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

Pitman [or Pittman], Henry

(born: January 7, 1874  -  died: March 19, 1935) Henry Pitman was 11 years old when he became a student at the Deaf and Dumb School in Danville, KY in 1885. [The newspaper gave his age as 12.]  He was the first African American student from Frankfort, KY to attend the school that had been established in 1884 for children not able to hear or speak verbally. Henry was one of the early students in the segregated Colored Department. Miss Mary Brown had provided for him to attend the school. Henry's people had been enslaved by the Brown family during slavery. 

Henry was an older child of Edward and Elizabeth "Bettie" Scott Pitman. The family is enumerated in 1900 Census (Ancestry). They lived on St. Clair Street in Frankfort. Henry was employed as a house cleaner. Henry would leave Frankfort, and on September 6, 1906 he married Lula Whitehead in Indianapolis, IN [source: Indiana Marriage Index in Ancestry]. The couple continued living in Indianapolis, where Henry was employed as a janitor in the saw works industry, according to the 1910 U.S. Census. In Indiana, Henry's last name was spelled as "Pittman."

His name was also spelled as "Pittman" when the couple moved on to Chicago, IL around 1915. They had been there for 20 years when Henry died in 1935 [source: Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths Index in Ancestry]. He is buried in Lincoln Cemetery.

Henry Pittman had been employed as a janitor in Chicago. In 1918, when he registered for the military during World War I, his application was rejected as a 12-1-4-C with the notation "(Deaf & Dumb)" [source: World War I draft registration card in Ancestry]. In 1930, the couple lived on Michigan Avenue, and Henry worked as a laborer at a factory [source: 1930 U.S. Census in Ancestry].

Source: "Frankfort Yeoman," The Weekly Kentucky Advocate, 2/6/1885, p. 8.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Franklin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Boyle County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Frankfort, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Danville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Early Schools for Negro Deaf and Blind Children
NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)
NKAA Source: The Weekly Kentucky advocate (newspaper)
NKAA Source: African American Schools in Boyle County, KY

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Pitman [or Pittman], Henry,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed February 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-12-06 19:41:42