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A Treasury of Local Authors

By Scott Bigelow

Among the selections in the growing library of the Robeson County History Museum is a signed copy of “Death Sentence,” the story of Robeson serial killer Velma Barfield.

With the purpose celebrating Robeson authors and publications about the county, the library is a new exhibit of the Museum. The Museum has a long tradition of publishing local writers, and it invites lovers of all things Robeson to come sit a spell in the library.

“Death Sentence” is signed by several of the key players, District Attorney Joe Freeman Britt, defense attorney Bob Jacobsen and pathologist Dr. Bob Andrews. The book was generously donated by Bob Fisher, retired director of the Robeson County Public Library.

Books by Jill McCorkle, P.M. Terrell, Joseph Mitchell, Kammeron Polverari and Delano Cummings are also represented.

From Fairmont, Mitchell’s work at The New Yorker made him one of America’s most celebrated and influential journalists. The Museum has two books by Mitchell, “McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon” and “Up in the Old Hotel.”

Terrell writes mystery novels, and McCorkle writes short stories and novels. Both are Robeson natives and both are prolific authors.

A Lumbee Indian, Cummings’, “Moon Dash Warrior,” is a memoir of his three tours during the Vietnam War. From Fairmont, Polverari’s, “From the Fires Scattered There,” is an historical fiction account of Robeson’s deadly train crash of 1943.

Works of history are represented by local authors Blake Tyner, William McKee Evans and Henry McKinnon. Tyner compiled two pictorial histories; Evans wrote the definitive story of Lumbee hero Henry Berry Lowrie; and McKinnon’s “Sketches” is a compilation of essays, some published by the History Museum’s Robeson Remembers series.

The library is a work in progress, and it needs more help. For instance, McCorkle’s first two books, “July 7th” and “The Cheerleader” are missing.

As if to answer the call, the Public Library recently donated a box of books on Robeson and North Carolina history. The library donated a copy of “The State of Robeson.” By R.C. Lawrence, it is an early history of the county published in the 1920s.

There is a history of local medicine and “Box,” the story of transportation entrepreneur Malcolm McLean and his invention of container cargo. From Maxton, McLean revolutionized worldwide transportation and amassed a fortune.

There are histories of UNC Pembroke, Southern National Bank and the Robeson County Public Library.

Civil War buffs and genealogists may wish to look over the Museum’s five editions of “North Carolina Troops 1861-1865.” Names of regiments, companies and soldiers with brief biographies are exhaustively compiled. The volumes were donated by Robeson Community College.

Sadly, there is only one cookbook in the collection, but it’s a treasure: “Treasured Moments at John’s,” by the late Ruth Ann Baker McClellan. For anybody who wishes to unpack their collection of local church and civic club cookbooks, the Museum promises a good home.

Two volumes of Robeson Remembers are also available to peruse or purchase via a donation. It is a collection of stories about people and places in our history by local authors.

Come spend some quality time in the Robeson County History Museum. Hours are 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 2-4 p.m. on Sundays.


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