Barrett Memorial Library History Center

I am reposting this blog because the time is drawing near for the Library Board to make their decision concerning the empty Barrett Memorial LIbrary building.  Next Tuesday, October 8th the Board meets at 5:30 pm at the Petersburg Library Branch.  If they are going to keep this building standing and not tear it down, please let the Genealogical Society have a chance to make it work.  At least they have an opportunity to provide some income with their services.  If we give it to the County Commissioners it will  become one more building for the taxpayers to maintain with no source of income.  Then our records will go to the basements of several organizations in Indianapolis and not be available to the people of Pike County and the researchers coming to Pike County looking for their ancestors.   Genealogy is becoming more and more popular.  It would be a shame for Pike County to go in reverse instead of moving forward with the top notch Genealogical and Historical Societies they now have.

These are our Board Members.  Please send the library an email or give them a call showing your support of the project or stop in and sign the petition.  Also contact the Commissioners,  the County Council  and the School Board who appoint these members.

Donna Poehlin   Appointed by County Commissioners.

Phillip Elkins, Board President     Appointed by School Board

Anisia Burkhart  Appointed by School Board

M. Frank Ropp   Appointed by County Commissioners

James Dickerson  Appointed by County Council

Sandra Ficklin  Appointed by School Board

Robin Whaley  Appointed by County Council.

I think  I have this right now.  I have read it different ways.

Original Blog Post with contact information:

If you have been reading my blogs you will know there are two subjects near and dear to my heart, genealogy and history.

Keeping the old Barrett Memorial Library as a History Center combining the Historical Society and the Genealogical Society under one roof should be near and dear to all of us who care about the genealogy and history of Pike County.  The artifacts currently held and future donated artifacts to the Pike County Museum would also be displayed and available for viewing at this History Center.  I would be one of the first to volunteer my time to work there.

I just found out several weeks ago that this project was being brought forward again.  So I attended the Library Board Meeting last Tuesday to show my support.  I did not know this had been an ongoing subject the last few meetings and that the decision was nearly made to not go forward with the project.  Luckily for us, it was tabled until next month’s meeting on October the 8th at 5:30 pm.  These are my observations.

The only objection I thought the board had was  the cost or potential costs for the project.  They all seem to agree the history of Pike County was important.  A feasibility study had been done and it seemed to me that it was entirely possible for the library to fund the project.  Our library is in good financial shape.  Our new director is a recent IU grad and is doing many good things there that are bringing in patrons for new programs. The library is only moving forward, and that includes financially.   Although this wasn’t in the budget and the board is responsible for managing our money as taxpayers, as a taxpayer I can see no reason for the project not to go forward.

If we lose the history of our county, we can never get it back.

The Historical Society records and all of the artifacts housed in the dilapidated building that is the Pike County Museum would be donated to the library.  It is rarely open.  The Historical Society would then be under the library’s authority.  There would be set hours weekly for visiting, including a Saturday for out of town visitors.  If they are not donated to our County library, they will be donated to Indianapolis where they will be put in storage and unavailable to you as an individual to view.  You can ask to see them there and will be told they are unavailable to you.  The same goes for the courthouse record books that will be sent there.  Those books go back to the very early 1800s and will be unavailable to us.

Remember a few years ago the school researched and published a book “The Coal Miner’s Cry”?  What a great research tool and interesting reading that book has been.  I could see many class projects in the future if the records are available here in Pike County for the use of our Pike County citizens.  The kids could learn the skills of digitalizing records.  Write stories.  Do research.  Take the history and records away and that will never happen for our future generations.

I could go on all day.  Here is a link to the feasiblity study.

As you can see, it is doable.  Let’s open it for three years and see if it is financially stable.  If not, then we can always send the records and artifacts to be stored in Indianapolis.  We can always give the building to the county or city at that time.  We can always tear it down at that time.  It’s sat empty for a few years now and cost us more to keep it closed than it would have to open it as a History Center.  What would it harm to keep it a few more years to preserve history?  As a taxpayer, I say give it a chance.

If you know any of the library board members, you can express your support for the history center before next weeks meeting where they decide it’s fate. Phil Elkins, Donna Poehlin, Robin Whaley, Jim Dickerson, Anisia Burkhart, Sandra Ficklin, Frank Ropp.  

To show your support you can, send an email to or call 812 -354-6257 and it will be passed on.

You can even offer to donate artifacts you have and pledge financial donations.

Take this poll and the results will be passed on.  The poll is set up so that no one votes twice.

As always, you can comment below on my blog post.  I am looking forward to the future.  I hope you are too.

The current Pike County Library Mission Statement:  “The Pike County Library exists to provide information and services to people of all ages of Pike County for the purposes of recreational reading, education, reference, and the collection & preservation of history.”


25 comments on “Barrett Memorial Library History Center

  1. allan gieselman says:

    It would be sad to see this information “History’ stuck away where it would be forgotten and never viewed again. I hope the board goes with at least trying to keep it at home before sending it to Indianapolis.

  2. Jim and Sherry Lamey says:

    We totally agree with your views. We feel sure that the Library Board will save our records by moving forward with this project

  3. Joan Woodhull says:

    Many years ago when we lived in Petersburg, I had the privilege to set up this Genealogy Library at Barret Memorial. It was great fun and helped so many people with their research. When we moved back to Johnson Co in 1986, I left it in good hands and it grew and became even better. It would be great to merge the Pike County artifacts and the genealogy. They belong together!

    It works, because I still volunteer in the Genealogy Library I set up at the Johnson Co Museum of History in Franklin IN in 1987. We have a grand museum and a busy genealogy library which also houses the original marriage records and probates (indexed) from the Johnson Co Courthouse!

    I hope Frank Ropp will vote for this project, because he is in my Ropp Family Genealogy, being related to my husband.

  4. Charley and Marie (Cook) Aldridge says:

    Let’s hope and pray the Library board will agree to keep our records here in the county where they belong. Then the info can be used or have access to by those in the county or elsewhere. Give it 3 years and see if it is financially stable. If not, then we can at least say we tried.

  5. Nancy Brenton Jones says:

    Though Pike County is no longer my home, I have enjoyed going back to Barret
    Library through the years. My Brenton ancestors were in Pike County in the early 1800’s and I have gained much knowledge from doing research there. If possible,
    please keep it local.

  6. Rose Marie says:

    Today I amended my blog. I had mentioned the Indiana Historical Society in the wrong context. I have found out that some things will go to one agency and some things will go to another. I don’t think it really matters which agency in Indy gets what. The purpose of my blog is to gain support to keep our history in Pike County.

  7. Marilou Bourland says:

    I am hoping the Library Board will decide to have the Old Library used as a History Center. It would be So NICE !!!! 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      I am also wondering about the COST….. Keeping up another building????? JUST WONDERING……

      • Rose Marie says:

        I heard it being mentioned to give it to the county for the county to keep up. It’s all tax dollars. If we are going to keep it up with our tax money, I would rather see it used as a History Center.

        The link to the feasibility study is above on the blog. I think you will find donations and all sorts of other income that cannot be factored in but will help. Other counties have successful history centers.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I no longer live in Pike County but always go to the Library Genealogy department to do research when I come back home. Two years ago I donated items to the library that should have gone to a Historical museum. The library staff was gracious and generous to keep the items knowing it was a little bit of history from our past. While on the same visit a staff member showed me a picture they had on file of my grandparents holding my father as an infant, I can not begin to express the thrill I had on seeing that photo. Don’t let items like that get lost in the deep bowels of a storage facility in Indianapolis. In the past I have donated items to an Ohio Historical society but would have preferred the items would have gone to a Pike County Historical Society as it would have had more of a personal connection with life in Pike County. It would be such a shame to loose the Historical Museum and all the wonderful history of Pike County. Together a Pike County Historical and Genealogy Society could work together beautifully and preserve the rich history of our beloved home.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To borrow a phrase: “What happened in Pike County stays in Pike County!” People come from far away to research family history at the court house, so it’s only logical that the old records should be stored in a local museum. Perhaps the library could apply for a grant or two to help start the project?

  10. Jerry McGillem says:

    Genealogy as a hobby is growing! The baby boomers are here! Over the years
    I have met many people from as far away as the west coast and from the east coast at the Barrett Memorial Library. The library has become a second home to me. At the present Petersburg has two buildings that need attention, The Historical Society Museum which is an eyesore at the least, and the old library
    which is not being used for anything and that no one can afford to buy. The old library still has to be maintained, insured, etc. Why not put it to good use. The board seems to be worried about money. Sadie has presented them with a feasability study which shows them the way to do this. Wake up board and smell the roses!

  11. Linda K Roberts says:

    Please keep our history & all the information available, safe & secure. Please don’t let it be dumped in an Indianapolis basement to have access lost & be subject to deterioration. I believe the previous location of the Petersburg Library would be a great place to house this history.

  12. Claire Dixon says:

    Genealogy is a business. It is becoming more and more lucrative for libraries and genealogical societies alike. There are a lot of us out there – with the genealogy bug! And we will spend the dollars when we are seeking out that information. If the true barrier is cost, there are cost recovery mechanisms that could be implemented. What about the total economic impact for the community and county? There are tourism dollars spent in communities that have these sorts of collections. Hard core genealogists like me plan vacations to visit, discover and explore these sorts of collections and the places that host them. What about online options? I cannot express how much online collections have broadened (and complicated) my family research!

    And, if the are considering the future of the library – this is the ticket! I am in Generation Y and an avid reader, I am a student and I work for a university. Of all people, I should be the greatest patron of libraries. Still, I cannot tell you the last time I stepped into a library to reserve a book. But, I work with youth at libraries all of the time – where libraries (and libraries with museums) serve as a symbol of education, discovery and learning in their local community. Providing for opportunities to congregate and socialize, opportunities to share about discoveries and learn about history.

    I live in the west where we don’t have the prevalence of small libraries and collections that feature genealogy as states east of the Mississippi seem to have. Sure, there are local collections in cities over 100,000 – which I am not discounting – but it is a unique and wonderful treasure for local libraries to have this sort of information.

    The Pike County collection has unique resources that have been valuable to my research. I have found information about a variety of neighboring counties and communities that I could not find in the community where the record should be located.

    Rose – Please let me know if there is anything that us out of state Pike County researchers could do to support your efforts.

  13. brenda K. Krants(curry) says:

    My great grandfather was Edwn Barrett. I was wondering if there was any kinship to his name in the library? I was born in Indiana as was my Mom & Dad & sister.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The items from the Historical Society will remain the property of the Historical Society, they will be housed in the Barrett building if this project moves forward. The Historical Society will remain under their own authority. There are records that are in the Pike County courthouse that will be stored in other locations, (not in Pike County), that the citizens of this county might never see again. The Historical Society will be working hand in hand with the Genealogy Society and the Pike County library on this project. There will be volunteers helping out in the genealogy library from all three organizations.

    • Rose says:

      Sadie Oldenkamp, the Library Director has the facts about the Historical Society, Genealogical Society and the Library’s part in this . Her number is 812-354-6257. Please give her a call.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have already spoken with her regarding this. The items from the Historical Society will remain in their possession, but will be on display for everyone in the Barrett building. The Historical Society will still be an organization just as the Genealogy Society is. All three organizations will be working together for the same purpose.

      • Rose says:

        Let’s hope the Board votes to keep everything in Pike County.

      • ALLANGIESELMAN says:

        Dear Rose, thank you for reminding me of the miners museum in Lynnville. We stopped by during our trip up for the Winslow school reunion. It is amazing what they have in there and it’s getting better by the month. I got to see a picture of my father and his emergency rescue team and a pay stub from 1948 (I was born in 47). He was paid $181.00 for 100 hours worked! Thanks again. Really enjoyed the stop…allan

      • Rose says:

        So wonderful that you found something of your family! Glad you enjoyed it.

  15. Jeannine Heuring Houchins says:

    Lets hope the Library Board votes to keep our Library as a Historical Geneology Building as Mrs Barrett willed it to the County

  16. Sonya Grams says:

    I hope to see the Barrett Memorial Library become the Genealogy and Historical Center for Pike County. I’ve been trying to find time to visit Pike County for research (from St. Joseph Co), and hope to find easily accessible collections. I’ll be researching ancestors beginning with Pride, Miley, and Fowler from the earliest recorded times. I enjoy reading everything I can here in St. Joseph County (and our many great libraries have large collections), but I would expect that Pike County would have more information on its own history.

  17. Steve gieselman says:

    I think what happened in pike county should stay in pike county! I grew up in Arthur. Something I can’t forget , and never will, is the whistle that was at Enos mine. It served two purposes, early in the morning noon and quitting time, also all kids knew what had happened when this whistle made a wavering sound during the day, all prayed that it wasn’t their father that the whistle was for. I’ve never heard or seen anything written about this! I’ve tried, but will never forget the feeling down deep the whistle made ,not only in my life, but all that heard that sound.

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