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

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

Jessamine County, named for the jasmine (jessamine) flower and Jessamine Creek, was established in 1798 from a portion of Fayette County. Located in the Bluegrass Region, it is surrounded by five Kentucky counties.

County seat Nicholasville was named for George Nicholas, who was appointed the first U.S. Attorney in what later become Kentucky by President George Washington in 1789. (Although not yet a state, Kentucky was included as one of 15 original federal judicial districts created by Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice website.)

Born in Virginia, Nicholas was a veteran of the U.S. Revolutionary War. He drafted the first Kentucky constitution and was the first professor of law at Transylvania College. He had come to Kentucky around 1788 and died in 1799, about a year after Jessamine County was formed.

The total county population for 1800 was 5,461, according to the Second Census of Kentucky: 3,879 whites, 1,561 enslaved, and 21 free coloreds. Ten years later the population was 8,377, according to the Third Census of the United States (Census of 1810), Jessamine County, Kentucky: 3,072 white males, 2,786 white females, 2,483 enslaved, and 36 free Black persons. In 1830 there were three African American slave holders. By 1860, the population had increased to 5,776, excluding the enslaved. Below are the number of slave holders, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes from 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 615 slave owners
  • 3,367 Black slaves
  • 457 Mulatto slaves
  • 116 free Blacks 
  • 42 free Mulattoes
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 572 slave owners
  • 3,153 Black slaves
  • 572 Mulatto slaves
  • 73 free Blacks
  • 23 free Mulattoes
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 2,862 Blacks
  • 634 Mulattoes
  • About 88 U.S. Colored Troops listed Jessamine County, KY as their birth location.
For more see the Jessamine County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia; A History of Jessamine County, Kentucky, by G. H. Young; A History of Jessamine County, Kentucky, by R. Fain; Slaves to Soldiers, by B. R. Eades; and Camp Nelson, Kentucky, by R. D. Sears.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jessamine County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Nicholasville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Jessamine County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 26, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-09-01 16:42:56