LYLES STATION, Ind. — Stanley Madison spent last Thursday talking to visitors who came to Lyles Station Museum for its annual Juneteenth celebration about the importance of farming to the community's settlers and the continuing connection of farming to people of today.
Juneteenth, sometimes called Emancipation Day, celebrates the freeing of slaves by Union soldiers on June 19, 1865, at Galveston, Texas, more than two years after President Lincoln's proclamation.
Lyles Station, located west of Princeton, Indiana, was established in the mid-1840s by freed slaves and flourished into the early 20th century as a community of about 800 residents. Flooding, though, from the nearby Wabash and Patoka rivers took a toll on the community which saw most of its residents relocate.
The restored Lyles Consolidated School, which served students from 1922 to 1958, continues its mission of educating today with the preservation of the oral, written and physical history of the community's African American culture, said Madison, founder in 1997 of the Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corp.
"I want them (visitors) to understand the African American farming side of it," Madison told the Evansville Courier & Press. "We'll talk about milking the cow and how those nine liters of milk are produced every day. We'll talk about the yellow corn and how farmers have to grow enough yellow corn for this year to feed all the people in 2015."
Madison said he wanted visitors to learn the creative ways Lyles Station founders worked to make a decent living, including making dolls for girls out of corn cobs because the porcelain was too expensive when families had to worry about buying seeds and equipment for the next season.
In addition to talking about how farming was used in the past, Madison connected farming uses from the past with how the products produced are used today.