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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.

McHenry County


Basic Information

Type of Place
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Surely Not

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1890 20114 39
1910 33164 29
1920 33164 24
1930 35079 35
1950 50656 20
1970 11555 38
2000 260077 1523

Method of Exclusion

  • Realtors
  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black
  • Jewish


“A 1993 study of suburban Chicago, for example, demonstrated the tenacity of segregation. Only 423 African Americans were among the 183,000 denizens of McHenry County. In Kane County, according to Lowell Culver, nearly 92% of the 19,000 black residents lived in two communities, Aurora and Elgin. And although African Americans comprised more than 10% of the population of Will County, three out of every four African Americans in the county lived in either Joliet, Bolingbrook, or University Park. Similar conditions exist in the Washington DC suburbs … and elsewhere.”

“I do know that when the Klan had a rally out at the courthouse here back in the 1997, the hotbed area at that time was up toward Richmond and across the border in Genoa City, Wis. If that is rooted in history, I’m not sure. I do know that on June 24, 1924, 5,000 people attended an outdoor KKK ceremonial meeting on the William Dunker farm west of Marengo and 42 candidates were received into the order. And I know that in 1999 four teenagers were charged with burning a cross on the lawn of an inter-racial couple in Wonder Lake.” -Member of the McHenry County Historical Society

“There were three main reasons why next to no African-Americans lived in McHenry County into the 1980s. The first was that there were, because of pervasive racism in the county’s population, next to no job opportunities available to them. Secondly, because of “red lining” there was little in the way of opportunity for Blacks to find housing in the county. Relative to that, there was a deed restriction typical to most deeds throughout the county (as well as much of the rest of the United States) that property in McHenry County could not be sold to Blacks or Jews. That deed restriction was even a part of my warranty deed as late as 1971.” -Former Crystal Lake history teacher, email, Winter 2013

McHenry County, 2000?: 260,077 total pop., 1,523 bl. or 0.6%. Woodstock, 20,151, 214; Barrington Hills, 3915, 18; Harvard, 7996, 68