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

Britton, Arthur Eugene and Lillian Smith

Arthur Britton, born the son of James and Emily Britton in 1877 in Maysville, KY, was  of African American, Crow, and Cherokee heritage. The family of nine is listed in the 1880 U.S. Census as living in Lewisburg, KY.

Arthur Britton attended college (probably Simmons) in Louisville, KY before moving to Chicago, IL, where he worked as a clerk at a manufacturing company. Later he worked as a porter in a shoe factory, according to the 1910 U.S. Census.

He had married Lillian P. Weathers (1881-1935, born in KY) in Chicago in 1905 [source: Cook County, IL  Marriages Index - Ancestry]. The couple and their two daughters lived on Dearborn Street in 1910. The family was in Chicago during the "Red Summer" of 1919, but Lillian and Arthur had separated in 1917. Their daughter Irene Britton Smith (1907-1999) would become a noted composer and schoolteacher in Chicago.

Arthur Britton was employed at the American Steel and Wire Company in Joliet, IL when he completed his World War II Draft Registration Card (Ancestry) in 1942.

For more see H. Walker-Hill, "Black women composers in Chicago: then and now," Black Music Research Journal, vol. 12, issue 1, (Spring, 1992), pp. 13-14; funeral program for Irene Britton Smith, Chicago: Griffin Funeral Home, 2/18/1999, vertical file at the Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago; Black Women in America, 2nd ed., by D. C. Hine; and From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American women composers and their music, by H. Walker-Hill.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Mason County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Maysville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lewisburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Britton, Arthur Eugene and Lillian Smith,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-08-03 16:17:07