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

Lawson, William H.

(born: 1840  -  died: 1913) 

William H. Lawson was born in Maysville, KY, the son of Robert Lawson. He attended school in Ripley, OH. His family moved to Louisville in 1856 and was listed as free in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. The family included William; his mother, M. Lawson, who was employed as a wash woman; and two other children.

William trained to become a painter, decorator, and photographer. In 1872 he ran unsuccessfully for Marshall of the City Court. From 1879-1886, he operated a photography studio at 319 W. Walnut Street. He was later a store-keeper and artist.

William Lawson served with the 122nd Regiment of the U. S. Colored Troops as a quartermaster sergeant. He helped organize the United Brothers of Friendship and served as a state and national Grand Master. He was also a published poet.

William Lawson was married to Emeline Lawson, born in 1857 in Tennessee. He was later married to Elizabeth [Lizzie] Lawson.

For more see the "W. H. Lawson" entry in Weeden's History of the Colored People of Louisville, by H. C. Weeden; and J. C. Anderson, "Photography," p. 703, middle column, in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, edited by J. E. Kleber.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Mason County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Maysville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten
NKAA Source: Weeden's history of the colored people of Louisville
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of Louisville

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Lawson, William H.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 30, 2020,

Last modified: 2020-09-25 17:51:39