4 Generations of Library Users

Discover how BCPL customers use the library in this new blog post series.

Can you imagine Boone County without a library? Sounds horrifying, however it is true. There wasn’t a library in Boone County until 1974.  Local resident Betty McDavid said, “Before Boone County had a library we had to go to Erlanger for books.  I’m so thankful we have our own now. I read over 200 books a year. I couldn’t afford to buy all the ones I want to read. Although the books are the main attraction, I also appreciate and enjoy the concerts and classes held at the library. I especially like hearing authors speak of their life and works.  I’m from a family of readers and passed it on.”

Wow, she really did pass it on! There are four generations of McDavids using the library at the present time. Betty’s two daughters Sheree McDavid Breitholle and Christy Biggs are regular patrons as is Sheree’s daughter Kate Moore who brings her daughter to visit.

Sheree has great memories from her youth when her father would drive them to the library, “When I was young we went to the library in Erlanger. My Mother didn’t drive, so my Daddy would take us. He would wait in the car but always said, ‘Don’t hurry, take your time.’ We were so excited when Boone County got its own library. Later Lents became my library home. It was a place to take my daughter for activities and exploring the shelves. The Lents staff became my library family. I have many treasured friendships and memories of all my time there. I love all of the concerts, classes and book clubs sponsored by the library. It’s such a special place. Now I’m blessed to be able to share this wonderful place with my granddaughter. As I see her participating in Storytime, exploring the activities, and getting books from the shelves I can hear my Daddy saying ‘Don’t hurry, take your time’.”

Sheree’s sister Christy has similar warm feelings about the library, “I grew up in a very rural area with not a lot of close neighbors. Books were an opportunity to experience far off places and have adventures with characters like Alice and Dorothy. I visited places like Narnia and Neverland while remaining safe in my own backyard. We didn’t have the money to buy all of the books we wanted to read so the library was essential. I can remember when the first Boone County library branch opened in Florence when I was a little girl. I remember standing in the children’s section and being excited to learn the number of books that I could check out at one time. I don’t ever think that I left with anything less than the maximum allowed amount! Throughout the years the library has not only been a form of escape but a place for me to learn more about topics that caught my interest. I now check out at least as many ‘how to’ books as I do novels.  I may not master the skill but I certainly get further than I would just trying to figure out stuff on my own steam.”

Like Betty shared her love of the library with her daughters, Sheree passed her love to her daughter Kate Moore, “Some of my earliest and fondest memories are going to the library with my mom. It was a special place. We would go to storytime at Florence and all the other fun events and classes, then later at Lents.  As an adult, Mom and I still participate in book clubs together and different library concerts, speakers, book sales and classes at Main. I remember getting my very own library card and how exciting that was. Summer Reading has always been one of my favorite times of the year. I fill out my book log as soon as I finish a book. It’s a race with myself to see how many books I can read, no matter how busy I am. The library has offered up to me new authors and new books to discover. It is still a special place to me and my family and has brought a lot of joy. Now I’m a mom. I bring my daughter to storytime when I can, we play and read in the children’s area and we participate together in the summer reading activities. She was old enough this year to pick out her own summer reading prizes and she was so happy. She loves books and the library. Before she was 2 years old she recognized the library building when we would drive by and I was so proud that she already knew the library as a special place. I look forward to her excitement the day she gets her very own library card. I hope that when she is my age that some of her earliest and fondest memories will be of going to the library with her mom. “

I hope the story of the McDavid family’s love of the library inspires you to come in and find your own library experience.  You might hear the voice of Sheree’s father saying “Don’t hurry, take your time.”

–Karen

Karen Helmle has been with BCPL since 1999, first as a Circulation Assistant, currently as a Public Service Associate. Nothing pleases her more than finding a great book and sharing it with customers and co-workers!

 

A Little Local Lore: A Troupe of Trapeze Artists Lived in Boone County

In 1899, Art L. Reynolds, native of Ohio, bought the William Kirtley farm in Boone County. He was a handsome, athletically built man, sporting a fashionable moustache. He brought with him his wife, Rose and his three children. Once everything was official, Art erected a large building for the family to practice their craft. The building would certainly have been quite large, large enough for Art to throw his wife and daughter through the air so his sons could catch them. This building was not a barn; it was a gymnasium for aerialists.

The deed was written to Art Reynolds, but in his professional life, he was known as Art DaComa of the “Flying DaComas,” circus trapeze artist, from France. At the time of purchase of their Boone County property, the DaComas were a family of five, though there may have been others in the troupe throughout the years. They were employed by the Ringling Brothers’ Circus, and even the youngest child, Eliza, was part of the act. As is sometimes the case with folks in entertainment, the DaComas (or the Reynolds family) were an unconventional bunch.

Imagine the impression they must have left on their farming neighbors, allowing the females in the family to dress in revealing costumes while they flew through the air above. The males of the family might have been forgiven the athleticism, but not the lack of practical skills. They were decidedly NOT doing farm work, and weeds grew in unused fields. In an agricultural community like Boone County, this family and their activities must have caused quite a bit of curiosity.

The family toured with Ringling Brothers for many years, and later with less well-known circuses and travelling Wild West shows of the day. Though the records were spotty, the industry magazines, like Billboard, carried many mentions of the family; their reputation in the circus community was well established. The family was not of French origin, but it was popular during their time in the circus to have an exotic pedigree. By official records, both Arthur and Rosa were American by birth, as were their parents.

Due to the nature of their work, and the travel it required, the Reynolds/DaComa family did not stay long in Boone County. They may have settled here briefly on a whim, or perhaps because it was a central location with available real estate. Whatever the reason, the Flying DaComas moved on, finally settling down in Florida amongst other circus performers.

–Hillary

Hillary Delaney is a Local History Associate at Boone County Public Library. She is a Boone County native, but has also lived in Richmond, VA, where she attended Virginia Commonweath University to study journalism. Hillary moved back to her hometown of Florence in 2007, with her husband and two children. Her lifelong love of all things historic brought her to her current position at BCPL.