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<Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky>

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1826 Slave Revolt on Ohio River
Start Year : 1826
On September 17, 1826, Bourbon County, KY, slave traders Edward Stone and his nephew Howard Stone were among the five white men killed by the 75 or so slaves who were being taken down river aboard a flatboat. Edward Stone had kept his slaves in Bourbon County, chained and shackled beneath his house. In September of 1826, a group of the slaves were marched to Mason County, KY, where they were taken aboard the flatboat headed to the Mississippi slave market. David Cobb of Lexington, KY, and James Gray were hired to convey the crew down the Ohio River. The boat stopped in Louisville, KY, where a white man named Davis boarded the boat. Davis was from Natchez, MS, or Paris, KY, depending on which account you read. The boat had gone about another 100 miles when the slaves revolted and killed the five white men and threw their bodies overboard. The 75 slaves, males and females of various ages, attempted to escape into Indiana, which had become a state in 1816 with a constitution that prohibited slavery [read more at IN.gov], though there were both free Blacks and slaves in the state. There were also active Underground Railroad stations in Indiana [read more at IN.gov], two of which were along the Ohio River bordering Kentucky and near Breckinridge County, KY. In 1824, Indiana passed one of the earliest forms of a fugitive slave law [read more at IN.gov]. The slaves who had escaped from the flatboat were fugitives, property that could be reclaimed. Fifty-six of the slaves were captured and returned to Kentucky to be lodged in the Hardinsburg [Breckinridge County] jail. A Baltimore newspaper reported that some of the slaves were brought to Maryland and sold. Three of the slaves supposedly admitted taking part in the revolt. Nothing is known or has ever been written about the 19 slaves who escaped, nor has it been acknowledged that there were slaves on the flatboat who made their way to freedom. "...[T]he balance separated, and as yet have not been heard of."- - [source: "To the editor: Hardinsburg, Sept. 19, 1826," Richmond Enquirer, 10/17/1826, p. 4]. A possibility that has not been discussed in the literature suggests there may have been a prepared plan for the slaves to escape into Indiana and make their way further north via the Underground Railroad. Reading, writing, and knowledge of maps would not have been necessary in order for the slaves to have known about Under Ground Railroad stations on the Indiana border; messages and codes were passed between slaves in the form of songs and quilts and other non-written methods. The focus of the newspapers during the time of the revolt and later written histories centers on the killing of the five white men, the capture of the 56 slaves, and the subsequent trial and executions. Five of the captured slaves were hanged: their names, the only names given to any of the slaves in the newspapers, were Jo, Duke, Resin, Stephen, and Wesley [source: If We Must Die, by E. R. Taylor, p. 162]. One other slave named Roseberry's Jim is mentioned in the Village Register newspaper article, "The Negro Trial" dated 11/14/1826. According to the article, five of the slaves were hanged; forty-seven were sold; the remainder was brought back to Bourbon County. One of the slaves was a mulatto boy named Louis (or Lewis) who was not for sale; he was Edward Stone's body servant and had tried to save Stone's life, but he too was beaten during the revolt [source: "To the editor: Hardinsburg, Sept. 19, 1826," Richmond Enquirer, 10/17/1826, p. 4]. Four months after the revolt, Louis (or Lewis) was given his freedom by Stone's widow in January of 1827. According to author J. W. Coleman, he remained in Kentucky on the land and in the house he was given near the Edward Stone house in Bourbon County [source: Slavery Times in Kentucky, by J. Winston Coleman, pp. 174-176].

 

Edward Stone was one of the first slave traders to openly advertise his intentions of selling slaves to the Deep South markets. Much of what has been written about the day of his death contains varying and sometimes conflicting details, as well as name variations for the men who were killed and various accounts as to how the day unfolded. For additional information see "Horrible Massacre" in the column headed "Louisville, Ken. Sept. 23" in the Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 10/07/1826, p. 2; "The Louisville, Kentucky, paper...," Norwich Courier, 10/11/1826, p. 2; Speculators and Slaves by M. Tadman; I've Got a Home in Glory Land, by K. S. Frost, Chapter 3 - On Jordan's Bank; Black Heritage Sites, pp. 110-111, by N. C. Curtis; and Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad, by J. Blain Hudson. See also Ancestry.com website Edward Stone by N. A. Bristow; blog entry Edward Stone's Demise, by T. Talbott; and Edward Stone in the History of Slavery: Glossary, a Kentucky Educational Television Underground Railroad website.

 

 
See photo image of Edward Stone's house, The Grange, photo image in Explore UK.
Subjects: Executions, Freedom, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Riots and Protests Outside Kentucky
Geographic Region: Bourbon County, Kentucky / Mason County, Kentucky / Hardinsburg, Breckinridge County, Kentucky / Indiana / Mississippi / Maryland

Brucetown (Lexington, KY)
Start Year : 1865
Located on the northeast side of Lexington in what was a low field, the community of Brucetown was established by W. W. Bruce in 1865. The land was subdivided and provided for the homes of African Americans employed by Bruce; Brucetown was adjacent to Bruce's hemp factory. In 1878, a white mob killed three African American men in Brucetown; the murdered men were suspected of having knowledge of the murder of a white man killed two weeks prior. The three dead men were Tom Turner, who was shot, and Edward Claxton and John Davis, both of whom were hanged; a man named Stivers had been hanged earlier for the crime. In 2001, the ninth Brucetown Day celebration was held on Dakota Street in Lexington, sponsored by the Brucetown Neighborhood Association. For more information and maps see J. Kellogg, "The Formation of Black Residential Areas in Lexington, Kentucky, 1865-1887," The Journal of Southern History, vol. 48, issue 1 (Feb. 1982), pp. 21-52; "Negro Urban Clusters in the Postbellum South," Geographical Review, vol. 61, issue 3 (July 1977), pp. 310-321; "Mob Violence in Kentucky," The New York Times, 01/18/1878, p. 1; and "Brucetown plans annual festival," Lexington Herald-Leader, 08/08/2001, Bluegrass Communities section, p. 2.
Subjects: Communities, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Brucetown, Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Coe Colony (Cumberland County, KY)
Start Year : 1866
In 1866, Ezekiel and Patsy Ann Coe purchased land on Coe Ridge, located on the back of Coe Plantation in Cumberland County, KY. Ezekiel (born around 1817 in North Carolina) and Patsy (born around 1825) were of African, Indian, and White lineage and had been slaves. They reclaimed their children, who had been slaves owned by various members of the white Coe family. When brought together, Ezekiel and Patsy's family made up a small, prosperous community, the nucleus of Coe Colony. Added to their numbers were a few other African Americans and white women. White agitators tried to drive the colony out of the area, resulting in murders on both sides and a race feud in 1888. The Coe family remained on the ridge for almost a century, farming and logging prior to the Great Depression. They later took on the business of running moonshine and other activities that brought federal agents and law officers to the area. For more see The saga of Coe Ridge; a study in oral history, by W. L. Montell; KET Productions' Kentucky Life Program 518, The 'Afrilachians'The Chronicles of the Coe Colony, by S. Coe; and L. Montell, "Coe Ridge Colony: a racial island disappears," American Anthropologist, New Series, vol.74, issue 3 (Jun., 1972), pp.710-719.
Subjects: Communities, Freedom, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Colonies, Colonization
Geographic Region: Coe Ridge, Cumberland County, Kentucky

Corbin, KY (1919)
Start Year : 1919
On October 29, 1919, in the railroad town of Corbin, KY, a white man was attacked and robbed by two white men with painted black faces. The next day a vigilante mob took revenge on the African American community, searching homes and businesses and eventually forcing the African American railroad workers into boxcars and shipping them south to Knoxville. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N) had hired the men, along with European immigrants, to expand the railroad in Corbin. The town of Corbin suddenly had a lot of new people, and there was tension. An increase in crime was attributed to the more recent African American residents. The day of the riot, some White employers hid African Americans. After the railroad workers were shipped out, many African Americans left Corbin out of fear; few remained in the city. For more see K. O. Griggs, "The Removal of Blacks from Corbin in 1919: Memory, Perspective, and the Legacy of Racism," The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, vol. 100, issue 3 (Summer 2002), pp. 293-310; R. Henson, Trouble Behind: A Film About History and Forgetting, Cicada Films (1990); and coverage in various Kentucky newspapers. See also National Public Radio (NPR) "Kentucky town re-examines its racial history," July 3, 2007.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Railroad, Railway, Trains
Geographic Region: Corbin, Whitley County, Kentucky

East 6th Street / Scott's Rollarena / Foster's Roller Skating (Lexington, KY)
Start Year : 1868
End Year : 1961
In 1958, Scott's Rollarena for "Whites Only," became Foster's Roller Skating for "Colored Patrons Only." The roller rink was located at 427 E. 6th Street in Lexington, KY, between Shropshire Avenue and Ohio Street. [Today, it is the location of Griffith's Market.] Foster's Roller Skating was a short-lived venture owned by Rowland S. Foster, who was born in 1899 and died in 1975. The previous business, Scott's Rollarena, owned by Gilbert W. Scott, had not always been located on 6th Street. The business opened just prior to 1940 and was located on National Avenue during the early years, then moved to 422 West Main Street and in 1952 moved to the 6th Street location. Negroes who lived in the area were against the rink moving to 6th Street, and a group went before the Board of City Commissioners to denounce the move of a "whites only" skating rink to what was fast becoming a predominately Negro neighborhood. The commissioners offered their sympathy to the Negroes and said they could do nothing about the "whites only" policy. Looking back to the 1860s, East 6th Street had been considered the suburbs of Lexington [source: Prather's Lexington City Directory], and by the late 1890s, there were a few Colored families living on 6th Street [source: Emerson and Dark's Lexington Directory]. By 1939, there was a Colored neighborhood on E. 6th Street between Elm Tree Lane and Ohio Street, and Thomas Milton was the only Colored person living in the 400 block [source: Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, Ky.) City Directory]. The new neighborhood continued to exist in spite of the racial tension; the determined home owners would not succumb to threats and violence. In October 1930, the Colored families living on E. 6th Street between Elm Tree Lane and Ohio Street received threatening letters following the bombing of two homes. The letters warned the families to get out of the neighborhood. The homes of the Charles Jones family on Curry Avenue and of the Rhada Crowe family at 209 East 6th Street had both been blasted with dynamite. The Crowe family had been in their home just a week, and after the bombing they moved. The letters received by their neighbors were turned over to the chief of police, Ernest Thompson, and the families were assured the Lexington Police Department would protect them. The Colored families stayed, and the area continued to change. By 1948 Negro home owners and business owners were buying property in the 400 block of E. 6th Street. [source: Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, Ky.) City Directory]. The businesses were Luella Oldham Beauty Shop-410 (Colored); Irene Keller Beauty Shop-412 (Colored); Sweeney's Confectionery-430; City Radio Service-439; and Blue Grass Market-441. The street address, 427 E. 6th Street, did not exist prior to 1950, but by 1952 there was a building at the address when Scott's Rollarena moved to its new location. The protest against the "whites only" policy at the roller rink was one of the early and lesser known acts of the ongoing Civil Rights Movement in Lexington. In spite of the protests, Scott's Rollarena was at the 6th Street location for six years before the business closed in 1958. In May of that same year, Foster's Roller Skating opened in the same location for "Colored Patrons Only." The building at 427 E. 6th Street was listed as vacant in the 1961 Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, Ky) City Directory. In 1977, there was a grocery store in the building when it was destroyed by fire; arson was suspected. For more see "City fathers give sympathy which fears rink will raise problem," Lexington Leader, 01/10/1952, p. 12; the ad for Foster's Roller Skating in the Lexington Leader, 05/08/1958; "Judge requests jury to probe house bombing," Lexington Leader, 10/06/1930, p. 1; "Family to move following blast," Lexington Leader, 10/03/1930, p. 1; "Police promise protection for Negro families," Lexington Leader, 10/14/1930, p. 1; and "Store gutted; arson suspected," Lexington Leader, 06/17/1977, p. A-1.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Businesses, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Skating Rinks, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Election Day Riot (Frankfort, KY)
Start Year : 1871
On the evening of August 7, 1871, the election polls had just closed when a race riot developed between African American and white voters in Frankfort, KY, at the market-house precinct. It was the second year of voting for African American men in Kentucky, and tension was high. After a scuffle, whites and African Americans took cover on separate sides of Broadway and began shooting and throwing rocks and boulders at each other across the railroad tracks that ran down the center of the street. Police Captain William Gillmore and Officers Jerry Lee and Dick Leonard rushed to the scene; Gillmore was killed and Lee and Leonard were injured. Other police arrived, but they were driven back. A Mr. Bishop, who was also white, was killed, and several others on both sides were injured. State Troops were ordered into downtown Frankfort to bring the rioting under control. An African American, Henry Washington, who supposedly fired the first shot, was apprehended for the murder of Captain Gillmore. Frankfort Mayor E. H. Taylor, Jr. had appointed the state militia to guard the jailhouse. After the State Troops had gone, the militia dispersed when about 250 armed and masked white men stormed the jailhouse at mid-morning and removed Washington and another African American man, Harry Johnson, who was accused of the rape of a Mrs. Pfeifer. Both men were hanged. For more see "Kentucky Elections. Rioting reported in various places - Two whites killed in Frankfort - Negro prisoners lynched," New York Times, 08/09/1871, p. 1; and "A Democratic riot," printed in the New York Times, 08/15/1871, p.6, from the Louisville Commercial, August 10, 1871.
Subjects: Voting Rights, Lynchings, Corrections and Police, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Fox, Robert and Samuel
The Fox brothers owned a grocery store and one of the three leading undertaking businesses in Louisville, KY. Their undertaking business would eventually be merge with that of J. H. Taylor. In 1870, the Fox brothers and Horace Pearce went against the public streetcar policies when they boarded the Central Passenger's car at Tenth and Walnut Streets. All three men were removed from the car and jailed and their case would be resolved in U.S. District Court. Robert Fox (b.1846) and Samuel Fox (b.1849 ), both born in Kentucky, were the sons of Albert and Margaret Fox. For more see History of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, by W. H. Gibson, Sr.; and the entry Streetcar Demonstrations.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Businesses, Civic Leaders, Jim Crow, Corrections and Police, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Railroad, Railway, Trains, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

"The Great Slave Escape of 1848 Ended in Bracken County"
Start Year : 1848
This article, by John E. Leming, Jr., describes this escape attempt as "the largest single slave uprising in Kentucky history." Patrick Doyle, a white, was the suspected leader of the slave revolt; he was to take the 75 slaves to Ohio, where they would be free. The armed contingent of slaves made its way from Fayette County, KY, to Bracken County, KY, where it was confronted by a group of about 100 white men led by General Lucius Desha of Harrison County, KY. During an exchange of gunfire some of the more than 40 slaves escaped into the woods, but most were captured and jailed, along with Patrick Doyle. Doyle was sentenced to 20 years of hard labor in the state penitentiary, and the slaves were returned to their owners. For more see Leming's article in The Kentucky Explorer, June 2000, pp. 25-29; and American Negro Slave Revolts, by H. Aptheker.
Subjects: Freedom, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Fayette County, Harrison County, & Bracken County, Kentucky

Lynching in Wickliffe, KY
Start Year : 1903
Friday, October 16, 1903, Tom Hall's partially nude body was found hung in a tree in Wickliffe, KY. Hall was thought to be a man from Mississippi who had come first to Mayfield, KY, then on to Paducah, to work on the new Cairo division of the Illinois Central Railroad. A disagreement had occurred between two young white men and a group of African Americans at the Paducah-Cairo train depot platform, Sunday night, October 11. There was an exchange of gunfire. One of the white men, Crockett Childress, was shot in the chest, but survived, though rumors circulated that Childress was dead. Tom Hall was shot in the arm. [It was assumed he was a.k.a. Bob Douglas, who was wanted for a shooting in Mississippi.] Hall claimed he was innocent; he said that he was only a bystander who had gotten shot at the train depot. It was decided that there would be less disturbance if Hall were jailed in Wickliffe. On Tuesday, October 12, in response to the shooting, all African Americans were forced to leave Kevil, KY. Friday morning, about 1:15 a.m., a group of about 35 masked white men took Hall from jail and hanged him. For more see "Quickest of lynchings occurs at Wickliffe," Daily News Democrat (Paducah, KY), 10/16/1903, vol. 35, issue 12, front page; and "Kentucky Negroes forced to flee," Washington Post, 10/14/1903, p. 8.
Subjects: Lynchings, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Railroad, Railway, Trains
Geographic Region: Mississippi / Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Cairo, Illinois / Wickliffe and Kevil, Ballard County, Kentucky

Middlesboro Blue Sox (Middlesboro, KY, baseball team)
Middlesboro, KY, had a colored baseball team as early as 1924, which was the year of the protest movement by churches in Middlesboro against baseball games being played on Sundays. The protest occurred at the same time that property owners on West End Street took action against the Humbard Construction Company for required improvements to their newly repaired street. The property owners won their case with the city, and with that success, four churches formalized a protest against Sunday baseball games at the city athletic park. The protesting churches were First Baptist, Middlesboro Baptist, First M. E. Church, and the Christian Church. The basis of the protest was that the baseball games were not in the best interest of the city and playing baseball on Sunday was said to be a violation of state law. The complaints were filed with the city commissioner, who needed time to investigate whether playing baseball on Sunday was actually illegal according to Kentucky law. Evidently, it was not a violation, because baseball games continued to be played on Sundays. The Middlesboro Blue Sox were the champion baseball team among the Colored baseball teams of Southeastern Kentucky in 1930. They played a game against the Jenkins Sluggers on the 4th of July in 1935. The game was played in East End Park, which was the designated location for the 4th of July activities for the Colored citizens of Middlesboro. The Middlesboro Blue Sox team was reorganized in February 1937 with Jerry Minor as manager and W. B. Bowden as captain. Bob Mitchell, an infielder, was also returning to the team. The schedule included the best Colored teams in that part of Kentucky and teams from four other states, including the Ethiopian Clowns. The games took place in what had become the Colored Municipal Park in West End, and the games were supervised by a park committee composed of Dr. I. H. Miller, Charles Nelson, Virgil Nelson, Dave Brownlow, and Coloney Bryant. The Middlesboro Blue Sox played their games on Sunday afternoons. They played the Clinch County, VA, Colored baseball team and the Knoxville Giants in June of 1937. The Blue Sox were defeated in Knoxville, and the next game against the Giants was played in Owensboro at the West End Municipal Park. In the summer of 1937, the city's West End Park was turned over to the Colored citizens committee for the Middlesboro Blue Sox baseball games and other activities. The team still existed in 1953. For more see "Contractors will repair West End Street," Middlesboro Daily News, 07/07/1924, p. 1; "Champion Blue Sox to play," Middlesboro Daily News, 06/30/1930, p. 7; "Fair weather predicted for 4th," Middlesboro Daily News, 07/03/1935, pp. 1 & 6; "Blue Sox team re-organized," Middlesboro Daily News, 02/23/1937, p. 6; "The Clinch County, Va., baseball team...," Middlesboro Daily News, 05/14/1937, p. 2; "The Middlesboro Blue Sox colored baseball team...," Middlesboro Daily News, 06/28/1937, p. 5; the last paragraph of "Exter Avenue will be repaired," Middlesboro Daily News, 07/21/1937, pp. 1 & 3; and Middlesboro Daily News, 06/23/1953.
Subjects: Baseball, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Middlesboro, Bell County, Kentucky

Negro Exodus (Hopkinsville, KY)
Start Year : 1904
In 1904, the city of Hopkinsville, KY, was a bit alarmed by the number of Negroes who had left the county due to the collapse of the tobacco market. Also in 1904, the Planters Protective Association had been formed to protect the tobacco prices against the marketing trusts. The association soon developed into a group of armed and hooded night riders whose actions went from boycotting to violence. Most of the violence was centered in the Black Patch (dark fired tobacco) area of Western Kentucky and Tennessee. Entire towns were captured, there were hangings and killings, and tobacco warehouses were burned. According to an article in the Hopkinsville Kentuckian, a large number of Negroes had quit farming tobacco in Hopkinsville and left the county for work on the railroads, the mines, or as teamsters in northern cities. A few moved as far away as Honolulu, Hawaii to farm sugar cane. Some followed Riley Ely to Ita Bena, MS, where he and his brother raised cotton on a 7,000 acre farm. The names of those who left for Mississippi included Henry Gant and family, Bud Wilson, and John Ritter. For more see "Negro exodus," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 02/23/1904, p. 1. See also the "Black Patch War" entry in the Kentucky Encyclopedia; The Black Patch War, by J. G. Miller; and Breaking Trust (dissertation), by S. M. Hall.
Subjects: Migration North, Migration West, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Migration South
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky

Negro Uprising Scare, Lancester, KY
Start Year : 1917
On July 31, 1917, J. V. Shipp, a landowner in Midway, KY, went to the office of L. O. Thompson in Lexington, KY, to report that his two Negro employees, Robert and Eliza Withers, who lived in the Negro community of Logan Town near Lancaster, were being incited against the United States Government and whites. Mr. Shipp had gotten the information from his wife who stated that the Withers said that Negroes would not fight against the Germans and talked in positive terms about Germans ruling the United States. There was a German settlement in the Knobbs, which was located near Logan Town, and Mrs. Shipp thought that someone in that area was inciting the Negroes to become German sympathizers. It was known in Lancaster that German residents near the Knobbs visited the homes of Negroes in Logan Town and the two groups socialized together. Mr. and Mrs. Shipps' report was received and typed by L. O. Thompson, who forwarded the report to the War Department and asked if further action was needed. The Shipps agreed to continue to gain information from the Withers until they heard back from Thompson. For more see Collection Title: Federal Surveillance of Afro-Americans (1917-1925): The First World War, the Red Scare, and the Garvey Movement. Series: RG165 War Department: General and Special Staffs-Military Intelligence Division, Military Intelligence Division, Series 10218. Casefile 10218-2. War Department. Folder: 001360-019-0311. Title: Possible Uprising of Negroes (Lancaster, KY): Alleged Acts of German Sympathizers, report by L. O. Thompson, 07/31/1917, 2 pages. Proquest History Vault.

Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Midway, Woodford County, Kentucky / Logan Town and Lancaster, Garrard County, Kentucky / Washington, D. C.

Panic in Hopkinsville, KY
Start Year : 1856
At the end of 1856, a messenger from Lafayette, KY, came to Hopkinsville, KY, seeking help in defending Lafayette against an expected attack by 600 African Americans from the Iron District on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers; Hopkinsville formed Vigilance Committees and posted armed guards in response. Eight to ten thousand slaves worked in the iron works. The telegraph poles were cut down, leaving the city cut-off from communications. African Americans thought to be members of the plot were hanged, shot, or jailed in Kentucky and Tennessee. A white man who had been "passing" was discovered during the roundup of African American men. The man had been painting himself black and living among the African Americans for some time. He was accused by his captors of being the prime instigator and organizer of the insurrection and was taken into the woods and whipped to death. The anticipated insurrection never occurred. For more see "Negro Insurrections in Southern Kentucky and Tennessee," New York Daily Times, 12/11/1856, p. 1; and additional New York Daily Times' articles from 1856: December 12, 23, 25, and 27.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Lafayette and Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky / Tennessee

Panic in Owen County, KY
Start Year : 1861
A messenger from Owen County arrived in Frankfort, KY, on May 10, 1861. The messenger was notifying the governor that 300-400 African Americans had armed themselves and formed a company. The telegraph lines had been cut. The messenger said that when whites attempted to disarm the African Americans, several men were killed. A messenger had also arrived in Indiana with the story that an African American insurrection had occurred in Owen and Gallatin Counties. It was said that two or three white men were leading the African Americans. Troops in both Kentucky and Indiana were put on standby. The following day it was reported that a woman had seen two African American men with guns and had notified her minister, who in turn had sounded the alarm. The story had created a panic in Boone County, also. For more see "Important from Kentucky: reported Negro Insurrection in Owen County," New York Daily Times, 05/11/1861, p. 1; and "The reported Negro insurrection in Owen County, Kentucky, etc.," New York Daily Times 05/12/1861, p. 8.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Boone, Owen, and Gallatin Counties, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Indiana

Race Riot of 1917 (Lexington, KY)
Start Year : 1917
On September 1, 1917, a race riot broke out in Lexington, KY. It was one of the many riots that took place across the United States between 1917 and 1921. The country was at war abroad, while at home tensions had been created due to the demands for civil rights, and the Great Migration North had created employment and housing competition between the races. The day of the Lexington riot, there was an extremely large number of African Americans in the city; they had arrived for the week of activities at the Colored A. & M. Fair that was held on Georgetown Pike. The colored fair in Lexington was one of the largest in the South. During the same period, National Guard troops were camped on the edge of the city. On the day of the riot, three National Guard troops were passing in front of an African American restaurant, shoving aside those who were on the sidewalk. A fight broke out and reinforcements arrived for both sides, leading to a riot. The Kentucky National Guard was summoned, and once calm was restored, armed soldiers on foot and on mount patrolled the streets, along with the police. All other National Guard troops were restricted from the city streets for the duration of the fair. The story of the riot was carried in newspapers across the United States. For more see "Race rioting in Lexington," The Ogden Standard, 09/01/1917, p. 13; and "Race riot in Lexington," Raleigh Herald, 09/07/1917, p. 6.
Subjects: Colored Fairs, Black Expos, and Chautauquas, Military & Veterans, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Race Riot (Paducah, KY)
Start Year : 1892
In July 1892, Tom Burgess was arrested for the rape of a white woman in Paducah, KY. Fearing that Burgess would be taken from the jail and lynched, a group of armed African American men surrounded the jail. When the lynch party arrived at the jail, a gun battle erupted in which one of the men with the lynch party was killed. When the sheriff and other law enforcement officers could not convince the African American men to disperse, whites in the Paducah area were called to arms by community members, and the city braced for an all-out race riot. Soldiers and citizens in the Paducah area attempted to overtake the reinforced African American defense. Several of the African American men were shot, and one of the soldiers, Pvt. Elmer D. Edwards, was wounded and later died. The defense around the jail held. The citizens and the soldiers were headquartered in the courthouse, and the African American men were headquartered in the Odd Fellows Hall. An appeal was made to the Kentucky governor to send troops to Paducah. For more see "Race Riot in Kentucky," The Emporia Daily Gazette, 07/12/1892, Col. E; and Rioting in America, by P. A. Gilje.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky

Race War in Mayfield, KY
Start Year : 1896
A couple of days before Christmas 1896, white citizens of Mayfield, KY, were preparing for an attack in response to a report that up to 250 armed African Americans were seeking revenge for the lynching of Jim Stone and the "whitecapping" of African American families. The reports had come from Water Valley and Wingo, KY, and other nearby towns. White women and children in Mayfield were ordered off the street by 6:00 p.m. Homes were barricaded. A dispatch was sent to Fulton, KY, asking for a reinforcement of white men, and guards were posted at the railroad station. When a report arrived stating that African Americans were also arming themselves in Paducah, KY, the fire bell was rung in Mayfield and a defense was positioned in the public square to await the attack. The reinforcements from Fulton arrived by train a little after midnight. Will Suett, an 18-year-old African American, was also at the train station and was gunned down. Shots were fired at three other African Americans. Hundreds of shots were fired into buildings and into the trees. Four homes were burnt down. By Christmas Eve, the threat was over. The reinforcements were sent home. A mass meeting was called, and a petition signed by more than 100 African Americans asked for peace between the races. Three people had been killed, one being Will Suett, who had arrived by train from St. Louis; he was returning home to spend Christmas with his family in Mayfield. For more see "All Mayfield under arms: excitement over the Kentucky race war," New York Times, 12/24/1896, p. 1; and "Peace reigns at Mayfield: Colored people petition for harmony and the race war is over," New York Times, 12/25/1896, p. 5.
Subjects: Lynchings, Migration West, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Railroad, Railway, Trains
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Water Valley, and Wingo, Graves County, Kentucky / Fulton, Fulton County, Kentucky / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Saint Louis, Missouri

Racial Conflict (Berea, KY)
Start Year : 1968
A shootout occurred September 1, 1968 in Berea, KY, following the end of a National States' Rights Party meeting. It was not determined who fired the first shot, but the disagreement over segregation took place on the street between the white party members leaving the meeting and a carload of African Americans. Two men were killed: Elza Rucker, a white man who lived in Lexington but was a Berea native, and African American Lenoa John Boggs from Berea. One man was injured when he was struck by a state police car rushing to the scene, and a number of others were injured from shotgun blasts. The Berea Police Department was assisted by state troopers in bringing the situation under control. Fourteen men who were involved in the shootings were arrested for murder. For more see "Headline: Racial Violence / Reaction / Kentucky," CBS Evening News (archives), 09/04/1968, record #199944; "2 Die in Kentucky in Racial battle," New York Times, 01/02/1968, p. 13; S. Connelly, "Racial Shooting in Berea on 1 Sep 1968," 05/25/05, Berea Encyclopedia [blog]; and articles in the Berea Citizen newspaper beginning 09/1968.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Berea, Madison County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Railroad Strike and Riot (Somerset, KY)
Start Year : 1911
In March of 1911, a riot occurred in Somerset, KY, when Negro strikebreakers were hired to replace the striking white railroad firemen. Railroad service between Somerset, KY, and Chattanooga, TN, came to a stand still. Days later, negotiations between the white firemen and the Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railroad had allowed the lines to open somewhat, but the embargo continued on the Cincinnati line between Oakdale, TN, and Somerset, KY. According to the railroad company, it was reported in the New York Times that an agreement was made in July 1910 between the railroads and the white firemen; one of the three lines between Nashville and Oakland would employ only Negro firemen who would not be promoted to engineers. On March 9, 1911, white firemen on the various lines went on strike after the railroad company refused to honor their demand for all Negro firemen to be fired within 90 days. When the white firemen went on strike, the railroad company brought in Negro strikebreakers. It was reported in the Mount Vernon Signal that eight Negro firemen were killed on the Queen & Crescent line, which was a division of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad. Sympathizers of the white firemen had held up three freight trains of the Queen and Crescent Railroad in King's Mountain, KY. Two deputy sheriffs were shot and killed while guarding the Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific coal chutes in Stearns, KY. After locomotive cab windows were shot out of trains passing through Somerset, KY, the railroad company covered the windows with steel plates. A Pulaski County circuit judge ordered that 500 deputies be sworn in to help bring a halt to the attacks. For more see "American railway strike riot," The Financial Times, 03/14/1911, p.8; "Railroad strike still on, New York Times, 03/19/1911, p.16; "Two deputies slain in railroad strike," New York Times, 03/14/1911; "Call 500 deputies for strike duty," The Free Lance, 03/18/1911, p.4; and "Ten men are reported to have been killed...," Mount Vernon Signal, 03/17,1911, p.3.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Railroad, Railway, Trains
Geographic Region: Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky / King's Mountain, Lincoln County, Kentucky / Stearns, McCreary County, Kentucky / Oakdale, Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee / Cincinnati, Ohio

Rioting at the Dix River Dam Project Site
Start Year : 1924
On November 1924, the Kentucky National Guard's Troop A-54 Machine Gun Squadron arrived at the Dix Dam hydroelectric project site to defuse a situation in the employee camps. White workers and farmers on one side were pitted against African American workers on the other side. The camps were located in Mercer County, KY, and the clash between the two stemmed from the murder of a white employee, 21 year old newlywed Edward Winkle. About 300-500 of the 700 African American employees had been driven from their camp partially dressed, some without shoes. The men were being driven to the Burgin railroad depot by armed white men when Marshal J. T. Royalty and Sheriff Walter Kennedy, of Mercer County, took control of the situation. Suffering from exposure, the African American men returned to their camp escorted by one unit of the National Guard, and at the request of the construction contractors another unit remained on guard at the dam. African Americans John Chance and John Williams were arrested for the murder of Winkle. Work on the dam began in 1923 and was completed in 1927. The dam was the largest rock-filled dam in the world. It is still in use today. For more, see "White man killed, Negroes menaced: Kentucky mob threatened workers after slaying of laborer on electric dam," New York Times, 11/11/1924, p. 25; and the newspaper article in the Fresno Bee, 11/10/1924. For more about the dam see the Herrington Lake Conservation League website.

See 1930 photo image of Dix River Dam at University of Louisville Libraries, Herald-Post, Digital Collections.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Railroad, Railway, Trains
Geographic Region: Mercer County, Kentucky / Dix Dam, Mercer and Garrard County, Kentucky / Burgin, Boyle County, Kentucky

Rioting in Louisville, KY (1968)
Start Year : 1968
In the 1960s, racial tension had been growing in Louisville. On May 27, 1968, a rally took place at 28th and Greenwood to protest the arrest of Charles Thomas and Manfred G. Reid. Earlier that month, on May 8, Patrolmen James B. Minton and Edward J. Wegenast had stopped Thomas, a schoolteacher, because he was driving a car that was similar to one used in a burglary. The stop was made in an African American neighborhood. A crowd began to gather, and Patrolmen Michael A. Clifford and Ralph J. Zehnder arrived as backup. Reid, a real estate broker, was nearby and questioned the arrest. Patrolmen Clifford ordered Reid and others to get back; he was poking Reid in the chest with his finger. A scuffle occurred between Clifford and Reid. A crowd of 200 or so African Americans gathered and began yelling at the officers. Reid and Thomas were arrested. Three weeks later, a rally was called in response to the arrests; 350-400 people attended. There were several speakers, and a rumor circulated that Stokely Carmichael would be speaking. At the end of the rally a confrontation occurred between some who had attended the rally and the police who were patrolling the intersection of 28th and Greenwood. The skirmish escalated, growing into a full-fledged riot in the West End, lasting for almost a week. Six units of the national guard, over 2,000 guardsmen, were ordered to Louisville. Looting and shooting occurred, buildings were burned, two teens were killed, and 472 people were arrested. For more see K. H. Williams, "'Oh Baby... It's Really Happening:' The Louisville Race Riot of 1968," Kentucky History Journal, vol. 3 (1988), pp. 48-64; "Troops and Negroes Clash in Louisville Disorder," New York Times, 05/29/1968, p. 17; and the many articles in the Louisville Times, Courier-Journal and other local papers beginning May 28, 1968.

See photo image from rioting in Louisville, KY in 1968, at KET Living the Story website.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Realtors, Real Estate Brokers, Real Estate Investments
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Slave Revolt Scare (Lexington, KY)
Start Year : 1810
The fear of a slave revolt was such a terrifying thought that a number of slaves were arrested and jailed in 1810 in response to a supposed slave revolt plot. Rumors of slave uprisings were constantly circulated. In response, in 1811 the Kentucky Legislature made insurrection or a conspiracy to start an insurrection by [free] Negroes or slaves punishable by death. For more see The Antislavery Movement in Kentucky, by L. H. Harrison; p. 59 of Acts passed at the...Session of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, First Session, December 1810, by Commonwealth of Kentucky [available full-text at Google Book Search]; and J. E. K. Walker, "The Legal status of free Blacks in early Kentucky, 1792-1825," Filson Club History Quarterly, vol. 57, issue 4 (1983), pp. 382-395.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Slave Riot Scare (Harlan County, KY)
Start Year : 1842
In September 1842, David Todd and William S. Westervelt, both white students from Oberlin College, were on trial in Harlan County, KY, charged with attempting to incite a slave revolt. David Todd was the son of Captain James Todd, who was against slavery and was known for successfully leading the 2nd Regiment's 1st Brigade of the Pennsylvania Militia during the War of 1812. The charges against David and William stemmed from the facts that they were white men in Kentucky without a good enough reason for being there; they were seen talking to slaves in a friendly manner; and they had come from Ohio and were students at Oberlin College, where a large number of abolitionists resided. The circumstantial evidence was supposedly the sign that led to the discovery of a planned slave insurrection that alarmed the county. For more see John Todd and the Underground Railroad, by J. P. Morgans.
Subjects: Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Harlan County, Kentucky

South Union, KY - Shakers, Slaves, and Freemen
Start Year : 1807
South Union, located in Auburn, KY, was the southernmost Shaker Community during the War of 1812. It was founded in 1807 and closed in 1922. The community was known as Gasper River until 1813 when it was renamed South Union. According to the thesis of Ryan L. Fletcher, in 1812, Willie Jones, from Halifax, NC, wanted to bring 107 of his slaves to South Union to receive the gospel. There were already slaves at South Union who belonged to Shaker Believers. It had not been easy to convert the slaves into Believers. They were referred to as the Black Family and were segregated from the remaining members. The thought of adding Willie Jones' slaves was not immediately embraced. It was decided that Jones' slaves would either willingly convert to Shakers and move to South Union, or they would remain slaves in North Carolina. Either way, they would still be slaves. Four of the slaves converted and the remainder were sold with none of the profits going to the South Union Shakers; they refused to have anything to do with the money. Willie Jones and his four slaves joined South Union, until Jones was accused of being a backslider and he left, taking his four slaves with him. Jones' downfall was attributed to slavery and the inequality that came with it. Shaker Believers supposedly followed a doctrine of egalitarianism, and slavery was causing disunion in South Union. In 1817, there was a protest referred to as a Shaker slave revolt. The revolt was nonviolent, it was led by African American Elder Neptune. The slaves wanted their freedom and equality, as was professed in the Shaker gospel. They began leaving South Union and re-establishing themselves in Bowling Green, KY. Elder Neptune soon joined them. Owners attempted to regain their slaves without legal or violent means, it was the Shaker way. Elder Neptune returned to South Union and in 1819, the ministry advised slave owners to emancipate their slaves. By the 1830s, all slaves at South Union had been emancipated. Many of the former slaves, including Elder Neptune, left the community and were captured and sold back into slavery; their emancipation in South Union was not recognized beyond the community. For more see "Does God See This?" Shakers, Slavery and the South by R. L. Fletcher (thesis); By Their Fruits by J. Neal; Shaker Papers, Shakers 1769-1893; and visit Shaker Museum at South Union.
Subjects: Early Settlers, Freedom, Religion & Church Work, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: South Union, Auburn, Logan County, Kentucky / Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky

St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church (Cynthiana, KY)
Start Year : 1852
According to an article by Marilyn Wash in the Harrison Heritage News, the St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church was already established when the first house of worship was built in 1852 on Pleasant Street in Cynthiana, KY. In 1854, abolitionist Minister R. A. Graham from Ohio spoke to the congregation of free persons and slaves during an evening service. Graham was accused of keeping the slaves out too late with his talk of escape and finding freedom in Ohio. The following day, Graham was ordered out of Kentucky. He refused to leave until his tractor was sold; the tractor was the initial reason given for his visit to Cynthiana. When Graham attempted to ride a horse over into the next county (Bourbon County) he was attacked by a mob of slaveholders and chased through the streets until he was finally placed in the Harrison County jail for his own protection. The following day, he was to be escorted to the train station for his exit from Kentucky. A few members of the mob got to Graham while he was in jail and blackened his face with lunar caustic. After Graham's departure, services at the African Methodist Church continued. One of the early pastors was Rev. Levi Evans, who led the building of the present St. James AME Church structure beginning in 1872. Evans, a leader in the AME Church, was a free man (not a slave) who had been a trustee of the Fourth Street Colored Methodist Church in Louisville, KY, in the 1840s. He also dug the first shovels of dirt for the foundation of Quinn Chapel in Louisville. Evans was at St. James for a brief period and continued the work that had begun when the first pastor arrived around 1865. The St. James AME Church is one of the oldest African American Churches in Harrison County. For more see M. Wash, "St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) - 153 years in Cynthiana," Harrison Heritage News, vol. 6, issue 2, February 2005; the Black Methodist Churches section of "African-American life in Cynthiana - 1870-1940," Harrison Heritage News, vol. 5, issue 2, February 2004; History of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, by W. H. Gibson; and "Slaveholders mob," Frederick Douglass' Paper, 09/15/1854, p.3.
Subjects: Kentucky African American Churches, Religion & Church Work, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Cynthiana, Harrison County, Kentucky

Streetcar Demonstrations (Louisville, KY) [R. Fox v. The Central Passenger Railroad Company]
Start Year : 1870
The streetcar companies in Louisville, KY, had discriminating policies toward African Americans and in 1870 it led to a protest movement. Horace Pearce and the brothers, Robert and Samuel Fox, boarded a Central Passenger streetcar at Tenth and Walnut Streets, they deposited their fares and sat down. They were told to leave, but refused. Other streetcar drivers were called to the scene, and the Fox brothers and Pearce were kicked and knocked about, then thrown off the streetcar. Outside, a crowd of African Americans hurled mud clods and rocks at the car and encouraged the men to reboard because they had a federal right to ride the streetcars. When the police arrived, the three men were taken off the car, put in jail, and charged with disorderly conduct. Reverend H. J. Young posted their bail. At their hearing, no African Americans was allowed to testify, and each of the three men was fined $5. A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court: R. Fox v. The Central Passenger Railroad Company. At the trial, the jury decided in favor of the three men and they were each awarded $15 for damages. In spite of the decision, as more African Americans tried to board the streetcars, they were thrown off, leading to more protests and near riots. Louisville Mayor John G. Baxter called a meeting and it was decided by the streetcar companies that all persons would be allowed to ride any of the routes. For more see M. M. Noris, "An early instance of nonviolence: the Louisville demonstrations of 1870-1871," The Journal of Southern History, vol.32, issue 4, (Nov., 1966), pp. 487-504.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Railroad, Railway, Trains, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Thompson, Marie
Death Year : 1904
Thompson lived in Shepherdsville, KY. In 1904, she killed her landlord, John Irvin, after he berated and kicked her son and attacked her with a knife. Thompson was a large woman who got the best of Irvin and cut his throat with his knife. She was arrested and jailed. A lynch mob of a dozen white men made a first attempt to take her from the jail cell. Their efforts were thwarted by a group of armed African American men; a shootout occurred and both parties retreated from the scene. Hours later, a much larger mob of white men succeeded in taking Thompson from the jailhouse; they then attempted to hang her, but while Thompson was swinging in the air, she grabbed a man by the collar and took a knife from him. She cut the length of rope that led to the noose around her neck and landed on the ground. Thompson was fighting her way through the mob when she was gunned down - June 14, 1904. More than 100 shots were fired at her. Marie Thompson died the next day in the Shepherdsville jail. For more see From Slavery to Freedom: a history of African Americans, 8th ed., by J. H. Franklin and A. A. Moss; and Ladies and Lynching: the gendered discourse of mob violence in the new South, 1880-1930, by C. E. Feimster (dissertation).
Subjects: Lynchings, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Shepherdsville, Bullitt County, Kentucky

WACs' Protest at Camp Breckinridge, KY
Start Year : 1943
In 1943, six African American members of the Women's Army Corps (WACs) resigned from the Army after their unit staged a protest over job assignments. The unit was under the command of 1st Lieutenant Myrtle Anderson and 2nd Lieutenant Margaret E. B. Jones. They were the first group of African American women enlistees to be stationed in Kentucky. They were a division of the first Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) that had been established at Fort Des Moines, Iowa in 1942; a total of 118 African American women were trained at the location. In 1943, the WAACs were being transitioned over to the WACs. The unit transferred to Kentucky had been trained to become supply clerks, but once stationed at Camp Breckinridge, they were assigned tasks such as stacking beds and scrubbing the floors of the warehouses and latrines. The women protested, and Anderson and Jones complained to their superior officer Colonel Kelly, but nothing was done. There was also the complaint that white soldiers had entered the women's barracks at night and officers had to protect them. As the tension continued to increase, the last straw came when the women were told to wash the walls of the laundry; the women went on strike. After five days, the Army responded by allowing the women to leave the service without honor. Those who resigned were Beatrice Brashear, Gladys Morton, Margaret Coleman, Mae E. Nicholas, and Viola Bessups, all from New York, and Ruth M. Jones from New Jersey. The Army's official response was that the "girls" had not been given a proper assignment and there was a disturbance. The Camp Breckinridge Public Relations Office acknowledged the resignations but had no additional comments. For more see "6 WACs Resign: WAC clerks decline to scrub floors," Philadelphia Afro American, 07/10/1943, pp. 1 & 15. For more about Camp Breckinridge, see the Camp Breckinridge entry in the Kentucky Encyclopedia, and History of Camp Breckinridge, by P. Heady.

By the final months of 1943, African American WACs were performing mail clerk duties at Camp Breckinridge, KY, as seen in photo image of Pfc. Ruby O'Brien from Beaumont, TX; Pvt. Millie Holloway from Louisville, KY; and others in photo dated November 30, 1943. Photo at NYPL Digital Gallery from U.S. Office of War Information.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Military & Veterans, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Camp Breckinridge [or Fort Breckinridge], Henderson, Webster, and Union Counties, Kentucky (no longer exists) / Fort Des Moines [Fort Des Moines Museum], Des Moines, Iowa

 

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