Sunday, July 26, 2009


Glimpse of the past: Newton library debuts Mormon Battalion exhibit

Ruby Woodward points out items in an exhibit on the Mormon Battalion at the Newton Town Library in Newton Friday.
By Emilie H. Wheeler
Sunday, July 26, 2009 3:03 AM CDT
NEWTON — Nearly 60 years ago, nine buses drove through America’s Southwest carrying descendants of Utah pioneers.

The symbolic journey carried two meanings: to commemorate the march of the Mormon Battalion in the 1840s and to help mark California’s discovering of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 and the state’s admittance to the Union in 1850.

Among them was J.J. Larsen, a Newton resident who would die 18 years later but leave at least one tangible piece of the commemorative journey for his granddaughter to find several decades later: his uniform.

Now, the uniform hangs in a new exhibit in the Newton Town Library honoring members of the Mormon Battalion — especially those with descendants currently living in Newton.

Over the past several months, Larsen’s granddaughter, Ruby Woodward, and assistant librarian Cleo Griffin have researched stories of those who marched in 1846 and 1847 from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Los Angeles, collected items from that time period and searched for photos of ancestors of current residents. Those photos now hang in the display and details of their history during the march are scattered through the exhibit.

Newton resident Catherine Phelps helped by securing several items, like an authentic gun and trail marker, which are on loan to the library for a couple of months.

“We tried to make it as personal as we could,” said Woodward, the Friends of the Library chairwoman who got the idea for the exhibit after reading a book about the Mormon Battalion.

Formed in July 1846, about 500 volunteers created companies of infantry meant to participate in the Mexican-American War at the request of the U.S. Army. The group marched nearly 2,000 miles to California, the longest recorded march in military history, for training before being discharged in July 1847. On the way, they encountered provisional Mexican troops at Tuscon, Ariz., but the Mexicans fled without shots being fired. The unit’s most dangerous conflict was the “Battle of the Bulls,” during which the soliders were forced to fire at a herd of stampeding cattle.

While Woodward has been creating the display, Griffin — who has her own Mormon Battalion ancestor — has been putting together a book of histories. Members of the public who view the display can sign their names in the book under names of those in the Battalion who they’re related to.

Woodward said they’re always looking for more information, as well.

“If they’ve got a history, we’d love to have it,” she said.

Because of Griffin’s penchant for historical research, the library — with its impressive collection for a smaller community library — has become a destination of sorts for people looking for information about their ancestors.

“Last month, we had four travelers from Washington who spent the day here doing research,” said library director Sarah Rigby.

The group of women hope more individuals will come to the library to view this research and add to it in any way possible.

Woodward said the experience became personal to her — and she hopes others will feel the same way.

“The most fun was reading these histories,” she said.


The Herald Journal Serving Logan and Cache Valley > News > Glimpse of the past: Newton library debuts Mormon Battalion exhibit

The Herald Journal Serving Logan and Cache Valley > News > Glimpse of the past: Newton library debuts Mormon Battalion exhibit

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Arts & Life : : Features
Newton's library beats at the town's heart
By Manette Newbold
October 11, 2005 NEWTON -- At the center of town, the library stands as a place for the community to come together. A once-upon-a-time elementary school, Newton's public library opened in May 1998 and now has year-round activities for families and children.
In December the library has Santa Claus, in May it celebrates its birthday, and in the summer it invites kids to get involved in the state summer reading program, said Librarian Cleo Griffin, 77.
At the library parents can also get their kids involved in the weekly preschool that started in 1999 and invited children to story time and activities, Griffin said. The library also has a party every year at the end of the summer reading program and continues with other programs year-round.
"I like seeing kids learn how to read," Griffin said. "That's the reason for the library.
Griffin was part of the original library board in 1998 and said she has always loved books. Her father loved to read and she said that trait was passed on to her and now that's had eight children of her own, she likes to see that children are still reading.
Griffin knows the books, the people, the kids and the history. If you enter the library on a day she is working, she can tell you all about the history of the Newton Town Library and how it came to be.
"That's the nice thing about a small town," said Griffin. "It doesn't take long to get to know [the people]."
She said the library is involved with the community and always has a float in the 24th of July parade. They also have sales when the town citizens can buy books for 25 and 50 cents.
"It's the best buy in the world," she said.
Not only do the town people come for books, but they come to use the computers too. One is specifically for children and has games they can play. Six others have the Internet for adults and their kids.
The Preschool
One of the programs the library does continually is the weekly preschool for toddlers. Randi Jorgensen said she started the program when her son was in kindergarten and now between 10 and 20 kids attend each week for stories and crafts.
She said she doesn't really remember how the program began but that it sort of evolved when Griffin suggested story time. Jorgenson wanted to help and said it's been "a really fun thing to do ever since.
"Moms stay a lot too," she said. "They have fun talking and getting out of the house and just meeting other women from the community."
For one hour the children are engaged in story time and activities including singing, coloring, cutting, painting, or sidewalk chalk, Jorgensen said. She said they also plan seasonal crafts around holidays and around Halloween the kids get to wear their costumes so everyone can see them.
Elizabeth Lyon said her two children that she brings each week really look forward to coming to preschool.
Lyon, who occasionally helps with story time, said everyone is welcome; there is no sign up or registration. She said as long as people keep coming, the preschool will continue.
The History
The Newton Town Library started with a group of interested citizens who proposed the idea to Mayor Benson in January 1998. Permission was granted in February of that year and 70 volunteers signed up to help get things going.
Eagle Scouts painted the North Hall in the Town Building and put up metal shelves that were donated. Citizen Lyle Cooley built and donated 12 wooden bookshelves that held books donated from people and several communities.
The library grew and was moved to the gymnasium of the Town Building and again Eagle Scouts offered to paint and build shelves. Carpet, tables, chairs, lumber, bookshelves and money were all donated.
The library is larger now with several sections of books and a corner for kids. There are tables to study and children can color with crayons and coloring books.
Griffin said the library is a well-known part of the town. She said she once saw an advertisement for a piece of property that said, "in walking distance for the library.
"When I saw that I thought -- we have arrived!" Griffin said. And the library will be around for a long time.
Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000 Best viewed 800 x 600.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Sale and Mormon Battalion

Newton Town Library is having a book sale during the evening of the 24th of July in conjunction with the Town Celebration. Also be sure to review the Mormon Battalion
display in the Library Saturday 25th from noon to 4:PM.