PAOLI — Fifty years ago this month in 1972, a group of Orange County citizens gathered at the home of Owen Stout, south of Paoli, to organize the Orange County Historical Society. Newspaper articles from the date list that the following persons were present: Max W. Apple, Ross Atkinson, Rev. Robert Bennett, Harry Clements, Arthur L. Dillard, Frank and Linda Du Breuil, George Evashuk, Paul Farlow, Patrick Fleming, Thelma Lindley, Kathryn Murray, Noel Newlin, Howard Sermersheim, Owen Stout, James M. Tucker, Lucille Waynick, Paul Waynick, Regina Wilson and Elizabeth Worland.

The need for a museum (in 1976 a museum would be established first at the old Orangeville Methodist Church and later in the former Orange County annex on the northwest corner the Paoli Square) to preserve Orange County’s historical heritage was discussed. Owen Stout was selected as president of the new organization. Arthur Dillard was tapped as vice-president, Etta Regina Wilson, secretary, Harry Clements, treasurer, and Randall Doan, assistant treasurer.

The influx of tourists to Orange County upon the the completion of Patoka Lake was cited as another reason for establishing a museum.

A second meeting of the new society was held the next month Dec. 5 in the county courtroom with nearly 60 persons in attendance. Membership of the new group was increased to approximately 45. By-laws were formally presented during the meeting. With the boom in membership and interest growing, the Orange County Historical Society was really on its way.

The society acquired a significant asset in 1974 when it received the historic Lindley House in Paoli. The homesite was gifted by the great-great-grandson, H. Carl Thompson and Dorothy Farlow Thompson. The farmhouse is restored to reflect the period of the mid-1850s to the 1860s when it was used as a farm home. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

In addition to owning and maintaining the historic Lindley House, OCHS operates the Orange County Historic Museum. Housed today (through a longtime agreement and partnership with Orange County officials) in what was once the private residence of Dr. J.H. Sherrod and his family, the museum is filled with artifacts and relics of Orange County’s past and a testament to the beginnings of a rural Southern Indiana community.

The society’s present officers include Robert F. Henderson, president and CEO; Brenda Cornwell, vice president; Gary Spear, recording secretary; Carolyn Clements, treasurer. The Board of directors is headed up by Terry Cornwell as chairman, Carolyn Clements, Janice Newton, and Jeff Lane.

For more information on the OCHS and its activities visit www.historicorangecounty.org.