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Hendricks County

African American rural settlements documented: 1

Hendricks County has one known unnamed settlement in Guildford County. Family names of those in the settlement include Moss, Pierson, Sparks/Spinks, Goens/Gowen, and Hampton.

Hendricks County was formed in 1823. As shown through its censuses, its population of blacks and mulattos increased every decade: 5 in 1830, 17 in 1840, 36 in 1850, 45 in 1860, 182 in 1870 and 402 in 1880. The majority of these residents lived in Guilford Township. One known unnamed settlement in this township included surnames such as Hampton, Sparks/Spinks, Goens/Gowen, Moss, Pierson/ Pearson and Outland, with Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana as their birthplaces. The Moss and Pierson families appear in the county's Negro Register in 1853 and 1854.

An oral history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church dates its origin in the county to 1867. Several black families living in the area between Plainfield and Mooresville established a non-denominational church along White Lick Creek, as well as a colored school before 1870. They are included on an 1878 plat map of Guilford Township.  Several entries in volume IV of The Diary of Calvin Fletcher tell the story of Danville resident Daniel Pearson/ Pierson. Notably Saturday, December 29, 1849 and Wednesday, December 25, 1850. Pearson is raising money to purchase his four children out of slavery in Kentucky. Fletcher notes, “he has already raised $500 and he needs to redeem them by New Year of 1851.”  Hendricks County had few black landowners before 1870-1880, so Fletcher's diary is helpful showing the lives of its residents and their communities. 


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

Fletcher, Calvin. The Diary of Calvin Fletcher, Volume IV: 1848-1852. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1975.

Heller, Herbert Lynn. "Negro Education in Indiana from 1816 To 1860." PhD diss., Indiana University, 1951.

Hendricks County Government. "Illustrated Historical Atlas of Hendricks County, Indiana." Accessed June 20, 2014.

Robbins, Coy D. Indiana Negro Registers 1852-1865. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1994.

Swarn, Cassie. "The Black Community of Plainfield, Indiana." Transcribed speech from 1976, accessed in the Archives of Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library. 

"Tiny church reflects on its place in history: Bethel AME has been vital refuge since 1867." Indianapolis Star, June 14, 2002.

By Dona Stokes-Lucas, June 20, 2014