Using militia muster rolls, census and tax records, and court documents to identify and trace individual militia members' income, involvement in politics, and slave ownership, it is possible to draw some general conclusions about where they fit within their communities in terms of socioeconomic status and political power and influence. In the late eighteenth century, militia officers and their men were moderately successful in both financial and political affairs. Their successors in the War of 1812 performed even better, but the men who later fought in Mexico marched south with little wealth or political experience. The data in the tables that follow represent a ten-county area in Kentucky's central Bluegrass Region, with Lexington and Fayette County at the center. The other eight counties are Bourbon, Clark, Garrard, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Mercer, Scott, and Woodford. This selection of counties allows the examination of both urban and rural communities.
With few exceptions, extant muster rolls from the Kentucky militia are from three periods: the frontier era (1790–1811), the War of 1812 (1812–1814), and the Mexican War (1846–1847). In order to compare the financial and political success of militiamen across periods, analyses of officers and selected companies of enlisted men were conducted for each of the three periods, based on census and tax records. In addition, more intensive analyses were performed of two companies from the frontier era, one company from the War of 1812, and one company from the Mexican War. The latter included examination of deed and court documents in addition to census and tax records.1
Note that in the tables dealing with slave ownership as an indication of wealth, the median is included to compensate for figures that might skew the average inordinately high.
The starting point for the analysis of officers in this period is Glenn Clift's The “Corn Stalk” Militia of Kentucky, which provides a published list of all known commissioned officers who served in Kentucky's militia before the War of 1812.2 Because of Clift's thoroughness and the abundance of muster rolls, a compre-