What’s in a Name? Boot Jack, Traders Point and Lickskillet are Good Examples

The Indianapolis Times, Sunday December 31, 1961 by John Peters.
People are champs at naming things. We can’t pass a stray pup, step across a rain-fed stream, or explore a bend in the road without giving it a name.
Wheather we draw names from fact or fantasy, rational or irrational, nothing stretches the imagination like the naming of towns.
How many people know the origin of Boot Jack, Traders Point, or Lickskillet? These three can be found in Marion County’s Pike Township, which is as good a place as any to look at our forerunner’s knack for naming their lands.
Boot Jack, now barely more than faint echoes of a blacksmith’s hammering, still labels the spot where 65th Street runs into old U.S. 52 (Lafayette Road).
Pike Township old-timers remember Boot Jack as a pinpoint of early activity centering around the smithy and carriage shop of German-born Louis Gass, the home of Dr. Geremiah Reade, and a toll-house manned by James Eudaly.
What is now old U.S. 52 was then a toll road known by some as the Lafayette Road, and by others as Jackson Highway.
The name Boot Jack could have several explanations. It might have been derived from the blacksmith trade that dominated the community.
The most likely explanation stems from the name’s definition. A boot jack is a device used for pulling boots off tired feet.
It consists of a board carved with a simple V-shaped notch that holds any size heel while the weary boot wearer pulls out his foot.
The corner of 65th and the toll road, one lifelong resident of the area pointed out, probably looked like the boot jack’s notch to some quick-witted settler.
Traders Point, nestled in a valley where old U.S. 52 crosses Eagle Creek, is possibly the oldest settlement in Pike Township. It dates back to the first half of the 19th century as a commercial center featuring a gristmill, stockyard, cooper shop, wagon shop, and three stores. Its population bobbed up and down around the two-dozen mark, and now numbers around 50. Traders Point may have gotten its name as a favorite place for dealings among the Indians, but a more likely explanation stems from the known function as a kind of pioneer shopping center.
Early Pike Township people seem to have preferred trading stock, grain, and produce for supplies at Traders Point, rather than travel the long road into Indianapolis. Hence the name.
Little more than the name is left at Lickskillet, a corner community at old U.S. 52 and Moore Road which in its heyday boasted four cabins clustered near School No. 12.
A name like Lickskillet could have countless origins, but among the most reasonable is an explanation offered by Mrs. Mamie Glidewell, Traders Point, who taught at the Lickskillet school before the turn of the century.
The people there were poor people, Mrs. Glidewell said, and made use of everything that had any food value at all.
A homespun jest about poverty or even a sarcastic comment from a traveler could have given the corner a permanent label.
Prominent neighbors of Boot Jack, Traders Point, and Lickskillet are Augusta and New Augusta. Augusta was laid out in 1832 by Daniel Boardman as a stopover town along the Michigan Road, which was mapped from Madison to Michigan City in the same year and comepleted within the decade.
Augusta was known in some quarters as Eck, apparently because the post office established there was named, for reasons unknown, the Eck Post Office.
It seems fairly certain that Augusta got its name from the road that brought it into being. The Michigan Road was engineered by the Augusta Gravel Road Company.
New Augusta sprouted up in the cornfields as Augusta Station, built to link Augusta with the Indianapolis and Lafayette Railroad that was put through in 1852, about 1 1/2 miles west of the Michigan Road.
Shortly after the Augusta Station was built, the land around it on both sides of the tracks, owned by Christopher Hornaday, was marked off in town lots.
The newly platted town picked up the name Hosbrook, from a member of the commission that marked off the town area, Perry Hosbrook.
The land carried two names until the town of New Augusta was officially founded in 1878, but traces of Hosbrook are still in evidence.
Buildings bear the name Hosbrook. Deeds require the Hosbrook location. A Prohibition-era bootlegger once got off free because he had been arrested on a warrant that listed him as a resident of New Augusta when it should’ve said Hosbrook.
Pike Township is not uncommon. Like other townships scattered across the country, some of its towns’ names are colorful, and some simple, but all have a story that’s hard to find and waiting to be told.
For instance, north of the Bob Shank Airport (Pike Plaza Parkway was constructed over the airport runway), there’s a place called Snacks. Who can explain that one? (I received a copy of this article from the late Maxine Stevens who worked for years for the Pike Township School District. Mrs. Stevens was instrumental in having an elementary school at the southwest corner of 56th Street and Moller Road named for Snacks. The photo of the Boot Jack livery is in the archives of the Pike Township Historical Society, located in New Augusta.)

About Ross Reller

I am pleased you have expressed interest in learning more about the historic Traders Point area in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1980 to 1982 I was employed in the PR department at Conner Prairie Museum in Hamilton County. There I learned about William Conner, an important figure in Indiana's pioneer days. A decade later I became interested in the history of the Traders Point area and was surprised to learn that William Conner had been the first land owner in the area. In 1823 he acquired, through the Federal land office in Brookville, a patent for an 80 acre tract carved by Eagle Creek and an Indian trail that was about to be named the first toll roadway through the township (Lafayette Road). Thirty years later a village took shape within this tract. A grain mill on the creek, houses, churches, stores, restaurants, and two gas stations would take shape here in the creek valley hamlet of Traders Point. By 1962 all improvements (except a farmer's co-op) had been removed by the Indianapolis Flood Control Board to make way for Interstate 65 and a new reservoir. This blog is dedicated to preserving evidence of this historic area but I will occasionally use it to discuss related topics. To activate this follow, simply click the confirm button below. If you don't want to follow, ignore this message and we'll never bother you again. I am also a member of the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery, a non profit association still selling burial plots for those who would like to spend all eternity in Traders Point, and I am an officer in the Pike Township Historical Society and the Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods.
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