In a community near Greensburg, Kentucky, Martin and Mary Anderson Groves welcomed a baby boy into their family. He was the seventh of the nine children the Groves would have and they named him Junius George. Martin and Mary were married on the plantation of Alfred Anderson in October 1843 and the land tract was on the Green River’s Caney Fork. Anderson, a former U.S. Congressman, was one of the largest slaveholders in Kentucky. The parents were enslaved; Mary was owned by Anderson and Martin was owned by William Grove, who lived on a plantation near Anderson’s.
Because enslaved African-Americans were considered property, Alfred Anderson, in an early 1860s document, registered the birth of Junius George as May 13, 1858; however, contemporary resources state his birthday was April 12, 1859 and there is an article that quoted Junius stating that he was actually born in 1861.
In April 1865, Martin Grove, at forty-four years old, joined the U.S. Army and was a member of Company G of the 125th Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored Troops. In early May, he and several other members of his infantry died from eating pies that had been poisoned. On December 6th, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, abolishing slavery.
Three years later, Mary began to receive a pension of $8 per month and Junius and four of his siblings were to receive $2 per month. She was to receive this amount until 1879 and the children were to be awarded this amount until they became sixteen years old. It is during this period that pension documents reveal “Grove” and “Groves” being used interchangeably. At some point, “Groves” is selected by Junius George as his last name.
Upon receiving emancipation, the Groves are committed to personal advancement and that included receiving public education during the three months that the rigors of farming lessened. However, Junius was primarily an autodidact and for the remainder of his life, Junius diligently read, studied and continued to learn. By 1870, Mary; her new husband, farmer, Henry Cox; Junius and several of his siblings settled in Haskinville, a small community in Green County.