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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.

Gas City

Indiana

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

Confirmed Sundown Town?
Surely
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Sign?
Yes, Strong Oral Tradition
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900 3622
1910 3224 1
1920 2870 2
1930 3087 0
1940
1950 3787 1
1960
1970 5742 0
1980
1990 6296 7
2000 5940 18 13 19 90 3
2010
2020

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black

Comments

email 1/2008

I grew up in Gas City, graduated from Mississinewa High School in 1989. The day I decided that I would leave this town forever and never come back, I saw 4 African American kids driving from I-69 into Gas City, probably to turn onto Garthwaite Blvd to return to Marion. A bunch of guys in a pick up truck, some in the cab, and the 5 in the back were all wielding baseball bats chasing the car out of town. I was 16. I drove to the police station to try and stop what was going on, and the cop on duty told me not to worry about it. It was about 1987 when this happened.

I do remember a time when a black family tried moving into Gas City.I was about 14 years old (1984) and the people selling the house wouldn’t sell to them. I think they even took a lower amount to sell to a white family. My dad was a fireman and I remember him coming home and talking about it with me and telling me not to live my life this way.

***

A former Gas City resident recalls that in the late 1950s, a black maid who worked in Gas City had to be out by sundown, and she went home to Marion.

A teacher from Marion High School writes “To my knowledge Huntington, Indiana in Huntington County and Gas City in Grant County, Indiana were ‘sundown towns.'”

A World War II veteran from Gas City recalled that “They used to have an iron bridge on the state highway going to Gas City, over the Mississinewa River. ‘Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Back In Gas City.’ That was in the late ’30s or early ’40s. The bridge was gone when I came back [from WWII].” He also heard that Sweetser and Swayzee were sundown towns, whereas Weaver was a former black community just south of Marion dating to just after the Civil War. Meanwhile, he thinks that Mexicans have an easier time moving into Swayzee and working for canning factories and vegetable farms that supply them. He says, “They had ’em in camps, but as they moved away from their master, you might say, some of them would go back to Mexico, but you had a few stragglers who stayed in the towns.” %u2014 specifically Swayzee. As a seven year old, he saw the Marion lynching crowd. “They [whites in Marion] don’t talk about it much anymore.” “They cut all the trees down,” [from which it was done] around the courthouse, recently, owing to starlings.