@Article{ clark1934,
    author = {T. D. Clark},
    title = {The Slave Trade between Kentucky and the Cotton Kingdom},
    journal = {Mississippi Valley Historical Review},
    volume = 21,
    number = 3,
    month = {December},
    pages = {331-342},
    year = 1934,

Discusses the steady supply of slaves from Kentucky to cotton states in antebellum period. Mentions, on p. 333, two slave trading firms as the largest in Lexington: Downing and Hughes, “who established themselves in the slave trade in 1843” and were trading at Natchez by 1844, and Griffin and Pullum, who traded in Natchez “on a much larger scale.”1

p. 334: “Lewis Robards was the first Kentucky trader to advertise his business through the columns of the newspapers. In 1848 there appeared an advertisement in the Observer and Reporter to the effect: ‘I wish to purchase a large lot of merchantable negroes for whom I will pay the HIGHEST CASH PRICE. Persons having negroes can find me at the Phoenix (Chiles’) Hotel.”2

According to Clark, in 1849 “William A. Pullum, a veteran trader, gave notice that due to ill health he was retiring to private life. In the same paper Lewis Robards advertised he had rented the Pullum jail and the slave trade would go on as usual. Robards seems to have been well anchored in Fayette County for he was the only dealer who remained in business continuously for the period 1850-60,” and who entered into a number of “evasions and shady deals” (336) until he was forced to sell his business on October 20, 1855, because of debts.

Olmsted’s Journey in the Seaboard Slave States contains a story about a slave trade whose partner “had a farm in Kentucky and that he went occasionally to that state to get a coffle of slaves which he held on his Louisiana plantation until they could be sold.” Various local brokers, like R. H. Elam of Natchez or H. H. Haynes of Nashville served as intermediaries in the Kentucky-South trade.

p. 339 discusses kidnappers based in Maysville who worked with traders to kidnap from Ohio: “once the slave was loaded on a South-bound steamboat he found himself without recourse to the courts.” Clark mentions a young girl similar to Henrietta Wood who was stolen from a house in Ohio but who told a passer-by of her plight, arousing suspicions. Lewis Allen and Henry Young of Mayville were identified as professional kidnappers.

Another slave mentioned is Nancy Lee, “who was in great distress because her two daughters were to be sold into the southern trade. Tony Lee, the father of the girls, had been successful in purchasing their freedom and turned the papers over to them just before his death. Negro traders visited Nancy, the mother, and through a ruse secured the papers and destroyed them. The girls were then offered for sale …”3

  1. Quick search in America’s Historical Newspapers shows ads by Griffin and Pullum in the Mississippi Free Trader (Natchez), often advertising that they were bringing slaves from Virginia to be sold “at their old stand the Forks of the Road” (March 14, 1854).

  2. Cites the July 22, 1848, issue.

  3. William Moody Pratt diaries in University of Kentucky library may have more along these lines.