‘Historic Patriot’ exhibit opens at Patriot Town Hall

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By Dan Back

This past Sunday over 80 people enjoyed the grand opening of the new “Historic Patriot” exhibit. This is a permanent exhibit housed in the Patriot Town Hall located on Third Street by the River. The event was somewhat subdued by the sudden death of one of Patriots lifelong and much beloved residents, Basil Armstrong.

Dan Back welcomed the group. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Mike Jones led the group in prayer. He mentioned how much Patriot meant to Basil Armstrong and how much Basil meant to Patriot.

We received many special donations during this project. Gene and Jill Elliott of Rising Sun donated the Patriot collection of Edward Gray, long time Principal and Superintendent of Patriot Schools. In this collection we found a yellowed piece of newspaper from the Vevay Paper. On this paper was a poem by Ora Nave Patriot grocer, titled “The Old river Town”. It was written about Patriot and described the rise and fall of a river town. Janett Boling read the poem to the group.

Dan Back told the group where the idea for a Patriot Museum came from. It began in 2006 when Joe Brady brought a Flour Barrel from Ohio Valley Mills, Patriot, Indiana, to the town hall. The barrel was donated by Harold Walton, Hebron, Kentucky. This got the town board wondering what else was out there from Patriot.

The board established a committee consisting of Pam and Ritchie Hutchinson, Billy Don and Katherine Tuner, Dorothy Burley, Janet Bond, Janett Boling and Dan Back. Roy Boling helped with the hanging of the pictures and construction of the display cases.

Our first step was to collect additional pictures and artifacts. George Miller was instrumental in identifying sources of material and establishing contact.

As the project progressed, people realized we were serious about preserving the history of Patriot. Pictures and artifacts came in at a steady pace from Patriot, Vevay, Switzerland County, Rising Sun, Aurora, Lawrenceburg, Warsaw, Kentucky and as far away as Chicago. We want to thank all that donated.

The exhibit is divided into sections. The first section, titled Historic Patriot, traces the formation of the Northwest Territory, Indiana territory, Indiana Statehood, Switzerland County, Posey Township and finally the formation of Patriot.

The next section is titled Patriot Business. This section features pictures of Patriot with tree lined streets and two and three story brick buildings housing every type of business and profession a bustling town would need.

The Educated and Athletic section displays pictures of the three school buildings and many of the amateur and school athletes from Patriot. One photograph is the amateur team that played the Cincinnati Reds in 1907. Many people did not realize there were three schools in Patriot. People are familiar with the three-story 1889 building and the 1937 High School building. The first high school was built in 1924 and the 1937 school was built around it. A beautiful picture of the 1924 school was found in the Edward Gray collection.

During the program Dorothy Burley gave a brief history of the schools.

The next section features the Historic Churches of Patriot, the Methodist, Baptist and the Universalist. The Universalist Church played a role in the Underground Railroad unfortunately no one had a picture of it. We were thrilled to receive a photograph of the church from the Emerson Cox family near Chicago.

Resilient Patriot displays the aftermath of disasters that hit Patriot, the 1913 flood, the 1924 fire and the 1937 flood.

River life highlights the rich river commerce that once flourished in Patriot. Patriot was a stop for every steamboat running between Cincinnati and Louisville. A number of steamboats called Patriot their home ports.

The Veterans memorial wall is a work in progress. It contains the names and photographs of the many Patriot men and women who served our country. It is designed to be updated by the families of the veterans. If you know of a veteran with Patriot connections we invite you to add their name and photograph to the wall.

Richard Adams did recognition of veterans during the program.

Also on display is a large photograph, donated by the Harris Family, of the members of the 1906 Patriot Knights of Pythias. This photograph contains pictures of Patriots leading businessmen and founding fathers.

Two display cases feature artifacts from the schools and business of Patriot.

The program was closed by reading the last paragraph of the 1907 History of Patriot which appeared in the Switzerland County Democrat. It read as follows.

We are now confronted with the past and the future – the past with the examples it affords of what man can do, and the future with what are possibilities may be. It is generally conceded that any body of men acting in harmony together can accomplish far more among any given line than the same number can possibly do when acting as individuals. The future of our town is at stake, but if our businessmen and citizens will act in harmony together we will have a town of which we may be justly proud.

The exhibit is open week days during the business hours (8-4:30) of the town hall.

We are interested in any photographs, documents and artifacts from Patriot you may have. Please contact the town hall.