Return to search page.
Anderson, Robert B.
Birth Year : 1843
Death Year : 1930
Anderson was born in Green County, KY. His mother and siblings were the property of Colonel Robert Ball, and his father was the property of Alfred Anderson. When he was six, Anderson's mother had a dispute with the mistress and was sold for field work in Louisiana. Robert never saw his mother again. In 1864, Anderson ran away to Lebanon, KY, where he joined the Army. He served in the west and received an honorable discharge, whereupon he returned to Kentucky but eventually moved out west, in 1870 settling in Nebraska. As a farmer, he had both years of prosperity and years of poverty until he finally found security with a farm of 1,120 acres that grew to be 2,000 acres. Anderson married in 1922 at the age of 79; his wife was 21. His wife's family soon moved in and his wife took over his affairs, which resulted in the land being heavily mortgaged. It was around that time, in 1927, that Anderson had his book published by the Hemingford Ledger: From slavery to affluence; memoirs of Robert Anderson, ex-slave. In 1930, he deeded all of his property to his wife. Robert Anderson died after the car he was riding in overturned; his wife, her brother and a friend survived. Ball's wife, Daisy Anderson, who passed away in 1998, had been one of the three surviving Civil War widows in the U.S. For more see D. D. Wax, "Robert Ball Anderson, ex-slave, a pioneer in Western Nebraska, 1884-1930," Nebraska History, vol. 64, issue 2 (1983), pp. 163-192.
Listen to the oral history and read the transcript of Daisy Anderson and Alberta Martin, two of the last living Civil War widows, at radiodairies.org.
Subjects: Agriculturalists, Produce, Authors, Freedom, Migration West, Military & Veterans
Geographic Region: Green County, Kentucky / Lebanon, Marion County, Kentucky / Box Butt County, Nebraska
Aunt Lou's Underground Railroad Tomato
The following information comes from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange website and from the unpublished book manuscript on gardening by retired UK Librarian Kate Black. "[Heirloom carried through the Underground Railroad by an unnamed black man as he crossed to freedom in Ripley, OH, from KY. Seeds were passed on to Aunt Lou, who passed them on to her great nephew, and eventually on to heirloom tomato enthusiast Gary Millwood.]" Kate Black interviewed Gary Millwood prior to his death in May of 2013. It was during their conversation that Milwood introduced her to Aunt Lou's Underground Railroad Tomato, a dark pink fruit that he found in Ohio. For more see Aunt Lou's Underground Railroad Tomato, a Tatiana's Tomatobase website.
See video "Saving Tomato Seeds - Aunt Lou's Underground Railroad" on YouTube.
Subjects: Agriculturalists, Produce
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Ohio
Burnette, Atlas Crawford
Birth Year : 1885
Death Year : 1960
A. C. Burnette, born in North Carolina, was the first African American employed by the University of Kentucky Agricultural Extension Service, where he began work in 1919 and retired in 1944. He was in charge of Negro extension work in Kentucky. Burnette was a 1903 graduate of North Carolina A&M College [now North Carolina State University] and taught at the school for a few years after his graduation. Burnette had several other jobs before he arrived in Kentucky just prior to the building of Lincoln Institute. He helped clear the fields for the construction of the school, and once the school was in operation, he taught agriculture for six years. He left the state for a brief period, then returned to head the Kentucky State College Agricultural Department [now Kentucky State University] for three and a half years before becoming an agent with the UK Agricultural Extension Service in 1919. He was hired by Dean Thomas P. Cooper. Burnette had an assistant in Madison County. Among his many responsibilities, Burnette assisted with the development of 4-H for Negro youth, which grew to have more than 5,000 members. He organized the Negro Club in Madison County, KY. Also during his tenure, the number of meat cattle owned by Negro farmers more than tripled and food crop production doubled. After his retirement, Burnette was replaced by John Finch. In 1947, A. C. Burnette Day was held in Hopkinsville, KY. In 1952, there were three African American agricultural agents and six home demonstration agents, all serving 32 counties. In those counties with few Negro farmers, all farmers were served by the white county agent. According to A. C. Burnette's WWI Draft Registration Card submitted to the Local Board of Franklin County, KY, and dated September 12, 1918, he was born February 28, 1885 and was the husband of Florence Bradley Burnette. A. C. Burnette died October 7, 1960 and is buried in the Cove Haven Cemetery in Lexington, KY. For more see J. T. Vaughn, "Farm agent fears work cut life span from 100 to 80," Lexington Leader, 06/16/1952, p. 8. See also The College of Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Kentucky, by J. A. Smith; and the Thomas Poe Cooper Papers at the University of Kentucky's Special Collections Library.
Subjects: Agriculturalists, Produce, Education and Educators, Migration West
Geographic Region: North Carolina / Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky
Groves, Junius G.
Birth Year : 1859
Death Year : 1925
Junius Groves was born a slave in Green County, KY, or Louisville, KY. He walked to Kansas City in 1897, where he worked for 40 cents per day. Groves was able to save enough money to purchase a nine acre farm in Edwardsville, KS, which enabled him to later purchase a 500 acre produce farm there. At one time he produced more potatoes than any other farmer in the world, the harvest so large that a private railroad track was built on his land by Union Pacific Railway for shipping the produce. Groves was known as the "Potato King of the World." He also founded the community of Groves Center, KS, in 1913. For more see Junius K. Graves (sic) in The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; and the Junius G. Groves entry on the Kansapedia website, by the Kansas State Historical Society.
Subjects: Agriculturalists, Produce, Businesses, Migration West, Railroad, Railway, Trains
Geographic Region: Green County or Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Kansas City and Edwardsville, Kansas
Birth Year : 1955
Merion Haskins was born in Campbellsville, KY. The 6'4" forward played high school basketball at Taylor County High School; he ranks fifth among its all-time leading scorers with 1,761 points. Haskins played college ball for the University of Kentucky (UK) from 1973 to 1977, playing in a total of 86 games and scoring 134 points. Haskins and Larry Johnson were the second and third African American players recruited by UK's Coach Joe B. Hall; they were two of the earliest African American recruits to the UK basketball team. Haskins, a UK College of Agriculture graduate, did not play professional basketball; he was employed as a leaf procurement officer with Philip Morris USA. He is the brother of Clem Haskins. For more see Merion Haskins in "Gumm, Cards back in groove with 74-50 romp at Knox," Central Kentucky News Journal, 03/01/2004; Merion Haskins on the Big Blue History website; and R. Weckman, "What a difference a generation makes" in the UK College of Agriculture's the magazine, Spring 2000.
Subjects: Agriculturalists, Produce, Basketball
Geographic Region: Campbellsville, Taylor County, Kentucky
Hind experimented with plants and developed new farm crops; he was thought to be the first person to cultivate watermelons in Kentucky. Hinds Bend on the Kentucky River is named after him. Hind had been a slave at Boonesborough. For more see Kentucky's Black Heritage, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.
Subjects: Agriculturalists, Produce, Freedom
Geographic Region: Boonesborough, Madison County, Kentucky
Tobacco in Upper Canada
Start Year : 1819
Escaped slaves from Kentucky and Virginia had raised tobacco in their respective state and took those skills with them to Upper Canada in 1819. During the 1820s, the city of Amherstburg became the major location for tobacco farming, and the city attracted even more escaped slaves with experience raising the crop. "Six hundred hogs head [sic] of tobacco was exported to Montreal annually." The Canadian tobacco market was glutted by 1827, resulting in the dramatic deterioration of both the price and quality of the tobacco, so the economic tobacco boom came to an end. For more see p. 23 in Unwelcome Guests: Canada West's response to American fugitive slaves, 1800-1865, by J. H. Silverman.
Subjects: Agriculturalists, Produce, Freedom, Migration North
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Virginia / Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada
Willis, Frank R.
Birth Year : 1874
Willis, from Louisville, KY, raised poultry; his chickens won national and international awards, including the World's Champion Cockerel award at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1933. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; and Frank R. Willis in the following Crisis articles, "Industry," v.13, no.1, November 1916, p.29, and "Industry," v.19, no.2, December 1919, p.82..
Subjects: Agriculturalists, Produce
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois