Daniel Blue, An African American Pioneer

Contributed by: Marilyn Demas

Feb. 2005

 

African American pioneer Daniel Blue arrived in Sacramento on September 2, 1849 as a former slave from Monroe County, Kentucky.  According to the California Census of 1852,
“Uncle Daniel,” as he was affectionately known, married  Lucinda Luny, from Alabama, and had a son, William born in 1851. 
 

Lola Reed and her son Andre Reed speak very proudly and  affectionately of their family’s pioneer patriarch. “Daniel Blue did some placer mining on the Sacramento River and very soon after his arrival bought property, built a home and established a laundry on that property at about 4th and I streets at China Slough, at about the site of today’s AmTrak station in Sacramento.”
 

 Ironically Blue’s home and business were adjacent to the property of California’s first governor, Peter Burnett.  At California’s First California Constitutional Convention, Burnett was a strong proponent of exclusionary laws that would have excluded African Americans from living in California. One would surmise that the Blue’s did not think this neighborly.
 

Undaunted, Blue, with African American pioneers Barney and George Fletcher, founded St. Andrews A.M.E. church in 1850, and established it in the Blue’s home. Blue magnanimously opened his home also to be used as a house of worship for white parishioners, and as a school.
 

Besides loss of property from state wide disasters, disease took son William in 1860, and daughter, Laura on December 22,1864.
     

In 1873, Daniel and Lucinda Blue’s daughters, Annie and Hazel passed a test qualifying them to be admitted to Sacramento Grammar School. Daniel Jr. was to go to the white night school.  Principal A.H. McDonald admitted the children and was fired for doing so but was later reinstated.  The children were forced to leave the schools.
    

In 1874, Ward vs. Flood supported “Separate But Equal Education” but a codicil made the law impractical. In1875 Annie Blue graduated from Sacramento Grammar School.  Since the Blue’s opened their home to white people

in 1849, it is ironic that their children should be denied admittance to white schools in 1873.
     

At Daniel Blues death in 1884 an article stated that “For a Sacramentan to have said that he did not know Uncle Daniel Blue was to argue his ignorance of the City and his people... and (he) went to his rest known of all his fellow citizens with fewer to speak ill of him than falls to the lot of most men.”