Column: Lewis Center native authors book


“Jersey Gold: The Newark Overland Company’s Trek to California, 1849” was written by Margaret Casterline Bowen and Gwendolyn Joslin Hiles and published this year.

The story follows John S. Darcy — prominent physician, general, and president of the New Jersey Railroad — and his company of some thirty stalwarts and adventurers as they travel to California.

The book is heavily rooted in research and uses many of the trekkers’ own words and observations, as well as illustrations of maps, photographs and drawings of and by the company’s own men.

Of course the book sounds wonderful and rich in stories of fortune, scandal and heartbreak. When you check it out from the library, you’ll notice something even more amazing about the story — author Gwen Hiles is a Lewis Center native and a patron of the Delaware County District Library’s Orange Branch.

Orange Branch Assistant Manager Sara Kennedy worked with Ms. Hiles throughout the writing process, helping with research, finding materials, and “lots and lots of inter-library loans,” as Sara described. Ms. Hiles’ career also included a career in educational and children’s publishing, as well as owning her own commercial printing company.

I’m continually amazed with the writing talent here in Delaware County. From the many published academics at Ohio Wesleyan University to Ms. Hiles and even the recent publishing of our very own Orange Branch Writer’s Group Anthology, we are a community full of many gifts.

Inspired by Ms. Hiles research, here are some new and featured non-fiction titles available now on the DCDL shelves.

• The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan. An award-winning journalist traces the scientific, historical and ecological factors that are endangering the Great Lakes, discussing the late-19th century’s effort to connect the lakes to the Atlantic, which unexpectedly introduced invasive species from the natural world.

• The Sensational Past: How the Enlightenment Changed the Way We Use Our Senses by Carolyn Purnell. A lively exploration of the eccentric ways that human senses were perceived throughout the Enlightenment reveals how the way we think about the senses has dramatically changed throughout history and how today’s sensory experiences are representative of the beliefs of earlier times.

• Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia by Lisa Dickey. A collection of travel stories describes the fascinating people the author met during three trips across Russia over 20 years and explores the dramatic changes that took place in everything from technology to social norms.

• Grace Notes: My Recollections by Katey Sagal. Personal essays by the actress best known from “Married with Children” and “Sons of Anarchy” trace the highs and lows of her life, from the deaths of her parents and her years in the L.A. rock scene to her early diagnosis with cancer and the stillbirth of her first daughter.

Nicole Fowles

Glad You Asked

If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at or directly to Nicole at [email protected]. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!

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