top of page

The Town at the Bottom of Geist Reservoir and Other Forgotten Communities

Hamilton County is home to some pretty well-known cities and towns. Some have even topped national lists for things like where to retire, work and send your kids to school. But for those of us who are as interested in the past as we are in the present, there are plenty of forgotten communities in Hamilton County worth revisiting — at least through history.

One such place is Germantown, a lost community in Delaware Township. Scroll down to discover “forgotten communities” from each of our nine townships. (Much more detail can be found in Celebrating Hamilton County, Indiana: 200 Years of Change.)

Germantown’s Watery Geist Grave

News stories about water shortages in cities and towns have become commonplace, if not a little scary. Over the past two decades, more than 80 metropolitan cities have faced severe water shortages due to droughts and unsustainable water use.

In Hamilton County, it was the demand for water that eventually took out a town called Germantown that had been established by German settlers in 1834.

Atlas of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana, 1889.

Located on the north shore of Fall Creek, the thriving hamlet of Germantown included a small collection of homes, a general store, a grist mill, a shoemaker, and not much else. Residents used the flowing water to power their mill, feed their families fresh fish and move goods to and fro by boat.

“Other tiny hamlets dotted the Fall Creek banks throughout the countryside of central Indiana. Germantown was situated between Fall Creek and Lawrence Townships. Today, this is the line between Hamilton and Marion counties,” writes Cassidy Robertson for This is Fishers.

The town quietly thrived until a population boom in the Indianapolis area led thirsty utility leaders to seek a water source outside of the White River.

Around 1928, the head of the Indianapolis Water Company decided to head off a possible shortage in Indianapolis by tapping into Fall Creek. The man’s name was Clarence H. Geist.

Geist directed the IWC’s vice president, Howard Morse, to begin to buy up the land surrounding Germantown. Within a few years, most of the land was owned by the IWC. As they continued to gobble up land, they also executed topographical analyses and test borings from 1931 to 1932.

1938 plat map of Lawrence Township showing the land purchased by IWC (Photo Credit: Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library)

The Great Depression delayed the construction of the reservoir and dam, and Geist died in 1938, unable to see his plan come to fruition.

“Work officially started on May 26, 1941, with the clearing of the dam site and the initial foundational work,” according to the Class 900: Indianapolis blog. “While the work on the dam was commenced, clearing of the almost 1,800 acres of land which would be inundated once the reservoir was filled was also begun. All property, including the former Germantown, had been obtained by the IWC, and their contractors cleared any buildings, fences, vegetation, and bridges.”

By March 17, 1943, Geist Reservoir was filled to capacity and officially named for the former IWC president. And Germantown disappeared under the water. There have been rumors that you can see remnants of Germantown, specifically a church steeple when the reservoir is low, but there is no proof that any buildings remain.

Go deeper (pun intended) during “What’s Beneath Geist Reservoir? The History of Germantownon Saturday, Sept., 23, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Fishers Library. Join speakers, local historian Robert Bowling, and area descendant and genealogist Susan Lucas for insight into how the reservoir came to be and what life was like for those who lived where Geist now sits. If you’re a descendant of a family from this area, bring your memories and records!


Adams Township

Burton Grocery, Ekin, Indiana. (Photo courtesy of the Sheridan Historical Society)


  • Located on the Tipton-Hamilton County Line.

  • Named for General James Ekin, a Union Civil War General who gained fame by being on the commission that investigated President Lincoln’s assassination.

  • Had a strong timber industry, which was exported internationally.

  • Post office was established in 1875 and remained in operation until it was discontinued in 1902.


  • Laid out in 1836 by Addison and Thomas P. Boxley.

  • Boxley brothers were the first storekeepers, with Thomas serving as the first postmaster of the town.

  • First four-year degree awarded in 1900 to 9 students.

  • 1902 claim to fame when the football team won the county championship.

Bakers Corner

  • The settlement of Englewood, later named Bakers Corner, took place between 1831 and 1837, when there were few white settlers in Hamilton County.

  • Families traveling through the area carried their own axes to cut and clear brush and fallen timber.

  • Early settlers were the families of Reagan, Bakers, Simmons, Griffin, Foulke, Mills, Pickett and Jones.

  • Charles Jones established a general merchandise store at the age of 21 at the southwest corner of the crossroads. It remained in the Jones name up into the 1970s.

  • Pickett’s sorghum factory, started in 1913, was a boon to the Bakers Corner economy.


  • Named after the spice trees nearby that resembled thorn trees but had spicy bark.

  • Began because of the Spicewood Friends Quaker congregation founded in 1865.

  • Home to a school that taught first through eighth grades, a blacksmith shop and a toll gate for the road north of the crossroads.

Clay Township

Mattsville Pike wait station for the Interurban. (Photo courtesy of the HEPL Joe Roberts Photo Collection)


  • In 1860, Madison “Matt” Richardson built a two-story frame building that served as a general store and boarding house.

  • In 1877, a post office opened in the store under the name Mattsville.

  • A small village included a cobbler, barbershop, and blacksmith, as well as several residences.

  • In 1880, the town was struck by a disaster when the Wilkinson mill caught fire and burned to the ground.

East Branch/Gray

  • In 1852, Quakers built a church, school, and cemetery on the northeast corner of 146th Street and Gray Road in Noblesville Township. The community took the name East Branch.

  • In the early 1860s, a sawmill was built just east of the church, and a blacksmith shop opened.

  • A post office opened under the name Gray in 1889. Levi A. Haines Jr. was appointed the first postmaster, followed by Stephen N. Farlow in 1895.

  • Today, the Gray Friends Church and Cemetery are the only remnants of this town.


  • By 1866, the village had six houses and several more on the outskirts.

  • Grew with the addition of a physician, a blacksmith shop, a sawmill built by Henry Henley on Lick Branch, and a general store in 1883.

  • In December 1882, the community applied for a post office, and the village was renamed Eldorado and had about 50 residents.

  • Tied to the Poplar Ridge neighborhood to the southeast, where residents attended church and school.

  • Though Eldorado lost its post office in 1896, it continued to appear on maps into the 1950s.

Home Place

  • In 1914, the Orin Jessup Land Company of Tipton redeveloped the Pleasant Grove neighborhood to create a small residential suburb on the interurban line that became Home Place.

  • Grand vision was for it to become a neighborhood of modern bungalows with driveways, garages, and yards big enough to keep chickens — a town of country homes with the conveniences of the city nearby.

  • The company sold 112 lots in the first six weeks. Over the next five years, the company developed five additions to Home Place for a total of 160 acres by 1919.

  • Remained an unincorporated town until it was annexed by the city of Carmel in 2018.

Delaware Township

West Liberty

  • The main artery was Allisonville Road, at the time known as the West Liberty Gravel Road.

  • The origin of the town’s name is a mystery.

  • Had been a Quaker community. Its church lasted until the end of World War II, when it members joined other nearby churches. Eller Cemetery still remains but is not easily accessible to the public.

  • Claim to fame was the horse racing track that drew visitors from around the state.

  • Marcus Hare built a farm, known as Grasslands, for the sole purpose of breeding horses, and he eventually built a racing track. His farm and the surrounding area were once considered as a possible location for the Indiana State Fair. The farm eventually was owned by the Gatewood family, who built an airport on the property, which was eventually sold to the Indianapolis Airport Authority.

New Britton

  • Laid out in 1851. Had a store, post office, doctor, and blacksmith by 1880.

  • Eventually dwindled when Samuel Trittipo moved his goods store to the booming metropolis of Fishers Station in 1886.

  • Remembered today with New Britton Elementary School and streets such as Britton Park and Britton Ridge.

  • William Conner’s brick home sitting on a bluff overlooking the White River became a trading hub with a horse mill, distillery and farm. When a five-man committee was formed to relocate the capital of Indiana from Corydon to a more central location, Conner tried to persuade the committee to choose a location less than a mile from New Britton. Two of the five members voted to relocate the state capital in Hamilton County, but Indianapolis won out because it was a more central location.


  • Located on the Greenfield and Noblesville Road, near present-day 136th Street and Olio Road.

  • Had fewer than 40 residents, but boasted that they had the best gravel roads in the area.

  • The town’s name was explained in an 1889 story in the Hamilton County Ledger. A prominent man married his sister-in-law. Soon after, he had to call upon his father-in-law. From a distance, he yelled with a high pitch, “Ha Dad! Come here.” He yelled so loud that the children heard it. It soon became a byword among the children and before too long, the village was christened “Hadad.”


  • Centered around present-day Olio Road and 126th Street.

  • One of the first settlers, Solomon Cropper, petitioned that the name of the town be called Lickskillet. However, since there were more than 30 communities in Indiana with that name already, the U.S. Post Office denied the request.

  • The area is rich in natural resources, and it was also the only town in the state in which every family living there used natural gas. (Olio is similar to the word “oil,” which could be the reason why it was chosen.)

  • Over the years, gas companies came to the area to use these resources.

  • The post office was discontinued in 1900, and now the town lives on as a major road on the eastern side of Fishers, populated with schools and businesses.

Jackson Township


  • Deming

  • Originally known as Farmington before another town of the same name was established.

  • Town was laid out by Elihu Pickett.


  • Millersburg

  • Unincorporated town that rests on State Road 19 midway between Arcadia and Atlanta.

  • On the 1866 Hamilton County Township map, a proposed railway route for the Cleveland and St. Louis Railroad can be seen crossing with the existing line (eventually the Nickel Plate). The railroad never came to fruition, however, meaning Millersburg never got the jumpstart it needed to become a bigger town.

Washington Township


  • Ephraim Stout and Jesse Waller platted 14 lots for a village called “Eagletown” by Little Eagle Creek on the west side of the township in 1848.

  • Had three grocery stores, a general merchandise store, and other businesses during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Had a post office with appointed postmasters from 1849 to 1925.

  • Other businesses included a blacksmith shop owned by R.B. Stout, a hotel operated by Joseph Jones, and a barber shop run by Rollie Phillips.

  • In 1883, a tile factory, managed by Billie Rich and Milt Mosley manufactured tile from nearby clay until shutting down in 1900.


  • Located on the west side of Washington Township near the Boone County border.

  • Had a dry goods and grocery store operated by Lewis Bowers and two drug stores operated by A.J. Garnett and O.N. Herron

  • Goodrich Brothers Grain Elevato emerged when the Midland Railroad went through town during the late 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Jehu Jackson’s opened the original blacksmith shop.

  • Roy Hadley, Will Thomas, and Bert Johnson operated a bank

  • The village had a grocery store until a fire destroyed the structure during the early 1900s.

  • The Modern Woodsmen and Royal Neighbors constructed a two-story structure for their meetings in 1910. That structure also served as a meeting place for the Horse Thieves Protective Association in 1916.

  • The village remains small, with a few houses and businesses existing there today.


  • Nicknamed “Niptintuck.”

  • Thomas C. Wells served as postmaster when the post office opened in 1874.

  • Had a schoolhouse, a church, a store, and a blacksmith shop by the 1890s.

  • Residents received telephone service before 1907, and electricity from Public Service Indiana around 1939.

  • Mrs. John Gurney Allen ran the first general store before selling it to William Sherman Swain in 1907. Before closing in the 1930s, the business also had a huckster wagon used by employees.

  • The town had a garage inside the north side and a general store in the south side of an old school building purchased by Bert Collins during the early 1900s. Customers purchased gas from a hand-operated pump.


  • Small farming village located 3 miles northwest of Westfield.

  • Probably named by local people for a pioneer named Horton.

  • Prospered during the late 1800s and early 1900s, but businesses began to decline as time passed. Continued to lose businesses as the Monon Railroad ended service to the area during the late 20th century.

  • Wilbur Odle operated one of the general stores until selling it to Bob and Charlotte Stewart. Perry Pitts purchased the store from the Stewarts before it closed.

  • Bob Stewart also served as the village’s first electrician.

  • Horney’s Jerseys Dairy Farm and the Hamilton County Co-Op, a grain elevator, were the only two businesses remaining in Hortonville by 2005.

  • The Hortonville Friends Church and the Hortonville Methodist Church were active in the village over the years.

Wayne Township

Masonic Lodge in Clarksville, with Tom McDonald at left and Sam Crull at right. (Photo courtesy of Dottie Young)


  • Founded in 1849 and originally named Nicholsonville after Abraham Nicholson, who left North Carolina and settled in Wayne Township; he became the first blacksmith and postmaster.

  • Incorporated in 1867 with Dr. P.P Whitesell, D.D. Caylor, and J.R. Leonard as trustees. Had a clerk named Edward Randall and a marshal named Edward Heiny.

  • By 1880, had a few businesses, including a drug and grocery store operated by Joseph Beckwith, a grocery store owned by W.A. Alcorn, and a wagon manufacturing shop owned and operated by John Kepler.

  • McCarty and Shawcross served as blacksmiths, while Whitesell worked as a physician for the town.

  • Another blacksmith shop opened in 1915, along with a general store operated by Samuel Crull. Dewey C. Layton and DeBolt & Beaver operated two automobile garages.

  • Because the Midland Railroad missed the town, Clarksville never really grew and gave up its incorporation as a town around 1885.

  • Remained an unincorporated community on Indiana State Road 38, with a population of approximately 200 people by 1984.


  • Peter Lennen platted sixteen lots for the town of Poinsett on August 2, 1845.

  • The original plat was discovered in the Hamilton County Recorder’s Office in 1947.

  • When Clarksville was founded nearby in 1849, the town of Poinsett was absorbed into the new town.


  • In 1888, S.B. Castor platted the town of Durbin, located north of Clarksville in Wayne Township. Had a dry goods store owned by W.W. Sylvester and constructed by his brother Hezekiah Sylvester.

  • Because of its location along the Midland Railroad, John F. Haines called Durbin “an extensive shipping point” in the township.

  • By the 1960s, Durbin had two businesses: The Goodrich Elevator and the Town and Country Bottle Gas Company. Around 1955, the latter business was built and operated by C.P. Weedman, who in 1962 became president of the Indiana Liquified Petroleum Gas Association. His business provided liquid petroleum for customers to use for cooking and heating.

  • The origin of the name “Durbin” is unknown.

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


Single post: Blog_Single_Post_Widget
  • Facebook
bottom of page