Back in the Day: What’s in a name? The forgotten town of Olio, Indiana


By Robert Bowling

When Hamilton County was first settled, Fall Creek Township was nothing more than virgin wilderness. It was in stark contrast to Delaware Township. Living in this area of Hamilton County was not for the faint of heart. It required courage and endurance. Early settlers had to not only contend with the wilderness, but wild animals, brutal winters, and learning to co-exist with the Indians.

Unlike Delaware Township, Fall Creek boasted just one town, Olio. It was so small that it was commonly referred to as a hamlet or village. It did have a store, blacksmith shop, school, church and a post office, all of which are signs of a thriving community. But what is the history behind the name?

Olio was not the first choice for the town’s name. If the residents had been successful, the town would have been called Lickskillet. The post office was first established in 1851 and Solomon Cropper, one of the first settlers, petitioned for the name Lickskillet. The request was denied possibly because there were over 35 communities in Indiana that already had that nickname. Many theories abound as to the origin of the name Lickskillet but the most popular one had to do with dish cleaning. Pioneer families would leave the skillet on the back porch and let the deer, who were attracted to the salt grease, lick it clean. Today, Lickskillet is a generic term for any rural town.

The second choice for the town’s name, which was accepted by the US Postal Service was Olio, but why it was chosen is a mystery. A possible explanation is that the area was rich in natural resources. The name itself implies “oil” and at one time, it was the only place in the state where every family used natural gas. This area became popular among oil and gas companies who exploited it for it’s resources but the town never received the benefits. Fishers could have looked vastly different had Olio been successful in taking advantage of its new found wealth. Instead, it slowly disappeared like all of the other towns.

While Mudsock was a nickname for Fishers Station, Lickskillet continued to be used as a nickname for Olio. Some residents refused to abandon the name Lickskillet. On more than one occasion, Lickskillet was commonly referred to as the Capital of Fall Creek Township.

Fall Creek Township’s only town, Olio, now lives on as a major street that bears its name. The road is littered with schools and businesses and it has come a long way since it was just a small hamlet.