indiana Bicentennial

Bicentennial Torch Relay to visit Jefferson County

Local torch bearers say they are ‘honored’ to represent the community for historic occasion

September 2016 Cover

(September 2016) – For most of us, the closest we have gotten to a torch relay is watching one on TV during the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. But for 2,200 Hoosiers – 18 of them from Jefferson County, Ind. – the honor of carrying the Indiana Bicentennial Torch will become a reality in September.
Hand-picked by a committee of local residents and approved by state officials, these 18 local residents will share the honor of carrying the Indiana Bicentennial Torch through the Jefferson County on Friday, Sept. 16 – from the county border with Jennings County on Hwy. 7 to the north, all the way to downtown Madison and winding their way through town, ending at the Jefferson County Courthouse, where a ceremony is planned that evening. The Indiana Bicentennial Mobile Experience interactive trailer also will be waiting for them at the courthouse, offering the public a chance to view the displays on the history of the state from 4-8 p.m.

Tryston Wheatley of Hanover will receive the torch from a Jennings County runner on Hwy. 7 at 5:30 p.m. that Friday and take it to the Dupont Post Office, next to the train tracks. Ten of the Jefferson County torch bearers will ride aboard a train passenger car recently restored by Roger Fuehring, a Madison Railroad employee from Scottsburg. The former “Guadalupe” is a Pullman Standard premium private coach car that dates to 1912 and has been

undergoing renovation by Fuehring for nearly four years. He has renamed it “Legacy.”
The train car will depart from the Dupont Post Office and travel south to the Madison hilltop, stopping at 6:45 p.m. at the Mayflower building near the No. 5 Fire House on Allen Street and Green Road. A program is planned to take place there at that time to include a welcome by Madison Mayor Damon Welch and a program featuring musician and railroad enthusiast Steve Jeffries and re-enactors portraying John Brough and John Robinson, two figures who played prominent roles in the early days of the railroad in Indiana.

Jefferson County Torch Route

• The torch enters Jefferson County from Jennings County on Hwy. 7. Torch runner Tryston Wheatley runs it to the Dupont Post Office, where it is taken aboard a restored passenger train car pulled by the Madison Railroad.
• 10 torch bearers take turns holding the torch during the train ride from Dupont to Madison, ending at Green Road and Lanier Drive. They include (in order) Spence Schnaitter, Al Huntington, Jim Lee, Susan Stahl, Matt Forrester, Dave Adams, Ray Black, John Staicer, Linda Ferguson and Kim Mahoney.
• Sue Livers takes the torch from the train depot and runs it down Green Road, turning right onto Michigan Road to the top of the Michigan Road Hill.
• Livers hands off to Calista Spears, who runs the torch down the hill and onto West Street to the corner of Third Street at the Volunteer Fire Co. No. 2 station. It is considered to be the oldest still-operating firehouse in the country.
• John Schoenstein takes the torch and boards the 191916 Ahrens-Fox Service Ladder fire truck and rides with it to Main Street, stopping at the public parking lot at 222 W. Main St.
• James Lee takes the torch and runs west on Main Street to Plum Street, passing by the Jefferson County Public Library Main Branch at 420 W. Main St. It is considered to be the first public library in the state. Lee continues south on Plum to First Street, turns east to the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center.
• Trinity Stoner takes the torch south to Vaughn Drive and heads east, passing by the Lanier Mansion, to the Madison Boat Ramp.
• Bert Fitzgerald is tentatively scheduled to take the torch aboard a vintage hydroplane for one loop in the Ohio River.
• Returning to the boat ramp, the torch will be carried by horseback by Bill Gray to the Jefferson County Courthouse, paying tribute to the Canaan-Madison Pony Express Run. He will pass by the Madison Post Office – one of the state’s oldest – at the foot of Jefferson Street. It will also pass the location of the first bank in the state, the Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Bank of Indiana at 310 Jefferson St. and established in 1814.

• Gray will arrive at the Courthouse, where an 8 p.m. ceremony will take place within sight of the state’s first firehouse, the Madison Fair  Play Fire Co. No. 1 at 405 E. Main St. The torch will depart Jefferson County on Saturday morning and head east on Hwy. 56 into Switzerland County.

Those riding the train and taking turns holding the torch while standing on the back outside rail will be Spence Schnaitter, Al Huntington, Jim Lee, Susan Stahl, Matt Forrester, Dave Adams, Ray Black Jr., John Staicer, Linda Ferguson and Kim Mahoney.
The remaining seven torch bearers will actually run or walk the torch from the train stop on the hilltop to the downtown and wind their way up Main Street and down to the Ohio River and back up Jefferson Street, ending at the Courthouse. These runners include (in order) Sue Livers, Calista Spears, John Schoenstein, James Lee, Trinity Stoner, Bert Fitzgerald and Bill Gray.
Along the way, Schoenstein will do his part by holding the torch while riding aboard a 1916 Ahrens-Fox Service Ladder fire truck, owned by local resident Frank Taff. He will board the fire truck at the No. 2 Fire House on Third and West streets and then ride west on Main Street to the city parking lot across from the Comfort Station. From there, runners will take over on foot again heading south on Plum Street, east on First Street to the Lanier Mansion at Vine Street. While passing the mansion on the way to the riverfront, cannons will be fired by the 7th Indiana Light Artillery and Nelson Artillery Co.

When the torch arrives at the Madison Boat Ramp, tentative plans are to have Fitzgerald hold the torch while taking a loop in the Ohio River aboard a vintage hydroplane. Finally, the last torch bearer, Gray, is scheduled to ride up Jefferson Street carrying the torch aboard a horse to pay tribute to the Canaan-Madison Pony Express Run (See Torch Route graphic for details).
The torch route was carefully planned by a small committee of local residents and led by Linda Lytle, executive director of VisitMadison Inc. and the county’s designated Indiana Bicentennial Commission coordinator, and Andrew Forrester, Community Relations Director for the City of Madison.

Andrew Forrester

“We are hoping lots of people come out to watch the torch runners and cheer them on as they go through town,” Lytle said.
She explained that the committee devised the torch relay route to go past several historic sites in the downtown. These include three volunteer firehouses including the Fair Play No. 1 station, considered to be the oldest one still in use in the state. Other notable sites are the Jefferson County Public Library, the oldest library in the state; the Lanier Mansion Sate Historic Site, the Madison Post Office, the state’s oldest; and the location of the first bank in the state, the Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Bank of Indiana at 310 Jefferson St. and established in 1814.
“I think it is important that we support the torch runners as they go through town, and we made a special effort in creating the route to highlight the significance of these historic locations,” Lytle said.

Linda Lytle

Livers, 67, will be the first torch runner in Madison after the torch departs the train. She will carry it all the way to the top of Michigan Road hill, where she will hand off to Spears. Livers recently attended a torch relay training session in Brownstown, Ind., where a video was played to teach torch bearers how to carry the flame safely. She was allowed to hold the actual torch and see the yellow shirts and hats each runner will be wearing.
“I’m honored and humbled to serve as a torch runner,” said Livers, who retired last year as the King’s Daughters’ Hospital Foundation executive director. “I’m not a fast runner, but I love to run and work out.”
Livers learned several things about the torch during her training. She said the torch weighs 3½ pounds. The torch relay procession will be preceded by two Indiana State Police cars and trailed by two more police cars. Driving immediately in front and behind the runner will be representatives from Purdue University, who not only created the torch but are there to ensure that it stays lit and also for any emergencies related to the torch.
Engineering students from Purdue University created the Olympic-style torch that will be carried 2,000 miles through all 92 Indiana counties in September.

Photo provided

Lillian Sue Livers holds the Indiana Bicentennial torch during a training meeting in August in Brownstown, Ind. She was given safety tips on how to carry the 3 1/2 pound torch.

“We were told that the torch only burns for so long, and then it must be refueled to keep burning,” Livers said. Purdue University officials also will be filming a video of the torch relay. “We are allowed to take selfies with the torch, and we will be able to upload our pics to a special “app” they have created just for the bicentennial.”
By downloading the “Indiana Bicentennial Torch 2016” app on a cell phone, users will be able to also follow the torch relay.
Livers says many of her friends plan to watch and cheer her along. “I think there will be a lot of people watching as we go by.”
Lytle said more than 50 people were nominated as torch bearers for the county. A maximum of 20 runners and two substitutes were allowed to be selected. The committee offered 23 people the chance to participate, but “a couple of people who we selected chose not to participate, so we ended up with 18,” she said.
Forrester said the committee tried its best to represent all facets of the county, including Hanover College, but the student selected from the college “did not get his paperwork to us in time.”
The selection committee for the torch bearers was made up of Bob Canida, Laura Hodges, Joe Craig, John Nyberg and Treva Shelton. “It was a good process; it’s been a fun experience,” Forrester said, who recused himself from the selection committee since his father, Matthew, was nominated and later selected.
“Our city had the benefit of having planned our own bicentennial in 2009, so it made it a lot easier for us this time around,” Forrester said. “I think the torch relay will bring a lot of recognition to a lot of people in our community who might not otherwise have ever been recognized.”

Photo courtesy of Roger Fuehring

Roger Fuehring has restored this 1912 Pullman Standard premium train car at the Madison Railroad. Ten torch bearers will ride in the car from Dupont to Madison, each taking turns holding the Indiana Bicentennial torch on the back platform.

One torch runner in that category is Schoenstein, 36, a fulltime employee at Madison Chemical, a part-time Jefferson County Sheriff’s officer in charge of the reserve unit, and a volunteer at two Madison fire departments. He was surprised by his selection because his friend who nominated him “did a pretty good job of keeping it a secret for seven months,” Schoenstein said.
“It was totally unexpected. I didn’t know anything about it until they told me.”
The surprise was heightened because state officials were late getting the selection letters mailed, and he received his notice well after the deadline, he said. “It sort of blew my mind. I’m a private person and don’t like the spotlight, so this is something new for me.”
Still, Schoenstein says he considers it “an honor, especially when you think that only 1,800 people in the entire state will be able to carry the bicentennial torch.”
Schoenstein was not able to attend a torch rely training session but says he did watch the safety video online. “They give you tips on how to do it without getting burned and other precautions when holding it.”
In addition to the Bicentennial Torch Relay that Friday, the committee has organized a weekend full of activities for the community, including a “Passport” that will allow people to tour the county’s historic sites for free. The Historic Madison Inc. sites – Schroeder Saddletree Factory, Dr. Hutchings’ Office, Francis Costigan House and the Jeremiah Sullivan House – plus the Lanier Mansion and the Jefferson County History Center will be open to the public for free that Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Eleutherian College in Lancaster, Ind., will be open for free from 1-5 p.m. Family activities also are planned at John Paul Park from 10 a.m. to noon and again at 4 p.m. when the Daughters of the American Revolution will conduct a bell ringing in conjunction with the local churches.
The Passport to visit these sites for free will be available at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, 601 W. First St., or at any of the participating historic sites. Costumed characters will appear at many of these sites, and special period events are being planned for that Saturday. Those visitors who fill their Passports becoming eligible for a prize drawing totaling $300.
“We want to use this opportunity to put the spotlight on Madison and all it has to offer, not only to visitors but to residents as well,” Lytle said. The Passport, she added, offers anyone a chance to visit and learn about the county’s unique history.
Meantime, many other activities are planned throughout town that weekend. Saturday events include the Madison Farmers’ Market at the Broadway Fountain (7 a.m. – 1 p.m.); an Architectural Walking Tour beginning at the Broadway Fountain (10 a.m. – noon); A Heritage Sites Tour (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.); Vintage Hydroplane exhibition boat races (11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the riverfront); Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day (4-9 p.m. at the Broadway Fountain; and music by the Madison Community Band at 6:30 p.m. at Madison Bicentennial Park, followed by the showing of the movie “Hoosiers” at dusk (bring chairs or blankets).
Sunday’s activities include two plays to be performed for free by the Madison Community Players beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the Jefferson County History Center, 615 W. First St. Both plays will highlight life and times of famed voting rights activist Susan B. Anthony. The first play, “The Remarkable Susan,” is a one-act drama written by playwright Tim Kelly. The second production was written by Madison resident Jan Vetrhus and is titled “Susan B. Anthony Comes to Madison” and is based on her visit to Madison in 1879.
The weekend events will conclude with a Community Picnic planned from 5-8 p.m. Sunday at the Lanier Mansion lawn featuring an ice cream social, island music provided by Conch Republic and traveling exhibit of demonstrators called the Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Tradition and Innovation.”

• For more information on the Indiana Bicentennial, visit www.Indiana2016.org. For questions about bicentennial events in Jefferson County, call VisitMadison Inc. at (812) 265-2956.

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