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

Harlan County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870

Harlan County, in southeastern Kentucky, is bordered by the state of Virginia and four Kentucky counties. It was formed in 1819 from a portion of Knox County and named for Silas Harlan, who died during the Battle of Blue Licks.

The county seat, also called Harlan, was incorporated in 1876. The county population was 309 [heads of households] in 1820, according to the U.S. Federal Census; it increased to 5,367 by 1860, excluding the enslaved. Below are the number of slave owners, enslaved, and free Blacks and Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule

  • 29 slave owners
  • 71 Black slaves
  • 52 Mulatto slaves
  • 3 free Blacks [last name Bailey]
  • 34 free Mulattoes [most with last names Smith or Sturgeon]

1860 Slave Schedule

  • 0 slave owners
  • 0 Black slaves
  • 0 Mulatto slaves
  • 1 free Black [Elizabeth Coffman]
  • 12 free Mulattoes [most with last name Bailey; other last names included Beaty, Coffman, and Glasgow]

1870 U.S. Federal Census

  • 67 Blacks
  • 33 Mulattoes
  • About 6 U.S. Colored Troops listed Harlan County as their birth location.

For more see the Harlan County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; History Records of Harlan County, Kentucky Peopleby A. W. Burns; Harlan County, Kentucky, by E. Middleton; and Those Were the Daysby J. Renfro, C. Warren, and T. Garland. 

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Harlan County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Harlan, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Kentucky encyclopedia
NKAA Source: History records of Harlan County Kentucky people
NKAA Source: Harlan County, Kentucky
NKAA Source: Those were the days

Related Entries Citing this Entry


Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Harlan County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 19, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-08-25 17:51:56