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Library Talk – October 12, 2017

Library Talk, October 12, 2017

Last week I followed up on ‘old’ fair results from the 1850s, especially on John and Jean Rankin’s participation. That got me to thinking about how little we know about Jean Rankin—we have writings in the form of autobiographies from John and his son Adam Lowry and son Richard Calvin wrote to the Bee quite regularly, but I have nothing written by Jean, and very little about her other than John did say she was a true helpmate and made his job easier.  I did find a piece about her forwarding the announcement of her death, and in reading it I think it gives a glimpse to just some of the amazing multi-tasking she did. John and Jean were married for 63 years.

From the January 28th 1879 Ripley Bee: “Mrs. Rankin was the mother of thirteen children, and adopted two more, all of which grew to maturity and married.  Besides these she afterwards raised two other families of the children of her kindred, numbering in all six, this making the sum total of twenty-two children in which this noble woman reared in her own house.  Besides this, as a pastor’s wife she attended to the social wants and religious duties of a large parish, was the fiscal manager and financier of the whole household, kept open doors, entertained unnumbered visitors, took part, by prayer and words of counsel and encouragement, in all religious meetings, gathered contributions for the missionaries and for the poor, and was untiring in all works and labors of love and good will to the community. All this was done with slender resources, obtained from a small salary and a small farm.  She never was ministered unto, but always ministered unto others.”    Jean died on December 29, 1878 out in Kansas, tending to one of her grandbabies and staying up late sewing.

I don’t think we will ever know how many organizations she was involved with, but besides raising the kids, helping feed and clothe escaping slaves, I’ve seen it mentioned that she was active in, and for a time served as president of, the Ladies’ Aid Society during the Civil War. It was amazing how much ‘stuff’ these ladies were able to collect and donate to battle field hospitals and regiments. Everything from hundreds of pounds of dried fruit to thousands of yards of bandage material, ticking mattresses to mittens, compresses to muslin shirts and much more. An amazing woman.

Just a reminder…Saturday, October 21st at 7:00 p.m. we will be hosting our annual “Ghost Stories Under The Stars” at the John P. Parker House, (300 Front Street) with Dr. Ned Lodwick regaling the crowd with spooky local stories he has found over the years. This is a free and fun event and all are welcome.  If the weather is bad, we will hold the event at the same time in the library annex.

Matthew