GREENSBURG — In December 2011, nine devoted, lifelong Decatur Countians decided that Decatur County history was due for an update.
They joined together, these individuals, under the direction of Decatur County Historical Society Director Dustin White, spending the next several months conferencing, creating blueprints and outlines, and deliberating about the content and direction of a new book on the county’s history.
After more than a year of writing and editing, of designing and revising, the result of their hard work and intense collaboration was released this past spring by Greensburg’s own Independent Publisher, Winters Publishing.
The 115-page book, entitled “Reflections…The History of Decatur County,” starts with Decatur County pre-history – circa 12,000 BC – and ends with a section entitled, ‘2000 to the Present.’ The book’s second chapter, ‘1820 to 1840,’ picks up just before Decatur County was officially established in 1822.
White spoke briefly with the Daily News about the project last week, explaining that, to his knowledge, “Reflections” marks the third major historical tome released about Decatur County, with the last published in 1984. Before that, Lewis A. Hardy’s 1915 book, “History of Decatur County, Indiana: Its people, industries and institutions,” was the county’s official history.
White was quick to point out that “Reflections” isn’t meant to supplant the first two volumes, but rather, to compliment both by offering broader perspectives, fresh insights and new information.
Obviously, with nearly 100 years of additional history to document, “Reflections,” stands easily apart from the Hardy book, but it’s also strikingly different from the 1984 volume, White said.
The 1984 book offers a far more limited view of the area’s past, he continued, told through individual and family histories; that book, in fact, is mostly a compilation of histories submitted by individuals and families throughout the county (the Hardy book also focuses mostly on individuals and families).
“We weren’t looking to replace the other Decatur County histories,” White explained. “But we believe our book is more accessible than the other two books. Our view of history is far broader and more inclusive of the entire county. Our book has many, many more pics, too.”
Taken together, he added, the three books provide an expansive picture of the area’s history. “We believe that, 50, 100 years from now, anyone researching Decatur County history will have an extremely inclusive picture to draw from between these three books. That was our goal in creating ‘Reflections.’”
White went on to describe “Reflections” as a “coffee table” book, meaning it’s designed to be “skimmed.”
“This is the kind of book you buy and lay out on your living-room table for guests to browse through when they visit,” he explained. “It’s the kind of book you don’t feel obligated to read cover-to-cover. You can pick it up, read a little bit; maybe read a bit more of another section and feel like you’ve really learned something. In that way, we hope it might stimulate reader interest in learning more about the area’s history.”
To date, 200 copies of “Reflections” have been sold at $40 each. According to White, with the book’s local sponsors (who are recognized in the back), the publication is close to the break-even mark. Any profits from the volume will benefit MainStreet Greensburg and the Decatur County Historical Society.
White thanked all the sponsors and also the book’s other eight writers: Ben Morris (‘Before 1820’); Bill Smith (‘1820 – 1840’ and ‘1840 – 1860’); Phillip Jackson, Jr. (‘1860 – 1889’); John Pratt (‘1900 – 1920’); Charity Mitchell (‘1920 – 1940’); Joe Westhafer (‘1940 – 1960’); Pat Smith (‘1960 – 1980’); and Bryan Robbins (‘1980 – 2000’ and ‘2000 to the Present’). White himself wrote ‘1880 – 1900.’
“Our biggest challenge on this book was our 115-page limit,” White said. “I would’ve loved to have had more space to talk about certain individuals or to include additional information about others; on a project like this, though, you always wish you could add a little bit more info. Overall, I’m pretty happy with what we’ve produced, and I think most Decatur Countians will be too.”
For more information on purchasing “Reflections…The History of Decatur County,” contact the Decatur County Historical Society at 663-2764, 317-966-2031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011; email@example.com