African American rural settlements documented: 0
Fountain County was formed in 1825; its 1830 census included James Adams, a free man of color from Delaware and his family. This could be the same James Adams that purchased 80 acres of federal land in Fountain County in November 1830. According to the federal censuses, there were 33 free blacks in the county in 1840, 52 in 1850, 73 in 1860 and 47 in 1870, split almost equally between Logan Township and Covington Township. In Logan Township, where a black settlement was said to have existed, there were only 8 persons of color in the 1840 census, 17 in the 1850 census, 16 in the 1860 census and 27 in the 1870 census. These are much smaller numbers than the hundreds said to have lived in the settlement.
Werle's research on African Americans in Fountain County indicates that the black population was very sparse in Logan Township. Black residents in the county were from Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana. Their surnames included Johnson, Howard, Cox, Cross, Jones and a Trudo from South America who married a black woman from Indiana. Several articles that appeared in the Covington newspaper reported on the Shawnee Prairie Colonization Society, a local chapter of the Back to Africa Movement. In 1850, two families from Covington– William Findlay (formerly of Tippecanoe County) and Henry Fry sailed to Liberia.
Oral history and early recollections in county histories point to a possible black settlement in Fountain County. The settlement is said to have been in the area of Logan Township, near Bethel Church, which was settled by Quakers in the early 1820s. Bethel Church and its graveyard were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 the significance being the architectural design, serving an African American community during the 1800s and being the burial site of two known black soldiers (Indiana Landmarks). The Indiana Junior Historian's 1993 publication "Black Settlers in Indiana" added Bethel to Xenia E. Cord’s map of rural settlements (Indiana Historical Bureau). Whicker’s history of the Underground Railroad suggests that Quakers came up with the idea of using the swamps in the woods as a station, hiding hundreds of fugitive blacks in the brush and ponds from about 1826 until the Civil War. At one time, it was reported that as many as one hundred of formerly enslaved people lived in the woods, and according to Whicker's 1911 account, some of them had continued to live there until the 1880s. However, more research is necessary to confirm the location of a settlement.
Ancestry.com. “U.S. Federal Census 1820-1870,” accessed June 20, 2014.
“Black Settlers in Indiana.” The Indiana Junior Historian February 1993.
Bureau of Land Management, "Federal Land Patents," accessed June 20, 2014,
Crenshaw, Gwen, Bethel Church Cemetery and Swamp District, Indiana Landmarks, Fountain County Folder, 1994.
"Colonization Society." Covington People’s Friends Newspaper, November 25, 1848.
"Fountain County Colonization Society." Covington People’s Friends Newspaper, June 10, 1848.
"Indiana Emigrants to Liberia." The Indiana Historian, March 2000.
“Indiana African American Survey of Historic Sites and Structures,” Library Collection, Indiana Landmarks State Headquarters, Indianapolis
Lu, Marlene K. "Walkin’ The Wabash: An Exploration into the Underground Railroad in West Central Indiana." Indiana Department of Natural Resources, June 2001.
"Meeting of the Shawnee Colonization Society," Covington People’s Friends Newspaper, September 10, 1848.
Audrey C. Werle “Research Notes on Indiana African American History,” M 792, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Whicker, Wesley J. "Centennial Sketches of the Early History of the Valley of the Wabash." Attica Ledger, July 12, 1911.
Whicker, Wesley J. "Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley," reprinted from the Attica Ledger, 1916.
By Dona Stokes-Lucas, August 1, 2014