SYRACUSE — Two years of intensive work on Syracuse resident J.P. Dolan’s Indian relic collection will culminate with an open house at the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum. “The Dawn of Indiana Archaeology” will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18. The museum is housed in the Syracuse Community Center across from Lakeside Park. There will be a short recognition program at 1 p.m.
Lake Wawasee summer resident Eli Lilly’s lifelong interest in archaeology was sparked by meeting Dolan in 1929 to view this collection. Lilly became the individual primarily responsible for creating and maintaining the modern program in Indiana archaeology.
In 2017, knowing the collection needed proper identification, the museum applied for and received a $17,000 Heritage Support Grant provided by the Indiana Historical Society and made possible by Lilly Endowment Inc. Local residents also contributed to the project. During 2018, the museum collaborated with Ball State University’s Applied Anthropology Laboratories to have almost 700 artifacts in the collection identified and cataloged. As an extension of Lilly’s legacy and Dolan’s goal to have his collection serve as a public education resource, the museum has developed engaging, informative storyboards showcasing the artifacts.
Many local craftsmen helped the museum achieve its goal. Those included woodworkers Grant Kroes and Eric Long, flintknapper Jeff Mesaros, electrician Chuck Runyan, graphic designer Terry Vander Ryden and wife, Marlene, Scott Signs of Goshen, and Meyer Plastics of Indianapolis (and Lake Wawasee).