At 10 a.m. Sept. 15 from the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown, Jack Gillespie will light a torch that was created to celebrate the state’s 200th anniversary.

It will then be carried by 25 other Jackson County residents on a 2½ hour-trek, going to Seymour, back to the county seat and then to Vallonia and Medora.

The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay not only will be a significant event for the state, but it’s also special for Brownstown and Jackson County since they are celebrating bicentennials this year, too.

“This is a historical event. It’s not something that comes along every day,” said Arann Banks, the bicentennial coordinator for Jackson County.

“There have been a lot of people who have gone to a lot of effort to make this a great event,” she said. “I’m impressed with the people who have stepped up and wanted to help.”

Banks recently visited with the Jackson County Commissioners to receive approval to use the courthouse as the starting point to light the torch from a mobile cauldron. She also shared information about the relay route and other bicentennial events coming up.

On Wednesday, in the Brownstown Central High School auditorium, torchbearers from area counties gathered to learn about their responsibilities. Banks said Jackson County was one of 10 in the state hosting regional torchbearer training.

Jackson County’s torchbearers will be recognized during a dinner Sept. 13.

Then, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 15, the torch will be carried around the county. That’s a time change from an announcement made earlier this summer.

Banks said Brownstown Central Middle School students plan on going to the courthouse to watch the torch being lit. A few other Brownstown residents will carry the torch toward the edge of town, where it will be driven to the Freeman Field entrance on the west side of Seymour.

County residents will carry the torch through Freeman Field past the airfield museum and the Tuskegee Airmen memorials and come out to Walnut Street. The relay will go down to Brown Street, turn left and then head toward the Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center near Schneck Medical Center.

After going along Tipton Street or U.S. 50, the route will go left on Chestnut Street and stop at One Chamber Square for a brief ceremony around 10:45 a.m. That will include a proclamation by Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman.

The relay then will head toward Sixth Street or State Road 258 and make a left turn. Once it reaches Community Drive, the torch will be carried past Seymour High School and then be driven back to Brownstown once it reaches U.S. 50.

Back in Brownstown, the relay will turn right on Walnut Street and go down Bloomington Road past the middle school. At the U.S. 50 junction with State Road 135, the torch route will head south into Vallonia.

After making a trip through that small community, the torch will be carried along State Road 235 to the Medora Covered Bridge, where Medora students plan to watch the relay. It then will head back to State Road 135 and be handed off to Washington County officials.

Banks said the public is encouraged to watch the relay as it journeys through the county and attend the ceremony at One Chamber Square.

At that location, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Indiana Bicentennial Experience will be on display. The mobile museum has a stage and a sound system attached, and Banks said local music acts are being sought to perform on the stage.

“We were one of the few counties that got to have that,” Banks said of the museum.

Other county schools plan to have students watch the torch relay, with some gathering at Immanuel Lutheran School and Emerson Elementary School in Seymour.

The five fiberglass bison painted by local artists as part of the Indiana Bison-tennial Public Art Project also will be placed along the route. Two will be at the courthouse, and one will be at One Chamber Square, Vallonia and Medora.

The torch relay celebration will conclude with a Seymour CityJam concert at 6 p.m. featuring Rumors, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band, on a stage set up on East Second Street.

Banks said information about where each of the county’s 26 torchbearers will carry the torch will be released soon.

Anyone not able to watch the torch relay go through Jackson County and the state’s other 91 counties can download an app on their Apple or Android device. That will allow people to watch as the torch is carried throughout the state from Sept. 9 to Oct. 15.

The route is designed to travel along major highways and go by as many historical sites in each county as possible.

“There’s a GPS on the torch and a camera. There’s a torch relay app, and you can actually watch it being physically run through every county the entire time it’s going on,” Banks said. “It’s such a great opportunity because when are you ever going to get the chance to go to all 92 counties?”

At a glance

The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay will go through Jackson County on Sept. 15.

It will be lit at 10 a.m. at the courthouse in Brownstown and be carried to the edge of the county seat before being driven along U.S. 50 to Seymour. At about 10:45 a.m., a brief ceremony is planned at One Chamber Square in Seymour.

After leaving Seymour, the torch will head to Fort Vallonia and the Medora Covered Bridge before leaving for Washington County.

The torchbearers representing Jackson County are John Burkhart, Dianne Cartmel, Tonja Couch, Jack Gillespie, Amy Hartley, Donald Hill, Greg Hutcheson, Vicki Johnson-Poynter, Mike Jordan, Eunice Lacey, Sally Cate Lawson, Aaron Louden, Gary Meyer, Rick Meyer, Charles Moman, Matt Nieman, Doug Pogue, Jeff Rider, Theresa Rouse, Carl Shake, Rick Smith, Clifford Sommers, Steve Sunbury, Morris Tippin, AmyMarie Travis and David Willey.

The residents from all across the county were nominated for the honor by friends, family and coworkers. A local committee made the final selections, which were then approved by the state and announced June 29 during a special ceremony in Indianapolis.

Those selected are Hoosiers who demonstrate exceptional public service, excellence in their profession, acts of heroism or volunteer service to their neighborhood, community, region or state.

More than 2,000 Hoosiers from all 92 counties will carry the torch. The relay starts Sept. 9 in Corydon, Indiana’s first state capital, and will travel 3,200 miles, ending Oct. 15 at the Indiana Statehouse.

For information, visit

If you go

Upcoming Jackson County bicentennial celebrations

Sept. 15: Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay travels through Brownstown, Seymour, Vallonia and Medora from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; brief ceremony around 10:45 a.m. and Indiana Bicentennial Experience mobile museum from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., both at One Chamber Square in Seymour

Oct. 7, 8 and 9: Celebration at Freeman Field in Seymour will feature groups and vendors with booths and fundraising events; games and sporting events; concerts; a beer and wine festival; fireworks; a fly-in; a remote control aircraft display; a car show; hayrides; bounce houses; a tractor display; a craft and flea market; airport museum tours; a community picnic; and a community choir performance


Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.