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

Spann, Ann Roberta Peyton

(born: 1939) 

June 1, 1961, Ann Peyton became the first African American to earn an undergraduate degree from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). [Andrew Millier earned a master's degree in 1958.] Ann Peyton was on the Dean's List all four years that she attended the school. Ann R. Peyton majored in elementary education, according to the 1961 Milestone, an Eastern Kentucky University yearbook, p.80. Ann Peyton was a native of Madison County, KY, the daughter of James R. and Rena F. Jenkins Peyton [source: 1940 U.S. Federal Census]. In 1940, the family lived on Peytontown Road. The Peytontown community is located between Richmond and Berea, KY [source: Kentucky Place Names by R. M. Rennick]. The community is also referred to as one of Berea's black hamlets in Black America by A. Hornsby Jr., p.323. Peytontown, a predominately African American community, is thought to have existed prior to the American Civil War, and was named for the prominent and slave owning family of Peytons in Madison County [source: 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Slave Schedule]. In the 1870 Census, all but one of the 21 African Americans in Madison County, with the last name Peyton, lived in Kirksville. By 1920, James R. Peyton, Ann's father, lived with his grandparents on Peytontown Road in the community of Duncannon [source: 1920 U.S. Federal Census]. Not much more is known about the community of Duncannon at this time, though the community is mentioned in several newspaper articles in the late 1800s and early 1900s. All of which is to say that Ann R. Peyton's ancestors lived in Madison County communities for many generations before she became the first African American undergraduate to earn a degree at Eastern Kentucky University in 1961. For more on Ann Peyton see the EKU websites The Battle of Civil Rights: an Eastern perspective; and Colonel Capsule by H. Hagans; S. Hopkins, "First black student graduated Eastern in '61," The Eastern Progress, 12/09/1999, p.A1; and p.6 in Connections: the Richmond, Kentucky area African-American heritage guide, City of Richmond Tourism & Visitory Center, 1998?.

Notification and documentation of Ann Peyton as the first African American graduate at EKU, comes from EKU Special Collections and Archives [Library Associate, Sarah Adams], 02/12/2016.  

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Madison County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Richmond, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Peytontown, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Kirksville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Duncannon, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Miller, Andrew
NKAA Source: Milestone [annual yearbook]
NKAA Source: Kentucky place names
NKAA Source: Black America : a state-by-state historical encyclopedia
NKAA Source: Connections: the Richmond, Kentucky area African-American heritage guide

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Spann, Ann Roberta Peyton,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed August 26, 2019,

Last modified: 2017-08-22 00:19:52