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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.



Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Don’t Know
Unions, Organized Labor?
Don’t Know

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Surely Not

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1890 3586 3
1920 5391 3
1930 5074 2
1970 8297 30
1990 9020 6 2
2000 9536 32 23 21 224 9
2010 9897 69 50 41

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence
  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


An Indiana lawyer recalls that there was a sign between Ft. Wayne and Bluffton, “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You In Bluffton.”

Emma Lou Thornbrough writes in her book _The Negro in Indiana_ (Indianapolis: IN Historical Bureau, 1957):
“In Wells County in the northern part of the state no Negroes settled for 20 years after the Civil War. In 1880 three %u2014 two barbers and a cook %u2014 ventured to come to Bluffton. All received written notices that they must leave, and the proprietor of the hotel who employed the cook, as well as the sheriff of the county, received warnings to get rid of the Negroes. In 1890 and 1900 there were only three Negroes in the county.” “A gravestone marked simply ‘Nigger Jim’ was the only evidence of a Negro being buried in the county.” (p. 227)

A resident of Bluffton emailed us: “My attorney in Bluffton told me recently the prosecutors office still deals regularly with what they call DWBs, Driving While Black. We have also had black friends from nearby Fort Wayne decline invitations to dinner, but willing to come to an afternoon BBQ.”

Bluffton has shown signs of acknowledging its past. On the Bluffton Wikipedia page it acknowledges its past of exclusive practices while introducing its new attempts to make a more inclusive community. In a 2006 issue of USA TODAY, Bluffton was highlighted for putting up inclusive welcome signs at the highway entrances and public school buildings.