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

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

Rockcastle County was named for the Rockcastle River, which had been named in 1767 by Isaac Lindsey, an explorer who viewed the rock formations along the water and thought they resembled castles. The county was formed in 1810 from portions of Lincoln, Madison, Knox, and Pulaski Counties. About a quarter of the county is in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

The county seat is Mt. Vernon, established prior to 1790 and named for George Washington's 8,000-acre plantation home in Virginia [info].

The 1810 county population was 245 [heads of households], according to the 1810 U.S. Federal Census; that did not include the 154 enslaved. By 1830, there was one free Negro slave owner. In 1860, the county population increased to 4,986, excluding the enslaved. Below are the number of slave owners, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule

  • 163 slave owners
  • 503 Black slaves
  • 124 Mulatto slaves
  • 7 free Blacks [last names, Cabb, True, and 1 Woodall]
  • 26 free Mulattoes [last names Ann and Gatliff, one Edwards, one Wiggins, two Woodall]

1860 Slave Schedule

  • 93 slave owners
  • 248 Black slaves
  • 109 Mulatto slaves
  • 13 free Blacks [last names Gatliff, Ture, and 1 Rentfroe]
  • 27 free Mulattoes [last names Cornett, Gatliff, Wiggins, Woodall, one Hubbard, one Moore]

1870 U.S. Federal Census

  • 242 Blacks
  • 85 Mulattoes
  • At least 4 U.S. Colored Troops listed Rockcastle County as their birth place [David Newcomb and William Smith, both of whom enlisted at Camp Nelson].

For more, see the Rockcastle County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Oral History Interview of Nettie Sherman, by N. H. Sherman and L. J. Goff; "Rockcastle County (Robert Mullins)" in Slave Narratives, Volume 7, by Work Projects Administration; and the Mt. Vernon Signal, a Kentucky newspaper. 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 Rockcastle County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Mount Vernon, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

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

Last modified: 2024-06-21 19:36:46