Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Historical Journey Never Ends

Indiana Room at Mooresville Public Library

Just Before the Dedication of the New Addition

(January 26, 2006)

In March, 2010, during a meeting at Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library, one of my colleagues, Suzanne Walker, who was then the library's youth services director, was discussing with the library's executive director, Diane Huerkamp, and me a social media initiative.  The library had already launched its YouTube channel; we could add Facebook, Twitter, and something called "Blogger," whatever that was, which featured "blogs," whatever they were.  Suzanne envisioned expanding the library's "global footprint" through its use of social media.  We could disseminate our messages far and wide to many more people than merely those who entered through the library's doors.

Suzanne already used Blogger to recommend children's and teen books to read and, along with other staff, was about to create new blogs focusing upon the library's youth services programs.  Blogs could also be used for adult services content.  She suggested I write a blog about the history of Mooresville, Indiana.

Would people read a local history blog, I wondered?  With an Internet already overloaded with trivial, over-personalized content, could an audience be attracted discussing the past of a town with fewer than 15,000 residents?  I doubted it, but I was game to try.

So, on April 3, 2010, I "published" my first "post" to this "blog."  Re-reading it now, the tone reminds me of a standup comic whose tired old material is bombing but who doesn't want to surrender the stage in humiliating defeat.  Of course, I was just starting this journey, so I didn't know exactly where I was going or how I planned to get there.  Maybe I should cut my former self some slack.

Thirteen years later, I've reached the end of my library career.  I've written a few hundred blog posts here, as well as over a thousand elsewhere (on four other blogs, two of which are long gone from the web, but two of which are still around here and here).  I've reached a quarter million viewers with this local history blog; I reached another three-quarters of a million on my other blogs, and over 2.4 million viewers on the library's YouTube channel.  Suzanne's social media initiative was a success beyond our wildest expectations.

As my retirement date approaches, I look back fondly upon the historical tales we've shared here.  Looking back is what historians do; since I've been portraying one at the library for the past 16 years, I wanted to stay in character until my last day, when I will close the library's Indiana Room (and, as manager-in-charge, the library) for what will be my final time.

This blog will remain online until such time as Google (or whoever will control the Blogger site) decides otherwise.  Links to PDFs will remain active until Mooresville Public Library updates to new website servers.  This blog has been a rewarding experience that, with any luck, was somewhat informative and, perhaps, mildly entertaining.  I'm grateful for the support I've received from the library board and the library's executive director (still Diane Huerkamp, after all these years).  Not many employers would have tolerated my spending endless hours turning out this tripe, although, in fairness, I've written about half of it off-the-clock at home.  Still, they always had encouraging words for my efforts.  I appreciate that.

There's much local history to be found on these blog posts.  If you've enjoyed it, thank one of my predecessors, Wanda Potts (MPL Indiana Room librarian, 1966-2002, and assistant director from the 1970s to the 1990s) for creating and maintaining the historical collections from which I've drawn everything.  Also thank Bonita Marley (MPL executive director 1961-1984), who preserved all the local history filed before Wanda came aboard (and handed it over to Wanda to preserve thereafter).  Myrtle Keller (MPL staffer & assistant director during the 1960s and 1970s) also contributed to the library's historical collections, as did each of the library directors and staff before Mrs. Marley.  My immediate predecessor, Marylou Smith, also deserves kudos for her fine work preserving Mooresville's past.  None of the material I've presented here (or elsewhere) regarding local history would have been possible without their tremendous efforts to organize and safeguard it.  All I did was type and upload some images.

Finally, thank YOU for reading about Mooresville's past.  Local history collections are diminishing in public libraries these days, so having an interested audience has helped Mooresville Public Library continue its mission to protect the past for the future to explore.  I hope the library's Indiana Room resources will be around for many years to come.  History continues forward, so there will always be something new and fresh to discover.  The historical journey never ends.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

North Side of West Main Street, Then and Now

The Visit Morgan County, Indiana website's Mooresville page has a photo (probably taken in 2022) that reminds us of a similar view captured on film roughly 60 years ago.

Photo courtesy of Visit Morgan County, Indiana website (ca. 2022)

(Click Images to Enlarge)

The pedestrian shown in the picture above is walking east along the north side of West Main Street in downtown Mooresville.  Compare it with this photo taken in the early 1960s, with the pedestrian walking in the opposite direction at about the same spot.

North Side of West Main Street, Downtown Mooresville (Early 1960s)

Rewind another 40 years or so to see how the north side of West Main Street appeared then.

North Side of West Main Street (July 18, 1920)
(Photo by Manley Brown)

Inexplicably, the writer of the above photo's caption stated that it captured the view "west on Indiana Street," which is impossible, because Indiana Street runs north and south through downtown Mooresville.  The view, however, IS west, but the street shown is West Main Street, looking across the intersection of Indiana Street in the center of downtown.

Manley Brown's 1920 perspective was repeated in this advertisement from the 1964 Mooresville High School yearbook, Wagon Trails.

The 1959 Mooresville High School Wagon Trails shows the north side of West Main Street in a gatefold shot.

Interestingly, in Mooresville Public Library's Indiana Room collections, there are many more photos of the north side of West Main Street than the south side.  There are about an even number of pictures showing the north and south sides of East Main Street, with comparatively fewer photos showing North or South Indiana Streets.  Perhaps aiming the camera northward was easier to capture better light, since the sun would have been behind the photographers for much of the year.

Learn some of the history of the north side of West Main Street from this digitized handout, courtesy of Mooresville Public Library's Indiana Room.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Your Source for Monrovia History

Roughly seven miles southwest of Mooresville is the town of Monrovia, in Monroe Township, Morgan County, Indiana.  Founded in 1834 (ten years after Mooresville), Monrovia was incorporated in 1995 and has a current population of 1,641, as of the 2020 U.S. Census, according to the town's website.

Google Map Showing Monrovia & Mooresville, Indiana
(Click Images to Enlarge)

Monrovia has a long and proud history, and Mooresville Public Library's Indiana Room has some of this information, but if you're really interested in Monrovia history, you should speak with the expert:  Steve Reeder, a history & psychology teacher at Monrovia High School.  Steve knows the history of Monrovia, Monroe Township (and neighboring Gregg Township), and northern Morgan County like the proverbial back of his hand.  His general Morgan County historical knowledge is pretty awesome, too.  When I have a question about Monrovia and vicinity, I contact Steve.  So should you.

Steve Reeder

Monrovia High School

In 2021, Steve received the WISH-TV Channel 8 Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching, particularly in preserving and promoting history (and, specifically, local history) for and to students and the overall community.

Steve works with students at Monrovia High School to create exemplary local history videos in his Monrovia Moments series, available to watch free on YouTube.  Everyone interested in Monrovia history should definitely subscribe to this channel.  You won't find better local history videos on the Internet.

Besides consulting Steve, those of you with local history questions should also visit the Monrovia History website, as well as the Monrovia Branch of Morgan County Public Library.  For Morgan County history in general, you should visit the Genealogy Department at Morgan County Public Library (main branch in Martinsville), as well as the Morgan County History Center & Museum (also in Martinsville).  Another terrific resource is the Morgan County History & Genealogy Association website.  Of course, Mooresville Public Library's Indiana Room also has many local history materials for the region (and for Indiana overall), so you should surely visit there, too.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Mooresville Bicentennial Promo Trailer

2024 UPDATE:  Here's another video commemorating Mooresville's bicentennial.

Mooresville Moments 30, by Mooresville Public Library

Mooresville, Indiana Bicentennial (1824-2024)

Mooresville, Indiana celebrates the bicentennial of its founding in 2024 (having been established in 1824 by Samuel Moore), and Mooresville Public Library has a promo trailer for the event.  Click the video (below) to watch.

Mooresville (Indiana) Bicentennial Promo Trailer,

by Mooresville Public Library


There are also a couple of books (just published in January, 2023) celebrating the town's bicentennial:

Watch our book trailers (below) to learn more about these two books.  (Click the boxes below to play videos.)
MPL Book Trailer #865

MPL Book Trailer #869

The Mooresville200 group is planning a big bicentennial celebration during 2024.  It should be great fun!  The library created a couple of promo trailers for Mooresville200 (click players below to watch the videos).

Mooresville200 Promo Trailer 1, by Mooresville Public Library

Mooresville200 Promo Trailer 2, by Mooresville Public Library

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.

 Here's a book trailer (below) that briefly describes what to expect:

A Bicentennial Celebration (Mooresville, Indiana),

by Cauli Le Chat (MPL Book Trailer 865)

(Click Video Above to Watch)