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Decatur, Indiana

Coordinates: 40°49′43″N 84°55′40″W / 40.82861°N 84.92778°W / 40.82861; -84.92778
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Decatur downtown in 2006.
Decatur downtown in 2006.
Location of Decatur in Adams County
Location of Decatur in Adams County
Coordinates: 40°49′43″N 84°55′40″W / 40.82861°N 84.92778°W / 40.82861; -84.92778
CountryUnited States
TownshipRoot, Washington
Named forStephen Decatur
 • TypeMayor-council government
 • MayorDan Rickord (D)[citation needed]
 • Total6.11 sq mi (15.81 km2)
 • Land6.10 sq mi (15.80 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
Elevation801 ft (244 m)
 • Total9,913
 • Density1,625.08/sq mi (627.50/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code260
FIPS code18-17074[3]
GNIS feature ID2394480[2]
Historical population
US Decennial Census[4]

Decatur is a city in Root and Washington townships, Adams County, Indiana, United States. It is the county seat (and the largest community) of Adams County.[5] Decatur is home to Adams Memorial Hospital, which was designated as one of the "Top 100" Critical Access Hospitals in the United States. The population of Decatur was 9,913 at the 2020 census, up from 9,405 at the 2010 census.



The first non-Native American settlers arrived in what is now Decatur in 1835. They arrived as a result of the end of the Black Hawk War as well as the completion of the Erie Canal. They consisted entirely of settlers from New England. These were "Yankee" settlers, that is to say they were descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the colonial era. They were primarily members of the Congregational Church though due to the Second Great Awakening many of them had converted to Methodism and some had become Baptists before coming to what is now Decatur. The Congregational Church subsequently has gone through many divisions and some factions are now known as the Church of Christ and Church of God. When the New England settlers arrived in what is now Decatur there was nothing but a dense virgin forest and wild prairie.[6]

Decatur was founded in 1836.[7] It was named for Stephen Decatur, Jr., one of the captains of the original six frigates of the US navy.[8] A post office was established in Decatur in 1837.[9]

Post Civil War History[edit]

After the Civil War, Decatur was known as a Sundown Town, where African Americans were discriminated against and eventually run out of the town completely in 1902.[10] In a New York Times article published on July 14, 1902, the headline read, “Negro Driven Away,” and it recounted the story of the violent mob attacks which drove away African Americans from Decatur during the summer of 1902. The last line from the article explicitly concluded, “The anti-negroites declare that as Decatur is now cleared of Negroes they will keep it so, and the importation of any more will undoubtedly result in serious trouble.”[10] A month before the last Black person was reportedly forced out of Decatur, the Indianapolis Freeman reported that 50 men began driving the Black people out because they “were determined that colored people should not live in the town."[11] Eventually African Americans began slowly settling in town, however, due to the sundown policies that persisted throughout much of the 1900s, the current demographics still indicate a low percentage of Black residents.[12][13]

Negroes Driven Away
New York Times article detailing the last Black man to be forcefully driven out of Decatur, Indiana.


According to the 2010 United States Census, Decatur has a total area of 5.786 square miles (14.99 km2), of which 5.78 square miles (14.97 km2) (or 99.9%) is land and 0.006 square miles (0.02 km2) (or 0.1%) is water.[14]


2020 census[edit]

As of the 2020 Census there were 9,913 people and 4,278 households. The population density was 1,713.2 inhabitants per square mile (661.5/km2).[15] There were 4,572 housing units at an average density of 851.1 per square mile (328.6/km2).[16] The racial makeup of the city was 91.1% White, 7.3% Hispanic or Latino, 1.2% African American, 0.1% Native American or Alaska Native, and 0.5% from two or more races.[15] 96.1% speak English and 3.4% speak Spanish at home. All residents of Decatur were citizens. The ancestral background of most residents was 33.3% German, 7.1% English, and 6.9% Irish.

The average age for Decatur residents was 40.5 years. Of the total population, 6.8% were veterans and 15.8% have a visible or non-visible disability.[16] An estimated 4.6% of residents are uninsured.[15]

Of the 4,278 households, 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.8% were married couples living together, 35% had a female householder with no spouse present, and 27.3% of the residents were never married.[15][16] The average household size was 2.24.[15]

The median income for a household in the city was $45,149, and the median income for a family was $58,542. The per capita income for the city was $23,059. Additionally, 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line, a 57.4% difference from the 2020 census.[15] This includes 15.4% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over. There was a total of 4,572 housing units, with 64.3% being owned by residents and 12.5% being rented.[16]

Of the total residents of Decatur, 43.9% have a high school or equivalent degree and 12.9 have a bachelor's degree or higher. The latter is 70% lower than the state average. The majority of residents work in manufacturing (37.4%), education, social services and health care (14.2%) and retail (13.6%).[16]

Only 76.3% of residents had broadband internet access, in contrast to 80.1% of state residents.[15]


Adams County courthouse, Decatur, Indiana, 2006

The government consists of a mayor and a city council. The mayor is elected in citywide vote. The city council consists of five members. Four are elected from individual districts. One is elected at-large. A clerk-treasurer is also elected in citywide vote.


The local high school in Decatur is Bellmont High School; approximately 700 students attend BHS. Local elementary and middle school students attend Bellmont Elementary School and Bellmont Middle School. St. Joseph Catholic School serves students in grades K-8. Zion Lutheran School, Wyneken Memorial Lutheran School, and St. Peter-Immanuel Lutheran School also serve students in grades PK-8.

Decatur has a public library, a branch of the Adams Public Library System.[17]


Decatur is home to one newspaper, The Decatur Daily Democrat. It was founded in 1857.[18]

Adams Memorial Hospital


Decatur is home to the Adams Memorial Hospital which was designated as one of the "Top 100" Critical Access Hospitals in the United States. The hospital was established on June 30th, 1923, during election day in Adams County After voters were posed with a question of constructing a county hospital. [19]


Decatur is also known for its Modern Architecture, With over 18 sculptures throughout its downtown area.

Adams County courthouse, Decatur, Indiana, 1935

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Decatur, Indiana
  3. ^ "US Census website". US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  6. ^ John Wilson Tyndall & Orlo Ervin Lesh, Standard History of Adams and Wells Counties (1918)
  7. ^ Hellmann, Paul T. (February 14, 2006). Historical Gazetteer of the United States. Routledge. p. 313. ISBN 1-135-94859-3.
  8. ^ "Profile for Decatur IN". ePodunk. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  9. ^ "Adams County". Jim Forte Postal History. Archived from the original on August 27, 2014. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Loewen, James W. (2005). Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism. New York: The New Press. ISBN 9781620974346.
  11. ^ "Decatur, Indiana". History & Social Justice. April 25, 2022. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  12. ^ World Population Review/Decatur IN
  13. ^ A Reader's Guide to Sundown Towns
  14. ^ "Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Decatur city, Indiana; United States". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Explore Census Data". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  17. ^ "Homepage". Adams Public Library System. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Democrat, Decatur Daily (July 18, 2023). "decaturdailydemocrat.com | Adam County's News Source Since 1857". Decatur Daily Democrat. Retrieved July 20, 2023.
  19. ^ "100th Anniversary". Adams Memorial Hospital. Retrieved July 20, 2023.

External links[edit]