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

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

Jefferson County was established in 1780, one of the three original counties created when Kentucky County was subdivided by the Virginia General Assembly. Jefferson County is located in the western part of the state along the Ohio River, bordered by four counties. It is named for Thomas Jefferson, who was then governor of Virginia and who would become the third U.S. President. Jefferson County is the most populated county in Kentucky.

The county seat is Louisville; George Rogers Clark is credited with founding Louisville in 1778; the city was named for King Louis XVI of France in 1780.

In the First Census of Kentucky, 1790, there were 3,857 whites, 903 enslaved, and five free persons. The 1800 population of Jefferson County was 8,754, according to the Second Census of Kentucky: 6,325 whites, 2,406 enslaved, and 23 free coloreds. In 1830 there was one free African American slave owner in Jefferson County and five in Louisville. By 1860, the population had increased to 79,060, according to the U.S. Federal Census, excluding the enslaved. Below are the number of slave owners, enslaved, and free Blacks and Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule

  • 2,394 slave owners
  • 8,814 Black slaves
  • 2,093 Mulatto slaves
  • 1,062 free Blacks
  • 589 free Mulattoes

1860 Slave Schedule

  • 2,664 slave owners
  • 6,786 Black slaves
  • 1,922 Mulatto slaves
  • 1,244 free Blacks
  • 762 free Mulattoes

1870 U.S. Federal Census

  • 13,944 Blacks
  • 4,940 Mulattoes
  • About 443 U.S. Colored Troops listed Jefferson County, KY as their birth location.

For more see the Jefferson County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Early Kentucky Settlers, by the Genealogical Pub. Co.; A Brief History of the Schools, Public and Private, for Colored Youths in Louisville, Ky. for fifty years, from 1827 to 1876, inclusive, by J. Meriwether; The Bulletin [newspaper], by the Adams Bro.; The Ohio Falls Express [newspaper], by H. Fitzbutler; Berrytown-Griffytown, a walk through history, by J. G. Grube; Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Founding of Colored Parkland or "Little Africa," Louisville, Kentucky, 1801-1916, by J.S. Cotter; and A Survey of the Economic and Cultural Conditions of the Negro Population of Louisville, Kentucky, by J. H. Kerns.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Jefferson County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 12, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-09-01 17:03:46