Every resident of Hamilton County has a chance to be part of its history. You might know someone today who other people will write about and talk about for many years to come. That person could even be you.
But how a person’s story lives on isn’t just up to them. It’s also up to the people who choose to recognize and remember them.
For Hamilton County’s bicentennial, we are capturing our history through Celebrating Hamilton County, Indiana: 200 Years of Change, a special edition book created by a team of volunteer writers, editors and historians.
But theirs aren’t the only histories we want to publish. We are also encouraging residents (past and present) to submit memories and photos to be featured in the book and on our blog. We want to know how you see history. (Learn how easy it is to Submit Your Story by March 15, 2022.)
A Fishers resident since 2008, Robert Bowling is one volunteer contributor to Celebrating Hamilton County, Indiana: 200 Years of Change.
“I’ve done a lot of research on the history of Fishers, but the best source of information is from oral histories,” says the Fishers Historical Society and Fishers Police historian, and historical researcher for the Officer Down Memorial Page.
“I love hearing from people who grew up in Fishers about how Fishers looked back then. It gives me a perspective of the rural life in Fishers and the small town feel of a tight-knit community. The best way to see that is through the eyes of those who lived here.
For the bicentennial book, Bowling will cover both Delaware and Fall Creek townships, and he is excited to share stories of groups that have been underrepresented in Fishers’ past.
Focusing squarely on one such group is Bryan Glover, the Director of Learning for Roberts Settlement. His addition to the Noblesville Township section will include African-American history, sharing events and stories that even longtime residents might not know about.
Glover grew up in Noblesville Township and graduated from Noblesville High School in 1975. He is also a former small business owner in Noblesville and serves on the board of directors for Roberts Settlement, the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce and the Noblesville Diversity Coalition.
He hopes that the public’s contributions will bring to light histories of places, events and people in our community that most of us don’t know about.
Arcadia resident Julie Ann Davis will tackle the Jackson Township chapter in Celebrating Hamilton County, Indiana. Like other contributors, she has made her interest in history personal. In 1993, she and her husband purchased The Wolff House (later Carter Apartments) and restored it to its original state.
“This project allowed me to examine a great deal of local history in an effort to preserve historical accuracy,” says Davis, who taught English, speech, drama and TV production at Hamilton Heights High School for 40 years.
As director of theater, she wrote three full-length programs for performance and authored a production for the Cicero Sesquicentennial program in 1979. She also served on the state committee for the Indiana Online Writing Project and is a current member of the Hamilton Heights School Board. She knows that just dates and names don’t make a good story.
“History is always much more accurate and colorful when told by those directly involved, and not just through secondary research,” she says. As such, she is interviewing people from Atlanta, Arcadia and Cicero as part of her writing process.
The most household-name historian on the team, of course, is David Heighway, our Hamilton County Historian. Heighway will write the book’s opening chapter as well as the chapter about Noblesville Township, where he has lived for 29 years.
Heighway is the author of several books, including Hidden History of Hamilton County and No Better Place for Our Minds to Grow Strong (a reference to libraries). He also writes a regular history column for Hamilton County Business Magazine and “Highlights in History” for the Hamilton East Public Library blog.
He says there are a lot of commonly held beliefs about our history that are misunderstood. “The county has a vibrant and unique history that may be somewhat different from what readers were taught.”
Some of those misunderstood aspects might be corrected by contributions from people like you. Heighway encourages these “unheard voices and stories” to come forward and be heard.
“The book will be a great opportunity for starting conversations about dealing with issues today by looking at what actions the county has taken in the past,” Heighway says. “I also hope that a lot of young people will take an interest in this.”
As a kind of call to action, Davis says, “A great number of these stories have never been written down or published, and they need to be told while those involved still have life and memory.”
Now it’s your turn! Tell us a story about a person, place or thing that should live on in our Hamilton County history. Share your memories for posterity. This can be your chance to shape how we talk about Hamilton County for many years to come. Submit Your Story by March 15, 2022.
Only a limited number of Celebrating Hamilton County, Indiana: 200 Years of Change will be printed. Therefore, it is necessary to take all orders in advance. Those who pre-order by May 6, 2022, will receive the special Commemorative Bicentennial edition. Pre-order your copies soon. Click here for more information.