Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Librarianship is my second career. Before I decided to return to school and earn my MLS, I worked as a newspaper reporter. My first post-college job was at Foster’s Daily Democrat – a small Granite State daily. My beat had me reporting on several small communities, including Farmington.
Farmington’s claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Henry Wilson, who served as Ulysses S. Grant’s vice president. Henry was actually born Jeremiah Jones Colbath. His family struggled to subsist. He worked on a farm for a time and when he was able he legally changed his name, got out of Farmington and moved to Massachusetts where his political career began.
Although Henry Wilson didn’t seem to be particularly attached to Farmington, Farmington was attached to Henry. While at Foster's, when the snow was deep on the ground, I’d trudge through the drifts at Farmington Country Club to report on the snow-shoe races and snow-man making competitions that were part of the Henry Wilson Winter Carnival. During my tenure at Foster’s, a journalist-colleague started an organization dubbed WOOF – Wilson Out of Obscurity Forthwith. Guess that didn’t work out the way its founder had hoped.
Still, there’s plenty of primary source material about Henry to be found out there. The Library of Congress’s American Memory Project contains a wealth of material from his political career, including letters written to President Lincoln during Wilson’s tenure in the Senate and documentation from his term as vice president. The American Presidency Project contains some additional material about Wilson, including President Grant’s Nov. 22, 1875 announcement that Wilson had died. The Vice President passed away in the Capitol Building after suffering a stroke. The picture of Wilson shown at left comes from http://www.newhampshire.com/.