2017 Year in Review


Museums see visitors from 31 states, six countries in 2017

What a year 2017 has been for the Switzerland County Historical Society! Numerous events, operating the museums, hosting tours and pursuing grants have kept us busy.

The Switzerland County Historical Museum and the “Life on the Ohio” River History Museum had visitors from 31 different states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia); and six countries (Canada, Italy, Japan, Serbia, Switzerland, United Kingdom).

Special events provided the opportunity to share our local history through re-enacting, entertainment and hands-on experiences via the Big Doin’s Tent Chautauqua & Art Fair in July, Rural Heritage Tour and All Hallows Eve in October and A Country Christmas in December.

Connecting with the youth of the county is always a pleasure. Our main event is Storyfest, which relays the many to ways to tell stories, such as through music, dance, oral tradition and drama. Over 700 students in grades 1 through 6 participated this year. Other school involvement included 4th grades from Switzerland County Elementary and Jeff-Craig visiting the Thiebaud Farmstead, 1st grades from Jeff-Craig visiting the museums, and job shadowing with students from Mr. Jesop’s class at the Middle School. Outreach to the schools took us to SCES for their Back-to-School Open House and the 6th grade camp out at Whitewater.

Our members are incredible volunteers. The week-long Conservators’ Holiday provided the opportunity for camaraderie while working on the museum collection, upkeep of buildings and garden and yard maintenance. Each event requires set-up, re-enactors and assistants during the event, and clean-up afterwards.

In addition to our hardworking members, we were privileged to have youth volunteers help us with yard work and upkeep at the Thiebaud Farmstead and the museum. The Junior Historical Society and the 10th Grade Leadership Group from Switzerland County High School and the Baptist Youth Group were a tremendous help.

Funding events and ongoing operating expenses was made possible from a variety of sources including Switzerland County Tourism, Switzerland County Council, the Indiana Arts Council, membership dues and donations.

Special building projects are funded by additional grants, such as for the past restoration of the Thiebaud house and hay press barn. The most recent grant we have been awarded will take place in 2018, made possible by Lilly Endowment Funds administered by the Indiana Historical Society. The Heritage Support Grant of $50,000 will provide for the remodeling of the garage on the River History Museum into a conservation room, the construction of a 12′ x 16′ addition and the purchase of needed furnishings and equipment. A 15% match of $7,500 was granted by the Community Foundation of Switzerland County for the project. The new space will provide fireproof storage for genealogy records and space to work on the conservation of artifacts, documents and photographs.

Balancing available resources for three sites is an ongoing challenge for the officers and board of trustees of the Switzerland County Historical Society. President Sundra Whitham, vice president Helen Parks, secretary Geri Emmelman, treasurer Anita Danner and trustees Joyce Benbow, Dan Bixler and Debbie Allen generously donate their expertise and time to oversee the operations of the historical society.

The powerful combination of presenters and audience, funders and recipients, ideas into reality and volunteers from young to old combine to fulfill our mission to preserve, protect and promote the history of Switzerland County, Indiana. Thank you to all for your part in helping us grow, serve and prosper.

Martha Bladen

Director of the Switzerland County Historical Society

Patriot renovates, celebrates Memorial Park during 2017

The re-dedication of Patriot’s Memorial Park during the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department Memorial 9/11 Ceremonies was the highlight of the year 2017. Led by the combined Honor Guard of the Vevay American Legion and the V.F.W., participants carrying candles proceeded to the Memorial Park on foot from the Patriot Fire Volunteer Fire Department.

Indiana House District 67 Representative Randall Frye, a retired Indianapolis firefighter on duty at the time of the World Trade Center catastrophe, gave a brief speech. Members of the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department led by Chief G. Wayne Turner Jr. unveiled a beautiful plaque designed to commemorate the World Trade Center steel beam acquired and installed in 2011 to recognize those lost that tragic day. Longtime resident of Patriot and Pastor of Patriot Baptist Church Michael Jones provided the history of the Memorial Park and the acquisition of the World Trade Center beam. In addition, a sign was placed on the original school bell from the Patriot School, which is also a part of the Park.

Nine-year old Emily Oatman shared her musical talent with those in attendance.

The 2017 Patriot Town Council, led by President Elizabeth Thomas, included G. Wayne Turner Jr. and Kay E. Cook. Linda Fisk as Town Clerk also served as Office Manager for the Patriot Water Company. Joey Duckworth served as the Superintendent of the Patriot Municipal Utilities (Water and Sewer).

Main topic of discussion throughout the year was fire service coverage. The number of the active members of the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department has dwindled due to normal attrition. Current employment demands and familial obligations on the volunteer firefighters have made participation difficult. Posey Township Volunteer Fire Department representatives repeatedly assured the residents of Patriot and the Town Board that their volunteer firefighters will continue to assist whenever needed.

Kathryn Turner was honored as the Grand Marshal of the 4th of July Festivities. Wayne and Kathy Turner were recognized for their dedication to the community.

Kay Cook,

Member, Patriot Town Council