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Visual history

JCHS’ Grimes co-authors book
featuring images of Madison’s past

His experience as archivist at museum
led to this project; signing planned

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

(September 2006) – Jefferson County Historical Society archivist Ron Grimes, 64, and a retired Chicago, Ill., police officer, has co-authored a book, titled "Madison," a pictoral history of the town, which was recently designated as a National Historic Landmark District by the National Parks Service.

Images of Madison Book Cover

Grimes will be at the Jefferson County Historical Society (JCHS) at 1-3 p.m. on Sept. 16 for a book signing. "Madison," which sells for $19.99, is part of Arcadia Publishing's Image of America Series, which has preserved and shared the history of hundreds of individual communities throughout the country.
In "Madison," which was released August 28, over 220 images were used to explore the town's architecture, downtown, riverfront and residents. A portion of the proceeds benefit the JCHS.
The book focuses on the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period of growth and change for the major river port. Grimes said readers "will enjoy making the 'then' and 'now' comparisons as they tour Madison and see what has changed and what has stayed the same."
Grimes moved to Madison and found that the historic town was ideal for pursuing his two favorite interests: local history and railroad history. He now heads a group of volunteers at the Jefferson County Historical Society that preserve and make available to researchers the history of the county and its people.
An aspect he finds interesting in his work as an archivist at JCHS is the collecting, processing and cataloguing of the thousands of historic photographs that tell the history of Madison, which was founded in 1809 and was once one of Indiana's largest towns and the site of the state's first railroad. He said he has had a fascination with historic and vintage photographs for years and he knows that other people enjoy them as well. The decision to put together a photographic history of the town "gave me an opportunity to share some of the most interesting vintage Madison scenes that I have come across," he said.

Ron Grimes

Ron Grimes

While much of the information for "Madison" came from the JCHS's old city directories, newspapers, family history files and maps, he also used information from Historic Madison, Inc., and the Henry Lemon Collection at the Madison Public Library. Another important source of information came from interviews with longtime Madison residents, who, he said, "offer a storehouse of information on Madison of years ago."
HIghlights of the book include a unique 1887 bird's eye-view map, showing the town and riverfront as they existed long ago and a chapter "tour" down Main Street, featuring the historic architecture that today is included in Madison's National Landmark District. There are also dramatic photos that show the floods and freezes of the Ohio River that Madison has survived over the years.

• The book, which was co-authored by Jane Ammeson, is available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and on-line bookstores or through Arcadia Publishing at (888) 313-2665 or www.arcadiapublishing.com.

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