Clark County was formed from Bourbon
and Fayette in 1792. The county seat is the city of Winchester.
Slave Narratives - Clark County - Mayme Nunnelley
Transcribed by Bonnie Snow
The first records of Slaves in Clark County was given by a descendant of one of
the members of the little band of 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 west-ward in the early spring of 1783
for Kentucky. They brought 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 to
them as they need it. In most instances the clothing was made on the plantation.
Material woven, and shoes mad. 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 an inhumane master was ostrazied and taught by the silent
contempt by his neighbors a lesson 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 slaves. If presisted (sic) 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, divided his slaves among his wife and
"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." (B 11-p.346.
"In some old wills enough slaves are to be sold and 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 bequeathed 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 girls 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 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 go to Liberia first, $10.00 a piece if there should be so much and the
balance given the next one 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 pound
each, then they were to be freed. As the other younger slaves became of age,
they are to be freed."
From the following will dated June 22, 1840 it shows the slaves were able to
accumalate (sic) 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 Emil, all
children aforesaid. Charolette Arnold and all belongin to the heirs of Rice
Arnold and also Sally, Alfred, Mary, Lacy, Hulda, Catherine, and Maud, children
of Ester Graves aforesaid, slaves of Bengemine Graves; also two children of Mary
Allen, 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
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 yeas 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 "Soipio" who had taken a
French leave from his master, (donned) in his master's new clothes. Another ad
in this paper ways (sic) one Walter Karrick offered to trade a negro ( sic)
woman for "Whiskey", oyder (sic) and flour.
"A story is told of a slave "Monk Estill" who helped or rather belonged to Col.
James Estill of Madison County. I 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 who the
slave was taken prisoner.
"In the thickest of the fight, Monk called out in a loud voice; "Don't give
away, Marse Jim, there's only twenty-five Indians and you can 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 bought 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
Quinsenberry was second, in Clark 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 mater'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 slave's 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 price, 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 Prince. He brought him out of
the cellar and took him to the laundry room and sat there with him conversing
him to keep quiet 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 tanken by the bad soldiers." Old Prince would stop instantly and
listen to his groom."