Washington Rippleton

Washington and Louisa Rippleton


Information comes from The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, death and census records.


Washington Rippleton was born in Danville, Boyle Co. Ky. 16 Apr 1842, the son of Frederick Rippleton.  His mother and father were both born in Danville, Kentucky. The first school in Danville for African-American children was founded around 1840 by Willis Russell, an emancipated slave of Revolutionary War veteran Robert Craddock. Craddock deeded a log house in Danville to Russell, who moved to the town after Craddock's death and started a school for children. The house still stands on Walnut Street.  It is likely that Washington went to this school and gained a great appreciation for learning and wanted to pass it on to the children in Newport.

He was married to Louisa McKnight by 1858 and living in Newport in 1860 with Carey and Nancy Bell, who were also from Danville Ky.  He became a prominent businessman in Newport and was very involved in the politics of the city.  In 1863, Washington found himself under arrest and obliged to prove in court that he was not a bondsman, which he did.

The Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, 5 February 1863, page 3


"Washington Rippleton, an alleged free negro, was tried on the charge of violating a law of Kentucky, which makes it a penalty for free persons of color to come into the State. Although it is notorious that the accused is free, the fact could not be proven, and he was accordingly discharged. This law is nothing more than a dead letter on the statue books of Kentucky. A dozen or two cases, arising from it, having been tried in Covington and Newport within the past two years, and in every instance we believe the defendants were discharged. It may be a very easy thing sometimes to prove that a negro is a slave, but to prove that one is free is a different matter."

Cincinnati Enquirer, 1 Aug 1866, page 2

COLORED SCHOOLS-The colored citizens of Newport held an election on Saturday and chose the following persons as Trustees of their schools to serve for one year: Burrell Lumpkins, Beverly Lumpkins, Washington Rippleton, James Patterson and Gus Adams.

We understand that the Trustees have appointed Mayor R B McCrackin as Treasurer of the School Board.


In 1873, several of the African American citizens of Newport, held a meeting at the courthouse.  The purpose of the meeting was to select a committee of delegates to represent Newport, at the "Colored" Educational Convention to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, on February 15, 1873.  Washington was selected to be the chairman of this committee.

Cincinnati Enquirer, 11 February 1873, page 7


At a meeting of the colored people of Newport, held at the Courthouse on Saturday night, Washington Rippleton, Esq. in the chair, the following persons were chosen as delegates to the Educational Convention, which meets in Louisville on the 18th instant; Charles Johnson, William Lumpkins, Isaac Henson, B Lumpkins, Lawrence Toliver, W Rippleton, Jacob Davis, Samuel Fairbush, Reuben Wright, Robert Littleton, D Lightfoot, Henry Sanders.


Washington Rippleton was a life long resident of Newport.  He and his wife Louisa resided on Rickey Street from 1867 through 1876, where they raised their four children; William, Benjamin, Matilda and Dollie.  The city directories show his occupation as either a hostler or coachman.  Louise McKnight was born 3 Mar 1846 in Kentucky and died 1 July 1916 at Speers Hospital in Dayton Ky. She was buried July 3 in Evergreen Cemetery.

Children of Washington Rippleton and Louisa McKnight

1. William Rippleton b-31 Jan 1859 in Newport; d-31 May 1895 in Covington Ky. of cholera; br-Evergreen Cemetery; William was working as a barber in Covington.
2. Benjamin Rippleton b-1862 in Newport; d-16 Apr 1891; br-Evergreen Cemetery
3. Jennie Matilda Rippleton b-Oct 1865 in Newport;  d-2 Aug 1905 in Newport; br-4 Aug in Evergreen Cemetery; m-John Spencer
4. Dollie or Denise Rippleton b-1866 in Newport


Children of Jennie Rippleton and John Spencer (Sep 1844-23 Dec 1916)

1. Earl Spencer b-Mar 1896 in Newport
2. Infant Spencer b-1897 in Newport
3. Anna Spencer b-Jan 1899 in Newport


In 1870 following the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, Mr. Ripple ton led a delegation of Newport Residents that participated in the celebration.  The April 15, 1870 Constitution Daily Gazette gives this account: "the Newport Barracks Band was followed by large delegations from Covington and Newport on foot.  Each of these wore a badge upon which appeared the words 'American Citizens'.

Rippleton also participated in local politics on behalf of the Republican Party.  Upon his return from a trip, the August 14, 1875 edition of a local newspaper, The Ticket, gave this account: "Mr. Washington Rippleton, a Negro politician of this city, returned yesterday from a visit at Put-in-Bay, near Sandusky, Ohio".

From 1878 through 1892 he worked at the Newport Barracks and lived at 249 Liberty Street.  Following the relocation of the Barracks to Fort Thomas, Mr. Rippleton operated a shoe shine parlor located at 405 York Street until his death on 12 May 1911, while living at 112 West Southgate in Newport.  He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery May 15.


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