When the Carmel Clay Historical Society began developing its Bicentennial project, the team, which included Historian Andrew Wright, knew they wanted to emphasize how Clay Township’s history is relevant to every resident.
“Most people don’t have multigenerational connections to the town and its history, but there is interest. It has been a mission of ours to make that history available to all residents,” Wright said.
To make that connection, the Carmel Clay Historical Society is providing commemorative maps for free to the public (while supplies last). The 1880 map illustrates the survey/congressional township of Carmel (Bethlehem), Clay Township and West Delaware with inset images of some of the flourishing residences during this time.
The hope is for people to use the map to learn a little more about the history of their home or neighborhood. With the map idea, Carmel residents can locate where they live, work or play, and then see the name of a nearby farm or family who used to live there.
Reading the 1880 Plat Map
Without a little guidance, reading the 1880 plat map might seem impossible. Wright provided some tips:
Plat: A plat map shows who lives where and how much property they have. Today, plat maps are primarily reserved to represent rural communities.
Section: Whey surveyors measured an area, they divided it into 1-square-mile sections, assigning each section a number. On this map, there are 36 sections.
Congressional or survey township: The 1880 map is a Congressional or survey map, as opposed to a civil township map, and shows parts of two congressional townships. The United States Public Land Survey System uses a standardized Congressional or survey township as a common “language of sorts. This kind of township is an area of land that is about six survey miles on each side. The sections can be further subdivided for sale.
Civil township: On the other hand, a civil township is a unit of local government in that is subordinate to a county. Civil townships are most often found in the northern and midwestern parts of the U.S.
Double lines: A double line is a road. On this map, Rangeline Road marks the civil boundary between Clay and Delaware townships and the boundary from one congressional township to another.
Single lines: A single line is a section boundary, not necessarily a road.
Family names: The names in script scattered across the plat map are the property owners. See if you recognize any names (e.g., Carey). You’ll also spot a medical college up north.
To get oriented, start here:
Find Rangeline Road, the yellow/pink double line running north/south. The City of Carmel was platted at the interactions of Rangeline and Main streets.
Locate “CARMEL” written just under the “11” marker. The road running east/west at the “11” is Main Street (sections 25 and 30 fall on Main Street). As you can see, Main Street is on a half-section line (a half mile north and south of a section line).
Now, you can navigate the map in terms of half-mile distances based on our modern numbered streets, where 1/2 mile equals half the way across a section (e.g., 126th to 131st is 1/2 mile). If you get “lost,” it might not be your fault. Wright says the map was part of a history book but still has plenty of errors.
Remnants of Lenape Indian paths
Cities and towns today periodically evaluate their traffic patterns to make it easier, faster and safer to get around. In Hamilton County and across the country, Carmel has become known for its curving roundabouts.
In a community so focused on innovation, it’s hard to imagine Carmel in the early 1800s when its primary roads were mere trails carved out by animals and then the Lenape (Delaware) Indians. You can still find traces of their ancient routes in Carmel if you know where to look.
On the map, Wright advises, find section 7 in the pink area to the far south. What had been a main thoroughfare that starts here was cut in 1827. It zigzags its way northeast, roughly following a Lenape Indian road. Follow it through sections 5, 32, 33, 28, 21 and 22.
Some parts of the meandering road still exist, including parts of Cherry Tree and Haverstick Road. A log cabin built in 1823 still stands on private property.
Family farms and stories
In the late 1800s when these maps were published, people could chip in money and have an illustration of their farm done, which is why these specific residences are included on the Carmel Clay Historical Society’s version of the map. Two families of note are the Careys and Kinzers.
Carey family properties can be found across the 1880 map. The “4” marks Lemuel Carey’s residence in Clay Township (the yellow area). Lemuel was a County Commissioner, which was a prominent role at the time.
“His wife, Rose Carey, was a really incredicle woman,” Wright says. “When the county orphanage shut down for political reasons, the Careys took the orphans into their own home for a year or two.” When the facility reopened in Westfield, Rose was named the matron of the orphanage.
Their son William Frank Carey was a star athlete in Carmel and graduated from Earlham College. Unfortunately, he is probably best known for being shot by “Cyclone Johnson” after being deputized as a constable to assist his cousin, Ed Carey, in Johnson’s arrest. The shooter was a troublemaking, traveling preacher who had started a fight the night before. Frank left behind him a wife and 6-month-old twins.
The Carey legacy lives on in the names of area roads. The statue of the police officer keeping watch on the Monon Trail in downtown Carmel is said to be in Frank Carey’s honor.
Marked by the “7,” William Kinzer’s father came to Delaware Township (the pink area) in the 1820s and built a log cabin that still stands. While the Kinzers cleared cut down trees to develop their farm, they also didn’t want to clear the whole forest for farmland. They preserved a giant section of old-growth forest for the whole community to enjoy. People gathered in “Kinzer Woods” on the Fourth of July, celebrated Settlers Days and tossed down picnic blankets. The Kinzers also had a robust maple syrup operation and sugar camps.
William kept a diary documenting his life and passed on the habit to his son Albert. For more than 50 years, William wrote of milking cows, threshing wheat and farming through all kinds of weather. His diaries provide historians with information about the price of goods and offer a local perspective on national events such as President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Get your map during A Retrospective of Carmel
On November 12, 1-4 p.m., The Carmel Clay Historical Society and Carmel Clay Public Library invite you to enjoy a family-friendly afternoon gathering to share memories of Clay Township and pick up your copy of the 1880 map.
A special program from 2 to 3 p.m. includes speakers, musicians, and family activities that teach about the rich history of Clay Township and Carmel. Plus, exhibits on display will remain in the library throughout November 2023.
The Hamilton County Bicentennial is proudly supported by Duke Energy, Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, Hamilton County Tourism Inc., and Hamilton County Historical Society.