The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) is proud to announce the 2021 Founders Day Award honorees. Each year, the Founders Day Awards recognize outstanding individuals and organizations whose efforts have enriched the lives of others by conveying awareness and appreciation of Indiana’s history on local, regional and statewide levels. The IHS will honor Founders Day Award winners during a Nov. 1 virtual celebration hosted on Facebook Live at 6 p.m.
“Founders Day Awards honor the people and organizations who toil in the fields of history to create resources that benefit our state and its many communities,” said Susan Jones-Huffine, chair of the board of trustees of the Indiana Historical Society. “Our history proves that in times like these, we have reason to be hopeful.”
“Hoosiers have a wonderful appreciation and respect for their history,” added Jody Blankenship, president and CEO of the Indiana Historical Society. “I am constantly amazed by the incredible dedication and work that happens across Indiana by local historical societies and individuals — from Evansville to Fort Wayne and Richmond to Gary.”
Below are the 2021 award winners:
Jacob P. Dunn Jr. Award
The Jacob P. Dunn Jr. Award is named after the Indiana historian and author and is given to annually to the author of the best article in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, published by the Indiana Historical Society Press.
Rebecca Bibbs, Anderson
Rebecca Bibbs is a reporter at the Anderson Herald Bulletin. She covers education, social justice and the towns of Madison County. Rebecca’s article, “Just a Matter of Time: Belford “Sinky” Hendricks,” appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Traces. In her article, Rebecca explores the remarkable music career of her great-uncle, an Evansville native who left an indelible mark on several genres of mid-twentieth-century music, from country to rock to disco, contributing to the soundtrack of the lives of Americans from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Caleb Mills Indiana History Teacher of the Year
The Caleb Mills Indiana History Teacher of the Year Award, named in honor of Caleb Mills, the father of Indiana’s common schools, is made annually to a teacher (teaching grades 4-12) currently teaching American or Indiana history and recognized by his or her colleagues as making a significant contribution to the understanding of these two fields by his or her students.
Troy Hammon, Fishers
Originally from Bristol, Indiana, Troy has been an educator for the last 25 years, the last 23 of which have been as a social studies teacher at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). He is active in education boards, including the Geography Educators Network of Indiana, and he is currently the president of the Indiana Council for Social Studies. Troy is a strong supporter of National History Day and has been since 2015. At Shortridge High School, he spearheaded the participation with the entire IPS system. This expansion allowed for a creation of an IPS regional contest.
Dorothy Riker Hoosier Historian Award
The Dorothy Riker Hoosier Historian Award is named for Dorothy Riker, who was a 50-year employee and editor for the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Historical Bureau from 1929 to 1979. This award is made annually to a historian who has made distinguished contributions to the field of historical scholarship, including presentation, use of materials and preservation, or the affairs and activities of the IHS.
Jill Weiss-Simins, Indianapolis
Jill Weiss-Simins is a historian at the Indiana Historical Bureau, a division of the Indiana State Library, where she has worked since 2008. She has greatly enhanced the study and public understanding of Indiana history through her contributions, including the State Historical Marker Program, The Talking Hoosier History podcast and the Indiana History Blog.
Hubert Hawkins History Award
The Hubert Hawkins History Award is named for Hubert Howard Hawkins, past executive secretary of IHS and director of the Indiana Historical Bureau. Mr. Hawkins was instrumental in increasing IHS membership during his work around the state and with the Indiana Junior Historical Society. This award is given to a local historian for his or her distinguished service and career in local history.
Dr. James MacLeod, Evansville
Dr. James MacLeod is a professor of history at the University of Evansville, where he has been since 1999. James is an active local historian and serves on the boards of the Vanderburgh County Historical Society, the Southwestern Indiana Historical Society and the Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science.
Indiana History Outstanding Organization Event or Project Award
The Indiana History Outstanding Organization Event or Project Award recognizes an organization for an exceptional educational event or history project implemented during the past year, either one-time or ongoing, which relates to that organization’s mission.
Lawrence County (Illinois) Historical Society, “An Eagle on His Button,” Lawrenceville, IL
One outstanding project is the video production of “An Eagle on His Button: The Story of the African American Civil War Soldiers from Lawrence County.” The film presents history in a way that engages with local stories as well as tying in these histories to the broader story of the Civil War and the struggle to end slavery in the United States. In addition, a descendent of one of the soldiers was part of the team that helped to create the video. At one point, Lawrence County was part of Knox County, Indiana, prior to becoming part of Illinois, and the production heavily features the 28th USCT (United States Colored Troops), which was based in Indianapolis.
Marshall County Historical Society, “The Extraordinary Photography of J.R. Koontz,” Plymouth
The organization put together an exceptional exhibit highlighting Marshall County’s J.R. Koontz (1874-1947), who was a self-taught amateur photographer who lived his entire life on a farm near Bremen. His natural talents as a photographer illustrated his growing technical skills and his keen interest in broader cultural ideas.
Outstanding Collaborative Project Award
The Outstanding Collaborative Project Award recognizes an exceptional project by a historical or heritage organization with one or more partners implemented during the past year, particularly for projects that share county or regional history.
Bartholomew County Historical Society and Bartholomew County Public Library, “It Began With Bartholomew,” Columbus
2021 marks the bicentennial of Bartholomew County and the centennial of the Bartholomew County Historical Society. Leading up to this celebration, the communities of Bartholomew County began looking for ways to celebrate their history. The result was the project “It Began with Bartholomew,” a five-part documentary series that showcases the rich history of the county with highlights of its different regions.
Leadership Johnson County at Franklin College, “Booker T. Washington Community Center Rededication Project,” Franklin
Leadership Johnson County at Franklin College is a nine-month community leadership training program that focuses on community awareness and leadership development. Participants of the program are tasked with completing a community service project. For this particular award, the Leadership Johnson County project group, the DREAM Team (Diversity in Recreation for Education, Alliance and Motivation) Class of 2021’s project was to highlight a local history that was not previously well-known. The DREAM Team’s project highlighted the history of the Booker T. Washington School in the city of Franklin and to uncover more in-depth stories of the former students and educators. They coordinated the renaming of the center and a rededication of the newly-named Booker T. Washington Community Center.
Centennial Business Awards
In 1992, the Indiana Historical Society founded the Historic Business Register to recognize Indiana companies continually in business for a century or more to encourage the preservation of historically significant business-related archival materials, and to develop increased awareness of Indiana’s rich business and industrial heritage. Since that time, more than 500 companies have been honored with the Centennial Business Award and added to the register, which is available on the Indiana Historical Society website, indianahistory.org.
Busby Drilling Company, Inc. of Anderson, Indiana, was started in 1902 by Augustus Busby using a steam powered rig pulled by horses. Initially, the company drilled wells for area farms before quickly expanding into commercial and residential wells. The company has remained in continuous business through the Great Depression, two World Wars, numerous recessions, the 1918 flu pandemic and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, Busby Drilling Company provides water well services for industrial, municipal and utility customers as well as continuing to serve its commercial and residential customers. Due to its reputation for quality work and expertise, Busby Drilling has served some of its customers for more than 50 years.
Cataract General Store in Spencer, Indiana, is one of the oldest general stores in the Hoosier State, with its doors first opening for business in 1860. Throughout its 150-plus years in operation, this general store has had many different owners — including current owners Scott and Catherine Kuntz. Little has changed about the store’s exterior in the past 150 years although new signage has been added.
Today, this store remains a place where locals and visitors can buy an assortment of supplies. Visitors often stop by the store on their way to see the breathtaking Cataract Falls on the Eel River, which is only two miles from the general store. Out-of-towners also come from across the state to purchase the store’s famous pickles, moon pies, and 8-ounce glass Coca Cola bottles. The store also sells a variety of cookware and home décor essentials along with local jams and honey.
Central Supply Company is a plumbing, electrical, HVAC and tool distributor that has been serving Indiana since 1902. Through its headquarters in Indianapolis and branches in Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Danville, and Bloomington, Central Supply has become one of the premier supply wholesalers in the Hoosier State.
Central is known for its outstanding customer service and personal touch. Whether dealing with vendors, contractors, end users or its own employees, Central Supply strives for the highest levels of respect, satisfaction and relationships. The company believes that not only should they serve their customers well, but they should also serve their communities with purpose and joy. Central Supply is very involved with various organizations and events that promote giving back to the communities they serve.
Evansville Electrical and Mechanical Services Company was originally founded on March 1, 1921, in Evansville, Indiana, by John and Gil Poling to repair and maintain mining equipment in Southern Indiana, Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois. In the 1990s, the name of the company was officially changed to EEMSCO.
One hundred years after the company’s founding, EEMSCO is still a family-owned and -operated business led by fifth-generation family member Tom Mathias. EEMSCO has shown its ability to adapt to the ever-changing business environment by shifting their focus of operations from the repair and maintenance of mining equipment to repair of electric motors and machine shop work for heavy industry. EEMSCO continues to prove its viability well into the 21st century.
Brothers Boiler Company Inc. began in 1917 as Goudy, Green & Gay Boiler — a partnership founded by George Goudy, Fred Goudy, George Gay, and Harrison Green. The company constructed “Goudy Boilers” in the old Ford and Donnelly Foundry building on the north side of Kokomo, Indiana. The company also repaired industrial boilers and provided service to locomotive steam engines during the Railroad Era. The company now resides at the corner of Main and Spraker Streets in Kokomo, Indiana.
Today, Goudy Brothers is led by the two great-great-grandsons of George Ray Goudy. Don and Jeff Spall oversee the day-to-day operations of the business, and their mom, Vicky (Goudy) Spall, is currently the fifth company president. The company still provides boiler service to many school corporations, government facilities, factories and churches throughout central Indiana and is known for providing community support and sponsoring youth programs.
Shirley Engraving started in 1920 as Sabins Engraving and was located in the Liberty Building at 107 S. Capitol Avenue in downtown Indianapolis. Their clients included Eli Lilly Co., Citizen’s Gas and Wm. H. Block Company. The company was renamed Chamberlin and Son in 1951, and eventually acquired Warmoth Engraving and Quality Engraving — being renamed Shirley Engraving in 1976. In 2009, Shirley Engraving became part of the Priority Group.
The company has engraved many high-profile items over the years, including inaugural ball invitations for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and George W. Bush. Today, Shirley Engraving is an integrated branding and communications company and still operates an engraving press that was built in 1928, dubbed “The Little Automatic.” It provides social stationery for an NFL owner, note sheets for a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea and service to more than 300 very loyal and appreciated clients.