- Associated Press - Sunday, January 15, 2017

LYLES STATION, Ind. (AP) - Anyone who has been to Lyles Station knows Stanley Madison, Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corp. founder and chairman.

Madison has taught hundreds of children who visit the African American pioneer community and museum.

He grew up there in the agricultural lifestyle.

“It was just a wonderful opportunity to grow up in a rural area of Lyles Station,” he said.

As a young man, he became part of a farming community surrounded by family.

His “Uncle Andrew” Walden of Hazleton was in his farming corner with cattle and a grain farm operation. “He wasn’t my uncle, but he was like an uncle to me,” he said. “I just thought the world of him. He was just an image of awesome farmer.”

Walden always kept his Allis-Chalmers D14 tractor fueled for Madison to help after school and he’d work until 10 or 11 p.m.

“When he came in the morning, he just had to get on his two-row planter and start planting his seed in the ground,” he said. “Because back then, you had to shovel the dry fertilizer and put corn in grain containers.”

“That was another part of education of farming, learning what you can and can’t do,” he said.

Growing up on the north side of Lyles Station, a mile and a half from the school, he got to do what most young boys like to do — hunt.

Madison hunted with his uncle William Hardiman, a raccoon hunter.

“That was really an experience seeing one jump down from the tree and almost whoop two or three dogs — they were so big,” he said.

At age 15, Madison learned the importance of hard work and saving his money.

After school, he finished chores and wood cutting with his grandfather, who processed wood and chipped it to make shingles.

It took him about six months of chores and working with his grandfather to save up for a $24 Western Flyer bike.

“He told me ‘Son, I’m going to give you $5. You can save $3 of that $5.’ That’s why it took me so long for me to save up for that bike.”

“That was my pride and joy there,” Madison said. “It was like a brand new car for me.”

Madison rode his hard-earned bike to his friends’ and family’s homes - even to Baldwin Heights School in Princeton.

He said he’d leave around 6:30 a.m. and make it to school right before the 8 a.m. whistle.

Madison’s grandfather brought him a 45-pound pig and told him he could make some money from the animal.

Madison started raising feeder pigs and continued his grandfather’s financial routine, of saving most of the funds raised.

“I was a grade school kid raising three to five sows to feed,” Madison said.

When the pigs reached 180-190 pounds, he would take a few to market.

“That’s really how I got my feet wet farming,” Madison said.

He also worked on other local farms after school.

Lyles Station School

Madison said he went to school at Lyles Station in the first grade, but remembers very little about the school.

“I think I was too young, too small to remember,” he said.

He remembers teacher Lorretta Freeman, his class being in one big classroom and a big pole swing set.

“I’d always just watch the big kids on the swings,” he said.

Madison said he always loved education, which propelled him to becoming a historian, a part of preserving the history of Lyles Station School when it was falling down.

Madison said in the beginning some people suggested they “take a bull dozer and push it down,” but he and other supporters made sure they kept the legacy of freed slaves alive.

“As a group, we started to get together to get money to restore this building,” he said. “We had some great possibilities, we had some grants that didn’t work out and there were some grants that did come through for us.”

Now, “We can only see the bright future of Lyles Station continuing and helping our young people experience a walk of the past and see the future.”

Joyce Gooch Granger, who also grew up in Lyles Station with Madison, also works with him to keep their ancestors’ history alive.

Lyles Station represents the preservation of our ancestors and we want to pass that on to our children and grandchildren, and we hope they pass it on until the end of time,” she said.

Gooch has been a Lyles Station board member since they revitalized the school in the late 1990s.

Living in Washington, she can’t always be there to help Madison, but she appreciates his hard work.

“He goes beyond the call of duty,” Granger said. “You’ll never find anyone as honest and hard working as he is.”

She has known Madison as a “little quiet shy guy” who rode her school bus, a young man who had farming his blood and as an adult who was married to her cousin.

“He’s always been in my family,” Granger said. “He’s always been there. I’d see him at school, family reunions or Lyles Station.”

In September, Madison and Granger were front and center at the ribbon cutting for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, an event also attended by President Barack Obama and other dignitaries and celebrities.

Granger said they looked at each other and said “wow,” knowing the history of Lyles Station is featured in a national museum for the world to see.

With the community’s history featured at a national level, Madison and others are trying to update the museum with new technology.

One thing technology can’t replace is Madison’s experience living in Lyles Station, and the history he’s preserved.

“Nobody gives a tour like Stan,” said Eric Heidenreich, Gibson County Visitors and Tourism executive director, who has known Madison most of his life.

Heidenreich grew up a few miles from Madison, and Madison was a member of the visitors and tourism commission when he was hired. They’ve worked together ever since.

“Stan has always had a good rep for being a hard worker, honest and sincere,” he said. “He always steps up and does whatever.”

Heidenreich said with both of them coming from farm families, they know that they can come together to get things done.

He describes Madison’s personality as warm, friendly, caring, compassionate and generous with time and whatever he can offer.

What he admire most about Madison? His passion.

“You don’t have to spend a long time with him to see it,” Heidenreich said.

Heidenreich said he believes that’s part of the reason Lyles Station has become what it is today.

He remembers seeing Lyles Station when it was falling down and saw the hard work Madison and others put into it.

“It’s gratifying to see that it finally came together,” Heidenreich said. “It’s been really rewarding to see where things have come for Lyles Station.”

Heidenreich had a ring side seat to the evolution of Lyles Station from a collapsing building to an exhibit in the Smithsonian’s African American museum.

“He’s (Madison) not done yet,” he said. “It takes someone with a vision to make these things happen.”

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Source: Princeton Daily Clarion, http://bit.ly/2i6TxVP

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Information from: Princeton Daily Clarion, http://www.tristate-media.com/pdclarion

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