Blog - Georgetown’s African American Heritage

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Georgetown’s African American Heritage

2/22/18  Written by Kathy Witt


There are lots of ways to mark Black History Month in Georgetown/Scott County, including attractions, exhibits, activities – even neighborhoods that have a story to tell.

African American-settled communities include Zion Hill, Watkinsville and New Zion, among others. Later this year, New Zion will celebrate its 150th anniversary, but right now you can stroll through this neighborhood, originally called Briar Hill and built by freedmen beginning in 1872. Descendants of New Zion founders Calvin Hamilton and Primus Keene still live here.

Georgetown Cemetery

Georgetown Cemetery: Credited by the Kentucky Historical Society

After the Civil War, a number of residents of these communities joined the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalries and the 23rd and 24th U.S. Infantries. These were the legendary Buffalo Soldiers, established by Congress as the first peacetime all-Black regiments in the U.S. Army. (The name, “Buffalo Soldiers,” was given to them by Native Americans in the late 1870s and marks a place of honor in U.S. history for those who served.) At least four of these Buffalo Soldiers are buried in the Old Georgetown Cemetery.

Rosenwald School 2

Sadieville Rosenwald School: Credited by the City of Sadieville

Georgetown is the home of a circa 1917 Rosenwald School. Located in Sadieville, it is one of the many state-of-the art schools built across the South in the early 20th century for African American children. Rosenwald Schools greatly impacted Kentucky by increasing opportunity for African American education in modern style school buildings. The Sadieville school was constructed between 1917 and 1920, and remained segregated until 1954. Restored in 2011 to preserve its history, the school is now a museum/cultural center. Visit by appointment by contacting the City of Sadieville at 502-857-4576.

Isaac Murphy

Isaac Murphy: Credited by The Kentucky Horse Park

At the Kentucky Horse Park, see memorials to Isaac Murphy, the first African American jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies. Also here are a “Buffalo Soldiers of the Western Frontier” exhibit and “Out of the Shadows,” a DVD narrating the story of African American horse trainers and owners.

Mark your calendar:

Aunt Jemima

Debra Faulk as Nancy Green: Credited by the Scott County Public Library

  • The Scott County Public Library presents “Being Aunt Jemima, the Pancake Queen,” 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22. Debra Faulk portrays Nancy Green, the model who was hired to be the face of the Aunt Jemima baking mix, one of the first American brand names. Green, born into slavery in 1834, became one of the first prosperous African American women in the United States.

Photographing Freetowns Exhibit

Credited by Newberry Library, Chicago

  • Underway at the Kentucky Historical Society is “Photographing Freetowns: African American Kentucky Through the Lens of Helen Balfour Morrison,” an exhibit that documents African American life in the Depression-era Kentucky of the 1930s and 1940s, with images taken primarily in Zion Hill and Sugar Hill. It runs through Oct. 20.

Out and About:

  • Pack a picnic and head to the shelter or open green space at Ed Davis Park. The grounds include basketball courts, horseshoe pits and playground area. The park is the site of a former school built in 1894 for African American students. Davis was principal from 1908 to 1934 and added a 2-year high school in 1911, then a 4-year program in 1924. The Ed Davis Learning Center is adjacent to the park.

First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church: Credited by First Baptist Church

  • See First Baptist Church on West Jefferson Street. Organized in 1811, its first meeting house was erected here in 1815. Howard Malcom, pastor and president of Georgetown College, urged relocation of the church near the college and the lease of the original site went to a black congregation in 1842. The church’s first official pastor was G.W. Dupee, a former enslaved person.

For more information about ways to celebrate Black History Month in Georgetown/Scott County, visit or or call 502- 863-2547. Information can also be found on Georgetown’s Calendar of Events at



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