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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.

Hancock County


Basic Information

Type of Place
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?
Don’t Know

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1860 12,793 93
1870 54
1880 101
1890 17,829 92
1900 19,189 114
1910 19,030 125
1920 17,210 47
1930 16,605 28
1950 20,332 40
1960 26,665 41
1980 43,939 43
1990 45,173 44 9
2000 55,391 74

Method of Exclusion

  • Violent Expulsion
  • Threat of Violence
  • Violence Towards Newcomers
  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


Thomas Williams, “A Lynching at the Hancock County
Fairgrounds” (Greenfield, IN: Coiny Publishing, 2002)
“There was perhaps no more famous incident in
Hancock County, Indiana history than a black lynching
at the then Hancock County Fairgrounds in 1875….” A
black man 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)
Hancock County: 104 in 1850, 93 in 1860, 54 in
1870; 101 in 1880; 92 in 1890. 114 in 1900. 125 in
1910. 47 in 1920. 28 in 1930. 40 in 1950; 41 in
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)