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Weaver Settlement

Location: 2600 W 600 S, Marion (Grant County), Indiana 46953

Installed 2020 Indiana Historical Bureau, Weaver Historical Marker Committee, Prince Hall Masons, Order of the Eastern Star, and Friends and Family of Weaver Settlement

ID#: 27.2020.1 

Text

Weaver Settlement

Side One

Black pioneers, fleeing threats to their freedom in southern slave states, settled in Grant County by the 1840s.  With other free and formerly enslaved families who arrived over the following decades,  they cleared and drained the forested, swampy land to establish productive farms. The self-sustaining community called Weaver Settlement grew to over 3000 acres by 1860.


Side Two

Weaver men served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War  and held local political power by 1870.  The settlement included schools,  churches,  stores,  a horseracing track,  and home for the elderly funded by Masons.  While some left for job opportunities, Weaver prospered into the 1930s.  Pettiford-Weaver descendants have reunited annually for over 100 years.

Annotated Text

Weaver Settlement

Side One

Black pioneers, fleeing threats to their freedom in southern slave states, settled in Grant County by the 1840s.[1] With other free and formerly enslaved families who arrived over the following decades,[2] they cleared and drained the forested, swampy land to establish productive farms.[3] The self-sustaining community called Weaver Settlement grew to over 3000 acres by 1860. [4]

Side Two

Weaver men served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War[5] and held local political power by 1870.[6] The settlement included schools,[7] churches,[8] stores,[9] a horseracing track,[10] and home for the elderly funded by Masons.[11] While some left for job opportunities, Weaver prospered into the 1930s.[12] Pettiford-Weaver descendants have reunited annually for over 100 years.[13]


[1] Aaron Betts, State Volume Patent, Issued May 1, 1849, Grant County, Indiana, Accession Nr: IN3710_.315, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; Aaron Betts, State Volume Patent, Issued January 1, 1850, Grant County, Indiana, Accession Nr: IN3730_.048, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; 1850 United States Census (Schedule 1), Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana, August 12-20, 1850, Roll: 147; Pages: 168B-178A, accessed Ancestry.com; Asenath Peters Artis, “The Negro in Grant County,” 1909, in Centennial History of Grant County, 1812-1912, edited by Ronald L. Whitson (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1914), 348-57, accessed Archive.org.

Grant County educator Asenath Peters Artis was the daughter of Bejamin H. Peters and Mary J. (Stewart) Peters, who settled in Liberty Township in 1872. She painstakingly recorded the history of African American settlement and the development in Weaver through her own lived experience combined with the passed down knowledge of her family and the community of which she was a prominent member. Artis wrote in 1909: “Early in the 40’s, when the land of Indiana belonged to the government, it was sold to the pioneers settlers for $1.25 per acre. About this time a white man by the name of Aaron Betts of Ohio, who was a great friend of the colored people came to Grant county with some colored families and interested himself in their behalf and assisted them in entering land in and around what is now known as Weaver . . . Among the early settlers were Billy Clark, Robert Smith, Robert Brazelton, Robert Brown and John Wright.” Land patents and census records confirm her much of her account.

Land sales from the U.S. government show that Aaron Betts purchased several hundred acres of Grant County land starting in 1849. The 1850 census reported twenty-one individuals in Liberty Township, listed as “Black” or “Mulatto,” and several others in Mills, including Robert Smith. The 1850 census also lists many names not included by Artis. Thus, the settlement may have been larger than previously estimated.

[2] 1860 United States Census (Schedule 1), Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana, June 18, 1860, Pages: 278-317; Family History Library Film: 803261, accessed Ancestry.com; 1860 Map of Grant County (Wm. Neal & A. C. Overman, circa 1861-1869), Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, accessed https://lccn.loc.gov/2013593183; 1870 United States Census (Schedule 1), Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana, June 26, 1870, Roll: M593_317; Pages: 109A-132B; Family History Library Film: 545816, accessed Ancestry.com; Combination Atlas Map of Grant County, Indiana (Chicago: Kingman Brothers, 1877), accessed AncestryLibrary.com; Peters Artis, 348-57.

[3] “Sale of Swamp Lands,” Advertisement, Daily State Sentinel, July 16, 1853, 1, Hoosier State Chronicles; 1860 United States Census (Schedule 1), Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana, June 18, 1860, Pages: 278-317; Family History Library Film: 803261, accessed Ancestry.com; 1860 Map of Grant County (Wm. Neal & A. C. Overman, circa 1861-1869), Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, accessed https://lccn.loc.gov/2013593183; 1870 United States Census (Schedule 1), Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana, June 26, 1870, Roll: M593_317; Pages: 109A-132B; Combination Atlas Map of Grant County, Indiana (Chicago: Kingman Brothers, 1877), accessed AncestryLibrary.com; Peters Artis, 351.

[4] 1860 United States Census (Schedule 1), Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana, June 18, 1860, Pages: 278-317; Family History Library Film: 803261, accessed Ancestry.com; 1860 Map of Grant County (Wm. Neal & A. C. Overman, circa 1861-1869), Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, accessed https://lccn.loc.gov/2013593183; “Weaver, Ind.,” Indianapolis Recorder, August 12, 1905, 1, Hoosier State Chronicles; Peters Artis, 348-350.

[5]Peters Artis, 353; “Colored People Protest Change of Home Status,” Marion Daily Chronicle, August 25, 1920, 4, submitted by applicant, copy in IHB marker files; 1890 Veteran Registry, submitted by applicant, copy in IHB marker file; Cemetery Record of Deceased Veterans, submitted by applicant, copy in IHB marker file; Sheila D. Watson, “Weaver Cemetery,” (list of stones and inscriptions), created 1995, published on USGenWebArchives 1997, submitted by applicant, copy in IHB marker files; Image of Gravestone, in Jonathan Bethley, “Gulliford’s Tale Is One Too Soon Forgotten,” (Marion) Chronicle-Tribune, February 1, 2004, A2, submitted by applicant, copy in IHB marker file; “Thomas C. W. Gulliford,” Photograph of Grave, accessed Find-A-Grave;

[6] “The Very Latest News,” Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, May 7, 1864, 2, Newspapers.com; “Peru News,” Indianapolis Leader, January 17, 1880, 2, Newspapers.com; “Every Colored Man Should Read,” Indianapolis Leader, January 24, 1880, 2, Newspapers.com; “Senator Spooner at Marion,” Indianapolis Journal, October 29, 1888, 1, Newspapers.com; “State Enumeration for Legislative and Congressional Apportionment – 1889,” Indianapolis Journal, October 3, 1889,3, Hoosier State Chronicles; “Weaver, Ind.,” Indianapolis Recorder, August 12, 1905, 1, Hoosier State Chronicles; Peters Artis, 355.

Weaver residents held the office of Township Trustee even before the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, according to a Fort Wayne newspaper. According to the Indianapolis Leader in 1880, they also held positions such as “deputies, jurors, bailiffs and the like.” Other offices held included Justice of the Peace, School Director, Road Supervisor, and constable according to Peters Artis.

[7] 1870 United States Census (Schedule 1), Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana, June 26, 1870, Roll: M593_317; Pages: 109A-132B; Combination Atlas Map of Grant County, Indiana (Chicago: Kingman Brothers, 1877), accessed AncestryLibrary.com; “Weaver Notes,” Indianapolis Recorder, September 23, 1899, 1, Hoosier State Chronicles; Peter Artis, 351-52, 355; Recollection of  Dolores Bettes, “Education: Instilled Values,” in Barbara J. Stevenson, ed., An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2000), 69-71;  Recollection of Margaret Ross, “Literacy of Weaver: Entwined with Development,” in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County, 87-92.

[8] 1860 Map of Grant County (Wm. Neal & A. C. Overman, circa 1861-1869), Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, accessed https://lccn.loc.gov/2013593183; Combination Atlas Map of Grant County, Indiana (Chicago: Kingman Brothers, 1877), accessed AncestryLibrary.com; Peters Artis, 350; “African Methodists,” Indianapolis Journal, August 28, 1890, 2, Newspapers.com; “African Methodists,” Muncie Daily Times, September 3, 1890, 1, Newspapers.com; “Weaver,” Indianapolis Recorder, January 14, 1899, 1, Hoosier State Chronicles; “Weaver,” Indianapolis Recorder, February 18, 1899, 1, Hoosier State Chronicles; “Weaver Notes,” Indianapolis Recorder, July 1, 1899, 1, Hoosier State Chronicles; “Weaver Pickups,” Indianapolis Recorder, March 24, 1900, 2, Hoosier State Chronicles; “Marion Flashes,” Indianapolis Recorder, June 15, 1901, 5, Hoosier State Chronicles; “Marion, Ind.,” Indianapolis Recorder, February 21, 1903, 3, Hoosier State Chronicles; Recollection of Asenath Peters, “The A.M.E. Church,” in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County, 31-33; Recollection of Delores Betts, “A Family Affair,” in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County, 33-34; Recollection of Charlotte Fenstermaker, in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County, 34-35; Recollection of Verlie Stewart, “ No Whites,” in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County,37-38.

According to Peters Artis, residents built the African Methodist Episcopal Church Hill’s Chapel in 1849, the Baptist church circa 1854-55, and the Wesleyan Methodist Church in the 1870s. Hill’s Chapel hosted an annual “camp meeting,” which was one part religious revival and one part carnival celebrations. Black and white Grant County residents attended this camp meeting, according to Peters Artis. According to the Indianapolis Recorder in 1899, Black and white residents also attended regular Sunday services at Hill’s Chapel, though residents later recollections agree that Hill’s Chapel was only attended by Black residents. In 1900, the Hill’s Chapel congregation built a parsonage. The community also supported a Sunday school for children.

[9] “Weaver Notes,” Indianapolis Recorder, July 1, 1899, 1, Hoosier State Chronicles; Peters Artist, 355; “Weaver Pickups,” Indianapolis Recorder, April 7, 1900, 2, Hoosier State Chronicles; Recollection of Charlotte Fenstermaker, “On A Farm South of Weaver to Radley,” in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County, 18; Recollection of Sarah Pate, “From Weaver to Marion, in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County, 27-28; Recollection of Joseph Casey, “African Americans Contribute,” in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County, 60-62; Recollection of Matthew Black in (Marion) Chronicle Tribune, January 26, 1990, submitted by applicant.

Weaver settlement included a shoe cobbler, blacksmith, barbershop, several grocery stores, and a drug store, according to newspapers and recollections.

[10] Recollection of Don McFarland, “Johnstown,” in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County, 23; Recollection of Sarah Weaver Pate, “Church Is The Center,” in An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County, 116-19; Recollection of Matthew Black in (Marion) Chronicle Tribune, January 26, 1990, submitted by applicant.

[11] Peters Artis, 356-57; “Harry E. Jones and Isabel Jones to Telles B. Carter, Marcus Herring and Peter F. Hamilton, Trustees of The Most Worshipful Grant Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons (Colored) of Indiana and George W. Strong, Rhoda K. Jones and Jacob M. Porter, Trustees of Grand Chapter order of Eastern Star (Colored) of Indiana, Deed, October 22, 1921, Grant County, Indiana, copy submitted by applicant and accessible via IHB marker file; Joseph R. Chochran for Lincoln Land Title Inc. to Stephen Johnson, January 6, 1982, submitted by applicant and accessible via IHB marker file; “To Dedicate New Home in This County,” Marion Leader-Tribune, June 27, 1923, 10, submitted by applicant; “To Dedicate New Home in This County,” Marion Leader-Tribune, June 27, 1923, 10, submitted by applicant; “Hall of Fame,” Indianapolis Recorder, May 28, 1932, 3, Hoosier State Chronicle; “Masonic Leader Cites Way to Beat Communism,” Indianapolis Recorder, August 19, 1950, 9, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles; “Masonic O.E.S. Home,” photograph of arch in front of home in Robert McDonough, “Forum: The Readers Corner,” Indianapolis Star, December 6, 1981, 259, Newspapers.com; “Willa Hyde Nurses Group to Host Meeting Oct. 21,” Indianapolis Recorder, October 7, 1989, 7, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

[12] Peters Artis, 354-55; 1900 United States Census, Center Township, Grant County, Indiana, Enumeration District: 0031; FHL microfilm: 1240373, accessed Ancestry.com; “Marion, Indiana,” Freeman, August 9, 1913, n.p., transcription, Marion Public Library, Submitted by Applicant;   1920 United States Census, Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana, January 2-3, 1920, Roll: T625_434; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 70, accessed Ancestry.com; 1930 United States Census, Liberty Township, Grant County, Indiana, April 21, 1930, Enumeration District: 0028; FHL microfilm: 2340324, accessed Ancestry.com; Recollection of Matthew Black in (Marion) Chronicle Tribune, January 26, 1990, submitted by applicant.

[13] Margaret F. Gulliford, “Marion, Ind.,” Indianapolis Recorder, June 14, 1913, 6, Hoosier State Chronicles; Margaret F. Gulliford, “Marion,” Indianapolis Recorder, July 5, 1913, 6,  Hoosier State Chronicles; “Annual Reunion at Marion, Indiana,” Indianapolis Recorder, August 27, 1938, 5, Hoosier State Chronicles; “Reunion in Weaver to be Homecoming for some 700,” Indianapolis Recorder, August 8, 1981, 4, Hoosier State Chronicles; Roger RyDell Daniels, “Weaver Has Rich Tradition,” Marion Chronicle-Tribune, February 22, 1996, submitted by applicant.

While articles in the Indianapolis Recorder show that descendants held a reunion at Weaver as early as 1913, later newspaper articles and recollections of those descendants state that the reunion was an annual occurrence by 1919.