Home » Illinois » Homer

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?
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?

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1870 767
1880 924
1890 917
1900 1080
1910 1086
1920 978
1930 918
1940 983
1950 1030 0
1970 1354 0
1980 1279 0
1990 1264 1
2000 1200 1186 1

Method of Exclusion

Main Ethnic Group(s)

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


According to a long-time resident, “Homer had a vibrant African American community until about 1928 when Roy Gillespie moved his family to Urbana because of economic opportunity.” If one family’s move could end “a vibrant community,” then perhaps Homer was a sundown town. However, this same resident asserts forcefully: “The Gillespies have nothing but good memories of Homer and regretted moving because of the acceptance they found in the town.”

On the other hand, well-known is an incident often called a murder of an African American by a white antagonist in Homer on a date variously said to be in the late 1970s to the early 1990s. The above long-time resident calls it a “tragic accident” but others describe an encounter that seems a deliberate homicide. More research is needed.

Also needed: assessment of the “manuscript census” for 1860-1940 to ascertain the black population in those decades.