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

Sansbury, Louis

(born: 1806  -  died: 1861) 

Louis Sansbury was a 27-year old enslaved man in Springfield, KY, when the cholera epidemic hit the city in 1833. George Sansbury, Louis's owner, fled the city along with many others. Prior to his leaving, George gave Louis the keys to his hotel and told him to take care of the business. Louis and Matilda Sims, a cook, took care of the hotel and several of the other businesses that owners left unattended when they tried to flee the cholera epidemic. Those who took flight were carrying the disease to their destinations.

Though they were enslaved, Louis Sansbury and Matilda Simms did not try to escape, staying in town to treat the sick, bury the dead, and keep an eye on the town's abandoned businesses. Neither Louis nor Matilda became sick during the 1833 epidemic.

In time the city rebounded, and when George Sansbury died in 1845, the city of Springfield purchased Louis's freedom in appreciation of his dedication and care during the epidemic, and he was provided with a blacksmith shop.

When another cholera epidemic hit in 1854, Louis Sansbury did as he had done before, taking care of the sick and burying the dead. Louis died in 1861 and is buried in an unmarked grave. In 2004, the city of Springfield recognized his heroic deeds by dedicating the first annual African American Heritage Week in his honor.

For more see "Asiatic Cholera finds a hero," in It Happened in Kentucky, by M. O'Malley.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Washington County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Springfield, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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“Sansbury, Louis,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 25, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-02-15 02:59:58