History making a move
Article by Russ Pulliam, who previously was editorial page editor for The Indianapolis News. He also has been director of the Pulliam Fellowship since 1992.
Winona Lake, Indiana, already has staked a strong claim as a historic site. But Warsaw-based civic leader Dane Miller wants to add more history: original copies of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. The Remnant Trust, which preserves such original documents, will relocate from Louisville to Winona Lake this year.
Evangelist Billy Sunday lived and preached in Winona Lake about 90 years ago, and his home is a historic spot. Three-time Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan spoke often at Winona Lake, helping the Northern Indiana town to become a Chautauqua meeting spot. Thousands would gather to hear orators like Bryan or Will Rogers. Crime figures such as Al Capone and John Dillinger also stopped by, but presumably not for cultural or spiritual renewal.
Now Miller wants to add the trust as one more jewel in Winona Lake’s crown. Founder of Biomet in nearby Warsaw, Miller has helped make the lakeshore a destination that features Billy Sunday history sites, artisan shops and the MasterWorks Music Festival.
Grace College is up the hill from the lake, with a new home court and athletic facility, the Orthopeadic Capital Center. The new arena is a tribute to the civic responsibility of nearby Warsaw’s big three bio-medical companies, Zimmer, DePuy and Biomet. Miller worked for Zimmer and then worked in San Diego before returning to Indiana to launch Biomet, where he still serves on the board. Combined revenue for the three companies runs more than $10 billion a year, creating major employment options in the region.
Miller, who has a doctorate in biomedical engineering, is an entrepreneur. Why would a visionary from the lab worry about the preservation and display of original documents like the Constitution or the Federalist Papers?
“This was a project of passion and not necessarily economic sense,” he says. “I guess it’s a hobby.”
After reading the Federalist Papers and other classics, he realized the value of first editions. “The second or third editions are not precisely the same as the original,” he said. “You want to make sure you are dealing with the original version. We tend to make things politically correct and meddle with history.”
Remnant Trust founder Brian Bex of Hagerstown, Ind., said college and university faculty love original documents.
“These works for centuries have been hidden in private collections or locked up in vaults,” he said. The trust preserves them and sends them out for a semester or two to colleges and universities.
“When we take them to places such as DePauw University or Hanover College, the reaction is unbelievable,” Bex said.
The trust’s oldest manuscript dates to 1258 A.D., when Pope Innocent III explained the value of indulgences.
Winona Lake already has much charm for music lovers, history buffs and sports fans. Now the scholars may want to come too.