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Morgan County

African American rural settlements documented: 1

Morgan County was formed in 1822. Its 1830 census lists 31 persons of color. By the 1840 census, that number had tripled, to 90. In the 1850 census, it was 97, and in 1860, it peaked at 109, most of these African American residents were living in Washington Township. These early settlers represented Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana, and their surnames included Griffin, Langford, Moss, Free, Gross, and Stewart. By the 1870 census, the black population had plummeted to 56. 

Early black settlers and landowners included John Reed (from Clay County, Kentucky) and John Goss. Reed purchased his first 80 acres in 1822; John Goss lived in the area as early as 1818. Goss’s emancipation papers confirm that he received his freedom on April 18, 1815. Researcher Coy D. Robbins did extensive research on Morgan County's free people of color. He believed that Morgan County had a loosely-formed rural settlement, which gained strength along with the communities in neighboring counties. Audrey C. Werle's research also suggests there may have been a pre-Civil War settlement or community within the settlement.  It appears that this early unnamed settlement was in Washington Township.


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

Bureau of Land Management, "Federal Land Patents," accessed June 20, 2014.

Robbins, Coy D. African Heritage in Morgan County, Indiana.  Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana African American Historical and Genealogical Society, 1991.

Audrey C. Werle “Research Notes on Indiana African American History,” M 792, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana.

By Dona Stokes-Lucas, June 20, 2014