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  • Paula shares feedback
    2/19/2020 It’s another reader feedback week!
    I’ve gotten more responses about the old telephone exchanges than anything else in the past several months.
    Judith Stanley Shuck emailed that her great-grandfather organized the first phone company in Westfield. (I believe that would have been Irvin Stanley, who, according to the Westfield history book, established the White Star Telephone Company in 1901.)
  • Germantown's Romeo and Juliet
    2/11/2020 With Valentine’s Day coming up, it seemed appropriate to put a little romance in the column this week.
    This story, which appears in Augustus Finch Shirts’ 1901 county history, concerns a couple who were deeply in love — or, at the very least, extremely determined to get married.
  • A Roberts Settlement success story
    2/5/2020 It’s Black History Month! What better way to celebrate it than to devote a column to one of Roberts Settlement’s biggest success stories?
    That small African American farming community produced an amazing number of professional people. (In 1951, Ebony Magazine counted 11 ministers, 26 educators, three lawyers, six politicians, eight professional entertainers, six businessmen and eight doctors!)
    No one, however, was more accomplished than the noted Chicago surgeon, Dr. Carl Glennis Roberts. That his achievements came at a time the color barrier was a much bigger obstacle than it is today makes them all the more remarkable.
    Born in 1886, Dr. Roberts grew up as one of ten children on the family farm originally purchased by his grandfather, Elijah Roberts. (Elijah Roberts was one of Roberts Settlement’s founders.)
  • Paula offers T-F test
    1/29/2020 When you read about various people and events in Hamilton County history, you sometimes run across information that’s commonly believed to be true, but is actually a misconception, or occasionally, an out-and-out tall tale.
    See if you can separate fact from fiction in the quiz below. I’ve covered most of these subjects before, but some myths are so persistent, it’s worth digging them up from time to time so the truth doesn’t get lost.
  • More info on phone exchanges
    1/21/2020 I’ve got some reader feedback this week!
    After I ran the column on the Delaware Indian villages along White River, Beth Lively wrote that her father frequently plowed up arrowheads on their family farm when she was growing up. The farm was in the Clare/Riverwood area.
    Beth also noted that a team from Ball State that conducted a dig on the farm a few years ago found many artifacts, as well as evidence of a town dating back 8,000 years!
  • Paula’s a bit ‘icy’ this week
    1/14/2020 It’s no secret that Hamilton County used to be mainly farmland and agriculture was a way of life for many county residents.
    What you might not realize, however, is that harvest time didn’t stop in the fall when the frost was on the “punkin” and the fodder in the shock. During the 19th and very early 20th centuries, one of the area’s most important crops was harvested from the last half of December to about the middle of February.
    I’m talking about ice.
    Long before refrigerators and freezers came along, ice taken from local water sources like creeks, gravel pits and White River was a necessity, not only for businesses like meat markets and breweries, but for individuals who needed ice for their household ice boxes.
    The clearest and best ice came from shallow, slow moving water. Pond ice could be used, but it was considered inferior because ponds lacked enough movement for proper aeration. Without aeration, the ice was often cloudy and holes would form in it, keeping it from cooling as well as a solid block.
    While I couldn’t find a description of the ice harvesting process in the old local newspapers, I did run across one on the internet that I suspect is pretty close to what took place here.
  • Ready for Paula’s phone quiz?
    1/8/2020 It’s been a long time since we’ve had a quiz, but I’ve got a doozy this week, thanks to Ed and Claire Snyder, Jim and Jan Snyder, and Tom and Lisa Hayner. They raised the subject of the two-letter telephone prefixes that were used in this county from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s.
    If you grew up here and you’re around my age or older, you may remember some of those prefixes, but if you’re young enough to wonder what I’m talking about, I’d better explain.
    In the late 1950s, Direct Distance Dialing (DDD) came to Hamilton County, making it possible to place most telephone calls without having to go through an operator.
  • 12/18/2019 My cousin, the Dancing Librarian, and I recently got into a discussion about the various sweet treats our families enjoyed at Christmas during our younger years and I thought, hey, there’s a column!
    The first thing that popped into the DL’s head were the special cinnamon rolls her mother baked for Christmas morning. She said they were made with pie dough rather than yeast. 
    We both remembered the old fashioned Christmas hard candy mix — the little filled pillows, the rectangular filled straws, the mini ribbons and other pieces I’m probably forgetting, all in various colors and flavors.
    In my house chocolate was a must. Every Christmas when Mom and I took the bus to downtown Indianapolis to see the decorated department store windows and to shop for gifts, we always stopped at one of the candy stores for a pound of assorted chocolates.
    My aunts also often gave Dad a box of chocolate covered cherries as a present.
    Maybe that was a Sheridan thing. The DL, who lived in Sheridan like my aunts, said the customers on her brother’s paper route used to give him chocolate covered cherries at Christmas, too.
  • 12/10/2019 While working on last week’s column about Judge Jonathan Colborn, I decided to also research Francis B. Cogswell, since the judge said Cogswell had assisted him in burying the first person in Riverside Cemetery.
    Curiously, although Cogswell was one of the county’s earliest settlers, there are relatively few references to him in the usual sources. However, Lisa Hayner was able to gather some additional biographical information from genealogical documents. (Thanks, Lisa!)
    Francis Beard Cogswell was born in 1800 in Upper Canada, which today is a part of the province of Ontario. He was the first commissioned Colonel of the Hamilton County militia and he represented Hamilton County in the Indiana House of Representatives twice (1838-1840 and 1841-1842.)
    Why someone from Canada would move to the wilderness that was 1825 Hamilton County is a mystery to me, but move he did, and he established one of Noblesville’s first businesses, a tannery.
    I’ve actually found more information on the tannery than on Cogswell himself. It’s mentioned in Augustus Finch Shirts’ 1901 Hamilton County history, as well as in several articles Shirts wrote for the local newspapers of his day.
    Located between Conner and Logan Streets, the tannery took in all the territory from Sixth Street to White River. (That’s the area just west of the Hamilton County Judicial Center.)
  • 12/3/2019 A few weeks ago I mentioned early Noblesville settler Jonathan Colborn in a reader column.
    If you’ve never heard of him, I’m guessing you’re probably not alone. I doubt if very many people today would recognize that name. During his lifetime, however, he was one of Hamilton County’s more prominent citizens.
    (When he was in his 80s, it was said he had shaken hands with every Indiana governor except the one currently in office — but he looked forward to adding him to the count!) 
    Colborn led a long, interesting life and was a good source of information about the county’s first years. Because of that, I felt he was worth featuring in a column of his own.
    He was born in Pennsylvania in 1799, but his family moved to Ohio the following year. That’s where he grew up.
    At the age of 20, he traveled west with a group of men tasked with surveying the “New Purchase,” the central Indiana land acquired from the Delaware Indians as a result of the Treaty of St. Mary’s.
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Monday, February 24, 2020

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