Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

February 19, 2014

Pat Smith: Conditions were bad in Greensburg

Several African Americans have been mentioned in the columns preceding this one.

Others included the Beard family on McKee Street and their relatives on South Franklin and North Carver.

George Guess worked for the gas company. He and wife Frances lived on East Washington Street. This would go on and on if every family was mentioned. For the most part the family names already mentioned would include siblings who also lived in town but in another household.

Several people remember Margaret Wilson, but she did not live here in 1907. She was born in the Kingston area in 1903 to Lavon Wilson, went to Kingston School and lived in that area until she was grown. She moved to Greensburg, became a member and was active in the First Baptist church and worked for several families in Greensburg. When she died in 1986 she was the last of the lifetime, or longtime, African American residents in Decatur County.

African American families that were listed in 1900 Washington Township census were, with few exceptions, still listed in the 1910 census. They had secure jobs and worked at jobs that many whites also worked at, they owned their homes at the same percentage that whites owned their homes; they did not all live in one area but their homes were scattered all over the city. They could attend school with white students. They graduated from high school and some went on to college. Deaths of older residents occurred during those 10 years and many young people left for better opportunities.

Both African American and white young people moved north to find better jobs. During this time several big businesses were destroyed by fire, others simply failed. One large business outgrew its home here and moved to Anderson. Statistics show that older African Americans stayed here but many younger ones left for the north where an abundance of jobs were available.

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