Thursday, October 5, 2017

One Very Special Book

Isaac Werner's Journal
Certainly I could not title a blog as I have without including a picture of Isaac Beckley Werner's journal.  That journal is what started everything, including my weekly blog!

However, this week's blog is not about Isaac's journal.  

Some of the titles Isaac owned

Those of you who follow this blog regularly might have thought I was going to write again about having bought books, in the oldest editions I could find, that Isaac's own library contained.

However, this week's blog is not about the incredible number of books in Isaac's library on an amazing range of subjects.  

Some of the research material for Isaac

Some of you might have wondered if I was going to write about a specific book that had been particularly helpful during my research on Isaac.  The picture at right shows some of the books I have purchased for researching Isaac, his community, and the Populist Movement--and a few I already owned.  The file drawers beside the bookcase contain more research, and the 3-ring notebooks on the top of the bookcase contain research on specific subjects.  The handmade cardboard file on top of the 2-drawer file contains copies of newspaper pages from my research.  As you can see, the research overflows the space.  What you cannot see are the 3 tall stacks of research on the top of my desk waiting for me to organize them when I finish writing this blog.

However, this blog is not about my research.

One of Isaac's own books with his signature
 The very special book that inspired this blog is from Isaac Werner's own library!  Isaac's journal was given to the Lucille M. Hall Museum in St. John, KS at the time of Lucille's death.  They have been very generous to allow my use of the journal during the time I have researched and drafted my manuscript about Isaac, his community, and the Populist Movement of the late 1800s.  But eventually it will be returned to the museum.

However, I own the very special book that this blog is about!

When the Pratt Library de-accquisioned many of its older books during the recent renovation of the library, a very  thoughtful person spotted this book and knew how much it would mean to me.  She bought it and gave it to me as a gift.  

Isaac's signature inside the book
The signature of I. B. Werner is clearly visible inside the book, along with the date of its receipt and the place where he was living.  In 1870 Isaac was the proprietor of a drug store in Rossville, Illinois.  He was prosperous, and he ordered a great many books from dealers in cities such as Boston, Chicago, and New York.   He suspected he might be ridiculed for spending so much money on his library, so if someone happened to be in his store when the books he had ordered were delivered, and they inquired what the crates and boxes contained, he told them "supplies for the drug store."

This book also contains the bookplate of Dr. I.H. "Doc" Dix, Isaac's neighbor and close friend who moved to Saratoga to resume his practice of medicine, and later moved into Pratt where he was very active in civic organizations.  Marsha Brown, the kind person who gifted this book to me, also gave me two other books with Doc's bookplate, although they did not contain Isaac Werner's signature.

What I believe is very likely, however, is that Doc bought a great many of Isaac's books at the estate sale, as did William Fisher Brown and other neighbors.  The other two books with Doc's bookplates may very well also have been Isaac's.  

But, it is certain that my own personal copy of James Russell Lowell's book titled Among My Books, belonged to Isaac!  One of the book's chapters is titled "Shakespeare Once More," and that alone would have made Isaac wish to own the book.  He loved Shakespeare.  

1 comment:

Alice said...

Oh it makes me sad to think the journal would ever have to leave it's happy home with you. Please take pictures of you holding it, driving through his fields and looking through it! Those hours of your love affair would be visually documented.