New Albany Remembers Race Riot 150 Years Later
New Albany, Indiana has dedicated a memorial commemorating one of the town's darker historical moments. This summer marks the 150th anniversary of an eruption of mob violence that led to a race riot. In July of 1862, more than 200 white men teamed up, destroying property and chasing African Americans out of town, killing at least three men in the process. It's an event that had been all but whitewashed from the town's historical record until the 1990's.
That's when local author Pam Peters first came across newspaper records of the race riot. She was compiling research for her book, "The Underground Railroad in Floyd County." She's the one who first pushed for the memorial. "I thought it was time. It had been completely erased from out memory," Peters said. "No one really was cognizent of the mob violence that occured against blacks in our community. So I thought it was time that we acknowledge it publically."
Peters worked with town officials who donated $1,000 to the cause. Saturday the town unveiled a plaque to commemorate the event, at the old Isreal boarding house along West Main Street in New Albany. Peters says the boarding house is named for a woman named Mrs. Isreal, an abolishonist, who helped take in a man being chased by the mob, possibly saving his life. "There was an African American man running down Main Street toward her establishment. He ran to her door for cover. The mob was chasing him with bricks and stones and she let him into her boarding house and she protected him and barred the door."
Others weren't so lucky. "The mob sometimes went up to 200 people of young men and boys. There were after 30 hours of violence at least as 30 families seen leaving our community as well as many young African American men. They were I think, in fear for their lives," Peteres said.