October 27, 2021 – The Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission is pleased to announce that we held a private dedication ceremony for the Kentucky Ridge Mine Site plaque on Saturday, October 23. Even with the rain, we welcomed the property owner, neighbors, commissioners, and Supervisors Sue Hoek and Hardy Bullock.

Kentucky Ridge Dedication
Photo courtesy Jerry Martini

The plaque reads “During gold rush days, Nevada County had a significant Black population. Most were free, but even though California had entered the Union as a free state, some were enslaved before the Civil War. From 1851-1852, the Kentucky Ridge Mine was the largest enterprise in California operated by slave labor. Gold was first discovered on this property in early 1851. By October of 1851, Colonel William F. English brought with him from Florida and South Carolina about 40 slaves to operate the gold mine. He was one of over a dozen slave owners in Nevada County. The mine failed after English died in a gun accident on August 27, 1852, and the Black mine workers gradually moved into the towns. One of them, Isaac Sanks, the husband of Chasey, one of the slaves, became a religious leader, businessman and political figure who helped gain Blacks the right to serve on juries and the right to vote by 1870. He died at his home in Grass Valley on May 9, 1894.”

If any members of the public would like to view this plaque and envision the history that took place on this property, please contact the Commission and we will put you in contact with the property owner for a tour.

The purpose of the Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission is to promote the general welfare of Nevada County and its citizens through official recognition, recording, marking, preserving, and promoting the historical resources of Nevada County.