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Marker tells story of Sherman Minton

Marker tells story of Sherman Minton
Marker tells story of Sherman Minton
Matt Uhl, left, and Chris Loop unveil the Sherman Minton historical marker Nov. 14 in Georgetown. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

A historian with the Indiana Historical Bureau said the marker dedicated Nov. 14 in Georgetown “returns the story of Sherman Minton to the landscape that shaped him.”

Jill Weiss Simins said the bureau, which is a division of the Indiana State Library and the organization that manages the state’s historical marker program, has installed nearly 700 markers during the past approximate 75 years by working with communities and organizations throughout the state. Twenty-two of those markers are in Floyd County; Minton’s is the first in Georgetown.

Attending the event were April Minton Kieser of Georgetown, Minton’s granddaughter, and sisters Lura Byrd of Georgetown and Ann Baker of Depauw, great-nieces of Minton’s wife, the former Gertrude Gurtz.

The marker for Minton, who was born in 1890 in Georgetown, was placed on the north side of S.R. 64 just east of the entrance to Georgetown Elementary School. After the unveiling, a time for remarks was moved to the town hall due to inclement weather.

“At their best, markers remind us of the past in order to inform our present; this marker does just that,” Simins said.

Minton attended New Albany High School and graduated from law school before serving in World War I. He, as a New Deal Democrat, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1934 and later nominated by President Roosevelt as a Seventh Circuit Court judge, serving from 1941 to 1949. After that, Minton was nominated by President Truman as an Associate Supreme Court Justice, a position he held from 1949 to 1956. During his time in a judicial position, he took an activist stance on civil rights issues.

“Minton had many entrenched ideas, a clear political position and a party, a staunch adherence to judicial precedent, a rigid belief that Congress, not the courts, should decide the laws of the land,” Simins said. “But while he had these set ideas about lawmaking and judicial processes, he found the moral courage to change his mind when his conscious demanded it.”

One example Simins gave was when Minton “found flexibility within precedent and restraint to do the morally correct thing” when confronted “with cases that highlighted the injustices inflicted on African-Americans through segregation.”

Other speakers included Chris Loop, president of the Georgetown Town Council, and Matt Uhl, chairman of the Greenville Historic Preservation Commission, who was the grant applicant for the marker.

Destination Georgetown also was instrumental in getting the marker approved.

“Minton’s work remains unfinished,” Simins said. “It remains for us to finish. We should  look to his example for guidance — to not be trapped by our own ideologies — to find space and flexibility enough in our thinking to do the right thing no matter what.”

For more information about the Indiana Historical Marker Program and other resources about Indiana, visit the Indiana Historical Bureau’s website, www.IN.gov/history, or call 1-317-232-2535.

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