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November 17, 2016

1866 Hamilton County Map

1866 Hamilton County Map

By: David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian

map-1Amidst the hoopla for the state bicentennial, I almost forgot that this is an anniversary for an item more closely related to Hamilton County.  In 1866 – 150 years ago – the first detailed map of Hamillton County was created.   It’a wonderful resource for local history and, thanks to Hamilton County Surveyor’s office, it’s available on the internet.  There is a link at the HEPL Indiana Room page to the Surveyor’s page that has pdf’s of the map.  They went to a great deal of work to get it scanned, as this article says here.  The detailed scans are great for seeing the information close up. They also simplfy the map by having separate pdfs of the townships, individual towns, and illustrations of buildings.

As the earliest map of the county, it holds important information such as the route of the Lafayette Trace, the ancient game trail that brought most of the first settlers to Hamilton County.  The line of the trail can be seen cutting through White River, Jackson, and Adams Townships.  By 1880, the date of the next county map, the trail had been mostly abandoned and plowed under.  The map also shows the fords that people used to cross rivers – it would be about three years later that the first covered bridges would be built.

The township maps show that the population centers of Adams and Delaware Townships were not places like Sheridan and Fishers, which hadn’t been founded, but rather Boxley and New Britain.  However, you can see that Salathiel Fisher had purchased the twelve acres that would become the town of Fishers.  At that time, there were two churches in the Roberts Settlement area of Jackson Township, only one of which is standing today.

The individual town maps have their own value by showing the footprints of all of the buildings in a town and having business directories.  There are maps of important towns like Clarksville and Deming, as well as the tiny crossroads community of Bethlehem (which was sophisticated enough to have a hotel and a photographer).  The map of Millersburg shows the proposed Cleveland and St. Louis Railroad and its crossing with the present railroad.  The street named Railroad Street still exists today.  However, the C. & St. L. Railroad was either never finished or took anouther route.   A small amount of information about the line can be found here and here.

The map of Strawtown shows the remains of big hopes from the community’s time as a crucial crossroads – Lafayette Street is named for the Lafayette Trace going east-west, Fort Wayne Street is named for the trail going north-south, and Canal Street was expected to parallel the Central Canal project that failed.   The town map of Westfield is very useful for discussions of the Underground Railroad.   People will occasionally ask which house in Westfield was a part of the UGRR.  In all likelihood, it was probably most of them on the map.  Coversely, if a buidling isn’t on the map, that means that it didn’t exist when the UGRR was running.

noblesville%20township%201866%20pdf_201504280854453896The maps for Noblesville Township and city  show how different the community was then.  The township image shows the county fairgrounds being on the north side of town, roughly where North Elementary School is today.   On the town image, it’s interesting to compare the layout of the square with early images such at the 1872 photo in this article here.  Farther south on Polk (8th) Street, the railroad station has an engine house to go with it.  The engine house burned down a few years later and never replaced.

In that same area is the Conner home, (labeled “A. H. Conner”), which William Conner built when he moved to Noblesville in 1837.  The extent of his Noblesville farm can be seen in the township image.  Interestingly, 1866 was when Leonard Wild purchased the land from Conner’s heirs for redevelopment.  Wild himself lived in this house on 10th and Clinton Streets.  He would not have much success developing the area of Conner’s farm until after the natural gas boom began in 1887.

While many of the building in individual illustrations have disappeared, such as the Conner mill at Clare, others are still there, like the Grubbs house near Strawtown.

The people who made the map, Charles A. O. McClellan and Carl S. Warner, were not local.  McClellen was from Waterloo, Indiana, and later went on to be a judge and serve in Congress.   Not much information can be found about Warner – his first name may actually be Charles.  Working with several different partners, these two men produced maps of Randolph, Kosciusko, Hendricks, and Huntingdon Counties in Indiana, as well as counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.