SYRACUSE — Hundreds converged on the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum Saturday, May 18, not only to view J.P. Dolan’s Indian Relic collection, but other area historical items displayed, during an open house. Many were also on hand for a brief presentation from J.P. Dolan, Eli Lilly, Chief Papakeechie and Chief Wawasee.
The collection of J.P. Dolan which has been on display since 1910 at the Syracuse Public Library, and then entrusted to the historical museum, had never been identified. Through a Heritage Support Grant, provided by the Indiana Historical Society and made possibly by Lilly Endowment Inc., along with local contributions, work began in 2017 on identification of the collection. The museum collaborated with Ball State University’s Applied Anthropology Laboratories in 2018 to have almost 700 artifacts identified and cataloged.
Guests heard from Joseph P. Dolan, portrayed by Ivan Waikel, who told of his many jobs including that as teacher and principal and his finding of the artifacts in the area. Dolan, born March 28, 1849, served as principal from 1878 to 1887. He died in 1934.
Eli Lilly, portrayed by Maddux Ringler, spoke briefly about himself, noting he bought his first sailboat, the Mascot at the age of 12, and was owner of the Eli Lilly estate on Lake Wawasee. Additionally he noted he was responsible for bringing insulin to Indiana.
Also speaking briefly were Chief Wawasee, portrayed by Grayson Lasley, who was also known as Full Moon and the brother of Chief Papakeechie. Wawasee stated he was a minor leader in the Miami Tribe and lived in the Wawasee Village in the 1830s. Wawasee stated he was also the first person to sign the Treaty of Mississinewas between the U.S., the Miami and Potawatomi tribes.
Chief Papakeechie, who was born in 1770 in Noble County, stated while he was the main leader of the Miami Tribe, his brother, Wawasee, had the larger lake. He noted he received a house, paid for by the government after trading some of his land, leaving him with 37 parcels around Tippecanoe and other spots in Kosciusko and Noble counties. He died in 1834.
Ann Garceau, project leader and organizer of the program, introduced several of her Syracuse High School classmates, who are descendants of those living in the area and owners of the land where artifacts were found. These persons included Tommy Clapp, Joe HIbschman and Judy Stucky Jarrett. Clapp is a descendant of J.P. Dolan and shared Dolan’s diaries including the meeting between Dolan and Lilly. Hibschman and Jarrett are descendants of those who owned the land north of Syracuse where the artifacts were located by Dolan.
Hibschman briefly spoke noting his great-great-great-grandfather had purchased the property on the north shore of Syracuse Lake in the 1840s and was the second landowner of that property after it was purchased from the government. His great-great-grandmother married a Ward and his great-grandmother married a Hibschman.
Garceau also recognized the numerous individuals who helped with the project in various capacities from providing financial donations to working on the display cases, help with identification, designing the storyboard displays and doing electrical work.