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

Veney, Anderson

(born: 1845  -  died: 1894) 

Anderson Veney was born in Kentucky. When he was a child, the Veney family members were slaves who eventually escaped from Kentucky to Canada, led by Anderson's stepfather, Levi Veney. The family settled in Amherstburg, Upper Canada. The city of Amherstburg had a receiving station for those escaping from slave-holding states in the U.S., and Amherstburg had been a major tobacco growing territory that attracted escaped slaves from Kentucky who had knowledge of raising tobacco. As an adult, Anderson Veney remained in Amherstburg, where he had been a barber, but not making much money in that trade, he became a ship steward. When his first wife died, he moved in with a woman named Mattie or Martha, and she took his last name. In 1892, while in Cleveland, OH, Anderson Veney began having severe headaches, was forgetful and had a difficult time sleeping. He became convinced that his wife was cheating on him, and a few months after he returned to Amherstburg, he killed her. In court, Anderson was defended by African Canadian lawyer Delos Rogest Davis of Amherstburg and Mahlon K. Cowan of Windsor. Veney's sanity was argued back and forth, and the final verdict was that he was sane when he killed Mattie and, therefore, should be hanged. In one version of the story, the federal cabinet reviewed the case, and rather than hang an insane man, it commuted Veney's sentence to life in prison; in less than a year, he died of phthisis in the Kingston Penitentiary hospital. In another version, Veney was hanged in 1893. For more see Anderson Veney in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online [free, full-text on the Internet]; Smith: New Canaan Black Settlement, Ontario, Essex County at; and Disorder in the court: trials and sexual conflict at the turn of the century, by G. Robb and N. Erber.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Disorder in the court: trials and sexual conflict at the turn of the century

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“Veney, Anderson,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 17, 2021,

Last modified: 2019-05-22 18:52:11