“Last Man’s Club” at Minnesota Digital Library

This column shared by Minitex and the Minnesota Digital Library. Reprinted with permission

This is a special edition of “Digital Delights from Minnesota Reflections,” in honor of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

Sometimes, memories are our only companions.

July 21, 1930, marked the 69th anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run.  In Stillwater, an old man named Charles Lockwood sat at a table surrounded by 33 empty chairs, drinking a bottle of burgundy wine.  Why did this Civil War veteran relive his memories of the bitter conflict alone, with only a bottle of wine to console him?

The records of the “Last Man’s Club,” contributed to Minnesota Reflections (http://reflections.mndigital.org) by the Stillwater Public Library, answer this question.

Charles Lockwood was a member of Company B of the famous 1st Minnesota Volunteer infantry.  The 1st Minnesota suffered heavy losses in the First Battle of Bull Run as well as Antietam, later showing heroism at Gettysburg.  View an accounting of Company B officers and soldiers: http://reflections.mndigital.org/u?/spl,1724.

After the war, 34 surviving veterans of Company B formed an organization known as the “Last Man’s Club,” devoted to keeping the memories of the 1st Minnesota alive.  The group held an annual banquet every year on the anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run.  View a book of “Last Man’s Club” member biographies: http://reflections.mndigital.org/u?/spl,1728.

As time passed, so too did veterans of Company B.  View a list of deceased and living members of the Last Man’s Club by following this link: http://reflections.mndigital.org/u?/spl,1726.

In joining the “Last Man’s Club,” each veteran promised that, if he were the organization’s last surviving member, he would drink a bottle of burgundy wine in his comrades’ honor.  Charles Lockwood was the “Last Man.”  Thus, on July 21, 1930, he convened the final meeting of the “Last Man’s Club,” fulfilling his promise to drink the wine of memory alone.

Click the following link to view a soliloquy by the last survivor of the Last Man’s Club, entitled “The Wine of Memory:” http://reflections.mndigital.org/u?/spl,1727.

Read a poem entitled “The Last Survivor to His Dead Comrades” by following this link: http://reflections.mndigital.org/u?/spl,1725.

To view other Last Man’s Club records, conduct an advanced search for “Last Man’s Club” in the Stillwater Public Library’s collection.

Minnesota Reflections contains other Civil War collections.  The Hennepin History Museum (Minneapolis) contributed a ca. 1905 descriptive book of Hennepin County Grand Army of the Republic members to Minnesota Reflections.  Follow this link to see a page from the book: http://reflections.mndigital.org/u?/hchm,1076.  Search for “Descriptive Book of Members of the Grand Army of the Republic, Hennepin County, Minnesota” to find the item from the Minnesota Reflections homepage.

The Olmsted County Historical Society (Rochester) contributed letters and other materials documenting a Minnesota family’s Civil War experiences.  Follow this link to read an 1863 letter written by soldier Jacob Dieter: http://reflections.mndigital.org/u?/olms,928. Browse the entire Dieter family collection by using the advanced search feature to limit your search to the Olmsted County Historical Society.  Then search for “Dieter.”

The Civil War ended long ago, but the conflict lives on in national memory.  Though we will never know how Charles Lockwood felt as he drank the wine of memory one summer’s day in 1930, explore Minnesota Reflections to peer into the state’s Civil War past.

Alex L. Ames
Graduate Assistant, Minnesota Digital Library Coalition
Learning Resources & Technology Services

Barbara Misselt, Director

Black History Month

Black History Month, or African American History Month, has been celebrated since 1926. It was started in February 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson. He and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History) chose the month of February because it contained the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (2/12/1809), responsible for the Emancipation Proclamation, and abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass (birthdate in February 1818 not certain).

We’ll see many students in the library this month working on class projects for Black History Month. We recommend these online sources for information:

1. ELM, the Electronic Library for Minnesota, http://www.elm4you.org/ – select “Biographies” to search for notable individuals. If asked for your library card number, enter it without spaces.

2. Biography.com – quizzes, biographies, interactive timeline, and more from the Biography channel

3. History.com – photos, videos from the History channel

4. Smithsonian Education – check out the virtual tour and the “Educator Resources”

5. Library of Congress collection

Barbara Misselt, Director

New Rush City Branch Librarian Named

“People who subscribe to a personal philosophy of ‘living to learn’ have, I think, a natural affinity for the library, “says the new Rush City Branch Librarian, Donna Larson. Donna, who recently accepted the position in Rush City, previously worked at the Princeton Area Library, so she is familiar with the East Central Regional Library system. Being with and serving people who want to and love to learn is her favorite part of working at the library. Witnessing that sense of desire and anticipation when a customer comes into the library is invigorating.

Donna’s love of reading started early in her life. Being somewhat of an insomniac, Donna found that reading novels at night helped her sleep. Reading books helped direct her mind away from the activities of the day and allowed her to vicariously experience other people’s lives and experience the world from its pages.

Donna hopes to become more acquainted with the Rush City community and ascertain how the library can best serve its patrons. She is eager to become involved in the children’s storytime, summer reading activities and other library events. As she starts her new position, Donna is also excited about working with the Rush City Friends of the Library and developing a larger volunteer base to benefit the library.

Donna hopes to use her overriding enthusiasm plus all the tools the library has to offer including its collection and its network of people to best serve the community. So be careful, she might just infect you with her enthusiasm. Donna believes as Charles “Tremendous” Jones once said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today but for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Stop by the Rush City Public Library and take a moment to meet Donna and check out something from the library. Who knows….you might just be a different person the next time you come back to visit.

Vickie Sorn, Youth & Community Services Librarian
Press Release

Minnesota Book Awards Nomination

East Central Regional Library: Fifty Years of Connections 1959-2009 has been nominated for the 23rd annual Minnesota Book Awards. The book was written by recently retired Technical Services Librarian Marilyn McGriff as part of the observance of ECRL’s fiftieth anniversary. The book has been nominated in the category titled “Minnesota.” You can check out a copy from any ECRL branch. Reserve your copy in our online catalog.

Preliminary round finalists of the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards will be announced after judging on January 29th. Winners will be announced at the Book Awards Gala.

The list of all 2010-2011 nominees is here.

If you’re looking for a good read, check out the list of past Minnesota Book Awards honorees. Minnesota is the home of some of the best authors, and many of their books are about Minnesota or are set in locations you’ll recognize.

Anniversary Book

Barbara Misselt, Director

Holiday Spirit Alive!

The Grinch did not steal the holiday spirit from Wyoming Area Giese Memorial Library patrons this year. Branch Librarian, Rebecca Hostetler, collaborated with Heidi Neff of Chisago County Human Services, to create a list of names for the library Giving Tree. This year 31 children requested books. First names and ages of the children were written on tags. Children, teens, and adults chose names and purchased a book for each of them. Monetary donations of nearly $350 purchased an additional 66 books providing roughly 100 children with the gift of reading.

In this second year of the Giving Tree, based on the book by Shel Silverstein, I wish to express my sincere thanks to all who helped make this another successful year. The generosity of the community to these children is indeed a sign that the Grinch is not welcome here!
Rebecca Hostetler
Branch Librarian
Wyoming Area Giese Memorial Library