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Allen County

African American rural settlements documented: 0

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. Randolph Kirby, would have been the first African American community in Allen County.  It comprised as many as 30 families in the 1850 census.  An African Methodist Episcopal Church was established in the area around 1847. Township population censuses confirm that only scant numbers of blacks lived outside the city of Fort Wayne during this time period. 

The Hanna Addition’s major family names were Canada, Elliot (originally from North Carolina), and Fisher (originally from Ohio). Three men from these families were also the trustees for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church purchased a lot in Hanna’s First Addition, which became the location of the first African American church in Fort Wayne. 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. 

Between the 1850 and 1860 census Allen County reported a 35% drop in African American population. Fort Wayne and Allen County’s significant population drop was likely due to increasing racial polarization during the late 1850s. This number continued to decline, dropping to less than 50 African Americans by the 1870 census. The county’s population surged to 169 in 1880 and has since trended upward, enumerating 41,618 African Americans in the 2010 census. 

Bibliography

Kirby, J. Randolph. "Notes on the Emergence of a Black Community in Fort Wayne, Indiana between 1820 and 1850." Old Fort News 54: 1-12. 

Kirby, J. Randolph. “The Appearance of Blacks in Fort Wayne before 1820.” Old Fort News 48: 1-15.

Afro-Americans in Fort Wayne and the Surrounding Area. s.l.: s.n. 19--. 105p. (Manuscript)  

Quinn, Angela M. The Underground Railroad and the Antislavery Movement in Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana. Fort Wayne, IN: ARCH, Inc., 2001. 

Stith, Hana L. Illuminating an Ignored Legacy, African American History, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fort Wayne, Ind.: African & African American Society Museum, 2005. 

U.S. Bureau of the Census. “Aggregate Amount of Each Description of Persons within District of Indiana,” 1: 352. Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Office, 1841.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population of Civil Divisions Less Than Counties; Table III State of Indiana,” 1:124 Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Office, 1852 

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population of Civil Divisions Less Than Counties; Table III State of Indiana,” 1:124 Eighth Census of the United States, 1860.  Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Office, 1862

U.S. Bureau of the Census. “Population of Civil Divisions Less Than Counties; Table III—State of Indiana,” 1: 124. Ninth Census of the United States, 1870. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1872.

By Andrea Sowle, July 2, 2014