in our Midst
Jefferson County Bicentennial
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(June 2011) In celebrating the 200th anniversary
of Jefferson County, the historical society is making certain to throw
the spotlight on the entire county. Ron Grimes, archivist for the Jefferson
County Historical Society, explains that through a series of exhibits,
What were trying to do is give people an introduction to
the history of the county. We take each township and tell some of the
stories and forgotten tales.
Grimes notes that before things became so centralized, the townships
were the early way of providing basic government services to the county.
JCHS Executive Director Joe Carr notes that weve tried to
schedule more for this year because it is the bicentennial. This
year, residents can look forward to something happening each month at
the historical society.
The focus of the bicentennial celebrations are the 10
townships that make up Jefferson County. A commemorative book is being
developed, presenting new and historical photographs from the county.
At the Historical Society in Madison, a special exhibit traces the changing
shape of the county over the years, and each township is given individual
attention through photos, artifacts and personal stories.
The society is located at 615 W. First St., in downtown Madison and
is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. And in a
first for the Jefferson County Historical Society, a traveling exhibition
on the townships has been developed and will be making appearances at
celebrations and festivals throughout the year.
The exhibit at the historical society includes items few residents will
have ever seen. Some have been newly donated and others have been kept
in the vault and never put on public display.
For this occasion, we decided to bring out some of the original
documents of the county, explains Grimes.
Included in the exhibit is the very earliest county record book that
holds the account of the founding of Jefferson County. Some other highlights
include a hand-sewn autograph quilt from 1911 made in Deputy and recently
donated by the Bethany Baptist Church, and a four-piece silver and pewter
church service set from Brooksburg United Methodist Church. Together
with his wife Jacqueline, Grimes worked on bringing out rarely seen
photos and rarely told stories of Jefferson County life over the years.
Two particularly odd items on display are the wolf scalp certificates
from 1816 and 1818. In the early 1800s, a person who killed a wolf could
turn the scalp in to the local justice of the peace who would issue
a certificate redeemable for $2 or good for $2 off a persons taxes.
At a time when a typical tax bill might run $3, that money could be
a great help.
provided by Ron Grimes
exhibits at the Jefferson
County Historical Societys Heritage
Center highlight the importance
of Jefferson County Township.
Two hundred years ago the wolves were thick. Thats
totally foreign to how we live today around here, says Carr.
In addition to the exhibit located at the Historical Society, a special
traveling exhibit has been assembled for display at a variety of county
events. Michael Moore, volunteer and member of the societys Board
of Directors, spent the winter planning out a collection of photo collages
which highlight the history and character of the different townships.
Currently, summer exhibitions are scheduled for July 8-15 at the Jefferson
County 4-H Fair, July 30 at Madisons Pearl Park, and Aug. 27-28
at Neavills Grove. In September, the collages will be shown at
the Chelsea Jubilee and Canaan Fall Festival. When not on tour, the
display will be available for viewing at Eleutherian College.
Moore explains that in building the traveling exhibit, were
tying to improve attendance and awareness at the Historical Society.
He laughed, adding that wherever a group of people are meeting,
well try to be there. By going out to the communities, volunteers
at the historical society hope that more people will in turn come to
them in order to view the various exhibits and to make use of the research
Moore said he hopes that the Historical Society can play a role in raising
awareness of the importance of preservation and community history. Unfortunately,
many old buildings are being lost due to lack of upkeep, and historical
artifacts are all to often discarded or unrecognized for their importance.
Moore continues, saying that the Historical Society is always looking
for items of interest, either to borrow for short term study and display
or to preserve for families unable or unwilling to keep the objects
or documents themselves. He points out that there are a lot of
attics out there that people havent explored.
For more information about upcoming events
or to order books, call the Jefferson County Historical Society at (812)
265-2335 or visit: jchshc.org.
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