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Perry County

African American rural settlements documented: 0

In the 1870 census, the only substantial population of African Americans in Perry County was in urban Troy Township where there were 112 people in the 1870 census. There was also a small population of 27 reported in Tobin Township. There is not evidence to suggest this was a rural community.  The five decennial censuses prior to 1870 registered 15 or less African Americans in the county.

Using the Audrey Werle 1870 Head of Household census finds no African American farmers owning land in the county. According to this source, most of the African Americans in the county were laborers or worked in the towns. In fact, there was only one African American, John Williams, who owned real estate. It was worth $300, and he was a farm laborer.

The Perry County plat books do not include African American churches or schools outside of the cities and towns. Michael F. Rutherford’s “The Colored School at Cannelton, Indiana” examines a school in Cannelton, Troy Township, erected between 1870 and 1890 for the six black families in the city. The school was used on and off by the black families in the city until 1913, when only one family remained. It was then used by the white school, as enrollment warranted. It was razed during the 1930s.  


Rutherford, Michael F. "The Colored School at Cannelton, Indiana,"   Lest We Forget: about Rural Schools of Perry County. [Ind.]: Perry County Retired Teachers' Associated, 1995.

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,” M792.  William Henry Smith Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana.

By Lishawna Taylor, July 19, 2014