Library’s history room has many new materials

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 4, 2019

By Gretchen Beilfuss Witt

Rowan Public Library

Rowan Public Library is lucky to receive such terrific support from both the Friends of the Rowan Public Library and the Rowan Public Library Foundation.

The foundation manages several endowments set up by patrons to support the ongoing resources and programs of the library. The Edith M. Clark History room is one of the recipients of this support and has recently acquired additional books.

The History Room materials are largely used for genealogical research; folks from all over the country come here to research their ancestors. In the early years of the county, folks came down the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road through the Shenandoah Valley and on to the Piedmont area. Often ancestors leave crumbs of information in places they have settled briefly or moved through. A new series of deed books from Shenandoah County, Virginia, may shed some light on the travels of one family.

Some of the most productive and amusing places to find information are in newspapers. The History Room now has a four-volume set for the “Weekly Georgia Telegraph” ranging from 1826-1860. Within these books are abstracts noting marriages, deaths, accidents, duels, abandonments and the like.

For instance, the Telegraph reports April 30, 1850, “Melancholy Accident – Col. C.G. Derussy and his three sons, all of age, were drowned in Sibley’s Lake,… a few days since….a gentleman by the name of Palmer was with them, swam to the shore. Col. Derussy was … a colonel of the Louisiana Regiment in the Mexican War, and had command at Tampico.”

From Essex County, Virginia, Newspaper Notices Volume 2: 1736-1952: the Gazette reports in 1773, “Whereas my wife Elizabeth Dunn eloped from me the 2d of April, I do therefore forewarn all Persons from dealing with her on my Account, as I will pay no Debts of her contracting from this Date Agrippa Dunn.”

Many newspapers, both city and church newspapers, report deaths which, in the age before death certificates, can certainly be useful.

Before the Civil War there are few resources to trace enslaved ancestors, but newspapers are a terrific source. Runaways are often reported with names and a description of the slave or indentured servant who has fled.

From “Excerpts from the Earliest Mason County, Kentucky Newspapers,” The Mirror reports “$50 reward. Ran way from …in Mayslick, Kentucky, on the 30 of June last, a Negro man named Ben, about 23 years of age, suppose to be about five feet eleven inches high, stout and well proportioned, of a dark complexion, no other marks recollected….July 2, 1818.”

New to the library is a six volume set that lists the births of slaves born in Virginia between 1853 and 1865. “The Virginia Slave Birth Index” reports the informant/slave holder, the child’s name, the mother’s name, the and place of birth; for example — Mallory, Will; Samuel, Caroline, July 1855, Hanover.” Wonderful clues if your ancestor is Samuel and you have not been able to get beyond him to his antecedents.

Along with these volumes, the History Room has a number of new registers, deed books, probate and court records from a variety of states and counties. Come investigate the newly available resources for that elusive ancestor in your genealogical search.

Holiday closing: Headquarters, East Branch and South Rowan Regional are closed today. Regular hours resume Friday.

Summer reading: Registration is open for all age groups, children, teens and adults. Contact your local branch for details.

Science Tellers: July 9, 2 p.m., South; July 10, 2 p.m., East; July 11, 10 a.m., Cleveland; July 11, 2 p.m., headquarters. The Science Tellers combine exciting experiments and dynamic storytelling to create this unique and highly interactive program. This is a School Age Summer Reading program designed for rising first- through fifth-graders, though all ages are welcome. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. Program lasts 45-60 minutes. For more details, call 704-216-8234.

Pirate Day in the Children’s Room: July 13, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., headquarters. A pirate’s life for me! Children ages 3 to 10 are invited to join the RPL pirate crew and conquer the seven seas during this swashbuckling program that features stories, games and snacks. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. Please register in advance at 704-216-8234.

Water — It’s not just on Earth: July 8, 3:30 p.m., South; July 9, 3:30 p.m., headquarters; July 11, 3:30 p.m., East. Did you know that water has been discovered on other planets? In this hands-on camp, we will dive into the water of outer space and learn about the importance of conserving water on Earth. This program is presented by Kelli Isenhour, education coordinator for the Rowan County Soil and Water Conservation District. This is a Teen Summer Reading Program, designed for rising sixth- through 12th-graders. Program lasts 90 minutes. For more details, call 704-216-8269.

Summer Reading Film Series: “Avengers: Infinity War” July 8, 5:30 p.m., East; July 13, 10 a.m., South. The Avengers take on Thanos (2018, 160 minutes, PG-13.) An adult (age 18+) must accompany anyone 13 and under. For more details, contact your nearest branch.

Get Lit(erature)! Trivia and Social Hour at Morgan Ridge. July 11, 7:30 p.m. Join RPL at Salisbury’s Morgan Ridge Rail Walk Brewery, 421 N. Lee St., for the second of three special, pop-culture-themed trivia nights hosted by local establishments. Tonight’s theme is “Strange Encounters.” Test your knowledge and then discuss your favorite books and movies in the genre. Door prizes. An Adult Summer Reading Program for ages 18 and up. Program lasts 90 minutes. For more details, call 704-216-8248.

Displays: Headquarters, Piedmont Players display and Carolina Historical Association on metal detecting; East, handcrafted jewelry by Myrtis Trexler; South, lunch box memorabilia by Sharon Ross.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.