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November 08, 2017

Cynthiana – The First Geist Community

Cynthiana – The First Geist Community

By: David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian

The area around Fishers and Geist is the site of some of the newest housing in Hamilton County, but it was actually settled very early.  A town in Fall Creek Township in one of the few communities listed on the earliest maps.  While it apparently only lasted for two years, the name has stuck around.

The town was Cynthiana, and it can be tough to track because it was later spelled “Cynthianna”, “Cynthianne” and “Cyntheanne”.  There are towns of the same name in Posey County, Indiana, and the state of Kentucky.  The town in Hamilton County was just south of Fall Creek, near the county border at the crossing of Southeastern Parkway and Connecticut Avenue.  Cyntheanne Road ends a mile and half to the northwest.  The land was originally purchased from government by Benjamin Blythe in February of 1832.

Joseph G. Roberts has done a great deal of work on long-disappeared Hamilton County towns.  When he was asked about Cyntheanne in the 1970’s, he said was platted and named by Isom Garrett in 1834.  It had 80 lots in two additions, all of which were sold.  Garrett had arrived in the county in 1827 and was on the 1830 census, but had moved to Vigo County by 1840.

The first official notice of the town was an ending.  A bill was passed by the Indiana state legislature in January 1836 to “vacate” the town.  The town was still marked on maps in 1840, 1843, 1853, and 1854, but not after that.  The different mapmakers weren’t quite sure of where it was, with some of them placing it south of Fall Creek and some placing it north.

The Cyntheanne Christian Church has an interesting statement about the town on its website.  It says the community was founded by the Whetsel family and named for their daughter.  Theodore and Elzina Whetsel did have a daughter named Cynthia, however the family did not arrive in the county until 1850.  The Whetsels may have created a revival of the community.  The website mentions that it had a schoolhouse, a glass factory, and a blacksmith shop, remains of which can still be found today.

The people defined the community.  Although it never had a post office, people claimed as an address.   In 1850, a resident wrote a letter to the State Sentinel newspaper voicing his support for the Temperance movement.  The community was listed in an 1859 shipper’s guide.  However the only real focus was the Christian Church which was organized in 1886, with the present building being constructed in 1903.

By 1890, references to “Cynthianna” start appearing in the newspapers.  The first appearance of “Cynthianne” was when the Cynthianne Telephone Company was incorporated in 1904.  In the 1915 State Tax Commissioner’s report, the company was listed as “Cynthiana”.  A 1916 report on the Christian Church used “Cynthianne”, which was also the spelling used in the 1916 and 1917 Tax Commissioner’s reports.  The Cynthianne Telephone Company had 34 miles of telephone line in 1917.

The “Cyntheanne” spelling is first seen in a 1916 notice about a revival at the church.  This spelling has alternated with “Cynthianne” up to the present day.  The last known use of the “Cynthiana” spelling was in a 1918 report on Christian Church philanthropy.  When Geist Reservoir began construction in the 1920’s, the area began to change and the demographics are very different today.