The Lincoln School For Colored Children

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 1881 Crawfordsville School Trustees ordered a school be built at the southwest corner of Spring and North Walnut Streets to serve black students in grades 1-8. Once graduated, the students attended the integrated Crawfordsville High School. This site accommodated the vast majority of black families living in Crawfordsville’s north end. Trustees purchased the lot in September 1881 for $2,000. On Dec. 3, 1881, Hinckley and Norris won the contract to build the building for $6,400. The architects designed a plain two-story red brick structure with playgrounds for all the black children who resided in that area. Lincoln School officially opened in September 1882 with 42 students. When the black population moved to the east end to work in the factories, Linclon Building 1 was renovated into Horace Mann, and Linclon Build 2 was opened on East Wabash Avenue. That building became Lincoln Rec Center and was demolished in 1981. This project began as a project historical research project to honor all those individuals who went to school in separate and unequal facilities as the law dictated.

Henry L Brown


Henry L Brown was born in approximately 1872 to parents Henry A and Sinda. Henry A, born 1849 in Alabama, was a barber and had a business on the west side of Green Street between Walnut and Main Streets. Sinda, born approximately 1855 in North Carolina, kept house.

In June 1890, Henry L graduated from Crawfordsville High School as one of 24 graduates. He and fellow classmate Wyckliffe Smith were refused entry into the post-graduation celebrations because they were both Black.

In July 1890, Henry A made the newspaper. Henry A and William Harris met and argued at a local livery. William struck Henry A in the head with a brickbat. Henry A fled to his barbershop, grabbed a razor, and searched for William. The police intervened and arrested William.

By January 1891, Henry L found himself in the newspaper, but under entirely different circumstances. The McClures owned the Trade Palace and were quite prominent in town. During a dance held in Crawfordsville, an altercation occurred between Walter McClure and Charlie Coombs. Walter and his friends left the dance and walked down North Walnut Street. One of Walter’s crew picked up a stick and pounded the fences along the way. Charlie Coombs did not appreciate the noise and shot Walter. Henry L carried Walter to the McClure home on South Water Street, where Walter died. From his jail cell, Charlie freely admitted he shot Walter.

By April 1891, Henry L and his father opened a new North Green Street barbershop. The Temperance Hotel, owned by William (Bill) Raub, a Black resident, once stood in this area of town. The hotel was a boarding house for single, Black men. Henry L rented a room in this hotel. By July 1893, Henry L had begun an alleged affair with Bill Raub’s wife. “Bill and his buxom wife have conducted the Temperance Hotel for many months and until a few weeks ago were as happy as a pair of young lovers. About this time, a shadow darkened the kitchen door during Bill’s absence in the person of Henry L Brown, the colored barber, who, with charming smiles and cooing voice, attempted to commit grand larceny by the theft of Mrs. Bill’s heart. He was more successful in his wooing than he had dared to hope, and soon the ebony-hued queen of the kitchen was meeting with the festive Henry clandestinely. Last week a good, kind friend informed Bill of his wife’s faithlessness. Of course, the injured sharpened the big carving knife and started after the wicked lovers. Some friend of Brown’s gave him a quiet tip, and Henry spent a few days hiding in the country”. Henry L returned, only to again find himself in the arms of Mrs. Raub. This time, Bill grabbed his rifle, and again Henry escaped. Luckily, the Marshall brothers intercepted Bill, and no harm came to either gentleman.

In February 1894, Henry L was robbed. He was living on the second floor of the building at the corner of Pike and Washington Street and chose not to lock his home while at work. Henry’s innocence did not serve him well when he came home one Saturday night and found all his clothes were gone. He grabbed a razor and began ransacking the other apartments in his area. After some time, he learned that John Davis, a well-known Black plasterer, was the culprit. The police assisted Henry L in the recovery of his possessions without incident.

The bank foreclosed on the Raub’s Temperance Hotel, then regained possession several years later. On Monday night in November 1895,” Henry Humphreys gave a banquet in honor of Misses Rose Wood and May Hogony, “new coons in town,” and his best girls from abroad. The banquet occurred in Bill Raub’s Temperance Hotel. The dining hall was beautifully decorated with dog fennel and cinnamon balls, which presented a charming appearance. The chief Toastmaster was Constable John Bias, who addressed the guests in his usual pleasant manner. The menu consisted of champagne, sponge soup, mother-in-law sass, and many other things”. According to the article, Henry L attended the soiree.

Apparently, Henry decided it was time to leave Crawfordsville. By the 1910 census, he was living in Chicago on State Street and had married Adellie. She was born approximately 1879 in Mississippi and was a cook for a private family in the Chicago area. Henry still barbered for a living. Henry died on 30 November 1936.