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

African American Cabinetmakers in Kentucky

(start date: 1850  -  end date: 1950) 
DEFINITION:
A cabinetmaker is an artisan who makes handmade, fine wood furniture and cabinetry. The term has been spelled as one word, cabinetmaker, or two words, cabinet maker.

ENTRY SUGGESTION:
This entry was suggested by Erica Lome, a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Delaware. She also provided a few names of African American cabinetmakers in Lexington, KY, which was a starting point for locating the names of others in Kentucky. 
  • Paul V. Smith, Sr. (1887-1978) was born in Indiana and was a graduate of Hampton Institute (now Hampton University). He was the husband of Lucy H. Smith, and after her death, he married Zelma Weaver. As early as 1920, Paul V. Smith was a school teacher in Lexington, KY, and starting in 1921, he was principal of Booker T. Washington School. By 1937, Paul V. Smith was teaching at Dunbar High School, he was head of the vocational trades department at the school. Cabinetmaking was one of the trades he taught to the students. Paul V. Smith also made reproductions on commission for local and domestic clients. Paul v. Smith, Sr.'s occupation was not listed as a cabinetmaker in the city directories. SOURCES: Paul V. Smith obituary in the Herald-Leader, 08/13/1978, p.B-12, col.6; and p.615 in the 1921 Lexington city directory, and p.471 in the 1937 Lexington city directory. Both directories are full text in Ancestry.  
  • Milton Thomas Paul, Sr. (1921-1988) was born in Liberty, KY according to his WWII Registration Card in Ancestry. He was a cabinetmaker in Lexington, KY and was well-known for his Chippendale-style mirrors which circulate on the secondhand market. He had been an apprentice and learned cabinetmaking from Earl Brown. In the Lexington city directories (Ancestry), Milton T. Paul, Sr.'s occupation is listed in various terms, such as carpenter (1952), cabinet maker (1947, 1948, 1950, & 1958) and furniture refinisher (1954 & 1960).  
  • Earl Brown, is said to have been an African American cabinetmaker in Lexington who worked through the Chandler Furniture Repairs Company. There is not an Earl Brown, cabinet maker, listed in the Lexington city directories. Starting with the 1925 city directory, there is an Earl B. Brown listed as a colored upholsterer. In the 1937 city directory, there is an Earl Brown, colored carpenter.
BACKGROUND:
African American cabinetmakers in Kentucky were not always recognized as cabinetmakers in census records, city directories, and other sources. Though, the U.S. Census records do a better job of identifying African American cabinetmakers in Kentucky than most other sources. A challenge for researchers, regardless of the source, is deciphering if the cabinet maker's other occupation was recorded as the primary occupation (see the three names given above). For those who were cabinet makers during the enslavement period in Kentucky history, if/when the person was free, then it would be a bit easier to locate and trace their names through time. If the person was enslaved, then other sources will need to be consulted, such as a slave owner's archival collection, business records, or property records. The names of enslaved cabinetmakers will not be found in sources such as A Checklist of Kentucky Cabinet Makers, from 1775-1859 by Edna Talbott Whitley.

Listed below are only a few of the names of African American cabinetmakers in Kentucky. The information comes from census records, city directories, and newspapers. Many were born before enslaved African Americans gained their freedom in Kentucky, and as previously stated, it is through later sources that their occupations are noted. It should also be noted that all of the persons listed are assumed to have been males.

There were female cabinetmakers in the United States before the year 1900. It is not known how many of the females were African Americans or how many were pursuing their trade in Kentucky. There were 712 female cabinet makers in 1870; 480 in 1880; 24 in 1890; and 67 in 1900, according to the Occupations at the Twelfth Census, Statistics of Occupations, Table IV, p.lii (online .pdf at census.gov website). Cabinet Maker data for 1860 were 29,223 "Free Persons Over 15 Years" from Table V, p.lix. For more information see "Women Cabinetmakers - the inventiveness of the pioneer women" a Kalamazoo Public Library webpage.

AFRICAN AMERICAN CABINETMAKERS IN KENTUCKY

NAME

KY LOCATION

BIRTH

SOURCES

Andrews, George

Bowling Green

1825

1870 U.S. Census

Bailey, Charles

Lexington

1864

1880 U.S. Census

Bank, Cartenius

Lexington

1871

1910 U.S. Census

Bank, John

Lexington

1850

1900-1910 U.S. Census

Birch, Eddie

Winchester

1889

1910 U.S. Census

Birch, Earnest

Winchester

1884

1910 U.S. Census

Boyd, Henry

Kentucky

1802

Northern Kentucky Tribune, 02/11/2019 (online)

Bradshaw, Abraham

Lexington

1875

1910 U.S. Census

Brice, J. F.

Lexington

1857

Lexington Leader, 02/28/1907, p.5, col. 3

Brown, Will M.

Louisville

1867

1910 U.S. Census

Casey, Will

Clinton

1883

1930 U.S. Census

Conner, George

Mercer County

1804

1850 U.S. Census

Cousins, Richard

Bowling Green

1833

1860 & 1900 U.S. Census

Davidson, Harvey

Stanford

1884

1930 U.S. Census

Davis, Charles

Covington

1880

1910 U.S. Census

First, Downer

Russellville

1840

1870 U.S. Census

Hall, Fred

Covington

1887

1910 U.S. Census

Hardesty, Joseph

Louisville

1855

1900 U.S. Census

Hardin, William

Louisville

1900

1930 U.S. Census

Harris, John H.

Lexington

1872

1910 U.S. Census

Harris, William H.

Louisville

1875

1920 U.S. Census

Hinton, Spencer

Maysville

1858

1930 U.S. Census

Jackson, Sam

Lexington

1831

1880 U.S. Census

Lillard, James

Bowling Green

1839

1900 U.S. Census

Madison, Thomas

Louisville

1877

1920 U.S. Census

Marshall, Quiller R.

Mt. Sterling

1854

1870-1880 U.S. Census

Martin, John

Covington

1881

1910 U.S. Census

Martin, John C.

Louisville

1863

1880 U.S. Census

Miller, Essex

Market House

1829

1870 U.S. Census

Miller, Harrison

Lexington

1848

1900 U.S. Census

Moore, J. Columbus

Hickman County

1839

1870 U.S. Census

Payne, A.

Louisville

1840

 1880 U.S. Census

Paul, Milton T.

Lexington

1921

1950 Lexington City Directory

Robertson, Laswell

New Roe

1858

1880 U.S. Census

Sadler, Alvin

Shelbyville

1893

1920 U.S. Census

Scriblin, Jona

Logan County

1826

1860 U.S. Census

Smith, Paul V.

Lexington

1887

1937 Lexington City Directory

Smith, Shirley

Louisville

1898

1920 U.S. Census

Tate, James L.

Louisville

1876

1910 U.S. Census

Taylor, George

Louisville

1838

1860 U.S. Census

Thompson, Alex

Hopkinsville

1844

1880 U.S. Census

Thompson, Julius

Louisville

1837

1870-1880 U.S. Census

Turley, Daniel

Louisville

1832

1870 U.S. Census

Wayne, John

Mason County

1859

Freeman newspaper, 12/22/1894, p.5

Woodridge, W. N.

Louisville

1851

1880 U.S. Census



Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Warren County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Clark County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Hickman County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Mercer County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lincoln County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Kenton County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Logan County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Mason County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Montgomery County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Franklin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Allen County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Shelby County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Christian County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Casey County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Bowling Green, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Winchester, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Clinton, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Stanford, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Covington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Russellville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Maysville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Mt. Sterling, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Market House, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about New Roe, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Shelbyville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Hopkinsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Liberty, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Smith, Lucy Harth
NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)
NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)
NKAA Source: R.L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington (Kentucky) directory, 1921 & 1925
NKAA Source: Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) city directory (annual)
NKAA Source: A Checklist of Kentucky cabinet-makers from 1775-1859
NKAA Source: Northern Kentucky tribune (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Lexington leader (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Freeman [Indianapolis Freeman] (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Cabinetmakers in Kentucky,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 21, 2021, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/300004191.

Last modified: 2020-12-23 20:18:24