The Allen County Museum is proud to be the repository for the history of the county. The generosity of the community and its interest and enthusiasm in supporting, collecting and preserving the county’s history is evident in the museum’s collection, which now exceeds over 280,000 archival and material items. Established in 1908, the museum has been the steward of this history for an astonishing 112 years. The museum tells the story of the region from prehistory through the industrial expansion that began in the mid-19th century and set the tone for the next 100 years. That early history defined the county’s character and is reflected today in its business, industrial and social base.
In January of this year, the Allen County Museum embarked on the development of a small exhibit that celebrated the 200th anniversary of the county’s establishment in 1820. This anniversary date was brought to staff’s attention by a longtime museum friend and patron, Helen Jean Spyker, who informed us of the pending anniversary. With little time to prepare, the museum’s curators worked diligently to create an exhibit and timeline that identified the significant highlights of that early period.
Through the Organic Act of 1820, the initial boundaries of Allen County were set. For judicial purposes, however, the county was at that time attached to Shelby County. Complete independence was recognized 11 years later in 1831, when Allen County’s present boundaries were established, and the county was fully able to act on its own behalf in matters of government. The date of 1831 is today recognized on the county’s flag.
As is often the case, research on the early history unveiled unjust treaties and ceded lands of the first peoples. In truth, this portion of the county’s early history is not easy to digest and came at a high price for Native Americans, who were eventually removed from this area by the early 1830s, having ceded their land to the United States under the Greenville Treaty of 1795.
The museum’s goal with the 200th 1820 anniversary date was to highlight significant accomplishments of those early years along with the confusion over township map changes. The exhibit briefly mentions the unjust and sorted relationship with the county’s Native American population. The exhibition continues through 2021.
In 2031, Allen County will celebrate its bicentennial on the date which recognizes the county as an independent governmental entity. In an effort to create an equitable and inclusive county narrative that takes into account the contributions of all of the county’s ethnic diversity, the museum will lead others on a committee that will research, re-examine and shed new light on the county’s fascinating and diverse history, giving voice to the groups who have been historically underrepresented.
The Allen County Museum is delighted to partner with The Lima News to bring residents a publication that aids in documenting the remarkable history and progress of our county over the past 200 years. With great anticipation, we also look forward to the opportunity of celebrating more fully the narrative and accomplishments of all voices of the county in 2031.