Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

January 29, 2014

Pat Smith: Pat's second in a series about Greensburg in 1907

(Continued)

Greensburg —

“It is unfortunate that Professor Loewen rarely demonstrates compassion like that found in Franklin’s work, and it is unfortunate that he has used his own interpretations of what happened in Greensburg in April 1907 to discredit the Greensburg of today and former Governor Daniels.

“It was Loewen who first used the term “mini-riot” to describe the 1907 incident and that term is certainly more accurate than “riot.” It was, in truth, a small affair. Certainly there was serious misbehavior by members of both races, but it did not lead to establishment of the identity of a “Sundown Town” for Greensburg at that time or at any other time in its history.”

That completes Dr. Davis’ remarks.

Some information about the African American community before the 1907 incident: According to the 1900 census of Decatur County, there were 25 households of African American families living in Washington Township. The total number of African American residents was 110, and that number included those boarding in households. Four people were listed as boarders in the household of Samuel McGee and two were listed as boarders in the Thomas Gaines household.

Seventy-seven of those 110 residents could read and write or were listed as attending school. Eleven of the adults of the 110 could read but could not write. There were 19 children under school age. Thirteen of the 25 heads of households owned their own homes. There were six African American graduates of Greensburg High School before the turn of the century. Only nine African-Americans graduated from Indiana colleges before 1900s.

At one time a school for “children of color” was open in rooms over the First National Bank in Greensburg, but it was not a successful project. A petition was circulated nearly half a century before the event of 1907 that African American children could attend school with the white children. The petition was written and circulated by the African American, residents but signed by residents of both races.

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