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

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

Barren County, in southcentral Kentucky and  surrounded by six other Kentucky counties, was established in 1798 from parts of Warren and Green Counties. It was named for the meadowlands known as the barrens.

Many of the early white settlers were veterans of the Revolutionary War who had received land grants in Barren County as payment for their military services. The county had a large number of Scottish families, which was a major influence in the naming of the county seat Glasgow.

There was a total of 4,784 persons counted in Barren County in the Second Census of Kentucky 1800: 4,279 whites and 505 enslaved. In 1830 there was one African American slave holder in the county. By 1850, there was a population of 15,657, excluding the enslaved, according to the U.S. Federal Census.

Below are the figures for the slave holders, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes in the county from 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule

  • 944 slave owners
  • 3,921 Black slaves
  • 628 Mulatto slaves
  • 63 free Blacks
  • 1 free Colored [Turnedo Bass born in Mexico]
  • 49 free Mulattoes

1860 Slave Schedule

  • 729 slave owners
  • 3,649 Black slaves
  • 421 Mulatto slaves
  • 37 free Blacks
  • 10 free Mulattoes

1870 U.S. Federal Census

  • 3,152 Blacks
  • 375 Mulattoes
  • About 68 U.S. Colored Troops listed Barren County, KY as their birth location.

For more see the Barren County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Heart of the Barrens, by C. E. Goode; Barren County, Kentucky: African-American Male Marriage Index Book, by M. B. Gorin; Barren's Black Roots, by M. B. Gorin; and Ralph Bunche National Historic District - Oral History Project (FA 457), at Western Kentucky University, Manuscripts and Folklife Archives.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Barren County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Glasgow, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Barren County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 28, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-09-01 16:16:42