"Conduct ... inexcusable and unjustifiable": bound children, battered freedwomen, and the limits of emancipation in Kentucky's Bluegrass Region.
Abstract: Documents compiled by Freedman's Bureau agents in Kentucky's Bluegrass Region clearly reveal open hostility on the part of white residents to black freedom. Bands of white supremacists pillaged black homes, murdered black community leaders, and violently resisted federal efforts to intercede on behalf of freed people. Yet non-lethal violence, particularly against freedwomen and their children, was far more prevalent, an effective means by which to limit black autonomy, and typically deemed less significant by authorities. Freed people frequently reported physical abuse at the hands of white people, including former masters, some of whom refused to acknowledge slavery's demise; and they also reported numerous abuses associated with the Commonwealth's apprenticeship system for black children. Further, black women, now free laborers working in both white households and urban settings, complained of the unfair, often violent, treatment they received at the hands of employers. Finally, black women and girls with virtually no protection under state law suffered sexual abuse at the hands of white men. Taken altogether, these and other limits imposed on emancipation by white residents of the Bluegrass constitute a concerted effort to enact white supremacy and thereby deny former slaves the liberty and equality they desired and demanded.
Article Type: Essay
Subject: Freedmen (Crimes against)
Freedmen (Demographic aspects)
African American women (Civil rights)
African American women (Crimes against)
African American children (Crimes against)
African American children (Civil rights)
Abused women (Demographic aspects)
Abused children (Demographic aspects)
Slavery (Emancipation)
Slavery (Social aspects)
Slavery (History)
Author: Rhyne, J.Michael
Pub Date: 12/22/2008
Publication: Name: Journal of Social History Publisher: Journal of Social History Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: History; Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Journal of Social History ISSN: 0022-4529
Issue: Date: Winter, 2008 Source Volume: 42 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 980 Legal issues & crime
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Name: Bluegrass Country Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 191688758
Full Text: In mid-1866 Flora Ewing, a "colored girl" living in Oldham County, Kentucky, field a complaint with the Freedmen's Bureau in which she claimed to have been the victim of assault and battery at the hands of a white man named Dorsey Young. According to her affidavit, the events leading up to this assault began when on a Monday morning Ewing asked her employer, Dorsey Young's wife, "for two dollars which she owed me for working for her." Mrs. Young told Ewing that she had no money, and so she went out into the yard to ask Mr. Young for her pay. He allegedly accosted her at that point, demanding to know "what was that I was saying to his wife." She told him that she was owed two dollars, and as she knew for a fact that he had just sold two cows, surely he could pay her. Young picked up a stick, grabbed Ewing by the neck, and hit her "four times over the head." After he released her, she went home and lay down, as her "head [had by that time] commenced to acheing." Though it was still only morning, she fell sound asleep, not waking up until mid-afternoon, at which time she got up and went to sit in the doorway of her family's home. As she was sitting there, Dorsey Young came up, carrying "a broom stick which he was using as a cane," and, upon finding Ewing, struck her over the head with it, despite efforts by Flora's mother to shield her daughter from the white assailant. This blow had inflicted injury such that Flora Ewing could not get out of bed until the following Friday. Her affidavit, along with that of her father, John Ewing, spurred the Bureau to investigate the case. (1)

Incidents of assault and battery such as Ewing's, although "of a serious nature," did not constitute a sufficiently serious offense for federal prosecution in the overburdened United States District Court in Louisville, and attempting to prosecute them in local or state courts was not an option, as most Kentucky judges strictly adhered to state law and thus deemed black testimony against white defendants to be inadmissible. The Freedmen's Bureau, operating in the Commonwealth from late 1865 through 1868, tried to intervene where possible, investigating reports of murder, violent intimidation, house-burning, and more, including cases that did not result in long-term or fatal injuries to the victims. Bureau superintendents established a system of fines whereby to punish white perpetrators in such cases. After a brief inquiry, the Bureau found Dorsey Young guilty of "conduct ... inexcusable and unjustifiable," and fined him twenty dollars for the expenses incurred by the federal government in their investigation, as well as five dollars damages owed to Flora Ewing, along with payment of any "bills as may have been made for medicines and medical attendance." (2) Despite such fines, in Kentucky, as in the former Confederate states, the transition to free labor that the Freedmen's Bureau hoped to facilitate would face violent opposition from former slaveholders and stubborn white employers who, along with self-styled vigilantes, acted out their deep-seated notions of white supremacy. Further, expressions of black freedom, particularly as evidenced by formerly enslaved women who sought to become wage laborers, would often strike dissonant chords both among former slaveholders and white supremacists, as well as with Bureau agents. (3)

Comprising only one fifth of the state's total population, former slaves in Kentucky frequently had little ability to enjoy their hard-won liberty in the first months and years after emancipation became law. In particular, freedwomen and their children faced significant hurdles as they sought to establish autonomous lives. Bands of white supremacists pillaged their homes and imposed a reign of terror in many communities. At the same time, many masters proved reluctant to release their slaves, openly, violently defying federal policy regarding emancipation. Additionally, freed people expressed great frustration with the disruptive, racially biased, and often abusive apprenticeship system in the Commonwealth. Further, free black women working in white households and urban settings complained of unfair, often violent treatment they received at the hands of employers and other white Kentuckians. Finally, black women and girls with virtually no protection under state law suffered sexual abuse at the hands of white men. Taken altogether, these and other limits imposed on emancipation, and acts of violence associated with them, constitute a concerted effort to maintain black subordination, thereby denying former slaves the free and potentially equal status they desired, expected, and demanded. Though agents investigated the worst cases of violence and abuse of freedwomen and children, the Freed-men's Bureau's primary concern seemed to be the imposition of free labor ideology and Victorian ideals on former slaves, regardless of mitigating circumstances. Nonetheless, the stories of Kentucky's freedwomen and children, told through the documents generated as they or their families attempted to gain redress for abuses committed against them by white employers and assailants, bring to light both the unique challenges they faced, and the challenges they shared with all who were navigating the turbulent waters of freedom.

Unlike the former Confederate states, Kentucky as a whole had never seceded, and a clear majority of white Kentuckians had either enthusiastically or reluctantly supported the Union in the first years of the war. However, as the war progressed, many of the Commonwealth's white residents exhibited growing bitterness concerning federal policy, especially regarding slavery, and at war's end some of them simply refused to recognize that the peculiar institution was in its death throes. In particular, reports from the Bluegrass, Kentucky's most significant and storied slaveholding region, reveal the lengths to which many white Kentuckians were willing to go both to resist emancipation and to place strict limits on black freedom. (4) Despite ample evidence of such defiance, and despite Kentucky's refusal to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, President Andrew Johnson ordered an end to martial law on October 12, 1865. In contrast to the president's apparent lack of concern for the Commonwealth's former slaves, Major General Oliver O. Howard, Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, contacted Major General Clinton B. Fisk, Assistant Commissioner for the Tennessee district, and instructed him also to take charge of Bureau operations in Kentucky. Fisk immediately began building an organization and made ready to conduct a thorough inspection of the state at year's end, after the Thirteenth Amendment had become law. (5)

In February and March of 1866 Commissioner Fisk filed reports to his superiors chronicling the extent to which white assailants were terrorizing freed people in the Commonwealth. Military and civilian inspectors in the Bluegrass Region logged cases of women and girls being beaten or raped, freedmen being assaulted and sometimes shot or lynched, and particularly of free black house holds being violated and families being forced to flee for their lives. Bands of white supremacists frequently targeted community leaders, especially returning veterans, ministers, and freedmen who owned or rented their own land. In some cases, these bands openly stated that they were searching for illegal weapons, as freed people were prohibited by Kentucky law from possessing firearms. A typical attack involved home invasion, non-lethal physical assault, theft of any valuables, particularly weapons but also clothes, food, and money, and threat of further violence if the family did not leave the area. In some cases, the home was not only ransacked, but partially or totally destroyed, ensuring that the family would have to move on. In a few cases, these self-styled "Negro Regulators" raped a freedman's wife, mother, or daughter while forcing him to watch. Freed men who tried to defend their homes frequently were gunned down for their efforts. Additionally, emancipation had become law in early winter, and through out Kentucky freed people suffered from the elements, as well as hunger and disease, with woefully inadequate resources available to mitigate their suffering. As one group of Bluegrass freedmen lamented, "our houses [are] pulled down on us & [we are] turned out of dores in the Cold & we have no protection from the whites of this naborhood." The unusually cold winter of that year and several to follow would take a horrific toll on impoverished former slaves, particularly refugees fleeing racial violence. (6)

In the face of this onslaught against Kentucky's freed people, Fisk quickly recruited locals to work for the Bureau, noting that he chose such men on the basis of their loyalty to the federal government and "upon the recommendation of the best men I could consult." Thus the men most responsible for implementing Bureau policy in most cases were Kentuckians themselves and members of the communities in which they operated, if also at odds with those who resented what they deemed federal interference in local and state affairs. William Cassius Goodloe, nephew of the irascible Cassius M. Clay, summarized eloquently what Bureau agents in the Bluegrass were up against on a daily basis. After taking charge of Bureau operations in Boyle, Lincoln, and Mercer counties, he concluded:

By all appearances, Clinton Fisk simply failed to understand the extent to which many white residents of post-emancipation Kentucky, like their counter parts in the former Confederate states, not only condoned but viewed as necessary and legitimate such violent acts as were required to restore order as they defined it in a given community. Like many former Confederates in the South, Kentucky's white supremacists attempted to construct a post-war society based on the idea that, because black people were inferior to white people, the two races could not peacefully coexist unless white people exercised rigid control over black people and kept them in a subservient status. If that status could not be maintained after emancipation, then freed people had to be driven out of the community. Furthermore, white supporters of even a modicum of black equality had to be taught the error of their ways by whatever means these self-styled vigilantes deemed necessary. As Martha Hodes has succinctly surmised, slavery "had sufficiently if imperfectly sustained racial hierarchy, but with the demise of slavery, the maintenance of this hierarchy through other means became essential to white Southerners." (8)

Many white residents of the Bluegrass state constructed their identity in relation to a rigid social order in which race, class, and gender served as foundations for a complex hierarchy. As they had in the antebellum period, white men continued to view themselves as the dominant group. They defined their masculinity in part by how well they could protect white women from perceived threats or actual abuse at the hands of other men, especially black men. Emancipation posed a supreme challenge to this identity and hierarchy as black men, women, and children sought to assert their independence from former masters and mistresses and to build autonomous lives and families for themselves. In this contest over the meaning of freedom, which was in large measure a fight for black in dependence from former masters, white men resorted to tactics honed during decades of slaveholding and slave hiring to maintain black subordination. They did not hesitate to employ the fist, the switch, the cane, or the lash in their efforts to control their black laborers, and they resented having to hand cash wages directly to their "servants," frequently finding some pretense to withhold pay. Likewise, bands of white supremacists were not above utilizing terror tactics, up to and including rape and lynching, to thwart the social revolution both former slaves and the Freedmens Bureau sought to achieve. As Barbara Jeanne Fields has argued was the case in the border state of Maryland, such "attacks on black people were frequently gratuitous and arbitrary; but they were not random, nor did they represent the caprice of deranged or especially malignant individuals. They had a clear logic, which most white people understood perfectly and accepted with little question." (9)

For their part, freed people struggled mightily to reconstitute families, meeting tenacious resistance seemingly at every turn. Numerous slaveholders simply refused to release women and children to their parents or other family members, regardless of their legal status. In these cases, freed people appealed to the Bureau for help in liberating their children and grandchildren, even as they "insisted on the sanctity of their households and their own rights as parents." On December 26, 1865, F. D. Kennedy, the Bureau's Louisville superintendent, wrote to Robert Carruthers, a Jefferson County farmer, demanding he "at once liberate "the daughter and two grandchildren of George Patton. The daughter, Harriet, was the wife of a soldier serving in the United States Colored Troops, and so she and her children technically had been free since March. A few days later, he wrote to Mrs. Collins of the same county, stating that a complaint had been lodged against her concerning treatment of a black female child she had managed "to detain and misuse." In early January, Kennedy demanded that Walter Ayres of Woodford County liberate two freedwomen being held "against their will." (10)

As John S. Graham reported from Covington in the summer of 1866, in Boone and other rural Bluegrass counties "there are many cases in which Negroes are still held as slaves." He and other Bureau agents proved unable to intervene "on account of the intense hostility to the Bureau on the part of the citizens who being a lawless class do not hesitate at any means to rid themselves of the presence of an Agent of the Bureau." Without direct intervention against this "lawless class," freed people faced violent opposition as they attempted to build new lives, and local authorities simply refused to intervene. J. W. Read, the Bureau superintendent in Cynthiana, revealed the extent to which local authorities in many cases actually could be part of the problem when he noted, "I cannot see much chance for the Negroes to get any Protection from Civil authority here as they are shure to put Returned Rebel Soldiers in to fill all the County Offices this next election with but few exceptions." Similarly, Superintendent C. J. True of Maysville reported that the civil authorities in Mason County "have never made any attempts to punish or even arrest the guilty parties, so far as my knowledge is concerned. The consequence is that they (the Freedmen) have no protection except through the officers of this Bureau." (11)

C. J. True, who also served as editor of Maysville's Unionist newspaper, additionally chronicled his encounter with R. P. Henry of nearby Washington over a case involving the child of a soldier of the USCT. In November 1866, True wrote to Mrs. Lucretia Clereny, asking her to pay Henry Coleman, as male head of household, the sum of two hundred fifty dollars for money she had earned by hiring out his son after such time as the boy had been freed by the March 1865 act of Congress. R. P. Henry, writing back to "J. C. True of the Nigger Bureau," on behalf of Mrs. Clereny, stated, "Her negroes were not freed, but stolen by a set of Yankee robbers." Additionally, Henry invited True and a man named Campbell, another prominent Maysville Unionist, not only to sue, but also to "present that bill in person." The implied threat of physical violence should True or anyone else attempt to serve such a notice was unmistakable, as was the intent both to maintain black subordination and to defy federal authority through whatever means men such as Henry deemed necessary. (12)

Bureau records contain many such stories of women and children illegally held in bondage and slaveholders violently resisting efforts to emancipate them, including the March 1866 complaint of Emily Churchill. Her former owner, Harrison Artetburn of Jefferson County, had refused to liberate her two sons, one age ten, the other age four and blind. Churchill determined to take matters into her own hands, so she waited until Arterburn left his house, and then went in to get her sons. She successfully retrieved the boys, along with a chair she claimed to own, and started toward Louisville. Her luck ran out when a buggy containing Arterburn came down the road toward her. He hopped out and bade the driver go on without him, after which he accosted his former slave and accused her of stealing. When she told him that her only intent was to claim her children and her chair, he grew angry and pulled out a pocketknife, which he used to threaten the ten-year-old. The boy smartly fled from him, running away down the road toward Louisville, hut then the white man vented his anger on Churchill and her four-year-old, hitting the woman in the head, knocking her down, and then hitting her blind son twice with his fist. Finally, according to Churchill, he "threatened to cut my throat." At that point, "she begged him for her life and appealed to him in behalf of her children, her blind one particularly." Having spent his anger, Arterburn responded favorably to her pleas, but then he had the audacity to ask her if she would consider returning to stay with him. She refused and proceeded back to the city with her sons "without further molestation." (13)

Even as Churchill and other parents struggled to reclaim their children from former masters, other free black mothers and fathers throughout the Bluegrass had to contend with disruption of families wrought by a legal apprenticeship system. Supporters argued that apprenticeship was a reasonable practice by which to ease children through the transition from slave to free laborer. Indeed, masters promised to teach their apprentices a "trade, art, and business," so that by the time they reached adulthood, they could compete in the free market economy. Even if the trade in question most often was farming, such skills, if properly taught, had value in a predominantly rural society. Kentucky had apprenticeship laws on the hooks governing the practice for white children, and in 1866 the state legislature took the first step toward adapting these laws to apply to all children. Legislators, however, did not perceive black apprentices as equal to white apprentices, and they accorded them little protection under state law. In particular, the policy of giving former owners top priority when assigning black children for apprenticeship led to much consternation on the part of the Freed-men's Bureau and the Commonwealth's black population. Additionally, masters of black apprentices could simply make a one-time payment to the child and absolve themselves of all responsibility for educating them. The most frequent complaints about this system came from black mothers whose children had been removed from their homes, sometimes without their Consent, and apprenticed to their former owners. While some mothers who lost their children in this manner were in fact destitute, others were quite capable of caring for their own children. Among the reported abuses to apprentices were failure to teach a trade, which undermined the basic justification for apprenticeship, and physical abuse, including not only frequent whippings but also battery resulting in serious injury to the apprentice. (14)

Hamstrung both by state lawmakers and ongoing violent resistance to federal intervention, the Freedmen's Bureau sought to mediate in these cases, though, as was the pattern with the negotiation of labor contracts for field hands and tenant farmers, they often took action that diverged somewhat from the hopes and wishes of their free black clients. Indeed, Bureau agents attempted to impose white middle class notions of marriage, family, and work on former slaves, while in many cases failing to recognize their own racist preconceptions. As Laura Edwards has argued, underlying this practice seemed to be the basic assumption among white authorities "that African-American parents did not have legitimate households or legitimate rights to their children." In the Bluegrass, Kentucky's system of apprenticeship led to much frustration, particularly among freedwomen who not only bore the brunt of racial violence but also the separation of children from mothers, not to mention child laborers from free black households that needed every helping hand to survive. (15)

The experience of Hannah Neille and her son clearly illustrates the perils of this apprenticeship system. Her son was apprenticed to Mrs. Olden of Louisville in the summer of 1866, but in December, his mother took him home to care for him, as he was suffering from wounds inflicted when Mr. Olden beat him with a broomstick. After a few days, she took the boy back to the Olden house, only to have Mr. Olden tell her that he did not want him "because of being accused of bearing the child." Neille testified that she had bound the boy out for food and clothing, apparently being unable to support him herself. During the whole time he was with the Oldens, he only received a pair of worn pants that Mrs. Olden had cut off to fit him. Neille asked the Bureau to help her collect "a reasonable hire for the boy for the time he worked." He had worked about eleven weeks, and Neille deemed a reasonable sum to be fifty cents a week. Likewise, Harriet Sutherland's son, Alfred, had been severely whipped by his master, Augustus Ryan. Alfred "left him and came home" to live with his mother, who wrote the Bureau to ask what might be done to force Ryan to pay Alfred for the four weeks he had already worked. (16)

Many freedwomen tried to stand up for themselves and their children, as was the case with Lavina Newland, a freedwoman living with and working for a family in Henry County. She had an altercation with her employer, Shelton Scott, when an innocent game between her son and Scott's daughter got too rough. According to Newland, she had taken the children with her to milk the cows. As she milked, the kids played. Her twelve-year-old son, Edward, was a good bit older than Scott's daughter, so perhaps he was helping watch the girl while his mother did her chores. In any event, the girl picked up a rock and threw it at Edward, hitting him but doing no harm. Her son, "in a playful mood threw a chip which hit the girl and she ran to the house crying and her father came out." Shelton Scott then "picked up a stick and struck" Edward several times, apparently knocking him to the ground, where he placed his foot on the boy and continued to "beat him with the stick." (17)

At this point, Newland told her employer that "she thought he had whipped the boy enough," to which he replied, "you black Bitch if you don't mind 1 will give you as much." Undaunted, she apparently told him to go ahead, at which point he picked up a rock and threw it, striking her in the head and "causing the blood to flow and run down her clothes to the ground." Newland, though dazed, apparently threw the contents of her milk pail at Scott, who then beat her repeatedly with the stick. Newland vowed to take her three children and leave the farm, but when she started to do so Scott would not let Edward go. She took her other two children and left, later petitioning the Bureau to take action against Shelton Scott both for damages and the release of her son. After a brief investigation, the Bureau found that her injuries were insufficient and her actions toward Scott too provocative to merit any action. As to the fate of Edward, who apparently was not seriously injured, the Bureau discovered that he was legally bound to Shelton Scott as an apprentice, and so they chose not to press the matter further, apparently being suspicious of the character of the mother and unconvinced that Scott, in the final analysis, had acted improperly enough to merit removal of the child from his home. (18)

In point of fact the Bureau could do little to intercede in even the worst cases involving apprentices in Kentucky. By September 1866 complaints were streaming into the Louisville sub-district regarding the practice of apprenticing black children to their former owners, often "without notice to the mother or the consent of the [children]," as Louisville's sub-assistant commissioner C. H. Frederick noted. Such practices were against newly revised Kentucky statutes regarding apprenticeship, which mandated that parents and children must be present in court when apprenticeships were assigned, with their consent required for the contract to be legal. In practice, individual county courts frequently acted in the best interests of the masters, not the apprentices. Once again federal authorities in Kentucky had run up against the powerful, independent county court system, in which county voters elected their own magistrates and other law enforcement officials. As non-voters, freedmen had little protection under the law at the local level. Freedwomen and children had even less. Frederick concluded, "It is a lamentable fact that in the face of all this law and authority complaints are made two or three times a week where judges of the county courts have permitted children to be bound without a single one of the legal requirements being complied with." He also lamented, "No civil court of the state of higher jurisdiction than the county court will take cognizance of these cases and have these children so bound released." Frederick's superiors surmised that their only resort was to levy fines and, in the worst cases, attempt to prosecute in federal court, thus bypassing the Kentucky court system altogether under the new federal Civil Rights Act, aspects of which were aimed specifically at the Commonwealth's defiant legislators and judges, not to mention its stubborn and abusive former slaveholders. (19)

Accounts from the time clearly reveal the extent to which the end of slavery in the Bluegrass Region came hard not only to white men, but also to white women. Betty Howard, for example, lamented in her diary that she and her children now were forced to perform daily work, such as milking and meal preparation "in the absence of a servant to do it." She was "resolved" to pay a "servant" to take on these chores. Elite white women who could afford to do so quickly moved to hire freedwomen or girls as domestic servants, preferably to live in their houses and tend to all such unpleasant but necessary duties. In antebellum Kentucky, many white families had hired enslaved women to do these tasks, so the idea of paying wages was not new to them. Rather, the newness came from having to negotiate terms directly with free black women, not with the white slaveholders who previously had hired them out. Further complicating these new economic relationships, domestic servants openly demonstrated their status as free laborers both by changing jobs and by challenging white employers to live up to contractual obligations. (20)

As exemplified by the case of Flora Ewing, women and girls who worked as domestic and farm help frequently reported that either they had not been paid or they had been beaten or both. Maria jane Russell of Jefferson County suffered similar ill treatment. She had agreed to work for a woman she simply called Miss Susan, but the two had a disagreement over Russell's pay, and so Maria found another home in which to work. When Russell went back to Miss Susan's house to collect wages owed her, as well as her bed and trunk, she ran into trouble. A boarder with Miss Susan accosted her, accusing her of starting a trend that had led to another domestic servant leaving, as well. As Russell tried to explain, the male boarder "jumped up and commenced kicking her and she ran out of the house." The man followed her outside and shouted after her "if she came back there again he would cowhide her," after which he called her "a dammed black bitch." Chillingly illustrating the relative powerlessness of the Freedmen's Bureau to intervene in such cases, the man further told Russell that he did not fear the government, for if he whipped her to death, he could afford to pay any paltry fine the Bureau would levy against him. Happily for Maria Jane Russell, a black male friend had already loaded up her bed and trunk, so at least she did not lose them, even if she never received the pay Miss Susan owed her. Russell bad asserted her independence as well as the right of a free laborer to seek alternative employment, but for elite white women and men accustomed to obedience and, indeed, to getting their way, her actions were interpreted as a personal insult and thus evoked a violent response. (21)

Susan Richards had an equally rough time with Martha Hughes of Jefferson County, who hired her and then drove her off after only a couple of days. When Richards returned to collect the fifty cents she felt Hughes owed her, the woman . told her she did not deserve it, as she had not stayed for the entire week. Richards responded, "You drove me off and as soon as I got a place to go I left you." At that point, Hughes called her nephew, Charles Hughes, to come remove Richards from the premises. The man picked up a big stick and savagely struck Richards in the head with it, though it took him two hands to do so. As she reeled from the first blow, he laid another vicious blow across her back. Richards "spit blood that day and the next," and was sore for days after. After he struck her, Charles Hughes asked, "Why did you give your impudence to her?" Implicit in his statement is the notion that Richards had forgotten her "place" and thus had brought on the beating. Charles Hughes thus evidenced a clear belief that neither he, nor even his high-strung aunt, shared the blame for this incident. When he picked up that stick and laid into Richards, he was merely doing his part to re-establish what he no doubt deemed the proper social relationship between his aunt and her black hired help, while perhaps also thinking to teach proper Victorian manners to the "impudent" freedwoman. (22)

Mothers forced to take jobs as live-in servants, taking their children with them into their employers' households, faced particularly difficult circumstances. Their employers had tremendous leverage over every aspect'of their daily lives, as evidenced by the testimony of Mary Ellen Gardner, who worked as a live-in domestic for Lucy Ann Magruder of Henry County. Mary Ellen had "hired herself to work for Mrs. Magruder for the feeding and clothing of herself and her children," and she swore that she had "been faithful in her attention to her duties." But she claimed that her employer always managed to find a way to keep her from going to church on Sundays, so that she had not been able to attend a meeting in over a year. In the summer of 1866, her employer left with her sons early in the morning, and so Gardner cut a deal with another woman to watch over the house for her, and she went to church. Unfortunately for her, Mrs. Magruder returned home before she did, and so was waiting for her. She told Gardner that her actions left no choice but to bind out her children as apprentices. When Gardner protested, Mr. Magruder told her to shut up, at one point calling her "a Damned yellow hitch." Further, he "said to her you think you are free but I'll show you whether you are or not," at which point he went into the house and quickly returned, cowhide in hand. He proceeded to whip her mercilessly as if she were still a slave. After the beating, Gardner fled with her children and contacted the Bureau for help. (23)

Josaphine Beadford's case is even more disturbing, in that she and her daughter were suffering various abuses simultaneously at the hands of different employers. She reported "that the man where I have been living for the last twelve months ... will not pay me anything for my work." Beadford noted that she was "a smart healthy woman" living in the home of Collin Eggin of Taylorsville, Spencer County. She inquired as to whether "there is any protection by the government for us poor colored people," including her "daughter hired to Eli Snider who has abused her very much." In a similar case of abuse of a child, Jennie Addison, age twelve, testified that the wife of James C. Ford, who employed her and her mother, ordered a male employee to heat Jennie on several occasions. This was no mild switching, either, as the "man struck her 7 or 8 times with his fist saying that he was authorized by [Ford's wife] to inflict the punishment." When confronted by the Bureau, assailants frequently downplayed the severity of their assault, saying it was only a switching, such as one would give a child. Testimony from battered domestic servants strongly suggests much more serious abuse. The Bureau cautioned Ford to remember that "Negroes are no longer slaves and the law does not permit them to be beaten and abused in this manner either by the persons hiring them or by any person who they may also have employed," and ordered him to appear before them to answer these charges. (24)

White Kentuckians, like their peers in the former Confederate states, exhibited a fondness for using the switch, the stick, and the cowhide on their apprentices and hired help. As one employer put it, "What am I to do with the woman I have hired, she wants to be a lady and I can do nothing with her without whipping her. Now, Sir, she must be whipped and I do not want the 'Bureau' on my Back for doing so." While the Bureau dutifully recorded affidavits, it did little more than impose the occasional fine in its attempts to discourage such abuse, and, in many cases, took no action, as officials did not have what they deemed sufficient evidence in that they did not have third-party testimony. Such was the case when Ellen Castleman, a freedwoman who was six months pregnant, contacted the Bureau regarding similar rough treatment on the part of her Louisville employer. She worked as a cook for Thomas Langdon, who accosted her in August 1866 with accusations that she had been spreading rumors about him. In particular, he accused her of telling other people that he was "staying with Sallie Lewis a colored girl also hired by him." Castleman responded that "she had never said anything about him in any way." Not believing his cook, Langdon began "cursing her and calling her bitch and other names." When she tried to walk away from him, he followed her, repeating his accusations and then punching her "with his fist on the mouth loosening two of her front teeth." She fled the house and later reported him to the Bureau. After a brief investigation in which they could locate no other witnesses, the Bureau dismissed her charges against Langdon, leaving her with no further legal recourse. (25)

As indicated by the above complaints, both white men and white women engaged in actions by which they attempted to deny black women and children the same status as white women and children. As Randy Finley has argued was the case in Arkansas, in Kentucky the Bureau based its policies on the assumption that white families who hired servants or contracted with apprentices "inculcated order and conservatism by teaching black children the value of work and the importance of staying in one's 'place'." Thus it is possible to see how the Freedmen's Bureau perceived apprenticeship and domestic servitude in white Victorian middle class households as having potential to effect a positive influence on former slaves. The Bureau proved reluctant to intervene in all but the most serious cases of abuse, even cooperating fully with the removal via apprenticeship of children from mothers they deemed unfit. Reflecting Bureau policy in former Confederate settings, in Kentucky any desire to aid the efforts of freed people to reconstruct and defend families and households appears to have been subordinate to an emphasis on apprenticeship as a means by which to limit the number of children dependent on Bureau aid. In implementing such policies, agents, however sympathetic they may have been, often seemed oblivious to the maelstrom of abuse, terror, and poverty in which former slaves were caught, particularly women who had no choice but to function as single heads of households. (26)

H. C. Howard of the Lexington sub-district displayed such a bias when he reported that freed people in his district were "not ... inclined to enter into contracts by the year, and are too much disposed to seek the small Towns, too much idling and demoralization among them in regard to the Obligations of Virtue and Chastity." He further observed that "the increase of children by indiscriminate intercourse is producing poverty and degradation requiring protection and attention from the Bureau to prevent starvation." He encouraged strong punishment for "adultery and abandonment," and lamented the extent to which "the Freedmen do not regard the moral obligation of the Rites of Matrimony." Howard's concerns reflect what the Bureau referred to as a "war on dependency," that is, efforts to decrease as swiftly as possible the number of freed people who required government relief to survive. As Mary J. Farmer has observed, underlying this policy was the assumption that "providing blacks with aid from the federal government too easily .. . would contribute to black idleness and license." Thus the Bureau felt compelled to push freed people toward economic self-sufficiency with all due haste, supporting both apptenticeship and stronger anti-vagrancy laws in the process. Agents frequently used threat of prosecution in their efforts to force able-bodied freedmen "who could not find employment to move to areas where work was more plentiful." Likewise, the Bureau regarded unemployed freedwomen, even the able-bodied, as "dependents on the government." In order to reduce the number of these dependents, the Bureau worked not necessarily to secure gainful employment for the women, but rather "to assist black women in holding black men accountable for their responsibilities as husbands and fathers." (27)

Far from drifting into town in order to live an idle life filled with "indiscriminate intercourse" and other licentious activities, freed people fled to Kentucky's urban centers to escape unchecked Regulator violence and work conditions that proved to be too reminiscent of slavery. Refugees quickly inundated Ohio River cities such as Louisville, Covington, and Maysville, with Frankfort, Lexington, Paris, and most Bluegrass county seat towns were equally flooded. In these cities and towns, as in Atlanta and other southern urban centers, free black women and girls typically "were compelled to find jobs as household workers" in order to support themselves and their families. At the same time, they asserted "their rights to enjoy the fruits of their labor and to reconstitute their lives as autonomous human beings." However, supply of wage laborers quickly outstripped demand in urban centers, and so former masters and white employers, beneficiaries of this refugee crisis, quickly "showed their determination to mold a subservient black female workforce," utilizing both civil authority and physical violence to achieve this goal. The flood of new residents brought hardship to towns and cities, but also provided opportunities for landholders, carpenters, and others to profit from this demographic shift by developing new, almost exclusively black, neighborhoods or "suburbs" separated from the older residential areas. That these communities, sometimes little more than shanty-towns built for mostly impoverished residents, lay on the least hospitable, and therefore least valuable, parcels of land almost goes without saying. Typically, urban-dwelling freedmen worked as draymen, factory workers, laborers, or field hands on nearby farms, while freedwomen worked as domestic servants, cooks, or washerwomen. (28)

In the face of old prejudices and increasing racial segregation, black working women frequently struggled simply to defend their rights as free women on city streets. Hannah Jones, a resident of the Portland suburb of Louisville who worked as a laundress for a steamboat, drew the ire of a white man when he staggered from a saloon and fell against her as she carried clothes back to the crew. He spat upon her and the clean clothes, and as she moved away, he grubbed "a barroom chair" and threw it at her, "striking her on the arm and side hurting her so much as to prevent her from continuing her work on the boat." She quickly located a policeman for whom she had worked and asked him for help. He replied, "He could do nothing for her as the colored people had no law here." Discouraged and hurting, Jones started home, but the man who had hit her with the chair followed her. She ducked into a neighbor's house, but he forced his way in and assaulted her, at one point kicking her "in the eye with his boot." When two white men came to the door to see what was going on, her assailant left, but he sent word back later that if she reported him "to any body he would blow her head off." A black schoolteacher in Portland who had visited the badly beaten Jones noted "that there is a class of men in Portland who are very troublesome to the colored people there and the civil authorities cannot be got to do any thing to stop it." (29)

A similar incident happened to Jennie Bell and Mary Moore of Louisville. Bell apparently brushed up against a white man as she walked along a street one Sunday afternoon. He immediately cursed her and called her a "damned black birch," whereupon she replied that she was "no more of a bitch than he was." A policeman named Marty, who was standing nearby, told Bell to go on home, "you Damned bitch or I will put you in the Watch house," to which Bell again replied that she was "no more a Damned bitch than he." At this point, the policeman took her off to jail. Over the next couple of days, Bell arranged to be released then complained to the Bureau about her treatment. In response, Marty and another policeman named Hipwell arrested her again, and this time took in Mary Moore, as well, apparently in an attempt to prevent them from talking anymore with the Freedmen's Bureau. The women were fined ten dollars by a local magistrate, but they could not pay, and so they were ordered to the workhouse. The Bureau intervened, calling Marty and Hipwell before the Bureau court and ordering the Louisville police to pay Jenny Bell ten dollars and Mary Moore fifty dollars for wrongful arrest, noting that the arrest of Moore had been "without a parallel" as "she had done nothing, and no charge had been made against her." Marty was fined ten dollars for his "vulgar language; and contempt of Court," when he "undertook to Bully the Court." Because they refused in any way to cooperate with the Bureau, Marty and Hipwell were sent to the military prison to cool off. Within a few hours, however, Major General Palmer intervened and ordered their release. (30)

Many white men and women in Kentucky, including some Bureau agents, at base simply did not believe in black equality, and so they continued to treat freedwomen as perpetual children rather than the free wage laborers, wives, and mothers they were struggling to become. In so doing, they came into conflict with these women, who were developing and acting upon clear ideas about free black womanhood, and thus, as Laura Edwards has phrased it, had "dropped the facade of servitude to go about their business without asking permission or offering apologies." Given the demands of establishing a life for themselves and their children, black women sometimes made practical decisions at odds with the dominant ideals of northern white society, living single lives as female heads of households, and sometimes even resorting to prostitution to provide for their families. Such actions, needless to say, went against Bureau expectations. Further, observing such behavior, "many white northerners" concluded "that freed people were incapable of understanding or accepting the responsibilities that came with marriage." Such a misrepresentation would not have been quite so insidious, had not "white northerners and southerners alike used marriage as a barometer for [freed people's] fitness for freedom." (31)

When freedwomen, faced with little alternative, turned to sex work for survival, the Bureau intervened with a heavy hand. Actively participating in Victorian America's campaign against prostitution, agents tried to break up brothels in which freedwomen worked, and they readily removed children from mothers who could demonstrate no viable means of support other than sex work. Still, Bureau agents were confronted with the reality that some white men sought out black women for their sexual enjoyment, as well as for displays of white power and male dominance, sexual or otherwise. Mutually agreed-upon interracial relationships, as well as intra-racial extramarital sexual relationships, violated Bureau ideals regarding the shaping of black families according to white perceptions and norms, and so were discouraged. And yet the Bureau appears to have been no more effective at protecting black women from unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault than it was at attempting to regulate consensual sexual behavior. One reason for this was that Bureau agents had internalized the nineteenth century cultural stereotype of the promiscuous black female, and thus did not take seriously many reports of sexual assault. Additionally, not all federal soldiers and officers were "model Victorian gentlemen," and certainly many white male civilians failed to live up to that ideal. (32)

In contrast to the stereotype, freedwomen frequently found themselves in danger of being raped or sexually imposed upon in an uneven power relationship with a white man or men. D.F. Bligh testified in May 1866 that three white men, Thomas Vickers, John Rhodes, and John Stewart, had robbed Stephen Scott and "four other negroes." After robbing the men, the small band of assailants strung one of them up "until he was nearly dead." The white men then assaulted and attempted to rape a black woman who was present. Ironically, these men were arrested in connection with their involvement in this and other robberies, not because of this attempted rape. Black women who tried to speak out against unwanted sexual advances frequently stood accused of lying. Emma Gwinn, a domestic servant living in the home of Mrs. James Prather, reported that Prather's son made unsolicited sexual advances toward her one night as she lay in bed. She got up and left him there, and on the advice of another servant, went straight to his mother to tell her what had happened. The next morning the young Prather accosted her, heating her with a poker as he yelled, "Damn you you went and told my mother a Damned lie on me and if you don't go out of the yard I will shoot you." She fled immediately and contacted the Bureau, requesting them to force the man to answer for his actions. (33)

Even when they did not participate in sexual assaults, white Kentuckians in general simply refused to treat freedwomen as deserving of the same basic courtesies and the same level of respect and protection accorded to white women both in public and private settings. With such tacit community support, white supremacists hoped to demonstrate black inferiority, and thus the need for continued subordination, in multiple ways. They frequently challenged the masculinity of black men, especially former soldiers, ministers, and household heads, sometimes physically emasculating them, sometimes symbolically emasculating them via home invasion, whipping, mock lynching, and other terror tactics. In the case of black women, the lesson taught by white men was equally clear: they were not deserving of the same protection as white women. As a result, free black women fell victim not only to white men who dealt them insults and beatings, but also to perpetrators of rape. As Herbert Gutman phrased it, "Ex-slave husbands and fathers found it difficult to protect their wives and daughters from the conventional sexual insult and even abuse that remained after ... emancipation." (34)

A report sent to Fisk by J. R. Lewis of the Inspector General's Office in May 1866, illustrates this point all too well. On or about March 25, a half dozen or so white men in disguises had attacked "a quiet well behaved laboring colored family." The gang forced the family outside, destroyed their house, and then raped the two freedwomen. In the end, "the whole family [was] driven away." Likewise, Robert Guthrie testified that his house was looted and furniture destroyed by a dozen men reputedly looking for weapons. Guthrie recognized the leader as a Mr. Smith, son of Mrs. Smith of La Grange, in Oldham County. After ransacking his house, the band went to Gene Thomas's house and did the same. While there, they raped Thomas's daughter, as well as his wife's pregnant niece. The sexual assault on these two freedwomen did not stop "until nearly the whole crowd one after another ravished them." White assailants reserved their worst violence for perceived community leaders, particularly the families of veterans of the USCT In December 1865, the wife of a black soldier filed a complaint that a white man named Brown had assaulted her. Another resident of Louisville, Mary Hilton, filed a similar complaint, accusing James McFaron of assaulting her "in a brutal manner." That same winter in Owen County a band of Regulators descended on the household of a black veteran and, after knocking him out and forcing his father, Mason Thomison, to wreck his own house, several Regulators took turns raping his mother. (35)

Many such sexual assaults on black women and girls likely were crimes of opportunity committed by rapists against victims with virtually no legal protection. Still, raping the mother, wife, or daughter of a black male head of the house, a minister, or a soldier who served in the Union Army, particularly while forcing him to watch, sent a clear message to him that in reality he was far less than a man, and that the women being raped were not ladies worthy of protection. Indeed, some rapists in Kentucky, as Hannah Rosen has argued was the case for white rapists in Memphis, "turned to black women's gender and sexuality as a site for reenacting and reproducing racial inequality and subordination." (36) Rapists thus attempted to demonstrate to their victims that they did not possess feminine virtue, as nineteenth-century Victorians in America understood the term. Additionally, rapists sent an unmistakable message to newly emancipated black men that they could not protect their women from the advances of white men any more effectively now than when they were enslaved. On the other hand, by swearing out affidavits and making complaint to Bureau agents, freed people politicized black women's bodies in an effort to achieve the full measure of protection due them under federal civil rights laws. If free black women remained vulnerable to rape on the part of white perpetrators, they, unlike enslaved women, had the knowledge that what had been done to them now constituted a crime, at least in the eyes of some Freedmen's Bureau agents, who dutifully recorded the affidavits of black witnesses and victims. Still, the Bureau had very limited resources with which to respond, not to mention limited will to act, concerning cases of abuse, gross sexual imposition, or even rape committed on the persons of freedwomen. (37)

The contents of affidavits, complaints, and reports collected by the Freedmen's Bureau clearly reveal the extreme hostility many white residents of the Bluegrass Region, even some who fought for the Union in the Civil War, held toward both freed people and federal authorities in the months and years following the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. In such an environment, where women and children daily experienced abuse at the hands of their employers and other white Kentuckians, the actions of vigilante bands could be rationalized and, to a degree, justified as a means by which to maintain post-emancipation black subordination. Within this social framework, men and women who either condoned or engaged in whipping and otherwise abusing black women and children, whether in a fit of anger or as a regular practice to maintain discipline over their laborers, could not overly criticize violent acts, even rape and murder, committed by night riders who claimed to be operating in the best interests of their communities. Thus employers and former slaveholders who resisted free labor actively participated, in their own way, in the enactment of white supremacy. Indeed, as Tera Hunter has observed, in many locales throughout the Reconstruction South, "African Americans' recalcitrance in commonplace disagreements with employers routinely provoked ... vigilantes" such as the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating the close relationship between labor disputes and Klan-style racial violence. In post-Civil War Kentucky, these vigilante bands most often referred to themselves as Negro Regulators or "Judge Lynch's Men." As an avid fan from Garrard County noted in 1868, her community had "a band of invisible, nocturnal Regulators who keep the negroes straight," and "manage to cause a good deal of terror in our region." (38)

In fear and frustration over post-emancipation violence and lack of economic opportunity, thousands of freed people appear to have fled the Commonwealth in the first years after the end of the Civil War. In the Bluegrass Region, the total black population in 1860 was approximately 130,000. By 1870, this population was down to about 122,000. Overall, Kentucky counted approximately 236,000 persons of color in 1860, but only about 222,000 in 1870. Still, those numbers indicate the large population of freed people who remained and thus had to endure the years in which, as George C. Wright has convincingly argued, Kentucky experienced its zenith of racial violence: 1868 to 1871. In the early 1870s, black men received the franchise and, at long last, Kentucky judges were forced to admit black testimony in cases involving white assailants. The Democratic Party dominated state politics, in large measure due to the ability of leading editors to mobilize its base via the rhetoric of white supremacy. Though in theory they had been granted equal rights and equal protection under the law, in reality most former slaves in the Commonwealth had failed to achieve the level of autonomy and prosperity they had dreamed of when first they were emancipated. (39)

Although most white Kentuckians had opposed secession in 1861, by war's end a clear majority had assumed a decidedly Confederate identity, and by the end of the decade they had in many ways successfully "redeemed" their state from perceived federal interference in the form of the hated Freedmen's Bureau. (40) As would be the case during the so-called redemption of the former Confederate states, former slaves and their allies, and in particular black women and children, bore the brunt of this violent resistance to both federal authority and freed people's dreams of black equality. As evidenced in the Bluegrass Region, the definition of "conduct ... inexcusable and unjustifiable" appears to have been open to interpretation on the part of many white residents of Kentucky. Their embrace of violence as a legitimate means of establishing and maintaining white supremacy, though it certainly varied in degree, cumulatively served to disrupt free black households and quash the aspirations of many former slaves, particularly women and children. Indeed, the strict limits imposed on black freedom in the Bluegrass would have far-reaching consequences for race relations, and particularly for African-American families, not only in the Commonwealth but throughout the Ohio Valley.

Department of History & Geography

Highland Heights, KY 41099


(1.) Affidavit of Flora Ewing, June 5, 1866, enclosed in William P. Hogarty to C. H. Frederick, July 5, 1866, Letters Received, Louisville Superintendent and Subassistant

Commissioner's Office (hereinafter cited as LRLS&SCO), Entry 1208, Kentucky District, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105 (hereinafter cited as BRFAL-KY) (National Archives, Washington, D.C.).

(2.) William P. Hogarty to C. H. Frederick, July 5, 1866, LRLS&SCO, Entry 1208, BRFAL-KY; Marion B. Lucas, "Kentucky Blacks: The Transition from Slavery to Freedom," The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 91, 4 (Autumn 1993), 410-12; Victor B. Howard, Black Liberation in Kentucky. Emancipation and Freedom, 1862-1884 (Lexington, 1983), 130-140. On post-emancipation racial violence, see George C. Wright, Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940: Lynchings, Mob Rule, and ''Legal Lynchings" (Baton Rouge, 1990), 19-60. After enduring two years of martial law, not to mention the wartime emancipation of over half of their slaves, many formerly loyal white Kentuckians resolved to resist violently any post-war attempt by the federal government to intrude further into state and local affairs, particularly race and labor relations. The Freedmen's Bureau, on which the federal government placed much of the responsibility for helping former slaves adjust to their new status as freed people, would bear the brunt of this antifederal backlash along with freed people themselves, against whom a white supremacist minority unleashed a terror war.

(3.) For a detailed examination of the transition from slave to wage laborer and its often problematic relationship to free labor ideology in a former Confederate state, see Julie Saville, The Work of Reconstruction: From Slave to Wage Laborer in South Carolina, 1860-1870 (New York, 1994). See Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women and the Family, from Slavery to the Present (New York, 1985), 5-10, for discussion of the unique social and cultural space occupied by black working women. In the years since publication of Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow, numerous scholars have turned their attention to the study of free black families and particularly female wage laborers in post-emancipation societies. In particular, Leslie A. Schwalm's A Hard Fight for We: Women's' Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina (Urbana, 1997), focusing on black women in the lowcountry; Tera W. Hunter's To 'Joy My Freedom: Souther)] Black Women's Lives and Labors after the Civil War (Cambridge, 1997), chronicling the lives of Atlanta's black workingwomen; and Noralee Frankel's Freedom's Women: Black Women and Families in Civil War Era Mississippi (Bloomington, 1999), were case studies that revealed much about the lives, struggles, ambitions, and setbacks of black women and families during Reconstruction. Laura F. Edwards's Gendered Strife and Confusion: The Political Culture of Reconstruction (Urbana, 1997), comparing and contrasting black and white Reconstruction households in north-central North Carolina; and Nancy Bercaw's Gendered Freedoms: Race ... Rights, and the Politics of Household in the Delta, 1861-1875 (Gainesville, FL, 2003) comparing and contrasting white and black households during the Civil War and Reconstruction in the Mississippi Delta, served to complicate, and indeed blur, previous distinctions made between black and white, elite and common, public. and private, social and political. A new generation of scholarship, exemplified by Susan O'Donovan's gendered narrative of slavery and freedom in southwest Georgia, Becoming Free in the Cotton South (Cambridge, 2007), is providing further rich detail on black women's struggles during Reconstruction, particularly concerning their all too frequent failure to realize personal visions of freedom, especially dreams of building independent lives.

(4.) This study focuses primarily on Bluegrass counties served by the Louisville and Lexington sub-districts, which operated from February 1866 until the Kentucky district was reorganized in mid 1868. The Louisville sub-district served the Blue-grass counties of Anderson, Bullitt, Henry, Jefferson, Nelson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, and Trimble. Although Marion and Washington counties technically were within the jurisdiction of the Central Sub-district, they have been included, as they arc considered Bluegrass counties. The Lexington sub-district served the Bluegrass counties of Bath, Boone, Bourbon, Boyle, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Clark, Fayette, Fleming, Franklin, Gallatin, Garrard, Grant, Harrison, Jessamine, Kenton, Lincoln, Madison, Mason, Mercer, Montgomery, Nicholas, Owen, Pendleton, Scott, and Woodford. The counties included in this study supported a total population of some 537,161 persons, according to the 1860 census, including a white population of 406,095, a free black population of 7,254, and a slave population of 123,812. The census listed 62,101 males and 61,71 1 females as enslaved persons, with approximately 47% being under 15 years of age. Of the approximately 20,991 slaveholders living in the Bluegrass, only 25 planters owned 50 or more slaves, with 802 owning twenty or more 11860 county-level census data for Kentucky obtained online from the Historical United States Census Data Browser, using data from The Eighth Census of the United States: 1860, compiled by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Ann Arbor, Michigan, (July 10, 2005)].

(5.) E. Merton Coulter, The Civil War and Readjustment in Kentucky (Chapel Hill, 1926), 288; Ira Berlin, Barbara J. Fields, Thavolia Glymph, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland, eds., freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, Series I, Volume. J, The Destruction of Slavery (New York, 1985), 515-518; William S. McFeely, Yankee Stepfather: General O. O. Howard and the Freedmen (New York, 1970), 67.

(6.) Wyiat Lewis & Others to John Ely, February 16, 1866, Unregistered Letters Received, Lexington Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant Commissioner's Office (hereinafter cited as ULRLCS&CSCO), Entry 1186, BRFAL-KY (quote); Clinton B. Fisk to O. O. Howard, February 14, 1866, reel 21, Registers and Letters Received by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872, National Archives Microfilm Publication M752 (hereinafter cited as R&LRC, BRFAL, [M752]); and Clinton B. Fisk to O. O. Howard, March 12, 1866, reel 28, R&LRC, BRFAL, (M752). The two reports from Fisk are closely related, in that the former is a summary of outrages, while the latter contains over one hundred pages of detailed documentation on these outrages. See J. Michael Rhyne, " 'We Are Mobed and Beat': Regulator Violence Against Free Black Households in Kentucky's Bluegrass Region, 1865-1867" Ohio Valley History 2, 1 (Spring 2002), 30-42, for more detail on Regulator violence; and Marion B. Lucas, A History of Blacks in Kentucky, Volume 1: From Slavery to Segregation, 1760-1891 (Frankfort, KY, 1992), 178-209, for discussion of the role of racial violence in the displacement of freed people in Kentucky in the first years after emancipation, particularly the disruption of the agricultural economy, as well as a thorough discussion of the hardships faced by black refugees, exacerbated by harsh winters.

(7.) Fisk to Howard, February 14, 1866, reel 21, R&LRC, BRFAL, (M752); William Cassius Goodloe to Clinton B. Fisk, January 22, 1866, reel 10, Registers and Letters Received by the Assistant Commissioner, District of Tennessee and Kentucky, BRFAL, National Archives Microfilm Publication M999, reprinted in Richard ID. Sears, Camp Nelson, Kentucky: A Civil War History (Lexington, 2002), 317.

(8.) Christopher Waldrep, The Many Faces of Judge Lynch: Extralegal Violence and Punishment in America (New York, 2002), 67-68. 75-84; J. Michael Rhyne, "A 'Murderous Affair in Lincoln Country': Politics, Violence, and Memory in a Civil War Era Kentucky Community," American Nineteenth Century History 7, 3 (September 2006), .337-559: Martha I lodes, White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the 19th-century South (New Haven, 1997), 147-152.

(9.) Barbara Jeanne Fields, Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground: Maryland during the Nineteenth Century (New Haven, 1985), 143. See Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion, 192-193, on the significance of independence to former slaves. See also Michael Kimmel, Manhood in America; A Cultural History ("Hew York, 1996), 94-96, for analysis of how military defeat symbolically emasculated many southern men, so, in order to reclaim their manhood, they formed organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, ostensibly dedicated to protecting white women and children from perceived threats, particularly the mythological brutish black male.

(10.) Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion, 51; E. D. Kennedy to Robert Carruthers, December 26, Kennedy to Mrs. Collins, December 29, 1865, Kennedy to Walter Ayres, January 2, 1866, all in Press Copies of Letters Sent, Louisville Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner's Office (hereinafter cited PCLSLS&SCO), Entry 1201, BRFALKY; Fields, Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground, 133..

(11.) Wright, Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940, 185-187; James H. Rice to R. E. Johnston, July 15, 1866; J. W. Read to R. E. Johnston, July 26, 1866; C. J. True to R. E, Johnston, Sept. 30, 1866, all in ULRLCS&CSCO, Entry 1186, BRFAL-KY.

(12.) Fields, Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground, 140-142; C. J. True to Lucretia Cleaney [Clereny], November 21, 1866, and R. R Henry to J. C. [C. J.] True, November 22, 1866, enclosed in C. J. True to John Ely, November 23, 1866, Letters Received, Maysville Superintendent, Entry 1228, RRFAL-KY, reprinted with annotation in Ira Berlin, Steven F. Miller, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland, eds., Freedom.: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, Series 1, Volume II, The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Upper South (New York, 1993), 720-721.

(13.) Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow, 72; Affidavit of Emily Churchill, March 20, 1866, Affidavits and Records Relating to Complaints, Louisville Superintendent, and Subassistant Commissioner's Office (hereinafter cited as ARRCLS&SCO), Entry 1218, BRFALKY.

(14.) Fields, Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground, 139; Lucas, History of Blacks in Kentucky, Vol. 1, 272-273. For similar issues in North Carolina relating to black apprenticeship, see Edwards, Gendered Strife, and Confusion, 39-54. See also Rebecca Scott, "The Battle over the Child: Child Apprenticeship and the Freedmen's Bureau in North Carolina," Prologue 10 (Summer 1978), 101-113. Regarding contractual obligations, see for example Indenture of Apprenticeship, June 14, 1866, between Saul Lewis and L. H. Martin, Monthly Reports of Operations, Lexington Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant Commissioner's Office, Entry 1190, BRFAL-KY.

(15.) Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion, 39. See Schwalm, A Ham Fight for We, 249254. on the importance of black child labor to the household economies of lowcountry black families.

(16.) Affidavit of Hannah Nellie, December 24, 1866, Affidavit of Harriet Sutherland, June 28, 1867, both in ARRCLS&SCO, Entry 1218, BRFAL-KY.

(17.) Affidavit of Lavina Newland, September 3, 1867, enclosed in Isaac. S. Catlin to Sidney Burbank, September 4, 1867, LRLS&SCO, Entry 1208, BRFAL-KY.

(18.) Ibid. See Schwalm, A Hard Fight for We, 252-254, for discussion of similar Bureau policy regarding apprenticeship in South Carolina.

(19.) C. 11. Frederick to William P. Thomasson, enclosed in Thomason to Frederick, September 19, 1866, Unregistered Letters Received, Louisville Subassistant Commissioner's Office (hereinafter cited as ULRLS&SCO), Entry 1209, BRFAL-KY; Howard, Black Liberation in Kentucky, 126-127, 133-135. See Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion, 51-54, for discussion of the ability of North Carolina freed people to mount legal challenges to that state's apprenticeship system. In Kentucky, free black parents had far less legal recourse.

(20.) Betty Howard Diary, 1865-1866, [Filson Historical Society, Louisville (hereinafter cited as FHS)]; Keith C. Barton, " 'Good Cooks and Washers': Slave Hiring, Domestic Labor, and the Market in Bourbon County, Kentucky," journal of American History, 84, 2 (September 1997), 436-460. See Edwards, Gendered. Strife and Confusion, 116 -117, for discussion of the "plight" of white women who now had to do their own domestic chores.

(21.) Affidavits of Maria Jane Russell and John Allen, September 4, 1866, ARRCLS&SCO, Entry 1218, BRFAL-KY; Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion, 117-118.

(22.) Affidavit of Susan Richards, September 6, 1866, ARRCLS&SCQ, Entry 1218, BRFAL-KY. See Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow., 70-7 1, for discussion of the negative perceptions toward and physical price paid by freedwomen asserting black woman-hood.

(23.) Affidavit of Mary Ellen Gardner, August 30, 1866, ARRCLS&.SCO, Entry 1218, BRFAL-KY.

(24.) Josaphine Beadford to Freedmans Bureau, November 24, 1867, ULRLS&SCO, Entry 1209, BRFAL-KY; C. H. Frederick to James C. Ford, July 3, 1866, ARRCLS&SCO, Entry I 2 18, BRFAL-KY.

(25.) A. W. Lawrill to John Ely, September 30, 1867, reel 49, R&LRC, BRFAL, (M752) (first quote); Affidavit of Ellen Castleman, August 1, 1866, ARRCLS&SCO, Entry 1218, BRFAL-KY (following quotes); Randy Finley, From Slavery to Uncertain Freedom: The Freedmen's Bureau in Arkansas, 1865-/869 (Fayetteville, 1996), .33-38. See Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion, 68 80, on the relationship of free labor, dependence, and the household.

(26.) Finley, From Slavery to Uncertain Freedom., 36; Schwalm, A Hard Fight for We, 254.

(27.) H. C. Howard to R. E. Johnston, February 25, 1868, ULRLCS&CSCO, Entry 1186, BRFAL-KY; Mary J. Farmer, '"Because They Are Women': Gender and the Virginia Freedmen's Bureau's 'War on Dependency'," in The Freedmen's Bureau and Reconstruction: Reconsiderations, edited by Paul A. Cimbala and Randall M. Miller (New York, 1999), 161-192; Schwalm, A Hard Fight for We, 250. In her citations. Farmer notes that Clinton B. Fisk had strong views on black female dependency, writing pamphlets instructing black men to be responsible husbands and fathers, while encouraging black women to support their husbands' efforts to earn a living wage. Unfortunately, some freedmen exercised their free black manhood by using violence and threat of violence to subordinate freedwomen and children. For example, see the affidavits of Melinda Greathouse, October 1, 1866, and Reverend Willis L. Muir, October 3, 1866, ARRCLS&SCO, Entry 1218, BRFAL-KY. Melinda Greathouse, a black woman from Louisville, testified that she had seen her neighbor, a black man named John Lisker, tie up and whip with a rope a twelve-year-old orphaned girl who lived with him and his wife. The commotion of the whipping drew the attention of several neighbors, who witnessed the end of it. Afterward, Lisker left the house, and some black neighbors tried to intervene on behalf of the girl, untying her and taking her across the street, Lisker's wife later persuaded the neighbors to let her take the girl back home. Upon his return, she told her husband all about the neighbors, and he angrily called out threats to them, stating in particular "that he would cut Mrs. Willis throat if she meddled with his business," Willis's husband Jonathan took exception, and in the ensuing shouting match Lisker made clear his intention to "cut Mrs. Willis's or any other Niggers throat that interfered with his business."

(28.) Hunter, To 'Joy My Freedom, 21-22; Lucas, History of Blacks in Kentucky, Vol. I, 181-209; Herbert A. Thomas, Jr., "Victims of Circumstances: Negroes in a Southern Town, 1865-1880," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 71,3 (July 1973): 253-271. See Ged M. Layson, from near Millersburg, Ky., to Joel T. Hart, September 24, 1868, Joel Tanner Hart Papers (FHS), regarding white perceptions of these new free black communities. Layson, a resident of Bourbon County, attempted to describe the Bluegrass Region's post-emancipation urban landscape to his friend Hart, who had gone to Italy to hone his skills as a sculptor. Of freed people, he observed, "It seams to be a part of their nature as is the case with the wild dog to go to town or to live in town or towns." He lamented that "the Suburbs of all our Towns are more or less built up with -.. huts. I believe about half of the population of Paris & Lexington both are blacks." He noted the building of "two towns that are exclusively negro in the Suburbs of Paris." Citing the poor condition of these black urban-dwellers, Layson concluded, "the very large majority of them would be better off if they were Slaves with there old masters." Finally, he echoed the widely held belief that the destitute "could get work at fair wages if they would work," but that "so many of them prefer to be idle."

(29.) Affidavits of Hannah Jones, August 13, and George Griffith, August 10, 1867, both enclosed in Isaac S. Catlin to Sidney Burbank, August 15, 1867, LRLS&SCO, Entry 1208, BRFAL-KY.

(30.)Case of Bell and Moore, col. vs. Marty and Hipwell, Policemen, for improper arrest, February 15, 1866, ARRCLS&SCO, Entry 1218, BRFAL-KY.

(31.) Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion, 1.53; 55-56, respectively.

(32.) Finley, From Slavery to Uncertain Freedom, 38-44; Herbert G. Gutman, The Black Family m Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925 (New York, 1976), 385-389.

(33.) Affidavit of D.F. Bligh, May 24, 1866, LRLS&SCO, Entry 1208, BRFAL-KY; Affidavit of Emma Gwinn, July 5, 1867, ARRCLS&SCO, Entry 1218, BRFAL-KY.

(34.) Gutman, Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 396-402; Clinton B. Fisk to O. O. Howard, June 8, 1866, reel 33, R&LRC, BRFAL, (M752).

(35.) J. R. Lewis to Clinton B. Fisk, May 15, 1866, reel 28, and Fisk to Howard, Feb. 14, 1866, reel 21, R&LRC, BRFAL, (M752); J. E. Rice to Clinton B. Fisk, February 19, 1866, and W. R. Bourne to James H. Rice, May 22, 1866, both in ULRLCS&CSCO, Entry 1186, BRFAL-KY; Affidavits of Robert Guthrie and Richard Thomas, March 30, 1866, ULRLS&SCO, Entry 1209, BRFAL-KY; E. D. Kennedy to Charles A. Gould, December 12, 1865, and E. D. Kennedy to James McFaron, December 18, 1865, both in PCLSLS&SCO, Entry 1201, BRFAL-KY; Affidavit of Mason Thomison, taken by Captain J. W. Parker, 119th Regt., USCT, March 17, 1866, ULRLCS&CSCO, Entry 1186, RRFAL-KY.

(36.) Hannah Rosen, "'Not That Sort of Women': Race, Gender, and Sexual Violence During the Memphis Riot: of 1866," in Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History, ed. Martha 1 lodes (New York, 268, 285. One major difference between the situation in Memphis and that in Kentucky is that the women in Memphis had the opportunity to testify and to declare before the court that they were virtuous ladies, not the wanton creatures of white male fantasy, while the women in the Bluegrass could only submit their affidavits to a clerk for recording, a much less public forum.

(37.) See Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion, chapter 5, for a discussion of rape in the context of the post-emancipation struggle over meanings of manhood and womanhood. See also Peter W. Bardaglio, Reconstructing the Houshold: Families, Sex, & the haw in the Nineteenth-Century South (Chapel Hill, 1995), 194-196.

(38.) Hunter, To 'Joy My Freedom, 32; Eugenia 11 Polls to Arthur Potts, Lancaster, Ky., July 13, 1868, William Potts and William Potts II Papers, (Special Collections, Perkins Library, Duke University, Durham, N.C.) [quoted in Allen W. Trelease, White Tenor: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Re construe don (New York, 1971), 90].

(39.) Wright, Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940, 307-311; 1870 county-level census data for Kentucky obtained online from the Historical United States Census Data Browser, using data from The Ninth Census of the United States: 1870, compiled by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Ann Arbor, Michigan, (July 10, 2005).

(40.) See Christopher Phillips, " The Chrysalis State': Slavery, Confederate Identity, and the Creation of the Border South," in Inside the Confederate Nation: Essays in Honor of Emory M. Thomas, edited by Lesley J. Gordon and John C. Inscoe (Baton. Rouge, 2005), 147 164, on the role of emancipation in. shaping a Confederate identity in Civil War era Kentucky.

By J.Michael Rhyne

Northern Kentucky University
The Country is infested with Guerrilla bands and the outrages most
  generally arc committed on Colored persons who are precluded from
  testimony against them. I am powerless to accomplish anything without
  Soldiers. ... The people are generally well enough disposed so far as
  taking a proper view of the labor question is concerned, but are
  misled by politicians and seem to think the object of the
  establishment of the Bureau in Kentucky was to oppress them. ... I
  found a great deal of vagrancy here but by the aid of many Loyal
  Citizens and the efforts of the leaders of the Colored population
  have to a great extent caused it to disappear. ... You are quite
  aware that I have had to grope my way in the dark, the manual
  promised will be hailed as an Angel of light. (7)
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