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

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

Livingston County, located in southwestern Kentucky, was created in 1798 from a portion of Christian County. It is bordered by the Kentucky River, the Tennessee River, Kentucky Lake, and Lake Barkley, and is adjacent to four counties.

The county is named for Robert R. Livingston, who helped draft the Declaration of Independence (but did not sign it), negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, and was a member of the Erie Canal Commission.

Eddyville was the first county seat of Livingston County in 1799, then Centerville became the county seat in 1804 and Salem in 1809. The present county seat, Smithland, named in honor of James Smith of Pennsylvania, was established in 1841.

The 1800 county population was 2,856, according to the Second Census of Kentucky: 2,396 whites, 456 enslaved, and four free coloreds. The 1860 population was 5,983, according to the U.S. Federal Census, and excluding the enslaved. Below are the numbers for the slave owners, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule

  • 231 slave owners
  • 981 Black slaves
  • 136 Mulatto slaves
  • 28 free Blacks
  • 31 free Mulattoes

1860 Slave Schedule

  • 261 slave owners
  • 999 Black slaves
  • 224 Mulatto slaves
  • 14 free Blacks
  • 13 free Mulattoes

1870 U.S. Federal Census

  • 600 Blacks
  • 396 Mulattoes
  • About 111 U.S. Colored Troops gave Livingston County, KY as their birth location.

For more see the Livingston County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by J. E. Kleber; Livingston County, Kentucky by Livingston County Historical and Genealogical Society; Schools. Kentucky, Cowper, C.A. et al. v. Livingston County Board of Education, 1941-42, Papers of the NAACP; and Marriage Bond Books (indexed), Livingston County Clerk. 

   See a 1936 photograph of the Colored School in Smithland, KY [Livingston County] at ExploreUK.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Livingston County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Eddyville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Centerville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Salem, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Smithland, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

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

Last modified: 2023-08-23 17:09:02