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100 Years Ago

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Leisure Time

Like other small communities, the county was a quiet little settlement because there was not a great deal of contact with the rest of the world. The pioneers worked hard from dawn until dusk so there wasn’t a lot of free time to just relax.  They had to rely on themselves for the fun they had. There were no movie theaters, no TV or radio. Friends and neighbors would stop work occasionally to gather in a nearby pasture or barn to play music and dance. Men who could play a violin (a "fiddle"), a harmonica or even a homemade instrument were much in demand. A dance, wedding, or any social gathering was a high point in their lives. People looked forward to such events for weeks or even months.

Families entertained themselves by telling stories, playing cards, board games (checkers or chess), and reading the Bible. Recreational and sports activities such as skating, swimming and fishing were also extremely popular.

The first circulating library in America was started by Benjamin Franklin in 1732 with fifty members sharing books with one another. The first circulating library in this area was called the "coonskin library." This consisted of a wagon full of books that were made available for reading by the judges/lawyers as they traveled their judicial circuit. These men would unpack and display the books that could then be borrowed by the local folks. This was a rare treat for those who could read, as the only book most families had in their homes was the Bible. Even school books would be passed from family member to family member, handled carefully and repaired as often as needed to make them last.

The Sidney Lyceum and Library Association was formed in 1869 as a debating society and library. Dropping the debating society, the library opened with 250 books. In 1886, they moved into the Monumental Building with 800 books. In the library’s early days, only responsible inhabitants of Sidney, Ohio, who were over 14 years of age could borrow books.

'Pioneer' segment written in October, 1997 by Sherrie Casad-Lodge


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