How Noblesville Became “Millers”

Noblesville High School adopted the Miller as its mascot in 1925.

Could you imagine watching the Noblesville athletic teams competing against other schools without the name “Millers” emblazoned across their uniforms? Well, until 1925, that’s the way it was.

C.B. “Pop” Jenkins (1865-1956)

In 1925, C. B. Jenkins, a manager of the Noblesville Milling Company, offered to buy the school all new uniforms if the school agreed to using the nickname “Millers.” This was a common statewide practice at the time, and Noblesville High School adopted the “Millers” as a new nickname.

Grain milling was an important industry in the Hamilton County area in the 1850’s, and used the water resources of White River, Cool Creek, and Stony Creek to become nationally known for flour production.

The Noblesville High School athletic teams began competing in sports in the early 1900’s and were known as the “Black and Gold” until Mr. Jenkins’ offer.

The nickname “Millers” and “Lady Millers” (which was adopted in the 1980’s) reflects the heritage of our community and the pride that our community has in our schools and our athletic teams. Our athletes are proud to wear the black and gold as they represent our community.

Special thanks to Irv Heath, a lifelong Noblesville resident, for researching this article from the January 29, 1975 Noblesville Topics; and Josh Hilton, NHS Class of 1999, who wrote this article.

The following is the original article from the January 29, 1975 edition of the Noblesville Topics. Retrieved from Hamilton East Public Library.

Members of the 1927 Noblesville Millers’ basketball team pose in their new “Miller” uniforms. Note the old “N” style jersey on the first player in the second row. Members of the Millers ’27 team included (front) Frank Graham, Errol Ream, (middle) Edward Smith, Joe Nichols, Charles Sohl, Robert Duckwall, Richard Rector, (back) Elvin Cast, John Weaver, Clement Davis, Joe Scully, Charles Wheeler, and George Zimmer.

Noblesville Became ‘Millers’ In 1925

By Tony Shouse

Fifty years ago Noblesville High School athletic teams became known as the “Millers” after a local merchant, C.B. Jenkins, made them a proposition “they couldn’t refuse”.

Jenkins, manager of the Noblesville Milling Company, addressed a gathering of the students and faculty of the school in the high school gymnasium, and told them that if they agreed to nickname their athletic teams the “Millers”, his company would purchase new athletic uniforms.

At least that’s the way two local residents, Mrs. James Dillon and Mahlon Schaller, who were high school students at the time, recall that day in 1925.

Mrs. Dillon Recalls

“I’m pretty sure that it was in 1925 when I was a sophomore that Mr. Jenkins came to the school and made the offer”, remembered Mrs. Dillon. “I don’t remember exactly what the uniforms looked like when they arrived, but I do know they had the word “Millers” monogramed on them.”

Don Jenkins, son of C.B. Jenkins, lives in Nora now, and he also remembers when his father made the proposition to the school.

Although he is uncertain of the exact year, “1925 sounds just about right” said the 87-year-old former Noblesville resident.

Don moved to Noblesville in 1909 when his father took over as manager of the mill, and from 1935 until the mill was sold in 1941, the younger Jenkins assumed the manager’s role.

‘Always A Booster’

“We were always a big booster for the teams in Noblesville, and I remember my father agreeing to purchase the uniforms in exchange for the Millers being used as a nickname”, said Jenkins, who is still able to get around, and drives to Noblesville occasionally for a meal at the Elks Club.

Flour from the Noblesville Milling Company became famous in the eastern section of the United States, said Jenkins, and for many years was an industry leader in the milling business, as well as an active part of the growing Noblesville community.

Milling has always played an important role in the growth of Hamilton County and the Noblesville area. The first mill in the county was erected in 1820 by John Finch, and was run by horse-power.

A number of mills began popping up around the area between the 1830’s and 1850’s, especially on county creeks and streams like Cool Creek and Stony Creek.

Mills Boom in ’50’s

In the 1850’s, milling began to make inroads in Noblesville, which had been laid out in 1823. It was in the ’50’s that enterprising businessmen in the community discovered the importance and usefulness of White River as a major industrial source.

Noblesville High School was constructed in the 1870’s at a cost of about $42,000, and the first graduating class in 1876 had two students.

With the turn of the century, sports began to play a big role in Indiana, as well as across the rest of the nation, and Noblesville was no exception.

However, most of the sports at this time were played outside, and football immediately became the local favorite, although baseball and track were also quite popular. Basketball, which was invented in the early 1890’s by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, was relatively unknown in Indiana at the time—and Noblesville did not have a gymnasium.

NHS Builds Gym

In 1922, it was decided to build a gym, not only for basketball, but to serve part of the school corporation. At a cost of $110,000, the gym (now the home of the Noblesville Boys’ Club) was finished and dedicated in December, 1923.

Leafing through past issues of the school’s yearbook annual, The Shadow, and the school newspaper, The Leven-Sun, the name Millers does not appear until 1925, specifically in the December 14 issue of the school paper.

Prior to that time, Noblesville athletic teams were called the “Black and Gold” in accounts of sporting events.

Through the years, despite the fact that Noblesville is no longer one of the “milling capitals of the world”, the nickname Millers is still a part of the tradition and spirit, not only of the high school, but of the entire community.

Shouse, Tony. “Noblesville Became ‘Millers’ In 1925.” Noblesville Topics, 29 Jan. 1975, pp. 1–10.