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LaGrange County

African American rural settlements documented: 0

LaGrange County was formed in 1832.  From the 1840 through the 1870 decennial federal census, there were 25 or less African Americans in the county. It is interesting to note that during this period that the county had a higher number of African Americans born in the New England states than any other northern Indiana county.

The family of Lucius W. Philips, first appearing in the 1850 census, had a small farm worth $800 and 11 family members living in Clear Spring Township.  Philips appears to be an early rural African American landowner in the county. His land was located around a basin of the Elkhart River in section 24 of the 1874 LaGrange County Atlas. The land is near that belonging to Lucinda’s father, Joseph Todd. The first known record of Philips living in Indiana is his marriage record to Lucinda Todd on March 28, 1845. His family is listed as mulatto in the 1850 census, race not given in the 1860 census, and black in the 1870 census.  Lucius dies in 1870, and is buried in Sloan Cemetery. Lucinda dies soon after, in 1876 and it appears that the family moves away from the farm established by their parents. 

An 1882 LaGrange County history book lists two black soldiers serving in the Civil War: Ichabod S. Jones, First Tennessee Artillery and Joseph R. Webster, Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Troops. Also from the county history, John Draper is listed as the first black person arriving in LaGrange County in 1836, when he accompanies William A. Poynter’s family. Draper appears on every census to 1870, where he appears to have established a family, owns real estate, and moved away from the Poynter family.  


Andreas & Baskin, Samuel W. Durant, and Pliny A. Durant. An Illustrated Historical Atlas of LaGrange County, Indiana. Chicago: Andreas & Baskin, 1874.

Counties of La Grange and Noble, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. Chicago: Battery & Co, 1882.   

Land patent certificate #7369 of Joseph Todd, March 20, 1837, from BLM-GLO database online.   

Trowbridge, Geoffrey. “Lucius’s Heritage.” Family Trees.

U.S. Census, 1840: Population Schedules of the Sixth Census of the United States. Accessed July 22, 2014.

U.S. Census, 1850: Population Schedules of the Seventh Census of the United States. Accessed July 22, 2014.

U.S. Census, 1860: Population Schedules of the Eighth Census of the United States. Accessed July 22, 2014.

U.S. Census, 1870: Population Schedules of the Ninth Census of the United States. Accessed July 22, 2014.

By Andrea Sowle, July 22, 2014