After Kentucky finally ratified the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 and all of the state’s Black citizens were officially free, the state saw a huge shift in the Black population as they left agricultural areas and moved to cities and towns. Neighborhoods in cities and towns were specifically established as Black subdivisions. Often the names were comprised of the white landowner’s last name before the word “town.”
George Blackburn Kinkead studied law at Transylvania University and was an antislavery advocate from early adulthood, even though he was raised in a family that owned slaves. Kinkead offered legal aid and employment to recently enslaved people during this transitional time.
In 1864, he purchased the eleven acre tract of land on East 4th street with a local doctor named Warren Frazer. They split the tract, Kinkead taking the western half, on which he platted thirty lots, the borders lying at East Fourth and Mosby Street. By 1870, Kinkeadtown consisted of seventeen properties and a small grocery store, located on the corner of East 4th and Kinkead Street and owned and developed by a Black family, Nathan and Eliza Page. The first generation of Black families lived in the residential spaces of Kinkeadtown and similar neighborhoods until the turn of the century. Jim Crow laws in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries meant that larger lots were divided into smaller lots with smaller homes predominately used as rental property, as increased segregation and racist housing laws meant more and more African Americans were seeking rental property in the city.
When Kinkeadtown was originally built, its location was almost rural in nature. It was within walking distance of downtown but certainly on the outskirts. As the twentieth century approached, due to increased pressure for urban development, it was soon surrounded by other subdivisions that varied in socioeconomic and racial makeup. Most houses in Kinkeadtown were framed shotguns, although there were many T-plans as well.
Houses were generally built very close to the street so that there was room for a garden, a privy, and a coal shed in the back. Deweese Street terminated in front of Kinkeadtown.