100th anniversary tribute paid to Miss Indiana

BEDFORD – The Lawrence County Commissioners and the Miss Indiana Centennial Committee on Monday, November 27, at 4:30 p.m. celebrated the 100th anniversary of the setting of the Miss Indiana statue atop the Lawrence County Soldiers, Sailors, and Pioneers Monument.

The setting of Miss Liberty in November 27, 1923.

The celebration was held on the west side of the Lawrence County Courthouse, at the statue’s base.

The Presentation of Colors was executed by the American Legion Gillen Post 33 and a wreath was placed by the Bedford Freemasons to honor Lawrence County veterans and the pioneers who settled the county.

Lawrence County Commissioner Rodney Fish addressed the community saying, “The purpose is to celebrate a part of our history and heritage by gathering here on the 100th anniversary of a grand old lady, Miss Indiana. She stands on these grounds as a beacon to honor the past, inspire the future, and give thanks for the blessings our community enjoyed today. She stands as a symbol of the courage and fortitude of those who envisioned what Lawrence County could be even before it was fully formed. Those who labored to see her carved and placed here had a different perspective of what it meant to honor the settlers and builders of our community, but they showed their faithfulness that the future held hope by commissioning this remarkable effort.”

Judge Nathan Nikirk

Lawrence County Circuit Court Judge Nathan Nikirk presented the history of Miss Indiana.

“100 years ago today at around this same time in the afternoon this beautiful statue was hoisted into place atop the Lawrence County Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneer monument. The Miss Indiana Statue was a gift to Lawrence County by Moses Fell Dunn. Mr. Dunn died on October 21, 1915, and bequeathed $10,000 (the equivalent of $175,000 today) for the carving and placement of the Miss Indiana Statue. Famous local stone carver Harry Easton was responsible for sculpting the face of Miss Indiana. Mr. Easton modeled her face after Mayme Hubbard Smith, a secretary at the Imperial Stone Company that employed Mr. Easton.

Miss Indiana is carved out of Indiana limestone quarried from Oolitic. She weighs twelve tons and stands 32 feet above the ground.

If you look at the base of the statue you will notice four carved panels that depict the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, and an Indiana pioneer scene. A secret time capsule was placed in a small lockbox inside the base of the monument on November 22, 1923. The time capsule contains articles from various newspapers, a copy of Moses Fell Dunn’s Last Will and Testament, a list of Lawrence County soldiers and sailors, and photos of the Monon train depot.

“If you look closely at the statue, you will notice that Miss Indiana wears a wreath crown of bay laurel leaves symbolizing victor and she is holding a palm leaf symbolizing peace. Miss Indiana also stands between a sheaf of wheat and an anvil. The wheat symbolizes prosperity, the anvil symbolizes strength. I think the symbolic meaning of this statue perfectly captures the true nature of the citizens of Lawrence County now as it did 100 years ago.

I’m going to close with a quote from Judge Ira Batman. Judge Batman was a Lawrence County native and a personal friend of Mr. Dunn. Judge Batman spoke and closed his speech at the original dedication ceremony 100 years ago with the following words.

‘May this statue stand during the coming years as a reminder of the patient service and heroic sacrifice for those in whose honor it was erected and keep green the memory of the illustrious donor – Moses Fell Dunn.'”

The Bedford North Lawrence High School and Mitchell School High School choirs performed “How Firm a Foundation” and “America” the same song sung when Miss Indiana was first placed at the courthouse.

Immediately following the outdoor ceremony, the public was invited to attend an art show with light refreshments in the Courthouse rotunda.

Artwork by students from all Lawrence County Schools featuring the Miss Indiana Statue was on display.

The celebration program is below:

Presentation of Colors & Pledge of Allegiance – American Legion Gillen Post 33

Wreath Laying – Bedford Freemasons

Welcome & Invocation – Lawrence County Commissioner Rodney Fish and Rev. Tim Thompson

Presentation of Distinguished Guests – Lawrence County Councilwoman Janie Craig Chenault and Mayor Sam Craig, City of Bedford spoke of the accomplishments of distinguished guests T/Sgt. James Lee Hutchinson, Clydene Guthrie Flinn, and Larry Flinn.

Ceremonial Address – Judge Nathan G. Nikirk Lawrence Circuit Court

Choral Performance – “How Firm a Foundation” and “America” Presented by: Mitchell High School Choir and Bedford North Lawrence High School Choir under the direction of Mrs. Amanda Whitmer, Mitchell Choir Director & Mr. Luke Hayden, Bedford North Lawrence Choir Director

Closing Remarks – Mrs. Susan Gales, President, Bedford Revitalization, Inc.