Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Auctioneer knew his bidders

Aucioneer Reuben Jacobs was our neighbor and friend who said, "You’d better take a look at the old books," remembering what I bid on previously. Boys were carrying load after load of big books - and dumping them in piles near a large tree. Jacobs saw me as he moved over to clean up everything. "Sue, you’d give 50 cents for that whole pile of books?" he yelled. I nodded. "Sold!" he said.

I quickly stacked aside the ones that would contain entries on farming, swimming, diving, milling, pottery and several others. Then I said to all nearby, "Take as many of these books as you want."

Years later I saw another set of old books, a "Cyclopaedia" at the auction of a friend, Mrs. McHarg, who taught English at Hickman High School and Christian College. When I saw the Cyclopaedia, I recalled she was the daughter of Brother Wilkes, our longtime song leader at Olivet Christian Church at Harg, and that the crossroads store and Harg itself were named for her husband’s Irish family. Her parents had owned a farm north of the Harg crossroads. The auctioneer that day flipped open the front hard cover of the set of big, old books. "Edmund Wilkes" was written in pencil. I wanted to own the set of eight old books, worn and aged naturally.

The 1886 "Johnson’s Universal Cyclopaedia, a scientific and popular treasury of useful knowledge, illustrated with maps, plans and engravings," had exteriors that were in poor condition, but nothing was missing from the interiors. I bought them.

In a split second the auctioneer flipped the front cover, and the first page revealed, in pencil, the words "Edmund Wilkes." What a surprise!

Wilkes, of Kansas City, was the grandson of one of Christian College’s earliest presidents, Lansford B. Wilkes; he was an important donor to get the college going. There was a great new feeling that women could be educated and should be educated; Edmund Wilkes’ 1850 ancestors were prominent supporters and donors to start Christian College - now Columbia College - students, in 1851. A descendant of the family who owned the eight books is Wilkes McHarg, a graduate of Hickman High School, a World War II pilot and retired church minister. Wilkes’ mother, Cynthia Wilkes McHarg, was Olivet Church’s longtime volunteer Sunday school teacher. Her father, Brother Wilkes, was a song leader and brilliant Sunday school teacher. Edmund Wilkes of Kansas City was, I believe, the grandfather of Cynthia Wilkes McHarg.

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