Former resident awarded Indiana's highest honor

Kraig Yountsn | Rushville RepublicanJack Clarkson is pictured with his daughter Jeanie Clarkson Hahn who is holding her Sagamore of the Wabash award.

Jeanie Clarkson Hahn was given a Sagamore of the Wabash award by State Representative Randy Frye at Flatrock River Lodge.

“I’m super proud because my dad is a Sagamore of the Wabash recipient,” Clarkson Hahn said. “He is an inspiration to me.”

The Sagamore of the Wabash designation is given to those who’ve extensively served the governor or state. The award is the highest distinction in Indiana.

Clarkson Hahn is the daughter of local attorney and former Rush County Prosecutor Jack Clarkson.

Clarkson received three Sagamore of the Wabash awards from Indiana Governors Edgar D. Whitcomb, Robert D. Orr and Otis R. Bowen. He is a past 20 year chairman of the local Republican Party.

Clarkson Hahn received the award for her services as Executive Director and CEO of the Council on Domestic Violence in Jennings County. She has since retired from her post, but her lifelong passion for social work remains.

Clarkson Hahn’s family has accumulated seven Sagamore of the Wabash awards when including extended family. Her family member Dr. Lowell W. Hinchman also received three Sagamore of the Wabash awards from three different governors.

Clarkson Hahn worked to expanded services offered by the Council of Domestic Violence in Jennings County. The council helps those involved in various forms of crisis.

The council now provides aid to people not only from Jennings County, but those in crisis across the state.

“Our big thing was to get people employed,” Clarkson Hahn said. “We had life skills and job training programs. We usually had everyone leaving with a job.”

Clarkson Hahn and her organization also worked hard to improve the lives of children it served. She worked in direct coordination with the Department of Child Services.

“If you were a victim of domestic violence or needed shelter, we’d take you in,” Clarkson Hahn said. “We had clients from everywhere. I couldn’t get federal grants if we weren’t serving people from all over.”

In 2015, she was able to secure a loan for her organization to purchase a 25 bed state of the art Domestic Violence Shelter with the help of Congressman Luke Messer. The shelter is a one-stop shop where victims can receive counseling by licensed therapists, job counseling, court advocacy and referrals.

The Domestic Violence Shelter served more than 350 people by the time Clarkson Hahn retired.

“The biggest reward is watching the folks become successful, get a job, get through college and break the cycle of family violence and homelessness,” Clarkson Hahn said. “That’s the biggest reward. It really is.”

Clarkson Hahn also helped sponsor Senate Bill 424, which was recently signed into law by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, after it passed the House of Representatives by a 93-0 vote. The bill (authored by State Representative Mike Crider) ensures the better handling and tracking of sexual assault kits and safeguards the anonymity of victims.

“She’s known nothing but politics since she was a child. She’s got it in her blood,” Clarkson said of his daughter. “She’s used her political connection to build some of the wonderful things she’s done for, what I would consider, humanity in southeastern Indiana. Over shadowing all this was the love and guidance of Jesus Christ.”

“It’s God’s work,” Clarkson Hahn said. “I’ve just been the hands and feet. God opened a ton of doors.”

Clarkson Hahn has served the Republican Party throughout her career in social work, much like her father.

Clarkson Hahn is the Chairwoman of the Jennings County Republican Party. Formerly she served as the vice chairwoman for 16 years.

She was the Jennings County Republican of the Year in 2018.

In 2008, she was nominated to receive the United States Attorney’s Award for outstanding contributions to the rights of victims.

Clarkson Hahn has fond memories of Rushville and credits some of her success to growing up here.

“We rode our bikes and we knew our neighbors,” Clarkson Hahn said of growing up in Rushville. “It was a great place to grow up in.”

Clarkson Hahn would like to thank Jean Ann Harcourt for nominating her to receive Sagamore of the Wabash honors. She would also like to thank State Representative Randy Frye.