What follows is a very short, simple post, with one idea: in 1900, more African-Americans lived in eastern Texas than lived in the Mormon Culture Region. The missionary diaries often note the presence of African-Americans, but do so less frequently than the proportion of African-Americans in the population would suggest. This post will briefly describe the population sizes; later posts will analyze interactions involving missionaries and African-Americans.
Three months after his arrival in Texas, Elder Brooks wrote in his diary:
“We stopped overnight with a man by the name of Hopkins. His wife was dead. Left him with a family of small children. He had a couple of Negro girls doing his house work. I was by this time getting used to Negros and did not notice that much.” (1900 Jan 24 Wed)
One of the reasons Brooks and his fellows were not “used to” association with African-Americans was that vanishingly few African-Americans lived in the Mormon Culture Region. The 1900 Federal Census tabulated population by counties in three racial categories: “White,” “Negro,” and “Indian.” According to the census, the travelling missionaries, their home counties, and those counties’ respective racial compositions are as follows:
Consider the racial profile of each travelling missionary’s first area:
In the forty-eight counties where the travelling missionaries worked, approximately 20% of the population was Black. Of these missionaries’ areas, the highest concentration of African-Americans was in Brazoria County (Folkman, south of Houston), with 55.3% of the population identified as African-American.
In next week’s post I hope to discuss ways missionaries and African-Americans interacted.
The “Southwestern States Mission” series (homepage) examines mission life in (mostly) Texas around 1900.