With school beginning this week, it's a great reminder that we should all continue learning! Learn about Hamilton County's history this weekend by visiting some of the same places that our visitor center staffers did last week on their historical tour of Hamilton County. Read on for insider history facts from two of our staffers Pete and Mallory, and then plan your own fun historical tour through the county!
Here's what Pete had to say about the tour:
"Nestled between two Koteewi softwood trees, I peeled back the crisp white paper foil around my Chick-Fil-A sandwich and settled in for an afternoon of Hamilton County history. As I began to sink my teeth into the tender chicken, David Heighway, one of Hamilton County's most dedicated historians, began an oral recount of the Delaware Indians who settled in Koteewi Park around 1795. Twenty-eight years later, Hamilton County would be formed at the junction of two townships: the southern Delaware and the northern White River. Today, the unearthing of archaeological finds has caused a hubbub amongst Hamilton County historians and naturalists, and caused Koteewi Park to be hailed as an historical hotbed. As the summer breeze wafted across the prairie, up through the hair of the roughly 15 visitors' center employees seated alongside me, I wondered, "Could this have been the same breeze that once ruffled through the hair of Chief Delaware?" I was in for a treat!
I would be remiss not to mention Heighway's telling of Westfield's role in the Underground Railroad, or our visit to the Riverwood hydroelectric plant measuring several megawatts in power. As well, the exclusion of our stop at Beck's Hybrids and the Hedgehog Music Showcase would detract from the essence of the trip. And yet, Heighway's genius lies in his ability to weave history's small stories - everything from the thrilling to the comical - into his discussion of Hamilton County's landmarks. For example, The Great Squirrel Stampede of 1822 was illustrated by the lively Heighway as being a spectacle unlike any other. What a surprising, fun little fact unique to Hamilton County! Who knew that the year 1822 played host to the mass migration of well over 100,000 squirrels across the state of Indiana, straight through Hamilton County? I sure didn't! The migration lasted for roughly two weeks, during which time crops were destroyed and Mother Nature ravaged as squirrels moved across Indiana to Ohio.
Lastly, our group's stop at Roberts Settlement and Cemetery (just west of Atlanta) provided us a glimpse into one of Hamilton County's uniquely historic areas. Fleeing persecution in North Carolina, the Roberts Family, led by father Elijah, traversed frontier trails to come to Indiana. After constructing cabins and a settlement for families of predominantly African descent, the cemetery and church were erected. Glancing at the cemetery and the 100-year-old house of worship, I could only imagine the Roberts bustling to build a settlement in the heart of Hamilton County. 200 years later, "settlers" are still flocking from out of state to visit the county of eight great towns!"
Mallory also had a great time on the tour:
"For our most recent FAM trip, we took a day visiting many of the historical sites and towns in the northern part of Hamilton County. Being from Fishers myself, I hadn't gotten around to many of these places we visited, so it was extremely interesting to learn all about them.
We started off by visiting Potter's Bridge in Noblesville, which was first finished in 1871. I've passed by it so many times, but never truly took a good look at it. When you visit it, you'll notice that the interior of the bridge contains railings, which seem unnecessary seeing as the bridge is covered all the way around. Those railings were actually built in to keep the bridge in good condition as buggies and carriages rocked against it passing through, whether those drivers were slightly intoxicated or not. Next was Strawtown Koteewi Park, also located in Noblesville. I was very excited to visit this place, because there's nothing I love more then spending time outside in nature. Although we didn't do any of the trails they provide, I got a glance at what this park has to offer. Originally the land was occupied by Delaware and Miami Indians. It's now the site for many archaeological artifacts dating back to even 1200 AD. They offer everything from canoeing, hiking, even equestrian trails.
Towards the end of the trip we came back and visited the future location of the Nickel Plate Arts headquarters, located off the square in downtown Noblesville. The once historic house will now hold studios that artists of all types will be utilizing. Overall, it was a successful day of discovering some of the hidden secrets of Hamilton County. I cannot wait to revisit these places in the future and enjoy everything they have to offer."