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

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

Hopkins County is in western Kentucky, surrounded by five other Kentucky counties. It was created in 1806 from a portion of Henderson County. It was named for Samuel Hopkins, a lawyer, Kentucky Senator, and Revolutionary War veteran; several of the early settlers in the Hopkins County area were Revolutionary War veterans who had received land grants from Virginia. Madisonville, which became the county seat of Hopkins County in 1808, was named for James Madison, who later became the fourth President of the United States.

During the early 1800s, there was also a community named Charleston in Hopkins County; it was named for a former enslaved man and tavern owner named Free Charles.

The Hopkins County population was 414 [heads of households] in the 1810 U.S. Federal Census, and it grew to 9,866 by 1860, excluding the enslaved. Below are the number of slave holders, enslaved, free Blacks,  and Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 555 slave owners
  • 1,815 Black slaves
  • 335 Mulatto slaves
  • 16 free Blacks [most with last name Herrin]
  • 34 free Mulattoes [most with last names Earle, Lewis, and Oakley]
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 457 slave owners
  • 1,451 Black slaves
  • 557 Mulatto slaves
  • 10 free Blacks
  • 20 freee Mulattoes [many with last names Baker and Fisher]
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 1,458 Blacks
  • 340 Mulattoes
  • About 84 U.S. Colored Troops listed Hopkins County, KY as their birth location.
1880 U.S. Federal Census
  • Charleston, Hopkins County, Kentucky: 41 African Americans, many with last name Metcalf; and 16 Mulattoes with the last names Bishop, Morris, Paravel, and one Smouthers. Total population 1,575. According to Kentucky Place Names, by R. N. Rennick, (p. 56), there was a post office in Charleston from 1855-1909 and a coal-loading station on the Illinois Central Railroad line.
For more see the Hopkins County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Non-White Marriage Index 1866-1914, by the Hopkins County Genealogical Society (KY); NAACP Administrative File, Part 20, White resistance and reprisals, 1956-1965; and History of Hopkins County, by M. K. Gordon. 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 Hopkins County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Madisonville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Hopkins County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-06-21 20:44:04