C. Wright Mills, an American sociologist, once said, “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” He meant that we cannot separate ourselves from our historical context because it’s the root of our being – and individuals and their histories are the foundation of a society’s history. We are the direct result of the history of Fayette County and Fayette County is a result of all the people before us who worked to build its history – and build us. To me, this seems like an elegant way to say that we should value our local history because it is an intrinsic part of our identity today.
Building an endowment is a sure way of having an impact on our future history, but I wanted to also share with you things we’re already accomplishing thanks to the folks before us who made their mark. It’s my hope that this information inspires you to think of ways you can help our community or simply pique your interest in the important work people are doing to preserve our history. For three organizations, we were able to disburse small grants to assist them with projects that benefit the preservation of our local history.
The Fayette County Cemetery Commission is using their grant funds to purchase a ground penetrating radar device to locate and preserve unmarked graves. Our county has over 100 known pioneer cemeteries, as well as dozens of small family plots that have been “lost” over time. Their goal is to use this technology to locate these missing graves and map the cemeteries. This will assist local families in understanding their family trees and record the location of the graves so that any future development in Fayette County can be planned to avoid disrupting them. The Cemetery Commission does plan on hosting demonstrations, so be sure to look out for opportunities to watch them put this important technology to good use.
Historic Connersville, Inc., is also doing important work to preserve our history and serve community residents. Their grant funds will be used to digitize their archives. Our historical documents and records are fragile, and it is difficult to search everything manually. The goal is to record these files, protect the original documents, and preserve a copy of these archives in a lockbox in case of emergency. Their work will provide access to more historians and families looking to complete their genealogy charts and uncover forgotten parts of our history.
The Whitewater Valley Railroad used their grant funds to install a brick platform at their Rushville Depot museum on the West and South side of the Depot. What makes this extra special is that the bricks the railroad used for their project came from the renovation to our courthouse annex. This new addition will provide a safe, attractive area for visitors, which will help them in their mission to preserve our local history and educate the public on our railroad history.
I’m excited by these three endeavors because they’re tied to the land, the people, and the story of Fayette County. Knowing our history helps us know who we are now and, to me, that sounds like an excellent way to serve the community. If you’re not personally interested in history, these projects are just three of many that the Fayette Community Foundation has the pleasure of supporting through our generous donors. There is something for everyone and you’re encouraged to get involved in the service area that fits your values. You may find an area of the community you wish to support in arts and cultural development, community enhancement, economic development, public safety, elderly services, children and youth services, family services, community education, and collaborative school projects. You can make your mark on our history while it’s being written right now.
My goal is to make supporting your community more accessible so that current generations can get involved sooner in life and make a big impact. If you’re interested in learning more about what we do, the service opportunities available, or how you and your family can support Fayette County through an endowment, call me at (765) 827-9966 or email email@example.com.