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

Beck, Thomas

(born: 1819  -  died: 1894) 

Thomas Beck was enslaved by the Beck family in Caldwell County, KY. One of his parents was white, the other African American. [Kentucky is given as his birth location in the 1850 U.S. Census.]

Gaining his freedom and moving to Texas, Beck became a politician and served in the Texas House of Representatives, beginning in 1874. One of the bills he sponsored was to prevent employment of children without the permission of the parents. In 1882, he introduced the bill that allowed appropriations for Prairie View State Normal School [now Prairie View A & M University] to continue operating. Thomas Beck served in the 14th, 16th-17th Texas Legislature [source: Early History of Grimes County, by E. L. Blair, p. 206].

Thomas Beck was the husband of Martha Jordan Beck from Tennessee [source: 1880 U.S. Federal Census];  the couple had nine children. It is thought that Thomas Beck died around 1894.

For more see Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868-1900, by M. Pitre; "Thomas Beck" at the Texas Legislative Reference Library website; "Beck, Thomas" in the Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas (available online); Peter Wallenstein. "Pioneer Black Legislators from Kentucky, 1860s-1960s," The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, summer/autumn 2012, v.110, no.3/4, New Perspectives on Civil War-Era Kentucky, pp.533-557.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Caldwell County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Beck, Thomas,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-07-10 16:18:32