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

Born in Africa, Born in Kentucky

(born: 1850  -  died: 1880) 

Submitted by Reinette F. Jones, 9/26/2016

This entry has been completed in response to the reference question, "Where did the slaves in Kentucky come from?" The short answer is Africa, though this does not explore the specific countries and/or regions of Africa where enslaved people had lived.  A search at that level will require a review of slave ship records that can be matched with archival records of slave holders and the paper trail that reveals the lives of individual enslaved people who were sold and resold, all added in with a good deal of luck and chance. There are no holdings or collections of records in the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center that will give the origins of all Black persons who were held in enslavement in Kentucky. Below is one method of following the trail of the enslaved in and from Kentucky based on information from the former enslaved's perspectives. 

In 1850, there were a few free Black persons in Kentucky who were noted in the U.S. Census as born in Africa. They may have been formerly enslaved in the U.S., but they had not forgotten that they came from Africa. The same can be said of the thousands of others who were enslaved in 1850; they too knew of their origins even though the enslaved were not listed by name in the census nor were their birth locations noted.

Daniel Clarke (1795-1872) is one such person who was born in Africa and enslaved in Kentucky who remembered that he was born in Africa near a coast, even though Kentucky is given as his birth location in the 1870 U.S. Census. Passing on the knowledge of one's origins to the next generation would have been an oral form of record keeping that was left in the hands of the first generation of Africans born in the United States.

After enslavement ended, there was an opportunity for the information to be noted on a much larger scale in the census records. But in reality, there were only about 2,200 Blacks and Mulattoes who had Africa noted as their birth location in the 1870 U.S. Census, a very small number given that there were over 4,800,000 Blacks and Mulattoes counted in the 1870 U.S. Census. The numbers represent the descendants of African-born persons who survived the passage to a new land where they were enslaved and their descendants continued to be enslaved for more than two and a half centuries [source: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database].

To have Africa noted as a birth location in the census meant that the information was important to somebody, whether that somebody was the individual being enumerated or the census taker who made the note. It should also be taken into consideration that not everyone in the United States who was Black and born in Africa came to the United States in enslavement. Within each census, there was a small group of Black persons from African countries who arrived in the U.S. as free persons; however, the census records can be quite difficult to decipher concerning who arrived as a free person and who received their freedom from enslavement.

The 1870 U.S. Census was the first attempt to gain data on foreign born parents - "a real boon in identifying immigrant ancestors" [source: "1870 Census" an website]. The heading of column 10 in the 1870 U.S. Census sheet was labeled "Place of Birth, Naming State or Territory of U.S.; or the Country, if of foreign birth." The headings of columns 11 and 12 on the U.S. Census sheet read "Parentage: Father of Foreign Birth / Mother of Foreign Birth." According to the 1870 Instructions to Assistant Marshals, "If of Foreign birth, the Country will be named as specifically as possible. ... The inquiries in columns numbered 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, and 20, are of such a nature that these columns only require to be filled when the answer to the inquiry is "Yes."" 

Though the answer would have been "Yes" for many African Americans, the term "foreign born parents" and "immigrant ancestors" did not apply to the formerly enslaved born in Africa or the African-born parents of the formerly enslaved. These people were not considered immigrants because they had come to the United States as property, a status that was upgraded to each being a person with U.S. citizenship in 1868 with the Ratification of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution [Library of Congress website].

The 1870 census instruction manual said nothing about African Americans being citizens or not being citizens. What is found most often in terms of "Parentage" of African Americans on the 1870 census sheets is nothing: the columns are blank, as is the case of Daniel Clarke, mentioned earlier. In his case and others, the column for birth location lists a state in the U.S.

In the search of Kentucky-born Black or Mulatto persons with African-born parents, there were no names found in the 1870 Census, but at least seven persons were noted as born in Africa and living in Kentucky. The numbers would increase when the 1880 Census was completed (see table below). Those enumerated were old, with estimated birth years as early as the mid to late 1700s. Perhaps it was an end of life decision that made them want Africa noted in the census record, which was a government document that would show that their parents were born outside the U.S. Or perhaps it was the decision of the individual census taker who noted the birth location. The Instructions to Enumerators for 1880 is not available on the U.S. Census Bureau website, but it was for this particular census that the enumerators were selectively hired and were better trained than the U.S. marshals who had been hired in the past to collect the census data [source: "Census Instructions," a U.S. Census Bureau website].

Sometimes the census taker wrote the word "Africa" or the abbreviation "Afr." For those born in Kentucky, records for African Americans whose parents were born in Africa were first found within the 1880 census. This is a plus for researchers because, though the parent birth location data was originally requested to help the U.S. government to classify and track immigrants in the United States, the data are also useful to African American families in determining the arrival of their ancestors in the United States. The data may also be used to track persons brought from Africa and enslaved in the U.S. and who were at some point in Kentucky.

The notation of Africa as a birth location in the census records is just as valid and as accurate or inaccurate as the noted birth location of all others born outside the United States. Another source for locating birth locations is early Kentucky death certificates. In the table below are some of the names, birth years, and other information about Black persons said to be born in Africa and living in Kentucky as well as those who were Kentucky natives with parents who were born in Africa. There are also names of persons who were residing in Kentucky but were born in other states. Included are only the names of those who were born prior to the Ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution [Library of Congress website]. The table covers the 30-year time period from 1850-1880.

For more information on the psychology of enslavement, see Slavery and Social Death, by Orlando Patterson; Cultural Trauma, by Ron Eyerman; How America's First Settlers Invented Chattel Slavery, by David K. O'Rourke; and Roots Matter, by Paula Owens Parker.

Cunningham, Sambo 1780 Africa 1850 Lincoln County, KY      
Hopton, Chloe 1760 Africa 1850 Logan County, KY      
Limely, Thomas 1740 Africa 1850 Louisville, KY      
Johnson, Dinah 1780 Africa 1860 Sharpsburg, KY      
Bowman, Matilda 1800 Guinea 1870 Bardstown, KY      
Massay, Jack 1820 Africa 1870 Patter, KY      
Miller, Lucy 1832 Africa 1870 Louisville, KY      
Parker, George 1771 Africa 1870 Flat Rock, KY      
Posey, Lucy 1843 Africa 1870 Louisville, KY      
Rowland, Alexander 1765 Africa 1870 Bowling Green, KY      
Williams, Margaret 1785 Guinea 1870 Elk Springs, KY      
Adams, Wash 1824 KY 1880 Springfield, MO Guinea, Africa    
Allen, Sam 1826 KY 1880 Owingsville, KY Africa Africa  
Andrew, Lavenia 1780 KY 1880 New Orleans, LA Africa Africa  
Armstrong, Claura 1814 KY 1880 Claiborne, LA Africa Africa  
Armstrong, Jarret 1796 KY 1880 St. Mary, LA Africa Africa  
Austin, Amanda 1837 KY 1880 Taylorville, IL Kentucky Africa  
Baptiste, John 1800 KY 1880 St. Bernard, LA Africa Africa  
Bell, Jack H. 1847 KY 1880 Fayette County, TX Kentucky Africa  
Berry, Wash 1821 KY 1880 Lake Charles, LA Virginia Africa  
Blain, Almedia 1822 KY 1880 Fayette County, TX   Africa  
Blankenship, George 1850 KY 1880 Petersburg, KY Virginia Africa  
Blue, Daniel 1811 KY 1880 Sacramento, CA Africa Africa  
Board, Pascal 1823 KY 1880 Plaquemines, LA Africa England  
Boyd, Elvira 1846 KY 1880 Harrison, MS Africa Asia  
Brian, John 1813 Africa 1880 Mayfield, KY      
Brino, John 1861 KY 1880 Mayfield, KY Africa Africa  
Brown, Mariah 1817 KY 1880 Moberly, MO Africa Kentucky  
Brown, Thomas J. 1830 KY 1880 Grand Rapids, MI Indiana Africa  
Burdette, Samuel 1849 KY 1880 Ft. Bayard, NM Africa England  
Burton, Thomas 1849 KY 1880 Williams, IL Kentucky Africa  
Bush, Jack 1823 Africa 1880 Jeffersonville, KY      
Calamege, Hannah 1823 KY 1880 Louisville, KY Africa Georgia  
Caldwell, James 1843 KY 1880 Bainbridge, KY Africa Virginia  
Caldwell, Susan 1795 Africa 1880 Bainbridge, KY Africa Africa  
Campbell, Bryant 1812 KY 1880 Lexington, KY Africa Africa  
Carpenter, Lewis 1818 KY 1880 Grenada County, MS Virginia Africa  
Carr, Charles 1809 KY 1880 New Orleans, LA Kentucky Africa  
Carrington, Pauline 1828 KY 1880 Howards Mills, KY Kentucky Africa  
Carter, Tilda 1812 KY 1880 Henryville, KY Africa Kentucky  
Chevis, Ed 1820 KY 1880 Millersburg, KY Africa Virginia  
Clark, Eliza 1809 KY 1880 Loretto, KY Africa Africa  
Clay, Steward 1797 KY 1880 Smiths Mill, KY Africa Kentucky  
Cole, James 1818 KY 1880 Dallas, TX Virginia Kentucky Brother of Nancy Cole
Cole, McIntire 1855 KY 1880 St. Louis, MO Africa Africa  
Cole, Nancy 1820 KY 1880 Dallas, TX Virginia Africa Sister of James Cole
Collier, Louisa 1808 KY 1880 Bethesda, KY Africa    
Cooper, Ann 1822 KY 1880 Carroll County, KY Virginia Africa  
Cooper, Lucy 1822 KY 1880 Parson, KS Georgia Africa  
Cotton, Sam 1815 KY 1880 Noxubee County, MS Africa Africa  
Craig, James T. 1825 KY 1880 Detroit, MI Virginia Africa  
Crutchfield, Ann 1830 KY 1880 Berlin, KY Africa Africa  
Dudley, Samuel 1812 KY 1880 Tanyard, KY Kentucky Africa  
Edwards, Miles 1797 KY 1880 Eliam, GA Africa Virginia  
Edwards, Peter 1854 KY 1880 St. Louis, MO Africa Africa  
Eelam, Ned 1819 KY 1880 Boon, IN Africa    
English, Charlotte 1813 KY 1880 Tensas County, LA Kentucky Africa  
Evans, Charlotte 1790 KY 1880 Head Quarters, KY Africa Virginia  
Fairchild, Drucilla 1820 KY 1880 Cayuga, MS Africa Africa  
Farmer, Daniel 1813 KY 1880 Soldier, KS Africa Africa  
Fields, Ely 1835 KY 1880 Trenton, WI Africa Kentucky  
Flood, Sylvia 1805 KY 1880 Louisville, KY Africa Africa  
Fortune, Frank 1840 KY 1880 Vienna, IL Africa Virginia  
Fox, Daunell 1810 Africa 1880 Columbia, KY      
Freeman, David 1839 KY 1880 Waltham, MA W. I. Island Africa  
Fulton, Robert 1819 KY 1880 Coffee County, GA Africa Africa  
Gaines, T. D. 1836 KY 1880 Clinton, IA Virginia Africa  
Gammage, Mary 1820 KY 1880 Harrison County, TX Kentucky Africa  
Gash, Matilda 1808 KY 1880 Galesburg, IL Kentucky Africa  
Gibson, Alfred 1834 KY 1880 Wichita, KS Africa Africa  
Gilbert, Jack 1820 KY 1880 Brush Creek, KY Africa Kentucky  
Gilmore, Jim 1805 KY 1880 Bois D'Arc, AR Africa    
Goodun, Howard 1851 KY 1880 Silver City, NM   Africa  
Graham, Gorley 1815 KY 1880 Shelby City, KY Africa Africa  
Groves, David 1820 KY 1880 Harris County, KY Kentucky Africa  
Hale, Peter 1821 KY 1880 Mayfield, KY Africa Kentucky  
Haines, America 1820 KY 1880 Carbondale, IL Africa Kentucky  
Harris, Henry 1845 KY 1880 Aztalan, WI Africa Africa  
Henry, Laura 1858 KY 1880 Chicago, IL Africa Kentucky  
Howard, Ellen 1840 KY 1880 Indianapolis, IN Africa Kentucky  
Hutchinson, Jane 1842 KY 1880 Cincinnati, OH Virginia Africa  
Ivey, Nancy 1815 KY 1880 Amite County, MS Africa Africa  
Jackson, Waly 1840 KY 1880 Tuscaloosa County, AL Kentucky Africa  
Jamison, Curtis 1824 KY 1880 LaGrange, AR Africa Kentucky  
Johnson, Harvey 1817 KY 1880 Liberty Grove, MS Africa    
Johnson, Milly 1770 Africa 1880 Woods, KY      
Johnson, Robert 1852 KY 1880 Frankfort, IN Kentucky Africa  
Jones, Ruth 1805 KY 1880 St. Louis, MO Africa Africa  
Kagan, Lucy 1850 KY 1880 Hebbardsville, KY Africa Virginia  
Killabre, Samuel 1833 KY 1880 Newport, IL Africa Virginia  
Klinglesmith, M. C. 1810 KY 1880 Meeting Creek, KY Africa Africa  
Lane, Albert 1821 KY 1880 Beech Ridge, IL Africa Kentucky  
Letcher, John 1850 KY 1880 Livingston County, KY Africa Africa  
Lively, Emily 1848 KY 1880 Waterloo, KY Africa Kentucky  
M, Jack 1850 Africa 1880 Goshen, KY Africa Africa  
McAlpine, B. 1820 KY 1880 Claiborne, KY   Africa  
McCaine, Abner 1850 KY 1880 Bethesda, KY Africa Kentucky  
McCarty, Judy 1847 KY 1880 Bainbridge, KY Africa Virginia  
McClanahan, Jerry 1805 KY 1880 Berlin, KY Africa Africa  
McKenny, Robbin 1808 KY 1880 Eagle, MO Kentucky Africa  
Magraff, John W. 1836 KY 1880 Baton Rouge, LA Kentucky Africa  
Martin, Mira 1802 KY 1880 Hiseville, KY Kentucky Africa  
Martin, Joseph 1823 KY 1880 Lexington, KY Kentucky Africa  
Massey, John 1862 KY 1880 Rich Pond, KY Kentucky Africa  
Miller, Cato 1812 KY 1880 Sinking, KY Africa Virginia  
Modrell, Ned 1810 KY 1880 Pulaski County, KY Virginia Africa  
Moore, Isham 1852 Guinea 1880 Russellville, KY Africa Africa  
Morgan, A. 1804 KY 1880 Cedar Mountain, VA Africa Africa  
Morrow, Mariah 1825 KY 1880 Eddyvlle, KY Africa Kentucky  
Murray, Rachael 1801 KY 1880 Cahaba, AL Africa Africa  
Muse, Martin 1813 KY 1880 Ovid, MI Africa Africa  
Neal, Delia 1853 KY 1880 DeSoto County, LA Africa Africa  
Newton, George 1846 KY 1880 Aztalan, WI Kentucky Africa  
North, Nelson 1824 KY 1880 Hardyville, KY Kentucky Africa  
Parker, Mary 1835 KY 1880 New Orleans, LA Norway Africa  
Parks, Melinda 1800 KY 1880 Foxtown, KY Africa Africa  
Perry, Peter 1822 KY 1880 Jefferson County, AL Maryland Africa  
Potts, Robert 1805 KY 1880 Lee, KY Africa Virginia  
Potts, Charlotte 1830 KY 1880 Carlisle, KY Africa Kentucky  
Proctor, Abe 1810 KY 1880 Macon City, MO Virginia Africa  
Profit, W. Mose 1800 KY 1880 DeSoto County, LA Africa Africa  
Ransom, Stewart 1818 KY 1880 Pryorsburg and Rozells, KY Virginia Africa  
Rapier, Jane 1824 KY 1880 Uniontown, KY Africa Tennessee  
Reid, Boston 1820 KY 1880 Beat, MS Africa Africa  
Reynolds, Barbara A. 1830 KY 1880 Muhlenberg County, KY Virginia Africa  
Rice, Eliza 1856 KY 1880 Greene, OH Kentucky Liberia  
Roberts, Squire 1817 KY 1880 Prairie Point, MS Africa Kentucky  
Robinson, Tempy 1790 KY 1880 Jacksonport, AR Africa Africa  
Rogers, George 1838 KY 1880 Amite City, LA Africa Africa  
Rue, Frank 1799 KY 1880 Ottumwa, IA New Jersey Africa  
Sampson, Isaiah 1840 KY 1880 Lexington, KY Virginia Africa  
Scott, Henry 1857 KY 1880 Elmira, NY Africa Africa  
Scrivener, Dicy 1818 KY 1880 Glasgow Junction, KY Virginia Africa  
Sharp, Tecumseh 1840 KY 1880 Bismarck, Dakota Territory Virginia Africa  
Shiver, Harriet 1850 KY 1880 Brush, KY Kentucky Africa  
Simons, Isaac 1835 KY 1880 Monroe, LA Kentucky Liberia  
Smith, Lana 1800 KY 1880 St. Louis, MO Africa Africa  
Smith, Charles S. 1844 KY 1880 Tunica County, MS Africa Mexico  
Snow, Heneretta 1851 KY 1880 Chicago, IL Africa Kentucky  
Spears, Sibhi 1848 KY 1880 Covington, KY Africa Kentucky  
Stout, Julia 1836 KY 1880 Dallas County, TX Africa Virginia  
Strawder, H. 1818 KY 1880 Grimes County, TX Africa Africa  
Swannigan, Charles 1831 KY 1880 Greenville, MS Africa Kentucky  
Tyler, David 1827 KY 1880 Corning, IA Virginia Africa  
Thurston, Jessie 1822 KY 1880 Roane, AR Kentucky Africa  
Thurston, Nianna 1820 KY 1880 Roane, AR Africa Africa  
Tolls, Mollie 1847 KY 1880 Cincinnati, OH Virginia Africa  
Townsend, Joseph 1795 KY 1880 Keysburg, KY Virginia Africa  
Townsend, Jackson 1824 KY 1880 Ottawa, KS Kentucky Africa  
Turner, Hannah 1832 KY 1880 Cambridge, OH Kentucky Africa  
Tyson, Selina 1817 KY 1880 Lafayette County, MS South Carolina Africa  
Upton, James 1828 KY 1880 Union, IN Africa Maryland  
Vaughn, Amy 1790 KY 1880 Marshall, MO Africa Africa  
Vorters, Mahala 1813 KY 1880 Lafayette County, MS South Carolina Africa  
Waddington, Isaac 1830 KY 1880 Lafayette County, MS   Africa  
Wadlington, Henry 1829 KY 1880 Forrest Hill, MS Africa Kentucky  
Washington, Nancy 1820 KY 1880 Austin, TX   Africa  
Washington, Sarah 1830 KY 1880 Bearhouse, AR Virginia Africa  
Hillgryless, G. Wade 1818 KY 1880 Alfred Center, NY Omaha South Africa  
Weir, John 1817 Africa 1880 Muhlenberg County, KY      
Wilkinson, Betsey 1810 KY 1880 Frankfort, KY New Jersey Africa  
Williams, Belle 1850 KY 1880 Cincinnati, OH Kentucky Africa  
Williams, Esther 1806 KY 1880 Cuiver, MO Africa Virginia  
Williams, Isaac 1831 KY 1880 Morganfield, KY Kentucky Africa  
Williams, James 1814 KY 1880 Vermilion County, LA Virginia Africa  
Williams, Lucy 1845 KY 1880 Cincinnati, OH Africa Africa  
Willingham, Edy 1810 KY 1880 Hebbardsville, KY North Carolina Africa  
Wilson, Moses 1852 KY 1880 Wood County, TX Virginia Africa  
Wood, Louis 1855 KY 1880 Bayou Washa, LA Africa Africa  
Wright, Edward 1812 KY 1800 Macomb, IL Africa Kentucky  
Wyatt, Mary 1835 KY 1880 Kaufman County, TX Virginia Africa  
Bell, Milly 1785 VA 1880 Louisville, KY Africa Africa  
Champion, Gracie 1785 NC 1880 Carrsville, KY Africa Africa  
Douglass, Millie 1791 VA 1880 Hardinsburg, KY Africa Africa  
Harris, Antony 1821 NC 1880 Louisville, KY North Carolina Africa  
King, Solvin Bob 1819 VA 1880 Princeton, KY Virginia Africa  
Leavell, Peter 1800 VA 1880 Brandy Springs, KY Liberia Virginia  
    KY DEATH RECORDS        
Basey, William 1780 Africa 3/26/1870 Jefferson County      
Brooks, Sollie 1813 Africa 12/18/1873 Jefferson County      
Carter, Lina 1798 Africa 8/27/1878 Jefferson County      
Chief Cohonda 1864 Africa 7/10/1929
File #19395
Registrared #2959
Louisville, KY     Immigrated to U.S. in 1892
[source: 1900 U.S. Census]
Courtney, Edmond 1790 Africa 2/3/1874 Jefferson County, KY      
Davis, Mindy 1793 Africa 10/3/1878 Jefferson County, KY      
Eberle, Samuel 1816 Africa 11/5/1879 Jefferson County, KY      
Gascokoolovoma, Prince K. 1862 Africa 10/13/1908
Covington Death Certificate
Covington, KY      
Smith, George 1823 Africa 6/29/1873 Jefferson County, KY      
Tandy, Lowery 1818 Africa 3/8/1880 Jefferson County, KY      

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Born in Africa, Born in Kentucky,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 19, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-06-11 14:30:17