From Time to Thyme

By Paula Dunn

White Rived Township Quiz

In case you haven’t heard, Hamilton County and Noblesville are both turning 200 this year. To celebrate, every month from March to November one of the county’s nine townships is being highlighted by the Bicentennial Commission.

I decided to observe the Bicentennial in this column by doing a quiz on each month’s featured township. (Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this up for nine months!)

March was actually White River Township’s turn in the spotlight, so I’m a little late getting started, but don’t worry, I’ll catch up.

Test your knowledge of White River Township history!

(I’ve written about most of this in previous columns, so if you’re a regular reader, this quiz shouldn’t be too hard. If you get stuck, however, the answers are at the end of the column.)

1.  In the early 1880s a rowdy gang of young men terrorized the area of White River Township around Perkinsville. What was the gang’s name and how did they come by it?

2. Both Aroma and Omega have unusual nicknames. What are they?

3. True or False — White River Township is the oldest township in Hamilton County.

4. What does the “Koteewi” in Strawtown Koteewi Park mean?

5. Who was White River Township’s first white settler?

6. What do Mulberry, Fairy Glade and Lightning Point have in common?

7. Name two of the “firsts” claimed by Walnut Grove High School.

8. What are the two theories about the origin of Strawtown’s name?

And now the answers:

1. The Peanut Gang. They took their name from a man who scolded them for teasing a drunk by telling them, “You’re just a peanut gang.”

2. Aroma was called “Toadlope” because of the loud croaking of the frogs on nearby Duck Creek. Omega was dubbed “Dogtown” by a mail carrier who said he’d never seen so many dogs in one community.

3. True. When Hamilton County was laid out in 1823, it was initially divided into just two townships, White River and Delaware. White River Township was named first, so it’s considered the oldest township — by a few minutes. (The remaining seven townships weren’t created until 1833.)

4. Koteewi, pronounced ko-TAY-wee, means “fire” or “prairie” in the Miami-Peoria language.

5. If you believe the county histories, the first settler was a man named John Shintaffer. The 1820 census, on the other hand, only lists a “Phillip Chintaffer.” (Several spelling variations of the last name exist, too.)

Whatever the man’s name was, he operated a trading post in the Strawtown area and is notorious for having been responsible for this county’s only fatal conflict between Native Americans and settlers.

6. They were White River Township schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

7. Walnut Grove was the first Indiana school outside of the large cities to have a manual training department, the first in this state to have a gym used for physical education and athletics, and it organized the first boys’ corn club in the nation.

8. Helm’s 1880 county history cites an 1850 Indiana Gazetteer that claimed “Strawtown” came “from a house in it, thatched with straw.” However, he also mentions the more widely accepted explanation that Strawtown was named for Chief Straw or Strawbridge, the leader of a band of Native Americans who lived nearby.

Since I’ve never run across any references to a thatched straw house in Strawtown’s early history, my money’s on the latter theory. We know Strawtown was the site of a Delaware village. Moreover, the name, “Strawtown,” follows the pattern of the nearby Delaware towns, Sarah Town and Nancy Town.

If you’d like to know more about the Bicentennial events planned for this year, or order commemorative items, visit the Bicentennial Commission’s website,