Department of Parks
Sleettown Property Purchased for Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site
PERRYVILLE, Ky. – The Kentucky Department of Parks has purchased a 96-acre tract of land in Boyle County that has historical significance as an African American community and will become part of Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site.
The property, known as Sleettown, was purchased recently from private owners and will be added to the park’s current 570 acres. The land was used as a staging area for Confederate forces and was an African-American settlement after the war until about 1931.
“We’re very pleased to be able to purchase this land and preserve this important piece of history,” said Parks Commissioner J.T. Miller. “We plan to use the property to better tell the story of the Battle of Perryville as well as the history of Sleettown.”
Perryville is the site of the largest Civil War battle in Kentucky that took place in October of 1862. The battle is commemorated every year during the first weekend in October with a reenactment.
Miller also thanked the Civil War Preservation Trust, which provided a matching grant of $107,000 to help purchase the property. The state’s share of $324,000 came from a Transportation Enhancement grant, which can be used for preservation purposes. The total amount was used to purchase the property, pay for an archeological study, conduct a survey and other costs.
The new property will help connect two separate sections of the park and will open areas for more use, including trails, interpretive signs and research. One residence, believed to be the last remnant of Sleettown, and a cemetery remain on the Sleettown property.
“We are extremely proud to have partnered with the Commonwealth of Kentucky to protect another key portion of the Perryville Battlefield,” said Civil War Preservation Trust President James Lighthizer. “With this acquisition, the two preserved parts of the Perryville Battlefield are permanently connected to one another, enhancing the visitor experience.”
The Civil War Preservation Trust has helped saved nearly 60 percent of the current battlefield park. “Kentucky deserves praise for its use of the transportation enhancement program for battlefield preservation. No state, with the possible exception of Maryland, has used the enhancement program more effectively to save hallowed ground,” Lighthizer said.
Sleettown was a segregated community where former slaves lived after the Civil War. It was named after a family of three African American brothers – Henry, Preston and George – who all were born in Boyle County prior to the Civil War.
The last of the Sleets left in 1931 and joined the nearby community of Perryville. Members of the Sleet family have been active in the community and beyond. Moneta J. Sleet Jr. of Owensboro, who was related to the Boyle County Sleets, became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for photography in 1969.
And the current Perryville mayor, Anne Sleet, married in to the Sleet family and her in-laws lived at Sleettown. She believes it’s important for young people to know about Sleettown. “It’s good history for them to know…I think it’s an honor that the park and everyone around here wants to know about this place.”
Perryville Battlefield has hiking trails with interpretive signs, a museum, gift shop, picnic area and playground. Perryville Battlefield is 45 miles southwest of Lexington. Take U.S. 68 west to U.S. 150 west.
The Kentucky State Park System is composed of 53 state parks plus an interstate park shared with Virginia. The Department of Parks, an agency of the Commerce Cabinet, operates 17 resort parks with lodges -- more than any other state. Each year, Kentucky parks draw 7 million visitors and contribute $317 million to the economy. For more information on Kentucky parks, visit our Web site at http://www.parks.ky.gov