The following is a direct transcription of a newspaper article that appeared in the Adair Progress in 1973. It was written by K.I. Bomar (a noted African American in the county who did a number of articles on African Americans for this paper). The only change made to the article is the capitalization of surnames for the aid of researchers (and a few graphics!).


Black Adair Countians are found on pages of history

For a number of years the writer has written about the history of blacks in the United States. Having done research on the Adair County African American. We found it to be quite interesting, and therefore decided to share.

The majority of the African Americans settled in Adair County coming from Virginia, for the most part. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, they were brought to KY by their slave owners. Many of the slaves were given freedom in the early 1800s. There were more than 5000 free Afro Americans living in the state of KY before the Emancipation Proclamation.

There were no organized Afro American churches in Columbia until after the Emancipation. However Afro Americans were permitted to attend and become members of white churches, worshipping in the balcony.

A former slave by the name of Ruben FRAZIER was a member of the white Presbyterian church, his funeral was held in the Sanctuary in the year 1905.

Shortly after the Emancipation 16 African American churches were organized in the county--seven Baptist, four Methodist and five Christian. First Baptist Church was organized sometime prior to 1870. For a short time the Baptist and Methodist worshiped in a building that was used for a school, the Baptist worshiped on the second and fourth Sundays. The building was called Old Donie. This track of land was given to Afro Americans for a cemetery and school. This building was located across the road facing the present Baptist church on Burkesville Street. First Baptist now stands on a site purchased by its members who were led by the Holy Spirit and the Rev. G.N. STONE, the Pastor.

The Methodist People were given a tract of land by a white family whose name was FENTHEIS, they built a church know as Fisher Chapel A.M.G.Z. Church. The Christian Church was organized by the Rev. John GRADY, the father of Margaret GRADY. The building built by Rev. John Grady deteriorated and had to be replaced by the present building now known as the Second Christian Church. A Rev. CONWAY became the pastor and led in the building of the present church. All three of the churches were located on Burkesville Street (The Pike).

Early small businesses owned and operated by Afro Americans were a barber shop owned and operated by Lee BAKER and Tom LESTER, this shop located on what is now known as Reed Street in the rear of the Russell Building. The late Rollin HURT, once said the best shave he ever had was given at this shop.

A shoe shop was owned and operated by Bill GRISSOM.

A cleaning and pressing shop operated by Woodson BAKER and Bob COOPER is the Old Hancock building on Burkesville Strret.

Rooming and boarding houses were owned and run by two Afro American families, Lucian and Rose BURBRIDGE and Press and Alice WILLIAMS.

A toll gate in the 1800 was located on 61 about 200 ft. south of the Bomar Heights exit.

About the year of 1921 or 22 the Afro Americans sponsored a fair which was planned by black men namely U.L. BRADSHAW, a county school teacher, Tom Henry SMITH, a farmer, George TAYLOR, Chat SMITH, Will LESTER, and Edd STONE. This fair lasted for two days in September. Horses and mules used in the fair belonged to Bron JONES, Tom Henry SMITH, George TAYLOR--all men of color--along with Sam BURDETT, Allen CONODER and Bob HANCOCK. Three ladies of color rode in the show ring--Fannie Jane MILLER, Bessie JONES and Lezzie TAYLOR. This affair was and is talking until this day (a good time).

The first and only Negro Sheriff of Adair County was Uncle Jow WILLIAMS in the late 1800. Some of the Afro Americans who served on the Fair Board were Buck EWING, George GRISSOM, Lucian BURBRIDGE and Curt GRADY.

To Be Continued.

S/K.I. Bomar

Created on ... October 04, 2001