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

Graves County (KY) Slaves, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870

Graves County is located in far western Kentucky on the Tennessee state line and borders five Kentucky counties. Formed in 1824 from a portion of Hickman County, it is the largest county in the Jackson Purchase Region.

The county is named for Benjamin Franklin Graves. Born in Virginia, he was a soldier killed at the Battle of River Raisin during the War of 1812. The county seat, Mayfield, was named in 1824 for the major waterway, Mayfield Creek, which was supposedly named for George Mayfield from Mississippi, who was shot and died in the creek.

In 1830 there was one African American slave owner in Graves County. The 1830 Census for the county showed a population of 380 [heads of households], and that increased to 13,348 by 1860, excluding slaves. Below are the numbers for the slave owners, slaves, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 353 slave owners
  • 1,125 Black slaves
  • 232 Mulatto slaves
  • 1 free Black [Easter Negro]
  • 6 free Mulattoes [last names Maples and Owens]
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 566 slave owners
  • 2,309 Black slaves
  • 535 Mulatto Slaves
  • 2 free Blacks
  • 4 free Mulattoes
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 1,933 Blacks
  • 328 Mulattoes
  • About 54 U.S. Colored Troops listed Graves County, KY, as their birth location.
For more see the Graves County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Graves County, Kentucky, History & Families, by Turner Publishing Co.; and Sugar of the Crop, by S. Butler.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Graves County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Mayfield, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: African American Slave Owners in Kentucky
NKAA Source: The Kentucky encyclopedia
NKAA Source: Graves County, Kentucky, history & families
NKAA Source: Sugar of the crop : my journey to find the children of slaves

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Graves County (KY) Slaves, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 25, 2022,

Last modified: 2020-07-15 19:29:14