Photographing Freetowns: African American Kentucky Through the Lens of Helen Balfour Morrison, 1935-1946

Sugar Hill

Very little is known about the small freetown of Sugar Hill. The Pisgah Rural Historic District application to the National Register of Historic Places, the U.S. Census, and the memories of nearby residents offer invaluable but incomplete information about this historic community, which is not mentioned in contemporary studies of Kentucky African American hamlets.

Sugar Hill was located in Woodford County just off the Pisgah Pike and Payne’s Mill Road south of Faywood. In 1868, Sarah Hagar deeded the 18-acres that became Sugar Hill to Mary (Mrs. Benjamin F.) Payne. Neither woman’s race is known. By the 1890s, African Americans owned this property and the surrounding lots, and had deeded land to Woodford County for a Colored District 8 school. The school served the community as a gathering place and reportedly hosted religious revivals led by an African American minister from Bracktown, a freetown closer to Lexington.

According to the 1940 Census, members of the Blair, Raglin, Mulder, Palm, George, Countee, and Howard families lived in eight adjacent properties on Sugar Hill Road. The Raglin home and property appears on the left in Helen Morrison’s view of Sugar Hill. Located at the end of Sugar Hill Road, the Blair house stood just beyond Raglin’s house. Today, the Blair structure is the only remaining residence associated with Sugar Hill’s historic black community.

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  1. Up on Sugar Hill, Vintage Print. Print 63, Negative 517, Box 2, Folder 59
  2. View of Sugar Hill showing Charles Raglin home, Digital reproduction from negative. Negative 13-06, Box 3, Folder 99
  3. Anna Bell and children on porch in Sugar Hill, Vintage Print. Print 82, Negative 15-06, Box 1, Folder 23
  4. Anna Bell on porch in Sugar Hill, Vintage Print. Print 81, Negative 15-08, Box 1, Folder 24