Frazer Lane – Kentucky

This is my 4th year participating in the A-Z Challenge.  I am writing about people who were born into slavery and  lived to be free.  Sometimes I also write about the descendants of slaves who were born free.  Today I will write about Frazer Lane, who was mentioned in my A post about Allen Lane.


“…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.


Frazer was born into slavery in 1808.  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.

In 1850 Frazer was enumerated by name along with all the other free people, including 165 other black people, in Montgomery, Kentucky.  He was 42 years old and shared a house with Allen and Jerry.  They were laborers, probably on nearby farms.

In 1860 Frazer, age 53, owned $600 worth of real estate and had personal estate worth $285. He was farming and married to Nellie, who was 50 years old.

In 1870 Frazer was 65 and farming. There is no value for real estate but he had $308 personal estate. Nellie was 60 with no occupation given. Also sharing the house was Jerry, 76, listed as a laborer. And 23 year old Mary Lane. All are listed as unable to read or write and born in Kentucky. There were still no relationships listed so I can speculate that Mary was his daughter, but I don’t know.  Jerry and Frazer were listed as black while Nellie and Mary were listed as mulatto.

The 1880 census was the last I found for Frazer and Nellie Lane.  They were now 72 and 71.  They are in Montgomery county, Mt. Sterling post office.  Frazer is still farming. Nellie is keeping house. Living with them is ten year old Horace Borne with occupation of houseboy. Frazer and Horace are listed as born in Kentucky while Nellie and her parents are listed as born in Virginia.  I wonder if this was the first time she actually spoke to the enumerator.  Nobody could read or write.

You will notice that there is not an even ten year age gain between the ten year censuses.  That could be because different people gave information to the enumerator. In this case the difference is actually minimal.  Sometimes people gain 20 years or only two years during that ten year period.

What I wish I could have found – If Mary was their daughter and what happened to her. If Horace was a relative and what happened to him. When they died and of what.  What happened to the farmland he owned in 1860.

15 thoughts on “Frazer Lane – Kentucky

  1. Kristin,
    I have been quite interested in your entries on Kentucky as my 2nd great Grandfather William Henry Loomis ( my brick wall with his line) apparently escaped from Kentucky to Detroit in 1853. I have been trying to determine if he was part of the Fairfield 28 ( well known escape assisted by Levi Coffin) that escaped from two plantations in Kentucky in the same year as a group and made it to Detroit/Canada.
    It was my 3rd Great Grandfather Asher Aray, who was the final conductor on the Underground and who lived in Ypsilanti who took them the last leg of the escape.
    If you have any information on the Loomis name I would love to know. I only wish I had the time to do the research but I still work so I am anxious to retire so I can follow up on all the leads.
    BTW the pic you posted some time ago of the Alpha chapter in Detroit circa 1926 included my grandfather and the descendant of the two mentioned above.
    Take care.
    Linda Williams Bowie

    1. I haven’t researched any Loomis’ but it sounds like an interesting history. I do have Shreve cousins who escaped from Kentucky and went to Ontario.

      Interesting that the Alpha picture included your grandfather. Our grandfather’s must have known one another. And maybe our Canadian connections did too!

    1. There would be a deed in Kentucky, but I’m doing sort of a quick sketch. I won’t be able to make road trips but if someone is in Kentucky and wants to look and then let me know, that would be great. And who knows, deeds may be online in the next year or so!

  2. Kristin, thank you so much for this blog. I will be following the postings. Really interesting.


  3. There are so many layers to the story as it goes from the years when Frazer was a slave to how he was freed as part of an estate to his years as a landowner, husband, and probably father. I know that we probably never will know the details of the lives of Frazer and his family, but just these basic facts enabled me to start creating a story in my mind about what their lives might have been like.

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