Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
Our Town Mount Vernon-Lisbon: Emerson Journals
By Travis Bockenstedt, Our Town Producer
MOUNT VERNON - Beryl O'Connor calls herself a delegator. She's leads a team of volunteers at the Lisbon History Center.
"Our mission is to collect memorabilia and that's been since 1990 and we've done a fantastic job of that. The problem is we didn't know what to do with the memorabilia. We've got boxes and boxes and boxes of memorabilia," said O'Connor
But that doesn't stop them from collecting more. In fact, they encourage people to bring in old documents and antiques.
"We are really proud of that genealogy area out there, real proud of it. They have done a lot of work out there. But our circle is only this big and our goal is to get this big," said O'Connor.
Hundreds of binders line the history center's shelves. They do this so people can trace their family history.
"These binders here show different information about everything you wanted to know about Lisbon. She wrote it down. I don't know how she had time to do it. She wrote it on any kind of paper she could find," said O'Connor.
Known as the Emerson Journals, Helen Emerson documented everything that happened in the small town. Her journals go back as far as 1850.
"She would send a letter to somebody with a bunch of questions and she would say what do you remember about the first settlers or what do you remember about the mills?" said O'Connor.
Emerson didn't use a traditional journal to document her interviews.
She wrote them on anything she could find; scraps of paper, napkins, and even magazine pages complete the collection.
"She talks about here Clyde Hoover who was the town drysman. And he had to haul chickens from the railroad station," said O'Connor.
Stored in boxes, and held together by paper clips, the Emerson Journals provide a rare look into the past. Volunteers and elders in the community are working to organize the collection. The hope is to connect some of her stories with different homes and businesses in the community.