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Voices from the Past - History

Hamilton County's Diverse History

Hamilton County, Indiana has long been a diverse community. From early settlement by Paleo-Indians to the more recent Woodland Era, Native American nomadic tribes and later village settlements were prevalent. The signing of the Treaty of St. Mary’s in 1818 sent Indian tribes west through removal. In the early 1800s, as settlers began flooding the area, an early free multi-racial settlement emerged in the northern part of the county. Quakers also settled here, bringing with them anti-slavery theology, and for some, active abolitionism. The 20th and 21st centuries brought more settlement and diversity as immigrants from other countries also moved into the community. While the county has always been diverse, it – like most communities – has also long struggled with attitudes of intolerance but organizations throughout Hamilton County are seeking to learn from the past to provide a more inclusive future.

Credit: David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian


Sites & Stories

Roberts Settlement

Along 276th Street in western Jackson Township (Hamilton County), is Roberts Settlement. Founded in 1835 by free people of color who migrated mostly from North Carolina and Virginia to escape deteriorating racial conditions. The neighborhood was named after the large number  of residents who had the Roberts surname.

Their goals were the pursuit of economic, educational and religious aspirations with greater freedom and fewer racial barriers. These goals were achieved through considerable hard work and the assistance of friendly and racially tolerant white neighbors of the Quaker and Wesleyan faiths living in the surrounding area.

Roberts Chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as the site for the descendants annual Roberts Settlement Homecoming reunion.

Hamilton County –

Juneteenth Proclamation

Juneteenth Day is a unique and important day to recognize African Americans and their role in US history. Its roots lie in the celebrations that occurred in Texas when General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 on June 19th, 1865, which announced the proclamation that had ended slavery in the rebelling states. There is some indication that the 28th United Colored Troops, which include several members of the Roberts Settlement family as soldiers, was at Galveston when Granger made the announcement.

- David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian

Local Historical Societies