County history books make ideal holiday gift

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Shirley A.

Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Shirley A. DeYoung has an idea for last-minute shoppers still fretting over what to buy for the hard-to-please person on their Christmas list.

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DeYoung suggests they buy history.

The Mower County Historical Society has second printings of both the 1984 and 1884 Mower County history books for sale.

"They would make great Christmas presents and they would be something people would want to keep forever," DeYoung said.

The 1984 history book, entitled "Mill on the Willow," is available now. The 1884 book will have to be ordered.

The Mower County Historical Society has ordered a second printing of the 1984 book and 25 of the 1884 book.

"We’ve already had orders for the 1884 book," she said. "Six people have ordered that edition and we are also selling several of the 1984 book, too."

The 1884 book, which will be available in paperback early in January, has not yet been priced by the MCHS, but the 1984 edition sells for $37.50 plus tax.

The second printing of the "Mill on the Willow" is in paperback. Otherwise the tome is there in all its picture and test glory.

When the MCHS undertook the project to write a second history of Mower County in the early 1980s, a history committee was nominated to pursue the ambitious effort.

Richard Stivers coordinated the committee’s work.

The first history was compiled and published in 1884. Twenty-seven years later, another comprehensive history of the county was completed. Then, 73 years lapsed before the "Mill on the Willow" project.

The goal of the modern group was simple, yet far-ranging: "to tell the story of our people, how they lived in the past and how they live today," according to the book’s preface.

Deanne Ahrens helped bring the words and pictures of the LeRoy area into the book and Arlene Bonnes did the same for the Lansing area. Bonny Williams filled in the Brownsdale area’s historical news.

Mike Chaffee, Richard Terry and Robert Foss took care of sales and distribution Adrian Tinderholt was the project’s business manager.

Margaret F. Guckeen chronicled county government, while Austin Public Schools’ history was retold by a teacher, Polly A. Jelinek.

Veteran journalist Nate Johnson edited the contributors’ efforts. Jane Roden and Eleanor Foss were editorial assistants.

Kemma Johnson reported on railroads, Ella Marie Lausen on century farms and Monica Lonergan on rural churches and cemeteries.

Mrs. William B. Malone collected information on rural schools and Carroll Plager wrote about agriculture.

When the book was published, it was filled with 400 pages.

Ironically, the original 1984 history book was made available in December, also in time to become a Christmas present.

Profits from the sale of the book were designated for the Austin/Mower County library building fund.

"It would make a great gift any time of the year, but especially because it is Christmas," she said.