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

LaForce Family Enslaved

(end date: 1780) 

During the Revolutionary War, Loyalists from North Carolina sought refuge in the Kentucky territory. Rene LaForce (spelling varies, also La Force), a Huguenot, died en route. His wife Agnes Moseby LaForce, their children and their families, and 13 other enslaved persons completed the journey and settled near Martin's Station, located three miles south of Paris, KY.

In June, 1780, a British garrison from Detroit approached the LaForce family fortress with about 150 soldiers aided by Native Americans, all led by Captain Henry Byrd. (Detroit was British territory until 1796.) Though the LaForce family claimed to be Loyalists, there was an exchange of gunfire, and lives were lost on both sides. The garrison overtook the fortress, and the inhabitants were marched to Detroit, where the enslaved became the "property" of the garrison soldiers and Native Americans, and the LaForce family was sent to jail in Montreal, Canada.

Agnes LaForce and her family were eventually set free, and she attempted to regain the enslaved, but even with a good word from George Washington she was unsuccessful. In 1813 and 1814, her son William LaForce, who had returned to settle in Woodford County, KY, continued to fight for the return of the enslaved, without success.

The enslaved were Betty and her children: Hannah, James/Tim, Ishmael, Stephen, Joseph, Scippio, and Kijah; and Hannah's children Candis, Grace, Rachel, Patrick, and Job.

For more about the LaForce Enlaved see "Descendants of Betty 'Bess' (LaFORCE)" - Generation 1 and Generation 2; and La Force Efforts to Recover Slaves, by L. S. Wark.

For more information about the attack on the LaForce Family, see W. R. Riddell's articles "The Early British Period," The Journal of Negro History, vol. 5, issue 3 (July 1920), pp. 273-292; and "Two Incidents of Revolutionary Time," Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 12, issue 2 (August 1921), pp.  223-237.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Bourbon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Woodford County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Martin's Station, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Journal of Negro history (periodical)
NKAA Source: Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology (periodical)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“LaForce Family Enslaved,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 22, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-07-26 17:33:45