“My research into genealogy over the last 15 years is what got me started on the love of history.”
The Indiana Historical Society appointed William Aughe to be the new Shelby County Historian this month, filling a position that had been vacant for three years.
The society picks volunteers for every county in Indiana to be a historian. The historian’s job is to “promote local history in their counties, connect individuals and groups with history resources, promote collaboration between local history organizations, and maintain connections with the Indiana Historical Society and Indiana Historical Bureau,” according to the state’s website.
“We can also work with cemetery restoration and mapping, working with local students and libraries on web-based history projects, collaboration with area groups on the creation of regional history trails, and offering genealogy or cemetery restoration workshops,” Aughe said.
“But the main job is to help promote and consolidate history in Shelby County in one place so people have a place they can go,” he added. “If somebody calls me with a historical question, I may not have the research but I’ll have a place for them to go. Although, I love researching so if I find something I don’t know, I’ll probably research this.”
Aughe’s love for history began with studying genealogy.
“My parents had started research and my mom’s paternal side, they started that and worked on it for a few years, and I started watching them and following them,” he said. “I got really into it, and my parents decided they weren’t going to continue it, so I took over that role and expanded on their research completely. I didn’t just take over her paternal side, but did her maternal side and both sides of my dad.”
“When you get into genealogy, you see all this rich history and that’s what got me hooked,” he said.
Aughe’s devotion to history led him to getting involved with several of the Irvington history factions, where he lived at the time.
“The other thing that got me going is during the same 15 years, I lived in the historic neighborhood of Irvington in Marion county,” he said. “I started volunteering on the boards of several historic foundations there in Irvington.”
While there, he served on the Irvington Historic Landmarks Foundation, the Irvington Historical Society, and the Irvington Community Council.
“Six years ago, I moved to Shelby County, and that’s when I discovered 200 years worth of rich history here in Shelby County that I just fell in love with,” he said.
He researches from his home in Fountaintown.
“I discovered the Shelby County Indiana Geneology Society, and the Joseph Boggs Society for Historical Preservation (Boggstown Historical Society),” he said. “It’s small, and I haven’t been out to them yet, but I’ve joined with them, and now that I’m this historian, I’ll be meeting with them and all the other organizations.”
Aughe joined the Shelby County Historical Society, where he was asked to fill the position by Alex Krach and Sarah Newkirk, the director and assistant director of the Grover Center. With their recommendation, he was appointed by the state historical society to the three-year volunteer position.
“They started telling me they were looking for a Shelby County Historian, and I totally was 100 percent like yes, that sounds amazing,” he said.
“We actually are celebrating the bicentennial,” Aughe said. “Being the historian this year is an amazing thing to happen during the bicentennial.”
While the celebration is being planned behind closed doors by a steering committee, Aughe said he plans to be involved in the bicentennial celebration planning once the projects are announced.
“I have met with Alex, we’re going over a couple of other things I can be involved with, but right now there’s a steering committee making rough outlines of things, but once that opens up and starts their projects, I will join one or two of those,” he said.
Until then, Aughe will be studying aspects of the county’s history that occurred when it was first established.
“Honestly, the Whetzel Trace, is the most interesting [fact I’ve found so far],” he said. “It was the first east-west path through Central Indiana that went right through Shelbyville, basically. As we’re settling in the 1820, Jacob Whetzel created this east-west path through the state, and it came right through Shelby County.”
“It was about 1817 he created this trace,” he continued. “He just cut trees down through east-west central Indiana. That trace went from his home in Whitewater River, Franklin County, and it went four miles a little north of the town of Boggstown.”
“It was really before Shelbyville was confirmed yet, that didn’t happen until 1821,” he added. “But it was of great importance in the settlement of Shelby and Marion. We were basically a swamp, with lush trees everywhere. This trace gave a way to get wagons back and forth between areas.”
Anyone with historical questions can reach out to Aughe at shelbycounty email@example.com.