Nick and Matt [or Mat] Bransford and Stephen Bishop were slaves who served as guides at Mammoth Cave; Matt was a guide for 49 years, beginning in 1838. He was the son of Thomas Bransford and a slave woman. Henry Bransford, Matt's son, was a guide for 19 years. Matt W. and Lewis Bransford, Henry's sons, were also guides, Matt for 32 years. Lewis resigned in 1940, and in 1948 Mammoth Cave was turned over to the federal government. Eight of the Bransford men had been guides in Mammoth Cave. In 2002, Jerry Bransford became a guide at the cave, he is the great-great-grandson of Mat Bransford. For more see Kentucky's Black Heritage, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; Louisville Defender, 04/12/1942; The News-Enterprise (Hardin County, KY), 02/09/04; J. C. Schmitzer, "The sable guides of Mammoth Cave," Filson Club History Quarterly, vol. 67, issue 2 (1993), pp. 240-258; K. Ohlson, "Illuminating his heritage," American Profile, 11/8-14,2009, pp.6-7; and Making Their Mark: the signature of slavery at Mammoth Cave by J. Lyons.
See photo image of Matt Bransford at NYPL Digital Gallery.
See photo image of William Bransford at NYPL Digital Gallery.