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

The African American Borah Family

In 1810, the Borah Family moved from Pennsylvania to Butler County, KY, led by the great-great grandfather of Idaho Senator William Edgar Borah (1865-1940) and his eight sons.

The family slaves, who also carried the last name Borah, were the ancestors of African American musician Harry Edison. Edison's great grandmother, Mariah Borah (born between 1810 and 1812, died 1876), was born in Ohio County, KY. Her mother's last name was Rogers. Mariah may have been the slave of Jacob Borah. She was later owned by George M. Borah in Butler County.

Mariah had several children with Jesse Barnes [or Brookins or Brokins], a freeman from Maryland who had settled in Butler County prior to the end of slavery. It is believed that Jesse was at one time enslaved and migrated to Kentucky with the Barnes Family and then later was freed. All of Jesse and Mariah's children carried the last name Borah because their mother was enslaved and carried the last name Borah, so the same applied to the children.

Two of their daughters were Ellen and Julia Borah, one of whom was the mother of McDonald Porter. Their son, Larkin Borah, was the father of Katherine Meryl Borah Edison, the mother of Harry Edison.

All information about the African American Borah family was submitted by Denyce Peyton. For more about the Borah family from Pennsylvania, see "Wisconsin at Washington," The Oshkosh Northwestern, 4/04/1936, p. 18: and Borah, by M. C. McKenna.

Larry Preston, a member of the Borah family from Pennsylvania, provided another source with information on Jacob Borah and his slaves, Bohrer, Borah, Borer by Camden Borah Meyer. 

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Butler County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Ohio County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Edison, Harry "Sweets"
NKAA Entry: The McDonald and Elvira Porter Family [Moving North]
NKAA Source: The Oshkosh northwestern (Newspaper)
NKAA Source: Borah
NKAA Source: Bohrer, Borah, Borer

Related Entries Citing this Entry


Cite This NKAA Entry:

“The African American Borah Family,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-12-16 23:22:59