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Wabash County

African American rural settlements documented: 0

While no black settlements were found in Wabash County, there were African Americans in the county during the antebellum period.  After Wabash became a county in 1838, the federal decennial censuses recorded the following blacks: 10 in 1840; 14 in 1850; 33 in 1860; and 84 in 1870.  The following individuals and/or their families were recorded on the 1840 census: Samuel Tidus, William Henry, and William Gordon. In the 1850 census most blacks lived in Chester and Noble Townships. By 1870, Audrey Werle’s indexing of the federal census indicates that people of color were scattered throughout the county.

While the existence of a rural African American settlement does not seem likely by 1870, there are many well documented instances of Underground Railroad activity in the county.

There is a limited source of records (including a newspaper record without a date) for an African Methodist Episcopal church formed in 1873 and located on E. Sinclair Street.  It was razed during the 1960s.  On February 8, 1868 the Wabash Plain Dealer reported: “Rev. Miles and Richard Bassat (Bassett), colored preachers, preached at the Friends Church at 47 W. Market St. with the design of organizing a church in Wabash for colored fold.” Current Wabash County Historian Ron Woodward indicated me that before the construction of its building, the congregation met in several churches around town, particularly Christian, Baptist and Presbyterian.”   An article in the same newspaper (June 22, 1869) stated that, “Colored folk of Wabash, Peru, Logansport, and Kokomo had a grand picnic at Kellers Station. Music furnished bay [sic.] Joe Roberts Stringed band.” A photo of this can be found in, Life in Wabash County 1865-1869


Green, Alice P. History of White's Indiana Manual Labor Institute. Muncie, Indiana: Scott Print, 1929.

Helm, Thomas B. History of Wabash County, Indiana: Containing a History of the County, Its Townships, Towns, Military Record, Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men, Personal Reminiscences, etc. Chicago: John Morris, printer, 1884.

O’Hair, Mary. Slavery, the Underground Railroad Movement and Some History as Related to Wabash County, IN. Wabash, Indiana: Wabash County Historical Society, 1964. 

O'Hair, Mary C. Original Plat of Town of Lagro, Indiana: Early History and Land Entries ... ; Assessments and List of Taxables [1836-] 1840 Lagro Township, Wabash County, Indiana. Wabash, Indiana: Wabash County Historical Society, 1971.

Paul, Hosea. Atlas of Wabash County, Indiana. Philadelphia, Pa.: H. Paul & Co, 1875.

Record of Interments, Falls Cemetery: Wabash Cemetery Society, Wabash, Indiana, 1838-1971. Fort Wayne, Indiana: Fort Wayne Public Library, 1970.

Underground Railroad Research in Select Indiana Counties. Indianapolis, Ind.: Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, 2003. 

U.S. Census, 1860: Population Schedules of the Eighth Census of the United States. Accessed June 17, 2014.

Wabash Monthly Meeting History. Wabash, Indiana: no publisher, 1900.  

Weesner, Clarkson W. History of Wabash County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People and Its Principal Interests. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 2008.

Woodward, Ronald L. comp. 1840 Census of Wabash County, Indiana: Compiled from U.S. Government Census Records. Wabash, Indiana: Wabash Carnegie Public Library, 1980. 

Woodward, Ronald and Helen Bruss and Linda Robertson comp. 1850 Census of Wabash County, Indiana: Abstracted from U.S. Government Census Records. Wabash, Indiana: Wabash Carnegie Public Library, 1982. 

Woodward, Ronald L. comp. 1870 Census of Wabash County, Indiana: Compiled from U.S. Government Census Records. 2 vols. Wabash, Indiana: Wabash Carnegie Public Library, 1978.

Woodward, Ronald, Newton Fowler, and Elijah Hackleman. Life in Wabash County, 1865-1869: Annotated Diaries of Newton Fowler and Elijah Hackleman. Wabash, Ind.: Reading Room Books, 2007.

Woodward, Ronald. Patron's Directory to the Atlas of Wabash County, Indiana. Wabash, Ind: Wabash Carnegie Public Library, 1978. (Published by Hosea Paul, 1875.)

Woodward, Ronald L.  Wabash County Encyclopedia.  Unpublished Manuscript, 2014. 

By Andrea Sowle, June 19, 2014