Allen Lane – Born 1810 in Kentucky

This is my first offering for the 2016 A to Z Challenge.  This is my 4th year and I will be writing about people who were born into slavery and were later free.  In a few cases I will be writing about the descendants of enslaved people who were born free.


“…It is my will that my four Negroes be free at my death, namely Perry, Allen, Frazer, and Mariah, and that my sons Henry S. Lane and Higgins Lane by my Executors to execute this my will. In witness thereof I hereunto set my name this 22nd day of July 1841.

James H. Lane

I also will that Samuel Stone and Newton Reid be my Executors in connexion with Henry S. Lane and Higgins Lane as aforesaid. In testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand this 28th September 1846. I also do will to Perry (note: from census records I believe this name should be Jerry) and to Allen and to Frazer their Horses as known by the name of their horses at present.”


James H. Lane, the slave owner who wrote the above Will, was born in Virginia and moved to Kentucky where he farmed. He outlived 2 wives and left a third a widow when he died in 1846. He had 8 children and 4 slaves.

Allen Lane was born into slavery about 1810,  Jerry about 1794, Frazier in 1808 and Mariah about 1816.  Slaves were not enumerated by name in censuses. In the 1810 through 1840 census no one in the household was enumerated by name except the head of household.  Looking at those censuses we find that James Hardage Lane had 4 slaves.

Now I enter the area of speculation in creating a timeline for their lives.  In 1810 age ranges were not given, just the total number so perhaps there was an enslaved woman.  Three of them were probably baby and toddler Allen and Frazier, the child Jerry.  Mariah was not born until 6 years later so perhaps there was a grown woman of childbearing age who was mother of the younger children.

In 1820 James H. Lane again still 4 slaves.  This time age ranges are given and he had 2 males under 14 (probably Frazier and Allen), 1 male 14 – 25 (probably Jerry) and 1 female under 14 (Probably Mariah).  These four slaves gained 10 years in the 1830 and 1840 censuses. In 1841 James H. Lane wrote the above Will.  In 1846 he died and Allen, Frazier, Jerry and Mariah were free.

In 1850 they were enumerated along with the general population, as were 165 other free black people in Montgomery County, Kentucky.  Allen(40), Jerry(56) and Frazier(42) were living together. They were laborers, probably on farms. Mariah(34) was  nearby living with one of James H. Lanes daughters and her family, Evalina Lane Reid.

Allen Lane was the father of four children born during slavery. They were not living with him, either before or after slavery. I was unable to find them until the 1870 census.  They were Maria born in 1837, Margaret born in 1838, Amelia born in 1844 and Thomas born in 1850.  Although Allen Lane’s name appears on their death certificates no mother is named.

I was unable to find him in the 1860 census, but in 1870 Allen Lane was 60 years old.  He was enumerated as a mulatto living in Sharpsburg, Bath county Kentucky in a large household. He was a laborer. Mariah Lane, 50 years old and a 10 year old girl, Malinda Lane were among the group.  They were listed as black with no employment. None of the three were literate and Malinda was not in school.

In 1880 Allen Lane was enumerated in Hamilton County Ohio, College Hill with his daughter Amelia Lane Franklin and her family. This time his birth year is given as 1793 and his age as 87. According to the 1810 birthdate used before, he would have been 70. He is listed as a widower. Both Allen and Amelia’s husband Benjamin are listed as laborers.  There are 5 children in the home, all born in Ohio. 15 year old Anna is working and literate.  9 year old Margaret  and 8 year old Matilda are in school and can read and write. The two youngest children are 5 and 4 months and too young for school.  The three adults are illiterate.

I have not found a death certificate for Allen Lane yet.  He does not appear in the 1900 census.


To write this I drew upon Census records, Death Certificates and the Will of James Hardage Lane.  You can click on the link to see the whole Will.  To find out more about free people of color, enslaved people and white people in Montgomery County before the Civil War in 1850, 1860 and in 1870, click this link Free and Enslaved in Montgomery County Kentucky.

Things I wish I knew – Who was the 4th enslaved person living with the Lane family in 1810?  Who was Allen Lane’s wife and where were she and the children?  What kind of crops James H. Lane grew on his farm.  That I had photographs of everybody.

34 thoughts on “Allen Lane – Born 1810 in Kentucky

  1. 1846 was well ahead of the Civil War, so it is interesting that Lane freed his slaves and their horses. A sign of changing views about slavery maybe? The amount of information you found is really good despite still having questions. Isn’t that always the way in genealogy?

    1. There were always some people that arranged to have their slaves freed upon their death. George Washington arranged that his slaves would be freed upon his wife’s death.

      It’s especially hard because I haven’t researched these areas before, unlike last year when I wrote about other Cleages from the same plantations as my ancestors. Plus, it is so much easier to look for an unusual name, like “Cleage”, than a more common name like “Graham”.

    1. There is nothing to suggest that they were his children. “Mulatto” just meant the person had a lighter complexion and was mixed some way, not necessarily that one of his parents was white.

  2. I love how your research always seems like unraveling the clues in a mystery (which, I suppose, it is). I still maintain it would make a fascinating book some day. 🙂

    1. I was thinking that I should just have written fiction about 26 people, based on what I find. Maybe next year I will do that. That way I can fill in all the gaps 😛

      1. Kristin, I think you should write a book about your family history. It is fascinating and would be such a good read!!

  3. That’s a fascinating story! I wonder why he freed his slaves? In 1841 it was perfectly legal to have slaves, right?

    Must also mention that I am completely blown away by the amount of research this post must have taken. Kudos.

    Best wishes,

    1. There were always people who freed their slaves, or arranged to have it done. There were quite a number of free people of color in that county at the time. I was surprised because in the states I am more familiar with, there usually are no free people. Sometimes it was because the slaves were related to them. Sometimes it was as a reward for “good service”.

  4. I was surprised to see how little importance was given to slaves in the earlier records – to not even name them is a really sad testament to the lack of human values in those times. Really interesting read – thanks Leanne from
    cresting the hill

    1. Until the 1850 US census, nobody except the head of the house was mentioned. In the 1850 and 1860 slave censuses, there were still no names – just ages, color and sex. It really makes it much more difficult to do research unless you find Wills or bills of sale that do give names.

  5. Your post made me realise how much I take for granted that I would be able to track back family members in records because there would be recordings of births, deaths, marriages and census takings somewhere but that if (less than 200 years ago) members of my family had been enslaved then their names would not even be recorded – a rather sobering thought. It makes your post is even more amazing, uncovering such a lot of a story with such few records, and so necessary. A wonderful and compelling start to your Challenge this year 🙂
    A Stormy’s Sidekick
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    1. There were records kept by the slave owners, with names. But they weren’t public records unless they were Wills or probate. It’s very important that any families that have records like this from slave times make them public so that we who are descended from slaves can trace them back before 1866, or 1870. More and more people are doing that and it is very helpful! After the Civil War, black people appear in the same records that white people appear in so it is the same trail until we hit the brick wall of slavery.

    1. I guess we will never know the answer to that but there were others. In 1850 there were 128 free blacks in Montgomery County, KY and 37 free mulattoes. In 1860 there were 133 free blacks and 6 free mulattoes in Montgomery county. I am going to add the link above.

  6. Just started reading about the Lanes and it killed me to read “…..Although Allen Lane’s name appears on their death certificates no mother is named….”. Mother not named !
    Your research is amazingly thorough and admire your work.


    1. You would be surprised at how many times the name of one or both parents is missing. The deceased person cannot give the information and the one who does give it may not know because that parent died before they knew the deceased. The known parent may have remarried and name of the birth parent may be forgotten. The deceased, for whatever reason, may not have talked about their parents and so their names are forgotten. I know that it has happened several times in my own family that the person giving the information didn’t know the name or gave the wrong name.

  7. I wonder if the same woman was the mother of all Allen Lane’s children. What if she was enslaved and he was free? What did that do to a relationship? Your research gives us a sense that though Allen Lane’s generation were nonliterate, that changed over the next couple of generations. I wonder if his gaining freedom before the general Emancipation put him on a different footing from others in the Reconstruction Era–whether, for instance, he would have been eligible for everything that enslaved people were who were newly freed? He worked as a laborer all his life, but he stayed with family and made a major geographical move. What changes he must have seen over all that time!
    As always, each and every one of your stories is a mystery and a delight. All the best with the Challenge! J

    1. We know that she wasn’t enslaved on the same plantation that he was because there were only 4 there and they all gained freedom. Wherever she was, along with the children, they were not free before in 1860 or 1850 because they aren’t in the census. I would have to go through all the nearby families and see who had slaves the same age as his children would have been and if there was an adult woman there.

      What were the newly freed people eligible for? I can’t think of anything. Whatever was available would have been available for him too, mainly he was in charge of himself. Sometimes education was available but he was 40 and unlikely to attend school.

      Yes, what changes. Now I better get back to finishing up “B” is for Betsey!

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