Monday, December 31, 2018

Learn how to ‘Do This Not That’ in genealogy research class at Asheboro library

ASHEBORO – Whether you’re just getting started researching your family history or are a seasoned researcher, everyone makes mistakes. Being aware of successful techniques will save time and frustration when climbing a family tree.

To avoid pitfalls, join librarian and genealogist Ann Palmer for “Do This Not That,” 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, January 10, at the Asheboro Public Library. Palmer will share tips on research, documentation and organization, and will provide examples of genealogy mistakes to avoid.

The class is free and the public is invited.

The library is located at 201 Worth Street. For more information, call the Randolph Room at 336-318-6815.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Asheboro Confidential: Diary of Simeon Colton, 1850s educator and minister, tells all

The Rev. Simeon Colton, D.D., by illustrator
Rich Powell from a 1904 engraving of
an 1854 daguerreotype.
ASHEBORO --  What was life like in Asheboro in the 1850s?

Find out as Ross Holt, director of the Randolph County Public Library, debuts his book A Man of Restless Enterprise: The Diary of Simeon Colton, 1851-1862, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 8, at the Asheboro Public Library.

Holt’s talk is free and the public is invited.

The Yale-educated Rev. Simeon Colton, D.D. (1785-1868), was the superintendent of the Asheboro Male and Female Academies from 1854 until his retirement in 1862, and minister of Asheboro Presbyterian Church during the same period. Holt has transcribed and annotated Colton’s diary, which is in the Southern Historical Collection at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“The diary is an amazing look at life in central North Carolina as the country heads towards civil war,” Holt says.

In his writings, Colton shares his thought on domestic affairs, the complexities of travel both in the area and nationally, and the difficulty of operating schools in communities facing demographic, economic and civic challenges. He also reflects on his charge to develop Presbyterian congregations in rural areas, and wrestles with his own questions of faith.

As the country draws toward war, Colton turns his incisive mind to national affairs, and to the sin of slavery as the genesis of the conflict.

Pious and outspoken, Colton also is not shy about voicing his opinion of neighbors and colleagues who fell short of his expectations. “Some of the diary reads like ‘Asheboro Confidential,’” Holt says.

Colton was a Connecticut native who grew up in Massachusetts. A lifelong educator, he served as principal of a series of preparatory schools in Massachusetts and Cumberland County, N.C., before coming to Asheboro.

Colton’s diary also sheds light on the amazing reach of his colleagues, friends and former students. Among the latter were Charles Merriam, who would establish The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and Loring Norcross, who would become the uncle of poet Emily Dickinson.

Included in Holt’s book is the most definitive profile of Colton to date, was well as profiles of his extraordinary children, who made significant contributions of their own. “One of my colleagues observed that Colton’s story demonstrates the power of a family that places a supreme value on education” Holt says.

The diary project grew out of Holt’s research for the Randolph County Historic Landmark Preservation Commission on the 1839 Asheboro Female Academy, which recently was designated as a Randolph County Historic Landmark.

A Man of Restless Enterprise is available through Proceeds from book sales go to the Randolph Room, the local history and genealogy service of the Randolph County Public Library.

Holt said the process of transcribing the diary and chasing down references to people and places was a series of daily “A-ha” moments, generating a series of interesting and sometimes odd facts. For example:
  • Colton was trained at Yale as a chemist, and had a lifelong affinity for the subject. In 1850, he testified as an expert witness in a celebrated murder trial in Fayetteville.
  • Colton was put on trial by the Presbyterian church during a doctrinal controversy in 1839 and acquitted, but just barely.
  • Among his friends was Elisha Mitchell, the University of North Carolina professor who measured the altitude of North Carolina’s Black Mountains and for whom Mount Mitchell is named.
  • His son Henry was a newspaper editor who shot a man, nearly fought a duel, and wrote the first travel guidebook to the western North Carolina mountains.
  • His son Fisher was a prominent architect in the heyday of Chicago building, and designed the Gold Coast mansion that was used as the exterior of the family home in the 1980s television series “Webster.
  • His grandson Henry argued the appeal of John Thomas Scopes, from the famed “Monkey Trial,” before the Tennessee Supreme Court.
  • His granddaughter Elizabeth was an instructor at Meredith College whose research transformed higher education for women in the early part of the 20th century.

Learn Tai Chi techniques for health in Asheboro library class

ASHEBORO – Learn simple techniques from the ancient Chinese discipline of Tai Chi that could help improve your overall wellness in “Introduction to Tai Chi,” a class at 6:30 p.m. Monday, January 7, at the Asheboro Public Library.

Instructor Steve Cain will take participants through a series of gentle exercises that can be integrated into daily life to improve balance and flexibility, and promote relaxation.

The class is free and the public is invited. Attendees are asked to wear loose fitting clothing for ease of movement, and flat-sole shoes. Most tennis shoes are acceptable.

Cain, an Asheboro native, is retired from Randolph Hospital. He trained in Tai Chi at Randolph Community College and has facilitated regular sessions at Randolph Hospital and Randolph Cancer Center as an instructor through the Arthritis Foundation’s “Program for Better Living” series.

Currently he conducts weekly sessions at the Randolph County Senior Adults Association in Asheboro.

The library is located at 201 Worth Street in Asheboro. For further information, call 336-318-6803.

Make ‘Easy Lifestyle Changes’ for wellness in Asheboro library class

ASHEBORO – Start the new year off right and pick up some ideas for healthy living in “Easy Lifestyle Changes,” a class at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, January 5, at the Asheboro Public Library.

Join Melissa Thompson, a Certified National Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle Coach, for insight on how factors such as stress management, physical activity and nutrition play a major role in preventing chronic diseases and conditions. She will share tips, ideas and recipes that will help make lifestyle changes easier, and could prevent or delay illness.

Thompson is Diabetes Prevention Program coordinator for MERCE Family Healthcare

The class is free and the public is invited.

The library is located at 201 Worth Street in Asheboro. For further information, call 336-318-6803.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Learn about ‘ABCs of Early American Handwriting’ in Asheboro library class

ASHEBORO – Ever been frustrated in genealogical or historical research trying to read old wills or censuses?

Join librarian and genealogist Ann Palmer for “The ABCs of Early American Handwriting,” 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, December 13 at the Asheboro Public Library.

Learn the secrets to reading old handwriting and learn why so many names and words are incorrectly transcribed.

The class is free and the public is invited.

The library is located at 201 Worth Street. For further information, call 336-318-6815.