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Learn about the experiences of early residents and how they grappled with pivotal and ongoing issues of freedom, equality and faith.
These untold stories have the potential to evoke pride and add a level of complexity to our understanding of black heritage and Hoosier history. With the exception of a handful of monographs, graduate papers and journal articles, few publications have been written that focus on this history.
Over the past 30 years, various research projects related to early black settlements have been completed by independent researchers, college professors and students, IHS, Indiana Humanities, Ball State University, Conner Prairie and Indiana Landmarks.
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A planning grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The black population of Adams County was minimal in the nineteenth century. There were no African Americans in the county recorded in the United States Census prior to when 17 persons of color were enumerated. William Lewis owned a mill near Monmouth in the s—early s. His family ed for 9 of 10 African Americans recorded in Root Township in the census.
Records indicate that Lewis made the first of several land purchases on February 6, Lewis died in It may have been in the state of Ohio. The other family enumerated in the census resided in Blue Creek Township.
Hill and his wife, Anna, were born in Virginia. Dick Heller lists eleven individuals by name in a history of the county. Of the three children living with William and Anna, at least two were born in Ohio.
An adult son, William Hill, Jr. William Hill, Sr. The census reports a total of seven African Americans and by there are zero persons of color listed in Adams County. Heller, Dick D. Decatur, Ind. Bureau of the Census. Sixth Census of the United States, Washington, D. Census Office, Ninth Census of the United States, Government Printing Office, Though it does not appear that Allen County had an antebellum African American rural population cluster, there was an urban settlement in Fort Wayne.
Located in the Hanna Addition, this settlement, as noted by J. It comprised as many as 30 families in the census. An African Methodist Episcopal Church was established in the area around Township population censuses confirm that only scant s of blacks lived outside the city of Fort Wayne during this time period.
Three men from these families were also the trustees for the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
This property was located on the south side of Jefferson Street. Hanna Addition residents had several occupations including barbers, coopers, plasterers, cooks, laborers, and domestics.
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This continued to decline, dropping to less than 50 African Americans by the census. Kirby, J. Quinn, Angela M. Stith, Hana L. Fort Wayne, Ind. Bartholomew County was formed in According to federal censuses, the total of blacks and mulattos was 6 in including the Nancy Tyler and James Minor families34 in82 in6 inand 42 in The majority of these residents lived in Columbus Township and the city of Columbus.
Many of the families that were in the census are also listed in the Register of Negroes and Mulattoes for Bartholomew County. In later years after the emigration of the colored people the locality was changed to a more modern name that of Smokey Row.
Federal Census Gibbs, Wilma L, ed.
Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, Handley, Shirley S. Heller, Herbert Lynn. Jefferson, Audrey. Indianapolis: Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, Robbins, Coy D. Black Pioneers in Indiana.
Bloomington: Ind. Indiana Negro Registers Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Vincent, Stephen A. Bloomington: Indiana University, It boasted of having the finest and vastly fertile prairie land VanNatta. According to the early censuses, there were no African Americans living in Benton County from through Inthere were 6 people, all single individuals from Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, whose surnames were Corington, Curtes, Shelby and Wheat.
They worked as farm laborers, housekeepers and barbers.
Audrey C. The nineteenth century African American population in Blackford County was minimal. In the federal census indicated a total of thirteen free people of color residing in the county distributed as follows: Washington Township, population 2; Licking Township, population 1; and Harrison Township, population The ten individuals in Harrison Township lived in a single household headed by Jefferson Hill. The household included 2 males under 10; 3 males 10 to 23; 1 male ; 2 females 10 to 23; 1 female 24 to 35; and 1 female 55 to In the overall black population in the county dropped to eleven with seven people residing in Licking Township and four people residing in Harrison Township.
The Jefferson Hill household was gone from Blackford County. It would appear they relocated east across the county line to neighboring Jay County, Penn Township. By Jefferson Hill, a Virginia native was a year-old farmer. The rest of the household included Delilah Hill, age 40, born in Ohio, three Hill children born in Indiana Henderson, age 9; Eliza, age 6; and Lydia, age 3.
Early black settlements by county
In the Hill family was still living in Penn Township, Jay County, in a somewhat different configuration. Jefferson Hill was still farming, and Sibby Sibba Hill was still alive at ! This was about a twenty-year age difference from the census. Frazier, 36, the latter two whom work on the railroad.
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In the coming decades, there was evidence of racial isolation in the county. First, in the s the Ku Klux Klan established a strong presence in the county. Masked and robed participants took part in large public rallies.