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Discover more stories of the past at library’s History Room

By Gretchen Beilfuss Witt

Rowan Public Library

The Edith M. Clark History room has some new additions which will engage and enlighten.

In Miller and Allen’s “Slave Escapes & the Underground Railroad in North Carolina,” many stories are told of specific slaves and their journey to freedom. Mr. Haywood was the slave holder of a man named Lunsford Lane. Haywood not only allowed his slaves to learn how to read and write, which was against the law, but also let Lane work to purchase his freedom.

Lane sold tobacco from Fayetteville to Salisbury and earned the $1,000 to buy his freedom; unfortunately Haywood died before Lane earned all the money, but his widow was willing to honor her husband’s agreement. Unfortunately the laws back then complicated matters, requiring another white man to purchase Lunsford Lane and then petition the court on his behalf for his freedom. Benjamin Smith did buy Lane and petition the court; he then traveled with Lane to New York City where Lane received his emancipation papers.

In Rowan, especially in the area that become Guilford, lived numerous Quakers who did not agree with slavery. In many instances these Quakers took slaves to Northern States like Indiana and Ohio and set the slaves free. This method of conveying slaves out of slave states was referred to by the Quakers as the “Overground Railroad.” A little known fact found in the book, is that the “Underground Railroad” was also used by Confederate deserters to escape the Confederacy.

The Edith Clark History Room also houses more recent historical materials. Some patrons may remember when Rowan Public Library collected and displayed the pictures taken by area veterans during their service in Vietnam.

The History Room has recently acquired a book by Martin Tucker which may be of interest, “Vietnam Photographs from North Carolina Veterans: The Memories They Brought Home.” Perhaps one of the most striking photographs in the volume is of a soldier who had just been pulled out of the silty mud on the bottom of a river and was covered from head to toe in the dripping muck.

A half-dressed soldier standing in the drenching rain of the monsoon season, a young girl steering a river boat or comrades’ arms looped about one another are the subjects of several other photographs. Along with informative passages and captions, these photographs are a powerful testament to the experiences of those who endured in the Vietnam War.

As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and African-American History month, it seems appropriate to highlight Bryan D. Booker’s “African Americans in the United States Army in World War II.”

African Americans have fought along side other Americans since the Revolution, but they have had to fight at home for opportunities and recognition. This book tells not only of the accomplishments of the African American soldiers both male and female, but some of the obstacles overcome on their way.

From helping build the Al-Can Highway in Alaska, providing the Task-Force in Liberia, to the development of the Women’s Army Corps, the African American WWII soldiers’ stories are clearly and captivatingly detailed.   Explore the stories of the past in the History Room of the Rowan Public Library.

Scavenger Hunt — Love Birds: Headquarters and South, Feb. 1-29. Can you find these love birds hidden throughout the children’s room? Complete the challenge and get a prize! For more information, call 704-216-8234 (HQ) or 704-216-7728 (South).

Scavenger Hunt — Shelf Esteem: East Branch, Feb. 1-29. Explore our shelves! You may see books you have never noticed before in this scavenger hunt. This hunt will run through February 29. Complete the clue sheet and be entered into a raffle contest for a literary-themed prize. Call 704-216-7842 for more information.

Songbird Storytime: Headquarters, Feb. 1, 11 a.m. This is an interactive program of music, reading and learning for ages 7 and under. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany participants. For more information, contact Chelsea at 704-216-8269.

STEAM into Adventure: Painting with Candy, South, Feb. 8, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Create a painting by dissolving candy. This STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics) program is geared for ages 6 to 11. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. For more details, call 704-216-7729.

Adventures with Mr. Robert: Indoor Rockets — Blast off, headquarters, Feb. 8, 11 a.m.-noon, Join Mr. Robert and build multiple rockets out of straws, balloons and paper, then, have fun launching your rockets. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. For more information, contact 704-216-8234.

Reader’s Theater: South, Feb. 8, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Be an actor without the pressure of memorizing a script! This theater style conveys the story through vocal and facial expressions. This program is designed for ages 8 to 13. Questions? Call 704-216-7729.

Escape Room: Escape the Candy Factory, South, Feb. 3, 4-5 p.m.; headquarters, Fev. 4, 4-5 p.m.; East, Feb. 6, 4-5 p.m. Enjoy an escape room to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit! Attempt to escape a candy factory within one hour by solving clues, riddles and puzzles. This program is designed for teens in sixth through 12th grades. Questions? Call 704-216-8229 for more information.

Gardening Party Saturdays: South, Feb. 1, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. South Rowan Regional Library’s Gardening Party Saturdays is a monthly club dedicated to gardening, pollinators, and plant enthusiasts! This month’s meeting will feature a free showing of “The Biggest Little Farm” (91 minutes), a heartwarming, sustainable farm documentary. All ages and experience levels welcome.  For more details or to register, call 704-216-7731.

Wednesday Writers Club: East, Feb. 5, 6 p.m. Love writing? We do too! Join the East Branch for a time of solo writing, group sharing and peer-to-peer reviews. Encouragement, coffee and snacks will be provided. This program is designed for adults 18 and up. Call 704-216-7840 for more information.

Job Readiness on the Go: Headquarters, Feb. 6, 2-4 p.m. A Career Connections Specialist from Goodwill will be onsite to provide Job Readiness on the Go, which consists of successfully completing employment applications online and on paper, creating a resume, learning interviewing skills, and completing assessments to help select a career based on your personality and skills. Call 704-216-8259 for more information.

Displays: Headquarters, Diversity in Aviation presented by Dolly Griffin, display presented by Meals on Wheels, World War I: Lessons and Legacies presented by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition of American History; East, Sherlock Holmes display presented by Cathy Woods; South, Corriher-Lipe Middle School Art presented by Lynn Haynes.

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.




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