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  • 6/14/2019 Cat lover that I am, I feel compelled to note that June is Adopt-A-Cat Month, or Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month, depending on the organization doing the promoting.

    No matter what you call it, the idea is the same — to highlight the fact that this month marks the peak of kitten season, which means many more kittens, as well as cats, will be needing good homes in the near future.

    I’ve been fortunate to have always had at least one feline in my life, dating back to when I was ten years old, and Mom and I came home from a trip to the A&P to discover the dog across the street had treed a kitten in our lilac bush.
  • 6/7/2019 I was still trying to wrap my head around the idea of Key Bank’s downtown branch closing forever when I noticed the “inventory liquidation” banner in the window of Smith’s Jewelers, right across the street.
    I had to check that out, so I went into Smith’s and asked what was up. I was told the current owners had decided to retire, but was assured there would still be a store.
    Whew. That’s a relief. I think of Smith’s Jewelers, Kirk’s Hardware, Syd’s Bar and the Uptown Cafe as the four pillars of downtown Noblesville. Those businesses have been around so long, it’s difficult to imagine the courthouse square without any one of them.
    Smith’s Jewelers has occupied the southeast corner of Logan and North Ninth Streets nearly my entire life, but its history goes back further than that — all the way to 1946, to be exact.
    In that year, Claude Shane bought several retail jewelry stores in Indiana and Illinois, including the old Pursel Jewelry Store at 920 Logan Street, just east of the American National Bank. 
    (If Shane sounds familiar, it’s probably 
  • 5/31/2019 Several weeks ago in my last reader column I passed along some information about the history of Durbin and Durbin School that was sent to me by Tom Heller, the principal of Durbin School from 1974 to 2002.
    Tom stated that Durbin’s original school was located north of State Road 32.
    Shortly after the column ran, I heard from Rosemary Harger. Rosemary disagreed with Tom, saying that the site of the old Durbin School was just north of the current school and SOUTH of State Road 32.
    Rosemary added that her husband, Billie, was one of 20 eighth grade students who graduated from the school in 1941 and that Bill’s uncle, Bert Harger, was the janitor there.
  • 5/24/2019 This Memorial Day weekend the local cemeteries will undoubtedly be filled with people decorating the graves of departed loved ones. If you’re among them, take a moment to look around at nearby headstones. You may notice many are discolored, cracked — or worse.
    Just such an observation led Michael and Nicole Kobrowski and J. and Jodi Becker to establish Indiana Cemetery Works, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of Indiana’s historical cemeteries.
    You’re probably already familiar with Michael and Nicole. They’ve popped up in this column several times. In addition to their day jobs, Nicole is an author, and the couple together run unseenpress.com, Inc., and Historic Indiana Ghost Walks and Tours.
    They’re also actively involved in preserving local history. That’s what prompted them to become interested in cleaning up Westfield’s Anti-Slavery Friends Cemetery.
  • 5/17/2019 A few weeks I wrote a column about some of the small, forgotten rural communities or neighborhoods that pop up in the old newspapers.
    One of those, Tile Factory Corner, bugged me for a long time. I had no idea where it was because little places like that seldom show up on maps. 
    Eventually, I ran across some articles that allowed me to pinpoint the location as the intersection of State Road 38 (then known as the Lafayette Road) and Anthony Road.
    Tile Factory Corner is long gone now, but it’s such a historic spot, it really deserves a column of its own.
    In 1844 it was the site of a pivotal confrontation between escaped slaves John and Luan Rhodes, their children and friends, and a group headed by the Rhodeses’ former owner. (There are several spellings of the family’s last name, but it’s “Rhodes” on the Indiana Historical Bureau marker.)
    Singleton Vaughn (or Vaughan,) the slaver, had tracked the Rhodeses to their cabin a little southeast of Bakers Corner and came after them with the law, intent on reclaiming his property.
  • 5/10/2019 It breaks my heart to think that three weeks from today another piece of old Noblesville will disappear when Key Bank closes its downtown branch.
    I don’t know what will become of that building, but it’s difficult to imagine it as anything but a bank. It’s been a bank my entire life.
    I have to confess, I still tend to think of it as the American National Bank building, even though American National is long gone (replaced successively by Ameritrust, Society and Key.) It was American National’s headquarters longer than all the other banks put together.
    In fact, American National was there so long, I suspect a lot of people don’t realize it wasn’t the first financial institution in the building. That honor goes to two other organizations, the First National Bank and the Hamilton Trust Company.
    The First National Bank of Noblesville, chartered in 1893, was originally located on the north side of the courthouse square, while the Hamilton Trust Company, incorporated in 1905, started out on the south side.
  • 5/3/2019 When it was first proposed that I do a weekly column, I nearly said no because I was worried I’d never be able to come up with something new to write each week.
    Yet, here I am still chugging along over eight years later. That’s due in large part to the fact I’ve had access to the wonderful collection of books and documents in the Indiana Room of the Noblesville (Hamilton East) library.
    As an avid reader and former librarian, I’ve been in a lot of libraries. I can honestly say HEPL’s Indiana Room has one of the best collections of Indiana materials I’ve ever seen. If you’re doing any research on Indiana history, especially Hamilton County history, our Indiana Room is THE place to go.
  • 4/26/2019 Can you picture Hamilton County as another French Lick? Believe it or not, people in the 19th century thought it could be — and, as I learned, with some reason.
    I knew about Noblesville’s Llewellyn Spring and the springs at Cicero’s Magnetic Springs Park, but I didn’t realize how many more springs once existed in this area until Lisa Hayner sent me a clipping from the August 8, 1890 Hamilton County Ledger, “Hamilton County’s Famous Springs.”
    The article begins, “This county is fast taking front rank as having within its borders some of the finest medical springs in the world.” It goes on to describe an “immense geyser” that had appeared the previous February on the Anthony Johnson farm, about four and one-half miles northwest of Noblesville.
  • 4/19/2019 I’ve got some reader feedback this week!
    Remember Dennis Hester’s hunt for a history of Durbin School? Tom Heller, the principal at Durbin from 1974 to 2002, sent some information about the Durbin area.
    Tom wrote that when he started working at the school, an elderly lady who lived nearby shared her memories of Durbin with him.
    According to Tom, the community was named for Winfield T. Durbin, Indiana’s governor from 1901 to 1905. (Whew, I’d guessed that when I wrote a column on Durbin and Clarksville a few years ago. It’s nice to have confirmation.)
  • 4/12/2019 I knew Noblesville had experienced some big fires in the downtown area during the 20th century and Sheridan’s 1913 fire is legendary, but I wasn’t aware Fishers had also been threatened by a major conflagration until I got a recent email from Mary Kingsolver Ryder.
    Mary mentioned that a huge fire had taken place at the Fishers Lumber Co. when she was a young girl. She wasn’t sure of the date and couldn’t remember all the details, but she knew her father had been a volunteer firefighter who had helped battle the blaze.
    After she raised the subject, I went digging in the old Noblesville Daily Ledgers and I found several articles about the fire, which took place February 2, 1946. In reporting the disaster, the Ledger described it as the largest fire loss Fishers had ever suffered.
    Things could have been much, much worse, though.
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Thursday, June 20, 2019

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