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Brown County

African American rural settlements documented: 0

Brown County was formed in 1836.  Free people of color first appeared in Brown County in the 1840 census, with 23 persons living in Johnson Township. The majority of the surnames of these 23 residents have not yet been identified. 

In the 1850 census, there were two settlers and their families - Ephraim Manuel (born 1795) and James Warrick (born 1780), both from North Carolina, whose families made up the total black population in 1850 Washington Township.  Manuel went on to purchase 40 acres of land in 1852 and 80 acres in 1854 (Federal Land Patents website). 

By the 1860 census, there were no people of color in the county, and in the 1870 census, there was only one. This drop in the black population could be attributed to harsh racial attitudes (black laws) that hampered the liberty of free persons and also to better opportunities elsewhere, as theorized in the article "Early African American Heritage in Bartholomew County.”  No information found during this search would indicate the presence of a community or settlement, as the population of free persons of color decreased every decade. 


Ancestry.com. "U.S. Federal Census 1820-1870", accessed June 20, 2014.

Hamblen, John W. Hamblen.  Federal Land Entries for Brown County, Indiana. Nashville, Ind.: Brown County Genealogical Society, 1994.

Bureau of Land Management. "Federal Land Patents," accessed June 20, 2014.

Handley, Shirley S. and Coy D. Robbins. "Early African American Heritage in Bartholomew County." Indiana Ebony Line, Fall-Winter, 1992.

By Dona Stokes-Lucas, June 20, 2014