Bertha Lindsay and Penny
With National Dog Day (Aug. 26) recently past, here are a few items in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections that feature appearances by man’s (and woman’s) best friend.
Bertha Lindsay (1897-1990), an eldress of the Canterbury, New Hampshire Shaker colony and a friend of WKU Shaker scholar Julia Neal, had a silhouette made with her golden retriever, Penny. Bertha played Frisbee with Penny until she (Bertha, that is) was well into her 80s.
While on vacation in 1945, WKU librarian Margie Helm received a long report (no doubt at her insistence) from her dogsitter in Bowling Green. “Now Jiggs is fine,” she assured Margie. Despite a bout with fleas, and once scampering to the door when he thought he heard Margie’s car horn, the little fox terrier was content with his temporary family, sharing their meals of corn bread, muffins, baloney and chicken, and displaying some jealousy when the household’s children got a greater share of attention.
In letters from Alaska, gold prospector Abram H. Bowman of Louisville took a more utilitarian view of his dogs. “Anyone coming into this country should bring lots of dogs as you can always sell them for a good price,” he wrote his uncle in 1898. “You have no idea what a tremendous load these little dogs can pull,” he added. “But they are like lots of people. When you want to hitch them up you better not have the harness in your hand or you will never catch them.”
And for WKU art professor Ivan Wilson, dogs were both helpmates and beloved members of the family. Enduring a long hospitalization in 1927, he dreamed of roaming over the countryside with his colleague, English professor John Clagett, and their favorite hunting dog, “Boy.” Wilson’s papers also include a eulogy for his Irish setter “Rufus the Red,” better known as “Poody.” Warning: readers should have a hankie ready when they peruse this tender tribute.
Ivan Wilson, John Clagett, and “Boy”
Click on the links to access finding aids for these collections. For more on dogs and other pets, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.
On the 45th anniversary of the Kent State shootings, read our 2010 blog about a Kent State professor’s letter to WKU librarian Julia Neal in the aftermath of the tragedy.
In an April, 1848 letter to his nephew Robert in Marshall, Illinois, Woodford Dulaney discussed the family fortunes, both economic and personal. Writing from Cloud Spring Farm in Warren County, Kentucky, Dulaney had advice for Robert, who was overseeing some business interests in Illinois. He gave him instructions regarding the renewal of a store lease to one Greenough (“do so in black and white and bind him up close and have an eye to his neglect . . . for certainly he does not take any care of the property”). He also sympathized with Robert’s travails over the settlement of an estate (“I am in hopes if you have to resort to the law, you may have justice”). Dulaney reported that family health was mixed: “Your Aunt Nelly can’t stand it much longer has a very bad cold & cough,” but Robert’s 3-year-old cousin and namesake, Robert Fenton Dulaney, was “a bouncing boy & is cock of the walk.” Dulaney then cast an analytical eye on the local economy: “The merchants in Bowling Green are bringing on very heavy stocks of goods & selling them very low.” This was too tempting for the farmers, he worried, “for when goods are low they buy extravagantly.”
But Dulaney also had religious news, in particular of some recent activity in the local Shaker community. The 1840s was a decade of national revival, and in Shakerism it manifested itself in the dedication of a plot of ground where members assembled in the spring and fall, according to historian Julia Neal, to “commune with the voice and receive the great outpouring of the spiritual.” From what Dulaney had heard, however, this gathering promised to be unusual both in its size and public nature: a veritable 19th-century Woodstock, with the Shakers’ unique demonstration of devotion, their rhythmic marching and ecstatic dancing, much in evidence. “[T]he Shakers have commenced worship again they jump higher & quicker than ever,” Dulaney told Robert, “and on Monday the 1st day [of] May they are going to worship out in a grove”–a 10-acre tract, no less, which they had cleared in order to give themselves “a far sweep.” Likening the worshipers to frolicking creatures of the field, Dulaney declared “I intend to go and see them cut capers.”
Woodford Dulaney’s letter is only one of many sources on the Kentucky Shakers in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Special Collections Library. Click here to access a finding aid. For more collections about the Shakers and other religious faiths, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.
Edgar L. McCormick was an English professor at Kent State University when, on May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen fired into a crowd of students demonstrating against the Vietnam War, killing four and wounding nine. A month later, McCormick sent a letter to Julia Neal (1905-1995), then the director of WKU’s Kentucky Library. “Strangers and lovers of alma mater, miles away, have seen this tragedy more clearly than many of us close enough to see the bayonets and hear the shots,” he wrote, noting the expressions of sympathy that had come from as far away as England. The university had been closed to students, and McCormick and other faculty, though “permitted to enter the one unchained door to each building,” were “lonesome without them.” After classes resumed in the summer, McCormick was saddened by the continuing turmoil: campus police “beefed up,” townspeople refusing to rent to students, and rumors that Kent State would be closed permanently. “So it goes,” he mourned, “this lamentable confusion,” abetted by “little politicians.” McCormick hoped that summer, with its outdoor concerts, gardening, and family activities, would offer some consolation. “Meanwhile,” he wrote, closing his letter to Miss Neal, “Peace!”
A finding aid for the (Mary) Julia Neal papers in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections can be downloaded by clicking here.