Historical Society banner and logomark
BCHS logomark

Mission of the Society

The mission of the Bartholomew County Historical Society (BCHS) is to collect and preserve Bartholomew County artifacts, photographs, and documents. Through interpretive programs and displays, BCHS teaches the heritage of this region to enrich both present and future generations. Our goal is that we may know who we are today based on where we came from yesterday.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Bartholomew County Historical Society is to discover, collect, preserve, and share the history of Bartholomew County for the enrichment of present and future generations.

Museum History

The first meeting of the newly incorporated Bartholomew County Historical Society (BCHS) was held April 3, 1921 at the First United Presbyterian Church. Organizers of the Historical Society were George Pence, Vida Newsom, W.H. Newsom, D.J. Richard, Hugh T. Miller, W.G. Irwin, Yandell C. Cline, J.R. Dunlap. The mission was for the “literary purposes, generally but in particularly to actively engage in the collection of data and material for and in the preservation of county and state history, biography, and to disseminate such information in any and all proper ways.”

The Society’s first president, George Pence, had a vast collection of manuscripts and papers that reflected on the history of Bartholomew County as early as the 1870s. The primary sources of historical information became an important part of the Society’s collection.

In 1926, the Historical Society was granted permission to use the basement of the Court House; artifacts abounded as residents donated pioneer tools, household furnishings, Civil War items, and other interesting items. In 1966, the Historical Society needed to find new quarters for its growing collection. The present site at 524 Third Street opened its doors as a museum in 1973.


James A. Cavanaugh, a native of Columbus, returned from the Civil War and opened a monument company. For more than twenty years, he created marble tombstones. After his death, Michael Unger, a French immigrant and longtime employee of Cavanaugh, purchased theĀ  firm and continued the business under the name Michael Unger Monument Company.