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

Coles County, Illinois [Anthony and Jane Bryant]

(start date: 1840) 

The African American settlers of Coles County, Illinois, came from Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee, all around 1840. The settlers from Kentucky included Isom and Lucy Anne Bryant (Lucy was from Kentucky); the Derixson (or Derrickson) Family, escaped slaves from Nicholas County, Kentucky; and Mr. and Mrs. George Nash (George was from Kentucky). A famous slavery case that took place in Coles County involved Anthony Bryant, a free man, and his wife Jane Bryant, a slave, and her four children [some sources say six children]. Slave owner Robert Matson, from Bourbon County, wanted to take Jane and the children from Coles County back to Kentucky, and he enlisted the help of lawyers U. F. Binder and Abraham Lincoln. Matson lost the case, and the Bryant Family moved to Liberia, Africa. For more see History of Negro Slavery in Illinois and of the Slavery Agitation in that State, by N. D. Harris (1904); and J. W. Weik, "Lincoln and the Matson Negroes," Arena, v.17, 1896-97 Dec-Jun, pp.752-758 [available full view at Google Book Search].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Nicholas County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Bourbon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

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NKAA Source: History of Negro slavery in Illinois and of the slavery agitation in that state

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Coles County, Illinois [Anthony and Jane Bryant],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-01-04 18:02:25