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

Whiting, Pierre, Sr.

(born: 1861  -  died: 1949) 

Pierre Whiting, Sr. was a janitor at the University of Kentucky for 57 years. It is thought that he was the first African American employed at the university, and that he was employed longer than any other employee. Whiting's starting date was in 1888 and he retired in 1945. Pierre Whiting was born in Woodford County, KY, the son of Fletcher and Martha Whiting [source: Pierre's Kentucky Death Certificate Registrar's No. 344].

Prior to coming to work at UK, Pierre Whiting lived in Adamstown and he was a farmhand, according to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Piere's wife was Florida Young and their son was Hannibal. An uncle named Hannibal Breckinridge lived with the family. Pierre Whiting started working at the University of Kentucky in 1888. By 1900, he and Florida were no longer together, and Pierre Whiting was married to Nanine Scott. There were four children in the house: Hannibal, Pierre Jr., Charlie T., and a daughter named Mary [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The family lived on Winslow Street. Pierre's oldest son Hannibal Whiting died of consumption in 1907 and is buried in African Cemetery #2; he was 26 years old [source: Kentucky Certificate and Record of Death Registered No.543].

By 1918, Pierre's son Charlie T. Whiting was employed at Michler Brothers, a greenhouse located at 415 W. Maxwell Street in Lexington [source: Charlie Whiting's WWI Draft Registration Card]. When he returned from service, he was employed with Louis Michler as a chauffeur [source: p.765 in Lexington City Directory, 1923]. In 1920, Pierre and Nannie's son Robert W. was included in the census record for the family. In 1930, the family is listed as living on Euclid Street (Adamstown), according to the U.S. Federal Census. The address is given as 247 Euclid Avenue on p.615 in Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, 1930.

Beginning in the 1930s, there were a series of deaths in the Whiting family. Pierre and Nannie Whiting's son Pierre Jr. died in 1939 and is buried in African Cemetery #2 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No. 699]. Pierre Whiting was a widower when his son died [source: U.S. Federal Census]; his wife Nannie Scott Whiting had died in 1936 and she is buried in African Cemetery #2 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No. 1123]. Pierre's first wife Florida Young Saunders died in 1940, she was the widow of Edward Saunders. Florida is buried next to her son Hannibal Whiting in African Cemetery #2 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death, Registrar's No. 204]. In 1943, Piere's son Robert Willie Whiting died of lukemia and he is buried in African Cemetery #2 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death, Registrar's No.1060].

Also in 1943, Pierre Whiting's house was one of the homes in Adamstown that the University of Kentucky purchased, with the intent of tearing the houses down for the building of Memorial Coliseum. The land was referred to as the "Field House Property" in the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees' Minutes, January 12, 1943, p.63 [available online at Explore UK]. The Whiting home was purchased for $1800 [p.64]. Pierre Whiting and his daughter Mary moved to 181 Colfax Street [source: Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, 1943, p.343]. Charles, who was a chauffeur for Thomas B. Cromwell, lived with his wife Millie at 561 S. Upper Street [p.343]. Pierre Whiting retired from the University of Kentucky in 1945, he died April 7, 1949 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registrar's No. 344]. He lived to see the integration of the University of Kentucky in March of 1949. Pierre Whiting, Sr. is buried in African Cemetery #2. His son Charlie T. Whiting died in 1958 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Lexington, Charlie was a veteran of WWI [source: U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans]. Prior to his death, Charlie T. Whiting was a clerk at O. S. Honaker, and he and his Millie lived at 741 Whitney Avenue [source: p.760 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, 1958].

Pierre's daughter Mary Whiting was a cook at Donovan Hall Cafeteria on the University of Kentucky campus in 1958, and she had moved from the home on Colfax Street to 512 Lawrence Street [source: p.760 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, 1958; and p.728 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, 1960]. Mary Whiting retired from the University of Kentucky on June 1, 1971; she had been a cook at Donavan Hall for 15 years [source: University of Kentucky Board of Trustees' Minutes, May 4, 1971, p.20 - available online at Kentucky Digital Library]. Mary Whiting died in 1973 [source: U.S. Social Security Death Index].

For more see "The Life story of Dean Whiting is the history of an institution," Kentucky Kernel, 04/22/1949, p.5; and "Dean Pierre dies; served UK 57 years," The Kentucky Alumnus, p.19; [both articles available online at Explore UK]. For the earlier employment and resignation of Mary Whiting at the University of Kentucky, see the Board of Trustees' Minutes, April 6, 1954, p.50; and Board of Trustees' Minutes, June 1, 1954, p.97 [both available online at Kentucky Digital Library].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Woodford County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Adamstown in Lexington, KY
NKAA Entry: African Cemetery No. 2 (Lexington, KY)
NKAA Source: Lexington city directory...(serial)
NKAA Source: Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) city directory
NKAA Source: Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) city directory (annual)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Whiting, Pierre, Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 1, 2022,

Last modified: 2021-01-22 21:59:40