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Indiana Bicentennial Celebration 2016

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Explore County Bicentennial Activities > Montgomery County Montgomery County

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Q&A with County Coordinator Heather Shirk

What do you consider the key accomplishment(s) of your county's Bicentennial celebration?

  • The key accomplishment of Montgomery County's Bicentennial Celebration was our celebration just prior to the Torch Relay on the Montgomery County Courthouse steps.

    Our county's celebration brought together every fourth grader. Each fourth grader received a foam torch commemorating the event. To help get the celebration hopping, we had the Southmont High School Royal Mountie Marching Band, and the Crawfordsville High School Band. The PRIDE group, high school students celebrating being drug and alcohol free, helped entertain the fourth graders and their teachers before the program. The Crawfordsville High School Choir sang the national anthem.  

    We also had many, many community members in attendance. People came out from many of the area businesses to celebrate. Friends and families of the torchbearers lined the streets for the relay.

    After the program, Mayor Todd Barton (former Crawfordsville Fire Chief) got onto the back of the Crawfordsville Fire Department Ladder Truck to begin the torch relay.

What Legacy Project do you most like to tell people about, and why?

  • The Legacy Project that really helped define the Montgomery County Bicentennial Celebration was Harvest Hoopla. Harvest Hoopla was a way to preview the upcoming Bicentennial Celebration, get people excited, and it provided local non-profits and volunteer groups a chance to showcase their organizations.  Ultimately, it was a way to celebrate our community. It brought hundreds of people out to enjoy the celebration.

    The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce also had a chance to talk about the time capsule project they are working on for the Bicentennial Celebration.

Describe a highlight or most memorable moment related to your county's Bicentennial celebration.

  • The most memorable moment was the Southmont High School band leading Mayor Todd Barton on the back of the Crawfordsville Fire Department Truck to begin the relay.

How/where are you preserving information and artifacts related to your county's celebration?

  • The Carnegie Museum is our main headquarters for all bicentennial memorabilia and the torch.  

    The Crawfordsville District Public Library houses the Monte the Bison. It was painted by local artist Mike Bowman and youth of MoCo added painted hand prints.

    Athens Arts featured several of the small bison handpainted by local artists at locations around Montgomery County.

Do you have a website and/or social media presence?

Total number of volunteers who participated.

  • 50

Estimated total attendance.

  • 2,500

Estimated dollar amount raised.

  • $1,000 grant from the Montgomery County Community Foundation

Estimated dollar amount spent.

  • $1,165

Montgomery County Legacy Projects

Photos from Montgomery County's Bicentennial Activities / Events

Bicentennial CoordinatorTorch 1Torch 2Torch 3Torch 4Torch 5Torch 6TorchTorchTorchTorchTorchTorchTorchTorchTorchTorchTorchTorchTorchEssay winner reading during celebrationFourth grade honor choirFourth gradersMayor BartonSouthmont BandTorchbearer with kids

Montgomery County Facts

The county was named in honor of Richard Montgomery, an American Revolutionary War general killed on December 31, 1775, while attempting to capture Quebec City in the Battle of Quebec.

The first county election was held on March 1, 1823, with 61 voters participating to elect the first three county commissioners — William Offield, James Blevins and John McCollough — who then ordered that the first jail and courthouse be built.

About the courthouse: George Bunting was the architect and the building was completed in 1876.

The current Montgomery County courthouse was the first courthouse designed by George W. Bunting of Indianapolis. It is one of six of his Indiana courthouses still standing. Bunting had served as a colonel in the Confederacy during the Civil War before establishing himself in Indianapolis.

Rendering of the Courthouse tower restoration is courtesy of Campbellsville Industries, Inc.History in the Re-making

The Montgomery County Courthouse’s old clock tower was removed in 1941 and the bell melted down for the war effort. The first flag flown atop the tower was in 1876, when our country was 100 years old.

The restoration of the clock tower to the courthouse will be a lasting legacy to the people of Montgomery County. Plans are to have the reconstruction completed by 2016 as part of Indiana’s Bicentennial celebration. Campbellsville Industries will do the reconstruction. The Campbellsville, Kentucky company has restored towers in Madison and Winchester as well as for the West Baden Hotel.

Hoosier Hysteria begins: Crawfordsville was crucial to Indiana’s basketball-oriented culture. The first official basketball game in the state (Crawfordsville versus Lafayette, March 16, 1894) and the first official intercollegiate basketball game (Wabash versus Purdue, also in 1894) occurred at the city’s YMCA.

The Crawfordsville championship team.

“Crawfordsville started it all. The term “Hoosier Hysteria” might never have been brought to life if the Athenians didn’t kick off one of the most storied high school tournaments in the land with legendary style.” (Source: 100 Years of Indiana State Basketball)

Wabash College heritage: The “father of Indiana's public school system” first taught at Wabash College in Crawfordsville. The first faculty member of Wabash was Caleb Mills, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Andover Seminary, who arrived in 1833 and immediately established the character of the school.

Each fall, Caleb Mills’ bell is used to “ring in” the freshman class as students of Wabash College, and each spring the bell “rings out” that year’s class of Wabash men as they move on to new challenges  Caleb Mills later became the father of the Indiana public school system and worked tirelessly to improve education in the entire Mississippi Valley.

Crawfordsville is the home of the only known working rotary jail in the United States.

The jail with its rotating cellblock was built in 1882 and served as the Montgomery County jail until 1972. It is now a museum.

County Seat: Crawfordsville
Year Organized: 1823
Square Miles: 504.61

Montgomery County Bicentennial Committee

  • Heather Shirk, Coordinator
  • Fawn Johnson
  • Kat Burkhart
  • Larry Paarlberg
  • Lori Dossett
  • Sandy Lofland-Brown
  • Steve Frees
  • Sue Lucas
  • Kelly Taylor
  • Sue Ann Ford