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Bicentennial Events

Madison city founder John Paul
to be honored during event

Tours of historic cemeteries
among Bicentennial events

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(November 2009) – In 1808, Revolutionary war soldier John Paul scouted throughout the territory in southern Indiana looking for a prime piece of land on which to settle. He chose a point along the Ohio River that offered good landings for river traffic, an expanse of flat land for a settlement, and rich forests and farmland just beyond. In 1809, he built his home there and decided to name the new frontier town Madison.

Madison Bicentennial Logo

Madison schoolchildren will honor Paul’s birthday on Nov. 12 with a variety of activities and events at their schools. Students from Lydia Middleton Elementary will gather at 1 p.m. at John Paul Park, on West Street, for a short ceremony that will involve Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong proclaiming the day “John Paul Day.”
The John Paul Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will be on hand for the ceremony and make a short presentation. The John Paul Chapter of the Daughers of the American Revolution has worked to preserve the park.
in 1823, Paul gave the land on which the park is situated for use as a city cemetery. The site was located outside the developed area of the town on a plateau above Crooked Creek and its floodplain. The last burial was in the late 1830s.
“We had students write songs about John Paul, and they will sing them,” said Susan Ohlendorf, coordinator for the event. “We will also have a student portraying Paul in a short re-enactment.”
The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
The school system is also holding a portrait contest open to all elementary students. In the contest, students will create a portrait of the founder.
“We don’t have a portrait of Paul,” said Ohlendorf. “We thought this would be a great idea and would inspire many students.”
The John Paul Day celebration is part of ongoing festivities sponsored by the Madison Bicentennial Celebration Committee. Throughout 2009, commemorative events, including a 200-Hour Birthday Party, have been held to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the city. There are still numerous events being held.
“We’re not finished yet,” said Jan Vetrhus, Madison Bicentennial Committee chairwoman. “We have some wonderful events planned for the last few months.”
On Nov. 14-15, tours of two historic cemeteries will be offered. Guided tours of historic gravesites will be available at from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Springdale Cemetery, 605 W. Fifth St., in downtown Madison, and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Fairmount Cemetery, Michigan Road, on the hilltop. Tours will begin every 15 minutes and last for approximately 45 minutes, Vetrhus said.
There is also an ongoing living stories video project, an oral history project in which residents can describe a favorite aspect of life in Madison.
The Bicentennial Quilt, which is on display at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library, will be moved in January to its permanent home at the Senior Citizens Center.
The Bicentennial Band still rehearses at 7 p.m. each Tuesday on the second floor of the Crystal Beach Swimming Pool complex. The band is preparing to perform every six to eight weeks.
Efforts are also under way to secure financing to produce an outdoor drama of “Rivertown the Musical,” which was commissioned in honor of the Bicentennial.
In January, all babies born in Madison in 2009 are invited to participate in a group photo and recognition. The date has yet to be announced.

• For more information about these events, visit: www.MadisonBicentennial.com.

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