African American rural settlements documented: 1
Looking at the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census that breaks down the data by township, two pockets of African Americans become visible. In Halbert Township, near the city of Shoals, there were a number of black farmers. The highest number of blacks in the township was 48 in 1850, with eight of the families all relatively close together (within three pages of the Census data.) None of the blacks in the county lived within the city of Shoals. Audrey Werle’s 1870 Black Heads of Households lists two men, Elias Washington and James Reeves, who were farmers and part of those original eight families on those three census pages, as owning large amounts of land ($6000 and $2000 of property respectively). It is likely an unnamed settlement existed here.
The second pocket of African Americans is a group of 24 people in Mitcheltree Township in 1850. By 1860, however, there are zero African Americans in the township. This is the case in 1870 as well. If a settlement existed, it faded by 1860. Further research is needed to document it.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. “Population of Civil Divisions Less Than Counties; Table III—State of Indiana,” 1: 124. Ninth Census of the United States, 1870. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1872.
Audrey C. Werle “Research Notes on Indiana African American History,” M 792, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana.
By William Gillispie, July 29, 2014