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Meridian Hills Country Club
Indianapolis, Indiana
Saturday, November 7, 2015

Submitted by Robert H. Everitt

More than 100 members and guests of The Society of Indiana Pioneers met on Saturday, November 7, at Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis for the 2015 Annual Meeting. Members greeted one another and inspected the interesting array of items that Chairs Louise DeMore and Marcia Krieg had gathered for sale in the Society’s eighth annual silent auction. Many visited the table where copies of the Society’s Deep Forest were offered for sale.

Also getting much attention were Joan Hostetler and a team of people scanning pictures and other items offered by Pioneers for the Indiana Album Project. Endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, the scans and catalog information will be made available to students, historians, and the general public via Indiana Memory, an online database of the Indiana State Library. The Society was pleased to afford members the opportunity to participate in this very important project.

After the meeting was called to order, minutes of the 2014 Annual Meeting were approved as distributed, and the Treasurer’s report distributed by Treasurer Bruce Oakley was received for audit.

The membership elected the following members to the Board of Governors:

For a one-year term ending in 2016:

  • Janet Lempke Barb, Indianapolis

For three-year terms ending in 2018:

  • Ann Boggs Bader, Oxford, OH
  • Martha Gee Barnhart, Churubusco
  • J. David Cook*, Indianapolis
  • Gregory P. Hinshaw, Farmland
  • A. Andrew Olson III*, Glenview, IL
  • J. Nelson Price*, Indianapolis
  • William A. Rhodehamel*, Brownsburg

*Nominated to serve a second full term.

The Board elected the following as officers of the Society for one-year terms:

  • President: Dr. James P. Fadely
  • Vice President/President-elect: Dr. Charles F. Bragg
  • Secretary: Robert H. Everitt
  • Treasurer: Bruce W. Oakley
  • Registrar: Marcia Ahrens Krieg
  • Yearbook Editor: Joan Rothrock Everitt

President Fadely recognized retiring Board member Jinsie Bingham for her six years of service and Board member Dan McCain for his three years of service.

The President noted that membership in the Society stands at 984 with a goal of surpassing 1,000 members during the centennial year 2016. He delivered a summary report of the many activities of the Board in 2015 and activities leading up to the Society’s centennial and Indiana’s bicentennial in 2016:

  • Deep Forest. Copies of the historical novel by former Society President, the late Emsley Johnson, Sr., are selling briskly. The only piece of fiction endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission to date makes a wonderful gift for persons interested in early Indiana history.
  • Centennial/Bicentennial Gala. To mark the Society’s centennial and the bicentennial of Indiana statehood, a gala event is planned for Monday, June 27, at Conner Prairie History Park. A highlight will be to honor descendants of the signers of Indiana’s 1816 Constitution. The committee is working with Friends of the Indiana Archives to plan the event.
  • Education Initiatives. No applications for the Society’s grants for graduate students studying Indiana history were received. The amount set aside will be rolled over for future years.
  • Jr History Award. Representatives of the Brownsburg High School History Club will be guests of the Society for lunch to receive the check as winners of the 2015 Society of Indiana Pioneers John H. Holliday Award.
  • John Hampden Holliday Prize.  The prize will be awarded to up to three individuals who contribute significantly to Indiana pioneer history in works published in 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016. The top prize will be five thousand dollars ($5,000), with second and third prizes being awarded in lesser amounts.  Board member Julie Newhouse is chairing this effort, a project that has also received endorsement from the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.
  • Marketing/Publicity. Board member Martha Sue Batt has been quite busy with a new brochure, press releases, radio public service announcements, and ads in publications of the DAR and SAR to promote the Society.
  • Pioneer Founders. The 2014 publication of contributions to the Pioneer Founders collection was distributed at the Annual Meeting. The Board has approved publication in 2016 of the compilation of all submissions, another project endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.
  • Pilgrimages. The 2016 pilgrimages will focus on marking the centennial of the Society and bicentennial of Indiana statehood.

A PowerPoint presentation by Pilgrimage Chair Nelson Price highlighted the spring visit to houses of worship in and around Indianapolis. Historic Baptist, Roman Catholic and Presbyterian congregations were included along with a Sikh temple and a mock seder dinner at a Jewish temple. The fall pilgrimage was an overnight trip to south central Indiana with stops at Spring Mill and McCormick’s Creek State Parks and a number of interesting sites in Bloomington, including a presentation by noted author and historian Dr. James Madison.

Awards Chair William Rhodehamel introduced Matt Walsh, chair of the Social Studies Department at Brownsburg High School, and Thomas Reinhart, President of the BHS History Club. The Brownsburg club was selected as the 2015 recipient of the Society of Indiana Pioneers John H. Holliday Award, presented annually to a class or club that submits a nomination describing participation in a project, program or activity related to early Indiana history in the current school year. A check for $300 was presented to Mr. Walsh and Thomas. Congratulations to the BHS History Club and its sponsor Dawn Crone.

William Rhodehamel (center) presented the Society of Indiana Pioneers John H. Holliday Junior History Award to the Brownsburg High School History Club – Thomas Reinhart (left), President of the Club; and Matt Walsh (right), Chair of the Social Studies Department at the high school.

Elizabeth Cruft Holliday, mother of Board member Evie Rhodehamel, led the first roll call at a meeting of Society members in the Riley Room of Indianapolis’ Claypool Hotel in December, 1916.  This year, William Rhodehamel, grandson of Elizabeth Holliday (Hitz) and great-grandson of John H. Holliday, led the Roll Call!

Forty-five young singers from Young Voices of Indianapolis conducted by Marian Pardue-Benderperformed a very well-conceived “Hoosier Bicentennial Medley”. The presentation included a number of musical selections and a recitation of a James Whitcomb Riley poem interspersed with some notes of historical interest which were well-researched and delivered by the young performers. The audience expressed its appreciation with a standing ovation at the program’s conclusion.

The Young Voices of Indianapolis presenting a Hoosier Bicentennial Medley, led by Marian Pardue-Bender.

Following tradition, the meeting was adjourned by the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana”, this year led by the wonderful Young Voices of Indianapolis.