Born in Mexico, Lived in Kentucky, 1850-1920
This entry comes from reference questions asked by a researcher looking at the population of those born in Mexico and later lived in Kentucky up through the end of World War I. A second part to the search looked at how the individuals were classified by race in U.S. Census records.
Given that race was not noted consistently in the census for African Americans in Kentucky, it was a bit of a surprise that in Kentucky census records and death records and also in military records that persons born in Mexico and having lived or died in Kentucky and those who served in the military were mostly noted as "white" in the U.S. Census between 1850 and 1920. A scattering of other race notations were also used for those born in Mexico: black, colored, mulatto, Indian, Mexican, Spanish, some made-up notations, a combination of two or more of notations, and in some cases nothing listed in the column for race.
There was not a large population of persons born in Mexico and living in Kentucky, with no more than 43 appearing prior to the 1920 Census. It cannot be assumed, however, that individuals self-identified in terms of race or knew what race had been noted in a government document.
Other considerations came up in the research:
* Were those born in Mexico, KY (located in Crittenden County) or born in a city named Mexico in another U.S. state listed as born in Mexico (the country).
* Was it noted in the record that the person was born in Mexico (the country) and was the person noted as a citizen of Mexico (the country).
* Was the person living in Kentucky a citizen of the United States or some other country and had the person been born in Mexico.
The census records contain the names of European emigrants whose child or children were born in Mexico (the country) prior to the entire family living in Kentucky. Individual names could not be relied upon as a hint about the person's nationality, race, or ethnicity.
In the table below are totals for all persons who were born in Mexico (the country) and lived or died in Kentucky between 1850 and 1920. Please note that the table DOES NOT contain information on the adoption of Mexican children by non-Mexican parents. There is NO NOTATION of children born to a Mexican parent and a non-Mexican parent. There is NO NOTATION of individuals who were brought from Mexico and enslaved in Kentucky. Without a doubt, there were unique family dynamics, and there were enslaved Mexicans in Kentucky [see the Peter White entry in NKAA], but documenting such information requires research beyond the use of U.S. Census records, military records, and Kentucky Death Records. Enslavesd people listed in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedules are not enumerated by name or country of origin; only the slave holders are listed by name.
For this NKAA Database entry, the start year is 1850, the first year the U.S. Census collected data on place of birth for each person. Up to the year 1870, the U.S. Census records were organized under the U.S. Federal Court system. Each district had a U.S. marshal who hired other marshals to administer the census. For the U.S. Territories, governors were responsible for the enumeration of their areas. The 1850 Census data was collected after the Mexican-American War that took place between April 1846 and February 1848. Additional influences beyond that of the Mexican-American War were major political debates as to whether the newly acquired land from Mexico would become a slave-holding territory or not.
In Kentucky, the question of race distinctions had historically been recognized as black, mulatto, or white, all based on physical appearance. The same criteria applied to others who were born in Mexico and other countries. By 1850, the most immediate concern was how to extend and maintain the ways of the past within the newly acquired Mexican Territory.
For more see the PBS site How the Mexican-American War Affected Slavery / The Abolitionist. In addition, men from Kentucky rushed to the call to fight for America during the Mexican-American War, and so many men came forward that all could not be taken; nonetheless, there were more than 5,000 Kentucky fighting men in Mexico during the war.
For more see the Kentucky Historical Society website Explore KY's Mexican American War, and the LatinAmericanstudies.org site, The Mexican War.
At the close of the war, if Mexican immigrants came to Kentucky accompanying the soldiers returning home, this information would not be noted in the 1850 U.S. Census record. Immigration data would not be collected for another 50 years; in the 1900 census, persons born in Mexico and living in Kentucky were placed within the previously defined race categories of either black, Mulatto, or white. The same was mostly true for the 1910 census. There were also additional notes added to a few entries, including "Spanish" and "American."
The population numbers for persons born in Mexico and living in Kentucky did not fluctuate much until the 1920 census, which showed an increase more than four times the average between 1850 and 1910. The sudden increase of Mexicans in Kentucky had come about during the decade of the Mexican Revolution [Britannica.com], between 1910 and 1920 when thousands were fleeing Mexico. This was particularly true during the latter half of the decade and during World War I [Britannica.com], when American servicemen were fighting in Europe. Also included in the table below are the names of men who were born in Mexico and completed their World War I Draft Registration cards in Kentucky as well as those included in the draft registration records from Kentucky for the American Civil War.
Between 1910 and 1920, the increasing number of Mexicans in Kentucky was driven by the coal mining businesses in Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Hopkins, Letcher, Perry, Pike, and Union Counties. The coal companies had launched an international recruitment effort for coal miners. According to author Richard J. Callahan, in 1920 there were 92 Mexican miners in the Harlan coal mines [source: Work and Faith in the Kentucky Coal Fields: subject to dust, by R. J. Callahan, p. 77]. Mexicans made up 13% of the immigrant population in Benham, the second largest group of immigrants in that community [source: Factions and Corporate Political Strategies in Harlan County, Kentucky: implications for community sustainability (thesis), by A. R. Winston, pp. 219-220]. See also the Benham Coal Company Records at ExploreUK, housed at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center. [The number of coal miners in the table below is slightly less than was counted by Callahan; the census data would have been collected during the earlier months of 1920 and did not represent the entire calendar year.]
The table below is the initial response to the questions of the researcher who helped initiate this entry. At no time between 1850 and 1920 were there more than 10 persons noted as born in Mexico and listed as Black or Mulatto during each decade reviewed for Mexicans living in Kentucky or who died in Kentucky.
Overwhelmingly, persons born in Mexico who migrated to Kentucky were noted as white in the U.S. Federal Census. Even when the person recording the data was not sure how to note the race of Mexicans in Kentucky, the made-up notations of Ba, OP, Wt, Ot, and others were used. However, all of these notations were marked-out and replaced with the letter "W" for "White." There was also the occasional notations such as P, Spanish, Malaysian, I for "Indian," Mw for "Mexican-White," or Y for "Yellow."
|YEAR||PERSONS BORN IN MEXICO||LIVED IN KY COUNTIES OF
||RACE OR ETHNICITY IN CENSUS
||BIRTH YEAR RANGE||SEX||CHILDREN (under 18)||YEAR OF IMMIGRATION||OCCUPATIONS||MARITAL STATUS||NOTES|
||Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jefferson, Kenton, Marion, Nelson, Todd, Warren, Washington||Mexican -1,
[Not noted for all others.]
|16||Blacksmith, 3 Boatmen, Fifer, Finisher, 4 Laborers, 2 Lutheran Ministers, Musician, Servant, Shoe Maker, Student in Nelson Co., 3 Tailors, ? Maker,
[Nothing noted] -15, [undecipherable] -7
*Fifer - non-combat foot soldier who played the fife [transverse flute] during battle.
|[Not noted]||No name for one person. Of the sixteen children under the age of 18, four children were in a household with their parents. Three of the children were listed as working.|
||Barren, Breckinridge, Campbell, Green, Hardin, Jefferson, Kenton, Madison, Marion, McCracken, Mercer, Nelson, Washington||Copper or Colored -1
[Not noted for all others.]
||3 Carpenters, Finisher, Laborers, Loafer, Music Teacher, Shoe & Boot Maker, River Man, Servant, 3 Students in Nelson Co., 2 Tailors, Tobacconist, Watchman, [Nothing noted] -13||[Not noted]
||Of the twelve children under the age of 18, six lived in a household with their parents.|
|1870||30||Adair, Boyle, Campbell, Daviess, Estill, Fayette, Franklin, Greenup, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, Kenton, Madison, Marion, Mercer, Montgomery, Nelson, Washington||White -22
[Marked Out]- 2
|6||Barber, 3 Carpenters, Carriage Driver, Domestic Servant, Farmer, Home, 3 Keeping House, Music Teacher, 2 Farm Laborers, Laborer, Printer, Railroad, Sailor, Shoe Maker, 2 Students, Tailor, Wagon Maker, [Nothing noted] -5, [undecipherable] -1||[Not noted for all]||Of the six children under the age of 18, they all lived in a household with their parents.|
|1880||24||Adair, Boyle, Campbell, Carroll, Franklin, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, Kenton, Logan, Lyon, McCracken, Mercer, Nelson, Union, Warren, Washington||White -19
|3||At home, 2 Carpenters, Carriage Painter, 3 Farmers, Farm Hand, Hack Driver, 4 Keeping House, Musician, Planer in Mill, Servant, Shoe Maker, 3 Students, Tailor, [Nothing noted] -4||Single 9
|Of the three children under the age of 18, they all lived in a household with their parents.|
|1900||31||Adair, Ballard, Boyle, Campbell, Christian, Fayette, Henderson, Hopkins, Jefferson, Kenton, Lincoln, McCracken, Mercer, Muhlenberg, Nicholas, Shelby, Trigg, Warren, Woodford||White -24
|5||[Nothing noted] 18,
1853, 1856, 1861, 1867, 1875, 1877, 1894, 1898
|Barber, 4 Carpenters, Civil Engineer, Coachman, 2 Farmers, Hospital Corp - Military, House Girl, Jeweler, Laborer-Brick, Painter, Patient in Lunatic Asylum, Physician, Shoe Repairer, 5 Students, 2 Teachers, Teamster-Lumber, Wheelwright, [Nothing noted] -4, [undecipherable] -1||Single 13
|Of the 5 children under the age of 18, four lived in a household with their parents.|
|1910||43||Ballard, Breathitt, Breckinridge, Campbell, Christian, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Hardin, Hart, Hopkins, Jefferson, Lincoln, Mercer, Trigg, Whitley, Woodford, Union||White -23
|7||[Nothing noted] 31,
1865, 1874, 1880, 1884, 1886, 1890, 1898, 1905, 1910 (2)
|2 Bookkeepers, Coachman, Coal Miner, Farm Worker, Farmer, Housekeeper, Inmate-City Hospital-Steamboat, Laundress, Mining Engineer, Musician/Teacher, 2 Nun/Teachers, Physician, 2 Race Horse Grooms, School Teacher, 2 Servants, Theater, Timber Cutter, Undertaker, Quarry Worker, [Nothing noted] -19, [undecipherable] -1||Single 17
|One person's age was marked-out.
Of the seven children under the age of 18, all lived in a household with their parents.
|1920||161||Bell, Campbell, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hardin, Harlan, Henderson, Hopkins, Jefferson, Kenton, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Mercer, Perry, Pike, Spencer, Union||White -52
|39||[Nothing noted] 8,
[Undecipherable] 2, 1859, 1882 (2), 1888, 1895, 1898, 1900, 1907, 1910 (2), 1911, 1912 (5), 1913 (5), 1914, 1915 (18), 1916 (28), 1917 (9), 1918 (26), 1919 (27)
|Bank Cashier, Blacksmith, Boarding House, 2 Carpenters, 67 Coal Miners, 2 Ditch Diggers, Doctor, Domestic, Electrician-Coal Mines, Errand Boy-Grocery Store, Farmer, Hotel Cook, Inmate-Laundress, Inmate - Shirt Maker, Laborer, 3 Laborer-Fort Knox, Life Insurance, Machine Shop, Minister, Publishing Company Subscriber, Seed Store, Soldier-Fort Knox, Soldier-Fort Thomas, Teacher, Wagon Maker, Waitress, [Nothing noted] -65||Single 96
|Of the thirty-nine children under the age of 18, thirty-eight lived in a household with their parents.|
|Draft Registration NAME||COUNTY WHERE REGISTERED||RACE ON REGISTRATION CARD||BIRTH YEAR||BIRTH LOCATION||CITIZENSHIP STATUS||OCCUPATION||HOME ADDRESS||MARITAL STATUS||NOTES|
|1863||Richard King||Kentucky||White||1831||Mexican||Finisher, Machinist||Married|
|1863||Nathan Nolan||Henderson||White||1823||Mexico||None||15 years in the U.S. Service. Fought in the Mexican War.|
|1917||Pete Casna||Kenton||White||1896||Gallop, Mexico||Natural Born Citizen||Covington Ice Cream Company - vendor||17 E. 2nd Street, Covington, KY||Single|
|1917||Manuel Leal||Jefferson||White||1893||Guanajuato, Mexico||Alien - Mexican||YMCA Building - painter||820 S. 3rd Street, Louisville, KY||Single||Claimed exemption from draft as alien.|
|Frank Martimi||Letcher||White||1892||Lardo, Mexico||Alien - Mexico||The Consolidation Coal Company - miner||Jenkins, KY||Single||Claimed exemption from draft as alien|
|1917||Antonio Perez||Letcher||Malaysian||1896||Mexico City, Mexico||Alien - Mexico||Consolidation Coal Company - miner||Burdine, KY||Single||Private Infantry 6 months in Mexico|
|1917||Marcario Perez||Letcher||Malaysian||1889||Mexico City, Mexico||Alien - Mexico||Consolidation Coal Company - miner||Burdine, KY||Married||Private Infantry 6 years in Mexico|
|1917||Paul Powell||Jefferson||White||1888||Saltillo, Mexico||Alien - Mexico||Baptist State Board - secretary||205 E. Chestnut, Louisville, KY||Single||Sergeant Infantry 3 months in Tennessee|
|1917||Juan Ruis||Floyd||White||1895||Del Riviera, Mexico||Alien Declarant - Mexico||Bates & Rogers - laborer||Fed, KY||Single||Soldier in U.S. Army for 2 years|
|1917||Samuel Tejada||Christian||White||1890||Monclova, Mexico||Alien - Mexico||Montgomery-Perkins Co. - day laborer||Hopkinsville, KY||Single|
|1918||Mike Ochoa||Harlan||White - Mexican||1897||Lampuga, Mexico||Alien - Mexico||U.S.C. & C. Company Inc. - miner||Lampuga, Sonora, Mexico|
|DEATH YEAR||NUMBER OF DEATHS||COUNTIES WHERE DEATHS OCCURRED||RACE ON DEATH CERTIFICATES||BIRTH YEAR||BIRTH LOCATION||BURIAL LOCATION||OCCUPATION||HOME ADDRESS||MARITAL STATUS||NOTES|
|1850-1860||1||Kenton||1849||Mexico City, Mexico||Covington, KY||Single||Females -1
CAUSES: [Nothing noted]
|1871-1880||1||Jefferson||White||1844||Mexico||Louisville, KY||[Nothing noted] -1||Louisville, KY||Females
|1881-1890||2||Kenton||White||1802, 1857||Mexico||Cincinnati, OH
|[Nothing noted] -2||Kenton County, KY||Single -1
CAUSES: Osteitis, [Nothing noted] -1
|1901-1910||3||Jefferson (2), Kenton||Black, Indian, White||1841, 1855, 1885||Mexico||Covington, KY
|Covington, KY -1
Louisville, KY - 1
[Nothing noted] -1,
CAUSES: Accident, Strangulated hernia, [undecipherable] -1
|1911-1920||8||Fayette, Franklin, Harlan, Jefferson (3), Owen, Pike||Black, Mexican -4, White -3||1840, 1848, 1886, 1890, 1894, 1896, 1909, 1919||Mexico, Monteray, Mexico -1||Frankfort, KY Lexington, KY
Louisville, KY -2
Poor Fork, KY
|Coachman, Coal Miner -3, House wife,
[Nothing noted] - 1
Los Antiano, TX, [Nothing noted]-5
CAUSES: Acute Bronchitis/Asthma, Appendicitis & Cholera, Asthma, Fell from 2nd story window, Gun Shot, Influenza, Slate fall in mine, Tuberculosis