African American rural settlements documented: 0
The 1850 federal decennial census records James A. Cannady, Jr. and his family living in Perry Township. Historian Angie Quinn writes, “The oldest son of James and Elizabeth Cannady, James Cannady Jr., stayed only briefly in Fort Wayne before moving farther north. Prior to 1850 he purchased a farm near Ligonier in Perry Township, Noble County where he and his wife Josephine raised three children.”
The Cannady family was instrumental in the development of an African American community in the Fort Wayne and the Allen County area that included the establishment of an African Methodist Episcopal church. Quinn speculated that the Cannady family (residing in Washington Township, Allen County in the 1850 census) likely had contact with the Pompey family (early settlers of the Jefferies Settlement in Smith Township, Whitley County). There was no direct evidence to support this, but with further research, some connections to the Jeffries Settlement may be found. By 1860, the Cannady family had moved to Cass County, Michigan, and census records only identify one mulatto family living in Perry Township (Head of Household: Harvey Williams). There has been no evidence of this family found on any county map or atlas, and they do not appear in the 1870 census.
During the 1860s, three Anderson brothers Zimriah, Jeremiah and Alonzo moved to Kendallville. Local historian Amanda Blackman has done extensive research on this family and their life in Kendallville. She published a booklet entitled The Anderson Brothers of Kendallville and the Scandalous Cora. It includes numerous pictures and newspaper articles related to the family that she obtained from their descendents. The three brothers migrated from the Lost Creek settlement in Vigo County to Kendallville at various times during the 1860s. They were prominent members of the Kendallville community, and owned a successful barbershop in the downtown area. This building has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1914 an article appearing in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette noted that Jerry (Jeremiah) Anderson was “the oldest ‘practicing’ barber in the state,” which speaks to the outstanding reputation he held within the community. Also, in a publication about the Old Cemetery in Noble County, the author H.G. Misselhorn states that, “The Anderson lot contains the graves of two Negro families in Kendallville—well respected—and the wife of one was part Pottawatomi Indian and part Negro. She was a very intelligent and bright woman. Her children were bright and smart and stood well above many of the white students.” The family has an interesting history that includes the story of a daughter, Cora, who openly lived as a man for a large portion of her life. (Details are chronicled in Blackman’s book.)
2011 Historic Places Tour. Kendallville, Indiana: Kendallville Heritage Association, 2011.
Blackman, Amanda L. The Anderson Brothers of Kendallville and the Scandalous Cora. Kendallville, Indiana: Amanda L. Blackman, 2013.
Cochard, Jean Stiver. Kendallville families and their homes. Fort Wayne, Indiana: Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County, 1976.
“Indiana African American Survey of Historic Sites and Structures,” Library Collection, Indiana Landmarks State Headquarters, Indianapolis.
Misselhorn, H.G. The Old Cemetery of Noble County, Indiana. N.p: n.p., nd.
Quinn, Angela M. The Underground Railroad and the Antislavery Movement in Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana. Fort Wayne, IN: ARCH, Inc., 2001.
U.S. Census, 1850: Population Schedules of the Seventh Census of the United States. Accessed June 11, 2014.
U.S. Census, 1860: Population Schedules of the Eighth Census of the United States. Accessed June 11, 2014.
U.S. Census, 1870: Population Schedules of the Ninth Census of the United States. Accessed June 11, 2014.
By Andrea Sowle, June 18, 2014