From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Hillman, John W.

(born: July 26, 1848  -  died: December 22, 1911) 

John W. Hillman was born in Trigg County, KY, the son of Dan Hillman. His mother is listed as "unknown" on his Kentucky Death Certificate in Ancestry. John W. Hillman had come to Covington, KY sometime after slavery ended. He was there as early as 1870 when he got married. In Covington, Hillman worked at several hotels as a waiter and steward, then later became custodian of the City Building of Covington. Or, as author W. D. Johnson characterized it, Hillman was considered the first African American hired as a city official (employee). He is listed as a janitor in the 1880 U.S. Census.

John W. Hillman was an active member of several organizations and he was involved in the community. In 1883, he was an alternate to the State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Louisville, KY. The meeting was held to select delegates to attend the national convention. In 1886, he was an elected member of the National Grand Lodge of the U.B.F. and S.M.T. (United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten). Hillman served as the organization's Treasurer of Mutual Aid. In 1890, he was a member and grand treasurer of the Grand Lodge F.A.A.Y.M. Colored Masons (Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons). In 1899, John W. Hillman was an officer with the Grand Commandery of the Colored Knights Templar. In 1908, he was one of the incorporators of the newly established United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, Kenton County (KY). The other incorporators were W. A. Gaines and Dr. A. D. Kelly.    

John W. Hillman was the husband of Ellen W. Putney, born in 1850 in Virginia. The couple was married in the First Presbyterian Church in Covington, KY, on April 14, 1870. In 1880, the family lived on Pike Street in Covington, according to the U. S. Federal Census. In 1910, John Hillman was a janitor in a bank, and his son Fred was a filing clerk at the bank. The following year, John W. Hillman died. He is buried in the Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, KY.

For more see Biographical Sketches of Prominent Negro Men and Women of Kentucky, by W. D. Johnson; John W. Hillman, Kentucky Death Certificate File #31859, Registered #1059 (Ancestry); "The Grand Commandery of the Colored Knights Templar ...," The Evening Bulletin, 07/18/1899, p.3; "New Kentucky Corporations," The Lexington Herald, 05/27/1908, p.8; "U.B.F. and S.M.: a Colored organization with a membership of 100,000 elects officers," The Courier-Journal, 07/25/1886; "Colored Citizens," The Courier-Journal, 09/05/1883, p.t; and see John W. Williams and Ellen W. Putney on p.110 of Covington, Ky. First Presbyterian Church Session Register, 1841-1870, v. 2 at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, PA - Accession Number: VAULT BX 9211 .K41011 F52 v.2 (Ancestry); "The Grand Lodge F.A.A.Y.M. colored Masons ...," The Semi-weekly Kentucky Advocate, 07/11/1890, p.3; 

* Daniel Hillman was a wealthy slave owner in Trigg County, KY. He made his fortune in smelting furnaces, he was an ironmaster. He is listed in the 1850 Slave Schedule with 155 slaves. All of his slaves labored in his furnace businesses. See Daniel Hillman at the History of Trigg County website.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Trigg County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Kenton County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Covington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fort Mitchell, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Hillman, John W.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-07-29 14:39:40