Forward Wayne County invited Karen Shank-Chapman, the Executive Director of the Wayne County Historical Museum to share her thoughts on arts and culture and how it can inspire pride in place. Here are her thoughts:

There are many reasons why our history can inspire pride in place:

  • Wayne County’s Native People can be traced back nearly 10,000 years, and include tribes we know today as the Miami, Shawnee, Delaware, and Potawatomi.
  • Wayne County was known as the Gateway to the West.
  • The first Europeans came to Wayne County in 1795 to survey the Greenville Treaty line.
  • Wayne County was one of 15 established counties when Indiana became a state in 1816.
  •  Levi Coffin and his wife Catharine aided more than 1,000 Freedom Seekers at their home in Fountain City, now designated as a National Historic Landmark and State Historic Site 
  • Oliver P. Morton, 14th Governor of Indiana, was born in Wayne County
  • Marcus Mote, early Indiana artist and part of the Richmond Group of artists, moved to Richmond and taught art to students in the early late 1800’s.
  • Wayne County has some of the most amazing natural history.
  • Our Ordovician Fossils date back 425 million years and specimens can be found in the Smithsonian, the Indiana State Museum, and the Field Museum in Chicago.
  • Wayne County is home to the only two ancient Egyptian mummies in Indiana.
Jelly Roll Morton, photo supplied
  • Influential musicians came to Gennett Recording Studio in the early 1900’s. Musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Gene Autry, Jelly Roll Morton, and Charley Patton came to Richmond to record, as well as many others.
  • The first Suffrage Convention in Indiana was held in Dublin.
  • Several important suffragists such as Dr. Mary Thomas and Ester Griffin White called Wayne County home.
  • CR Richardson settled in Richmond in 1912 and was instrumental in establishing the American Legion in Indiana. Richardson was one of the founders of the Townsend Community Center.
  • The Wright Brothers lived in Richmond from 1881 to 1884.
  • Julia Meek Gaar founded the Wayne County Historical Museum in 1930 and brought the world to Wayne County through her travels.

These are just a few of the reasons why our history can inspire pride in place.

Pride in Place

Growing up in Wayne County, I was inspired by the incredible history all around us. As I grew older, I began to establish an appreciation for our amazing heritage. When I was working at the Indiana State Museum, I consistently brought co-workers to Wayne County to introduce them to all the amazing stories here.

Time and time again, I was told that ‘we have never visited another place in Indiana with such a rich tapestry of history that reaches beyond the boundaries of Wayne County’.

As the director of the Wayne County Historical Museum, I consistently have visitors from around the country and world visit us and the express the same sentiment. So, what is it about Wayne County? It isn’t just our history, but our community. It is the people who are here every day making history, and of course those of us preserving these important stories and artifacts.

photo provided

History is Happening NOW!

Everyday we are living history. History teaches us the past, but it also helps us make sense of the present and where we want to go in the future. We are fortunate in our community to have so many places to find pride in our history. From the Gennett Records Walk of Fame to Richmond Art Museum and beyond, our community holds a passion for preserving our history.

Local History Teaches You About Your Community

“Locations and objects in your community, sometimes things as mundane as names of streets, can reflect the long heritage of past generations where you live. Few of us know the origins or histories behind our community but learning the stories of a region’s past can change the way you think about the present.”

University of Toronto, Why Local History Matters

History is Everywhere!

Finding pride in local history can fill you with the wisdom that history is everywhere. You don’t need to visit Egypt, Europe, or Asia to see echoes of our history because our own community contains many places with a powerful history.

When you learn about your local history, it can improve your understanding that creating historical change and instilling pride in place is made up of community members (including YOU!) who in their own ways contributed to the ongoing story of our community.

The Wayne County Historical Museum has the honor and privilege of preserving and interpreting this history. It is our goal that our history inspires pride from every Wayne County resident and that anyone who comes through our doors find a reflection of themselves. Together, we can find moments in history that spark our wonder.

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