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

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

Harrison County, located in north-central Kentucky in the Bluegrass Region, was formed in 1793 from portions of Bourbon and Scott Counties. It was named for Benjamin Harrison [not to be confused with President Benjamin Harrison], who was born in Virginia and lived in Pennsylvania before coming to Kentucky. He was a veteran of Lord Dunmore's War and the American Revolutionary War. After moving to Kentucky, Harrison helped write the Kentucky Constitution and served as a Kentucky legislator.

The first white settlers in Harrison County had come from Pennsylvania, settling near what would become Cynthiana, the county seat. Built on land donated by Benjamin Harrison, Cynthiana was established in 1793 and named for Harrison's daughters, Cynthia and Ana.

The 1800 county population was 4,350, according to the Second Census of Kentucky: 3,925 whites, 406 enslaved and 19 free coloreds. In 1830 there was one free African American slave holder in Harrison County. The population increased to 10,491 by 1860, according to the U.S. Federal Census, excluding the enslaved. Below are the number of slave holders, enslaved, and free Blacks and Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 665 slave owners
  • 2,701 Black slaves
  • 640 Mulatto slaves
  • 88 free Blacks
  • 59 free Mulattoes
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 620 slave owners
  • 2,398 Black slaves
  • 894 Mulatto slaves
  • 91 free Blacks
  • 58 free Mulattoes
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 1,636 Blacks
  • 735 Mulattoes
  • About 117 U.S. Colored Troops listed Harrison County, KY as their birth location.
For more see the Harrison County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland, by J. B. Hudson; African American Marriage Index, Harrison County, Kentucky, by P. A. Naff; Cynthiana Since 1790, by V. Peddicord; and Cynthiana, by M. B. Kennerly. See the "U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865" and other military service records in Ancestry for names and additonal information.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Harrison County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-06-21 19:28:17