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


York, a slave whom William Clark inherited from his father, was the first African American to cross North America. York came to Jefferson County, KY with Clark to live on the family plantation, Mulberry Hill. In 1803 York accompanied Clark on the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-1806); he was known as Big Medicine to the Indians. A while after the expedition, York was freed; the date and place of his death is not known.

For more see In Search of York, by R. Betts; The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber; and Buffalo Dance, the journey of York, by F. X. Walker.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: In Search of York :the slave who went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of Louisville
NKAA Source: Buffalo dance : the journey of York
NKAA Entry: Walker, Frank X

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry: Migration from Kentucky to Iowa

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“York,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 28, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-03-08 18:21:38