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

Adair County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870

Adair County, named for General John Adair, is located near the Tennessee border in south-central Kentucky. The county was developed in 1801 from a portion of Green County. General John Adair was born in South Carolina and fought in the Revolutionary War. He came to Kentucky in 1786. He was a U.S. Senator in 1805, served as a Kentucky Legislator, and was the Governor of Kentucky 1820-1824, then a U.S. Representative from 1831 to 1833.

Once Adair County was established, Columbia was named the county seat. There were 800 persons [heads of households] counted in the 1810 U.S. Federal Census. In 1830, there was one African American slave owner in the county. There were 8,000 people counted in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, excluding the enslaved. Below are the number of slave owners, enslaved, and free Blacks and Mulattoes from the 1850-1870 census records.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 486 slave owners
  • 1,886 Black slaves
  • 239 Mulatto slaves
  • 108 free Blacks
  • 1 free Mulatto
With the country moving closer to the beginning of the Civil War, there were still about 8,000 people in Adair County, according to the 1860 U.S. Federal Census (minus the enslaved). The number of enslaved and slave owners had decreased, as had the number of free Blacks. The number of persons listed as Mulatto had increased.

1860 Slave Schedule
  • 341 slave owners
  • 1,342 Black slaves
  • 260 Mulatto slaves
  • 20 free Blacks
  • 40 free Mulattoes
Five years after the Civil War and the freeing of the Kentucky enslaved with the Ratification of the 13th Amendment, the numbers had not drastically changed when the 1870 U.S. Federal Census was completed:
  • 1,783 Blacks (including Parker Hiram Jackman)
  • 32 Mulattoes
  • About 38 U.S. Colored Troops of the Civil War reported they were born in Adair County.
For more see "Adair County" and "John Adair" in The Kentucky Encyclopedia; Historical Sketches of Kentucky, by L. Collins [available at Google Books]; and Notes on Adair County, Kentucky, by J. A. Steele and M. C. Watson. See the "U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865" and other military service records in Ancestry for names and additonal information.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Allen County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Columbia, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Adair County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 23, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-06-17 18:02:34