Professor#039;s work becomes history lesson

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2005

Thanks to a part of Lawrence County's past, a part of its future is a bit closer to reality.

A book written by Ohio University Southern history professor C. Robert Leith titled, &#8220Follow the Furnaces” is now on sale. Proceeds from its sale will go toward the continuing restoration of the Old Historic Jail at Burlington.

The 52-page book chronicles the early days of Lawrence County's history, the part that iron furnaces played in its development and the part the county played in the Underground Railroad.

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The book is the brainchild of local historian and historic jail committee member Virginia Bryant.

&#8220I took a class from Bob this summer and toward the end, each day he would give us a sheet of notes to study,” Bryant said. &#8220Then he gave us a packet of notes to study and when I took them home to read, I thought ‘boy this sounds like a good book.' The next time I went to class I asked him if he would consider letting us use this as a fund-raiser for the jail.”

Leith not only agreed, but he and fellow professor Robert Culp, who supplied some of the information for the class material, donated the work to the jail fund.

&#8220I don't think you realize the impact this book will have,” fellow committee member Dave Milem told Leith. &#8220Not only the funds that will be generated but the interest generated in the project. We're lucky to have people like you willing to help us. It was help I had not anticipated.”

The book was made possible through a whole series of donations and general goodwill: The Lawrence County General Hospital Medical Staff donated funds to have the book published. Some of the photographs used in the book were of Bryant's own collection; others were borrowed from the Lawrence County Historical Society. Local businesses have agreed to sell the book.

Leith said he was glad to help a worthy cause and glad to add his labors to that of Milem, Bryant and other committee members.

&#8220I have such respect for these people, their alertness to history and their willingness to preserve history, there's nothing I wouldn't do if they asked me,” Leith said.

&#8220If others would get involved in the community, if we had everyone in Lawrence County acting like these two, Lawrence County would be a paradise.”

The book is available at all branches of the Briggs-Lawrence Library, as well as Unger Shoes, Lou's Style Shop and Printing Express. The price is $15.