2023 Bicentennial

About the Madison
County Bicentennial

We’re coming together to commemorate two hundred years of Madison County's existence. Our goal is to be inclusive of all county residents and to create an awareness of all facets of our county history through education, special events, fellowship, and celebration.

Nestled on the banks of White River and just 30 miles northeast of Indianapolis, Madison County is, in many ways, a microcosm of the American Midwest. Comprised of 450 square miles and 130,000 people, Madison County is home to Mounds State Park, Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing and Casino, and Anderson University (a private, liberal arts institution offering more than 60 undergraduate majors).

With suburban development pushing east from Hamilton County, much of the southern portions of Madison County are now considered within the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area. Once home to about 20 General Motors’ plants, in 1971 one in every three people in Anderson worked for General Motors. However, today, like hundreds of other communities across the rust belt, Anderson continues its economic recovery from those bygone days. Conversely, Northern Madison County remains representative of rural Indiana with rolling farmlands weaving their way through a handful of idyllic cities and towns.

Madison County is also synonymous with high school basketball. The now vacant Anderson Wigwam was once the world’s second largest high school gymnasium. Collectively, Madison County schools have won six coveted state basketball championships and boasts five former Mr. Basketball award winners and one Miss Basketball winner. The award honors the best basketball player in the state of Indiana and is the oldest such award in the nation, having been established in 1939 (girls in 1976).

We, in Madison County, continue to cleave to our historic blue-collar work ethic and hometown values. Join us in this momentous, year-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of this great Indiana county!

History of Madison County Indiana

With the departure of the Native Americans in 1821, Madison County was formally organized on November 10, 1823 and named after the 4th United States President, James Madison. Numerous towns and villages began to emerge and grow. Few, but significant conflicts occurred between white settlers and local native american tribes, including the Pendleton Indiana Massacre. In 1825, three white men were executed by hanging at Pendleton for murdering Indians.
In 1852, Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad completed the line through the county connecting the county with a vast rail system that eventually spanned the continent. Other railroad companies soon followed.
The Indiana Constitution banned black settlers until 1866, when the Article was declared unconstitutional. Many soldiers from Madison County joined the Union army fighting in the Civil War.
In 1887, Natural Gas was discovered ushering in what was known as the “Gas Boom Era” which brought manufacturing and job creation resulting in wealth and growth throughout the county. In 1898, a new form of public transportation called the “Interurban” began operating in the county carrying passengers and freight that eventually reached most of Indiana.
Automobile manufacturing flourished in Anderson until WW1 when production was halted. In 1913, flood waters from White River and its tributaries wreak havoc in the county becoming the worst flood on record.
General Motors Corporation arrived in Anderson in 1927. Eventually, it became the county’s largest employer with both Delco Remy Division and Guide Lamp Division employing thousands; a distinction that continued until the 1990s. In 1937, Martial Law was declared as a result of labor unrest in Anderson.
In 1940, Elwood native Wendell L. Willkie was nominated to run for the office of President of the United States. President Harry S Truman makes a speech at the NYC RR depot in Anderson. Anderson’s Carl Erskine pitches for the champion Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. Set strikeout record of 14 batters in the 1953 World Series.
The following decades are too recent to determine the true historical impact of events on the county. We are including just a few that seem significant or memorable at this time.
Future President of the United States John F. Kennedy campaigns in Alexandria, Pendleton, and Anderson. Mounds Mall in Anderson opens. Interstate 69 was constructed through Madison County. Madison County celebrates its Sesquicentennial. Madison County Government Center Opens.
Anderson Mayor Mark Lawyer was elected to the first of four consecutive terms. General Motors began systematic closing of its facilities in Anderson.
Four county high schools won ISHAA Boys Basketball titles: Lapel & Liberty Christian, 1A; Alexandria and Frankton, 2A. Like the rest of the nation, Madison County experienced the economic ups and downs of the early 2000’s and the impacts of the coronavirus. The county has shown its tenacity in many ways, including the response to a damaging tornado in Pendleton in 2019 and activities to promote food security and community connection.
1823 - 1850
1840 - 1860
1860 - 1880
1880 - 1900
1900 - 1920
1920 - 1940
1940 - 1960
1960 - 1980
1980 - 2000
2000 - Today

Drag yellow bar to scroll through the timeline.

Swipe horizontally to scroll through the timeline.

Journey of Hope

A Reflection of Madison County's African-American Trailblazers and Visionaries

Learn more by attending historical presentations throughout 2023. Click Here to See Event Details

Visit the Madison County Historical Society Website  to read more about the fascinating events of the last 200 years.

Ways to Get Involved

sponsor_the_bicentennial

Sponsor

Show your county pride and become a sponsor for this year-long bicentennial celebration! Organizations and businesses have a variety of sponsorship options. Hover to see the benefits of becoming a sponsor.

Why Become a Sponsor?

- Strengthens community engagement
- Builds your brand presence
- Makes a positive difference in our county

Sponsor Now
donate

Donate

All donations help us put on fun, educational, inclusive events for everyone in Madison County throughout 2023. Every dollar makes a difference!

Donate

Click below to make a tax-deductible donation of any amount.
Donate Now
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Volunteer

Many volunteers are needed to help us put on celebratory events throughout the county. Work side-by-side with other passionate community members and have some fun while you're at it!

Volunteer

Click below to sign up for the volunteer list and we will be in touch with specific event details and volunteer needs.
Volunteer Sign Up
legacy_project

Legacy Project

Many organizations are planning special bicentennial projects that further their mission and create a lasting legacy for future generations.
Get in touch to see how we can support your legacy project!

Legacy Project

Download the application for information about grant and endorsement opportunities.
Submit your completed application and documents by email.

Click here to see an example of the Gruenewald House
Download Application

Calendar of Events

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Madison County Bicentennial provides a distinctive opportunity for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to honor and celebrate our fundamental missions of: Education, Patriotism and Historic Preservation. It is imperative that the history of Madison County be preserved for future generations.
- Kikthawenund Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the America Revolution
There is a feeling of substance and history in the buildings, beautiful parks, and public spaces. This people who make up Madison County have a unique love for their community and enthusiasm for the future.
– Anderson Resident
I love my neighbors and the small-town-feel of Alexandria! We take this kids to the Madison County Fair every year.
- Alexandria Resident
Madison County’s Bicentennial Celebration presents a unique opportunity for the Madison County Historical Society and myself as the county historian to showcase what we do best- preserving and presenting the history of Madison County through both visual and oral interpretation. As a county, we have been blessed with a rich and colorful history that can be nurtured, celebrated, and enjoyed by all throughout 2023. It is our desire that the lives of every citizen will be enriched as we take this historic journey together.
- Stephen T. Jackson, Madison County Historian
Madison County Bicentennial provides a distinctive opportunity for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to honor and celebrate our fundamental missions of: Education, Patriotism and Historic Preservation. It is imperative that the history of Madison County be preserved for future generations.

- Kikthawenund Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the America Revolution
There is a feeling of substance and history in the buildings, beautiful parks, and public spaces. This people who make up Madison County have a unique love for their community and enthusiasm for the future.

- Anderson Resident
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Museum of Madison County History

Operated by the Madison County Historical Society, Inc.
Preserving our heritage since 1884

Your Bicentennial Destination

Mastodons, Mounds, Manufacturers

Veterans, Vehicles, Visionaries

Athletes, Artists, Agriculturists

15 W. 11th Street, Anderson, IN

Mon–Wed–Fri, 9:00 am– 3:00 pm

765-683-0052

Thank You!

Our heartfelt thank you to everyone who is participating in this historic event. From the organizations working together to plan, to individual volunteers, to businesses that call Madison County home. We are all proud to be a part of this great community and are pleased to celebrate its 200th year!
- The Madison County Bicentennial Committee

Sponsors

The Community Councils

Participating Organizations

Madison County Historical Societies

Daniel Wise Home. Built 1853 in Jackson Township
Daniel Wise Home. Built 1853 in Jackson Township
First Airplane Flown in Anderson 1909
First Airplane Flown in Anderson 1909
Frederick Bronnenberg Jr. Home. Built 1840 in Union Township
Frederick Bronnenberg Jr. Home. Built 1840 in Union Township
Jackson Township One Rom School Bell Rattle 1919
Jackson Township One Rom School Bell Rattle 1919
Original Moss Island Road Bridge 1870
Original Moss Island Road Bridge 1870
Alexandria Historic photo
Alexandria
Alfont School class photo
Alfont School
Chesterfield street 1909
Chesterfield 1909
Elwood 1905
Elwood 1905
Florida Station 1941
Florida Station 1941
Frankton 1923
Frankton 1923
Linwood
Linwood
Markleville
Markleville
Moonsville School class photo 1933
Moonsville School 1933
Orestes
Orestes
Ovid
Ovid
Florida Station 1941
Florida Station 1941
Pendleton street historical photo
Pendleton
Perkinsville
Perkinsville
Summitville
Summitville

Follow the Bicentennial
Celebration on Facebook

©2024 Madison County Bicentennial Celebration – Site Design by Element212
madison county 200 matching grants

The MADISON COUNTY BICENTENNIAL committee is taking requests for matching grants up to $5,000.

Applications should be directed to the Madison County Community Foundation.

Criteria to be considered is outlined below.

  • Available to any nonprofit organization incorporated in Madison County, with preference given to 501(c)(3) orgs as there can be additional reporting/tracking measures that apply to other types of NPs
  • Grants awarded for programs, projects or initiatives that are for any of the following: Celebration, preservation, or observation of historic events or locations that are of particular significance and importance to Madison County
  • Leveraging of outside funds, and the inclusiveness and accessibility of the funded project, will be considered as factors
  • Maximum request: $5,000 (partial grants may be awarded)

Volunteer Sign Up

Bicentennial Exhibits

The Museum of Madison County History has newly installed exhibits specifically relating to our Bicentennial.

Exhibits include: Made in Madison County, Pioneers and Prehistory, Veterans Hall of Honor, and Arena of Champions.

These exhibits are open from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Holiday BookFest

Date: TBD

Holiday BookFest will be held in the Bowman Room at the Madison County Historical Society. This is an opportunity to pick up gently used books at rock bottom prices. There will also be local authors selling and signing their books for you. Gift Baskets, fantastic as always, will be raffled.

Legacy Project

This represents a Madison County Bicentennial Legacy assisted project. It was done in partnership with the Historic Gruenewald House in Anderson.