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Carrying the torch

Indiana employee uncovers family tree

Centerville, IN, Retail Associate Jeff Fudge
Centerville, IN, Retail Associate Jeff Fudge

When Centerville, IN, Retail Associate Jeff Fudge ran as the torchbearer in the recent Indiana bicentennial torch relay, he did more than pass flames.

In the relay, Fudge was nominated to represent Lewis Jones, whose ancestors were early Centerville settlers. Jones (1807-1877) transported mail by horseback, including deliveries for the Centerville Post Office, which was established in 1818.

In 1822, Jones loaded his saddlebags with the first mail to a new, small settlement that would become Indianapolis.

When a story about Fudge’s role in the relay appeared in the local paper, Fudge’s cousin visited his Post Office and gave him a copy of their family tree. Fudge discovered that Jones was his great-great-great uncle — something he had never known.

“Words can’t [express] what it meant to me,” Fudge said.

Fudge ran the relay with one of Jones’ saddlebags across his shoulder.

“It was an honor to be an Indiana bicentennial torchbearer representing my family as a part of Indiana history,” he said.

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