Home » Ohio » Celina

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?
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1920 4226 0
1940 4841 0
1960 7659 0
1970 7779 0
1990 9650 6
2000 10,303 19
2010 10400 50

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence
  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • German Protestant
  • German Catholic

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


A local teacher claims that one of his students in an advanced placement government class found out “that we were indeed a ‘sundown town’….regarding the ‘sundown town,’ I really believe that we qualify, even though I’m not very proud of it. I asked a few older people yesterday and they couldn’t verify it. Another person told me that there was indeed a sign but that it was put up by a private (racist) individual and that it certainly wasn’t supported by any city or county official or government …..interestingly though, it was up for a long time.
Finally, our community was segragated until fairly recently, and the klan ‘rode hard’ around here in the 20s.”

The student confirms: “[My teacher] talked to us about the book you are writing and how you were looking for proof that Celina was a sundown town. I asked my grandpa…about the sign, and he said that he remembered it.”

Testimony of another Celina resident: “I live in a heavily German county in Western Ohio (the German belt runs along the Indiana/Ohio border from Cincinnatti to Van Wert County to the north of me). After the Civil War, some Southerners that had been slave owners who owned lands in this area, offered that property to some of their former slaves who sought new beginnings in the North. They got to Cincinnati, then took a canal boat on the Miami & Erie Canal to a town (St. Marys) the next county over (Auglaize). They were met by German farmers with guns and told in no uncertain terms to stay on the boat and head back to Cincinnati. Our local paper did an article on this some years ago.
The KKK was also very big in parts of Ohio and most of Indiana (as well as central and southern Illinois) in the 1920s and during this time many of the small towns were well known as being white only and with blacks not being allowed to stay overnight. I would have to do some digging in the local history room of the library but I seem to recall that our town (Celina) was one such town back then.
Even today there are very few blacks in Mercer and Auglaize counties because of what happened so long ago. Other rural Ohio counties are similar.”

* There are no black families in 1990.

A former resident said: “My hometown was a “sundown town” because when I was a child, it was common knowledge that “colored people” were not permitted to remain in town after sundown. This was due to a very old ordinance dating back to the aftermath of the War Between the States. They were not permitted to rent rooms or homes or be given any lodging in town. My great grandfather served as Chief of Police in Celina, and as Fire Chief other times.”

A resident of Ohio emailed us, “While attending Celina Insurance Group’s Auto Damage Appraisal School in December 1983, we stayed in company housing right across the street from the company. Four of us, including one black adjuster, went out for dinner one evening in another town. We returned to Celina with the intention of going to the movie in the theater in town after dark. The black adjuster refused to go with us saying it wasn’t safe for him to be on the streets at night and returned to our quarters. I had heard this rumor before. Blacks were welcome to come into town during the day and also fish along the banks of Grand Lake St. Marys, but were pressured to be out of town by sundown”.