Tuesday, December 26, 2023
Spotlight Shelbyville: George Dunn
ABOVE: George and Susan Dunn’s gravestones are in Section 3 of Forest Hill Cemetery. | photos by KRISTIAAN RAWLINGS
One hundred years ago was George Dunn’s last Christmas, and he knew it.
Days earlier, he brought a bucket of candy to Interstate Public Service Company employees and said, “Dig in, boys. This is the last present you will ever receive from me.” In the course of conversation, Dunn added, “Old Spark Plug hasn’t as much pep in him as he used to have.”
Even at 84, Dunn’s enthusiasm was legendary. “He was a boy at heart and in spirit up to his last rational moment,” The Republican said following Dunn’s death Dec. 29, 1923. “It was his natural disposition to always see the bright side; he always had a joke; with him the light was always shining through the darkest cloud.”
The article noted that “most every person in Shelbyville” called him “Uncle George,” and that his illustrious life included enthusiastic service in the Civil War.
News that Fort Sumter had been fired on reached Dunn while at work in his shoe shop. “Without waiting for other information, he pushed off his knee a shoe he was nailing a half sole on, took off his apron, put on his coat and remarked, ‘I am going to enlist in the army,’ and so he joined the cry of ‘We are coming Father Abraham 400,000 strong,’” The Republican said.
Dunn served in the Seventh Indiana Infantry under Captain John Blair of Shelbyville. Although he remained for the duration of the war, Dunn married Susan Cage during a few days’ furlough in a little house on East Washington Street between Pike and Noble streets. They eventually moved to 134 West Franklin St., currently an available lot for development in the Hamilton-Major subdivision on the former Major Hospital site.
George built a reputable career following the war. He worked in the boot and shoe store for 62 years, and he was personal friends with President Benjamin Harrison, who appointed Dunn postmaster. Dunn was also a founder of Forest Hill Cemetery and was a primary promoter of the first gas plant in Shelbyville, which later sold to Interstate.
Susan died in 1916. “For 55 years, Mr. and Mrs. Dunn journeyed together, always happy, always ready and more than willing to listen to the cry of the needy and those in distress,” the paper said. Although their children moved away, some to Indianapolis, others to California, George and Susan Dunn are buried in the local cemetery he helped develop.
The Republican called Uncle George a good husband and a good father. “He belonged to that class of men that are sometimes spoken of as ‘true blue through and through,’” the paper said.
ABOVE: Downtown Shelbyville decorations glow in the early morning hours this month. BELOW: The Shelby County Courthouse is also in on the holiday lighting. | photos by JACK BOYCE
This Day in Shelby County History
2013: Shelbyville High School senior Kyle Uhls needed just 70 seconds to dispatch of a Roncalli wrestling opponent. Kyle’s younger brother, J.T., and Cevin Christian also won matches. Pat Lumbley was the Golden Bears’ coach.
2003: Members of the local Red Hat Society met at Kopper Kettle in Morristown. Attendees were Delores Basey, Patricia Elmore, Anita Erlewein, Mary Ellen Cole, Arlene Freeman, Patricia Wood, Dorothy Shannon, Dorlita Addison, Deb Daniels, Jeanne DeHart, Martha Wood, Joan Addison, Beverly Carlton and Marjorie Davis. The Shelbyville News’ Judy Sprengelmeyer also attended and reported on the luncheon.
Tony Newton announced he would seek the County Commissioner seat for the South District. Incumbent Bob Wade had announced he would not seek another term. Newton, the son of former County Commissioner Robert Newton, had not run for office before.
Top Shelby County high school juniors attended the 27th annual Richard G. Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders. They were Jessica Kline and Kyle McColley, Southwestern; Sarah Baysden and Lauren Rees, Shelbyville; Glen Jennings and Stefanie Keffaber, Morristown; and Laura Oliver and Amanda Combs, Triton Central.
1993: The Shelbyville Boys Club recognized league and tourney champions at the conclusion of the basketball season. The Jays won the 7 and 8 league with a 14-0 mark. Members of the team were Thomas Butler, Bryce New, Aaron Huesman, Adam Robison, Matthew Baker, Thomas Runshe, Nick Chesser, Jason Myers, Ted Harper and Josh Moore. Coaches were John Chesser, Scott Harper and Kevin Moore. The Martens were runners-up with a 13-1 record. Members of the team were Brian Wagoner, Michael Brown, Simon-Martel Jackson, Robby Meal, Zach Laird, Brad Kuhn, Adam Barlow, Justin Sawyer, Blake Wessic and Noah Wethington. Coaches were Robb Barlow and Norm Wethington.
1983: A newspaper article featured Roger Harris, who owned Resound Records on N. Harrison Street. Harris dealt with rare records, and said 50 percent of his business came from outside the U.S. When he wasn’t at the store, he answered continuous calls to his home with record requests. “I have to take it off the hook during dinner,” he told The Shelbyville News. Although he personally owned over 5,000 records, he didn’t actually have a record player in his house, he said.
1973: Jack Banker, new secretary of the Shelbyville Boys Club, presented certificates of appreciation to the two retiring members of the club board of directors, Dr. James Kent and John Wetnight Jr.
1963: Cub Scouts Pack 252 held an end-of-year celebration at Pearson School, organized by Elmer Boyer. One-year service pins were presented to Ky Yarling, Steven Roff, Dick Margason, Dennis Margason, Thomas Shane, Commodore Bradford, Brad Eads, Mike Sipes and Terry Shelton. Larry Glasco, Toby Scott, Steven Boyer, Norman Johns, Terry Miller, Larry Wilson and George Stevens received two-year pins.
1953: The 500 employees of Kennedy Car Liner were treated to a Christmas turkey dinner, served at Plant One.
The 78 school safety patrol officers were treated to hot dogs and oyster soup at the Legion Home. A magician and a cartoonist entertained the kids. The event was organized by Lt. Earl Trees, Officer Floyd Wagoner, Tommy Kuhn, Charles Montgomery and Charles Holmes.
1943: Ruby Skillman, the incoming Fairland treasurer, named Marcella Patterson as her deputy.
1933: Three men were in jail following public intoxication charges on Christmas Day. One had been found in someone else’s vehicle in front of the post office.
School improvement projects began at over two dozen township schools. Most of the projects involved brick and stone improvements. Civil works initiatives also included improving the Blue River levee and cleaning the river banks. Several hundred men were involved in the work.
1923: Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Porter donated money in memory of their son to the Gordon Children’s Home to be used to purchase a playground slide.
After dealing with an overwhelmed garbage contractor, city council opted to divide the city into two zones, with Broadway as the dividing line. Each zone would be contracted out to one man to help ease the strain.