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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.

French Lick


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
Don’t Know
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
1980 2,265 175
2000 10,941 71 8 5 9

Method of Exclusion

  • Violent Expulsion

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


On 6/17/1902 the New York Times had an article entitled “Bitter Race War Threatened”:
“French Lick and West Baden Springs and the valley in which the two famous IN health resorts are located bid fair to furnish the next scene of IN lawlessness. Both places and the entire length of the valley are threatened with a race war more vicious and more bitter than any that has occurred in the State within the last ten or fifteen years. Already, reports from the two resorts state, whites have posted notices ordering the Negroes to make a hasty evacuation. The notices, tacked to trees and placed in conspicuous places about the grounds of the two prominent hotels, are adorned with skull and crossbone decorations, under which is written the ultimatum.” death threats, signed “White Cap.”

Orange County had 159 blacks, 1870; 149, 1880; 70, 1890, and 482 in 1930, so it looks as if the intimidation campaign was not complete, or perhaps did not extend through the whole county.

The Indianapolis Freeman, on 6/21/1902 wrote:
“This week we are informed that the Negroes are instructed to leave French Lick, IN.” “Two weeks ago it was Decatur, now we have trouble at French Lick, IN. The colored people have been warned to leave that place.”

Some members of the West Baden Historical Society provided this ‘loose’ or ‘hearsay’ information:
The southern Indiana communities that depended on black help regarded blacks differently than the ‘closed’ communities, usually strictly farming in economics.
French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs depended on many blacks to work in the two grand hotels. Near the WBHotel was the black persons’ hotel called ‘The Waddy’. When a professional baseball team was in residence doing ‘spring training’, they gave exhibition ballgames often playing the resident black men’s team (hotel workers), ‘The Black Diamonds’ who sometimes were the victors.