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

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

Lewis County is located in northeastern Kentucky on the Ohio River and borders five counties. Developed from a portion of Mason County in 1806, it is named for Merriweather Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition. The first county seat was Poplar Flats in 1806; Vanceburg became the county seat in December 1863. Vanceburg was named for Joseph C. Vance, a Revolutionary War veteran born in Virginia.

The 1810 population of Lewis County was 345 [heads of households], according to the U.S. Federal Census,  the population increasing to 8,011 by 1860, excluding the enslaved. Below are the number of slave holders, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule
  • 91 slave owners
  • 251 Black slaves
  • 71 Mulatto Slaves
  • 7 free Blacks
  • 1 free Mulatto [Robert McDowell]
1860 Slave Schedule
  • 69 slave owners
  • 134 Black slaves
  • 96 Mulatto Slaves
  • 15 free Blacks [10 with the last name Dennis]
  • 2 free Mulattoes [Jesse Greenway and Menerva Vincent]
1870 U.S. Federal Census
  • 205 Blacks
  • 30 Mulattoes
  • About 13 U.S. Colored Troops listed Lewis County, KY as their birth location.
For more see Lewis County in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; History of Lewis County, Kentucky, by O. G. Ragan; C.B. Shepard Deed of Emancipation, 1826; and Tax Assessment Books, 1807-1911 (Lewis County).

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Lewis County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Poplar Flats, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Vanceburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Kentucky encyclopedia
NKAA Source: History of Lewis County, Kentucky
NKAA Source: C. B. Shepard deed of emancipation (archival material)
NKAA Source: Tax assessment books, 1807-1911 (Lewis County)

Related Entries Citing this Entry


Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Lewis County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-08-25 17:48:44