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<Free African American Slave Owners>

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African American Slave Owners in Kentucky
Start Year : 1830
In 1924 the Research Department of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History completed a study of the free Negro slave owners found in the 1830 U. S. Federal Census. The study found that there were 3,777 Negro slave owners in the United States. Negro slave owners were listed in 29 Kentucky counties (see below). Ownership may have meant the purchase of a spouse, an individual's children, or other relatives who were not emancipated. Ownership was also an investment: purchased children and adults may or may not have been given the opportunity to work off their purchase price in exchange for their freedom. A History of World Societies documents a total of 6,000 Negro slave owners in the U.S. for the year 1840 [p. 846]. The 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules do not identify slave owners by race; the individual names of slave owners must be searched in the U.S. Federal Census to identify the individual's race. For more see the Research Department's article, "Free Negro owners of slaves in the United States in 1830," The Journal of Negro History, vol. 9, no. 1 (Jan., 1924), pp. 41-85; A History of World Societies, by J. P. McKay, et al. [2006]; and A History of Blacks in Kentucky, by M. B. Lucas.

Kentucky Counties with Negro Slave Owners in 1830
[book source: Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the United States in 1830 compiled and edited by C. G. Woodson, pp.4-6]
 

  1. Adair County (1) - Swaney Burbridge
  2. Barren County (1) - Leander Force
  3. Bourbon County (9) - Peter Allen, Sally Wallace, Isaac Jones, James Monday, Peter Grant, Gabriel, Allen Heathman, Edmon Hurley, Stephen Brooks
  4. Bracken County (1) - Lethia Thomas
  5. Bullitt County, [Mt. Washington] (2) - Isaac Ellison, Bash Oldridge
  6. Christian County, [Hopkinsville] (1) - Michael Cocke
  7. Clark County (2) - John Dudley, George Birth
  8. Fayette County (13), [Lexington] (15) - Nancy Scott, Peter Whiting, Robert Gray, Charlotte Lewis, Richard Bird, William Tucker, Jesse Smith, Nathan Keifer, Benjamin Tibbs, Jane Brittain, Hannah Travis, Wittshire Brackenridge, Harvey Phillips, Frank Lee, Nicholas Black -- Peter Davis, Adam B. Martin, Isaac Howard, William Burk, Benjamin Caulden, Peter Francess, Ben Williams, Anaka Shores, Jer'y Allen, Alexander Allen, Samuel Dunlap, Rhody Clark, Robert Smith
  9. Fleming County (1) - Jacob Truett
  10. Franklin County, [Frankfort] (6) - Harry Mordecai, David Jones, John Ward, Burrel Chiles, John S. Goin, Samuel Brown
  11. Graves County (1) - Alias Keeling
  12. Green County (1) - Thomas Malone
  13. Harrison County (1) - Benjamin Berton
  14. Henderson County (1) - Liverpool Pointer
  15. Jefferson County (1), [Louisville] (5) - J. T. Gray -- Betty Cozzens, David Straws, Frank Merriwether, Daniel Brigadier, Sally
  16. Jessamine County (3) - Judith Higenbothan, Anthony of colour, William a man of color
  17. Knox County (1) - Isaiah Goins
  18. Logan County, [Russellville] (5) - Nicholas Valentine, Robert Buckner, Edward Jones, Isham Husketh, William Barber
  19. Madison County (1) - George White
  20. Mason County (9), [Washington] (3) - Thomas F. Bowles, John Glasford, Edward Cooper, H. Markham, Roseann Wann, Charles More, Ann Baylor, Edmond Toliver, Acam Diggs -- Peggy Miles, John Lightfoot, Isaac Johnson
  21. Mercer County (9) - Anderson Harris, Ben Harris, Spencer Easton, Fielding Melvin, Jemima Fry, Hercules Jenkins, George Warman, Adam Beaty, Sanko Robinson
  22. Montgomery County (1) - Richard Lee
  23. Nelson County, [Bardstown] (4) - Thomas Smiley, Joe Cocke, Thomas Rudd, George Aud
  24. Nicholas County (1) - George Mallery
  25. Rockcastle County (1) - David Cable
  26. Shelby County (1), [Shelbyville] (3) - John Edwards -- Peter Short, Hannah Harris, Jim Henson
  27. Warren County (2) - Jane Palmore, Bazzle Russell
  28. Washington County, [Springfield] (2) - Robert C. Palmer, Ignatius Sandy
  29. Woodford County (13) - Joe Miller, Lawrence Corbin, Betty Tutt, Billy Campbell, Henry Mason, Tom Stratford, Ambrose Hardy, Richard Harvey, Samuel Cloak, Nathan Twiner, Joel Hawkins, Moses Weaver, Jordan Ritchie

Subjects: Free African American Slave Owners, Slave Owners, Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes in Kentucky, 1850-1870 [by county A-C], Slave Owners, Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes in Kentucky, 1850-1870 [by county D-J], Slave Owners, Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes in Kentucky, 1850-1870 [by county K-M], Slave Owners, Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes in Kentucky, 1850-1870 [by county N-Z]
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Brent, George
Birth Year : 1821
George Brent was born near Greensburg, KY; he and his parents were slaves owned by Louis C. Patterson. Brent's father gained his freedom and moved to Lexington, KY, where he secured a note for the purchase of his son. George Brent then moved to Lexington, was employed as a blacksmith and became a freeman when he paid off the note of $1,200 at the end of three years. A year prior to his freedom, George Brent married Mildred Smith, a free born woman from Campbellsville, KY. In 1837, the Brent family moved to Illinois, eventually settling in Springfield at 1417 East Adams Street. Springfield had become the capital of Illinois in 1837 thanks to the efforts of Abraham Lincoln and several others. The Brent family was among the first African Americans to settle in Sangamon County. George Brent became an ordained minister in 1864 and the following year was pastor of the Zion Baptist Church in Springfield. The church was formerly known as the Colored Baptist Church, that was started in 1838 [more information at the Zion Missionary Baptist Church website]. The first church building was constructed under the directorship of Rev. George Brent. He and three others made the bricks from which the church was built; Rev. Brent and the three men were owners of the brick yard. Rev. Brent was pastor of the Zion Baptist Church until 1887. George and Mildred Brent had four children in 1870, according to the U.S. Federal Census, February of that year, two of the children were killed when they were struck by lightning [see George Brent at Find A Grave]. For more see History of Sangamon County, Illinois; together with sketches of its cities by Inter-State Publishing Company (Chicago) [full-text available at Google Book Search]; and contact the Springfield, Illinois, African American History Foundation.

*The last name is spelled as Brents and Brentz in the census records.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Religion & Church Work, Blacksmiths, 1st African American Families in Town, Free African American Slave Owners, Killed by Lightning
Geographic Region: Greensburg, Green County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Campbellsville, Taylor County, Kentucky / Springfield, Illinois

Meachum, John Berry "J. B."
Birth Year : 1789
Death Year : 1854
John Berry Meachum was a slave born in Kentucky who later lived in Virginia. He was hired out and eventually purchased his freedom and that of his father, who was a Baptist preacher. Meachum and his father moved to St. Louis, MO, leaving Meachum's wife and children enslaved in Virginia. For the next eight years, Meachum worked as a cooper and carpenter, saving enough money to purchase his family in 1824. (In some sources, Meachum and his wife, Mary, a slave from Kentucky, are said to have gone to Missouri together.) Two years later, Meachum was ordained a minister and became pastor of the First African Baptist Church, a position he held until his death in 1854. He had helped found the church, which eventually grew to have more than 500 members. Meachum also owned slaves; he had more than 20 slaves, most of them children who worked to purchase their freedom. Meachum was considered a leader among the freemen and slaves; during his time, he was the most outspoken advocate in Missouri for the education of African Americans. Meachum's church was one of five in St. Louis that offered education under the guise of Sunday School. Each Sunday, more than 100 freemen and slaves (with permission) attended classes in the dark basement of Mechum's church. White sympathizers helped teach the classes and provided supplies for the school. One of the students was James Milton Turner (see the Hannah Turner entry). In 1847, although the abolitionist movement was gaining strength in Missouri, it became illegal for African Americans to receive educational instruction or to attend school. It was also illegal for African Americans to lead church services unless a white officer were present. Meachum's school was soon closed. The school was reopened on a steamboat in the Mississippi River; the boat was built by Meachum. For more see The Baptists in America (1836), by F. A. Cox and J. Hoby [available full-text at Google Book Search]; D. D. Bellamy, "The Education of Blacks in Missouri prior to 1861," The Journal of Negro History, vol. 59, issue 2 (Apr., 1974), pp. 143-157; and D. L. Durst, "The Reverend John Berry Meachum (1789-1854) of St. Louis," The North Star: a Journal of African American Religious History, vol. 7, issue 2 (Spring 2004), pp. 1-24 [pdf].

See the image and additional information about John Berry Meachum at the First Baptist Church of St. Louis website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Freedom, Migration West, Religion & Church Work, Carpenters, Sunday School, Free African American Slave Owners
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Virginia / Saint Louis, Missouri

Spencer, Moses
Death Year : 1877
Spencer was listed as a free person in William's Lexington [Kentucky] Directory, City Guide, and Business Mirror, Volume I, 1859-60, compiled by C. S. Williams, Lexington, [Kentucky]: Hitchcock & Searles, 1859. At one time, he was Lexington's most successful African American businessman. Spencer was a secondhand furniture dealer whose business was located on Main Street. He owned a slave. After the Civil War, he sold the furniture business and opened a new store on Short and Market Streets. For more see Lexington, Heart of the Bluegrass, by J. D. Wright.
Subjects: Businesses, Freedom, Free African American Slave Owners
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Tevis, Elizabeth C. H.
Birth Year : 1802
Death Year : 1880
Tevis was born a slave in Jefferson County, KY. She was freed from slavery in 1833 and inherited land. She married but had a prenuptial agreement to protect the ownership of her property. Tevis was one of the few African Americans to own slaves in Jefferson County; she hired out children acquired from the slave market. Tevis was the first resident in the community known as Petersburg in Jefferson County. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber.
Subjects: Businesses, Freedom, Inheritance, Free African American Slave Owners
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Wallace, Count X.
Birth Year : 1815
Death Year : 1880
Wallace, a barber and musician, played the violin at parties and other gatherings. He was born in Kentucky and was a freeman living in Fayette, Mississippi, according to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census. Judge Frank A. Montgomery recorded his meeting with Wallace in his book Reminiscences of a Mississippian in Peace and War, published in 1901 [available full-text at Google Book Search]. Wallace had been in Port Hudson, LA, when the Union Army seized the area in 1863 and gained control of the Mississippi River. The forces included two regiments of Colored soldiers, the 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guard. Wallace was a servant to the Union officers, and when the soldiers were to leave, they had planned to take Wallace with them, but Wallace requested and received a parole from his servant duties. He had shown the parole certificate to Judge Montgomery. In his civilian life, Wallace had been fairly well off, with $2,000 in personal property; he was also a slave-owner. He is listed in the 1860 Slave Schedule as owning a 35 year old female; Wallace was one of 28 slave owners in Fayette, MS. When he died in 1880, his property went to his 30 year old wife, Nelly [or Nellie], and their five children: Edgar, Gaitwood, Floyde, Mary, and Stanton.
Subjects: Barbers, Freedom, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South, Free African American Slave Owners
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Fayette, Mississippi

 

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