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  • 2/15/2019 Several years ago, while scrolling through the old newspapers on microfilm, I saw a notice in an 1880 Noblesville Ledger that “John Hoard, the colored man” had been elected constable of Noblesville by a “handsome majority.”
    That intrigued me because at the time I knew of only one African American who’d ever held an elected position in Hamilton County and that was the late Murphy White.
    Unfortunately, there weren’t enough details about Hoard in that small item to make a column, and in those days, trying to find biographical information on someone in the old newspapers was like hunting the needle in the haystack.
  • 2/8/2019 I often run across new and interesting bits of local history in the old newspapers while researching other topics, but I can’t recall an item ever making my jaw drop like the one I encountered a few weeks ago.
    If I ever do a revised edition of “A Brief History of Noblesville,” I’ll have to add a section to the chapter on famous visitors to include Susan B. Anthony.
    Yes, THE Susan B. Anthony, perhaps the most famous women’s rights activist in this country’s history, was in Noblesville 140 years ago this week, on February 7, 1879.
  • 1/25/2019 Ever since I learned famous African American statesman Frederick Douglass had his picture taken at O. A. (Orlando Andrew) Harnish’s studio during his 1880 visit to Noblesville, I’ve wondered what happened to that photograph.
    Lisa Hayner knew of my interest, so when she spoke recently with O. A.‘s granddaughter, Elizabeth “Betty Lou” (Harnish) Spencer, she asked about the photo. (Lisa’s mother, Jerry Snyder, was a good friend and classmate of Betty Lou.)
    Unfortunately, although Betty Lou recalled seeing her grandfather’s old camera when she was growing up, she didn’t know what became of it, or of anything else from the studio.
  • 1/18/2019 Remember the columns I wrote last month about the benches around Noblesville that have been dedicated to various people? I knew if I missed any benches, someone would let me know and I was right!
  • 1/11/2019 Last week I focused on the lost Carmel towns located within Clay Township’s original boundaries. This week, we’re going to visit Carmel’s old Delaware Township towns.
    Our first stop is Gray, a community that frustrated me for a long time.
    I kept encountering references to Gray in the old newspapers, but never seemed to be able to pinpoint the exact location. Finally, while researching the column on Home Place a few years ago, I ran across a map that showed Gray at the intersection of 146th Street and (surprise) Gray Road.
  • 1/4/2019 Several weeks ago I devoted a column to the small towns/villages/hamlets (I’m never sure what to call them) that once existed on land currently occupied by the city of Fishers.
    This week we’re moving down the road to explore communities that used to be found on real estate that’s now part of Carmel.
    Today, all these locations are in Clay Township, but that wasn’t always the case. Some were originally in Delaware Township. The change came on August 1, 1955 when Delaware Township was divided at White River and everything west of the river was officially annexed by Clay Township.
    Eldorado was one of the small communities located within Clay Township’s original boundaries. Laid out by Cyrus Carey in 1854, it sat at the intersection of 136th Street and Ditch Road.
    According to the January 26, 1883 Republican-Ledger, Eldorado was previously known as Sockum or Sockem. It’s not clear if that was a legitimate name (I did find two other Indiana communities called Sockum,) or if it was a nickname like Toadlope (Aroma) or Lickskillet (Olio.) If it was some kind of nickname, the meaning seems to have gotten lost in time.
  • 12/21/2018 A while back I ran across a letter in the February 23, 1906 Hamilton County Ledger that I thought might make a good Christmas column, so I held onto it until the time was appropriate. (Like now.) 
    The letter, written by “Uncle Bill Wheeler,” describes his family’s Christmas in 1836. It caught my eye because it reads like it could have been an episode of “Little House on the Prairie” or the plot of some Hallmark Channel movie.
    Although I knew the Wheelers were a very old Noblesville family, I wasn’t sure who “Uncle Bill” was, so I combed through the old newspapers for a little background information.
  • 12/14/2018 A few weeks ago at the book launch for “A Brief History of Noblesville” I was asked if I knew anything about Sycamore Lodge.
    That question stumped me.
    I was familiar with Lagoon Lodge at Clare and Horseshoe Lodge near 160th Street and River Road, but couldn’t recall ever running across a “Sycamore Lodge.”
    After a couple of people told me they found information about it in the old newspapers, I did a little digging myself.
    Sycamore Lodge was the summer home of William Houston Craig (known mainly as Will H. Craig in his time.) Craig was part owner and editor of the Noblesville Ledger in the early 1900s.
  • 12/7/2018 Continuing the list of memorial benches in Noblesville’s city parks . . .
    In Riverwalk Depot Pocket Park:
    Kurt Bolden’s bench is appropriately located near Bolden’s Dry Cleaners. Bolden co-founded Bolden’s Carpet Cleaning and Bolden Manufacturing. He also worked for the Noblesville Fire Department for five years and was active in charity work. 
    Forest Park benches:
    U. S. Army veteran Danny C. Kendall was a 1971 graduate of Westfield High School and a foster parent. His bench is near the 1920 carousel.
    Berniece Holloway, who passed away at the age of 100, had been a cook at North Elementary School. Her bench is on the trail by the Angel of Hope monument.
  • 11/30/2018 Over a year ago, attorney Jack Hittle suggested I write a column that would provide a little background on the people whom family, friends or organizations have memorialized on benches around Noblesville.
    It was a great idea, but at the time I was frantically trying to finish the final chapters of “A Brief History of Noblesville.” I knew a column like the one Jack proposed would involve more research time than I could spare, so I put the idea on a back burner and just worked on it whenever I could.
    The subject turned out to be even more complicated than I originally thought. There isn’t one single bench dedication program in Noblesville — there are THREE!
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Thursday, February 21, 2019

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