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

The James Harvey Family (Woodford County, KY)

The family of James Harvey was regarded as skilled, artistic, musical, and mechanical. James Harvey, considered a naturally gifted mechanic, was an engineer in a distillery near Frankfort, KY. He was the father of Lewis, Will and two other boys, and his wife was described as Mexican.

The March 1902 issue of the Woodford Sun newspaper contained a story relating how 18-year old Lewis built a functioning miniature stationary steam engine; Lewis had not been trained as an engineer and was thought to be uneducated. He was also a wood carver and had made a walking stick designed with people and animals in bold relief.

Will, who was 15-years old, sketched portraits and landscapes in pencil and crayon. The other two brothers were gifted musicians who played a number of instruments.

For more see "IV. Inventive Genius, Mechanical Skill, etc." on pp. 470-471 in The Story of a Rising Race, by Rev. J. J. Pipkin [available full-text at Google Books]; and "Untutored Negro boy is a genius," Woodford Sun, 3/06/1902, p. 1.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Woodford County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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NKAA Source: Woodford sun (newspaper)

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“The James Harvey Family (Woodford County, KY),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-11-09 19:21:54