Reclaiming African Heritage at Salem [Washington County], Indiana


Preserving a little-known slice of Hoosier and Midwestern history of the early nineteenth century, this well-researched book chronicles the development of racially segregated communities as increasing constraints were placed on minorities in Washington County, Indiana, where Salem is the seat of government. It is an excellent study of free African Americans from Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia who settled in this region. The author presents abundant genealogical, historical, and legal facts which highlight the founding of African American communities in Salem and nearby farmlands: their locations; names of initial members, taxpayers, and landowners; certificates of freedom; Negro Register; marriages; and burials.

The first chapter gives a summary of African and European history in early Indiana. Later chapters include discussions on the question of slavery existing in Washington County, the pioneer white Protestant churches with colored members, the establishment of two different African Methodist Episcopal churches and their assigned ministers, the education of colored children, and reports about local soldiers who served in the Union Army with U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War. Detailed family histories based upon research findings in several surrounding states and Canada include the Alexanders, Burketts, Christies, Cousins, Newbys, Parkers, Ropers, Scotts, and Whites. Most remarkable is the story of John Williams, the African blacksmith who amassed a sizable estate, which today continues to provide scholarship for the education of Indiana's colored youth. A critique of the country's Underground Railroad stories and a review of the reign of violence and intimidation by Indiana's secret societies after President Lincoln's election complete this unique publication on ante-bellum history.

A wealth of tables; charts; maps; miscellaneous documents; newspaper articles; an everyname index; and eight appendices, including U.S. census abstracts (1820-1860), make information readily accessible.

Coy D. Robbins

(1995, 2004), 2017, 8½x11, paper, index, 234 pp.

ISBN: 9780788403255