Celebrating Lost Creek – The Story of an African American Settlement

The Lost Creek Settlement was formed beginning in the early 1800’s, when a small group of free African Americans courageously traveled from Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina to settle in what is now Vigo County, to escape the racial violence and systemic oppression of the South. While “free,” the families traveling from North Carolina to Indiana faced constant fear. The “freedom papers” they held tightly offered some protection from being killed, kidnapped, or sold into slavery. Yet, the risk was worth the hope they had in this new community. The Lost Creek settlers were among the earliest non-indigenous residents in the county.

In the face of inequities and challenges in Indiana, the people of Lost Creek demonstrated fortitude, grit, and resilience to create their American dream. For generations, they maintained a successful tradition of owning and farming their own lands. They established a thriving farming community with a church, cemetery, general store, blacksmith, and school, employing their own teachers when it was forbidden to educate African American students in public schools.

Photograph of the Dixon Stewart family provided by Dee Reed

The Lost Creek settlement is a vital part of the Vigo County’s shared history, with many of its descendants making valuable contributions to the local community as well as in communities across the state and the country. Art Spaces is working with descendants and other community members to create a piece of public art located in Deming Park to honor the settlement and share its history and influence on our community.

Celebrating Lost Creek – The Story of an African American Settlement will become part of Terre Haute’s Cultural Trail, formed in 2008 when Art Spaces and other arts and cultural organizations collaborated to honor individuals, groups and icons that have had a noteworthy impact on our community and well beyond, through works of public art. Collectively these artworks capture our city’s unique cultural history while building awareness of the cultural strength of our region. Those completed to date include a figurative sculpture of world renowned poet, Max Ehrmann; a bronze form honoring the composer of Indiana’s state song, Paul Dresser, as well as the Wabash River and Dresser’s song; and a sculpture celebrating phrases from the many works of internationally celebrated American writer, Theodore Dreiser.

This project is supported in part by:

The Larry Paul Foundation

Top Image: Crazy Quilt, c. 1870-1880s believed to be Elizabeth Malone Walden Stewart, courtesy of Dee Reed