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Meridian Hills Country Club
Indianapolis, Indiana
Saturday, November 4, 2017

Submitted by Robert H. Everitt

Nearly 100 members and guests of The Society of Indiana Pioneers met on Saturday, November 4, at Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis for the 2017 Annual Meeting. Prior to the meeting being called to order, many visited the table where copies of the Society’s Deep Forest and Pioneer Founders books were offered for sale.

After the meeting was called to order, minutes of the 2016 Annual Meeting were approved as distributed, and the Treasurer’s report distributed by Treasurer Bruce Oakley was received for audit.

President Charles Bragg related a number of the activities that had taken place during the year and introduced an amendment to the By-laws approved by the Governing Board at its June meeting, which was presented to the membership for approval. The action was taken in response to requests from many persons in the northern tier of counties who felt that the entry date of 1840 for a qualifying ancestor excluded many persons in those counties who were supportive of the mission and activities of the Society and interested in membership. Upon motion made and seconded, the provisions of Section VIII, Paragraph A were amended to set the eligibility date for 23 counties in the northern tier (Adams, Benton, Blackford, DeKalb, Fulton, Howard, Jasper, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Newton, Noble, Porter, Pulaski, Starke, Steuben, Tipton, Wells, White and Whitley) at prior to December 31, 1850. The eligibility date for the remaining 69 counties remains prior to December 31, 1840. The motion carried unanimously. The By-laws, as amended, will be included in their entirety in the  2017-2018 Yearbook.

President Chuck Bragg leads the 2017 business meeting.

The membership elected the following members to the Governing  Board for three-year terms ending in 2020:

  • Roberta (“Brigitt”) Caito, Indianapolis
  • Helen M. Dickinson, Indianapolis
  • Terri Gorney, Ft. Wayne
  • Eric A. Koch*, Bedford
  • Ronald V. Morris, Centerville
  • Eric N. Ward, Cambridge, MA
  • David R. Yeley, Columbus

*Nominated to serve a second full term.

President Bragg recognized retiring Board members Martha Susan BattJan Aikman DicksonRoberta R. Graham and b for their six years of service and Board member Dr. George Rapp for his three years of service. 

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

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

Office Manager Sally Fadely and Genealogist Michele Kerr were recognized for their outstanding service to the Society, and Susie Fairchild was recognized for again making the arrangements for the day and handling the reservations.

Chuck Bragg and Michele Kerr in costume for the 2017 Annual Luncheon.

The meeting adjourned for lunch and the program for the day.

St. Richard’s Episcopal School, Indianapolis, was one of two schools chosen to receive the 2017 John H. Holliday Society of Indiana Pioneers Jr. Award. Teacher Andrea Neal was presented with a check for $500. A representative of the other winner, Parkside Elementary School, Columbus, could not attend. A check will be sent to the school.

Alexis Smith, PhD Candidate in History at Indiana University, Bloomington, won the 2017 Society of Indiana Pioneers Fellowship awarded to further study early Indiana history. The winner of the fellowship received a $2,000 check. Ms. Smith introduced the title of her doctoral dissertation, Blurred Bondage, Native American and African American Slavery in the Ohio River Valley, 1600-1820, and explained how she developed an interest in this subject. She appreciated the Society for the Fellowship and told of the research made possible with the proceeds.      

A PowerPoint presentation by Pilgrimage Chair Nelson Price introduced the 2017 spring visit to Clark and Floyd Counties, highlighted by an Ohio River lunch cruise on the historic paddle wheeler, the Belle of Louisville. Also included were visits to the Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville and the 1867 Culbertson Mansion in New Albany. The fall pilgrimage was an overnight trip to Lake, LaPorte, and Porter Counties in northeast Indiana. Highlights included private tours of three of the homes in Porter County featured in the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair and transported by barge on Lake Michigan to be placed in their present location overlooking the lake in Beverly Shores. Stops at the Barker Mansion and Lighthouse in Michigan City, the Lake County Museum in Crown Point and the Haan Mansion in Lafayette completed a most interesting two days.

Expressing his hope that our pilgrimages would continue to sell out, Nelson introduced the plans for 2018. The spring pilgrimage on May 22 will visit the home of Presidential candidate Wendell Willkie in Rushville and two renowned historic homes in Aurora overlooking the Ohio River, Hillforest, and Veraestau. Details are still being put in place for a September pilgrimage to Ft. Wayne, featuring the remarkable Allen County Public Library’s collection of genealogical records, said to be second only to the Mormon Church’s collection in Salt Lake City. 

Preliminary planning is underway for a special 3-day pilgrimage to the area of the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Kentucky. It is believed that as many as 60% of the early white settlers, our pioneer ancestors,  made their way through the Gap to reach their eventual homes in Indiana. Members were encouraged to stay tuned for details of this unique opportunity to learn more about many of our earliest settlers.

Following tradition, singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” adjourned the meeting.