Reclaiming Our Pioneer Spirit

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

In 2016, Indiana will be celebrating its bicentennial—200 years as a state. And the same celebration will be observed here in Jackson County which was formed in the same year. Eventhough many of the county’s communities of today weren’t in existence in 1816, all of the county is invited to be a part of the 200th birthday celebration; each adding its on piece to the quilt of the anniversary celebration.

From now through the official celebration locally, we will be penning some thoughts on 200 years and what it means for today’s citizens.

The early settlers in Jackson County were true pioneers scratching an existence in forests that up until then only Native Americans had seen.

The successful pioneers were courageous. They persevered. They made sacrifices to realize their dreams. The pioneers were builders, innovators and entrepreneurs. They built farmsteads and dry-goods stores, mills, roads and bridges. They used the latest technology everywhere they could.

The pioneers cared about community. They created organizations that brought people together to quilt and to husk, to sing, to dance, to socialize and to pray. The pioneers weren’t afraid of diversity— people from vastly different places, with vastly different customs and languages, worked together to settle the primitive Hoosier State.

The pioneers didn’t just farm and raise livestock— they were at the same time carpenters, teachers, and planners. The pioneers were visionaries. They could see in their hearts what the future could be and understood that through hard work and focus, they could achieve their visions. The pioneers were optimists – they didn’t let the challenges of a rugged life dissuade them.

Imagine if more people in rural areas could once again be as inspired by a vision of what the future holds, as reluctant to let challenges stop them, as open to new ideas, as willing to do what has to be done as their predecessors were.

By reclaiming the best of our pioneer heritage, by applying past lessons to the future, we can, like the original pioneers, make rural areas prosper.

(Our thanks to Paul Hosford and the Omaha World Herald for contributing their thoughts of the pioneer spirit for this column.)