Ramseur Public Library – Then and Now (1936-2020)

by Sandy Jarrell

The Ramseur Book Club had a vision to see a public library in Ramseur. A committee was formed with the name Ramseur Public Library being chosen for the town’s library.  It was especially hard for the committee to collect funds during the depression.  Sacrifices were made as donations of books, material and labor were offered. The Library Association was formed, the constitution was written, and advisory board members were chosen.  A room in the Carter Mercantile was donated. Opening Day ceremonies were held on Nov.10, 1936. The library was manned by volunteers and opened with 340 books.  Mrs. Ida West and later Miss Edith Siler were employed as librarians.  The library was open a few hours a day. Miss Hattie Burgess was the first librarian paid by the Association and served as librarian from 1941-1956.   She and people like her set the tone and raised a standard for the library.  Other librarians to date have been Ruth Moffitt, Anna Leonard, Ruth Newell, Crandall Ellison, Stacey Curtis, Sandra Livingston and Sandy Jarrell.  In 1951, the library was moved to a building that was once Columbia Manufacturing’s main office. 

In July 1957, Ramseur passed a library ordinance, appointed the first Library Board of Trustees and appropriated funding to operate the library. As time passed space was needed.  A new building seemed impossible. Mr. M.E. Johnson provided a sum of $50,000 in his will to construct a library as a memorial to his wife. On January 7, 1962 the Blanche C. Johnson Memorial building was dedicated and opened its doors to the public on January 8, 1962. The building has seen upgrades and many advances as time has passed. With the continued funding by the town, the Library Board of Trustees and with the help of the Randolph County Public Library and that long ago vision the Ramseur Public Library exists today. It is a welcoming place where people of all ages can read, access the Internet, and enjoy programming offered by staff. It serves as beacon in the community and is a legacy to all the people who worked so diligently to bring the world to Ramseur through reading.

Ramseur Public Library started with a vision. It exists today because of that vision. COVID has not squelched that vision. Storytimes are virtual and books are being distributed curbside but yet library services continue. Today the library has 6,791 registered users with a collection that numbers 33,295.

The first Librarian, Hattie Burgess, with the President of the Library Board of Trustees – Mr. Allen H. Leonard
Wealth of Our Community

Jones Howell

By WT Cox,

Ramseur is located in the Heart Of North Carolina, but it dwells in the hearts of people who have called this town Home.  So many of my childhood friends who grew up in this town have since moved away,  some really far away.  I have wondered what happened to them.  Where did they go? What have they accomplished in their lives since leaving Ramseur? One friend I remember was a freckle faced red headed kid who lived in one of the Mill Houses across town. He grew up here in Ramseur just like me, but his experiences were a lot different than mine.  A few years ago I discovered he had written a book about his time here growing up. His name is Jones Lamar Howell.  

Jones is a writer, philosopher, poet and a man of faith. I asked him what he considered his accomplishments since moving away.  Here is part of his reply:

“After graduating in Eastern Randolph’s class of ’72, I moved to Asheboro, worked for a year, and then joined the Navy.  While stationed in Norfolk, Virginia I visited Rock Church. I stood in the balcony where my mockery gave way to doubts, which turned into a risky prayer.  I gave my life to Christ, was baptized, and then sailed the world for nearly four years on an aircraft carrier.  

After the Navy, I enrolled in Randolph Technical College.  I studied English under Dorothy Snyder.  She changed my life by gifting me with a love for poetry.  At that time, I heard a worship album made by a Bible college in Dallas, Texas – Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI).  I was so taken by it.  So, at Christmas in 1980 I arrived at CFNI and began two of the greatest years of my life.  I worked part-time in a fish market in the black district of the city and it was there that I started an outreach called Fishnet and chartered it through CFNI.  The children would gather from all over the neighborhood and many gave their lives to Christ.    I met my wife-to-be Cindi at CFNI.  I drafted her into the Fishnet ministry team.  Before we were married, I told her I was called to do missionary work and she said she was willing to do the same.  So, we were married in December of ’82.

Soon afterwards, at a mission’s conference at CFNI, I came upon a missionary who needed a teacher.  So we bought a VW van and moved to Manzanillo , Mexico.  There, I taught the missionary’s kids, and traveled some around Mexico doing child evangelism seminars. After a year we returned to Texas where I finished my degree at the University of Texas at Arlington. While teaching Spanish in Texas, we made a trip to Poland and then moved there in 1993.  Besides our service in the church, Cindi started a daily breakfast program for poor children of the city called Seven Loaves.  We also organized summer English language evangelism camps.  While in Poland, we took two trips into Ukraine, bringing in $600 worth of needed meds and about 100 packets of school supplies.  

In Poland, I started Support English School. I taught there four years and in my last year doubled as a teacher in Foreign Languages College. I had my poem The Song of Mephibosheth published in their college journal.  It is available on Amazon Kindle. 

We returned to the US and I taught at a school for immigrants for thirteen years.  While there, I chartered and led a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group.  We again did several language/evangelism camps.  During this time I wrote two books- Deep River:The Little League Years  and Quos Eqo.  In 2016 I took a job at a school in NC teaching boys sent from the Juvenile Justice System.  I also ran a wood shop club there.”

*Special Thanks to Jones Howell 

Jones and Cindi are now back in Texas and involved in Gateway Church.  He has described his time in Ramseur and an “oil painting in a water color world”.  Jones has literally  touched thousands of lives.  His story is a small part of what makes Ramseur a “Wealthy Community”.