TBT: Computer Literacy 32 Years Ago

Posted on

Note: click on any image to enlarge.

This month, ACPL welcomed its first-ever Americorps member. The library is one of thirty libraries chosen by the State Library of Ohio to participate in Guiding Ohio Online. Over the next 11 months, ACPL will be able to offer in-depth one-on-one computer help and classes on specific topics, from interent browsing to Facebook. To see the current offerings, visit MyACPL.org/techtraining. Class topics will change periodically, so keep checking back.

Although this is the inaugural year for Guiding Ohio Online, it’s not the first time our library system has offered computer training. That got us thinking: when was the first time? To the archives!

The earliest reference we could find was a grant request dated October 27, 1982–almost exactly 32 years ago! Over seven pages, it details how the library planned to partner with Hocking Technical College (now Hocking College) to offer hands-on experience with a personal computer at the Athens branch.

from page 3, Method

Notably, number 5 still holds true: the library will make computers available to all users at no charge. The planned outcomes still sound viable, too, especially, “Young people in the community could have access to equipment outside of school which would prepare them for future computer-related educational and employment opportunities.”

from page 4, Outcomes

And finally, the budget. It wasn’t overly-ambitious, just asking for one computer and a handful of peripherals (floor space was probably a concern):

from page 6, Budget

In case you’re wondering, here’s what an Apple II Plus looked like:

A typewriter with a monitor?

For comparisons sake, today you could buy an iMac for about the same amount of money with a 3.5 GHz processor and 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive.

Apparently the grant was successfully funded. Although he wasn’t on staff at the time, ACPL’s former Director Stephen Hedges remembers this computer: “that Apple II was sitting in the front window of the library on Court Street when I started working there. By that time, 1993, only one guy ever came in to use it.” Of course, it would have been over 10 years old! As discussed in a previous blog post, we know that by 1988 there was at least one other newer computer for use in the library: Friends Purchase New Computer for the Library.

Rest assured that our current slate of computer training courses will be much more advanced and use more modern equipment!

TBT: Kimberly Mine and Coal Vein #7

Posted on

Note: click on any image to enlarge.

Last week our Throwback blog was about the Flu Pandemic of 1918. It had the potential to greatly affect the coal industry: longwall mining meant the workers would be in close quarters with very poor ventilation for hours at a time.

For this week’s post, we found a 1922 map of a local coal mine that shows how a typical mine was structured:

Map and detail: The East End Coal Company’s Mine Number 7 at Kimberly, Ohio, near Nelsonville.

There were several mines in this part of the county that relied on coal seam #6, including Happy Hollow and Doanville. However, according to the above map, this site was tapping into vein #7. In his 1986 thesis project, Eugene Palka, explains that the Kimberly site developed around 2 drift mines (horizontal mining into the sides of hills) and was operated by the Sunday Creek Company (p. 38).

The bottom of our map identifies the mine’s owners as C. Robbins and J. B. Davis.

detail: The Kimberly Coal & Land Co.

Robbins, of course, is a familiar name to the area. This may have been Charles Robbins, a Nelsonville merchant who died in 1919, a few years before this map was made. We found the obituary for Joe B. Davis from June 22, 1928:

In his thesis, Palka included two photos of Kimberly mines:

As a side note, in the 1930’s the community of Kimberly hosted a WPA library collection that was later incorporated into the newly-formed Public Library of Nelsonville and Athens County. Today, Kimberly is mostly known as the location of apartment complexes and home of Tri-County Career Center.

TBT: The Great Pandemic

Posted on

We recently ran across this piece of ephemera in our local history collection. It’s from the 1918 flu pandemic that swept the world. That strain was H1N1, commonly known as swine flu. The secretary of the local Board of Health at the time was Dr. Charles Butt and the president was T. Ervin Wells, the mayor.

It’s interesting that in addition to concerns for the general health of the community, the announcement specifically mentions the threat to coal production. This was a time when longwall mining was widely employed, which meant the workers would be in close quarters with very poor ventilation for hours at a time.

The virus that causes influenza wasn’t indentified until the 1930’s. By the mid-1940’s, the medical community had started testing vaccines on WWII soldiers.

Today the flu vaccine is one of the most widely available. Its makeup changes regularly based on predictions of which virus strands will be most active during any given season. The Centers for Disease Control recommends the vaccine annually for everyone 6 months of age and older.

TBT: Levi McDowell and other Nelsonville Photographers

Posted on

Note: Click on any image for a larger view

Our local history room has its fair share of “mystery” photos. Often times the only identifying mark is the photographer’s name or studio.

In its heyday, Nelsonville had several picture takers working in the city. Some of the more familiar names include:

  • Oscar and William Ridgely, active around 1870 (probably brothers);

  • J.P. Armstrong, working in Nelsonville around 1891;
  • Frederick John Sauters, active from the late 1800’s. He died in 1935 at the Athens State Hospital.

One of the most prolific area photographers was Levi McDowell. According to his obituary, he was born in 1848 and came to Nelsonville in 1878. He died in 1937. Many of our unmarked photos have his imprint on the matte boards.

Levi McDowell, date unknown, but probably betwen 1925 to 1932.

Interestingly, the Levi McDowell portrait that the library has was taken by the McCreary Studio.

Frank McCreary came to Nelsonville from Bedford, PA sometime before 1930 (the census for that year has him listed as studio proprietor). Nelsonville’s Scarlet and Gray yearbook ads for his studio first show up in the 1925 edition with the last appearing in 1932. By the 1940 census, he’s living again in Bedford. It’s possible that McCreary worked with McDowell.

A 1915 yearbook ad for Sauters Studio on Fulton Street.

A 1915 ad for McDowell (below the Fountain Pharmacy ad) on the square.

There are yearbook ads for other photographers through the years, too. Starr Photos advertised in the 1923 edition and Carpenter’s Studio is listed in the 1938 yearbook.

We’ve uploaded several “mystery” photos to the library’s Flickr page. If you recognize anyone, please let us know!

TBT: Doctor’s Row

Posted on

Note: click on any image for a larger view.

Last week we took a look at the old Y.M.C.A. building on Fort Street in Nelsonville and learned that Dr. Hyde (who lived across the street) converted the building to apartments in the 1940’s. After looking up Dr. Hyde’s house, we discovered that his neighbor and friend (just up the block) was Dr. Isaac Primrose. Just down the hill is the home of Dr. Robert Butts. And on the corner (sharing a backyard with Dr. Butts) is the house of Dr. Nathan Hill. For whatever reason, the Fort Street area was a veritable doctor’s row.

In past blog’s we have talked a lot about the Vore and Lawson notebook, 200 Years in Nelsonville and Vicinity. It’s a treasure trove of information. Coincidentally, we ran across this small entry on page 34 [the numbers are ours for reference]:

While he was still in high school, Hubert Hyde (1) composed a piece about Nelsonville doctors of that period (1912-1916):
“Dr. Pritchard (2) of Welsh (sic 3) descent, wearing a Primrose (4), walking down Johnson (5) Hill (6), tripped on a Cable (7),
lit on a Pickett (8), which threw him into a Marsh (9) wet with Dew (10) and skinned the Hyde (11) off his Butt (12).”

This piece of purple prose sent us on a search to track down each of these doctors. Some were easier to find than others:


1) Dr. Hubert Hyde, the student-writer, was born in 1900 and died in 1988. He was the son of Dr. Jerry Hyde and grew up at 138 Fort Street.

The Hyde House (recently also called the Meade House) is now a bed and breakfast.

2) Dr. Pritchard lived at 86 East Columbus Street. His house is still there, remarkably unchanged.

86 East Columbus Street, date unknown. September, 2014.

3) Dr. Charles Welch (not Welsh) lived at 68 West Columbus Street. He was born in 1859 and died in 1948. His office was next door to his home and taken down in 1979. It’s now part of an alley and parking lot. His house is the still there as The Sunday Creek Coal Company building.

From the book Nelsonville in Pictures, published in 1988.

4) Dr. Isaac Primrose lived at 167 Fort Street in a house he built in 1882. He was born in 1831 and died in 1918.

5) According to his obituary, Dr. J.W. Johnson was born in 1851 and died in 1914. Unfortunately, the rest of the obituary is unreadable, so no other information is available.

6) Dr. Nathan Hill lived at 20 East Washington Street, across from Stuarts Opera House. He served a term as Nelsonville mayor and as county coronoer. Dr. Hill died in 1944. He’s number four on this slide:

From a special Athens County Centennial newspaper printed in 1897:

7) Dr. Charles Cable (number one on the above slide) was born in 1859 and died in 1932.

8) Dr. John Pickett, according to his obituary, died in August of 1910. Not much else is known.

9) Dr. Marsh is a complete mystery. We haven’t found any other references in any local history resources.

10) Dr. Cassius Dew lived at 152 West Washington Street with his stepfather, T. Ervin Wells (we featured that house in a different blog post a few weeks ago). Dr. Dew was also an active public servant:

11) Dr. Jerry Hyde lived at 138 Fort Street. See last week’s blog post for more.

12) There were two prominent doctors named Butts. The father, S.E. Butts was born in 1857 and died in 1926. His son, Dr. Robert Butts built the house at 88 Fort Street (just off the square) in 1936. Dr. Robert Butts was born in 1917 and died in 2003. He served as Athens County Coroner for 32 years.

88 Fort Street, built in 1936 by Dr. Robert Butts.

For more photos, checkout our Flickr stream!

TBT: “Nothing can be poured out of a bottle and taken with a spoon that will take the place of systematic exercise.” – Y.M.C.A. brochure, circa 1916

Posted on

Note: Click on any image for a larger view

A few weeks ago our Throwback Thursday blog post was about thumbing through a 1916 edition of The Buckeye News, a Nelsonville newspaper. We delved into a small item on the front page describing construction of a new home in town. Near that piece was another tidbit that also caught our interest: Y.M.C.A. Notes.

Then and now: the Y.M.C.A. in Nelsonville was established in 1908 on Fort Street, just east of the square.

The Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) was founded in London in 1844 with the mission of nurturing the body, mind and spirit. Most often, that meant providing a space that could be used for excercise and games (like a modern day gym), bathing facilities, a room or bed to rent and, at least in Nelsonville, books to read–the public library didn’t open until 1935.

The column in the 1916 newspaper detailed efforts to keep the facility adequately funded. According to the reporting, the building was well used with over 200 daily visitors and an average of 50 baths taken per day. For many miners and factory workers, the indoor plumbing was probably a rare treat. In addition to membership drives, the Y also hosted fundraiser “Field Days” with competitions and entertainment.

“Field Day” from a postcard postmarked June, 1910.

In Vore and Lawson’s 1974 notebook, 200 Years in Nelsonville, Ohio and Vicinity, we found an essay written by William (Winnie) Howe with his recollections of the Nelsonville Y.M.C.A.:

According to Howe, the Y.M.C.A. discontinued operations in Nelsonville in 1931. In 1932 the building was used briefly as National Guard headquarters during the tumultuous mine strikes of that year. In the 1940’s the building was converted into apartments by Dr. Hubert Hyde who lived across the street. As Howe says, “this arrangement has continued to this day.”

The address plaque above the west side entrance of the former Y.M.C.A. building.

For even more images, visit our Flickr page!

TBT: Library Regulations and Subscription Libraries

Posted on

Many years ago, when the Athens Public Library was located on north Court Street (at the current home of the Athens County Historical Society), Dr. Edgar Whan gave the library a newspaper clipping dated January 1, 1928:

Regulations for the Athens Library, adopted January 1, 1928.

That preceeds our current library system by 7 years and the establishment of the Athens Public Library by 12 years.

These types of organized collections were commonly referred to as subscription libraries. They were championed by Ben Franklin in the 18th century as a way to pool resources. Locally, the Amesville Coonskin Library, founded in part by Ephraim Cutler, is a well-known example. A member (almost always men) would pay a yearly fee to become a subscriber (also known as buying a share). Owning a share of the library gave him access to the collection and, sometimes, borrowing priviledges.

Membership dues were used to keep up the collection and to add new titles–typically nonfiction–deemed of interest to the shareholders. An annual meeting would be a chance for all the members to gather and discuss the direction of the collection and attend to other business, including choosing a librarian. It was not unusual for the collection to be housed in the home of the librarian.

As fiction titles became more popular, so did public–also called free (ie, no subscription required!)–libraries. Citizens would collectively decide how to fund such endeavors, often relying on some sort of general tax. In most cases, that’s still how public libraries are funded. Fortuantely, we no longer elect our librarians!

TBT: The Buckeye News and a tale of three houses

Posted on

Note: Click on any image to see the larger picture.

There’s nothing like old newspapers. They’re dusty and cracked and full of interesting tidbits.

For example, we recently picked up the December 7, 1916 issue of The Buckeye News:

At the time, The Buckeye News was owned by T. Ervin Wells, the mayor of Nelsonville.

It had merged with a rival paper, The Nelsonville News, in 1896. Under different ownership, the newspaper went out of business in 1926.

A small item on the front page of the 1916 newspaper caught our attention: “Fine New Residence Nearing Completion.” It goes on to say that W. T. Bean’s new “modern” house will be one of the finest in the city.

William T. Bean was a local banker who could afford a house designed by well-known local architect William Mills. With a little digging (and thanks to the 1988 book Nelsonville in Pictures), we discovered that the house is located at 106 East Columbus Street. It looks modest, even for the period.

The Bean house today (September 2, 2014).

Mr. Bean died here in 1951, so we can assume his modern home suited him well for nearly 35 years.

William Mills was born in England and studied architecture after coming to America. He became very in-demand in the early part of the century, designing many houses and churches in the area. His Nelsonville home still stands. He died here in August, 1953:

241 W. Washington Street, Nelsonville (September 2, 2014).

It is perhaps telling of the times that of the banker, the architect, and the newspaper owner, the latter had the most stately home.

The T. Ervin Wells house (probably built in the mid-1870s) is still there, just north of the post office and across and up from the Nelsonville Public Library. Wells was serving his third term as mayor of Nelsonville when he died here in June of 1919:

152 W. Washington Street, late 19th century. And today (September 3, 2014).

For more photos, visit the library’s Flickr page.

TBT: High School Football Season

Posted on

Now that all of the area’s schools are back in class, another high school football season is upon us. Another chance to get a varsity letter. A time to feel invincible and full of hope for the year.

For throwback Thursday, we dug up some team photos from old yearbooks (click on any image to see a bigger picture):

The Black and Red football team from the 1923 Athens High School Yearbook.

The Greyhounds (the Scarlet and Grey), Nelsonville High School from 1923.

Glouster High School’s 1931 Tomcats.

The Plains High School Blue and Gold Team from 1938.

The 1966 Chauncey-Dover Blue Devils.

The 1974 Federal Hocking Lancers.

The push across the state to consolidate in the 1960’s closed many of these schools and buildings. Athens, The Plains and Chauncey-Dover merged. Nelsonville and York became one in 1968. Federal Hocking took in Coolville and Amesville.

Alexander School District, formed in 1967, is a consolidation of Albany High School, Columbia High School and Shade and Waterloo schools. Albany had some sports teams under the name the Red Devils, but not football.

Today, Athens County has 5 distinct school districts with five different football teams. If you’re wanting to re-live some glory from years past or just want to watch some football, head out to a game. Here are the fall schedules:

Alexander Spartan’s Schedule

Athens Bulldog’s Schedule

Federal Hocking Lancers’ Schedule

Nelsonville-York Buckeye’s Schedule

Trimble Tomcat’s Schedule

The Athens Bulldog Varsity A, circa 2009. The Trimble Tomcat Varsity T, circa 2000.

Visit the library’s Flickr stream to see even more photos. Or, stop by the Local History room at the Nelsonville Public Library.

Gifts of Richard and Karen Harvey

Posted on

For the third year running the generosity of Richard and Karen Harvey has extended the Juvenile Non-Fiction book budget for the Athens Public Library.

Some of the newly purchased books.

In addition to upgrades to the sports, science, and crafting categories, the Harvey’s funded the purchase of a new World Book Encyclopedia, the Scholastic state series “America the Beautiful,” and a splash of new titles to refresh the board book collection.
The library hosted a thank you reception on Friday, August 15 to unveil the collection.
Amy King, Enrichment Coordinator, shows the board books to Dr. Harvey.
Amy with the Harveys and two young patrons who were browsing the new books.
Karen Harvey talks to a young bicyclist.
New items are on display at the circulation desk at the Athens Public Library and are available to borrow. Many thanks to Karen and Richard for investing in the young minds in our community.

Amy and a young patron shaping letters.

For information on the library’s donation program visit www.MyACPL.org/Donate