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Column: Hope native puts county back on state tree


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Submitted photo / Hope native Erin Anderson stands alongside the 3-piece Christmas ornament she created to represent Bartholomew County on the state Christmas tree on display at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. Anderson, who is a member of the museum staff, made the ornamental display after the county's original ornament, shown above, was broken.
Submitted photo / Hope native Erin Anderson stands alongside the 3-piece Christmas ornament she created to represent Bartholomew County on the state Christmas tree on display at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. Anderson, who is a member of the museum staff, made the ornamental display after the county's original ornament, shown above, was broken.


As a native Hopeian, Erin Anderson felt compelled to act after she learned that Bartholomew County wouldn’t be represented with an ornament on the state Christmas tree at the Indiana State Museum.

She made one of her own.

Before I go any further, let me explain the Hopeian thing.

“It’s what the kids from Cross Cliff called the kids from Hope Elementary School when we got to Hauser,” the 1999 Hauser graduate said in answer to my question about the origins of a name I had never heard before. “I really don’t know why, but the name sort of stuck, and the Hope kids used it as well.”

Erin graduated from Hauser in 1999 and from there went to Ball State University, obtaining a degree in 2003.

She currently is a cultural history gallery programmer at the state museum, and it was there that she became acquainted with the state Christmas tree.

The tree, which goes on display during the holidays (it’s taken down the first week in January), has been a staple at the museum for decades. According to Erin, it dates to the old state museum in the former Indianapolis City Hall building on North Alabama Street which was vacated in 2001 for the 2002 opening of the new building in White River State Park.

The tree has featured ornaments, which are supposed to represent Indiana’s 92 counties.

Erin recalls the original Bartholomew County ornament as being in the shape of a wreath, but at some point in the last two years it broke into several pieces and rendered irreparable.

For one, perhaps two years, the county was not represented on the state tree. Erin recalls there were two or three other counties that didn’t have an ornament on the tree, but Bartholomew County’s absence was especially sensitive to her.

Efforts were made to see if any organizations in the county would be willing to create a new ornament but receiving no response, Erin acted on her own.

“I decided to make an ornament representing Bartholomew County myself,” the present day Marietta (Shelby County) resident said last week. “Actually, I made three.”

The three ornaments consist of strings of photos of familiar county landmarks. Each string contains eight landmarks, and they’re joined with ribbons, the colors of which represents the three public high schools in the county — Hauser along with Columbus North and East. The photos are mounted on small canvas boards.

“I tried to have a lot of variety in the choices of symbols,” Erin said. “It got pretty tough to choose, which might explain why I have so many.”

She didn’t limit herself to buildings or Columbus’ architecture, which has earned the city international fame. One of the photos is of the Cummins Inc. logo, a recognition of the company’s status as the county’s leading employer.

She also kept history in mind with images of the restored pagoda at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds and the 19th century Crump Theatre.

Other images are of the Bartholomew County Courthouse, the Memorial for Veterans, North Christian and St. Peters Lutheran churches, the entrance stone at Camp Atterbury and the covered bridge in Mill Race Park.

Not surprisingly, there are a few Hope attractions on the tree, including the one-room schoolhouse on the Hauser campus. But, her favorite depiction is that of the bandstand on the Hope Town Square.

Upon completion, Erin took a proprietary interest into its placement on the state tree. “I staked out a spot in front right square in the middle,” she said proudly.

It’s going to be pretty hard to miss, especially for Bartholomew County residents.

Just goes to show that it helps to have someone on the inside.

Harry McCawley is associate editor of The Republic. He can be reached by phone at 379-5620 or email at harry@therepublic.com.

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