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Warrick County

African American rural settlements documented: 1

The African American population in Warrick County ballooned after the Civil War.  The 1870 federal census recorded the county’s black population as 487; the previous count was 19.  Although there were concerted efforts to drive African Americans from the county immediately after the war, the population continued to increase.  Newspaper accounts, as cited in Thornbrough, reported an instance of Anderson Township citizens pledging to pay an attorney to help prosecute any person who would harbor or hire blacks and a movement of returning Warrick County Union soldiers vowing to forcibly remove African Americans, who did not leave, willingly. 

Stephenson Station is the one known black, rural settlement in Warrick County. Most of the settlers, including Casey Jones, worked on farms or were farmers. Evidence suggests the settlement was located in Campbell Township, where farm laborers, William Jones, Naton Harris, Joseph Chesham, and farmers, John Butler, Burd Robinson, and Alfred Hunter resided. It is also possible that the settlement was located on the border between Campbell Township and Ohio Township, where a large African American population resided after the Civil War. The 1860 and 1870 Ohio Township censuses show a dramatic population increase going from 0 in 1860 to 235 in 1870. Campbell Township’s black population increased from 17 in 1860 to 44 in 1870.

Audrey Werle's analysis of the heads of households in 1870 indicates that there were a large number of black farmers throughout the county, but in particular they were in large number in Ohio Township. More research is necessary to determine whether or not an additional settlement existed in the area.

African Americans also came to Boon Township in large numbers, particularly around the county seat of Boonville, where the population went from 2 in 1860 to 159 in 1870.  Of these, Werle notes that nearly all were farmers or farm laborers; although they are much more spread out in the census data than in Ohio Township.  It is possible that other settlements existed there, and this may be a good subject for further research.

Bibliography

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. Ninth Census of the United States, 1870. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1872.

Thornbrough, Emma Lou. The Negro in Indiana before 1900: A Study of a Minority. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1993.

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

By William Gillispie, August 7, 2014