The Wallace House of Covington, Kentucky

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Wallace family lived only miles from the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky. Before the Civil War, the family owned at least two slaves -- a woman to help in the house named Rachel Young and Rachel’s brother Jack.

Others were settling in Covington at the same time the Wallaces built their homestead. Seen here from Madison Pike, the Grossman house is on the right and the Wallace farm is on the left.

Robert Wallace, Jr. and his wife Jane lived in the large home they named Longwood with their children. The house itself was modest by today’s standards, but the Wallace family was land-rich and operated a large working farm.

Like many families of the era, the Wallaces shared their wealth in the home’s front parlor. In this room, visitors could enjoy beautiful oil paintings, rugs, and well-made furniture.

Pictured here are several of the property’s out-buildings. Buildings like the ice house and barns for livestock or grain were essential to 19th century farming and daily life.

In addition to slave labor, it is likely that hired white men played a number of roles on the farm. Hegener was likely hired to tend to the families horses, but may have had other responsibilities as well.

Rachel and Jack lived in the property’s slave quarters. It is not clear which of the three doors shown would have been the entrance to the slave quarters, or if they are all living spaces for enslaved or hired help.

Rachel likely spent most of her day working in the kitchen to prepare meals for the family and anyone working on the farm. This modest space had everything needed for mid-19th century cooking and even housed a wood-burning stove.

After the death of her husband, Jane Wallace wrote this letter emancipating Rachel, “in accordance with a long settled purpose,” on Christmas Day 1865. In the short letter, she gives a glowing account of Rachel’s character, and mentions raising her from infancy.

After emancipation, Rachel worked for the Wallace family until her death in 1906. She was buried with the family at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rachel's grave is at the back of the Wallace plot, hidden from the monument’s front by a tree.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Credits: Story

From the Collection of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Curators: Gina Armstrong, Cori Silbernagel, and Rich Cooper
Photographer: Jesse Kramer

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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