|Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites,|
Markers & Museums
East Central Edition
Free blacks began filtering into Rush County, Indiana in the late 1820's from areas in North Carolina. Quakers from the same area had begun migrating into Indiana after 1817, drawn by the Free State status of the newly formed Indiana.
Quakers, in an effort to escape the scourge of slavery, began migrating into the new state of Indiana in the 1820's, occupying mainly the central and eastern regions of the state. Their strong abolitionist stance led them to encourage free blacks to immigrate into the area. Most of these started arriving in the late 1820's. The community of Beech grew up because of this influx of free blacks.
The free black settlers purchased government lands and by 1830, the settlement consisted of ninety-one people, comprising fourteen families. The settlement drew its name from the large grove of beech trees that occupied the area. On July 18, 1832, members of the community held a meeting during which they formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church, believed by many historians to be the first AME in Indiana. During the meeting, the members pledged funds to acquire land and build a church. This church opened on August 18, 1838. The current church on the site was completed about 1865. Descendants of these early settlers still hold a reunion at the church in August each year. Indiana Landmarks has placed the church on its 10 Most Endangered Historic Sites in 2016 and is seeking funds to preserve the structure.
For information and to help save this historic structure contact:
1201 Central Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46202