ANDERSON — At 4 p.m. Sunday, the Madison County Historical Society will be officially 125 years old.
It was on this date, Dec. 20, 1884, the Articles of Association creating the society were filed in the recorder’s office and timed at 4 p.m.
Dr. William A. Hunt was the first president to lead our society establishing a tradition of excellence in leadership that is clearly present today as we are ably led by Roger Hensley.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners provided a room in the new courthouse for the use of the society. Contributions of interesting relics and curious items soon arrived as the citizens wished to aid the new society in its efforts to establish a museum. There was no lack of interest on the part of the citizens as a great many of them visited the society’s room to view its collection.
By 1895 it had become necessary to use the room for county purposes. In the fall of that year the society relocated to the Anderson High School building. How long it remained there is unknown. Ironically, a society devoted to the study of history knows very little about its own.
Finding a home
In 1926 the society was incorporated under Indiana law and became the Madison County Historical Society, Inc.
By 1970 the society was holding meetings in the old YWCA on Jackson Street. Sometime after that the society began meeting at the Anderson Public Library where it remained until September, 1999 when it moved to 1931 Brown Street.
During those years several persons made significant contributions to the growing success of the society. Howard Eldon, Elwood Phillips, Charles and Esther Dittlinger, Helen Harvey Baumer, Linda Shelton, Gloria Lamper, Lucille Brown, John and Mary Chismar, and Maude Ward are but a few of the many that left an indelible mark upon the society.
In 2004 the society moved again, this time to its present home at 15 W 11th Street in Anderson. Our building contains almost 23,000 square feet spread out over two floors and a basement.
Shortly after moving in, a group of dedicated individuals with various skills began the process of transforming the former Citizens Bank building into a historical society; one of which the citizens of Madison County can be proud.
Today, the first floor contains our administrative area where visitors are warmly greeted by past president and current Second Vice-President, Don Hunt, who gives tours of our outstanding facility. Here, too, is First Vice-President and former attorney Richard Kreegar who oversees our legal and administrative responsibilities.
A first-class genealogy research library is also located on the first floor. Former society president Phyllis Leedom, whose genealogy skills are recognized throughout central Indiana, volunteers here. The genealogy staff is second to none in their abilities and skills. The Lawler sisters, Lucretia and Nancy, Bill Upperman, Tim Mattingly, Melody Hull, Linda Laird, and Leota Jones dedicate their time to the success of this very important effort. Nancy Lawler also manages our web site at www.andersonmchs.com.
The Dr. Jack B. Nicholson Library is another feature on the first floor. It is named in honor of Dr. Nicholson who was president of the society and county historian. It is a fitting tribute to this historian whose love of books now embraces a beautiful library filled with information to aid the researcher in their pursuit of knowledge.
Many to thank
The Accession area is where items donated to us are first taken to be cataloged. Here, care is taken to carefully record the gift and the donor. Laura Terrell, a new volunteer, administers this function for us. She replaced Richard and Mary Lou Moberly who retired earlier this year after years of dedicated service in carrying out this most important duty.
The Richard and Maurita Bowman Room is our well-appointed meeting room. Through their generous donation this room has become the showplace of our building and hosts our meetings as well as those of other groups. Dick is a former president and county historian and was instrumental in obtaining our current building.
Completing the first floor are three exhibit rooms where displays are featured throughout the year, and the county historian’s office.
Gerald Jones is our treasurer and certainly one of our most valued volunteers. He has headed the Madison County Civil War Round Table since its inception in May, 1991, bringing to the community a wide variety of programs on the war. When not busy with his duties, he can be found fixing something or making an improvement that is a benefit to all.
Marilyn Marsh faithfully serves as our recording secretary for the board of trustees meetings. Marty Kettron and Suzie Chambers are two people we seem to depend upon a great deal. Both of these outstanding women contribute immeasurably to the society in a variety of ways. There are not enough words to describe their contributions and value to the society.
Working hard, having fun
Our monthly programs are the product of Bob Quinn’s outstanding efforts to bring to the society a variety of interesting and entertaining programs covering a wide spectrum of historical interests.
And last, but certainly not least is Carol Carlson. She is the editor of our newsletter, The Gazette. Her skills as a former reporter for the Anderson Herald Bulletin serve her well as our editor.
There are many more volunteers too numerous to name, including our board of trustees, who serve faithfully and make important contributions to the society with their time and efforts.
And supporting all of our volunteers are the many spouses who often pitch in when we need extra help. Volunteering is truly a team effort in our society.
The Madison County Historical Society is one of eight historical organizations in Madison County. The others are: Alexandria-Monroe Township Historical Society, Larry Maple, President; Elwood Pipe Creek Genealogy Society, Nancy Sumner, President; Historic Fall Creek, Pendleton Settlement, Sandy Butler, President; Orestes Historical Society, Carolyn Shettle, President; Pendleton Historical Museum, Nancy Noel, President; Summitville-Van Buren Township Historical Society, Wayne Small, President; The Gruenewald House, Henry McLain, President.
As we go forward the society plans to strengthen ties with all of these organizations to better serve and promote our common interests. One way in which we are achieving that goal is through media communications.
Once each month representatives from the Madison County Historical Society appear on the WHBU radio show, ”Anderson Live,” hosted by Leland Franklin, who departed the station on Friday. Discussions focus on news and events occurring throughout the county that involve all the historical organizations.
Additionally, members from the Madison County Historical Society and the Pendleton Historical Museum submit articles for the Sunday Herald Bulletin’s history page. Their articles, along with those submitted by Beth Oljace of the Anderson Public Library, have stimulated a renewed interest in our local history. We have Scott Miley, the Associate Editor for Features, to thank for his invitation to become contributing writers for the newspaper. It provides a forum for the history community to give a voice to their passion for history, and for the readers to share in that passion.
Plans for an exciting 2010 are underway with new exhibits, displays, genealogy classes, and a new programming format for the Civil War Round Table. We encourage the public to visit our web site for details or, stop in and meet with our friendly volunteers.
As we reflect Sunday upon our accomplishment of reaching 125 years, the 200-plus members of the Madison County Historical Society can look back with pride, and to a future full of promise. A future that one day will include a museum to showcase our collection of Madison County memorabilia.
The society was paid a nice compliment recently. It came from Jeff Harris, Director of Local History Services for the Indiana Historical Society. He said, “It is easy to see why the Madison County Historical Society accomplishes so much. The organization works smart, works hard and has a lot of fun.”
For more information, visit the Madison County History Center, 15 W. 11th St., Anderson, which is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Phone 683-0052.
ANDERSON — At 4 p.m. Sunday, the Madison County Historical Society will be officially 125 years old.
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