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

Much in the past has been written concerning Black people in the U.S. This writer cannot recall of ever seeing anything written about Black heritage in Adair County. Since Mayor Keltner has declared this as Black History week, I consider it an honor and most certainly a priviledge to take this opportunity to write about Adair County's Black Heritage.

Blacks of this county have a proud heritage although the first blacks of the county came as slaves they worked with their white masters to make the wilderness a home.

Even before the county was organized and white men were trying to settle these parts there were blacks fighting along by their side. The records show that Blacks were slain by the Indians.

Two Black men, Daniel HAWKINS and MILLER were killed by the Indians while resting at camp. So we see the gracious hospitality, which is a hallmark of Adair County and all of Kentucky, depended as much upon the labor, stability and courageousness of countless slaves as upon another factor.


Because of opportunity for education on Flacks was limited in early Adair County. However we look with Pride upon Prof. Hiram JACKMAN and consider him a pioneer in black education in this county. Prof. Jackman born a slave in Russell County, as a child he was exceptionally brilliant. It was his white master who taught him the three R's.

As a young man he enlisted in the Civil War. At the end of the war he came home and met the qualifications to become a public school teacher. He was one of the first Black teachers in the county. Shortley after becoming a teacher he was ordained a Baptist minister. Many of the first wedding ceremonies were performed by him.

He taught and trained Black teachers in the county, to name a few, Peter CHEATHEM, Loddie WILLIS, Kate WILLIS, Alice TURNER, Vickie HAYS, Tom McCLURE, Cora KING, Billy WADE, Eldora LUCAS, and others.

Sam KING, the son of Belvie and Amelia, Ky., born Joppa Community attended the old Wagner School. His desire was to become a lawyer.

Because of no opportunities here, he migrated to the state of Kansas, continued his studies and became an outstanding lawyer in Kansas City, Kansas.

Mary Ethel LASLEY from the Flatwoods Community, received here high school education at Jackman High, after which she went to the state of Georgia and continued her studies and today she is a registered nurse in that state.

Amos LASLEY, born in the Flat Woods Community is now a principal of an intigrated school in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Pastor's the largest Baptist church in that city, has served as the moderator of the General Association of Black Baptists of Kentucky.

Also served as President of Kentucky Negro Educational Association. There have been a large number of black public school teachers from this county. From Flat woods Community alone have come twenty public school teachers

A majority of the Blacks in this county has no formal education, but they had other skills. I think of two Black men, Lee BAKER, and Tom LUSTER, ran one of the best Barber Shops in the city of Columbia. it was located on the Public Square on the spot where the Lermans Brothers Store now stands.

Harley KING for many years operated a bakery first in the square and later on Bomar Heights. The grocery store sold his pies, cakes, bread, and cookies.

Jim MILAN, an ex-slave owned and operated a black smith shop on what is now known as Harvey Street.

Woodson BAKER, for many years operated the only cleaning and pressing shop in Columbia. This shop was located on Burkesville STreet in the old Hancock Hotel.

Most all the Black women worked as servants and were considered excellent cooks.

Black men made or in a few cases, helped make the brick for the older buildings on the public square and for the older brick homes throughout the county. Some of these men were Hendy HANCOCK, George GRISSOM, Bill McCLURE, Bob SPEARMAN, Ambus WILLIAMS, John MURRELL, and Lucian BURBRIDGE.

Bill GRISSOM operated a shoe repair shop on the public square for many years and was located on the spot where now stands the Laney Bray store.

Curt GRADY and Lee JOYNSON for many years drove what was called the Hack the only transportation facility between Columbia and Campbellsville.

Joe WILLIAMS an explorere was appointed Deputy Sheriff in Adair County in the late 1800's. The first and only Black to hold this position.

A black by the name of Bluford DEHONEY from the Milltown Community invented a coupling device to fasten boxcars; however, his invention is being used today.

Rev. C.C. WILLIS, born in Joppa Community the son of Bob WILLIS an ex-slave learned musid and for many years taught singing school over the county and adjoining counties, was tutor adn was called to the ministry. Attended Simmons University to prepare himself for the task. Pastored the First Baptist Church in Columbia for 22 years and led that congregation in erecting the present edifice.


Black from Adair County have served in all wars. To name a few of the Civil War veterans: Henry GARNETT, Samuel HUNTER, Louis BLAKEMAN, Jim MILIAM, Col. GELMORE, John Tyler SMITH, Iron ARAVIN, and Simon LESTER.


Ex-slave agriculture consisted mostly of trying to pay for a parcel or several parcels of land and to make a living. After purchasing the land the ex-slaves who in many instances could not read or write, began clearing the land, erecting log buildings adn rail fences.

Many of the farms once owned by exslaves are now owned by whites; ther are a few still in the hands of their heirs. Some of the older ones are the LASLEY farms.

The Bill DAVIS farm has approximately 400 to 500 acres. Aportion of what is now known as Jamestown Hill was once owned by a black ex-slave, Winniw BOMAR, who a slave of the first Sheriff of Adair County.

For many years her home was on the spot where now stands the G&G Motors and much of the land around her home was owned by her.


There were no original black churches in the county prior to the Civil War, however; many blacks were permitted to become members of white churches. The New Zion Baptist Church, located at Gadberry, was organized about 1866 or 67 out of the membership of Old Zion (White) Baptist Church.

The organization was perfected by the white pastor of Rev. Ballenger WRIGHT, the first pastor of the black church was Rev. William WILSON. Some of the charter members were: Frank GARNETT, Henry BURBRIDGE, Nellie GARNETT, Dorcus MONTGOMERY, Charlottie GARNETT, and Harriet HARPER.

Sometimes after the organization of the church the white Baptists met in the church and organized an association that took the name of New Zion Association. It is now known as the Zion District Association and is composed of 25 churches.

Shortly after freedo, the following churches in this county were organized: Seven Baptist; Four Methodist; and Five Christians.

The First Baptist Church in Columbia was organized sometime previous to 1870 after freedom the Blacks in Columbia worshipped in an old school building called the Dora School, directly across the street from the present church. Ruben FRAZIER, an ex-slave, was a member of the Presbyterian Church (while) in Columbia, his funeral was eeulogized in that church in 1905.

The old Negro spirituals serving in the home of Dr. GRISSOM, the late Mary Allen Grissom, listened to her sing and wrote the music for which she sang. Later she compiled a book called the "Original Negro Spirituals." The book is now on display in the Adair County Library.

S/K.I. Bomar

Created on ... October 04, 2001