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Daviess County

African American rural settlements documented: 1

From 1840 through 1900, the African American population in Daviess County trended upward in the federal decennial census.  The only exception was from 1880 through 1890 when it fell by about 10%.  County census population numbers register as follows:  1840, 25; 1850, 44; 1860, 74; 1870, 129; 1880, 307; 1890, 271; and 1900, 379.

There is a black school listed on an 1888 plat map in Washington Township section 160 (near the White River).  There is also a black cemetery near this school site. Reviewing Audrey Werle’s research and the names from the Hawkins Cemetery (colored), one can see that the following African Americans owned land; Andrea Naylor, Taylor Lyons, Charner Hawkins, Harriet Howard, and Phillip Hardcasel.  In the History of Knox and Daviess County, Indiana, Charner Hawkins is described as an “African.”  The research done for this project found an unnamed settlement of farmers, in Washington Township. In Barbara Sims Waggoner’s compilation of “Cemeteries of Daviess County, Indiana,” she lists the names of about 350 people buried in the Hawkins’ Cemetery (colored), a well preserved burial ground. Some of these names show up owning large tracks of land in the 1888 atlas near the city of Washington in Daviess County.  

The History of Knox and Daviess County, Indiana, discusses Eli Hawkins, a white slave owner bringing enslaved people from South Carolina to Indiana in 1806.  Two of the people, Isaac and Jake, were passed on to Catherine Hawkins as her inheritance. Later, through the efforts of attorney Amory C. Kinney, the men were legally set free.  It appears that they kept the last name Hawkins and stayed in the area.  There is more to the story that needs investigation.  

There was another group of enslaved people brought to Reeve Township in Daviess County.   Many of these people were buried in the Ballow Cemetery. Though this project’s research did not bear evidence, legend says that slave cabins were destroyed, and that the people were released from bondage, and stayed in the area farming.  


Fulkerson, Alva Otis. History of Daviess County, Indiana: Its people, industries and institutions ... with biographical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families. Indianapolis, Ind.: B. F. Bowen, 1915. 

Griffing, B N. Atlas of Daviess County, Indiana. Philadelphia: Griffing, Dixon & Co., 1888.

History of Knox and Daviess Counties. Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1886, pp. 383, 742, 768-771, 

Waggoner, Barbara Sims. “Cemeteries of Daviess County, Indiana.” compiled 1990-1992 Volume V, p. 201-215 (In binders, located at the Daviess County Historical Society.)

Audrey C. Werle “Research Notes on Indiana African American History,” M 792, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana.

By Lishawna Taylor, July 18, 2014