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

Daviess [Daveiss] County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870

Daviess County, located in the Western Coal Field region of Kentucky, was formed in 1815 from a part of Ohio County. It is on the Indiana state border borders four neighboring counties in Kentucky.

The county was named for Joseph H. Daveiss, a lawyer and orator killed during the Battle of Tippecanoe. The present day spelling of the county name was the recording clerk's error in 1815. The Kentucky General Assembly passed an act to correct the spelling to "Daveiss," but it never caught on.

The county seat is Owensboro, originally named Yellowbanks in reference to the color of the soil along the river banks. When the city was incorporated in 1817, it was spelled "Owensborough." It was named for Abraham Owen, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War and a Kentucky Legislator who was born in Virginia. Its name was later shortened to the present day spelling of Owensboro.

In the first U.S. Federal Census for the county in1820, there was a population 501 [heads of households], and by 1860 there was a population of 12,035, excluding the enslaved. Below are the numbers for the slave holders, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 585 slave owners
  • 2,359 Black slaves
  • 524 Mulatto slaves
  • 17 free Blacks
  • 9 free Mulattoes
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 669 slave owners
  • 2,856 Black slaves
  • 22 Colored slaves
  • 611 Mulatto slaves
  • 75 free Blacks
  • 16 free Mulattoes
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 3,173 Blacks
  • 527 Mulattoes
  • About ten U.S. Colored Troops listed Daviess County. KY as their birth location.
For more see the Daviess County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Born With a Purpose, by N. Johnson, et. al.; and A Generation Remembers Oral History Project, by the Kentucky Oral History Commission and Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer. 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 Daviess County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Owensboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Owensborough, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Yellowbanks, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Daviess [Daveiss] County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 23, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-06-20 18:28:17