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

Ricketts, Matthew Oliver

(born: 1858  -  died: 1917) 

Matthew O. Ricketts was born in Henry County, KY, to enslaved parents. The family moved to Missouri when Ricketts was a small child. He grew up to become the first African American Senator in the Nebraska Legislature in 1892 and was elected again in 1894, serving as an advocate for stronger civil rights laws in Nebraska. He was also a leader of the Prince Hall Masons. 

Ricketts was a graduate of Lincoln Institute in Missouri [now Lincoln University of Missouri] and Omaha Medical College, the first African American to graduate from a college or university in Nebraska.

Ricketts was the husband of Alice Ricketts; the family of four lived in St. Joseph Ward, Buchanan County, MO, according to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census.

For more see Matthew Oliver Ricketts at; Biographical Sketches of the Nebraska Legislature, by W. A. Howard; and Impertinences: selected writings of Elia Peattie, a journalist in the Giided Age, by E. W. Peattie. For more on the Omaha Medical College, see The University of Nebraska Medical Center Newsroom.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Henry County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Biographical sketches of the Nebraska Legislature; and national and state officers of Nebraska
NKAA Source: Impertinences: selected writings of Elia Peattie, a journalist in the Gilded Age

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Ricketts, Matthew Oliver,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 30, 2021,

Last modified: 2021-02-24 17:23:54