African American Odd Fellows Lodge at New Castle, KY

1886 African American Odd Fellows Lodge Henry Co KY
1886 African American Odd Fellows Lodge
New Castle, Henry Co KY

What: KICK OFF CAMPAIGN to save the Historic Odd Fellows Building sponsored by the New Castle Kentucky Main Street Program
When: 6 pm Thursday, August 13th , 2015, with Various Speakers
Where: Historic Odd Fellows Building at 32 South Main Street in New Castle, Ky.
6:30 pm : Reception with refreshments in “The Locker” next to Odd Fellows Building

In March of this year, a heavy snowstorm caused a collapse of the roof of the Historic Odd Fellows Building. The “Save the Historic Odd Fellows Building Committee” would like to invite you to its kick off campaign on Thursday, August 13th at 6 pm in front of the Odd Fellows Building at 32 South Main in New Castle, Kentucky. This occasion is sponsored by the New Castle Main Street Program as the initial event to raise funds to save and renovate this historic building.

The Odd Fellows Building became home to the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Washington Lodge #1513 in 1886. Former slaves founded this organization in 1872 just following the end of the Civil War. This lodge is the only remaining active Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Lodge in Kentucky and possibly the oldest African American fraternal organization in the state. On August 15th the Odd Fellows will be celebrating their 143rd Homecoming and Parade in downtown New Castle.

We hope you are able to attend this important event prior to the Homecoming as it is imperative this building be saved and restored. It is not only a significant part of African American history in New Castle and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is a national treasure that must be preserved.

For more information please contact New Castle Main Street Manager Jeff Thoke at 502-645-5421 or New Castle Preservation Board Chairman Joe Yates at 502-845-4441 or Richard Smith, President of Odd Fellows Washington Lodge #1513 at 502-330-4908.

Early African American Education in Shelby County Kentucky

Model School at Lincoln Ridge, Simpsonville KY
Model School at Lincoln Ridge, Simpsonville KY










This article was published in the Quarterly Journal of the Shelby County KY Historical Society in relation to Black History Month and the celebration of African American heritage.

Education of African Americans in Shelby County, Kentucky — A New Perspective

By Diane Perrine Coon

The January-February 2013 display in the Shelbyville Public Library highlights the long struggle to gain education for African American children in Shelby County, Kentucky. It features 1) Elijah Preston Marrs, a slave that became one of the earliest educators in Kentucky; 2) Lincoln Institute at Simpsonville, a boarding school providing African American children in the region a competent high school education during the segregated Kentucky decades; and 3) photos of the segregated schools at Bradshaw Street Graded School in Shelbyville, the Christiansburg Rosenwald School, and the faculty at High Street School in Martinsville, representative of the hundreds of dedicated teachers who struggled to teach against large class sizes, hand-me-down textbooks and scarce classroom resources.

In preparing the first countywide celebration of African American heritage in Shelby County, a number of important elements of African American education in this county were uncovered:

  1. A complete list of the Freedmen Bureau (1866-1870) schools and teachers in Shelby County — Simpsonville; Shelbyville (3 schools); Consolation (Stringtown); Christiansburg (Hinesville)
  2. A complete list of the Rosenwald Schools (1919-1924) in Shelby County and a petition for National Register designation for the Bucks Creek Rosenwald School —-     Bucks Creek, Christiansburg (Hinesville); Scotts Station; Chestnut Grove;  Clarks Station
  3. Identification of distinguished teachers and principals – a major element of African-American heritage in Shelby County, Kentucky. This work will continue.
  4. Brenda Jackson and Roland Dale have begun compilation of the Negro School Registers from the early 20th This work includes the complete list per school of the children, parents, teachers and teacher salaries during this period.

Reconstruction and Freedmen Bureau Schools (1866-1870):

Sources: Autobiography of Elijah Preston Marrs, Freedmen Bureau records, Kentucky State Library and Archives.

  1. Elijah Preston Marrs – taught at Simpsonville, Shelbyville, LaGrange, New Castle and Louisville; was a delegate to the 1868 Education Conference in Louisville that drew 1,000 supporters of education for African American citizens and training for Kentucky’s African-American teachers.
  2. Henry Marrs – taught at Lexington, Frankfort, LaGrange and Louisville
  3. Alfred E. Hughes – taught at Simpsonville’s Freedmen Bureau school
  4. William H. Russell, Joseph D. Mumford, Thomas S. Baxter, E. E. Hansborough – taught at Shelbyville’s three Freedmen Bureau schools
  5. Laura Stevens – taught at Christiansburg’s Freedmen Bureau School
  6. Charles Smith and Mrs. R. E. Harris – taught at Consolation’s Freedmen Bureau School

 Early Common School Era (1875-1920):

Sources: Notable Kentucky African Americans, University of Kentucky database; 1880 Federal Manuscript Census for Shelby County, Kentucky, 1882 Atlas of Henry and Shelby County, Kentucky; New History of Shelby County, Shelby County Historical Society; Local history files, Shelbyville Public Library.

  1.  Identification of Lewis Lawson, age 23, Sarah Clark, age 26, Lucy Gwinm, age 23, African American teachers in Shelby County’s few segregated common schools (from the 1880 federal manuscript census).
  2. 1881 Bartlett Taylor, born 1840 a slave in Henderson, Kentucky, gained wealth through meat packing and land speculation in Louisville, built several A.M.E. churches the largest in Bowling Green, came as pastor in 1881 to Bethel A.M.E. in Shelbyville, petitioned to build a school for African-American children that became the Graded School on Bradshaw. Rev. Taylor paid for the school building and its teachers. (From Notable Kentucky African Americans)
  3. 1898 African American School Districts – Uncovered the location of 15 of the 20 “colored” common schools, 6 in churches, 2 log, 7 frame, 1 brick, 1 condemned, (From the 1882 Atlas.)
  4. 1912 – first class at Lincoln Institute, early contracts between Shelbyville, Shelby County, Eminence, Henry County, for high school education; George T. Corderey the superintendent of woodwork, and Seaton Baldwin, superintendent of power, heat, etc., the first African Americans on the Lincoln Institute staff. (From the Public Library local history collections.)
  5. 1911-1915 – first consolidations of historic black schools, Clay Village and Rockbridge, Harrisonville and Waddy, Scotts Station and Todds Point, Evansville and Simpsonville (Model School) (From New History of Shelby County, Kentucky).

Rosenwald Schools (1917-1924) – One Teacher Architecture:

“Rosenwald Schools of Kentucky,” Alicestyne Turley-Brown, 1997, Kentucky African American Heritage Commission, Frankfort, Kentucky

  1.  Buck Creek (next to Allen Chapel south of Finchville)
  2. Christiansburg (at Hinesville near Mount Pleasant Baptist Church)
  3. Chestnut Grove (northwest of Shelbyville)
  4. Olive Branch (between Finchville and Southville, on Zaring Mill Road)
  5. Clarks Station (north of the Fisherville Road on Clarks Station Road near tracks)
  6. Scotts Station (on Antioch Road at junction with Scotts Station Road across from Shiloh Baptist Church)

Segregated School System (1924-1956:

  1. 1930 – J. W. Roberts named superintendent of colored schools in Shelbyville; Hellen Johnson, age 19, Rachel Davis, age 18, and Kerk Smith, age 64, listed as teachers at Lincoln Institute. (From the 1930 federal manuscript census.)
  2. 1935-1936 – replaced the 1918 contract between Shelbyville Independent School District and Lincoln Institute to reflect addition of the management of the Model School serving Simpsonville children, reorganization of the 1-8 and High School; addition of the John Ethington broom factory, contracts let for transportation from Eminence, Shelbyville, Henry County and Shelby County. (From New History of Shelby County, Kentucky.)
  3. 1936 – painted the school at Bagdad, rebuilt the Clarks Station and Todds Point schools, put an addition on the Scotts Station school, designated Harrisonville as an emergency school location. (From New History of Shelby County, Kentucky).; Lucy Jane Payne, teacher at Scotts Station School. (From interview with Maureen Bullitt Ashby.)
  4. 1940 – Robert L. Dowery Sr. born in Shelbyville in 1893, served in 1940s as teacher and principal at Shelbyville’s Graded School, in the 1920s and 1930s he taught in schools in Franklin County, Taylor County, Campbellsville and Elizabethtown. President and organizer of District #4 Teachers Association, Served in U.S. Army in WW1, died 1952 and buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.(From Notable Kentucky African Americans)
  5. 1940 – Shelbyville Colored Graded School (Bradshaw) upgraded using Public Works Administration funds and 90 cent general school tax, (From New History); Mr. R. D. Roman was principal at the Junior High School in Shelbyville and Mrs. Jewell J. Rabb was teacher there (from Shelbyville Sentinnel photo in the Shelbyviile Public Library local history collection); Ada Hedland, Curtis Greenfield and his wife Mary, Lamont Lawson, Joseph and Kathleen Carroll and Whitney Young all listed as teachers at Lincoln Institute; Will Allen, age 28, and Beatrice Boyd, age 34, listed as teachers in Rural District #7. (From 1940 federal manuscript census); Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Turner, teachers at the Model School at Lincoln Ridge and then transferred to the Montclair School. (From interview with Maureen Bullitt Ashby.)
  6. 1945 – Graded School on Bradshaw in Shelbyville burned; 1946-1948 – High Street School built in Martinsville on lots at Eleventh and High Street. 1949 – only three black elementary schools left in Shelby County. (From New History). Faculty included: Mrs. Ruth Ratcliffe, principal, Mrs. W. Mathis, music, Mrs. E. Byrd, Mrs. D. Dale, Mrs. J. Dale, Mrs. V. Purdy, Mrs. H. Taylor, Mr. M. Mooreman, Mrs. M. Brown, Mrs. F. Stone, Mrs. H. Thomas. (From Shelbyville Sentinnel photo in Shelby Public Library local history collection.)
  7. 1954 – Brown vs Board of Education strikes down segregated schools. 1956 first integration of Simpsonville Elementary; 1957 limited number of students integrate Southside Elementary in Shelbyville; 1964 Civil Rights Act; Shelby County dragged its heels toward integration of Junior and Senior High Schools, finally propelled to action by 1966 Kentucky Legislature closing both Lincoln Institute and High Street School. Brenda Jackson and Roland Dale, among first students to integrate Shelby County High School. Students still being bused to Lincoln Institute as late as 1969.
  8. 1980 – NAACP attacks school board’s affirmative action plan to hire and retain African American teachers as insufficient.

Help Needed to Complete African American School Locations:

  • We are trying to determine the specific location of the following schools:
  1. Olive Branch Rosenwald School
  2. “Colored” Common School location for Southville District, for Rockbridge District, for Harrisonville District, for Logans Station District, for Todds Station District, for Clay Village District.
  • Verify the use of the following African American churches as early school locations:
  1. Olive Branch Colored M.E. Church on Zaring Mill Road between Locust Grove Road and current Olive Branch M.E. Church.
  2. Pleasant View Colored Baptist Church at Stringtown on Route 1005
  3. “Colored Church” on Bardstown Trail between Grafensburg (Hardinsburg) and Route 395, Bagdad-Harrisonville Pike.
  4. Back Creek Road Baptist Church on Route 636 north of Mt. Eden; later had a school
  5. Zion Baptist Church at Clay Village and Benson
  6. Shelbyville – use of which church for Freedmen Schools; FB built one large brick school, contributed toward one smaller frame school and used one African American church as a school. Was this Clay Street or Bethel A.M.E.?

If anyone has information about these locations or photos of the schools/churches, please contact Diane Perrine Coon, or Kerry Magan at



Montclair, African American Hamlet in Shelby County, KY

Montclair Timeline

 1868 – First Land Purchase from Nancy Lyon’s Heirs  on Hickory Run: William Firman, Harvey, Russell and Jerry Bullitt. Originally a 138-acre farm, the land had been divided among heirs. Nancy Lyon had the dower portion of the estate. When she died her heirs sold the land to Freedmen. The Bullitt family purchased the largest share of land, 29 acres.

 1869-1871 – Further land purchases by Freedmen Slaves: Lindsey Johnson, Charles Edwards, William Todd, Robert Cole, Harvey Jones, James Evans, Adam Kelser, John and Mary Canady, and Wilkerson Bullitt.  Hamlet first called Evansville after James Evans

 1869 – Simpsonville Baptist Church gave permission for its black members to organize a separate church. Trustees were Jerry Bullitt, Wilkerson Bullitt and Beverly King, all residents of Evansville. They purchased lots 55 and 56 in Simpsonville where Liggett & Platt factory is  located along the L&N railroad tracks and built the Negro Baptist Church. Services were held there until 1946 when the congregation built a new church at Montclair.

 1872 – William and Mary Firman gave land for the community to have its own Graveyard on a hill south of the railroad. Civil War veterans were buried there. The last burial was Beard Brown.

 1877 – Louisville and Southern Railroad purchased land from Wilkerson and Jane Bullitt for $200 and laid railroad tracks in back of Evansville. (see Transportation 1888)

 1880-1920 – Lots subdivided and new families moved into Evansville – George and Mary Washington, David Alexander, Lewis and Angeline Logan, Anson Clair, William O’Bannon, Washington and Elizabeth Swingler, Beverly King, William Colbert, George and Jack Ballow, Adam Owsley, Albert Lancaster, Harrison Reid, Mr. Gruber, Allen Martin, William Colbert and Mary Fields.

 1888– Louisville Southern Railway service to Shelbyville, Harrodsburg, Lawrenceville, and Louisville was available via the Railway that through a series of mergers became the Norfolk Southern.

 1910-1930 – Interurban transportation connected Evansville/Montclair to Shelbyville, Simpsonville and Louisville via the tracks that ran along Old Shelbyville Road. One interurban station was at the corner of Scott Station Road and Shelbyville Road.

– When the interurban began service, the name was changed from Evansville to Montclair.

– Interurban streetcars were the major source of transportation from Evansville to Simpsonville. The cost was seven cents per round trip.

 1912 – Lincoln Institute opened a boarding school for African American high school students in three buildings at Lincoln ridge in September, Shelby County students sent by contract from the School Board.

1911 – Log school at Evansville consolidated with segregated Simpsonville elementary school.

1915 – Shelby County School Board took over responsibility for all black schools. Contracts let to Lincoln Institute carpentry department to building the Lincoln Model School for Simpsonville and Montclair elementary students. This graded school (1-8) was run by Lincoln Institute with advisory responsibility from Kentucky State College in Frankfort. Students from Monclair traveled by bus.

1940 – The Model School at Lincoln Ridge was closed, and a new two-story school was built at Montclair by the National Youth Administration (NYA) and the students at Lincoln Institute. The Montclair School accommodated all the African-American students in western Shelby County until desegration of the Simpsonville Elementary School in 1956.

1946 – The Negro Baptist Church at Simpsonville was moved to Montclair, because so many of its congregation lived there. While the new church was being built, services were held at the Montclair School across the road. The new church was renamed New Greater Baptist Church.

 20th Century at Montclair:

Small businesses – Mr. and Mrs. George Smith owned a restaurant and grocery. Another small business was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Clifton O’Bannon. Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Cochran, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Ford and Mr. and Mrs. Griff Hinkle also had businesses.

Medical – Montclair did not have a doctor resident. But Dr. Maurice Rabb served many in the community with house calls or by visiting his office in Shelbyville.

Funerals – Montclair residents used the R. G. Mayes Funeral Home in Louisville and Mr. and Mrs. George Saffell of Shelbyville.

Music – Montclair had lots of musical talent, especially the Lancaster Family. And some residents belonged to groups that performed in other counties and outside the state of Kentucky.

Sports – Montclair had skilled sportsmen such as the Stoners and Marshall families.

Icon – One of the most influential people in the Montclair community was Rev. Charles Davis. He was pastor at Centennial Baptist Church at Christiansburg/Hinesville. Rev. Davis was well known for wearing his black suit, white shirt, and necktie, most of the time. He was also a gifted singer.

 Sources: Griot Maureen Ashby, Lincoln Insitute archives, Shelbyville Public Library Local History Room, Shelby County Historical Society.

Diane Perrine Coon

Left side of photo old Simpsonville Baptist Church right side of photo of colored Baptist Church at Simpsonville



Martinsville, African American hamlet in Shelbyville, KY

St. John's United Methodist Church

                         Martinsville Timeline

1803         –    The land where Martinsville developed was included in the Western Addition to Shelbyville in 1803.

1867         –    H. H. Martin sold land in City Lot 114 of the original city to three speculators named Kinkle, Frazier and Rothchild. They in turn subdivided the land into standard city lots of 100’ by 25’ and in 1871 the three also purchased six additional parcels within Lot 114.

1867-1882    According to life-long resident Mrs. Eunice Marie Payne Reed, many of the original houses in Martinsville (in Phase I) were built by white employers for their black servants and former slaves. Homes and land were given to the residents and were then passed down to their descendents.

22Apr1877 – Andy Wilson sold Elijah Marrs a tract of land in Martinsville on the street back of College Street at the SW corner of Charles Clark’s 60 foot east lot, north 121’6”, thence 121’6” south thence 60’ to the beginning, lot known as 24 and 25 on Platt                  signed by Andy and Margaret Wilson recorded 02Aug1878.         On 06Aug1878 this same lot was deed to Martha E. Gordon to satisfy a bastardy claim instituted against Elijah P. Marrs by Mattie E. Gordon.

1882  –           By 1882 when the Henry and Shelby County Atlas was compiled by D. J. Lake & Company, Martinsville was a distinct subdivision with many houses located between Ninth and Eleventh and Union and High Streets.

1896-1897 –   St. John’s Methodist Church obtained land for $125.00 on College Street in Martinsville from David H. Wayne by trustees L. Coleman, Charles Davis, Alfred Buss, Peter Gordon, Davis Riggs, F. Mason, Lazarus Howard, Henry Wilson Jr., and M. Stewart. The building was completed at a cost of $3,000.00 in 1896. It had                   30 stained glass windows, double entrance doors and a tall steeple with one of the largest bells in Shelbyville.

1920         –   Residents of Drewsville, located just off the Louisville-Shelbyville Pike, began to sell their properties to whites and move into Martinsville.

1928     –      Alice Edwards, her sister Helen Wheatley, and son Otis Ellis, owned and operated a  grocery at Tenth and High Streets in Martinsville. Otis drove an ice truck taking block ice to residents before the days of electric refrigerators. They also had a radio                    that would attract large crowds during the 1940s listening to the Joe Louis fights.

1946-1948     –   High Street School constructed at Eleventh and High Streets in Martinsville after the Bradshaw Street Graded Elementary School burned. The High Street school was built on an old city garbage dump, and served as the elementary and middle school              for African-American children in Shelbyville.

1940s-1960s – A substantial number of locally owned African-American businesses served the Martinsville area including the Kinser, Ellis, Lanter, and Duncan groceries, the Rendevous Club, Henry Robert’s Contractor business, and residents were employed    at the Creamery, Logan’s Laundry, and a local coal yard.

1966 –         The Kentucky State Legislature closed both Lincoln Institute and High Street Middle School to force full integration in the Shelbyville school system.

1981 –        Shelby Community Center Gym founded in 1981.

1984  –       Congregational Methodist Church moves into the old Saffell Memorial Hospital/Retirement Home building on Tenth Street.

1989   –      First application for federal and state housing and renewal grants for Martinsville.

1990  —      First of the rehab projects completed, Clara Lee Wilson’s house one of five homes upgraded, sidewalks improved and some new homes built.

1991 –        Phase II survey done of 31 properties in the Martinsville Gardens which by this time reached all of City lots 112, 113, 114, 115, 120 and 121. However, the survey does not indicate which properties were rented out or owner resident.

1992-1993  –   $1,255,000 in grants from federal and state agencies for major urban renewal of Martinsville. Martinsville Appreciation Day in September brings out a large crowd of local residents.

1996       –  St. John United Methodist builds a new church building and fellowship hall on Tenth Street.

Martinsville Appreciation Day 23Sep1992 Sentinel News1992 Martinsville Appreciation Day, Sentinel News

Notable Citizens of Martinsville

Reverend George Smith (1894-1895) led the effort to construct St. John’s Methodist Church on College Street in Martinsville. Services were held at the Lodge Hall by Reverend John Russell until the new church was completed in 1896.

Reverend H. H. Greene  (1926) a legend within the Methodist Church, Reverend Greene preached first at St. John’s in Martinsville in 1926 and was ordained in 1929 in the Lexington Conference; he was the grandson of a previous pastor, Rev. W. H. Bloomer (1906-1909), Rev. Greene returned to St. John’s in 1969 after a division of membership created the Congregational Methodist Church, leaving St. John’s in turmoil. Rev. Greene is credited with providing healing and renewal.

Dr. John W. Robinson, born in Shelbyville KY, ordained into Lexington Conference and served as District Superintendent, then served in the pulpit of St. Mark in Chicago and St. Mark in NYC.

Mrs. Zora Clark ,  aunt of Reverend Greene, was the first African American woman in Shelby County to receive a nursing degree.

William Baxter, restaurant owner, church pianist, and member of a traveling band.

Mrs. Verna Chinn, first person to establish a kindergarten for African American children.  She also served as Sunday School Superintendent. She also tutored children from the neighborhood after school.

Mrs. Rebecca Smock Tilley – wife of Civil War veteran Joseph Tilley, was Church School Superintendent of the St. John’s Sunday School.

Beulah Roland, church organist for many years and succeeded by her sister Dollie Roland Miller who moved to Chicago.

Ethel Dirks, president of the Choir for many years and a trustee of St. Johns.

Lula Rucker Thomas, taught elementary school at Finchville for many years and opened a catering business and a restaurant at Martinsville.

William H. Payne, Chairman of the Administration Board for 35 years, member of the Board of Trustees and the Choir, Chairman of the Board of Education for the Colored Schools prior to integration.

Ollie Murphy,Secretary of the Finance Commission, trustee, and church treasurer.

Julia P. Wilson and Mary White,  Served as Communion Stewards, active in Finance Committee, building fund, Choir president, trustee.

Etta Roland, President of the Choir for many years, active in the Church School, put on a Christmas pageant for many years.

Bessie Fleming, Recognized as Mother of the Year, seven children, 25 grandchildren and 14 great grand children.

Willie C. Fleming, First black attorney graduated from the University of Louisville.

Arthur Ashby Jr. ,First black electrician in Shelby County.

Henry Roberts,  Owned and operated a contracting business on Tenth Street.

Nettie Hawkins, President of the Choir and chairperson of the Finance Committee.

Rev. George Cottrell Sr.  Served as assistant pastor.

Rev. Robert Marshall Sr.  Served as pastor when the congregation was deciding to rebuild and relocate.

Alice Edwards, Helen Wheatley, Otis Ellis, operated a grocery at Tenth and High Streets. Otis drove the ice truck bringing block ice to residents of Martinsville. And large crowds would come to their store to listen to the Joe Louis fights on their radio during the 1940s.

 Mack, Lee Nor (1914-1985) Lee Nor Mack was a contractor who in 1965 was the first African American councilman to be elected in Shelbyville, KY since 1904. He served as a councilman from 1967-1985. He was a veteran of WWII. Lee Nor Mack Street is named in his honor. Lee Nor Mack died in Jefferson County, December 7, 1985.

Moses Dale  (November 1971) land donated by the L&N Railroad on Union Street was developed into a mini-park and named for Moses Dale, long time resident of Martinsville  associated with youth programs.

Sources:  Griot Mattie Bray, longtime resident of Martinsville, and newspaper articles from the Shelbyville Sentinel and a short history of St. John Methodist Church.

Martinsville community Gym
Martinsville community Gym

Adam Crosswhite, Slave Escape with Entire Family

 This article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky.


Crosswhite, Adam (b. October 17, 1799, Bourbon Co., Ky.; d. January 23, 1878, Marshall, Mich.). Adam Crosswhite was a fair-skinned mulatto slave from Bourbon Co. His father was a white slave owner named Powers, who was a half-brother of Miss Ann Crosswhite. Ownership shifted to Miss Crosswhite prior to her marriage to Ned Stone. In turn, Stone sold Adam Crosswhite for $200, and in 1819 Adam was traded to Francis Giltner, a planter in Bourbon Co. There, Adam married Sarah in a slave ceremony and raised four children. Before 1830, Francis Giltner moved the entire family and his slaves to Hunters Bottom in Carroll Co., Ky. along the Ohio River.

In August 1843, Adam learned that Francis Giltner planned to sell part of his family. Crosswhite sought help from the Underground Railroad organization in Madison, Ind. As runaway slaves, and after having two narrow escapes using the newly organized safe routes through Ind., the Crosswhites—Adam, Sarah, Benjamin, Johnson, and two girls. Another child was born in Michigan. The Crosswhites managed to escape to Marshall, a city in south central Mich. There, Adam maintained a low profile. He worked, built a cabin, and became accepted in the village.

In response to the increased number of runaway slaves through the 1840s, slave owners in the north central river counties and the Bluegrass of Ky. sought to recover their financial investments. In 1846, a coalition of slave owners met in Covington, Ky., and hired a spy to ferret out runaway slaves in southern Mich. In late fall 1846, this spy, who called himself Carpenter, arrived in Marshall and in Cass Co. Masquerading as an abolitionist from Worcester, Mass., he visited the homes of free people of color. The information he gathered led to two major raids by Kentuckians, the earliest at Marshall in Calhoun Co., and the second in Cass Co.

In December 1846, acting on sources gathered by the spy, a young attorney in Lexington, Ky., Francis Troutman, grandson of a former owner and nephew of Francis Giltner, came to Calhoun Co., Mich., posing as a schoolteacher seeking a place to settle. He hired local Deputy Sheriff Harvey Dixon to pose as a census taker to scout the Crosswhite family. On January 20, 1847, Troutman reappeared at Marshall with three other Kentuckians—William Franklin Ford, David Giltner, and James S. Lee—- and, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Dixon, went to the Crosswhite cabin. There they attempted to capture Adam, but he and his son Johnson fled through a cornfield; Crosswhite accompanied Deputy Sheriff Dixon to secure counsel, and Troutman stayed in the Crosswhite cabin with drawn pistol as several neighbors attempted to enter the house, one of whom, a Mr. Hackett, was assaulted by Troutman.

When Dixon returned, he charged Troutman with assault and battery on Hackett and with trespassing and housebreaking. Troutman paid $100 in fines the next day in the local court before Judge Randall Hobart. Meanwhile, the townspeople hid the Crosswhite family in the attic of George Ingersoll’s mill. Isaac Jacobs, the hostler at the Marshall House, hired a team and covered wagon and,on the night of January 27, Ingersoll and Asa B. Cook drove the Crosswhite family to Jackson where they boarded a train to Detroit. George De Baptiste, the former Underground Railroad leader at Madison, Ind., met the Crosswhites in Detroit and took them into Canada.

The Kentuckians were furious, and several slave owner meetings were held. Citizens of Trimble and Carroll counties, led by Moses Hoagland of Hunters Bottom, met at Kings Tavern on February 10 and drew up three resolutions demanding that the Ky. legislature call upon its U.S. senators and congressmen to pass federal legislation giving slave owners redress and imprisoning and fining those who enticed, harbored, or aided runaway slaves.

By June 1847, Mich. newspapers along the southern tier were equally outraged that Ky. posses were seizing fugitives in a free state whose citizens detested slavery. In August 1847, a large Ky. raid led by Boone Co. (Ky.) slave owners George W. Brazier and Benjamin Stevens was repulsed from Cass Co. after attempting to recapture several former slaves.

The legislative wheels were set in motion. Joseph Underwood’s report and resolutions from the Ky. legislature were sent to the U.S. Senate on December 20, 1847 and, in May 1848, Senator Andrew P. Butler of S.C. printed his report favoring strong federal sanctions against those aiding runaway slaves; 10,000 copies were distributed. Momentum built for passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act that made it mandatory for U.S.  marshals to seize runaway slaves, for representatives of the slave owner to identify the runaways, and for severe fines to be levied on all those aiding and harboring fugitive slaves. Henry Clay, a personal friend of Francis Giltner, proposed a clause mandating restitution of property to southerners reclaiming runaway slaves.

Attorney Francis Troutman returned to Mich. in May 1848 to gather evidence and press charges against those who aided the Crosswhite family. On June 1, 1848, in Detroit, Justice McLane of the federal bench heard Giltner vs. Gorham et al. McLane charged the jury with ignoring their attitude toward slavery and deciding the case based only on the plaintiffs right to the services of the fugitives, and therefore, the right to obtain financial redress. The first trial jury hung and was discharged on June 12. A second trial was held and the jury awarded Giltner $1,926 in damages and heavy court costs, for a total of about $4,500. Zachariah Chandler, a leading antislavery Whig in Detroit, paid the greater part of the fine. Juryman Philo Dibble, a resident of Marshall, was publicly chastised from the pulpit by his Presbyterian minister for his participation in the verdict.

Northern reaction to passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was swift. By 1854, Ind. Mich., and Ohio had formed significant Republican parties that were obtaining antislavery majorities in their state legislative bodies, sending anti-slave congressmen and senators to Washington, and, by 1860, giving Abraham Lincoln the presidential candidacy.

The Crosswhite family returned to Marshall, Mich., after the Civil War; in 1878, Adam Crosswhite died and was buried in the Oakridge Cemetery in that city. In 1923, Michigan erected a bronze marker set in a stone boulder near the old Crosswhite cabin. The marker commemorates the runaway slave from Carroll Co., Ky., and the role of the people of Marshall in repulsing the Ky. posse.

Battle Creek Enquirer, July 14, 1907, January 28, 1929, July 3, 1930, April 1960.

Battle Creek, Michigan, Journal, 1927.

Battle Creek, Michigan, Tribune, January 20, 1847.

Crosswhite File, Calhoun Co., Mich., Public Library.

The Enquirer and Evening News of Battle Creek, Michigan, February 18, 1923, February 11, 1945, February 17, 1974.

Giltner vs. Gorham et al; Case No. 5,453, Circuit Court D, Michigan [114 McLean 402: 6 West Law J, 491].

Fuller, George N. ed. Michigan: A Centennial History of the State and Its People. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co, 1939.

Gara, Larry. The Liberty Line, University of Kentucky Press. 1961.

Gardner, History of Calhoun County, Michigan, 1913.

History of Calhoun County, Michigan, L. H. Everts & Co., Philadelphia, 1877.

Journal of the (Ky.) House of Representatives, (February 13, 1847): 338–41.

Michigan History, 53, no. 2 (1969): 131–43.

20th Congress, First Session [Senate] Ref. Com. No. 143.

The Weekly Commonwealth, Frankfort, Ky., February 23, 1847.

Diane Perrine Coon



Richard Daly, Underground Railroad Conductor, Escape to Canada

 This article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky.


Richard Daly line drawing from Detroit Sunday News-Tribune Jul 22, 1894Daly, Richard (date and place of birth unknown), The birthplace and birth date of Richard Daly, like those of many Ky. slaves, are unknown, but he was still alive in 1894 in Windsor, Canada, when interviewed by a reporter for a Detroit, Mich., newspaper. Richard Daly’s four children were born between 1840 and 1850 in Hunter’s Bottom, in Carroll Co., Ky. His oldest girl, Mary, was listed as being age seventeen in the 1860 Detroit census.

In the 1850s, Richard, his brother, Joe Daly, and Tom Owen were slaves owned by Samuel Fearn Sr. at Hunter’s Bottom, Ky. The Fearn family came to Ky. from Buckingham Co., Va. In 1803, Samuel Fearn (1766–1828) and his oldest son George (1796–1869) came to Hunter’s Bottom, a ten-mile stretch of Ohio River bottomland between Canip and Locust creeks. The Fearns had first moved to Bourbon Co. in Ky., but encountering some kind of land interference issues there, proceeded north.

Samuel Fearn, the family’s fourth child, was born at Hunter’s Bottom in 1806 and married Elizabeth Owen in 1826. George and Samuel Fearn together owned about 1,000 acres along the banks of the Ohio River, straddling the Carroll and Trimble county line, but Samuel Fearn’s main income came from his gristmill and packet steamship businesses in Milton, on the Ky. side of the Ohio River opposite Madison, Ind. He also purchased timberland in Jackson Co., Ind., on the White River. George Fearn speculated in land along the wharf area in Madison and along the Ind. shoreline on the east side of Madison. The two Fearn brothers were quite wealthy.

Sam Fearn's home c. 1910 Hunters Bottom
Sam Fearn’s plantation house at Hunter’s Bottom, Kentucky

Samuel Fearn had three slaves; his brother George, a bachelor, owned four or five slaves. The Fearn family history states that George Fearn had become an ardent Methodist and emancipated all of his slaves in his will. George was so pro-Union and so openly opposed to slavery that horses were stolen from his farm in a targeted attack by Confederate raiders during the Civil War.

In his 1894 interview, Richard Daly referred to Samuel and George Fearn as “kind,” and it appeared that Richard had many advantages over other slaves in the region. He lived in a brick house behind the main Samuel Fearn homestead and was permitted to take produce to market in Madison, in order to earn money to purchase his freedom. In fact, Samuel Fearn had set an extremely low purchase price, $100, for Richard’s freedom , with comparable prices for slaves of Richard’s age and ability rising well above $800-$900. Richard claimed that by 1856 he had already saved $100 “in his pocket.” Fearn, like many of the Hunter’s Bottom slave owners, allowed frequent conjugal visits by Richard to his wife Kitty, a house servant owned by Moses Hoagland who lived east of the Fearns along the Ohio River toward Carrollton, Ky. Richard and Kitty had four living children that by law and custom were owned by Moses Hoagland.

Eagle Hollow Vertical
Eagle Hollow on Indiana side of Ohio River

But the most unusual fact about Richard Daly was that he had worked actively in the Underground Railroad (UGRR) for some years. He stated that he had ferried thirty fugitive slaves across the Ohio River before 1856. He would meet the fugitive slaves two miles above Milton and row them across in his small boat. During the 1850s, this route through Eagle Hollow in Carroll Co., Ky., was one of the most active crossing points on the Ohio River between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Ky. Richard’s method of signaling his friend, a white leader of the UGRR (probably John Carr) was also highly unusual. Richard said that he would row into the middle of the Ohio River and shoot a revolver in the air. The UGRR agent would then shoot his revolver in response. By the time Richard arrived at the Ind. shore, his white friend would be ready and take charge of the runaways.

It was well known that Samuel Fearn enjoyed hunting and had several hunting dogs always running through the house and farm. But for a slave to have access to a revolver and ammunition is remarkable. Further, the sound of gunshots in the middle of the Ohio River at night carried to both shores. If the Indiana UGRR agent heard it, the Fearns would have heard it also. Therefore, it has been suggested locally that the Fearn brothers were tacitly, if not actively, approving Richard’s aiding of runaway slaves.

Richard said that he was happy in his circumstances and had no plans to escape, but then his wife Kitty unexpectedly died. Richard was concerned about his children and asked Mrs. Hoagland (Sarah Payne of Lexington, Ky.) to keep them in Hunter’s Bottom, and she agreed. However, a short time later, the Hoagland daughter married a doctor and moved to Louisville and asked for Mary, the oldest Daly girl, to go with her permanently. When Richard learned his family was to be separated, he went that same night to pick up all four children. They crossed the Ohio River and took the Madison UGRR route north through Ind. Richard said that they rode horses northward successively accompanied by two sets of UGRR agents, one from dark to midnight and another from midnight to dawn. The Daly family slept in various farmhouses until they reached Mich. There, they boarded the Michigan Central Railroad to Detroit, and then crossed over the ferry to Windsor, Canada.

In Canada, Richard worked feeding cattle for a man named Hiram Walker, an exporter of livestock to Great Britain from a farm located along the Detroit River. Daly said that he had crossed the Atlantic Ocean several times with these shipments. At some point, Richard married a second time. In 1894, three of the children who escaped with him were living in Detroit, and one child had died in Windsor.

Fearn Hill enhanced, hunters bottom
George Fearn’s Fearn Hill Plantation at Hunter’s Bottom Kentucky

Apparently Joe Daly and Tom Owen continued to live with Samuel Fearn at Hunter’s Bottom even after the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution freed all slaves. When George Fearn died in 1869 he left Fearn Hill, his antebellum home, to his nephew, George Fearn. The emancipation clause was still in George’s will, but it was moot since his slaves were already free by law.

Blassingame, John W. ed. Slave Testimony. Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1977.

Coon, Diane Perrine, “Southeastern Indiana’s Underground Railroad Routes and Operations,” TM, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and “Chapman Harris and the St. Paul’s Baptist Church, Madison, Indiana,” for University of Louisville graduate program.

Emma McClaran Fearn family Bible in possession of Larry Douglas Smith of Louisville, Ky.

Smith, Larry Douglas, “The Fearns of Hunters Bottom, Kentucky,” TM at Kentucky Historical Society.

Interview with Richard Daly, 1894, Detroit Sunday News Tribune, Michigan State Library Newspaper Project.

Windsor, Ontario, Canada, 1864 Census.

Diane Perrine Coon


Emancipationists in Northern Kentucky

 This article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky.


Emancipationists. Between 1790 and 1850, Kentuckians developed two quite different concepts, constitutional emancipation and gradual emancipation, concerning how to abolish slavery. During the first decades of Ky. statehood, constitutional emancipation formed the conceptual basis for emancipationist’s antislavery political actions. These early antislavery people tried to prevent Ky. from becoming a slave state, and once the 1799 state constitution legalized slavery, they attempted to repeal that part of it. This movement was most closely identified with the Reverend David Rice and several other Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian preachers and churchmen.

Constitutional emancipation was the path that Northern states chose in eliminating slavery. In some New England states, the abolition of slavery took place as outright bans—Vt. (1777), Mass. (1780), and N.H. (1784)–or in the form of gradual emancipation codified by state constitutions in R.I., N.Y., Pa., Conn., and eventually N. J. The major unresolved issues in the North were the legal status of a slave who moved into or fled from a slave state into a free state and whether or not to grant full citizenship to free people of color. As settlers from New England and Pa. flooded into Northern Kentucky, they brought the experience of having lived in states that had enacted constitutional emancipation.

In Southern states, where slavery had become embedded as an institution, and where slaves had the status of private property, emancipation took place through a legal process called manumission in which the individual slave owner could free slaves from bondage through a will or through a declaration in a local court. The counties that were formed in Ky during the state’s early years tended to enshrine the principle of private ownership of slaves. Many counties in Ky. required that a slaveholder or an administrator of an estate post a bond or provide sufficient financial resources, such as land or money, to avoid making a freed black a pauper dependent on the county. The Quakers, some Presbyterians, and Separate Baptists were active in N.C., Tenn., and parts of Ga. in creating manumission societies, dedicated to promoting, and in fact, purchasing families of slaves in order to free them from bondage. As settlers from these regions came into and through Ky., a small number of such manumission societies were established.

Some slaveholders in Ky. believed slavery to be evil but also regarded their slaves as prized private property. Generally, these slaveholders applauded the economic benefits of emancipation accruing to white landowners but also feared that emancipation might produce large numbers of freedmen living in Ky. Gradual emancipationists believed that slavery would be eliminated over time as slave owners of their own volition freed existing slaves through legal manumission. One form of gradual emancipation, publicized by James G. Birney and Cassius Clay, emphasized that slavery impeded economic development in Ky. They contrasted the booming economies of Ohio and Ind. with that of Ky. to prove their point. These arguments were meant to persuade slave owners to emancipate their slaves. In any case, gradual emancipationists tended to believe that slaveholders should be compensated for the loss of their property, if, at some point, slaves were freed by action of the state.

Abolitionists, by contrast, advocated eliminating the institution of slavery without compensation to slave owners. In early Ky., both constitutional and gradual emancipationists used the term abolition when advocating an end to slavery ; however by 1850, abolition referred only to those who favored immediate emancipation in the South.

Slavery and emancipation proved difficult topics for a number of Christian denominations. For the Baptists in 1803–1806, the issue came to a head at Mt. Sterling, Ky., in the person of David Barrow, a minister in the Separate Baptist tradition who served Goshen, Lulbegrud, and Mt. Sterling churches. Through political pressure from the Regular Baptists of the Elkhorn Baptist Association and their fledgling Bracken Baptist Association, David Barrow was expelled from the North District Baptist Association in 1806, for advocating the gradual emancipation of slaves and eventual abolition itself. Barrow not only preached continuously against slavery, but he published British Baptist Thomas Clarkson’s Essay on Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, a 1785 treatise that greatly influenced U.S. abolitionists. Barrow himself wrote Involuntary, Unmerited, Perpetual, Absolute, Hereditary Slavery Examined on the Principles of Nature, Reason, Justice, Policy and Scripture that was printed in 1808 by John Bradford at Lexington, Ky. That same year, Barrow joined Carter Tarrant and founded the Baptized Licking-Locust Association, Friends of Humanity, also known as the Emancipation Baptists.

The Baptized Licking-Locust Association, Friends of Humanity, in Ky. included: Bracken, Gilgal, and Licking Locust Baptist churches from the Bracken Baptist Association, Lawrence Creek Baptist Church from Mason Co., Bethel and Mt. Sterling Baptist churches from the North District Baptist Association, New Hope Baptist Church from Woodford Co. with members from the original Clear Creek and Hillsboro Baptist churches, and Bullskin Baptist Church from Shelby Co.

The Emancipation Baptists acted chiefly in the traditional method of other Baptist Associations with messengers, queries, reports, and periodic meetings and preaching. It was not a political party. However, these same Kentuckians were influenced by the creation in 1814 of the Tenn. Manumission Society, with Charles Osborn and John Rankin as charter members, and the creation of the American Emancipation Society. The Ky. antislavery people began to think about political action to repeal the slavery clause in their constitution and moral-ethical action by individual slave owners to emancipate their slaves in their wills.

In 1821, Carter Tarrant and David Barrow formed the Ky. Abolition Society. At that time, Tarrant was living in Carrollton, Ky. The Ky. Abolition Society included the Baptist churches from the Emancipationist Baptists Tarrant had helped to form and a few preachers and elders from the Methodist and Presbyterian denominations. Three of these were the Reverends Alexander, Moses Edwards, and John Mahan; twenty-one ordained members also belonged to the Ky. Abolition Society. At its peak, however, the statewide organization never claimed more than 200 members.

The Maysville Abolition Society, led by Amos Corwine Jr., was active during this period. A small group was located at Shelbyville, Ky., and another at Frankfort, Ky., hosted the statewide organizing meeting. Although there was clearly an antislavery group at Louisville, Ky., led chiefly by Presbyterian and Unitarian ministers, there is no indication that they were part of the Ky. Abolition Society.

Lucien Rule cited Lyman Beecher, Gideon Blackburn, John Dickey, Henry Little, Samuel Shannon, and Parson John Todd as early influential antislavery Presbyterian preachers in Northern Kentucky and Southern Ind. The Scots Coventer, Seceder, and Associate Reformed Presbyterians led by John Anderson, Andrew Fulton, and George Shannon settled on the Ind. side of the Ohio River, north and west of Madison. These Scots congregations formed early aid to fugitive slaves all along the Ohio River and up into central Ind.

John Finley Crowe, a student at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., was charged with editing a flagship newspaper for the Ky. Abolition Society, the Abolition and Intelligence Messenger. Crowe began the publication in Lexington. He then moved to Shelbyville, Ky., where he published his paper a few months advocating the repeal of Kentucky’s slave laws. Crowe then proceeded to seminary, ordination, and in 1825, began his first church assignment at Vernon, Ind. He later achieved prominence as the first president of Hanover College at Madison, Ind., and as head of the Ind. Old School Presbyterian Colonization Society.

The enthusiasm for emancipation of slaves soon began spread through the mid-South. In 1823, Tenn. reported twenty-five manumission societies, mostly in the eastern part of the state. In 1823, N.C. declared fifty societies active at the national Emancipation Society Meeting at Philadelphia, Pa. Between 1823 and 1828, representatives from Baltimore, Md., New England, and Philadelphia met annually. The East Tenn. groups usually sent delegates, but there is no evidence of Ky. having been represented at the national level.

A number of slave owners manumitted their slaves. However, in the entire period from 1799 to 1868, slaveholders in Bracken Co., Ky., for instance, filed only 156 emancipation records in the courthouse, 14 of them by Arthur Thome of Augusta, Ky., in 1834–1836. In Ky. in 1847, in Owen Co., Susan Herndon Rogers freed the ten slaves of the Locust family and gave them 403 acres known as Free Station, or Mountain Island. Susan’s brother, James Herndon, executed a bond in 1853 for $21,000 in order to have his twenty-two slaves manumitted. James Herndon’s manumitted slaves, the Carroll, Smith, and Vinegar families, divided 125 acres at Mountain Island. Yet, actions such as these hardly made a dent in the huge numbers of slaves pouring into Ky. from the Carolinas, Md., and Va. . By 1827, the emancipation movement ran out of steam as the leaders died off or moved away, and the impact of moral persuasion proved anemic.

Into this intellectual vacuum, the faculty at the Danville Presbyterian Seminary led by the Reverend Dr. Robert J. Breckinridge, with the aid of his brother William J. Breckinridge, an influential Louisville minister, steered the antislavery movement toward a conservative approach that linked gradual emancipation with the concept of colonization, sending freed blacks back to Africa. The American Colonization Society, founded in 1810, was developed chiefly as a method of ridding the nation of its free people of color and was not originally conceived as a tactic to eliminate slavery from the South. In fact, it was the opposite. The manumission movement, adopted by many Presbyterians and Methodists in the early years of Ky. statehood, had been all too productive; hundreds of free blacks now populated southern cities and northern rural communities. To the slave owner, a free black living in a community where there were slaves represented an unnecessary tension, a temptation for slaves to become dissatisfied with their bondage. The Nat Turner Rebellion of 1831 in Va. exacerbated all the latent fears of a tiny slaveholding minority controlling the daily movements of millions of black slaves. One result was the immediate imposition of harsh laws against free people of color throughout the South and the Ohio River valley. The second result was that the antislavery leadership within the Presbyterians, Methodists, and many forms of Baptists, vigorously adopted the tenets and the tactics of the colonization movement. Sending free blacks to Africa was considered the ultimate solution. At first, colonizationists, with Ky. statesman Henry Clay as their leader and the federal government and wealthy individuals backing the movement, purchased large tracts of land on the coast of Africa, lined up ships to transport former slaves to Liberia, and convinced some slave owners to follow their precepts in educating slaves to Christianize their new African homelands. By 1849, it became evident that free people of color did not want to go to Africa. Fewer than 650 former Ky. slaves ever went to Liberia and some later returned. The colonization-emancipationists were faced with 250,000 Ky. slaves who intended to stay in the U.S.

As the Ky. constitutional convention in October 1849 approached, the anti-slavery forces in the state made a determined assault on slavery. A statewide emancipation convention was scheduled for April 1849 in Frankfort, Ky. Leading up to this meeting, the abolitionists in Ky., led by John G. Fee from Lewis and Bracken Cos., demanded non-importation of slaves and called upon the Ky. Legislature to emancipate slaves and grant them status as free citizens. The colonizationists, led by Robert J. Breckinridge, William Breckinridge, Henry Clay, and John R. Young, backed a gradual emancipation plan by which slave owners would pay for the transportation costs to send freed slaves to Africa instead of paying county and state taxes on their slave property. The April showdown was a disaster. The abolitionist voices championed by Fee and the colonization forces championed by the Breckinridges could not find common ground, and a weakened plank highlighting gradual emancipation with immediate colonization of freed blacks was finally hammered out to no one’s satisfaction. Meanwhile the pro-slavery leaders, John Breckinridge and Robert Wycliffe, and others were courting delegates to the October convention labeling all antislavery people as radical abolitionists. They reminded voters of the August 1848 Doyle armed slave revolt affecting Lexington and Bracken Co. in Ky. and other slave revolts in the South. The scare tactics worked to perfection, and the antislavery people were routed badly. Statewide, only in Campbell Co., with the election of Ira Root, and in Knox and Harlan counties, with Silas Woodson’s election, were emancipationists successful in electing delegates to the constitutional convention.

Emboldened by the political disarray among antislavery parties, the Ky. Legislature moved quickly to repeal the non-importation of slaves act of 1833, and the 1850 Ky. constitution squeezed the economic noose around free people of color, and constricted emancipation requirements, demanding that any freed slave immediately leave the state thereby clearly delineating Ky.’s status as a slave state.

During the early 1840s at Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, John G. Fee not only turned his back on his father’s slave holdings and his Bracken Co. neighbors’ approval of the peculiar institution, but Fee moved all the way to embrace the concept of the immediate abolition of slavery. Fee spent the next few years searching for a method of challenging slavery on southern soil. At first, he worked within the New School Presbyterians, founding churches in Ky. in Lewis and Bracken counties; but the New School Synod disciplined him for his virulent antislavery activities. Fee had already moved toward an anti-caste, antislavery position, and gradually moved beyond any attachment to a denomination. And, in fact, he influenced the Bracken and Lewis county churches to become part of the Free Church movement.

Fee worked with Simeon S. Jocelyn, Amos Phelps, Lewis Tappan, and George Whipple of the American Missionary Association to develop a colporteur system, bringing northern antislavery preachers and dedicated lay people to distribute Bibles, antislavery literature, and anti-caste congregation development into the mid-South, particularly into Madison Co., Ky. Greatly influenced by Eli Thayer and John C. Underwood’s concepts of Northern Emigrant Communities in the upper South, Fee decided in 1858 to model an egalitarian community at Berea, Ky., on lands donated by Cassius M. Clay. Fee recruited religious and educators but never had the economic managerial expertise of the similar Ceredo community formed in W.Va. Both as an educator and symbol, Fee stands alone in Ky.’s antislavery history.

Most historians acclaim John G. Fee’s courage at Berea, where former slaves and white men could form a community, for his work in educating men, women, and children in Ky. at Camp Nelson in Garrard Co. and at Berea. But most historians also find Fee irrelevant to the attitudes and actions taken by the overwhelming numbers of Kentuckians during the 1860s. John G. Fee, the last emancipationist, neither convinced slave owners to give up their slaves nor yeomen to embrace blacks as fellow citizens. Consequently, Ky. would move into and through the Civil War as a slave state.

Barrow, David. Involuntary, Unmerited, Perpetual, Absolute, Hereditary Slavery Examined on the Principles of Nature, Reason, Justice, Policy, and Scripture, Lexington, Ky.: Bradford Printers, 1808.

Bland, Ballard. Address to the People of Kentucky on the Subject of Emancipation, April 1848.

Bland, Ballard, and John Speed, et al. Slave Emancipation in Kentucky, Bland Ballard, 1849.

Dumond, Dwight Lowell. Antislavery, The Crusade for Freedom in America, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1961.

Howard, Victor B. The Evangelical War against Slavery and Caste, the Life and Times of John G. Fee, Selinsgrove, Pa.: Susquehanna University Press, 1996.

Martin, Asa Earl. “Pioneer Antislavery Press,” Missouri Valley Historical Review, 2 (March 1916): 510–528.

Miller, Carolyn R., comp. African American Bracken County Kentucky 1797–1999, Brooksville, Ky.: Bracken County Historical Society, 1999.

____________________  Slavery in Newsprint, Central Ohio River Borderlands, 1840–1859. Brooksville, Ky.: Bracken County Historical Society; 2003.

Tallant, Harold D. Evil Necessity, Slavery and Political Culture in Antebellum Kentucky, Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2003.

Tenkotte, Paul A. “Rival Cities to Suburbs: Covington and Newport, Kentucky, 1790–1890.” Ph.D. diss., University of Cincinnati, 1989.

Turner, Wallace B. “Abolitionism in Kentucky,” RKHS, 69 (October 1971): 319–338.


Diane Perrine Coon



Miles Withers Conway, Pioneer Mason County, Kentucky

The following article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky

Conway, Miles Withers (b. 1752, Stafford Co, Va.; d. February 28, 1822, Mason Co., Ky.). Sometime before 1786, Miles Withers Conway and his brother, John (1757–1842), settled in Mason Co., Ky. Unlike most of the early surveyors in Ky., Miles Conway and fellow pioneer, Henry Lee, were familiar with the use of new surveyor’s instruments, such as quadrants and transits with the mathematical underpinnings of professional surveying.

Miles W. and John Conway were the sons of Captain Withers Conway and Dulcibella Bunbury of Stafford Co., Va. The Bunbury family was socially well connected but improvident. The Conway family was descended from Dennis Conway, an early settler (1665) of Va’s Great Wiccomico River, and his fifth son, Christopher Conway, who married Sarah Withers, one of the wealthiest women living in the American colonies.

Although Miles inherited 300 acres in northeastern Fauquier Co., Va., from his grandmother, Sarah Withers Conway, the family’s main fortune, as well as 1,350 acres of Stafford Co., Va., lands, were entailed to the Withers family’s male heir in England upon Sarah Withers Conway’s death. Powerful landed gentry in Va., such as Augustine Washington and Col. Henry Fitzhugh, wanted the Withers family’s land, but Sarah refused to vacate her plantation. Fitzhugh called her “that old hag,” but Sarah apparently outlived them all, including her own son, Capt. Withers Conway, because when she died at age ninety, she was still residing on her plantation’s lands.

Captain Withers Conway, Miles Conway’s father, served as captain in the Va. Militia during the French and Indian War and for his military service was entitled to land warrants in Ky. The DAR lists Miles Conway and his brother, John Conway as Revolutionary War soldiers from Spottsylvania, Va. Somehow, the Conway brothers became friendly with the sizeable Berry family clan in Frederick Co., Va. John Conway married Mary (Mollie) Berry. and Miles married Susannah, who was probably Mary Berry’s sister. The Conway brothers’ father-in-law was Joseph Berry, who was married to Mary Fairfax Berry, from the well-connected Fairfax family of Va.

In 1787, Miles Conway filed a survey and patent in his name, using a 1785 Fincastle Co., Va., treasury warrant from Joseph Berry for 637.5 acres along the Kentucky River in what was then Fayette Co., Ky. From the transaction sequence on these lands, it appears that this might have been a dowry or a wedding gift from Joseph Berry to his son-in-law Miles W. Conway. That land was not sold until after the Miles Withers Conway’s estate was settled in 1831, and by then, at least thirty acres from the original tract was located in Owen Co., Ky.

In 1786, Miles Conway purchased several in-lots and became a trustee of the town of Washington, Ky., in Mason Co. Joseph Berry owned two houses down the street. Miles soon began work as a surveyor.  Miles’s brother, John Conway, meantime, had purchased land along the Mill Creek southeast of the town of Washington with two of the six Berry families then residing in Mason Co.

Miles Conway fit easily into the class of people who became magistrates in Mason Co. He served on the first court as a gentleman justice, and, in August 1786, became district commissioner of the western side of Mason Co. Conway platted the town of Mayslick, Ky. and was called upon by the Va. courts to resurvey disputed earlier land claims. Miles was elected sheriff of Mason Co. in 1790. He had the dubious distinction of serving a warrant issued in Bourbon Co., Ky., for breach of contract and non-payment of debt on Simon Kenton, the famed pioneer and Indian fighter who was, at the time, a Major in the local militia. Using uncommon judicial restraint, Miles, as the arresting sheriff, set a parole perimeter wherein Kenton was to stay. The ten-mile diameter of the parole perimeter included the taverns located in Limestone, Ky., (Maysville), Kenton’s house, and Kenton’s favorite hunting and fishing spots. Upon such good and popular judgment, Miles was re-elected sheriff in 1792 and as a delegate from Mason Co. to the state constitutional convention at Danville, Ky., in the same year. At Danville, this slaveholder from a slaveholding Va. family did a surprising thing. He voted with the seven preachers present to strike Article IX of the proposed constitution. Although not going so far as to institutionalize slavery in Ky., Article IX permitted slaves to be brought into the state with their masters, and it provided for local governments to regulate slaves within their jurisdictions. The article passed over the raised objections, and Miles, in the end, signed the first Ky. Constitution. The 1795 Mason Co. tax list showed Miles owning six slaves, seven horses, and twenty cattle.

In December 1802, Miles W. Conway and Henry Lee were appointed associate judges to the circuit court in Ky. Both men were well acquainted with the land interference and criminal mischief cases that dominated early Ky. court dockets; thus they were uniquely qualified to assess many overlapping claims brought into their respective courts.

Sometime between 1802 and 1805, Miles Withers Conway wrote a Treatise on Practical Surveying based on Robert Gibson’s Treatise on Surveying, a two-volume text that used English land claims in Northern Ireland for its worked examples; the second volume was entirely given over to log tables, sine, cosine, and tangent tables. Gibson’s first editions were printed in London, England. Joseph and James Cruckshank of Philadelphia, Pa., printed the fourth edition in 1785. Miles W. Conway used Gibson’s seventh edition of 1794, also printed in Philadelphia, as the guidebook for his own treatise.

In May 1805, Miles Conway took a simplified version of his earlier treatise to Thomas Tunstall, Clerk of the U.S. District Court, where Conway cited his publication as being “an act for the encouraging of learning by securing the copies of Maps, Charts and Books to the authors and proprietors or such copies during the time therein mentioned.” By this action, Conway had applied a very early copyright protection for his surveying book.

Daniel Bradford, son of John Bradford, the pioneering editor of Ky.’s first newspaper, the Kentucky Gazette, published Conway’s book in 1807 at Lexington, Ky. Its full title was: Geodosia, or a Treatise of Practical Surveying, wherein Several Things that Are Useful and Necessary in that Art are Considered and Explained, particularly several Very Consise Methods for Determining the Areas of Surveys by Calculations in Different Forms, and several Different Tables Adapted for that Purpose, Made for the Use of the Western Surveyors in Particular, or May be Useful to Any Other. Recognizing that few frontiersmen in America had a sufficient knowledge of math or the proper surveying instruments to apply Gibson or John Love’s more exacting scientific surveying principles directly, Conway emphasized, in his treatise, a method called Latitude and Departures. Applicable chiefly to plane surfaces, this method required a compass reading of latitude and then the establishing of a grid of measurements of deviations from that latitude, by use of a compass ring and simple calculations.

Obviously written to satisfy basic surveying in wilderness areas, Conway’s book had only sixty-four pages and is 4¾ inches by 7⅞ inches, easily portable in a saddlebag, or in the inside pocket of a greatcoat or hunting jacket. All examples given in the book were very practical and taken directly from Miles Conway’s experiences surveying in Ky.

Conway died in 1822 and is buried in Mason County.

Conway, Miles W. Geodosia, or a Treatise of Practical Surveying. Lexington, Ky.: Daniel Bradford, 1807.

Journal of the First Constitutional Convention of Kentucky, Held in Danville, Kentucky, April 2 to 19, 1792, Lexington, Ky.: State Bar Association, 1942.

The Kentucky Gazette. January 2, 1790, May 17, 1792, May 25, 1793, June 4, 1796, November 5, 1796, May 17, 1796, August 15, 1798, September 15, 1800, December 28, 1802, March 22, 1808.

Lane, Ben, Richmond, KY, personal collection—“A Few Facts and Events Surrounding the Town of Washington in 1786,” George H. S. King to the Rev. Melvin Lee Steadman, January 20, 1962, and Mrs. Stanley Reed to George H. S. King January 15, 1962, original in Va. State Archives, “Stations and Settlements and Preemptions in and Around Washington.”

“Surveyor’s Measurers,” TM, from Kentucky Historical Society vertical files.

Diane Perrine Coon