Phyllis Horton Rockhill might not be a real pioneer of Carmel, but her family roots in Hamilton County run deep.
Rockhill will be one of the grand marshals for the July 4 CarmelFest parade. Because the county is celebrating its bicentennial this year, descendants of Hamilton County pioneers were selected as grand marshals.
Rockhill, 99, was born in Noblesville but moved to Carmel when she was 2 years old. Her family rented a house in Carmel for two years and then bought a home at 611 N. Range Line Rd.
“Carmel has always been a good place to live,” Rockhill said. “We’ve had very little crime. We never locked our doors (growing up). You didn’t have to. It was a safe, happy town and everyone knew each other.”
Rockhill said the family moved to Carmel because her father, Oakley Horton, was going to start a meat market with his brother, Floyd. The downtown Carmel store was called Hortons Meat Market on Main Street. Rockhill said she believes the store closed in 1956.
“My grandfather (Marl) already had a meat market in Noblesville,” Rockhill said. “Floyd was crippled from having polio, so he couldn’t take being on his feet the whole time. So, he got out of the business. My dad would go to work at 8 o’clock in the morning and stay there until 9 at night.”
The Hamilton County ties go deep, as her great-great grandfather donated the land for Hortonville, an unincorporated community north of Westfield.
She graduated from Carmel High School in 1942 with a class of 35.
For the final six weeks of her senior year, Rockhill was pulled out of class and pressed into duty to teach a third-grade class.
“They knew I wanted to be a teacher,” she said.
After graduating from Butler University in 1945, she taught in Indianapolis.
“I taught for two years and then had a child, but went back for another semester,” she said. “I taught 28 years here in Carmel, plus a lot of years of substituting. I helped with their kindergarten when I was staying home with my children.”
When a teacher was fired, Rockhill said officials wanted her to finish out the last six weeks of school, so she substituted in Carmel during that time.
“Then Carmel began to bulge at the seams (enrollment-wise),” she said. “They said, ‘We need you, but we don’t have a (classroom) for you.’ So, they put me in the Carmel Friends Church basement with my fourth-grade class. They would bus us to the school for lunch and recess and then back. We did that until they opened up Orchard Park Elementary (during the spring semester).”
When Carmel Elementary opened, she started teaching there.
Rockhill retired in 1984. Her husband, Myron, retired earlier that year after being an accountant for Indiana Farm Bureau Co-op. The couple was married 74 years before he died at age 99 in 2021.
Rockhill’s parents graduated from Westfield High School.
“My roots are very deep here,” she said.
Rockhill’s daughter, Jean Rockhill Pluchar, 64, lives on the east side of Carmel and works in Noblesville. She has two sons, Jerry, 74, Commerce, Ga., and Jim, 72, Louisville.