Washington Spradling, Sr.

Washington Spradling, Sr. (1805-1868) was born into slavery in Kentucky. He was the son of an overseer, William Spradling, and Maria Dennis, a slave on the Isaac Miller farm. Spradling and his mother were emancipated in 1825 after William’s death. A barber by trade, he also bought and sold real estate helping establish an African American presence in the Russell Neighborhood. By 1860, Spradling’s real estate was worth over $25,000, which made him one of the richest men in the city. His son Washington Spradling, Jr. is credited for founding the Smoketown neighborhood. Spradling also gave many African Americans legal advice, and his wealth allowed him to purchase 33 slaves to give them their freedom. Spradling was instrumental in founding at least two antebellum African American churches, Center Street and Jackson Street CME. He married Lucy Ann Jackson in 1828, and together they had 5 children: William,Will, Washington, Julia, and Martha.