Home » Illinois » Elco

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?
Strongly Democratic
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Don’t Know

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence
  • Violence Towards Newcomers

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


Just above the “dead line” in Alexander County.
Too small to show in census.
From Cairo Bulletin, February March 1924. In
Elco, Illinois, where African Americans were not
permitted to live, a plantation owner (Israel Cauble)
hired black farm hands from the South. Local
people got angry and started terrorist attacks
(shooting, arson, and dynamiting) on his property.
“D. James of near Elco, was in the city [Cairo]
yesterday. He owns 400 acres of good land near
Elco, a large part of which is good cotton land, but
much as he would like to raise cotton, he finds it
inadvisable to attempt to do so, because of the
strong feeling in the neighborhood against
Negroes. So he has put it in sheep pasture and
“Mr. James says the large majority of the
people of Elco and vicinity are opposed to
permitting Negroes to settle north of the Mobile &
Ohio switch track. This has been a settled feeling
for years, and it has always been respected until
Israel Caubel settled a family of Negroes on his land
which lies on the other side of the track…. [This]
aroused much feeling among the anti-Negro
element, which found violent expression in the two
attempts made recently to drive the Negroes off
Caubel’s place, the first with shotguns and the
second with dynamite.
“Undismayed by this state of things, Mr.
Caubel has repaired the house damaged by
dynamite and the Negroes are still occupying it. He
has also had more houses erected in which he
purposes, it is said, to place Negro families, his
desire being to put all of this land in cotton….
“…Mr. James said he felt sure that the feeling
against Mr. Caubel’s move was so general and so
strong in the neighborhood that the situation was
tense; and if another attempt is made to run the
Negroes off the Caubel place it will mean that
somebody will be killed.
“Mr. James admitted, in reply to questions,
that cotton raising on any large scale would be out
of the question without Negro labor, as white men
did not know enough about how to handle a crop,
and would not do the work at reasonable wages…
Mr. James had no word of criticism against the
anti-Negro element but seemed inclined to
sympathize with them to a certain extent, on the
ground that, taken as a whole, too many Negroes
would steal, and were otherwise undesirable
neighbors, although admitting that there were
many good people among them.” — —, “An Elco
Man Says Feeling Is Strong Against Negroes,” Cairo
Bulletin, 2/19/1924, p. 1.
“Attempt is made to dynamite Cauble Home.”
“Improvised bomb placed at corner of house in
center of Elco but fuse is seen burning by man
passing and extinguished.”
County commissioners offered a reward of
$300 for arrest and conviction of those responsible.
“The charge of dynamite it was said was sufficient
to wreck the home and probably damage the
nearby buildings.” “The act was the fourth attempt
made to destroy the property if Israel Cauble in the
last few weeks, only one of which was entirely
successful. The trouble started when Cauble hired
a number of Negroes from the South to plant
cotton on his land and installed them in a large
tenant house on his farm….
“A mob surrounded the house one night and
ordered the Negroes to go. They retreated further
into the house, and members of the mob fired upon
them, wounding one of the Negroes in the arm.”
Several nights later, whites burned down a
tenant house on the property that had been vacated
by a white family and “was to be occupied by
“A short time afterwards, a dynamite bomb
was hurled from the gravel road toward the house
where the Negroes had been fired upon, but it fell
short of its intended mark and exploded in front of
the house, tearing away a large part of the porch,
breaking all the windows, and tearing a great hole
in the ground.
“While up to Saturday night, the attempts at
murder and arson have been directed against
tenant houses, the most recent crime in which the
life of Mrs. Cauble was endangered, aroused the ire
of the citizens of the community.” — —, “Attempt
is made to dynamite Cauble Home,” Cairo Bulletin,
3/4/1924, p. 1.

“A Brief History of the Body of Christ In the
Twentieth Century
The Ministry of William Sowders
William Sowders, an early Pentecostal leader in the
Midwest, is acknowledged as the founder of the
Gospel of the Kingdom or Gospel Assembly
Churches movement.
In 1923, Brother Sowders conducted his first
camp meeting on Elco Hill, at Elco, Illinois….
Camp meetings continued at Elco, Illinois, but
the local citizens were upset because Brother
Sowders allowed people of all races to attend these
meetings. In 1935, [moved to KY.]– Many consider
“the Body of Christ,” more frequently known as
Gospel Assembly Churches, to be a cult. It peaked
at 75,000 before Sowders died in 1952 and it
splintered. This website in Des Moines is at what
seems to be the central church. It is not really an
organized denomination but an association of
churches. — dmgospelassembly.org/church/
aboutus2.html, 12/2003.