Saturday, January 28, 2023

Mooresville's Bicentennial Book: a History for Kids

HEY, KIDS!  Learn about the history of Mooresville, Indiana from Cauli Le Chat, feline roving reporter at Mooresville Public Library.  Click the book cover (below), or click here, to read a digital copy (in PDF format).  Just in time for Mooresville's bicentennial celebration (1824-2024)!

NOTE FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS:  If your child(ren) (or the children you teach) attend elementary school grades 3 or 4, then this book will be particularly interesting to them, because they will be studying Indiana history in those grades.  Younger and older readers might enjoy the book, too.  Try reading it aloud to your preschoolers and early grade schoolers.


For those who prefer print books to digital, Mooresville Public Library has paper copies available to checkout, if you have an Evergreen Indiana library card. Visit the library's Indiana Room to pick-up a copy (Call Number I 977.251 CAU). See the Evergreen Indiana online catalog for details.

If you have an Amazon Kindle reader, a Kindle edition is available to buy from Amazon for $1.99. Paperback editions may also be purchased from Amazon for $6.50 plus shipping and handling.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Walnut Grove School

Until 1971, grade school students living in southern Madison Township (Morgan County, Indiana) attended Walnut Grove School, which was located on North Kitchen Road about a half-mile north of the Five Points intersection on State Road 144.  (Madison Township grade schoolers living further north attended North Madison Elementary School on East Hadley Road.)

Cover of Commemorative Booklet, Walnut Grove Memories (1971),

showing Walnut Grove School


Map from Walnut Grove Memories (1971)


Late 1970s photo of Walnut Grove Building

(courtesy of Becky Hardin, Morgan County Historian [1980s])

Walnut Grove was built in the Fall of 1921.  The first principal was C. L. Fix.  The general contractor was Jake Mann, who also constructed many buildings in and around Mooresville, including several downtown that still stand today.

On April 24, 1971, current and former students, faculty, staff, and their families held a reunion at the school.  A commemorative booklet was printed, which provides a detailed history of the school.  You may read a digitized copy online.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Noel Plunkett's Library Video (May/June 1987)

Those familiar with the history of Mooresville Public Library (MPL) know that construction of the "new" library building began in June, 1987.  The library is fortunate to have a VHS videotape recording made in May/June 1987 by Noel Plunkett, which shows the "old" library Carnegie building located at 32 West Main Street in downtown Mooresville, Indiana, as well as the construction site for the "new" library, which I call the 1988 building.

What good is a VHS cassette, you may well ask.  Who has videocassette recorders (VCRs) anymore?  Thankfully, there are wonderful gadgets that can convert videotapes into DVDs or digital recordings, and the library has such a gizmo.  Yesterday, I converted the videotape to DVD and digital formats.  Then, I took the raw video/audio and made a quick edit using Wondershare Filmora software.  Here's the result:

Mooresville Public Library, May/June 1987 Video, by Noel Plunkett

(Click Above to Play Video)


Mr. Plunkett's video begins by showing the front exterior of the MPL Carnegie building, then moves to selected interior shots.  Three MPL employees were captured on videotape:  MPL Director Sharon Beatrice, MPL Assistant Director/Indiana Room Librarian Wanda Potts, and MPL Staffer Mattie Deaton.  Then, Mr. Plunkett moves a few blocks west to 220 West Harrison Street, where construction began (in June, 1987) on the 1988 building.  Several unidentified construction workers appear in the video.  Mr. Plunkett provides a couple of voice-overs during the recording, in which he states the date of videography at the construction site.


Wanda Potts & Mattie Deaton appeared in this photo
of MPL Carnegie's last day (January, 1988)
L to R:  Director Pat Vahey, Asst. Dir. Wanda Potts,
Staffers Mattie Deaton, Theresa Lucas, and Sandy Lefler


MPL Director Sharon Beatrice (1984-1987)

Indianapolis News, Monday, June 15, 1987


The original video quality was low-resolution, and the audio was captured by a condenser microphone on the camera, so it is difficult to hear.  Retail camcorders from the mid-1980s filmed in analog, so the recording appears fuzzy on modern digital video players.  The quality, however, was standard for the retail market of the mid-1980s.

Mr. Plunkett's video is an invaluable historical account that captured the look and feel of the library (and construction site and its surroundings) from the time period.  Captured, too, were images (and faint voices) of some of the library staff from way back then.  For those who lived in and around Mooresville during the 1980s (and who frequented the library), it will bring back fond memories, as well as revealing what the library's current site looked like as construction began.  Sadly, such historical artifacts are often discarded, damaged, or otherwise lost as the years pass.  We are grateful that Mr. Plunkett donated a copy of his videocassette to the library, and that library staff had the foresight to preserve it.


Friday, November 11, 2022

The Decorinator's Living Legacy

We at Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library (MPL) were shocked earlier this week to learn that our long-time volunteer, Beth Hensley, had passed over (see her obituary online).  Just the previous week, she had dropped by the library to help with assorted projects.  It's heartbreaking to think that she's now gone.

 "Beth on Tuesdays" volunteering at Mooresville Public Library (2011)
(Click Photos to Enlarge)

"Beth-in-the-Box" at MPL (ca. 2005-2006)


Beth had volunteered weekly at the library (mostly on Tuesdays--hence, her nickname, "Beth on Tuesdays") since the late 1980s (either 1987 or 1988, depending upon who you were asking), but her ties with MPL reach back to 1953, when she began teaching at Mooresville High School (1953-1955).  She taught English and was the school librarian.

 Beth's faculty photo from the 1955

Mooresville High School Yearbook, Wagon Trails


Beth with her student library staff and her faculty photo

 from the 1954 Mooresville High School Yearbook, Wagon Trails


Between those yearbooks (specifically, on June 13, 1954), Beth married Mooresville native Maurice Hensley (1927-2017), who was longtime postmaster at the Mooresville post office, among the many businesses he and Beth operated together in town.  Their Jack & Jill Shop, a children's clothing store, flourished in downtown Mooresville (in the Farmers State Bank building) from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s.  The couple also owned and operated Hensley Coal & Oil Service from the mid-1950s through the 1970s.


 Hensley business advertisements from the 1956

Mooresville High School Yearbook, Wagon Trails



Beth standing outside the site of the Hensley's

Jack & Jill Shop (December 7, 2021)


Since 1953, Beth worked closely with Mooresville Public Library, as she wanted her lessons at the high school to support, and be supported by, the library's programs and resources.  When she retired from teaching, she continued working with the library in her spare time to support its activities.  Beth volunteered for dozens of MPL staffers, and she was also a member of the library's board of trustees during the 1980s.  Her devotion to the library spanned a lifetime.

Beth's contributions as a library volunteer were legendary.  She was honored in 2019 by the Indiana Library Federation for her efforts to enhance library service to the community.

Beth receiving the 2019 ILF Library Champion award


As a volunteer, Beth was supremely creative.  For decades she designed a multitude of displays, decorations, arts and crafts, and youth program materials.  Today, almost anywhere you're standing at the library, if you turn in any direction, you will see something that Beth created.  Her ingenuity was amazing.  She could construct anything from cardboard and construction paper.  Give her scissors, glue, string, wire, pens, markers, and a few other odds and ends, and she could make everything beautiful and interesting.  There isn't room for all the photos of her creations, but you may see many of them on our Cat's Eye View @ MPL blog.  The blog's author, Cauli Le Chat, who served as MPL feline roving reporter from 2010-2019, called Beth The Decorinator because she was all-powerful in crafting and artsy stuff.

I cannot overemphasize the significance of Beth's arts and crafts work to the library and its staff and patrons.  It is a joy to see kids' and caregivers' faces light up when they see one of Beth's "crawl-through" creations at the MPL youth services entrance, or a book-themed display atop bookshelves or in display cabinets.  Beth's backdrops for our adult programs (often featuring noted authors or speakers) were jaw-dropping; her attention to detail and cleverness in composition were stunning to behold.  (Here's just one example; there are many, many more.)

Beth's 2016 Igloo Tunnel (climb-through)
in front of MPL Youth Services entrance

Beth sitting in a rocking chair (above) and with

author Philip Gulley (below) at a 2009 library program

Beth loved working with the library's staff--most often, with the youth services department--to develop arts and crafts for various programs, events, displays, or just to promote items available to checkout.  For example, kids loved her beds and sleeping bags (made from surplus cardboard and fabric) for the overnight stuffed animal sleepovers.

Beth's cardboard beds and fabric sleeping bags

for the library's 2011 Teddy Bear Sleepover

Apart from her artistic talents, Beth was an encyclopedia of local knowledge.  She knew practically everyone in town, and she could recite familial relationships (and places families lived) off the top of her head.  More times than I can count, she filled-in missing details about Mooresville history that had stumped my best research efforts.  What's more, Beth valued the community's local history and the ways the library strove to preserve it.  For example, for decades Beth clipped obituaries from the Mooresville and Martinsville newspapers to place on file (and, more recently, to digitize and upload to our online database, Legacy Links).  She made sure that those important pieces of historical and genealogical information were retained.

Beth also had an amazing memory for academic information.  She could still recite poems she memorized decades before while attending high school or college (Indiana State Teacher's College, now Indiana State University), and she was an enthusiastic supporter of reading for all ages.

While Beth appreciated the practical value of technologies in libraries, she firmly believed that it was important for people to know how to function without the benefit of computerized gadgets.  "They still need to know what they can accomplish with just pencil and paper," Beth once said.  "The old ways of doing things can still be useful."

As part of her funeral planning, Beth arranged that memorial contributions could be made to Mooresville Public Library.  That was so like her--always thinking of how best she, and others, could help the library serve the community.  I can't imagine what we will do without her.  But, everyday, whenever we are assisting patrons, MPL staffers will reflect for a moment and ask, "What would Beth have done to make this better?"  Better was Beth's byword.  It will be her lasting legacy to us. We're honored to have known, and worked with, her, and we trust that all who come after will enjoy her creativity on display throughout the library.  "The Decorinator" was truly an inspiration to us all.


POSTSCRIPT:  Here are some photos of Beth Hensley's creations (and a display honoring Beth) that you may now see in the library's grand hall.



Thursday, October 13, 2022

History Cyber Sleuths (New Video Series)

Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library has a new video series called History Cyber Sleuths, in which library staff attempt to uncover historical details about undated or unidentified artifacts (photographs, documents, diaries, paintings, drawings, maps, objects, etc.) that have been brought to their attention.  This brochure elaborates.

Here are the first four episodes (click below to play videos):

History Cyber Sleuths, Episode One

"History in 'Plane' Sight"

by Mooresville Public Library


 History Cyber Sleuths, Episode Two

"Founder Portraits Found"

by Mooresville Public Library


History Cyber Sleuths, Episode Three

"Mooresville's Musical Aloha"

by Mooresville Public Library



History Cyber Sleuths, Episode Four

"James Hill, Emma Torr, and the Indiana Y.P.R.C."

by Mooresville Public Library


Can the library's history cyber sleuths solve these mysteries?  You'll have to watch to find out.