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

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

Mason County, located in northern Kentucky, was formed in 1788, one of the first eight counties established by the Virginia Legislature. It borders four Kentucky counties and is bound on the north by the Ohio River.

Mason County was named for George Mason, who was from Virginia and drafted an early version of the Bill of Rights. Maysville, named for Virginia surveyor John May, is the county seat; it was previously known as Limestone.

In the First Census of Kentucky, 1790, there were 2,500 whites and 229 enslaved. The 1800 county population was 12,182, according to the Second Census of Kentucky: 10,347 whites, 1,747 enslaved, and 88 free coloreds. In 1830 there were nine free African American slave owners in Mason County and three in Washington. By 1860, the population was 14,451, according to the U.S. Federal Census, excluding the enslaved. Below are the numbers for the slave owners, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule

  • 967 slave owners
  • 3,454 Black slaves
  • 837 Mulatto slaves
  • 227 free Blacks
  • 155 free Mulattoes

1860 Slave Schedule

  • 779 slave owners
  • 2,903 Black slaves
  • 862 Mulatto slaves
  • 227 free Blacks
  • 158 free Mulattoes

1870 U.S. Federal Census

  • 2,830 Blacks
  • 743 Mulattoes
  • About 316 U.S. Colored Troops listed Mason County, KY as their birth location.

For more see the Mason County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by J. E. Kleber; A Historical Sketch of Mason County, Kentucky by L.C. Lee; Free Negroes: inhabitants of Randolph Co., N.C., 1850-1860 by E. R. H. Grady; Marriage Bond Books, 1852-1979 by Mason County (KY) County Clerk; and Slavery in Mason County, Kentucky by C. R. Miller.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Mason County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Limestone, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Maysville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Mason County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed March 5, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/2462.

Last modified: 2023-08-30 18:30:09