Greene County Arkansas

Paragould, Arkansas

Centennial Edition Section 4

Monday, August 29, 1983, Paragould Daily Press                                                                                                                        Section 4, Centennial Edition  -9


Library's room opens Doorways to the Past


 Almost overnight, the Greene County Library has become a regional center for local history and genealogy research.
   Before the Lipscomb-Kirsh Charitable and Educational Foundation donated $100,000 for development of the library's Arkansas Room, its local history collection was, in the library's own assessment, "embarrassing."
   There was a separate room designated for Arkansas materials, but its holdings were meager.
   "This room has not been added to in years and has very little information for the students and genealogy researchers who come to ask for information," librarian Nancy Evans explained. "We are constantly having to refer them to the Jonesboro Public Library. We badly need a
collection that we can build on to and point to with pride. The collection we now have is so inadequate that it is embarrassing to continually tell people that we do not have the information that they require."
   The foundation grant changed all that. The  new wooden shelves in the S. S. Lipscomb Genealogy and Arkansas History Room are fast being filled with books -- how-to research books, an array of books written by and about Arkansans, rare and out-of-print regional hist- ories and much more. There are new microfilm and microfiche  readers and printers, cabinets filled with census reports and other official records on microfilm. A display of old photo-graphs on the wall. A growing collection of genealogy magazines. Filing cabinets designated for special local materials such as family hist-ories prepared by researchers using the room.
The collection will be added to each year; half of the grant sum was placed on investment, and the annual interest will allow acquisitions to continue indefinitely.
   From the beginning it was hoped the room
would become a repository for special Greene County materials and it was realized that
the timing -- coinciding with the celebration of
Paragould's centennial and Greene County's
sesquicentennial -- would give the project an
extra impetus.
The library has been soliciting materials that
would otherwise leave the county or be lost --
old pictures and books, family histories, business histories, diaries, old letters.
"We're trying to get a hold of so much that has
been lost. Once it's gone it's gone," Evans
cautioned. The library had been acutely aware, she added, that some research material was being lost because there simply wasn't a local repository. "Finally, there's a place."
The library has just ended a search for a display
cabinet suited for old photographs, one that will
allow them to be displayed periodically without
damage. Evans said the case that has been ordered can also be used for artifact display.
     Dr. John Ferguson, state historian and director
of the Arkansas History Commission, has suggested
that the library consider earning a designation as a
regional archive. But such a step would be beyond
the library's scope right now, Evans said.
   The Arkansas Room's development was overseen
by an accredited librarian with a personal and pro-
fessional interest in local history, Cathy Lattus. Both
Lattus and Evans said throughout the acquisition process that selectivity was the key to building a sound collection; they didn't want to buy books just for the sake of filling shelves, but wanted to select materials they knew local researchers would find useful.
   Reaction to the room's development has been
positive, Lattus said. Users were particularly pleased with the additions "because we had so little to begin with."
   The library hopes the room will develop to best
serve its clientele. In order to accomplish this, Evans
hopes a volunteer group will emerge to help guide
the room's future. She has her eye on the possible
revival of the Greene County Historical Society,
since such a group would be most aware of the
collection's needs. "They would be the logical ones
because of their interest in history," she explained.
She is also open to suggestions from any user, she
noted. And the library has ordered some materials
particularly requested by researchers.
   Already, the room offers a particularly useful
service -- trying to keep track of who's researching
what, so that people who might by chance be trying
to track down the same family line can get together
and compare notes.
   The room's collection includes Arkansas census
reports from 1830 to 1910, Greene County marri- age records from 1917 to 1922, personal property tax records from 1876 to 1893, will and probate records from 1894 to 1899, copies of the Daily Press and Soliphone newspapers from 1902 to the present and various other miscellaneous records -- all on microfilm or microfiche.
   The genealogy self-help books include ones on
Arkansas as well as Tennessee, South Carolina,
North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama and Georgia,
all states from which Greene County settlers
In addition, there are, or will be, Civil War service
records, pension records and ship passenger lists
for those interested in hard-core genealogy research.
The late Samuel Scott Lipscomb, for whom the room was named and whose foundation bequest made its development possible, was a prominent farmer and businessman who died in 1969. Born near Richmond, Va., in 1890, he moved with his family to Marmaduke when he was a child. Later, he founded a mercantile business in Marmaduke, which he eventually relocated in Paragould.
   He married Vada Allen of Rector in 1919 and
following her death in 1941 married Eva Allen in 1942. Lipscomb had no children by either marriage.


Photo caption:                              Daily Press by: Mark Prout

The S.S. Lipscomb Room of the Greene County Library already holds a treasure trove of information for the historian and the genealogist. And continued acquisitions
are planned as the room's endowment fund earns interest. The collection almost immediately became a center for area researchers, such as (at left) Floyd Barnhill of Jonesboro, who has been tracking down Confederate veterans for a planned book on the Arkansas 5th Regiment. He has already developed 366 typed pages of material. Among his discoveries: Three of the regiment's 10 companies were formed in Greene County, giving it the highest total in the state. Among his problems: The Civil War era's careless spelling has sprinkled variations of the same names through-out the official records. He has found one name spelled as many as six different ways and the variations have swollen is list to 1,600. The project started, like many history searches, out of personal curiosity -- several of his ancestors served in the regiment.


    He set up the foundation in 1960, making gifts to it dur-
ing his lifetime and, upon his death, creating a trust for the support of his widow. After her death in early 1982, the trust's assets were vested in the foundation to be distributed by a board Lipscomb had named.
   Officers of the foundation board are: Douglas Pillow,
president; Bill Block, vice president; Maurice Cathey,
director; and Jane Janes, secretary-manager. All were
close personal friends of Lipscomb.




A genealogist's 'trip into the past'

   The S.S. Lipscomb Room contains a number of helpful resources for people interested in tracing family roots.
   But no book can provide the patience a time-consuming genealogy search requires. That comes from the dedication, devotion and curiosity one brings to the hunt.
   While tracing the history of her great grandfather, John Montgomery Bell, Ethel Thompson of Paragould decided to translate into thyme the sense of exploration that fuels her genealogy search.
Her poem is aptly titled, "A Trip into the Past":
  A search made for our loved ones,
Of a century ago or more,
Anticipation and excitement runs,
Like the tide on a distant shore.

From the days of long ago,
Came our ancestors of the past,
Loved ones we were so anxious to know,
Mysterious, but happy at last.

What a thrill to get to know,
Someone from centuries past,
Great Great Granddad from the days of old,
A wish come true at last.

Getting acquainted with someone,
Someone we never knew.
Getting to know them one by one,
Perhaps they know us too.

A part of them still lives, you know.
Their warm blood flows through us.
Let us be proud of our name, it glows,
With warmth and love and trust.

They were strict, God-loving and more
Honorable in all their deeds.
There were Sarahs, Elizabeths and Toms galore,
But Johns were in the lead.

These folks aren't just names, you know,
They lived and loved and died.
They fought Indian Wars and many foes
And made paths to be our guide.

They cleared the land on which we live,
Fought dangers with a smile,
A world of praises we should give.
To those who braved the wilds.

We hope they are as proud of us,
As we are proud of them,
Perhaps they see we've kept the trust
They left so honorable and prim.

The name Bell has quite a ring,
Of greatness staunch and true,
Of our ancestors we should sing
Praises, loud and clear, anew.

---Ethel Thompson


Cemetery Searching


Transcribed by: PR Massey

Return to Greene County, Arkansas Centennial Edition

Return to Greene County, Arkansas Newspapers

Return to Greene County, Arkansas Index Page



2011 PR Massey