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Geist: Stories From the Past & Photos From the Present

The official Bicentennial photographic history book includes personal stories from contributors. In this submission, writer John Roudebush shares his memories from Fall Creek Township, starting with his childhood around Geist Reservoir. Included with Roudebush’s stories are modern photographs shot by Gareth Wilford, a resident of Fishers since 2005. During this Bicentennial year, we can’t help but reflect on what has changed and what hasn’t. Roudebush’s story and Wilford’s photos help us do just that.

I lived at Oil Well Hill Corner at Olio Road and 116th Street. When I was 10 or 12 years old, I remember there was a pipe from where someone had drilled and left the open casing. You could light a match over it, and the fumes would flare up. Then it would go out until the pressure built up again. That is how that corner became named. I don’t know who or how it was fixed, but I assume that pipe is no longer there!

My parents opened a bait shop on our property when the Geist Reservoir flooded the properties below the hill. Boats were allowed with small engines for fishermen. I went fishing there with my dad and Uncle Roy a few times. Our bait shop developed over the years to include gasoline, groceries, candy, and a small cafe. (Our two sons used to take forever to pick out candy from Grandma Roudebush’s huge assortment). It became known as the Hill Top Cafe because it was up the hill from the reservoir. My brother Jack used to make his pizzas there later; I wonder if anyone remembers Rowdy’s Pizza?

Geist Reservoir authorities did not allow anyone to build any new homes on the waterfront from Olio Road east to Luxhaven and south, at least to what was then the Petty’s house. I think the Pettys lived in Hancock County. Now look at all those houses on the waterfront!

Going north on Olio Road to 238 Road, there were only three houses on the east side of the road, the Russells, Beagles, and McCords. Oh, yes, how many of you remember Johnson’s Store at the corner of 238 and Olio Road? On the west side was Hurlock’s, some old buildings where the town of Olio used to be, a small church that I went to with Jim Brooks, the bigger Bethlehem Methodist Church, and Bethlehem Grade School. I went to that two-room school for three years, and my sister, Judy Roudebush Bowen, went there for five years. She went on to become a top academic student at Fishers High School, Butler University, and Methodist Nursing School.

There was an extension of 116th Street, a gravel road going east of Olio Road. The White family lived over there and farmed lots of land for many years. They eventually sold some land, and a few families built some homes north of 116th Street, north of our home. Later my wife, Pat, and I lived in a mobile home east on 116th next to my Grandma Rose Goin’s house. We lived there until Shell Oil Company moved us to southern California.

My Dad and I farmed several acres in Fall Creek Township for about 10 years. Mainly, we grew soybeans. At that time, there was lots of farmland in Fall Creek Township. I was about 16 years old when they built Fall Creek Elementary School. My brothers and sisters went there before going on to Fishers High School.

We drove around that area a few years ago, and it is hard to believe how much it has changed! I still have a small rock from the old farm, a piece of Hamilton County and Fall Creek Township here in my current home of San Antonio, Texas.

Develop a deeper connection between your life today and Hamilton County's past. Participate in one of the 50+ official Bicentennial events! Explore the full calendar.

The Hamilton County Bicentennial is proudly supported by Duke Energy, Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, Hamilton County Tourism Inc., and Hamilton County Historical Society.


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