Saturday, August 25, 2012

New Library Branch

         Over a year ago the Owen County Public Library began an “Every Child Ready to Read” program sponsored from Grants provided by the Owen County Community Foundation and the Smithville Charitable Foundation.  Library employees were traveling in personal vehicles to the Cunot Community Center, Gosport and Patricksburg Elementary, and the Coal City Community Center, with a small compliment of books and other media. This service was made available the first and third Wednesdays of each month. In a small way this allowed library users of all ages to take part in childrens programming and to take out material of all kinds. After doing this for a year, it became clear that there was a need and desire for much more of this service across the county.

         It has become obvious that a single permanent branch location will only help a small percentage of taxpayers in the county, where a mobile branch that can modify its inventory weekly or daily according to the direct input from patrons will reach a much larger audience. 

        Having said that, Owen County Public Library is proud to announce the arrival of its new branch, a library branch with wheels.
        The Library will be receiving its Bookmobile early in September, and plans to have it fully operational and running routes throughout Owen County by the first of October. It will give residents all around the county the opportunity to use the Library’s services much closer to their own homes. 

       In the current economic climate Owen County Residents will utilize the library more to take out material, instead of making unnecessary purchases for entertainment, education and the internet.

       Our new mobile branch was purchased with existing funds. It is money that was saved for the purpose of expanding our services throughout the county. The purchase of the bookmobile will not force any kind of tax increase onto Owen County residents.

       The twenty four foot van is handicap accessible and it will carry as much as 2500 items in its inventory. It will provide a mobile 4G Wi-Fi hotspot free for public use and could be used as a mobile classroom for computer classes. 

       Here are some picture from the building process. It is being built for us by Meridian Specialty Vehicles in Bozeman, Montana and it will be wrapped locally by Winner's Circle, here in Spencer. 

Come see us at the Apple Butter festival for a full tour and more information. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Looking for Lydia Landram; 1838 - 1898

            A Patron came in yesterday looking for their great-grandmother.
            Lydia Landram shows up in the 1850 Census as Lidia Landram, living in Washington Township, Owen County, Indiana. She is eleven years old and living in the household of George Duigan (sic), 51, and Elicia Duigan (sic), 48. George was born in Ireland and Elicia was born in England. Lydia is the only other person living in the household. She was born in Indiana.
            Lydia A. Landrum married John Spice in Owen County on February 25, 1855 when she was about sixteen years old. Her groom was twenty-two years of age.
            John Spice was born in Ohio but he hadn’t been found in the Census before 1860 when he and Lydia are located in Johnson County, Missouri in the Township of Holden along with two children, John W., four, and Mary, seven months and we learn Lydia’s middle name was Ann. John W. had been born in Indiana while Mary’s birthplace is listed as Missouri.
            By 1870, Lydia and John have moved to Washington Township in Crawford, County, Kansas where John is a Farmer and a carpenter worth six hundred dollars. Lydia is keeping house and children Charles M., 8, and Oliver P., 6, had been added to John W., 13, and Mary A., 10. Lydia and John must have returned to Indiana not too long after the 1860 Census as both the youngest children had been born there.
            In 1875 the family was still in Crawford County, Kansas but in 1880 Lydia and John were back in Greene County, Indiana and Frederick, 7, and Eddie, 4, had been added to the family which still consisted of Charles, 17, and Oliver P. M., 16. Also living in the house was a servant girl, Ellen May, an eighteen-year-old who had been born in Ohio. Frederick had also been born in Ohio while Eddie had been born in Indiana. Here, for the first time, Lydia claims to have been born in Ohio, but Censuses are like that with birth years and birth places not always consistent from decade to decade but there may be something to an Ohio connection.
            Lydia Spice died June 16, 1898 at the age of sixty. John died March 3, 1911. They are buried in the Castle Hill Cemetery, Fairplay Township, Greene County, Indiana, under a double headstone.
            The 1850 Census was the first Federal Census where each member of a household was enumerated by name. In the 1840 Census, taken about two years after Lydia was born, there was a Landrem and a Landram family listed. The Landram family, headed by Edward Landram, aged between forty and fifty years old listed a female between the ages of 0 and 5 years which is consistent with Lydia. Edward Landram is not found in the 1850 Census where Lydia is living with an unrelated couple. It is entirely possibly that Lydia is the child enumerated in the household of Edward Landram who may have died and left Lydia to be fostered out but we cannot prove this connection at this point.
            Lydia and John’s children all seemed to have married in Greene County. A Mary Alice Spice married Frederick Tibbitt On January 4, 1877, explaining her absence in the 1880 Census, Charles Spice married Sarah E. Keller on January 13, 1887 and Fred Spice married Allie Myers on October 19, 1902. There are four John Spices recorded in the Greene County Marriage Index and two are specifically given as John Ws., one who married Sarah B. Andrews on October 1, 1876 and one who married a Margaret J. Bartley on October 15, 1882 but whether either or both of these John Ws is the same John W. who was the son of Lydia and John Spice is uncertain at this time. Even the parentage of the Fred, Charles and Mary Alice Spice listed in the Marriage Index is speculative at this point without further confirmation from Greene County.
            Perhaps one of the descendants of one of her children could shed some light onto the mystery of Lydia Ann Landram’s origins but for now her story stands as an example of how we can leave a trial of our existence but the essence of who we are evaporates quickly.  

~ Laura Wilkerson, Genealogy Department, OCPL

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Looking at Kittens at the Owen County Humane Society

            “Let’s go look at kittens this weekend, my husband said, much to my surprise.
            A little over two months ago the Vet had predicted our cat, Nipper Lumpurr, had only about two months to live and Jay doesn’t like mentioning that fact, especially in front of Nipper.
            At first she seemed to be responding well to the steroids but she’s getting puffier and slower. She’s sleeping more and eating less and on Thursday she refused to take her pill at all when before she had been very good about it.
            “OK,” I said.
            Later in the week my husband said, “They wouldn’t have the real little kittens there would they? I mean the ones that are still nursing would probably be in foster homes, right?”
            “Probably,” I said, “Why?”
            “Well,” he replied, “I was thinking we could put dibs on two little ones so they will be old enough to take when we want to take them.”
            “I don’t know,” I said, “I think we need two good, sturdy kittens for Buttons. I would be afraid to have really small kittens around him.”
            “Do you still want to go?” Jay asked.
            “Yes,” I replied, “after you got me all excited about seeing kittens.
            The Owen County Humane Society’s website had expired and the only information on the Web said they opened at 8:00 a.m. so we set out early Saturday; arriving around a quarter to nine. They had paved the road out there since we’d last been which was really nice.
            Dogs barked from the kennels that lined the drive and then took an L-turn at the Shelter’s door.
            “You’re a little early,” the Male Attendant said, a short, wiry, leathery man who was maybe in his fifties.
            “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” I said as I noticed a White Board hanging next to the door that announced, ‘New Hours!’ Followed by 9 a.m., “We were going off of old information.”
            “We can wait,” Jay said, “We just wanted to have a look at the cats.”
            “That’s fine,” the Attendant said, “Come on in and have a look.”
            We went to the back room where cats were lined up in two rows of cages on either side stacked two deep, one on top of the other.
            Immediately on the bottom left were two fat little kittens; a gray and white one with a face full of freckles, and his tiger striped brother. The freckled one meowed at me and climbed up on the cage and let me tickled her belly for a good long time.
            Across from was a large litter of baby kittens, probably only five or six weeks old. Their mother, a Dilute Tortoiseshell, was very thin and still looked like a kitten herself.
            “The girl who really knows the cats and can tell you about them isn’t here yet,” The Attendant said, “I mostly take care of the dogs,” As this magnificent black cat named Molder, who Jay had earlier worked into a tickle frenzy, grabbed the Attendant through the bars of his cage. The Attendant freed himself.
            “I’m really a dog person,” he admitted as he scratched Molder’s big head, causing Molder to melt alongside the front of his cage until he hit the floor.
            “Everyone has their preferences,” Jay said as Molder caught the Attendant again.
            “Cats can be peculiar,” the Attendant said as he loosened himself once again, “they either like somebody or they don’t.”
            “Cats can hold a grudge,” Jay admitted as Molder made another lunge at the Attendant but missed.
            “Well, I’ll leave you all here to look around,” the Attendant said, “There’s more cats in the back.”
            Three lean black kittens about three or four months old threw themselves at the sides of their cage, stepping on each other as the climbed frantically to the top, trying to squeeze the heads through the bars on top before they would go crashing to the ground.  
            “These would be far too wild,” I said, “They’d be climbing up the curtains.”
            Above them were three little kittens, newly weaned, a fluffy back one, a smooth black one and a solid smoke gray shorthair. I stopped to acknowledge them as they clamored to the front of the cage, trying to suckle my fingers as I wiggled them through the wire.
            “I like you.” I said, “You have a lot of personality.”
            “That because I fostered them,” said the newly arrived Cat Attendant, a young lady who looked to be in her early twenties.”
            “They are very sweet.” I said. The lovely gray cat in the next cage was reaching through the bars trying to get my attention.
            “We won’t ignore you, Sasha,” I said, using the name on her cage and scratching her head through the bars,” You’re a sweet girl too.”
            “That’s their mother,” the Cat Attendant said, “We put them right next to each other.”
            Jay had caught the attention of a group of kittens in the last cage on the left, six of them in pastel colors and their mother, a light gray tiger. He was moving his finger back and forth while the kittens sat perfectly still in a line, their little heads moving in metronome.
            “Aw, they’re following your finger,” the Cat Attendant said.
            “These seem a little shy,” Jay said.
            “I think it’s because their mother is a feral cat,” the Attendant hazarded, “but she’s real sweet. If you open the cage she’ll come to you and interact. The kittens were born here,” she added,” and those kittens in the front cage and the kittens I fostered. There were four of them but one died. They were all born here.”
            Below them was a cage full of kittens, probably at least nine of them, about two months old. “That’s one’s a beauty,” I said, pointing to a fluffy orange and white kitten who had a really calm energy.
            “If I were picking kittens today I would lean toward that one,” Jay said, pointing to the orange-and white one,” and the gray and white one,” Jay added, indicating a little spitfire gearing up to leap on a fellow kittens exposed tail.
            “That way,” he said, we would have one beautiful mellow cat for petting and a livelier cat who could engage Buttons.
            “I could agree with that reasoning,” I said, “If we were getting kittens today.”
            In the back were the FIV+ cats. One was a very vocal calico.
            "We're looking for someone who can foster them," the Cat Attendant said.
            "We had two FIV+ cats in the past," Jay said, "One got so sick we had to put him down and the other one was killed by a stray beagle while he was sunning himself in the back yard."
            "I'm afraid we're going to have to one of the ones back there to sleep," the Attendant said, "She just can't keep anything down."
           As we prepared to leave the two mother cats who were with their kittens herded their babies to the front as if to say, “Choose my baby,” like they could sense they would be going to a good home.
            I stopped to pet Molder again. I really connected strongly with him but I know he and Buttons would not get along. Buttons is an aggressive cat but the way he was dominated by Gypsy during her short stay with us makes me certain that Molder would be a disaster if paired with Buttons. We think babies will be the way to go with Buttons, who we adopted from the Shelter about 2 1/2 years ago.
            “And I don’t want to forget you, Kimmie,” I said as I petted the cat two cages down from Molder, a large, pretty, long haired caramel tiger with the sweetest face and a gentle vibe that is a stellar indication of a cat that would make an exceptional companion. Across the way was Mary, a pale, shorthaired tiger who was huddled in the back of her cage. Listless, she seems to have given up on life entirely.   
            “It’s really hard to leave,” I said, pausing at the door, “I just want to bring a beanbag chair in here and hang out with cats all day.”
            “Should we go back and get those two?” Jay asked when we got to the car.
            “No, not yet,” I said. We have to spend our time making Nipper’s last days as comfortable as possible as she eats and sleeps and interacts and sometimes goes outside where she rolls squirming on the concrete like she likes to do.
            June is adopt a cat month. More kittens are born in June than in any other month. The Owen County Humane Society, a no-kill shelter, has an abundance of adorable kittens right now but also some really outstanding older cats who would really great, loving pets and I hope anyone who is looking to add a feline to the family, and is willing to commit for a lifetime of unconditional love, will consider checking out the Shelter and giving one or more of these truly deserving animals a forever home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead

According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, 33.9% of Americans 20 years old and older are obese.  All of us know a family member, friend, or co-worker who are obese or in some cases morbidly obese.  A new DVD in our OCPL collection could serve as a wake-up call to those people.  Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead is the story of an Australian, Joe Cross, who had been healthy and in good shape in his younger years, but as he got older, he started living an unhealthy lifestyle and ended up weighing over 300 pounds.  He also suffered from a serious auto-immune disorder and had to live on all sorts of medications.  He finally decided he was on the verge of death and had to take charge of his life and try to get healthy again.  He decides to drink only fresh fruit and vegetable juices for 60 days and travel across the United States to try to promote his new healthy lifestyle during that time.   While on his travels, he meets a truck driver who is over 420 pounds and suffers from the same disease.  The movie documents both men’s journey through weight loss and regaining their health.  Both end up back to normal weights and free from the auto-immune disease. Most of us wouldn’t need to live only on fruit and vegetable juices, but we all could benefit from less processed food, white flour and sugar and more exercise in our lives.   
Check out the DVD from the library or these websites to find out more information on how you can have a healthier lifestyle:  and

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mr. Viquesney Buys Some Monkey Fur; 1931

Ernest Moore “Dick” Viquesney, E. M. for short, is one of Owen County’s most famous native sons. A sculptor, his enduring fame comes from his Doughboy statue depicting a World War I soldier stands in at least 136 locations across 35 states including in front of the Owen County Courthouse and Soldier’s Field in Chicago.
            Aside from being an artist, E.M. Viquesney was an intrepid businessman. Beyond the popular cast plaques and statues he sold in varying sizes, including his popular Abraham Lincoln series, and the Spanish-style Tivoli movie theater he built and operated with his second wife, Betty, he   starting the Imp-O-Luck Company where in 1925 a ten foot electrified Imp-O-Luck stood boldly facing the Courthouse atop his signature building on what was once known as the Viquesney Block in Downtown Spencer, Indiana.
            A newspaper article from the August 21, 1931 edition of the Spencer Evening World gives us a glimpse of another business proposition E.M. Viquesney was considering. The headline reads, “Monkey Skins Cause Furore At “Imp” Office,” with the subhead contributing, “Shipment from South Africa to E. M. Viquesney is greatly admired.”
            It seems Mr. Viquesney had previously advertised “four black monkey skins which he was going to receive from the Gold Coast of south Africa,” for sale but when the pelts were received, Mr. Viquesney admired them so much he decided to keep them for his first wife, Cora, who would die two years later of diphtheria.   
            “And no one can blame him,” the Evening World informs us, “they are really very beautiful. Glistening black hair or fur is about five inches long, while the skins themselves are from two and a half to three feet long and about half as wide.”
            The Evening World goes on to explain, “The skins are native tanned and include only that portion taken from the back of the animal which forms a sort of mane. Judging by the skins of the animals should be quite a bit larger than ordinary type of monkey which we are familiar.”
            I am not quite sure what type or types of monkey, the sentence is rather garbled, that the writer of the 1931 article was familiar, perhaps capuchins, which are a small type of monkey familiar in the early years of the last century as companions to organ grinders, but the type of monkey used to make monkey fur garments were Colobus monkeys, particularly the Colobus Satanus, or Black Colobus, a large, Old World monkey with striking long fur.
            It was reported that Cora Viquesney had, “been unable to make up her mind whether she wants a paket or neck piece made from the skins,” but, whatever her choice, Mrs. Viquesney would have been a very fashion forward woman in 1931. Although monkey fur had been in use since the mid-1800s, the fashion designer Elsa Shiaperelli reinvigorated its use with her 1933 collection and continued to use monkey fur on her fashion designs throughout the 1930s.
            The Colubus monkey is an aboreal monkey. It spends most of its life in trees and rarely, if ever, comes to ground. The Black Colobus is found in undisturbed coastal forests of Gabon, Cameroon, Bioko Island and the Mainland of Equatorial Guinea. It’s highly specialized diet, made up mostly of seeds, makes it impossible to successfully keep this animal in captivity. The Black Colobus, once a common monkey, is now on the top ten most endangered animal lists in Africa because of destruction of its native habitat and the fact that “bushmeat” is considered a delicacy among the, comparatively, wealthy in Africa. Although Black Colebus is generally considered the least desirable form of monkey meat by connoisseurs, the Black Colebus has been hunted nearly into extinction to fill the illicit desires of this ravenous market.
E.M. Viquesney obtained his monkey fur pelts from “Kwame Asamoa of Pipipiti Bank, Begoro Akim Abuakwa, Gold Coast, South Africa and was thinking of going “into the monkey skin transportation business to fill the many requests for skins which he has already received.”
            There is no evidence that E.M. Viquesney ever did go into the monkey skin importation business in any big way although he later stated his intentions of gathering enough pelts to have a coat made for his wife from them. The pelts he received from Mr. Asamoa he placed in the “show window” of Easton & Newman for the entire town to admire, if so inclined.

~Laura Wilkerson
  Genealogy Department

Friday, March 23, 2012

Upcoming Event

It was brought to my attention that I only write about books written for teens and younger.  That makes sense, as that is the department in which I work.  Also, this is the vast majority of what I read.  I challenge anyone who has never done so to read outside of their normal reading patterns.  I try to do that myself upon occasion as well, but as a representative of the Youth Services department, I mostly share the kids or YA books.  And they are some great books.

I feel that a great story is a great story and the only reason for labels are for younger people.  You don't want your average 2nd grader reading The Hunger Games, for example.  Adults should, in my opinion, read from whatever section of the library or bookstore that they want.  Author Maureen Johnson says it nicely in this video.

Speaking of authors, we have a few of them coming to our library in May.

These authors, all Indiana residents, are also all writers of Young Adult fiction. Their writing styles and backgrounds are as diverse as their books. I invite you to come and hear what they have to say, and maybe even read something new. Did I mention there will be refreshments?

~ Jennifer Frye
OCPL Youth Services Program Coordinator

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shared Reads: The Luxury of Daydreams by Amy McVay Abbott

            I ordered the book The Luxury of Daydreams by Amy McVay Abbott (WestBow Press, 2011) on the recommendation of a Patron and began reading it as soon as I was through with Thomas Pynchon. It was a quick and easy ready, as opposed to Pynchon who was a massive struggle, and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a lot.
            The book is a collection of short essays. The topics are easily relatable but deceptively rich. The author has a fine eye for place detail. Her coupling of Three Dog Night’s Joy to the World with the year 1971 will immediately connect with anyone who remembers 1971, even as a child, and with this one stroke she does far better than Pynchon did in placing the Reader in that particular year. I know a trip to the Dog ‘n Suds will resonate with many Hoosiers as my own husband sometimes waxes nostalgic about family trips to the Indianapolis Dog ‘n Suds after church on Sundays when he was a kid. She achieves similar transmission more universally with the phrase “TaB Float” and by somehow summoning Gaines-Burgers from the depths of memory.
            McVay Abbott is a Hoosier by birth and by choice and many of the most evocative essays center around her childhood growing up in rural northeast Indiana. These essays will give the Reader a true sense of Midwest morality and the sort of qualities that make for a virtuous Citizen without at all being preachy or condescending. The author makes her religious affiliations clear but not ponderously so and her essay on St. Peter is interesting and though provoking.
            The one essay that nags at this reader is The Pizza Boy where the author encounters the 18-year-old son of a friend from church who had died three years before. The author reveals that, “Upon her death, I promised Neil I would look out for him, and I have not.” The author confesses the she “lost her spiritual center for a while” and had left that particular church. The passage is made more unsettling five chapters later when in an essay titled Cleaning Her House where she reflects on how she and some other younger women had been cleaning the friend’s house when the call came that she had died. She writes of the jobs that were considered the purview of the older women of the Church, including attending to the “funeral dinners” and delegating tasks but now the younger women had lost “One of their own” and the tasks rightfully belong to them now even as we the Reader already knows she will end up leaving this Church a year later. 
            While reading this I, for a moment, wished I had been part of a group of people who would come clean my house while I was dying, just as other parts had made me wish that I had grown up as part of a close, loving family in a supportive, stable community, but then I thought I would much rather have someone who would honor her promise to look in on the young son I would be leaving behind and offer him whatever comfort I could, maybe include him in a family activity, have him over for a family meal, even if that promise had been made out of “fear” but I applaud McVay Abbott’s courage in writing this pair of essays.
            McVay Abbott is a disarmingly gentle writer. She includes an essay about three “embarrassing” stories her father likes to tell about her and ends it with, “My only recourse for this is to tell horribly embarrassing stories about my own child,” which she never does.
            In an essay titled Working on Christmas Eve, McVay Abbott writes about her then-boyfriend, now husband, working three jobs as he saved up enough money to attend Graduate School focusing on a third-shift rotation cleaning surgical suites at a hospital. The moral of the essay how much more they all appreciate life as “a full professor at a small, private arts university,” and that the, “victory is much sweeter savored over the memory of toil and hard work as a third-shift janitor.” Admirable, but in the essay we learn that her boyfriend had left Indiana to come to Florida to be with her just a month after his father was killed in an auto accident that left his mother gravely injured and the Reader is left with the feeling that there is a much more interesting story here than the easy homily the author chose.
            We do know the mother-in-law survived the crash as there is an essay about her death titled Requiem and Release which contains a particular peeve in which the author uses the word ‘delicious’ as a descriptor twice in the space of two sentences. Her mother-in-law “cooked delicious meals for us,” and once the author, “eagerly ate two huge helpings of her delicious pot roast.” Here is an instance where the author needs to stretch in order to show, not tell us. The Reader should be able to taste the food and be able to identify the qualities that made it so delicious, not just rely on the author’s word that it was.
            A much bigger issue I have is the author, or her publishers, used the hook that, “After a thirty-year career and eighteen years of mothering, she was at a loss and her child a thousand miles away.” Now I can understand McVay Abbott’s reluctance to delve into the highly personal, or the potentially embarrassing, when it comes to her husband or son. Perhaps she feels it is their stories, not hers, to tell. What this Reader has a more difficult time with is how Amy McVay Abbott really kind of side-steps around her own story.
            We know that McVay Abbott eventually found these life changes liberating and that they encouraged her to once again find a voice that she had shelved in favor of more immediate needs, but we also know from the text that the author also experienced something of a “dark night of the soul” and about this I would like to read more. This Reader is curious about how her sense of self was affected when three long-standing pillars of her identity, job, parenthood, and the Church, were disrupted with the job disappearing and her son moving a thousand miles away to attend college and the cumulative crises that caused her to question, if not her faith exactly, then at least the placement of that faith, and the processes she used to adapt to these changes. This Reader would like to know more about the corporate world she moved in for thirty years beyond the vague “sales” that the author gives us. I would like to know more about why the author decided to move to Florida after grad school, what it was like and what she did there. I would like to know why her son chose to attend college so far from home and how the author adjusted from having a child living under her roof full-time to one that just comes back for Christmas and summer breaks. The author teases us with tantalizing glimpses but never delves into these larger life issues but with this book under her belt, with its emphasis on childhood and passages, maybe she will give as more in her next book and that’s more of chance than I’m giving Thomas Pynchon.
            In all, I found this book to be something of a palate cleanser, easy to read and easy to like. I also think many more people would also find it enjoyable for its insights and memories and the refreshing good humor and sincerity found within.
This book is available for checkout in the Indiana section of the Owen County Public Library’s Vault. Check it out and discover the considerable pleasures to be found in The Luxury of Daydreams.
~ Laura Wilkerson
   Genealogy Department