Complete A-Z list

Complete list of sources

Recent Additions / Updates

About NKAA

NKAA Brochure

African American Library Directors in the USA

Links of Interest

staff only

University of Kentucky Libraries

Notable Kentucky African Americans Database


Return to search page.

Alexander, Lucy
Birth Year : 1803
Lucy, who was born in Kentucky, was the wife of Henry Alexander. Though Henry had purchased his freedom at the age of 21, it is not known if Lucy had aways been free or was freed sometime after her birth; she is listed in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census as a free person. Lucy and Henry worked strenuously to earn money to send their children to school. Their daughter, Maria A. Alexander, graduated from Oberlin College with a Literary Degree in 1854. Maria married Mifflin W. Gibbs, and the couple moved to Vancouver Island, Canada. Mifflin Gibbs would become the first African American judge in the United States. Harriet A. Gibbs was one of the couple's five children. For more see They stopped in Oberlin: Black residents and visitors of the Nineteenth Century, by W. E. Bigglestone.
Subjects: Migration North, Mothers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Oberlin, Ohio / Vancouver Island, Canada

Allen, Bessie Miller and Henry
The Allens were the first African American social workers in Louisville, KY, they managed the Kentucky Home Society for Colored Children. In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Henry (b.1877 in KY) is listed as the janitor of the home, and Bessie is listed as the matron and probation officer. The Allens were the parents of author and librarian Ann Allen Shockley. Bessie Allen was a graduate of State University [Simmons University in Louisville]. She started a nonsectarian Sunday School in 1902. She was also head of the Colored Department of Probation Work and opened the Booker T. Washington Community Center, which offered domestic classes for boys and girls. She also organized a marching band for African American children. Bessie Allen (1881-1944) was born in Louisville, KY, the daughter of Anna and John D. Miller. For more see "Ann A. Shockley" in A Biographical Profile of Distinguished Black Pioneer Female Librarians (selected), by L. G. Rhodes; and Life Behind a Veil, by G. Wright.
Subjects: Fathers, Mothers, Social Workers, Sunday School, Community Centers and Cultural Centers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Arthur, Jane
Birth Year : 1828
Born in Knox County, KY, Jane Arthur was owned by Ambrose Arthur, one of the largest slave holders in the county. She was the mother of James and Henry Bond; their father was Rev. Preston Bond of Anderson County, KY. [Preston was the husband of Belinda Arthur, daughter of Ambrose Arthur.] Jane Arthur was the great-grandmother of Julian Bond, civil rights leader and former Georgia Representative and Senator. She died of a stroke when she was in her 90s. For more see The Bonds, by R. M. Williams. *According to Carrie Stewart of Williamsburg, KY, Jane Arthur and her family also lived in Williamsburg.
Subjects: Mothers, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Knox County, Kentucky / Lawrenceburg, Anderson County, Kentucky / Williamsburg, Washington County, Kentucky

Barnes, Margaret Elizabeth Sallee
Birth Year : 1879
Death Year : 1947
Margaret E. S. Barnes, born in Monticello, KY, later moved to Oberlin, OH. She was editor of the Girl's Guide and of the Queens' Gardens, official publication of the Ohio Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. The organization was developed in the early 1930s by Barnes, who also served as the president. Barnes also was in charge of a million dollar drive for funds at Wilberforce University; in 1939 she had been appointed a trustee at Wilberforce by Ohio Governor John Bricker. A building on the campus was named in her honor and Barnes received an honorary doctor of humanties degree. She was a leader among African American women in the Republican Party and was a delegate-at-large for the Republican State Convention in 1940. The Margaret Barnes Welfare Club, established in 1930, was named in her honor. The club belonged to both the national and the Ohio Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. One of the organization's efforts was to provided college scholarships for the outstanding African American student in the graduating class at Elyria [Ohio] High School. The Margaret Barnes Welfare Club was the oldest African American women's club in Elyria and was still functioning in the 1990s. Margaret E. Barnes was a 1900 graduate of Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University], and taught school for four years in Harrodsburg, KY, before marrying James D. Barnes and moving to Oberlin, OH, in 1904. She was the mother of five children, one of whom was Margaret E. Barnes Jones. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1941-44; Records of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, 1895-1992, part 1, ed. by L. S. Williams (.pdf); and C. Davis, "Barnes club helps black youngsters achieve goals," Chronicle Telegram, 06/05/1990, p.9.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Mothers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Women's Groups and Organizations, Association of Colored Women's Clubs
Geographic Region: Monticello, Wayne County, Kentucky / Oberlin, Ohio

Bond, Horace M.
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 1972
Horace Mann Bond was born in Nashville, TN. He could read at the age of three and entered high school at the age of nine. His family moved back to Kentucky, where he graduated from Lincoln Institute and went on to college at the age of fourteen. Bond earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1936 with financial assistance from the Rosenwald Fund. He became recognized as an authority on Negro education. Bond authored many publications and articles, including the article "Intelligence Tests and Propaganda" and the book The Education of the Negro in American Social Order. He was the first African American president of Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), the first school in the United States to provide higher education for African Americans. Horace was the son of Jane A. Browne Bond and James M. Bond, and he was the father of Julian Bond, civil rights leader and former Georgia senator and representative. The Horace M. Bond papers are at the University of Massachusett's W.E.B. Du Bois Library Special Collections and University Archives. For more see The Bonds, by R. M. Williams; and the 1955 video Rufus E. Clement and Horace M. Bond recorded as part of the Chronscope Series by Columbia Broadcasting System.

See photo image and additional information on Horace Mann Bond at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives website.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Mothers, Legislators (Outside Kentucky)
Geographic Region: Nashville, Tennessee / Lincoln Ridge, Shelby County, Kentucky

Bond, Ruth E. Clement
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 2005
Ruth E. Clement Bond was born in Louisville, KY, four years after her brother Rufus E. Clement. They were the children of George Clement, Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and Emma C. Williams Clement, the first African American woman to be named Mother of the Year. Ruth Bond's husband was J. Max Bond, Sr., and she was the mother of J. Max Bond, Jr. From 1934-1938, J. Max Bond, Sr. supervised the training of the African American construction workers at the TVA Wheeler Dam Project in northern Alabama. Mrs. Bond established a home beautification program for the wives of the workers and began designing quilt patterns (though Mrs. Bond initially did not know how to quilt, but the women she was working with were experts). The first quilt was call Black Power; it symbolized the TVA's promise for electricity. The quilts became known as the TVA Quilts and have been documented and displayed in a number of sources and venues such as the 2004 Art Quilts From the Collection of the Museum of Arts and Design. Ruth Bond was a graduate of Northwestern University in Illinois. At one point in her career, she taught English Literature and French at Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University]. For more see Y. S. Lamb, "Ruth Clement Bond; Quilter, Civic Activist," Washington Post, 11/08/2005, p. B05; and M. Fox, "Ruth C. Bond dies at 101; Her Quilts Had a Message," The New York Times, 11/13/2005, p. 43.

See photo image of Ruth Clement Bond at the Northwestern University website.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Mothers, Quilters, Women's Groups and Organizations, Collectibles
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Britton, Arthur Eugene and Lillian Smith
Arthur Britton (b.1875 in Kentucky), was African American, Crow, and Cherokee. He grew up near Maysville and had attended college in Louisville (probably Simmons) before moving to Chicago, where he worked as a clerk in a manufacturing company. He was there during the "Red Summer" of 1919. He and his wife, Lillian Smith (b.1882 in Kentucky), were the parents of four children, the youngest being Irene Britton Smith (1907-1999), a noted composer and school teacher in Chicago. Arthur and Lillian Britton separated in 1917. For more see H. Walker-Hill, "Black women composers in Chicago: then and now," Black Music Research Journal, vol. 12, issue 1, (Spring, 1992), pp. 13-14; Funeral program for Irene Britton Smith, Chicago: Griffin Funeral Home, 02/18/1999, vertical file at the Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago; Black Women in America, 2nd ed., by D. C. Hine; and From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American women composers and their music, by H. Walker-Hill.
Subjects: Fathers, Migration North, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Brooks Sisters
The Brooks Sisters were a singing group with members Naomi, Ophelia, Carrie, and Susie Brooks, all from Zion Hill, Kentucky. These sisters were the daughters of Hannah Brown of Fermantown in Versailles, Kentucky (also spelled Firmatown) and Minister John Brooks. The Brooks Sisters were a gospel group that was invited to sing at Kentucky churches, and they also made a record. Susie Brooks, the group's piano player, also played for the Zion Hill Church; she taught herself to play the piano. She was the mother of the Raglin Brothers, also a gospel singing group. Information submitted by Ponice Raglin Cruse and her father, the Reverend Floyd B. Raglin. Contact Ms. Cruse for additional information about the Brooks Sisters.
Subjects: Fathers, Kentucky African American Churches, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Zion Hill, Scott County, Kentucky / Firmatown (Fermantown), Woodford County, Kentucky

Burks, Juanita P.
Birth Year : 1920
Death Year : 2014
Juanita P. Farley Burks was the daughter of Donna and Allen Farley of Crittenden County, KY. Ms. Burks was head of J. P. Burks Construction, Inc., a Louisville, KY, glass company she started in 1980. She was one of the leading African American women entrepreneurs in Kentucky, having served on President Carter's board of energy and, in the 1970s, was nominated by Kentucky Governor Julian Carroll to go to Washington, D.C. to help develop a federal energy policy. Burks attended Kentucky State College in the early 1940s and took business courses at the University of Louisville. In 1974, she borrowed money (for the first and last time) through a $6,000 home loan to start her first company, City Plaza, a personnel recruitment service. Burks' glass company was formed in 1980; she won a contract to install glass in the downtown Louisville Galleria, where her company put the floors down and installed $4.5 million worth of glass. Burks had worked as a maid and elevator operator in that same building when she first came to Louisville in 1942, earning $17 per week. In 1983, Burks was named Woman of Achievement, and, in 1996, Kentucky Entrepreneur of the Year. Juanita P. Burks was the mother of Ishmon Burks, Jr. Juanita P. Burks died August 3, 2014 [source: S. S. Shafer, "Business pioneer Juanita Burks dies," Courier-Journal, 08/05/2014, p.A.8]. For more see M. Green, "83-year-old loves business," Courier-Journal, 10/01/2003; and C. Carlton, "Faith & fashion," Courier-Journal, 04/16/2006, Arts section, p.1I.
Subjects: Businesses, Construction, Contractors, Builders, Mothers, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents
Geographic Region: Crittenden County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Clement, Emma C. Williams
Birth Year : 1874
Death Year : 1952
Emma Clarissa Williams Clement lived in Louisville, KY. At the age of 71, she became the first African American to be named Mother of the Year. The recognition was made on Mothers Day, May 12, 1941, after Clement was select for the honor by the Golden Rule Foundation. Clement, born in Providence, RI, was the wife of George Clement, Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Louisville, and the mother of Rufus E. Clement and Ruth E. Clement Bond. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; and "News from our file: fifty years ago," Marysville Journal-Tribune, 05/02/1996, p. 4.

See photo image of Emma C. W. Clement and her family at the Corbis Images website.
Subjects: Kentucky African American Churches, Mothers, Migration South
Geographic Region: Providence, Rhode Island / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Dunbar, Matilda
Birth Year : 1848
Death Year : 1934
Mother of Paul Laurence Dunbar, she was born Matilda Murphy in Shelby County. She left Kentucky after the ratification of the 13th Amendment freed all slaves in Kentucky. Dunbar, who outlived her son by 28 years, kept his library until her death. Dunbar House is the first publicly-owned historic site to honor an African American (Dayton, OH). In 2006, the grave of Matilda's youngest child and only girl, Elizabeth Florence Dunbar, was placed next to her mother's grave in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton Ohio. The child had died at the age of 2 from sickness and malnutrition and was buried in a potter's field. Shortly after Elizabeth's death, Joshua Dunbar and Matilda divorced. For more see In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed.; African American Women: a Biographical Dictionary (1993), by D. Salem; and M. McCarty, "Dunbar family together," Dayton Daily News, 02/12/06, Local section, p. B1.

See photo image of Matilda Dunbar at Wikimedia.
Subjects: Migration North, Mothers
Geographic Region: Shelby County, Kentucky / Dayton, Ohio

Eilers v Eilers [Anna F. Anderson]
Start Year : 1964
In September 1964, eight months after Anna F. Eilers married Marshall C. Anderson, the courts took her five children away. Anna, who was white, was from New Haven, KY. She had divorced her previous husband and father of the children, George Eilers, in 1963. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Lyndon R. Schmid awarded custody of the children to Anna. In January 1964, Anna and Marshall C. Anderson, an African American musician and restaurant employee, were married in Chicago, IL. [Marriage between the races was still illegal in Kentucky and 17 other states.] When they returned to Louisville, KY, the couple lost their jobs in retaliation for their marriage. George Eilers sued to have the children taken away from Anna, and Judge Schmid had the children placed in a children's institutional home. Anna and Marshall moved to Indianapolis, IN, in 1964, by which time the two oldest children had been placed in foster homes. Prior to their move, the Andersons had retained Attorney James Crumlin of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. to help regain custody of the children. The custody case took place during the same time period that the Virginia Supreme Court had upheld the state's anti-miscegenation law in the Richard and Mildred Loving case [NY Times article]. The Andersons' custody case went to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1966, where the Appellate Court upheld the ruling of the Jefferson County Circuit Court. The case was next taken to the federal court where it became national news; it was the first appeal to the federal courts on constitutional grounds for child custody. The Andersons' case was temporarily linked to the Lovings' case, which was pending in the federal courts, and the results were expected to be landmark decisions. The link was broken when District Judge Henry L. Brooks declined to take jurisdiction over the Andersons' case because it was determined that the mother had not exhausted her appeals in the Kentucky courts, and the indirectness of the attack on the Kentucky miscegenation laws was a weakness of the case; therefore, there was no federal question. For a third time, the Anderson case was brought before the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The court reversed the judgment for proceedings consistent with the opinion. "No reason appears which would warrant interference with the custody order from which this appeal was taken. That order shall remain in effect until further order of the trial court or any court of competent jurisdiction." For more see F. Ward, "Mixed couple suffers ordeal," Jet, 04/07/1966, pp. 46-49, and "Mixed couple losses custody bid," Jet, 10/27/1966, p. 15 [both articles available full-text at Google Book Search]; B. A. Franklin's articles in the New York Times: "Kentucky facing race custody suit," 03/25/1966, p. 29, and "Judge bars case of miscegenation," 06/26/1966, p. 30; "N.A.A.C.P. to fight ruling on custody," New York Times, 07/08/1966, p. 12; and Anna Frances Eilers (now Anna Anderson), Appellant, v. George F. Eilers, Appellee, Court of Appeals of Kentucky, 412 S.W.2d 871: 1967 Ky, March 17, 1967.
Subjects: Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Court Cases, Interracial Marriage and State Laws
Geographic Region: New Haven, Nelson County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Fitzbutler, Sarah Helen M.
Birth Year : 1848
Death Year : 1923
Dr. Fitzbutler graduated from the Louisville National Medical College in 1892. She was the first woman of color to earn a medical degree in Kentucky; she went on to practice medicine in Louisville with her husband, Dr. Henry Fitzbutler. Sarah was born in Pennsylvania, according to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, and after marrying Henry, the Fitzbutler family lived in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada before moving to the U.S. Sarah died in Chicago in 1923, according to her death certificate. She was the mother of Dr. Mary Fitzbutler Waring and several other children. For more see "Henry Fitzbutler: Detroit's First Black Medical Student," by L. L. Hanawalt, Detroit in Perspective: a Journal of Regional History (Winter 1973), pp. 126-140; and In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., edited by M. M. Spradling.
Subjects: Medical Field, Health Care, Migration North, Mothers, Migration South, Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada
Geographic Region: Pennsylvania / Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Givens, Reuben, and Ruth Newby Givens Roper
Givens and Roper are the parents of actress Robin Givens, former wife of heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, and Stephanie Givens, former professional tennis player. Both Reuben Givens and Ruth Newby Givens Roper are Lexington natives. Reuben was a star baseball and basketball player at Douglass and Lafayette High Schools. He was coached by Charles H. Livisay at Douglass. In 1962, Givens averaged 24.7 points in basketball, winning the Fayette County scoring title, but he did not receive the trophy after the sponsor backed out. He was the first African American basketball player at Lafayette; Douglass High was closed as part of the school system's integration plan. Givens graduated from Lafayette in 1964, the same year he married Ruth Newby. The family lived in New York, where Reuben Givens was tending his options as a professional basketball and baseball player. Ruth had been living in New York with her mother since her parents had divorced when she was a small child; she met Reuben while visiting family in Lexington. Reuben and Ruth Givens divorced in 1969. Reuben Givens, who still resides in New York, is the son of Betty and Dave Givens, the nephew of professional baseball player Lou Johnson, and a brother of University of Kentucky basketball player Jack Givens. For more see the Lexington Herald-Leader articles: B. Reed, "Robin Givens' dad a former Douglass High star," 10/20/1988, Sports section, p. C1, and "Robin Givens' parents are Lexington natives," 10/15/1988, Sports section, p. D17.
Subjects: Baseball, Basketball, Fathers, Migration North, Mothers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / New York

Gordon, Mary Ann Goodlow
Birth Year : 1853
Death Year : 1924
Gordon was born on the Poindexter Plantation in Bourbon County, KY, during slavery. As a free person, Mary Ann Goodlow Gordon and her husband, John Francis Gordon, eventually settled in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. They were the only African American family in the town. John Gordon died in a train wreck around 1895 while on his way to work in the gold fields in Alaska. He died shortly before their sixth and last child was born. The child, [Emmanuel] Taylor Gordon (1893-1971), would become a well-known Negro spiritual singer. Taylor Gordon began his career in vaudeville and later performed with J. Rosamond Johnson in the 1920s and 1930s. For more information see Born to Be, by T. Gordon; and the Emmanuel Taylor Gordon Papers at the Montana Historical Society Research Center.
Subjects: Fathers, Migration West, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, 1st African American Families in Town, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Bourbon County, Kentucky / White Sulphur Springs, Montana

Gough, Louisa Smith
Birth Year : 1833
Death Year : 1913
Gough, the daughter of Louis Hardin and Betty Smith, had been a slave in Graves County, KY. She later moved to Illinois and married Kentucky native John Gough in 1866. One of their children was Belle Gough Micheaux (1856-1918), mother of Oscar D. Micheaux (1884-1951), an author who established the Micheaux Film and Book Company. He became a producer of films, the first of which was The Homesteader (a silent film). For more on Oscar D. Micheaux see The Life and Work of Oscar Micheaux: Pioneer Black Author and Filmmaker, 1884-1951, by E. J. Young.
Subjects: Migration North, Mothers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Graves County, Kentucky / Illinois

Griffin, Lorena W.
Birth Year : 1892
Griffin was born Lorena Waters. Her first name has been given as Loretta, and her birthplace has been given as Paris, KY. According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Lorena Waters was born in Chicago in 1892. She was the wife of William Griffin, Sr., who was from Kentucky. Their son, James S. "Jimmy" Griffin (1917-2002), became the first African American sergeant of the St. Paul, Minnesota, police force in 1955; captain in 1970; and after a discrimination lawsuit, deputy chief in 1972. For more see Jimmy Griffin, one of St. Paul's finest! and Jimmy Griffin, a son of Rondo: a memoir, by J. S. Griffin and K. J. C. McDonald.
Subjects: Mothers
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / St. Paul, Minnesota

Gunner, Cicely S.
Birth Year : 1868
Born Cicely Savery in Alabama, she was the daughter of William Savery, a former slave who co-sponsored the incorporation of Talladega College in Alabama. The Savery Library at Talladega College was named in honor of William Savery. Cicely S. Gunner was the wife of Rev. Byron Gunner and the mother of Francis Van Dunk, who was born in Lexington, KY. Cicely Gunner was a school teacher; she addressed the American Missionary Association in 1893, speaking of her experience as a teacher in the South. The family lived in Lexington, KY, around 1895, and later lived in New York. For more see The American Missionary, vol. 48, issue 1, pp. 54-55 [available online by Cornell University Library]. In other sources Cicely Gunner may be referred to as Mrs. Byron Gunner.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Mothers, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Alabama / New York / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Handy, Elizabeth P.
Birth Year : 1876
Death Year : 1937
Elizabeth Virginia Price Handy was born in Henderson, KY, the daughter of Jim and Betty Price. She wrote poetry but was never published. She was the first wife of blues composer and musician William C. (W. C.) Handy (1873-1958), with whom she had six children: Lucille, William Jr., Katherine, Florence, Elizabeth, and Wyer. Elizabeth Handy died in New York City. Hours before her death, she had been taken by ambulance to the Knickerbocker Hospital on March 11, 1937; she was suffering from a brain hemorrhage. Because she was African American, she had to wait outside in the ambulance for 55 minutes, while her husband W. C. Handy, and her physician, Dr. Farrow R. Allen, tried to get her admitted. The admitting clerk had informed them that Negroes were not admitted to the private ward. W. C. Handy had to pay $63 before Elizabeth was admitted [the usual charge was $6 per day]. Elizabeth Handy died two hours after she was admitted to the hospital. The New York NAACP, led by Roy Wilkins, assistant secretary, requested that New York Mayor LaGuardia investigate the Knickerbocker Hospital policies concerning Negro patients. Walter Mezger, superintendent of the hospital, told the media that the hospital did not discriminate toward Colored patients; the discrimination that had taken place was that of the admitting clerk, a long time employee who had used bad judgment and had since been transferred from the hospital. For more see The Annals and Scandals of Henderson County, by M. Arnett; and "Hospital accused by Negro society," The New York Times, 03/27/1937, p.30.
Subjects: Migration North, Mothers, Poets, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Hospitals and Clinics: Employment, Founders, Ownership, Incidents
Geographic Region: Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky / New York, New York

Hooks, Julia Britton
Birth Year : 1852
Death Year : 1942
Julia B. Hooks was born in Frankfort, KY. A musician, social worker, educator, and juvenile court officer, she and her husband managed a juvenile detention home that was opened next to their house in Memphis. One of the wards killed her husband. Hooks went on to help found the Old Folks and Orphans Home. Julia Hooks was the daughter of Henry and Laura Marshall Britton. She was mother of photographers Henry and Robert Hooks, grandmother to Benjamin Hooks, and sister to Dr. Mary E. Britton. For more see Notable Black American Women, ed. by J. C. Smith; Julia Hooks entry in the Afro-American Encyclopaedia: Or, the Thoughts, Doings..., by James T. Haley, pp. 563-565 [from the UNC Library's Documenting the American South website]; and the Julia Britton Hooks entry by S. Lewis in The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture [online version].

See photo image and additional information on Julia Hooks at the African American Registry website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Corrections and Police, Social Workers, Migration South, Grandparents, Care of the Elderly
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Memphis, Tennessee

Hughes, James Nathaniel
Birth Year : 1871
Death Year : 1934
Hughes was born in Charlestown, Indiana. He was the father of Langston Hughes and the son of Emily Cushenberry and James H. Hughes. James H. was a former slave whose mother was a slave; her father was Silas Cushenberry, a Jewish slave trader from Clark County, KY. James H. Hughes' father was also a slave. He was the son of Sam Clay, a distiller from Henry County, KY. It is not known exactly when the Hughes family left Kentucky, where their four oldest children were born, but it is believed the family left prior to the Civil War. Their son, James Nathaniel Hughes, lived in Louisville for a brief period, where he passed the postal civil service exam but was not hired by the post office. He eventually moved on to Oklahoma, where he married Carrie Langston in the late 1890s. After their first child died in 1900 and Langston Hughes was born in 1902, James left his family. He settled in Mexico, never to return to the United States; he remarried, practiced law, and was a land owner. For more about the Hughes Family see Langston: My Cousin, by the Hughes Family Interest, Inc.; F. Berry, Langston Hughes, pp. 1-2; Langston Hughes of Kansas, by M. Scott [excerpt from Kansas History, vol. 3, issue 1 (Spring 1980), pp. 3-25]; The big sea: an autobiography, by L. Hughes; and The Life of Langston Hughes, vol. I: 1902-1941, by A. Rampersad. Additional information for this entry was provided by Marjol Collet, Director of the Langston Hughes Family Museum in Gary, Indiana.
Subjects: Fathers, Lawyers, Mothers, Postal Service, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Mexico & Kentucky
Geographic Region: Charlestown, Indiana / Clark County, Kentucky / Henry County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Oklahoma / Mexico

Johnson, Robert: Family and Relatives
Robert Johnson, one of the first Kentucky senators, was a white settler from Virginia. He came to Kentucky in 1783 and built Big Crossings Station, a fort near North Elkhorn Creek in Scott County. Johnson, one of the largest land owners in the state, owned slaves, some of whom were also his relatives. Today there are Johnson family members who are African American and those who are white. A biennial family reunion was held in Georgetown, KY, in July 2005. One of Robert Johnson's sons (by his wife Jemima) was Richard M. Johnson, a U. S. Representative and Senator and the ninth Vice President of the United States. Richard Johnson developed a relationship with Julia Chinn, described as a mulatto, whom he acquired from his father's estate. Julia and Richard had two daughters, Imogene and Adaline. Richard publicly acknowledged his relationship and his children and tried to introduce his daughters into white society, all of which cost him his Senate seat in 1836. For more see S. Lannen, "Unearthing their roots-sharing uncommon ancestors a diverse Kentucky family reunites," Lexington Herald-Leader, July 23, 2005; and Life and Times of Colonel Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky, by L. W. Meyer.
Subjects: Early Settlers, Fathers, Mothers, Inheritance, Slavery in Kentucky, Sources
Geographic Region: Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky

Joplin, Florence G.
Birth Year : 1841
Death Year : 1881
Florence Givens Joplin was born free in Kentucky around 1841; her family moved to Texas when she was a child or teen. It is believed that she was the daughter of Milton and Susie Givens (or Givins). Florence was the wife of Giles (or Jiles) Joplin, and the mother of composer Scott Joplin, the second of her six children. Florence Joplin was a banjo player and singer. For more see In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., supp., ed. by M. M. Spradling; and Ragging it: getting Ragtime into history (and some history into Ragtime), by H. L. White.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration West, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Texas

Kleizer, Louisa and Mary (sisters)
The following information comes from the unpublished manuscript Tracking Free Black Women in Bourbon County: the Intriguing Case of the Kleizer Women, by Nancy O'Malley.


As part of a larger ongoing project to gather information about free people of color, particularly women, in Bourbon County, Kentucky, the existence of two sisters, Louisa Warren and Mary Malvina Kleizer, was uncovered. They owned property and were businesswomen in Paris and both sisters eventually “passed for white”. They are thought to be the daughters of Bourbon County blacksmith Henry Kleizer, who  died intestate in 1836, probably on his farm of 147 acres on the Iron Works Road. The inventory of his estate included “1 Negro woman and 2 children” valued at $800. On July 4, 1836, Henry’s father, John Kleizer, acting on his son’s request, freed the woman, 42 year old Jude, an African American, and her two mulatto daughters, 14 year old Louisa Warren, and 12 year old Mary Malvina. Sadly, Jude died of cholera in 1849.


On May 29, 1850, Louisa and Mary Kleizer purchased a house and lot on Main Street in Paris, KY, for $800 from William and Catherine P. Duke. The lot was part of in-lot 14 near the corner of Main and Mulberry (now 5th) Streets. The property corresponds to 428 Main Street where the City Club is now located. Louisa's 8 year old daughter named Ellen Burch, a mulatto, lived with the two sisters. When they were censused in 1850, Louisa was 24 years old and was not listed with an occupation nor could she read or write. Mary was 22 years old, also without an occupation, but was able to read and write. Ellen Burch had attended school during the year.


George W. Ingels, a white stable keeper, began a relationship with Mary Kleizer that resulted in the birth of four children by the next census in 1860. The two sisters, under the spelling of Cliser, are listed as living together in Paris and working as confectioners. Their real estate had increased in value to $1400, split between them, with a combined personal worth of $1000. Mary’s children included Jennie Elizabeth aged 8, Louisa aged 5, George W. aged 3, and Mollie aged 1.


In 1867, Mary and George moved with their children to Cincinnati, Ohio, leaving Louisa Kleizer and Ellen Burch in Paris, KY. Williams’ 1868 Cincinnati Directory listed George W. Ingels as a partner in the firm Arnold, Bullock & Co. James L. Arnold, Thomas L. Arnold, W.K. Bullock and George W. Ingels were wholesale grocers, commission merchants and liquor dealers at 49 W. Front Street. In the 1869 directory, George was associated with J. L. Arnold in a coal dealership under the firm name of Arnold & Ingels. George W. Ingels appears in the 1870 census for Cincinnati, Ohio, living with Mary who assumed his surname as did their children. Mary and her children are all identified as mulatto in this census. Two more children, Hiram, aged 8, and Birchie (a nickname for Burch), a daughter aged 5, had been born in Kentucky since the last census.


In the 1870 census, Louisa Kleizer is a notions and fancy goods merchant in Paris, KY, and her daughter Ellen Burch was working as her clerk. The 1860 census indicated that Louisa had married within the year, but no evidence was found to indicate that she had a husband. She is not listed with a husband in 1870.


In October of 1880, George and Mary Ingels sold Mary’s half-interest in the Paris Main Street property to Louisa Kleizer for $900. Louisa was living by herself by this time and was listed as a widow without an occupation. No record of any marriage was found in the Bourbon County records for Louisa Kleizer.


In the 1880 census record, Mary is still listed as mulatto, all of her and George’s children are listed as white. The family lived on Hopkins Street and was still living there in 1890. Mary and George Ingels lived in Cincinnati for the rest of their lives. By 1900, they were living on Wesley Avenue just a few blocks from their former home on Hopkins Street. The census taker incorrectly spelled their name as Engalls. George reported that he was 76 years old, born in February of 1824 and married for 47 years. He was a landlord. His wife Mary was identified as white rather than mulatto. She was 75 years old, born in February of 1825.


George W. Ingels died on July 23, 1901 and was buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. His “wife” followed him in death on May 24, 1907 and was buried beside him. [They could not have been legally married while in Kentucky since interracial marriage was prohibited, and they may never have formally solemnized their relationship. Interracial marriage was not legalized in Ohio until 1887. No marriage record has been found for George and Mary Ingels although they clearly considered themselves married.] All of their children remained in Cincinnati and were buried in the family lot at Spring Grove Cemetery.


Louisa Kleizer’s whereabouts are unknown between 1881 when she purchased an easement along an alley on one side of her property on Main Street in Paris, KY, and December 17, 1902 when she died in Massachusetts. Limited evidence suggests that she left Paris and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts where her daughter, Ellen Burch, was living with her husband, a white man named Charles Knight, and their children. After the Civil War, he worked as an armorer at the U.S. Armory until his death at age 65 on August 9, 1904.


Ellen, who went by the name Ella, also crossed the boundary between white and black. Her husband was a New Hampshire native who fought in the Civil War with a New Hampshire company and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for meritorious conduct at the Battle of the Crater. Charles and Ella had three daughters, Clara Louise born in February of 1879, Sarah Elizabeth born in July of 1880, and Laura Gertrude born in July of 1883.


No record was found for Louisa Kleizer in the 1900 census in either Bourbon County or Massachusetts. Her death date was discovered in a deed that was filed when Ella Knight and her daughters sold Louisa’s property on Main Street in Paris, KY, in 1910. The deed stated that Louisa Knight had died intestate in Springfield, Massachusetts “about four years” earlier. The place of Louisa’s death was incorrect in the deed; she actually died in Northampton about 15 miles north of Springfield but was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Springfield. Louisa's daughter, Ella M. Burch Knight, died in 1932, and she and her family are also buried in Oak Grove Cemetery.


Louisa’s death record confirms that her father was Henry Kleizer; her mother’s name is recorded as Julia rather than Judith with the surname Johnson.


Sources: website


Bourbon County deed books, County Clerk’s office, Paris, Kentucky

Samuel B. Kleizer to Henry Kleizer, July 20, 1833, Deed Book Z, p. 616.

William and Caroline P. Duke to Louisa and Mary Kleizer, May 29, 1850, Deed Book 44, p. 332.

George W. and Mary Ingels to Louisa Kleizer, October 27, 1880, Deed Book 65, p. 54.

Charles Henry and Louisa Singer to Louisa Kleizer, need date, Deed Book 65, p. 363.

Ella M. Knight, Clara Louise Knight, Sarah Elizabeth Knight, and Laura Gertrude Knight to W.W. Mitchell and William Blakemore, February 19, 1910, Deed Book 96, p. 330.


Bourbon County manumission book, County Clerk’s office, Paris, Kentucky, deed of emancipation from John Kleizer to Jude and her daughters, Louisa Warren and Mary Malvina, July 4, 1836.


Historical Census Browser, 2004, Retrieved 13 November 2013, University of Virginia, Geospatial and Statistical Data Center:


Inventory of Henry Kleizer, Bourbon County Will Book K, p. 204, June 14, 1836, County Clerk’s office, Paris, Kentucky


Federal censuses, Bourbon County, Kentucky and Hamilton County, Ohio; various years


Find-A-Grave website for George W. Ingels family website


Paris True Kentuckian, October 4, 1871 issue (Original at the Bourbon County Citizen/Citizen Advertiser office in Paris)


Sanborn Insurance maps, Kentucky Digital Library website


For more information contact

Nancy O'Malley, Assistant Director

William S. Webb Museum of Anthropology and

Office of State Archaeology

1020A Export Street

University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky 40506

Ph. 859-257-1944

FAX: 859-323-1968
Subjects: Businesses, Fathers, Freedom, Migration North, Mothers, Interracial Marriage and State Laws
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio / Springfield and Northampton, Massachusetts

Lewis, Meade Lux
Birth Year : 1905
Death Year : 1964
Lewis was a pianist and composer. He was born in Louisville, KY, and raised in Chicago. Meade was the son of Hattie and George Lewis. George was employed as a postal clerk and was also a Pullman Porter. Hattie and George were Kentucky natives, and according to the U.S. Federal Census, in 1920 the family was living in apartment 29, a rear unit on LaSalle Street in Chicago. Meade Lewis's first instrument was the violin, which he learned to play when he was 16 years old. He taught himself to play the piano and developed a boogie-woogie style. His best known work is Honky Tonk Train Blues, recorded in 1927. Boogie-woogie was still a new sound. To supplement his income, Lewis worked washing cars and driving a taxi. He played the piano at house parties, clubs, and after-hours joints. His fame is said to have begun in 1938 when Lewis performed in John Hammond's concert at Carnegie Hall. He is regarded as one of the three noted musicians of boogie-woogie. For more see the Meade Lux Lewis entry in the Afro-American Encyclopedia; and "Meade Lux Lewis pianist, is killed," New York Times, 06/08/1964, p. 18. A picture of Lewis and additional information are available in Men of Popular Music, by D. Ewen. View film with Meade Lux Lewis playing boogie woogie on YouTube.

Subjects: Fathers, Migration North, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Postal Service, Pullman Porters, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Lizzie's Story (Lizzie Cannon)
Birth Year : 1870
Death Year : 1965
Lizzie Cannon was the descendent of slaves who were sold in 1850 to Lloyd and Sarah Sheff in Leesburg, KY (located in Harrison County and originally called Boswell's Crossroads; the name was changed to Leesburg in 1817). The Sheff's new slave family remained on the Leesburg plantation until the they were sold around 1865, all except the youngest daughter, Delcy. At the age of fifteen, Delcy gave birth to Lizzie on Christmas Day, 1870; she was the daughter of Lloyd Sheff. Her birth was recorded in the family Bible: Lizzie Brent Sheff. Lizzie and her family eventually settled in Nicholasville, KY. The story of the many generations of Lizzie's family is told in the fictional biography, Lizzie's Story, by family member Dr. Clarice Boswell.
Subjects: Freedom, Genealogy, History, Mothers
Geographic Region: Leesburg, Harrison County, Kentucky / Nicholasville, Jessamine County, Kentucky

Magee, Lazarus and Susan [Rev. James H. Magee]
The Magees were born in Kentucky; Lazarus (d. 1870) was free, and Susan (d. 1868) was a slave belonging to Billy Smith of Louisville, KY. Lazarus purchased Susan and her two children, and the family moved to Madison County, Illinois. There would be many more children, and they were sent to Racine, WI, to be educated. One of the children was Reverend James H. Magee (1839-1912), who was president of the Colored Local Historical Society in Springfield, IL; he formed the Black Man's Burden Association in Chicago. J. H. Magee had attended Pastors College [now Spurgeon's College] in London, England, from 1867-1868. He was an ordained minister, a school teacher, and an outspoken advocate for African American voting rights and education. He has been referred to as a leader of the African American people in Springfield, IL. For more see B. Cavanagh, "history talk 04-28-05" a Illinois Times web page that has been removed; and The Night of Affliction and the Morning of Recovery, by Rev. J. H. Magee.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Freedom, Migration North, Mothers, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Springfield, Illinois

Mahone, Willie Pearl
Birth Year : 1925
Mahone was born in the coal camps of Jenkins, KY. She is the subject of the award winning children's books in the The Willie Pearl Series, written by her daughter, Michelle Y. Green. Green is a graduate of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins Master's Program in Writing. Green's historical fiction series was written in the early 1990s and is set in a Depression-era coal-mining town in Kentucky. Willie Pearl: Under the Mountain, the second book in the series, received the 1993 Children's Literary Award for Multicultural Publishing. Information on Willie P. Mahone provided by Michelle Y. Green. For more see Michelle Y. Green on the Reading is Fundamental/Reading Planet website.
Subjects: Authors, Mothers, Children's Books and Music
Geographic Region: Jenkins, Letcher County, Kentucky

McCoy, George and Mildred
George and his wife, Mildred Goins McCoy, were escaped slaves from Louisville, KY. They settled first in Canada, then in 1852 moved with their 12 children to Ypsilanti, Michigan, six miles east of Ann Arbor and 29 miles west of Detroit. Ypsilanti was a significant link in the Underground Railroad and a major stop for slaves fleeing from Kentucky en route to Detroit and Canada. George was a conductor who aided many of the escapees by hiding them under the boxes of cigars that he delivered to Detroit. As George's cigar business thrived, more slaves were carried to freedom, so many that a second wagon was purchased and driven by his son, William McCoy. George and Mildred McCoy are the parents of inventor Elijah McCoy. For more see M. Chandler, "Ypsilanti's rich in Black history," Detroit Free Press, 02/09/1984, p. 7A.
Subjects: Businesses, Fathers, Freedom, Migration North, Mothers, Underground Railroad: Conductors, Escapes, Organizations, Research
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Ypsilanti, Michigan / Canada

Micheaux, Melvina
Birth Year : 1832
Death Year : 1916
Micheaux was born in Alabama. She and her husband, David Micheaux, were slaves in Calloway County, KY. Melvina and her three children moved to Illinois, later joining other Exodusters in the move to Nicodemus, Kansas. One of her children, Calvin Swan Micheaux, Sr. (1847-1932), was the father of Oscar D. Micheaux (1884-1951), an author who established the Micheaux Film and Book Company. He became a producer of films, the first of which was The Homesteader (a silent film). For more on Oscar D. Micheaux, see The Life and Work of Oscar Micheaux: Pioneer Black Author and Filmmaker, 1884-1951, by E. J. Young. Melvina Micheaux was the mother of Andrew Jackson Micheaux, the great, great grandfather of pro football player Austin Wheatly. See Andrew Jackson Micheaux and Melvina Micheaux photos.
Subjects: Migration West, Mothers, Nicodemus, Grandparents, Exodusters [African Americans migrating West around Reconstruction Era], Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Alabama / Calloway County, Kentucky / Nicodemus, Kansas

Mullins, Pamela
Birth Year : 1953
Pamela Mullins, of Covington, KY, was one of the first inductees to the Holmes [High School] Hall of Distinction for 2000-2001. In 2007, she was inducted into the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Hall of Fame. Until Paul Mullins election in 2007, Mullins had been the last African American elected to the School Board in Covington; she served from 1990-1997 and resigned to become the first African American woman to be elected to the Covington City Commission. She brought forward the ordinance that created the Covington Human Rights Commission. Pamela Mullins is the daughter of the late Robert Mullins, who was a tenor in the "Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers," a male quintet that sings spirituals and gospel music. Pamela Mullins is also the mother of Paul Mullins, the second African American elected to the Covington School Board in 2007. A controversy clouded his election, but Paul Mullins was allowed to remain on the school board until a final decision was made: he was a school employee, a bus driver, when he won the election. Pamela Mullins would go on to become the Covington Human Rights Commissioner. For more see Pamela Mullins in the 2007 Hall of Fame at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights website; and T. O'Neill, "Mullins defends his right to serve," The Kentucky Post, 03/28/2007, News section, p. A2.

Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Mothers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Board of Education, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky

Poston, Mollie Cox
Birth Year : 1873
Death Year : 1917
Poston was born in Oak Grove, KY, the daughter of Joseph and Hattie Peay Cox. She taught in the county and city schools in Kentucky and was one of the first appointed supervisors of the Negro industrial schools in the state (1913). She was one of the five African American women in the first Home Demonstration Agents class in 1914, the women were Florence G. Anderson in Clark County; Lula Coleman in Daviess County; Julia Melton and Mollie Poston in Christian County; and Ella B. Taylor in Fayette County [source: "Recognition of African American women at the University of Kentucky," p.1]. Mollie Poston was a graduate of Roger Williams University in Nashville, TN, and M. & F. College and Hopkinsville Industrial School, both in Hopkinsville, KY. She was the mother of Robert, Ulysses and Ted Poston, and the wife of Ephraim Poston. For more see the Mollie Poston entry in Who's Who of the Colored Race, 1915 [available full view at Google Book Search]; and Dark Side of Hopkinsville, by T. Poston.
Subjects: Agriculturalists, Agriculture, Produce, Education and Educators, Mothers, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Oak Grove, Christian County, Kentucky / Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky

Roye, John Edward and Nancy [Edward James Roye]
John Roye (d.1829) told others that he had been born a slave in Kentucky. He and his wife Nancy (d. 1840) moved to Newark, OH, where Roye became a prosperous land owner. He was also part owner in a river ferry, and left all that he owned to his son Edward J. Roye, b 1815 in Newark, OH. Edward Roye was a barber and he owned a bathhouse in Terre Haute, IN. He was educated and had been a student at the University of Athens (OH). He left the U.S. for Liberia in 1845 and was a merchant. Roye became one of the richest men in Liberia. He became the Chief Justice and Speaker of the House. He founded the newspaper Liberia Sentinel in 1845, a short-lived venture that lasted about a year. In January 1870 , Edward Roye became the fifth President of Liberia. During his presidency, he was accused of embezzlement and jailed in October 1871. He escaped, and it is believed he drowned sometime in 1872 while swimming to a ship in the Monrovia harbor. For more see "Edward Jenkins Roye," Newark Advocate, 04/22/1984; C. Garcia, "TH barber Edward James Roye became 5th president of Liberia," Tribune Star, 02/24/2007, pp.1&5; and Edward James Roye in The Political and Legislative History of Liberia by C. H. Huberich.
Subjects: Barbers, Businesses, Fathers, Freedom, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Liberia, Liberian Presidents & Diplomats, Migration North, Mothers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Presidents, National Presidential Candidates and Party Nominees
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Newark, Ohio / Liberia, Africa

Shipp, Ellen
Birth Year : 1830
Ellen Shipp was born around 1830 in Kentucky and is listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census as a free mulatto who was living in Cincinnati, OH. She was the wife of Thomas Shipp, born around 1821 in South Carolina, who is also listed as free. They were the parents of two boys, Thomas Shipp and Jesse A. Shipp Sr. (1863-1934). Jesse wrote the book for In Dahomey, one of the first successful Negro musicals on Broadway. (His name is sometimes spelled Jessie.) He was a playwright, vaudeville performer, manager, director, and lyricist. His son, Jesse A. (or Jessie) Shipp, Jr., founded Shipp Association, a booking agency in Harlem, NY. For more on Jesse Shipp, Sr., see his entry in the Internet Broadway Database.

[Dahomey was a country located in West Africa that is today southern Benin. The history of Dahomey dates between 1600 and 1900. See Dahomey in Encyclopaedia Britannica online.]
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Mothers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio / New York

Short, Rodman J. and Myrtle Render
Born in Rockport, KY, Rodman Short (1883-1936) was the son of Kate E. and John Waltrip Short, the owner of a bit of farmland in Muhlenberg County, KY. Rodman, who left Kentucky for Danville, IL, was a brother of Nancy Short, who settled in Detroit, and John Will Short, who remained in Kentucky after his siblings left, and two younger brothers. Rodman was a coal miner in Danville, IL, and he later returned to Lynch, KY, without his family to find work in the mines during the Depression. He became ill from the mine work and died in Kentucky. His wife, Myrtle Render Short (1888-1971), also a Kentucky native, took his body to Danville, IL, to be buried. Myrtle and Rodman were the parents of cabaret singer and pianist Robert Waltrip "Bobby" Short (1924-2005), the ninth of their ten children. For more see the Bobby Short entry in Current Biography; Music legend Bobby Short's jazzy legacy, an website; and Black and White Baby, by B. Short.
Subjects: Fathers, Migration North, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Rockport, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky / Danville, Illinois / Lynch, Harlan County, Kentucky

Sissle, George A. and Martha A.
George A. Sissle (1852-1913), born in Lexington, KY, was a prominent minister in Indianapolis at the Simpson M. E. Chapel and in Cleveland at the Cory United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in the city. He was also an organist and choirmaster. He was the husband of Martha Angeline Sissle (1869-1916), and she too was from Kentucky. She was a school teacher and probation officer. The couple was married in 1888, and were the parents of several children, including composer and jazz musician, Noble Lee Sissle (1889-1975). Martha Sissle was raised by her mother's close friend; her mother had been a slave and could not afford to raise her child. George Sissle's father had been a slave on the Cecil Plantation; he disliked the name Cecil and changed the spelling to Sissle. For more see Slave and Freeman: the autobiography of George L. Knox, by G. L. Knox; The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History [online], sponsored by Case Western Reserve University and the Western Reserve Historical Society; A Life in Ragtime by R. Badger; and The Theater of Black Americans, v.1, edited by E. Hill. *The last name is sometimes spelled "Sisle" in the U.S. Federal Census.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Fathers, Migration North, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Corrections and Police, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana / Cleveland, Ohio

Taylor, Gilbert and Saphronia Kelter
The Taylors, Gilbert and Saphronia (d. 1897), from Louisville, KY, were the parents of Marshall Walter Taylor, "The Colored Cyclone." Marshall Taylor (1878-1932) was a champion cyclist; he won the annual one mile track cycling championship in 1899, 1900, and 1901. Marshall was nicknamed "Major." He was born outside Indianapolis, IN, where his parents had migrated from Kentucky. Gilbert Taylor served in the Union Army. For more see Major Taylor: the extraordinary career of a champion bicycle racer, by A. Ritchie; and Major Taylor Association, Inc. website.
Subjects: Fathers, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Mothers, Bicycles, Cyclist, Cycling, Wheelmen
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Thomas, India P.
Birth Year : 1843
Death Year : 1899
India P. Thomas was born in Alabama, according to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, and it is thought that she died in Louisville, KY, in the 1890s, according to author V. Alexandrov in his book, The Black Russian, p. 29. India Thomas was the second wife of Lewis Thomas; three sons were in the family in 1880 when they lived in Mississippi: Yancy, John, and the youngest, Frederick Thomas, the "Black Russian" referred to in V. Alexandrov's book. According to Alexandrov, there was also a daughter named Ophelia. The Thomas family owned more land than any other African Americans in Coahoma County, MS, until they were tricked and lost the land during a lengthy legal battle. In 1890, the family moved to Memphis, TN, and Lewis and India managed a boarding house. In October of 1890,after Lewis had gone to bed, one of the renters he had had a disagreement with, attacked him with an axe; a few hours later, Lewis died from the injuries. India remained in Memphis for at least another year; she is listed as India P. Thomas, colored, the widow of Louis, on p. 963 in vol. 30 of Dow's City Directory of Memphis, for 1892. According to Alexandrov, India came to Louisville in 1892 and was employed as a cook for a white jeweler; she is listed as a colored cook at 733 4th Street, on p. 1092 of Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1893. Prior to her move to Kentucky, India's stepson Frederick Thomas had left Memphis. India spent the remainder of her life in Louisville. In the 1896 Louisville directory, she is listed as Indiana Thomas on p. 1154, and she is listed as India P. Thomas, colored, domestic, on p. 1102 in the 1899 directory. Her stepson Frederick Thomas would leave the United States and become a wealthy expatriate living in various European countries; Moscow; and Constantinople. He would on occasion claim Kentucky as his home, though there is no indication that he ever lived in Kentucky; Frederick Bruce Thomas was born in Coahoma County, Mississippi, the son of Lewis and Hannah Thomas, and in May of 1915, he became a Russian citizen [source: The Black Russian, by V. Alexandrov, pp. 43, 47, 112 & 113]. Frederick Thomas lived in Moscow around the same period that Emma E. Harris, an actress and singer, lived there. When Frederick Thomas opened the Maxim (theater) in Moscow in 1913, one of the acts he booked was Brooks and Duncan [Billy Brooks and George Duncan]. In 1918, Frederick Thomas was desperate to get his family out of Moscow, which had been taken over by the Bolshevik Regime. Leaving behind all of his wealth, Frederick Thomas and his family made their way to Constantinople. When he attempted to leave Constantinople, one of the persons who blocked the move was Kentucky native Charles E. Allen, the vice-consul of the consulate general's office in Constantinople. Frederick Bruce Thomas would never return to the United States; he lost his wealth a second time, went to prison for debt, and died in Constantinople on June 12, 1928. He is buried in an unmarked grave. His stepmother, India P. Thomas, died in Kentucky some time during or after 1899.
Subjects: Migration North, Mothers
Geographic Region: Alabama / Coahoma County, Mississippi / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Tubman, Sylvia A. E.
Sylvia Tubman was one of the 69 slaves freed by Emily Tubman and sent to live in Liberia, Africa. Sylvia was the wife of William Shadrach Tubman, the mother of Alexander Tubman, and the paternal grandmother of William V. S. Tubman, the 18th president of Liberia. Emily Tubman was a slave owner who grew up in Frankfort, KY, and after her marriage spent part of the year in Frankfort and part in Georgia. For more see A study of the life and contributions of Emily H. Tubman, by J. R. Bennett.
Subjects: Freedom, Liberia, Liberian Presidents & Diplomats, Mothers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Grandparents, Presidents, National Presidential Candidates and Party Nominees
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Georgia / Liberia, Africa

Turner, Eat Campbell
Turner was a freed African American nurse from Kentucky. She was the wife of Thomas Turner, who had not been enslaved; he was born in Alberta, Canada. They were the parents of Charles Henry Turner (1867-1923), an entomologist, naturalist, scientist, and zoologist. The family lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more see Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th Century, by J. H. Kessler.
Subjects: Freedom, Mothers, Nurses
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Turner, Frank M. and Frosty [Wyatt Burghardt Turner]
Frank Turner (1887-1941) was the son of Wyatt and Emma Mitchell Turner. He and his wife, Frosty [or Frostie] Ann Duncan Turner (b. 1891), were from Richmond, KY. They lived in Jamaica, Queens, New York; according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, the family lived on Saratoga Avenue; Frank was recognized in the neighborhood as the father of tennis. The couple had six sons. Frank and Frosty Turner, both 1909 graduates of Wilberforce [now Wilberforce University], were married the summer after their graduation. Frank would become the chief accountant for the NAACP. He had kept the books since the organization opened its first office in the Evening Post building in 1910. He had come to the NAACP with W. E. B. DuBois. Frank had been secretary to DuBois in Atlanta; it was his first job after graduating from college. At the NAACP Office, Frank was also the circulation manager of the Crisis, and he had helped establish the NAACP Branch in Jamaica, New York in 1927, where he served as secretary until his death in 1941. Wyatt Burghardt Turner (1916-2009) was one of Frank and Frosty Turner's sons. He was named after his grandfather; his middle name was in honor of W. E. B. DuBois. Wyatt Turner was born in New York and graduated from high school in Kentucky, where he lived with his grandmother. He would become founder and president of the Brookhaven NAACP, and he served as chairman of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission. He had also been a history professor at Stony Brook University. Prior to becoming a professor, he was the first African American teacher at Bay Shore. Wyatt Turner was a graduate of Kentucky State University and Columbia University, and he served in the U.S. Army during World War II. For more see "Frank M. Turner," The Crisis, vol. 48, issue 12 (December 1941), pp. 394 & 398; "How the NAACP Began" at the website; H. L. Moon, "History of the Crisis," The Crisis, November 1970; and K. Schuster, "Wyatt Turner dies; pioneer helped found Brookhaven chapter, active in Obama's presidential campaign," Newsday, 01/23/2009, News section, p. A8.

See photo image at the end of the article "Frank M. Turner" on p. 394 of The Crisis.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Accountants, Bookkeepers, Certified Public Accountants, Stenographers, Education and Educators, Fathers, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Mothers, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Human Rights Commissions (Outside Kentucky)
Geographic Region: Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky / Queens, New York

Turner, Hannah
Birth Year : 1800
Hannah Turner was the slave of Aaron and Theodosia Young, who moved from Kentucky to Missouri. Hannah, a washer woman, was the wife of John Turner (b.1796), a free man who was a horse farrier, and she was the mother of James Milton Turner (1840-1915), who was born while his mother was still a slave. John Turner purchased the freedom of Hannah and James in 1843, and the couple was officially married in St. Louis, March 4, 1857 by Rev. Emmanual Cartwright, pastor of the African Baptist Church [Missouri Marriage Records 1805-2002]. Rev. Cartwright had become pastor of the church after the death of Kentucky native Rev. John Berry Meachum in 1854. John Turner was last listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, and Hannah Turner was last listed in the 1870 Census. Their son, James M. Turner, had been a student in Meachum's school, he would go on to attended Oberlin College. In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him the first African American Minister Resident and Consul General for the United States in the Republic of Liberia. He returned to the U.S. in 1878 and formed the Colored Emigration Aid Association with hopes of settling Exodusters in Kansas and the Indian Territory. He succeeded in getting Congress to pass the Cherokee Freedmen's Act in 1888, which authorized $75,000 to 3,881 Cherokee freedmen (former slaves of the Cherokee Indians). For more see the James Milton Turner entry in the American National Biography Online (subscription database).
Subjects: Freedom, Liberia, Liberian Presidents & Diplomats, Migration West, Mothers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents, Exodusters [African Americans migrating West around Reconstruction Era]
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Saint Louis, Missouri / Oberlin, Ohio / Liberia, Africa / Kansas

Washington, Rebecca Neal
Death Year : 1885
Rebecca Neal Washington was born a slave in Lovelaceville, KY. She was the first wife of Isam Washington, the mother of Isam McDaniel Washington, the grandmother of Roy L. Washington, and the great grandmother of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. For more see The Ancestry of Mayor Harold Washington (1922-1987), by C. G. Brasfield.
Subjects: Mothers, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Lovelaceville, Ballard County, Kentucky

Whitman, Albery A.
Birth Year : 1851
Death Year : 1901
Albery Allson Whitman was born into slavery in Hart County, KY, on the Green River Plantation. Albery was the husband of Caddie Whitman (1857-1909), who was also from Kentucky. Albery was a poet and a Bishop of the Methodist Church. He was a graduate of Wilberforce College [now Wilberforce University] and served as Dean of Morris Brown College in Atlanta. His published works include "Leelah Misled" in 1873, "Not a Man and Yet a Man" in 1877, and "The Rape of Florida" in 1884. His last work was published in 1901: "An Idyll of the South." His talent as a Negro poet has been described as between Phillis Wheatley and Paul L. Dunbar. Albery A. Whitman was also the father of musician Caswell W. Whitman (1875-1936) and the Whitman Sisters, one of the most successful vaudeville troupes in the U.S. Albery taught his older daughters to dance when they were children, and for a brief period they were manged by their mother, Caddie. The Whitman troupe first toured Kentucky in 1904. The Whitman Sisters were Mabel (1880-1962), Essie B. (1882-1963), Alberta (1887-1964), and Alice (1900-1969). Mabel directed the shows, Essie was a comic singer, Alberta was a flash dancer and did male drag, and Alice was an exceptional tap dancer. For more on Albery A. Whitman see Dictionary of American Negro Biography, by R. W. Logan and M. R. Winston; and Albery Allson Whitman (1851-1901), epic poet of African American and Native American self-determination (thesis), by J. R. Hays. For more about the Whitman Sisters see The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville by N. George-Graves; and Jazz Dance, by M. W. Stearns and J. Stearns. For more on Caswell Woodfin Whitman see the following Chicago Defender articles - "The Whitman Sister's kin passes away," 04/04/1936, pp.1 & 10; "Allen Bowers Entertains," 03/06/1932, p.7; and "The Whitmans arrive," 03/16/1918, p.6 - [article citations provided by the Curator of the Chicago Jazz Archive at the University of Chicago].
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag
Geographic Region: Hart County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Willis, "Aunt" Lucy
Birth Year : 1830
Death Year : 1914
In 1987, Aunt Lucy Willis's cabin was restored to 1/3 its original size and exhibited at the Kansas City Museum. The cabin had been built in Trenton, Missouri, where Aunt Lucy Willis had resided. Aunt Lucy had first been a slave in Kentucky, owned by a couple named Willis who gave Aunt Lucy to their daughter, Amelia. According to the research of family member Scott Helmandollar, Aunt Lucy had a daughter named Rosa (1842?-1894) who was listed as white; John Willis may have been the girl's father. Aunt Lucy was brought west when Amelia Willis's second husband, William Neil Peery, moved his family from Kentucky to Missouri. According to Scott Helmandollar, Aunt Lucy was purchased by his family and given her freedom; she chose to remain with the Perry family. At her request, Aunt Lucy was buried in the family cemetery. The cemetery contains the graves of the Perry and Helmandollar families. Family memorabilia were used by the Black Archives of Mid-America to reconstruct Aunt Lucy Willis's life. For more see "Slave's rude cabin brings life to Missouri's history," The Wichita Eagle (Missouri), 06/21/1987, Lively Arts section, p. 8F. For more about the Helmandollar family, Aunt Lucy, her daughter Rosa, and their descendants, contact Scott Helmandollar.

*Aunt Lucy Willis's descendants: Rosa Willis Clayton (Lewis), William Harley Clayton and James Arthur Clayton [twins], Ernest Clayton, Nellie Goldia Clayton Woodson (Carter) [1881-198?], Erma Woodson Smith, Bernice Woodson, Dale Byron Woodson, Theodore Woodson.*
Subjects: Freedom, Migration West, Mothers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Trenton and Kansas City, Missouri

Young, Laura R.
Birth Year : 1896
Death Year : 1962
Laura Ray Young was born in Lebanon, KY, the daughter of Richard and Ella Ray. She was a teacher at Lincoln Institute, the first African American Post Master in Kentucky and the second one in the U.S. She was the wife of Whitney M. Young, Sr and the mother of Eleanor Young, Arnita Young Boswell, and Whitney Young, Jr. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1933-37; and In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., edited by M. M. Spradling.
Subjects: Mothers, Postal Service
Geographic Region: Lebanon, Marion County, Kentucky


Return to the search page.