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

Clay County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870

Clay County is located in southeastern Kentucky in the Cumberland Mountains, surrounded by seven Kentucky counties. During the 1800s, Clay County was the major salt producer in the state of Kentucky.

The county was formed in 1807 from portions of Madison, Floyd, and Knox Counties, named for Green Clay from Virginia, a veteran of the War of 1812 and the American Revolutionary War. Clay, a surveyor in Kentucky, later became a Kentucky Representative in the Virginia House of Delegates. He was also a member of the Kentucky Legislature.

The town of Greenville was also named for Green Clay, but the name was later changed to Manchester, which is the county seat. The name change was in honor of Manchester, England.

The 1810 Clay County population was 428 [heads of households], according to the U.S. Federal Census, increasing  to 6,303 by 1860, excluding enslaved people. Below are the number of slave holders, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 51 slave owners
  • 349 Black slaves
  • 82 Mulatto slaves
  • 58 free Blacks
  • 118 free Mulattoes
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 85 slave owners
  • 215 Black slaves
  • 139 Mulatto slaves
  • 49 free Blacks
  • 209 free Mulattoes
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 366 Blacks
  • 176 Mulattoes
  • About 25 U.S. Colored Troops listed Clay County, KY as their birth location.
For more see the Clay County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; History of Clay County, Kentucky, 1767-1976, by K. Morgan and H. S. Morgan; Clay County, Kentucky: history and families, by the Clay County Genealogical and Historical Society; and Appalachians and Race, by J. C. Inscoe.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Clay County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Greenville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Manchester, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Clay County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-08-30 19:11:04