Indiana State Museum curator to talk mastodons at PCHS event

Feb. 26—The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites' curator of paleobiology, Dr. Catalina Tomé, will present the program at the Pulaski County Historical Society's annual meeting Thursday, March 21.

The feature program will be held at One-Eyed Jack's Celebration Station in downtown Winamac. The public is welcome to join the PCHS membership to enjoy an informal meet-and-greet, including desserts and coffee, at 6 p.m. A short business meeting for the election of officers and directors will begin at 6:30. The program will follow and is free for all who wish to attend.

Dr. Tomé explains that she "works to preserve and research the vertebrate fossils of Indiana to help inform future generations about the amazing natural history of the Midwest." She will speak on the diverse fauna from Indiana's Ice Age and how they lived and adapted throughout the state's glacial and interglacial history.

Tomé earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of California Santa Cruz. She received a Master of Science and a PhD, both in biology, from the University of New Mexico. She conducted post-doctoral research at the university of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research focuses on small mammals and their survival during the Cenozoic Quaternary (2.58 million years ago).

The curator will include information about mastodons in her presentation. Pulaski County was home to the first complete mastodon skeleton to be unearthed and displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. The skeleton was excavated by a dredge contractor in the summer of 1914. Frank M. Williams of Winamac was constructing the William D. Pattison branch ditch leading from the larger Monon ditch. This was known as the Blue Sea marsh of Rich Grove Township.

Mastodons roamed Indiana starting about two and a half million years ago, and they became extinct about 10,500 years ago. Mastodon bones have been found in most of Indiana's 92 counties, typically in ancient bogs that previously existed in central and northern Indiana. The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites has the largest collection of mastodons in the state and also has an extensive collection of bones found from various excavations.

New and returning officers to be elected at the annual meeting are Ryan Harrison as president, Kathi Thompson as vice president, Rhonda Wilson as secretary and Lin Morrison as treasurer.

Directors on the election slate for terms ending in 2027 are Christi Beavers, Karen Fritz and Janet Onken. Returning directors are Lenora Hoover, Jolie Simmermaker, Chris Zahrt, Steve Morrison, Anne Scott and Dave Scott. Ex-officio member is Mary Conner, Pulaski County Historian/Genealogist. Only PCHS members are eligible to vote during the meeting portion.

The Historical Society is also seeking to fill the opening for volunteer curator (or co-curators) for its museum collection.

All interested persons are welcome to become members of the Pulaski County Historical Society. Membership dues support the work of the Historical Society in "preserving history for a better future." That work includes the operation of the Pulaski County History Museum — open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is located at 500 S. Monticello St., Winamac (the Carriage House).

Annual memberships run through the calendar year (Jan. 1 through Dec. 31). Membership fees are $30 for individuals, $40 for families, and $80 for corporate sustaining.

The Historical Society also offers sponsorships at various levels. To learn more or make a contribution, go to www.pulaskihistory.net. Donations may also be mailed to the Historical Society at P.O. Box 135, Winamac, IN 46996.