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

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

Harrison County, located in north-central Kentucky in the Bluegrass Region, was formed in 1793 from portions of Bourbon and Scott Counties. It was named for Benjamin Harrison [not to be confused with President Benjamin Harrison]. Harrison was born in Virginia and lived in Pennsylvania before coming to Kentucky. He was a veteran of Lord Dunmore's War and the American Revolutionary War. After moving to Kentucky, Harrison helped write the Kentucky Constitution and served as a Kentucky legislator.

The first white settlers in Harrison County had come from Pennsylvania and settled near what would become Cynthiana, the county seat. Built on land donated by Benjamin Harrison, Cynthiana was established in 1793 and named for Harrison's daughters, Cynthia and Ana.

The 1800 county population was 4,350, according to the Second Census of Kentucky: 3,925 whites, 406 slaves, and 19 free coloreds. In 1830 there was one free African American slave owner in Harrison County. The population increased to 10,491 by 1860, according to the U.S. Federal Census, excluding slaves. Below are the number of slave owners, slaves, and free Blacks and Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 665 slave owners
  • 2,701 Black slaves
  • 640 Mulatto slaves
  • 88 free Blacks
  • 59 free Mulattoes
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 620 slave owners
  • 2,398 Black slaves
  • 894 Mulatto slaves
  • 91 free Blacks
  • 58 free Mulattoes
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 1,636 Blacks
  • 735 Mulattoes
  • About 97 U.S. Colored Troops listed Harrison County, KY, as their birth location.
For more see the Harrison County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland, by J. B. Hudson; African American Marriage Index, Harrison County, Kentucky, by P. A. Naff; Cynthiana Since 1790, by V. Peddicord; and Cynthiana, by M. B. Kennerly.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: "Second census" of Kentucky, 1800; a privately compiled and published enumeration of tax payers appearing in the 79 manuscript volumes extant of tax lists of the 42 counties of Kentucky in existence in 1800
NKAA Source: The Kentucky encyclopedia
NKAA Source: Fugitive slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky borderland
NKAA Source: African American marriage index, Harrison County, Kentucky
NKAA Source: Cynthiana since 1790
NKAA Source: Cynthiana

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  African American Slave Owners in Kentucky

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Harrison County (KY) Slaves, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 25, 2020,

Last modified: 2020-07-13 18:29:47