African American rural settlements documented: 0
The federal decennial population censuses recorded the following blacks in Lake County: 2 in 1840, 1 in 1850, 5 in 1860, and 3 in 1870. In 1850, Catharine Burns was living in North Township. By 1860 George and Eliza Elliot lived in Hobart Township, John Ball lived in St. John Township, Catherine Burns (spelled different, most likely the same person noted in 1850) lived in St. John Township, and Harvey (with no surname) lived in Eagle Creek Township.
By 1900, there were 54 blacks listed on the Lake County census. With the establishment of the city of Gary by the United States Steel Corporation in 1906, the next decennial census recorded almost 500 blacks in the county. Many southern blacks and people from small towns seeking job and life improvement opportunities moved to the county. Today, Lake has the largest percentage of African Americans in all of Indiana’s 92 counties.
Millender, Dharathula H. Yesterday in Gary: A brief history of the Negro in Gary. Gary, Ind.: D. Millender, 1967.
Mohl, Raymond A. and Neil Betten. Steel City: Urban and Ethnic Patterns in Gary, Indiana, 1906-1950. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1986.
Thornbrough, Emma Lou. Indiana Blacks in the Twentieth Century. Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2000.
U.S. Census, 1840: Population Schedules of the Sixth Census of the United States. Accessed June 26, 2014.
U.S. Census, 1850: Population Schedules of the Seventh Census of the United States. Accessed June 26, 2014.
U.S. Census, 1860: Population Schedules of the Eighth Census of the United States. Accessed June 26, 2014.
U.S. Census, 1870: Population Schedules of the Ninth Census of the United States. Accessed June 26, 2014.
By Andrea Sowle, June 30, 2014