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Spencer County

African American rural settlements documented: 1

The African American population enumeration in Spencer County rose from 2 in 1860 to 949 people in the 1870 federal decennial census.

U.S. Census Numbers for Spencer County, 1820-1870

Census Year
1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870
No. of African Americans
2 14 27 14 2 949

 

Though most of the blacks who came to Spencer County after the Civil War settled in eight of the ten townships, the majority of them (over 650) located in Ohio Township, south of Rockport, the county seat.  They were in a settlement sometimes known as Africa.  On an 1879 Spencer County atlas (B. N. Griffing), there is a black school located in the in this township.  The settlement was in the lowlands.  The Ohio River still floods in the area.  Historically, houses were built on stilts and the soil was very sandy. 

The 1870 census enumerated over 100 blacks in both Hammond and Luce Townships. Additional research needs to be done to determine if there were rural settlements in these areas. 

Sandale Cemetery is a black cemetery located at the present intersection of Highway 66 and Highway 161.  This is an area that needs more research as little is known about its origins or the reason for its location.  

Bibliography

Griffing, B.N. An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Spencer County, Indiana from Actual Surveys under the Direction of B.N. Griffing. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: D.J. Lake & Co., 1879. 

U.S. Bureau of the Census. “Aggregate Amount of Each Description of Persons within District of Indiana,” 1: 352. Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Office, 1841.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population of Civil Divisions Less Than Counties; Table III State of Indiana,” 1:124 Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Office, 1852

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population of Civil Divisions Less Than Counties; Table III State of Indiana,” 1:124 Eighth Census of the United States, 1860.  Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Office, 1862

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 Lishawna Taylor, July 25, 2014