From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Black Residents of the West Fork Community

Barker's Mill area of southeastern Christian County, KY


 I wrote this about 2 years ago, when I was exploring the history of the Barker's Mill area of Christian County, KY. I'm not sure why I didn't post it at the time. Maybe I thought my readers were getting bored with Barkers Mill. Anyway, I came across it last night, and I thought it was sort of interesting.  For background, see these posts:

 Barker's Mill in Christian County, KY
Old Homes Around Barkers Mill
Exploring the Barkers Mill Community 
Chapel Hill Church in Christian County, KY

Originally, much of the labor on the large farms in the area of Barker's Mill was provided by slaves. After the Civil War, many black people continued to work and live on the farms where they had been slaves. This happened in many areas of Christian County, and indeed, throughout the entire South.

Farm laborers are plentiful in [Christian] county, largely furnished by the colored population, of which there are about fifteen thousand in the county, and I must say to their credit, they make the best every-day farm laborers we are able to get. The average price of farm labor per month with house and board is, for men, $11 to $12.50; without board, $15.

Source: The 1908 Handbook of Kentucky

In the 20th century, some black workers become sharecroppers, which was a step up from being farm hands. There were many white sharecroppers as well. Sharecroppers owned their own farm machinery, tools, and draft animals, and they were considered self-employed.

Tobacco was often grown on "the share plan", as it is called in period writings. The landowner provided a house, a garden spot, and grass for the sharecropper's animals. The sharecropper typically worked about ten acres of tobacco and a field of corn. At harvest, the crop was divided evenly with the landowner. With good soil and favorable weather, the sharecropper might make a modest profit.

In 1900, a school was established for black children near the Barker Mill, and it operated through 1952. A store served the farm workers of the area. It is interesting to read the history of the Barker's Mill (West Fork) Community, knowing that the area was populated by many black families as well as white families.


2 comments:

STRONGTHOUGHT said...

I just sent your link to twitter to spread the word about your wonderful blog. I was so happy to find you again after losing you for awhile. I have read you for years! I started getting interested in history and genealogy (again) after my dad died. I also linked you on my blog at thepathbehind.blogspot.com Thanks for your wonderful stories.

Genevieve said...

Thanks for your note, StrongThought. I've been offline for several days, so I am a little late in saying hello! I've been to my sister's house in Missouri, and the blog has been running on autopilot. My brother came from Kansas and we had a nice visit. I got home a few hours ago. I'm glad you found Prairie Bluestem again, and good luck with your own blog and family history research!

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