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
Along 276th Street in western Jackson Township (Hamilton County), is Roberts Settlement. Founded in 1835 by free blacks of mixed racial heritage 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 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. Although this may seem to have little connection to Hamilton County, Indiana, if we look at period newspapers and the official reports, there may be a direct tie.
- David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian