(John I. Sturgill)
We are unable to interview ex-slaves in Floyd County, so far as anyone
we are able to contact knows, there are no living ex-slaves in the
County. There are several colored people. The majority of them reside at
Tram, Kentucky, Floyd County, in a kind of colored colony, having been
placed there just after the Civil War. A small number of colored people
live in the vicinity of Wayland, Kentucky, the original being the
remains of a wealthy farmer of Civil War day, by name of Martin. The
colored people were identified as "Martin's Niggers."
The last ex-slave of Floyd County, says Mr. W.S. Wallen of Prestonsburg,
Kentucky, was "Uncle" Charlie Richmond, of Prestonsburg. Uncle Charlie
was brought to the county by old Judge Richmond, father of I. Richmond
of the Richmond Dept. Stores of Prestonsburg, about the time of the
Civil War. When the war was over "Uncle" Charlie worked at Richmond's
for hire and lived as a member of the family. While working on a
Prestonsburg newspaper, Mr. Wallen interviewed this old ex-slave and
worked him into a feature story for his paper. These old paper files
were destroyed by fire about 1928.
Mr. Wallen remembers that "Uncle" Charlie Richmond, as the old ex-slave
was called, died in 1910, was buried in Prestonsburg, and that he, W.S.
Wallen, wrote up the old Darkey's death and funeral for his newspaper.
This is the same paper who's files were destroyed by fire and which
papers does not now exist.
Old Judge Richmond brought this old slave, from Virginia about 1862,
along with a number of other slaves. "Uncle" Charlies was the only slave
that remained in the family as a servant after the Emancipation
Mr. Wallen is a lawyer in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, a member of the James
and Wallen Law Firm, located in the Lane Bldg., on Court St. He was born
at Goodlow, Kentucky in Floyd County, March 15, 1866. He taught school
in Floyd County thirteen years, took his L.L.B. at Law School in
Valpariso, Ind., in 1910, and later served as representative to the
Kentucky General Assembly from the 93rd District, the 1922-24 and 26
The List of People who owned Slaves in Floyd County include:
Sophia Lane, Lanesville.
Jim Lane, Lanesville
Gilbert Higgins, Wilson's Creek
George May, Maytown
Hi Morgan, Prestonsburg
Penny J. Sizemore, Prestonsburg
Samuel P. Davidson, Prestonsburg
I. Richmond, Prestonsburg
Valentine Mayo, Prestonsburg
---- Lanes, Prestonsburg
Kennie Hatcher, Lanesville
Morgan Clark, John's Creek
Daniel Hager, Hager Shoals near what is Auxier, Ky.
Adam Gayheart, Prestonsburg
John P. Martin, Prestonsburg
Jacob Mayo, Sr., Prestonsburg
Wm. Mayo, Jr., Prestonsburg
Johnny Martin, Wayland, Kentucky
Thomas Johns, Dwale, Ky.
Isom Slone, Beaver Creek
John Bud Harris, Emma, Kentucky
Billy Slone, Caney Fork, Right Beaver, Kentucky.
This list is as remembered by the oldest citizens, and one T.J. "Uncle"
Jeff Sizemore, 94 years old Civil War Veteran and citizen of
Prestonsburg, Kentucky, dictated then to the writer in just this order.
The nearest auction blocks were Mt. Sterling, Kentucky and Gladdville,
Virginia. Most slaves from the present Floyd County Territory were
bought and sold through auction in southwest Virginia. Other auction
blocks were at Abington and Bristol, Virginia.
The negro dialect of this county is a combination of the dialect white
folk use plus that of the negro of the South. The colored population is
continually moving back and forth from Alabama, Georgia and North and
South Carolinas. They visit a lot. Colored teachers so far have all been
from Ohio. Most visiting colored preachers come from Alabama and the
Carolinas. The negroes leave out their R's use an't han't gwin, su' for
sir, yea for yes, dah for there and such expressions as, "I's Ye?"
The wealthiest families o' white folk still retain colored servants. In
Prestonsburg, Kentucky one may see on the streets neat looking colored
gals leading or wheeling young white children along. Folk say this is
why so many southerners leave out their R's and hold on to the old
superstitions, they've had a colored mama for a nurse-maid.
Adam Gearheart was a sportsman and used negro Jockeys. His best jockey,
Dennis, was sold to Morg. Clark, John's Creek. The old race track took
in part of the east end of the present Prestonsburg--from Gearheart's
home East in Mayo's bottom one mile to Kelse Hollow--Jimmie Davidson now
lives at the beginning of the old track, near Maple Street. Mike Tarter
of Tennessee, Gearheart's son-in-law brought horses from Tennessee and
ran them here. Tarter was a promoter and book-maker also. Penny J.
Sizemore and Morg. Clark were other sportsmen. This was as early as 1840
up to the Civil War.
Slaves ware traded, bought and sold between owners just as domestic
animals are today. Where one owned only a few servants with no families
they lived in the big house--otherwise in Slave quarters, little cabins
Billy Slone just had two female servants, he bought them in Virginia 15
years old, for $1,000.00 sound.
Many folk went over to Mt. Sterling or Lexington to auctions for trading
servants. (The same manner is used trading stock today).
Slave traders came into the county to buy up slaves for the Southern
plantations, and cotton or sugar fields--Slave families were very
frequently separated, some members mean, theiving, or running away
niggers were sold (first) down the river. Sometimes good servants were
sold for the price, the master being in a financial strait or dire need
of money. Traders handcuffed their servants purchased, and took them by
boat or horse-back down the river or over in Virginia and Carolina
Good servants were usually well treated and not over-worked. Mean or
contrary servants were whipped, or punished in other ways. Run-aways
were hunted--dogs being used to track them at times.
Next: George Dorsey
Previous: Martha Jones