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

Africa in Fort Scott, Kansas [George Tivis]

(born: 1880  -  died: 1900) 

From 1880-1900, there was said to be a Negro colony that lived near Fort Scott, Kansas, according to an article by H. V. Cowan titled "Cattle now graze at site of early Negro settlement" in The Fort Scott Tribune and The Fort Scott Monitor newspaper, October 22, 1960, pp.1&2 [article online at Google News]. The settlement called "Africa" was established by former slaves and credited to Mr. and Mrs. George Tivis from Kentucky, and their children Melinda, Richard, Alvin, George Jr., and Esther. According to the newspaper article, some of the children were married and had families of their own, and by 1900, all had moved away from the settlement, with some going on to Oklahoma.

Looking back in time using census records, there is the question of which George Tivis founded the settlement, because there were three African American men from Kentucky named George Tivis who lived in or near Fort Scott (Bourbon County), Kansas before the year 1900. The first one is listed in the 1885 Kansas State Census; George Tivis, was born around 1810 in Kentucky, and there was his wife L. Tivis, born around 1814 in South Carolina, and two other family members, A. Tivis and W. Tivis, both born in Kentucky. The family lived in Marion (Bourbon County), Kansas in 1885. They were among the more than 500 African Americans who were living in Fort Scott, Kansas, between 1880 and 1885, and about 77 of them were born in Kentucky. There were four African Americans with the last name Tivis, and of the four, Harry Tivis was the only one born in Kentucky [source: 1880 U.S. Federal Census]; therefore George Tivis (born around 1810) was either not included in the 1880 census, or he arrived sometime after the 1880 U.S. Census was taken.

The second George Tivis from Kentucky was living in Mississippi with his wife and two daughters in 1880, according to the U.S. Federal Census. This particular George S. Tivis was born in April of 1843 in Kentucky, and his wife Mary Tivis was born in Georgia in December of 1851. The couple had at least 7 children: Lizzie Tivis; May Tivis White who was married to George White from Missouri; James; George Jr.; Esther; Richard; and Elisha [sources: 1880 and 1900 U.S. Federal Census]. The oldest four children were born in Mississippi and the last three were born in Kansas. George, Mary, and their children did not arrive in Fort Scott, Kansas until some time after George Jr. was born around 1884; the family is not listed in the 1885 Kansas State Census. 

A third George Tivis from Kentucky is listed in the 1905 Kansas State Census. He was born around 1851 and was the husband of Amanda who was born around 1853 in Kentucky. The couple had three children: Cordelia, John, and Dalia. The family may have been in Fort Scott as early as 1885, around the year that Cordelia Tivis was born.

In any event, by 1910, there is only one George Tivis listed in the U.S. Federal Census for Fort Scott, and he is the husband of Mary. In 1916, Mary and George Tivis lived at 707 S. Broadway [source: p.204 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Fort Scott City Directory, 1916]. George Tivis (also spelled Tevis), born in 1843, was a Civil War veteran; he served with the 122nd Regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops, Company G [source: U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865]. He was born in Franklin [County?], KY and enlisted in Lexington, KY on June 30, 1864 [source: U.S. Descriptive Lists of Colored Volunteer Army Soldiers, 1864]; George Tivis was a slave when he enlisted. The last of George and Mary's children to live in Fort Scott was John Richard Tivis who died in 1966, leaving Elisha Tivis as the sole survivor of the children [source: "John Richard Tivis" in the Deaths-Funerals section of The Fort Scott Tribune and The Fort Scott Monitor, 04/04/1966, p.6 [article online at Google News]. Elisha Tivis lived in Kansas City, Kansas. It has yet to be determined if the three men from Kentucky named George Tivis were related.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: R. L. Polk & Co.'s Fort Scott city directory (serial)
NKAA Source: The Fort Scott tribune and the Fort Scott monitor (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Africa in Fort Scott, Kansas [George Tivis],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 21, 2022,

Last modified: 2017-09-13 22:19:24