaedia Britannica]. Leslie Combs, 1793-1881, was a lawyer and he served as President of the Lexington Danville Railroad in 1855. He was a racehorse man and served as President of the Kentucky Association Track in Lexington. He was a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, 1827-1829, re-elected in 1833, served again 1845-1847, and again 1857-1859. He was also a veteran of the U.S. Civil War and a member of the Kentucky Militia. When Combs received word from Stephen Austin calling for help in fighting against Mexico in 1836, Combs was made a colonel and he formed a regiment of Kentucky volunteers. U.S. President Andrew Jackson disbanded the regiment and the group never saw any action. When the Mexican-American War began, Leslie Combs was made a general and formed another militia. While in Mexico, a Mexican boy became the possession of Leslie Combs. The boy was given the name Peter White and he was to be Combs' body servant. But once they were in Kentucky, Peter White learned he was Leslie Combs' slave. It is not known how many Mexicans came to Kentucky as the slaves of the returning militia men who fought in the Mexican-American War, 1846-1848.
Peter White is not listed in the U.S. Census prior to 1870; slaves were listed in the Slave Schedules. Peter White was not Leslie Combs' first slave or his only slave. According to the 1850 Slave Schedule, Leslie Combs owned 8 slaves between 70 years old and 3 months old. There were 4 males and 4 females, and 3 of the males were children less than seven years old. In the 1860 Slave Schedule, Leslie Combs owned two slaves, a 55 year old female, and a 25 year old male. All of Combs' slaves are listed with a "b" [for Black] in the Slave Schedules [slaves were listed by race, gender, and age in the Slave Schedules, not by name]. According to the Leader newspaper, during the 1850s, Peter White was a jockey who rode Leslie Combs' horses. Sometime after the 1850s, Peter White was sold as a slave for $450 to John L. Barkley. In the newspaper article, Peter White said that during his riding days, he had ridden on the race course located on Georgetown Pike [now Georgetown Street] in Lexington, KY. Peter White said he rode the thoroughbreds named "Boston" and "Lexington," and both were trained by Jim Shy. Peter White also said that he was riding the horse "Lady Wagoner," when the horse stumbled and threw White to the ground, leaving him with a fractured skull and a crushed right hip. The injuries ended Peter White's career as a jockey and he had to wear a steel belt around his hip for the rest of his life. Peter White was NOT a Negrito [NKAA entry].
Classified as a slave, Peter White received his freedom along with other slaves after the American Civil War. Prior to his freedom, he had married a Negro slave woman who was owned by the Payne Family, and his second wife was also a Negro. In 1867, Peter White was listed as "cld" [for Colored] in the city directory, and his address is given as "w s n Upper b Mechanic and Third [source: p.142 in Maydwell's Lexington City Directory for 1867]. By the mid-1870s, Peter White lived at 115 W. Short Street and his home was opposite the Baptist Church [sources: p.240 in Prather's Lexington City Directory for 1875 and 1876; and p.200 in Wiliams' Lexington City Directory for 1881-82]. Within the city directories, Peter White's name would continue to be noted with an * or the word col'd [for Colored]. Peter White's last address was 313 Wilson Street [source: p.627 in Lexington City Directory 1904-1905, Volume II], and his name was last listed on p.596 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington City Directory 1916-1917.
Peter White earned his living as a coachman and he cared for horses, as noted in the census records and as written in the Leader newspaper article. It was also stated in the newspaper article that Peter White had 15 children, but this was perhaps a misprint. Only 6 children are listed in the census records. In the 1870 Census, Peter White is listed as a Mulatto born in Mexico, his wife Manny [Jamima] White is listed as Black, and their three children James, Kate and Peter Jr. are listed as Mulattoes. In the 1880 Census, Jemima White is again listed as Peter's wife and there are three additional children all listed as Mulattos: George, Mary, and Lilla. In the 1900 U.S. Census, Peter White is married to Eliza White and there are no children in the home. Given that Peter White and Jamima White were of different races, it was an interracial marriage, but the anti-miscegenation laws of Kentucky did not apply because neither was considered white and both were slaves. Peter's marriage to Eliza White was also outside the anti-miscegenation laws because neither was considered white, and Mulatto was considered another form of Black.
[On a January morning in 1891, Peter White's daughter, Lilla White, laced the breakfast coffee with arsenic and killed her step-uncle Dan Frazier and his wife, but Lilla's father Peter White and her step-mother Eliza recovered. Source: "Poisoned" in the Leader, 01/19/1891, p.1, col. 3-4.]
The Leader article on Peter White ends with a propaganda statement that was supposedly the words and thoughts of Peter White: "He laments the present trouble of the United States with Mexico and expresses the belief that it would have been best for his native country if it had been annexed to the United States at the close of the Mexican war of 1846-48." Peter White was never able to reconnect with his family in Mexico or gather information about his identity in Mexico. He died February 25, 1917, and is buried in African Cemetery #2 in Lexington, KY. On his Kentucky Death Certificate, File #3931, Registered #190, Peter White's race is given as "Col" [for Colored].
*See also the NKAA entry Born in Mexico, Lived in Kentucky, 1850-1920.
Subjects: Freedom, Immigration, Jockeys, Horsemen, Horse Breeders, Trainers, Betting, & The Derby, Military & Veterans, Interracial Marriage and State Laws, Mexico & Kentucky
Geographic Region: Vera Cruz, Mexico / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Woodford County, Kentucky