Mabel (Mrs. Elias) Jackson, author of the 1936 Westport Centennial pageant, included a scene about how Westport got its name. At an early meeting the pioneer settlers and leaders Simeon Sharp, John Cann, Hockersmith Merryman, James West discussed planning the growth of the town when Cann suggested that the town must first have a name. Sharpsville, Hamilton, Weston were suggested but voted down. Westport was chosen because Hockersmith Merryman was born in Westport, Ky. John C. Hancock wrote in his "Historical Sketch of Westport" in the Westport Centennial edition of the Greensburg Daily News, "The arrival of Noah Merryman presaged the founding of the town of Westport. A search for the origin of the name has recently had one answer from a member of the Merryman family. She reports that Noah Merryman was from Westport, KY and that the same name was used for the new village." The names of the men who played those leaders included Elvin Cruser, Billy Shaw, Earl Brunton, Mervin Clarkson and Dwight Shera.

One of the many interesting stories about this pageant is that in episode one, "The Coming of the White Man" the James and Rebecca Armstrong family, including their five children, were played by members of the Armstrong families living in Westport more than 100 years later. Olin, Alta, Regina, Charles Alfred, Billy and Betty Armstrong and Doris June Ferris played the parts. Hettie Armstrong played the grandmother.

Harry McCullough Jr., Greensburg, remembers playing a small role in the pageant. "I was about 12 or so years old at that time," he said. "I do remember that my mother Hazel (Hern) McCullough worked on something for the pageant. I’m not sure but maybe it was helping with the costumes." According to the copy of the pageant supplied by Robert Ferris, Harry (called Junior then) played a part in episode two about the early settlers and history. As a preteen he no doubt particularly enjoyed the trumpeters that introduced that episode. He was in scene two when 14 children came on-stage carrying sections of a map to show the growth of the town. They were in costumes and used well-practiced rhythmic drill movements. Other children were Miles Shera, Marvin Small, Melvin McCullough, Billy Moore, Jimmie Patrick, Robert Bodenhorn, Richard Maddux, Jackie Lee Stott, John Biddinger, Jackie McCullough, Don Armstrong and Bob Porter.

I saw that a Harry Richardson played a part in the pageant and asked Ben Richardson, now of Florida, if he was a relative. He said Harry was Wayne’s (Ben’s Dad’s) uncle and was "probably demonstrating basket making, which is a craft handed down through many generations of Richardsons." But that wasn’t the part Harry played. He was in episode four that depicted education, religion and organizations. Harry and John Billieu were the two men who played the part of organizing the Grand Army of the Republic for Westport. His ancestor, Wm. J. Richardson, was one of the leaders of the GAR.

Bob Conwell is the 4th or 5th generation of Conwells to live in Westport but he missed the centennial celebration. He was in grade school when his father died in 1936. He stayed with his sister and her husband in Warsaw for a couple of years then returned to Westport. His wife Jean was too young to do any acting in the pageant but said her cousin, Ruth Keith, took part in the Christian Church episode.

There is so much more I wanted to say about this, for example, the fact that Ira Hollensbee took part of the stone quarrying episode. Hollensbee owned a quarry near Westport but is best known for building the "Simplicity" automobile, which is still intact and was for sale for about $50,000 not long ago. George Armstrong and Clem DeCroes were known for actually starting the stone quarrying business. DeCroes was also in the episode. He was 87 at the time and lived in Indianapolis. He returned to Westport just for the centennial.

Learning about the Westport Centennial has been an enormous source of pleasure for me. As with every column, I wouldn’t have learned anything if readers weren’t willing to share their knowledge and memories. I especially thank Dr. Calvin Davis and Robert Ferris and George Cann with loads of gratitude also going to everyone else that helped with this series.

Today is my sister-in-law Anna Mabel Morgan’s 90th birthday. I know it’s been a great because her daughter Karen is visiting from Montana. Judge Patrick McCarty, Indianapolis, is Anna’s son. Anna and her sister Helen served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War II while their brothers Ross and James F. Smith served in the Marine Corps. She worked as a registered nurse at the local hospital for several years.

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