Facilities team member learns while he goes as he restores rides from past


Rob Wilson has been on Conner Prairie’s facilities team for eight years. In his free time, usually in the winter months when the outdoor grounds are closed, he spends his time restoring some relics of the past he’s acquired, like this 1954 Chevy Belair 2-door.

By Hannah Kiefer
For more than 20 years, Rob Wilson has been working on classic cars in his down time. The grounds crew member in facilities here at Conner Prairie said he began collecting cars as they came to him. His restoration skills are completely self-taught.

“I’m learning as I go,” he said.

He’s restored six cars total so far and it all began with a 1970 Datsun SPL-311 Roadster 2-door convertible. Since, he’s worked on a 1965 Mustang Convertible, a 1982 Buick Regal Somerset Limited, a 1939 International D-2 pickup, a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe 4-door Flathead and, the latest, a 1954 Chevy Belair 2-door. Continue reading

Youth volunteer program gets $10K boost from CarMax Foundation


Conner Prairie’s youth volunteer program accepts up to 100 youth ages 10-18 each year and helps them build leadership and life skills, achieve personal growth and learn about Indiana history.

Staff Report
Conner Prairie’s youth volunteer program recently got a bump when the foundation of the nation’s largest used car dealership gave $10,000 to back its operation.

This is the fourth straight year that the CarMax Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of CarMax, has supported the program, which teaches youth ages 10-18 the importance of volunteerism, helps them build leadership and life skills, encourages their personal growth and development, and educates them about teaching Indiana history in a hands-on, interactive environment.

The program began 50 years ago with just one person. Today, it’s a widely popular – and exclusive – program for youth. Throughout the year, they learn public speaking skills, work ethic, poise, interpersonal skills and confidence through interaction with museum visitors. Continue reading

Back in time: The first Indiana Thanksgiving Day was in 1837


Although Americans have set aside a day of thanks for the harvest and for the prosperity of the new nation since 1817, a coordinated observance took decades to establish. Photo and caption: Indiana Magazine of History

By Hannah Kiefer
Thanksgiving may not have been a national holiday until 1863, but some states were ahead of the curve and began celebrating the holiday much sooner – including Indiana.

In 1837, Indiana Gov. Noah Noble announced the state’s first Thanksgiving Day, which was Dec. 7 – coincidentally, Noble’s last day in office. He said the day was to be “a day of public thanksgiving to the almighty God for His special blessing on the fruits of the Earth and the measure of health throughout our state.”

The statement about health referred to the end of the 1832 cholera epidemic. Continue reading

Young professionals group Horizon Council hosts Holiday Cheers Dec. 15

161115_blog_1Holiday Cheers hosted by the Horizon Council is Dec. 15. Advance sale tickets are available online for this adults-only event offering a catered meal, craft beer and fine wines and a candlelit stroll through Conner Prairie’s Prairietown.

Staff Report
The young professional’s group that supports Conner Prairie hosts its annual holiday party in about a month and the group invites other area young professionals to come network, enjoy great food, sample craft beers and fine wines and party in Prairietown like they did back in 1836.

Holiday Cheers hosted by the Horizon Council is Dec. 15. Advance-sale tickets for this adult-only event are on sale now. Continue reading

Coming up: 2 authors to sign latest books at Conner Prairie

Staff Report
Two authors will be coming to Conner Prairie in the next few weeks to offer book signings for the general public.

1From 2-4 p.m. Nov. 26, author Margaret Henz will be signing copies of both “Christmas At My House” and “An Angel Named Jake (left).”

The first book is a nostalgic journey back in time when the author’s mother describes how Christmas was celebrated by her family in a small New England town. The second book is about a 75-pound yellow lab and her family’s experience with the adopted pet. Henz will sign copies of her books in the Conner Prairie Store inside the museum’s Welcome Center.

2From 2-5 p.m. on Dec. 10, author Roxy Morgan (left) will be signing her recently released book, “Zoe the Zebra.” The title is a children’s book about a zebra bored with her stripes and wants to be different, like the rest of the animals in the wild. Along the way, the zebra discovers that her stripes are what make her herself. Morgan’s book signing will also take place inside the Conner Prairie Store.

Both of these book-signing events are free and open to the public.