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Individuals Associated with Indiana’s African-American Settlements (1817-1930)

Submitted by Dawne Slater-Putt, CG

BACKGROUND: Beginning as early as 1817, Indiana saw an influx of African-American settlers from the southern United States. These groups of primarily free blacks formed communities in a number of Indiana counties, often settling near white Quakers who were tolerant of them as neighbors. Probably the largest numbers of African-Americans who settled in Indiana during the 19th century were from North Carolina, but Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee also contributed significantly to Indiana’s black population during this time.

The growth of black settlements was strongest from the 1830s through the 1870s. Residents established their own schools and churches, usually of the Baptist or African Methodist Episcopal denominations. Most of the early residents were farmers or blacksmiths, and some of the farmers accumulated significant amounts of land. African-American settlements across the state were not isolated; residents moved from one to another and interacted with individuals from other black communities. Most of the race-segregated agrarian communities had all but disappeared by 1920. After this time, descendants of the earliest settlers of Indiana’s African-American communities remained in the state, but had blended into the population as a whole.

This database is part of an ongoing larger study of Indiana’s African-American settlements from their earliest days through about 1930. This valuable information is being shared with the Indiana Genealogical Society and Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center. The database includes each person’s name, approximate year of birth, date of death if known, and the names of the townships and counties with which the individual was associated. Women are cross-referenced under their maiden names, if known. Names will continue to be added to this database, so please check back often for more information.

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