Greensburg Daily News
The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) will present its Willard C. Heiss Family History/Genealogy Award to Russell Wilhoit of Greensburg at its annual Founders Day Dinner Dec. 5. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of the IHS and its Indiana Experience, is located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis.
The Willard C. Heiss Family History/Genealogy Award is presented annually to a family historian for his or her distinguished service and career in Indiana family history, including presentations such as articles in The Hoosier Genealogist: Connections, use of materials and preservation.
Residents of Greensburg and throughout the United States have benefited from Wilhoit's dedication to genealogy and family history. In order to promote history education in the community, he has assisted students in a number of projects. One of his more notable efforts was with the research and renovation of the African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, which was an important part of the Underground Railroad. He has also helped fourth, fifth and sixth graders with their Little Hoosier history projects celebrating the Greensburg Sesquicentennial.
Wilhoit offers other ways of engaging in local history by giving a historical cemetery tour or providing his genealogical knowledge to people who request it. He is also a board member and official archivist of the Decatur County Historical Society and provides assistance by searching for documents, researching old newspapers and contributing articles to its newsletter.
For his efforts to preserve the history of Decatur County and Greensburg, Wilhoit was presented with the Community Service Award in 2009 by Greensburg Mayor Gary Herbert.
The Daily News caught up with Russell Wilhoit Monday afternoon in order to hear his comments on receiving such a prestigious designation.
Wilhoit currently coaches JV fast-pitch softball at Greensburg, has been a member of the Historical Society Board of Directors since 1993 and has served as Decatur County's County Historian for approximately nine years.
In response to earning the Willard C. Heiss Family History/Genealogy Award, the county historian offered thanks to all who have helped along the way.
He noted the contributions of those at the Greensburg-Decatur County Public Library; Dustin White and the volunteers of the Historical Society of Decatur County and Pat Smith, herself a former county historian. He also mentioned he had received help from and has worked with members of the Decatur County Clerk's Office.
Wilhoit stated Pat Smith championed the cause to recognize him with this award, and offered a great deal of gratitude to her for doing so.
In accepting the award, Russell Wilhoit remained humble.
"It means a lot to me, and it's nice to be recognized," he said. "It's nice that someone appreciates it."
Wilhoit noted that, in addition to receiving his award Dec. 5, he and his wife will also receive a free night's stay at the J.W. Marriot in Indianapolis.
The Founder's Day dinner is presented by Barnes & Thornburg, LLP. For more information on Founder's Day, as well as other programs and events of the Indiana Historical Society, call (317) 232-1882. Information is also available at www.indianahistory.org.
Additional information provided by Brent Brown, Daily News.