African American rural settlements documented: 0
Despite a heavy population of African Americans, no rural settlements were found in Cass County. Federal population census data identifies the following numbers for blacks: 23 in 1830, 40 in 1840, 61 in 1850, 65 in 1860, and 111 in 1870. The high census numbers are a result of a high concentration of African-Americans in the city of Logansport, which constitutes almost all of Eel Township.
A county history book names a “Black Ben” as being the first African American resident of Logansport. Benjamin Talbert first appears in the 1830 census, and remains in Logansport until 1855 when he moved to Michigan.
There is a significant increase in the black population from the 1860 to 1870 census. The cause of this, as Thornbrough notes, may have been that after the Civil War many of the residents of the black rural settlements in Howard County moved to both Kokomo and Logansport. It is also interesting that the city of Logansport was the only place where blacks settled within the county. A railroad town founded on both the Eel and Wabash Rivers, Logansport had a thriving community, and the employment opportunities that existed there would have been a draw for migrating African American families. The African American community in Logansport established the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church around 1867, and finished building their church in 1870. The church is still standing.
Helm, Thomas B. History of Cass County, Indiana. Chicago: Kingman Bros, 1878.
Powell, Jehu Z. History of Cass County, Indiana From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time : with Biographical Sketches and Reference to Biographies Previously Compiled. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1913.
David Rumsey Map Collection. A.T. Andreas, Map of Cass County, 1876 and A.T. Andreas Plan of Logansport, Cass County, 1876.
Thornbrough, Emma Lou. The Negro in Indiana Before 1900: A Study of a Minority. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
U.S. Census, 1840: Population Schedules of the Sixth Census of the United States. Accessed: 7/30/14.
U.S. Census, 1850: Population Schedules of the Seventh Census of the United States. Accessed: 7/30/14.
U.S. Census, 1860: Population Schedules of the Eighth Census of the United States. Accessed: 7/30/14.
U.S. Census, 1870: Population Schedules of the Ninth Census of the United States. Accessed: 7/30/14.
By Andrea Sowle, July 31, 2014