Home » Indiana » Greenfield

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
Don’t Know
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
1900 4489
1910 4448 88
1960 9049 5
1970 9,986 6
1980 11,439 7
1990 11,657 12
2000 14600 8

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence
  • Private Bad Behavior
  • Reputation
  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


Thomas Williams, “A Lynching at the Hancock County Fairgrounds” (Greenfield, IN: Coiny Publishing, 2002) relates:
“There was perhaps no more famous incident in Hancock County, Indiana history than a black lynching at the then Hancock County Fairgrounds in 1875…. Black was taken from Hancock County jail and hung from a fairgrounds building joist. The facts are well known. “What is much more difficult to assess is the effect of this incident on the people of Hancock County. Many point out that minority populations have been unwelcome in Hancock County ever since and the demographics show this.%u201D (p. 1)

William Kemmer, lynched June 27, 1875. Interestingly, Kemmer was captured in Rush County and was in the Rushville jail, “but threats of lynching having been freely indulged in, he was removed to the jail in Greenfield, the crime having been perpetrated within the confines of Hancock County. The people were in a state of wild excitement…” 160 men [apparently] from Rushville and Greenfield met and went to the jail and broke it open. He was hung at the fairgrounds and died of slow strangulation. (p. 2-7)
His body “was placed in a coffin at the undertaking establishment of Wills and Pratt, where he remained during the day, being visited by thousands of citizens and strangers.” [An early spectacle lynching, more or less, and shows the response of the town.] [The incident] “has tainted the reputation of Hancock County as being a hotbed of racism every since.” (p. 14-16)

According to a former resident of Hamilton County, in the mid 1970s he had heard that an interracial couple were “burned out of their home” receiving previous threats of racial slurs and swastikas prior to the fire. The couple was not home, therefore no one was injured, however the story was covered in the local news.