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

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

Nicholas County was formed in 1799 from portions of Bourbon and Mason Counties. It is bordered by five counties and was named for George Nicholas from Virginia, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War and the first Kentucky Attorney General. Carlisle in Nicholas County, one of the state's smallest county seats, was established in 1816. The town was developed on land that had belonged to John Kincart, who named the town in honor of his father's hometown of Carlisle, PA.

The 1800 Nicholas County population was 2,925, according to the Second Census of Kentucky: 2,597 whites, 322 enslaved individuals, and six free coloreds. In 1830 there was one free African American slave holder. By 1860, the population was 9,416, according to the U.S. Federal Census, excluding the enslaved.

Below are the number of slave holders, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 421 slave owners
  • 1,283 Black slaves
  • 214 Mulatto slaves
  • 121 free Blacks
  • 48 free Mulattoes
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 381 slave owners
  • 1,407 Black slaves
  • 207 Mulatto slaves
  • 112 free Blacks
  • 42 free Mulattoes
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 955 Blacks
  • 225 Mulattoes
  • About 75 U.S. Colored Troops listed Nicholas County, KY as their birth location.
For more see Nicholas County in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Edmund Lyne Papers [slaves manumission]; Marriage Books (indexed), 1800-1934, by the Nicholas County Clerk; and Nicholas County Memorial Library Oral History Collection.

For more on George Nicholas' stand on enslavement, see Kentucky and the Question of Slavery at the website (Source: Kentucky Educational Television).

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Nicholas County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 19, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-08-23 17:12:49