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200! A milestone for Johnson County

200! A milestone for Johnson County

By Todd Travis

A year to remember

If you haven’t been keeping a tally on Johnson County’s birthdays, you may not have realized that we have arrived on a big one: 200! Luckily, David Pfeiffer, director of Johnson County Museum of History, and several other community leaders have been keeping track and are looking to make this a year to remember.

“We’ve been working on stuff for almost two years now. When we had our state bicentennial in 2016 there was a torch that was passed across the state – when it came through Johnson County, the state representatives mentioned how impressed they were at how the whole county got together for the event. That really stuck with me, and I wanted to make sure that we embraced that for the county’s bicentennial,” Pfeiffer explained.

Cook’s Corner Drive-In Market operated in the early 1930s at the intersection of IN 144 and State Road 135. (Photos courtesy of the Johnson County Museum of History)

Bicentennial kickoff

The celebration will begin on March 8 with the Bicentennial kickoff at the Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin. March 8 is the anniversary of the first actual organizational event in county history – it was the first election where the first commissioner, a few judges, a clerk, and a recorder were elected. The first county official was the sheriff, who was elected by the governor. Current Sheriff Duane Burgess will be in attendance to speak, along with a few of the commissioners. Grace McCarty, county fair queen, will also make an appearance. Tickets are free and can be obtained on the Artcraft’s website under events: historicartcrafttheatre.org/movie-and-events-schedule.html

Dr. Nicole Etcheson, professor at Ball State University, will also be in attendance. She will discuss early Indiana history and politics as the keynote speaker. Later, some descendants of pioneer families in Johnson County will be recognized, and there will be a ceremonial lighting of a bicentennial candle. To wrap up the evening, 200 luminaries will light up along the sidewalk of the Artcraft for a beautiful show of light and a nice photo-op for attendees. Doors will open at 6 p.m., the program begins at 6:30 p.m., and Dr. Etcheson is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m.

South entrance of the Johnson County Courthouse in Franklin, around 1890.

Museum exhibit and festival

To continue the celebration, the Johnson County Museum of History will be opening an exhibit on Franklin’s bicentennial covering the history of Franklin over the last 200 years. The mayor will be in attendance on the April 13 opening date, and the exhibit will run for six months. On Sept. 14, the Johnson County Bicentennial exhibit will go up just before the main event, the Bicentennial Celebration, an all-day festival with re-enactors, a parade, live music, food, and more. It will be held in downtown Franklin, 237 W. Monroe St.

Other events

With dates still to be decided, a book launch will be held at the Wild Geese Bookshop in Franklin, along with the Johnson County Public Library, the Greenwood Public Library and the Edinburgh Public Library. The book featured will be a bicentennial book which will come out this summer. There will also be a historic marker for Ray Crowe, who was the coach of Crispus Attucks, the first all-Black team to win the state title in Indiana.

The Franklin Post Office around 1925. It was located next to the Artcraft Theatre.

Bicentennial ball

A Bicentennial ball will wrap up the year. It will be a black-tie event open for anyone in the community to join. This event will take place on Friday, Nov. 10. at the Barn at Bay Horse Inn in Greenwood. The cost has not been decided, but it will be determined based on the cost of running the event.

Information will be updated on the Johnson County Museum of History Facebook page: facebook.com/johnsoncomuseum. Questions can be sent to David Pfeiffer at: dpfeiffer@co.johnson.in.us.

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