Batesville Area Historical Society

 Join us for Batesville's Antiques Road Show!

Our August 18th Member Meeting will be held at the Big Four Café beginning at 5:30, and will include a Pork Loin Dinner prepared especially for us by Chef Adam Israel!

The cost is only $5 per person—but we need to guarantee Adam at least 30 reservations — so consider bringing a guest to introduce him or her to the BAHS, and to enjoy a great dinner and an informative evening.

Our guest speaker will be John Schoettelkotte who will share his knowledge about antiques and collectibles. You are encouraged to bring an antique or vintage item that you would like for John to evaluate.

RSVP to Carolyn by August 10, 812-934-3266, and mail or drop-off your payment in advance at the museum. Let’s see what’s in your attic!




to the Winners of the Bride Unknown Short Story Competition!



The Unknown Bride Was Never a Bride

By: Peyton Hughes                                                                            

This is the story of a discarded wedding dress found in a dumpster about 25 years ago.

The owner of this dress kept it near all her life. And then for a few years, before landing in a dumpster, the delicate gown sat on the top shelf of a great, great niece’s closet.

The niece grew tired of the dress; it had no value and it occupied much-needed space. So one day she inspected it and found it ugly with an odd smell. Without a second thought, she tossed it away.

Maybe if she had known the sad story of her great, great aunt Joan, she might have reconsidered.

It was 1908, when young Joan, her sister and parents took an ocean liner to America. Though excited, her heart was heavy. She had left her betrothed behind, but he was to join her with haste so they could be married.

To ensure she had a suitable wedding gown, she selected a dress from a fine London store before departing. A few days later, she, her sister, parents, and the dress were safely deposited on Ellis Island.

It was four long years however before finally in January of 1912, Joan’s fiancée wrote of his pending April arrival. He instructed her to urgently make wedding plans, as he “doubted he could withstand the interminable pain of being away from her much longer.” And so she did.

But he would never arrive.

Early April 16th, 1912 she waited at the end of the lane for word of her fiancée’s fate. Her neighbor returned and slowly the buggy approached. She searched his face for a sign. She felt her heart break. “What’s happened?” she finally demanded.

“Oh, lass,” he cried, “the Titanic is lost to the ocean. Your beau gave his seat on the life boat so that others could carry on in his place. They say he was a hero. But, poor missy, he won’t be coming’ to ‘ya. Not now, not ever.”

She ran from the buggy and kept running forever, or so it seemed.

Eventually, she returned home, unfolded the gown and recalled the London day when she had first tried it on. She touched the gray thread “pearls” on the pretty bodice and thought about the man she would never see, the children she would not have and the life she would never know.

As the sun set, she placed the dress in the trunk.

And there it remained for some 65 years.

She never married. And when Joan died in 1974 just before her 84th birthday, the never-worn, London-bought dress was discovered in a trunk safely stored.

It ended up in the hands of a flighty young niece who barely knew Joan. It leaves us wondering how the story might have ended differently.

So go see Joan’s dress for she long ago joined her lost love in eternity. Visit the Batesville Area Historical Society Museum before the Wedding Exhibit ends. You’ll be glad you did and so will Joan.



Bride Unknown – By Anna Meer

Skimming her palms over the fabric of my skirts, she says, “Oh, just wait until Anthony sees this!”

Her mother steps up beside the girl and uses a hand to smooth the fabric of my shoulders.

“You look gorgeous, Miranda.”

She catches her daughter’s hand in hers and squeezes. “My baby girl, a bride!”

Miranda blushes. After a moment, she lets go of her mother’s hand and asks her to begin unbuttoning my bodice. She steps out of my fabric and into a cherry red dress before gathering me in her arms. Threading a hanger through my shoulders, Miranda hangs me in the closet and closes the door. I hear the click of her heels all the way down the hall.


The mother is sobbing. She slides open the closet door, and upon seeing me dangling from the hanger, sinks to her knees and buries her face in my hemline. The wide brim of her black hat catches on the doorframe and tumbles off, thumping against the back wall of the closet before settling on the floor.

The father finds her. He grasps her arms and pulls her to her feet. Later, he comes back to close the door on me, leaving the mother’s hat nestled among my skirts.


Once, the sister opens the closet door and, picking up my hem, shoves two cardboard boxes underneath of me. A long look at the folds of my fabric, and then she too is shutting the door to my closet.


The longest wait in the dark leaves my shoulders rubbing thin against the wooden hanger. Where the light peeks in under the door, the hem of my skirt yellows. I remember the way the mother stitched me together for Miranda: the pull of thread, the dull aching push of the needle in and out of my fabric. She used to tell me about her daughter.

“She calls him Anthony.”

The woman had laughed softly. “Only one to ever call him that. Everyone else just knows him as Tony. Always have.”

Then she took up my hemline: “I’ve never seen my Miranda laugh so much. Tony’s a good one, I think.”


When the closet door finally opens again, the sister grabs me and thrusts me into a bag. My skirts are pushed up around my shoulders, my sleeves pressed up against my bodice. Then the light is tied off, shutting in the thick musk of mold as it rises off the cherry red dress below me.


When the plastic is untied, they draw me out of the bag and shake me out. My skirts are finally lowered down to their proper place. Two women brush me off, whispering about my bodice and seams, their fingers wandering over my embroidery. And then they prop me up in here, with all of these other wedding dresses, to tell my story.

This is the only way I know to introduce myself:

Her name was Miranda.

She called him Anthony.



Bride Unknown – By Claire Crane

A breath of cool, humid air danced from the woods beside the house, rippling the loose ends of the fabric Elisabeth had brought out to the porch. She set a calming hand on the white cloth as she surveyed her last seam. When the spring gust settled to the ground, she resumed her work.

“You’re sure you want to sew the whole dress yourself?” her mother had asked, meditating over the family’s washing as she waited for the iron to heat on the stove, “Maria or I could always lend you a hand.” Elisabeth thanked her, but she was sure.

Her father’s newspaper rustled as he stood up from the rocking chair stationed next to her. He set his pipe down and laid a hand on her shoulder, “Now that I’m done with that, your mother will let me in the house again.” They shared a knowing smile and he continued, “The store must have closed early, seeing as a certain someone is coming this way.”

Elisabeth immediately recognized the gait so familiar to her in the figure walking down the road. She swept inside with a laugh to hide away the unfinished wedding dress. The draft from the door blew up the pages of the abandoned newspaper. It declared in bold letters that the war gripping the world had just expanded its reach.

America had entered the Great War. Aaron visited that evening to tell Elisa that he had too.


Church bells rang often that summer, as grooms prepared to exchange their suits for soldier’s uniforms. Under no illusion of what might happen in war and yet unafraid, Aaron and Elisa decided to wait. She packed their silverware and dishes with newspapers describing Isonzo and Passchendaele.

Every night, when Elisabeth stood from kneeling in prayer at her bedside and slipped beneath the sheets, she saw the dress hanging by her door. She was accustomed to setting out clothes for the next day there.


The dress was out of fashion by the time Maria married. While she did not wear it, she kept it all the same. She laid it in a cedar chest with all of her sister’s things. She had never opened Aaron’s last letters, which she tucked beside it. Maria kept only one of Elisa’s embroidered handkerchiefs—the others had been too stained to save. The influenza had ravaged Elisabeth’s lungs, just as it had ravaged Aaron’s on his way home from France.


A sigh of late summer air swept over the sun-browned cornfield beside to the house. Maria’s grandchildren sat on the lawn, sifting through old possessions. The cedar box was emptied and its contents inspected, but the names were unfamiliar and nothing seemed worth keeping.

Although Elisabeth’s dress, finished with hopeful expectation sown into the seams, was thrown into a dumpster without ceremony, it caught the eye of a passing stranger. They carried it home. Its story and its bride were unknown to them, but its beauty was a testament to both.




A message from BAHS' Founder ...

They say history repeats itself…if so, we’re lookin' good! The history of the Batesville area is rich, unique, and something its residents are very proud of. As a way to preserve this wealth of information and share with present and future generations, the Batesville Area Historical Society (BAHS) was created and strives to fulfill its mission via education and preservation.

The centerpiece of the Society is its Museum, recently opened to the community to showcase thousands of items, photos, and pieces of history that represent the best that Batesville was, is, and will continue to be. Because a good thing is meant to be shared, you are invited to visit the Museum to browse, recollect, question, and converse about the people, places, and happenings that are woven so intricately into the area that many lucky residents call home.

This web site offers info that will complement the Museum experience and serve as a central location for matters pertaining to the BAHS itself, including membership info, meeting dates, upcoming events, etc. Enjoy the site. We welcome questions, concerns, and feedback.

The Batesville area is truly a gift to residents and visitors alike... but it won’t take much talking into... you’ll see for yourself!   - Jean Struewing, Founder


BAHS Announcements

2015 Meeting Dates

TUE, February 17 at the Museum
TUE, April 21 at the Museum
TUE, June 16 at the Museum
TUE, August 18 - Big Four Cafe
TUE, October 20 at the Museum

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Personal Membership $15 - year
Couple's Membership $25 - year

LIFETIME Membership is $100

Mail Membership Payments to:
151 W. George Street
Batesville, IN 47006

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President - Sue Siefert
Vice President - Bill Flannery
Secretary - Ken Baran
Treasurer - Carolyn Dieckmann
Membership - Tim Dietz

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