Clark Co., Ky

CLARK CO. (Mayme Nunnelley)

The first records of Slaves in Clark County was given by a descendant of one of the members of the little band of resolute Revolutionary soldiers who had been comrades and mess mates throughout the long bloody war. These fifteen families, some from Virginia and others from Maryland, started westward in the early spring of 1783 for Kentucky. They bought with them some horses, a few cattle, thirty or forty slaves and a few necessary household articles.

After many hardships and trials, borne heroically by both men and women, they halted on the banks of the Big Stoner, in what is now the eastern part of Clark County. Two years later another group of families with their slaves came to join this little settlement.

In some cases the owners were good to their slaves had comfortable quarters for them at a reasonable distance from the main house. Their clothing was given them as they needed it. In most instances the clothing was made on the plantation Material woven, and shoes made. The cabins were one and two rooms, maybe more if the families were large. The slaves ate their meals in the kitchen of the main house.

A cruel and inhuman master was ostrazied and taught by the silent contempt of his neighbors a lesson which he seldom failed to learn. In 1789 the general assembly passed an act in which good treatment was enjoined upon master and all contracts between master and slaves were forbidden. The execution of this law was within the jurisdiction of the county courts which were directed to admonish the master of any ill treatment of his slave. If presisted in the court had option and power to declare free the abused slave.

Few traders came to Clark County as the slaves were not sold unless they were unruly. There was no underground railroads through this area.

Among some of the old wills compiled by Dr. George F. Doyle of Winchester, we find wills as follows:

“John Briston in his will dated April 27, 1840 frees his negroes, the executor to go to Todd County and buy land and divide it between the negroes and they were given a cow, three horses and he expressed a desire for them to go to Liberia. They were to be given a certain amount to defray their moving expenses, and buy them provisions and each negro was given his blanket.”

“Henry Calmes, in his will dated 1831, divides his slaves among his wife and children.” (B7-p654)

“John Christy in his will 1848 says at the death of his wife all his land and slaves are to be sold and the proceeds divided among his children.” (B11-p346).

“In some old wills enough slaves are to be sold said all outstanding debts paid and those left to be divided among his heirs.”

“A will dated 1837 says at the expiration of eight years after his death all negroes above those bequeated are to be offered to the Colonization Society, if they are of age, to be transported to Liberia and those not of age to continue to serve the persons to whom they are allotted until they come of age, boys 21 and the girls at 18 when they are to be offered to the Colonization Society to be transported to Liberia. None of them are to be forced to go. Those that do not go to Liberia are to continue to serve the persons to whom they are allotted until they are willing to go. Three persons by name to be hired out the seventh year after the death and the money arising from said hire to be given to those that first go to Liberia, $10.00 a piece if there should be so much and the balance given to the next ones to go.”

“In the will of Robert Lewis, February 20, 1799, he sets three of his slaves free and gives them the use of 200 acres of the northwest of the Ohio, their life time. There were to be five hired out until their hire amounts to 120 pounds each, then they were to be freed. As the other younger slaves become of age, they are to be freed.”

From the following will dated June 22, 1840 it shows the slaves were able, to accumalate an estate:

Allan, Charles June 22, 1840 Oct 26, 1840 “A free man of color. Estate to be sold and the proceeds distributed as follows: To Ester Graves, a woman of color belonging to the heirs of Rice Arnold, $100.00; balance of money to be divided equally between the children ‘I claim to be mine’. Jerrett, Charles, Ester, Carolina, Granvill and Emile; all children of aforesaid. Charlotte Arnold and all belonging to the heirs of Rice Arnold and also Sally, Alfred, Mary, Lucy, Hulda, Catharine, and Maud, children of Ester Graves aforesaid, slaves of Bengamine Graves; also two children of Mary Allan, a slave belonging to Patsey Allan names Lesa and Carolina, the sixteen children to receive an equal share of the money arising from the sale of his estate.”

Clark County did not have an auction block or slave market but every New Years day in front of the Courthouse owners would bring their slaves to be hired. It was told by one of the old citizens a few years ago, (died two years ago) that he walked nine miles one bitter cold day to hire some slaves. These could be hired for a definite time or until they brought certain amounts of money.

In 1812-1814 Winchester, the County Seat of Clark County boasted of a weekly newspaper, issued every Saturday. From the advertisement column of this paper we learned that Dillard Collins was willing to pay $10.00 to get his run away slave, Reuben, and a similar reward was offered for one “Scipio” who had taken French leave from his master, (donned) in his master’s new clothes. Another ad in this paper ways[TR: says?] one Walter Karrick offered to trade a negro woman for “whiskey”, cyder and flour.

“A story is told of a slave “Monk Estill” who helped or rather belonged to Col. James Estill of Madison County. In 1782 in a battle known as Estill’s defeat, which occured on the grounds where Mt. Sterling now stands in Montgomery County, Col. Estill and twenty-five men attacked a party of Wyandotte Indians by whom the slave was taken prisoner.

“In the thickest of the fight, Monk called out in a loud voice; ‘Don’t give way, Marse Jim, there’s only twenty-five Indians and you con whip all of them.’

“Col. Estill was killed and the men retreated. Monk escaped from his captors and after many hardships joined the white comrades.

“On his shoulder he carried a wounded soldier twenty-five miles to Estill Station. His young master gave him his freedom in recognition for his bravery and supported him in comfort the rest of his life.”

In Clark County are many small negroe settlements formed by the old freed slaves after the war. Some had accumalated a little and brought a small piece of land and others had homes given to them by their owners.

Mr. Archilles Eubank was the largest slave holder of his day, Mr. Colby Quisenberry was second, in Clarks County.

“The story is told that at the time of General Morgan’s last raid on Winchester, an old faithful slave of Dr. Hubbard Taylor, (a noted Physician all over this portion of Kentucky at this time) who was always careful of his master’s interests, and without the consent of his master, saved his very fine riding horse, “Black Prince” from being pressed into service of the Confederates. Ab (the slaves name) learned that Morgan’s men were good judges of horse flesh and had taken several horses just as the Federals did when they needed them and he determined to conceal prince, whose groom he was. He put him there in the smoke house along with the meat, but Prince pawed and made disturbances until he took him out and took him to the cellar persuading him to descend the steps and left him there. He came up to hear that several horses had been taken from the cellars of the men, then he hastened back to get Black Prince. He brought him out of the cellar and took him to the Laundry room and sat there with him conversing him to keep him quite until all danger passed. When Prince became restless and wanted to paw his way out, old Ab would say, “Now Prince, you quit dat you’s in danger of being taken by the bad soldiers.” Old Prince would stop instantly and listen to his groom.”

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007.

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1 thought on “Clark Co., Ky”

  1. Linda Lewis Harris

    I am thrilled to find this information. Robert Lewis & Chloe are my ancestors thru their son David . He is listed in the original will and probate records and was given to John Martin (an Uncle)
    David ended his life living in Henry County TN being well known for sporting dog and was a land owner and 12 children.
    He died in 1870. His wife was Alvira Hagler.
    Hope to find something about Chloe other than what is in the Lewis Genealogy by William Lewis

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