Home » Indiana » Linton

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Linton

Indiana

Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Don’t Know
Unions, Organized Labor?
Strong

Sundown Town Status

Confirmed Sundown Town?
Probable
Was there an ordinance?
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Sign?
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
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
1910
1920 5856 0
1930 5085 0
1940
1950 5973 0
1960 5736 0
1970 5450 2
1980 6315 0
1990 5814 1
2000 5774 5 14 14 74 0
2010 5413 3
2020

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence
  • Private Bad Behavior
  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black

Comments

Former Linton residents write that they believe all of Greene County is sundown. One remembers that a black family tried to move in to the county, was burned out, in the late 1940s. “No one black would ever dare live in Linton.”

Emma Lou Thornbrough, in her book _The Negro in Indiana_ (Indianapolis: IN Historical Bureau, 1957) writes, “In the little town of Linton in Greene County all Negroes were barred after a coal company attempted to use Negro strikebreakers.” (p. 226-27).

Another recalls, %u201CWhen I was a student at Indiana State University in the late 1960s, one of the professors had a “sundown sign” he claimed he had taken from Linton, Indiana, during that decade. Linton was famous at the time for its opposition to black visitors. When a Navy weapons base (Crane Naval Depot) employing many black servicemen was set up near Linton, the city turned its swimming pool over to a private corporation, which could then (1960s) segregate the pool legally.

An amusing story about Linton: I covered politics for a Terre Haute newspaper in the 1968 election. One of the candidates for congress was a black man who ran on a Marxist ticket (Peace and Freedom Party), and got a huge number of votes in Linton. I inquired into local people why he had gotten so many votes, and discovered he had the same name as a former mayor so many residents, I guess, misidentified him as the former mayor.%u201D

Another nearby resident recalls that “Linton, IN had one of those signs up “until recently.”

A former Linton resident writes:
%u201CMy father claims that he heard his dad and some others talking when about bus stations when he was a child. Apparently, there was a stopover or changeover and if the next bus didn’t leave by sundown, the residents would tell the African Americans to get out anyway. They may have been walked out of town. According to my dad, this had something to do with the common practice of bringing in foreign or black strike breakers when the coal miners were trying to unionize. The coal mines in southern Indiana are dead now, but they used to be very strong. This was a common practice used by companies to break strikes, so there’s probably something to that.

My cousin remembers that the mayor of Linton refused work to a water sewer firm out of Vincennes because one of the crew workers were black. The mayor said to get him out or all of them had to get out. This was in the early 60’s. However, my cousin asked that due attention be paid to the fact that most of the people in the town did not agree with these actions.

My father is 60 and he’s from Linton, IN. He’s told me, without me ever asking, that he remembers black people being escorted out of town at dusk. He was a child so it would have been in the late 40’s or early 50’s. Linton is an interesting study in labor history as well, since there were so many strip mines in Southern Indiana.

In the Greene County Historical Society%u2019s book, %u201CGreene County Indiana 1885-1984%u201D (Dallas: Taylor, 1990) can be found:
“Greene County had never attracted a substantial number of ‘colored’ people, but there were a few families in Bloomfield, Worthington, Washington and Highland Townships, where they were generally accepted by their immediate neighbors and in the school systems. In the mining communities, where a crew had once been imported as strike breakers, ‘the sun could not set on them.'” (p. 11) [No doubt Bloomfield Township includes the town of Bloomfield, but the town of Bloomfield had 0 blacks in 1930, 3 in 1970, and 1 in 1990. Hardly “a few families.”]

This writing correlates with not only what my father said, but also with one of Linton’s former mayors who recalled an incident from when he was a child at the state fair. He spoke to a black man who was working there, and when the man found out that he lived in Linton he replied “you don’t allow black folks there.” The boy%u2019s father said that it was true.

The 2010 census lists only three “black” residents in Linton but 18 mixed “black and other race.”

An anonymous email stated that “as late as 1998 some residents refused to purchase meat at a local grocery store because a black man worked as a butcher there” and that the Manager was told that if he would move him to another job, many customers would again purchase meat at the store. The Manager did not force the man to leave, instead the black man decided to leave after two years and relocated to another state.

Upon creating a separate paragraph in Linton’s Wikipedia page entitled, “Critical History,” that discussed the past of exclusion and racist practices all of the facts and data behind this claim were taken off the website by another user. This shows the continued denial of facts by the community.