Throwback Thursday: Funerals and Furniture Stores


Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Did you know that you used to be able to buy coffins at the local furniture store? (And by “used to,” I mean back in the 1800s.) It’s true.


If you look at the history of most funeral parlors, you’ll notice a trend: while more recent establishments may have always focused on funerals, many of the older ones have a background in making and selling furniture.

This really wasn’t that unusual for the time. During the 1800s, what we think of as “funeral parlors” were few and far between, so families often took care of most of the arrangements. Since it wasn’t common yet for a business to specialize solely in making coffins, that job usually fell to the local cabinet maker or furniture dealer.


Eventually, some of the furniture and cabinet makers went beyond just building coffins. Several studied embalming and became undertakers, offering services to the bereaved, all while still selling furniture. There were several of these businesses in DeKalb County, including Otis and Son in Butler, Ray C. Dilgard’s in Auburn, and the Spencerville Funeral Parlor & Furniture Store.

Want to see more local history? Click here to search our online photo database.

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August is Read a Romance Month at Eckhart Public Library!

Read a Romance Month Brochure

August is Read a Romance Month at Eckhart Public Library!

Just like the name implies, in August we are encouraging people to read a romance novel – any romance novel. You can read a contemporary romance, a historical romance, something paranormal, or even something with more spice than plot.

Everybody who tries reading a romance can put their name in a drawing to win a Read a Romance Month Prize Pack. All you have to do is fill out a slip that says you read a romance novel and turn it in at the Information Desk at the Main Library. Everybody who reads a romance will also get a Read A Romance Month button.

Not sure what to read? We will have a display of romance novels on the main level of the Main Library through the entire month! If none of these novels interest you, speak to a librarian about other options from our collection.

During the month, we will also have a weekly Romance Novel Cover Contest on Facebook. Visit the library’s Facebook page each week to see an old-school romance cover, and comment with your best clever caption. Each week’s winner will receive a prize (of the chocolate variety). Even though the covers have improved quite a bit from the kitschy covers from the 1980s and 1990s, it will still be a lot of fun!

We will also have three Read a Romance Month events:

  • Author Visit—Kyra Jacobs: Hear from Fort Wayne romance author Kyra Jacobs, author of the Hometown Heroes series. She will talk about writing, and sell and sign copies of her books. Books will cost $10. Tuesday, August 4, 6:30-8 p.m., Close Community Room.
  • Romance Cover Crafts: Make crafts from the kitschy covers of 1980s and 1990s romance novels. Crafts include coasters, jewelry boxes, and more. Wednesday, August 12, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Close Community Room.
  • Romance Book Chat: Talk about romance novels! Read a romance—any romance!—and discuss it, and the genre, with other readers. Refreshments will be served. Tuesday, August 25, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Close Community Room.

Keep an eye on Charlie Chat to read more, including discussions about the romance genre, book recommendations, and more!

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New Fiction

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This Week at Eckhart Public Library: July 27-August 1


It’s nearly time for children and teens to go back to school, but that doesn’t mean that the fun stops around Eckhart Public Library. When the weather is nice, it’s especially pleasant to spend time in Library Park. You can read, eat lunch, converse, surf the internet (the free Wi-Fi on the library campus covers the park), or just sit and enjoy the beauty.

Here’s what is happening around the library campus this week:

  • Teen Super Gardeners: Stop by the teen library this summer to help out with the Not-So-Secret Garden. Adopt a vegetable/fruit or a row of vegetables/fruit to take care of. Sign up to water the plants each week from the rain in the rain barrels. We will create delicious snacks out of the fruits and vegetables as they ripen all summer long. Tuesday, July 28, 1-2 p.m., Teen Library.
  • Creative Writing Group: All writers, no matter what genre, are encouraged to attend. Group members share their writing and participate in writing exercises. This group is for adults 18 and above. Tuesday, July 28, 6:30-8 p.m., JHG Room.
  • Super Summer Stories on the Lawn – Every Superhero Needs a Sidekick: Join us for this fun family storytime. Bring a blanket to sit on. Wednesday, July 29, 6-6:45 p.m., Library Park.
  • Teen Game Day: Bring a friend, and enjoy some video games or board games of your choice! Friday, July 31, 12:30-7:30 p.m., Teen Library.

And don’t forget to register for upcoming classes:

  • Register for Storytime Enrichment Classes: Registration is open for Storytime Enrichment Classes! Classes are for children from birth through 6 years old and begin in September. Eckhart Public Library is proud to offer Storytime Enrichment Classes for the children and families in our community at no cost to them. All families are welcome, and no library card is needed to attend these classes. The library offers weekly classes at several times during the week. Visitors are always welcome. Register by calling the Children’s Department at 925-2414 ext. 320.
  • Register for Safe Sitter: Eckhart Public Library, in partnership with DeKalb Health, will offer a Safe Sitter class for children age 11-14 on Saturday, September 12, from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Safe Sitter curriculum provides hands-on practice in lifesaving techniques designed to prepare babysitters to act in an emergency. Babysitters also receive instruction on how a child’s age affects how to care for them, how to prevent problem behavior and how to run their own babysitting business. They also learn basic first aid as well as how to perform infant and child choking rescue. The course costs $20 and registration is limited. To register, visit the Children’s Department or call 925-2414 ext. 320.
  • Register for Family History Boot Camp: Join the staff of the Willennar Genealogy Center to learn how to research your genealogy and family history in this four-week class. The four sessions will include instruction on research and technology. Register by calling the genealogy department at 925-2414 ext. 420 or emailing August 12, 19, and 26 and September 2, 6-8 p.m., Willennar Genealogy Center.
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Goodviews: Secret Window

secret window

Secret Window is a movie based on a short story by Stephen King featured in the book Four Past Midnight.

four past midnight

In Secret Window you follow the life of Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) after his divorce from Amy (Maria Bello). Mort is a writer who has had a little success in writing, but nothing else in life and even his writing isn’t going as well as it once had.

Mort is confronted one day by a mysterious stranger known as John Shooter (John Turturro) who claims that Mort stole his story. Mort refuses to believe this and Shooter offers him the manuscript which Mort is extremely reluctant to take, but eventually does. He caves and reads it later that night after trying to convince himself more than anyone that the man is lying and that Mort had written the story first. He tries to hunt down the magazine where the story was first published, but it’s with his ex-wife and when he finally gets a chance to go see her he finds that her house has been burned. No matter where he goes, Mort runs into terrible things happening. Death, destruction, and even insanity.

Will Mort find the answer he seeks? Who is John Shooter?

Heather: This movie is one of my favorites and not just because I’m a writer. I love psychological movies and this one is dark, twisty, and it’s fun to watch Johnny Depp play such a mentally unstable character.

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Throwback Thursday: Sechler’s Pickle Factory

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Today is the first day of St. Joe’s 19th annual Pickle Festival! To kick things off, we’re brushing up on the early history of Sechler’s Pickle Factory.Truck

DeKalb County native Ralph Sechler got his start with pickles working for the D. M. Sears Company, which opened a salting and pickle receiving company in St. Joe in 1915. In 1920, he was leasing three similar stations from Sears, and by 1923, he had official ownership of the stations, severed his ties with Sears, and started his own pickle-making business.

Aerial View

In 1930, Ralph Sechler was selling his pickles to restaurants, delivering them via an old Model T Ford. At the time, the only pickles the company made were Genuine Dill Pickles—all the sweet varieties were shipped in from Chicago. The pickle operation was moved into the Sechlers’ barn in 1931, which had been remodeled for that purpose. Unfortunately, a new building had to be constructed in 1937, after the barn was destroyed in a fire.


Over the years, Sechler’s has had several strong supporters from its community. In A History of Sechler Pickles, Ralph Sechler’s son Franklyn mentions several of these individuals. One story he tells is of Carl Carpenter, a local farmer who not only ran deliveries for Sechler’s, but who also did a lot of advertising for them through word of mouth. According to Franklyn, Carl once took a gift assortment of pickles with him to Washington D. C. for a conference—a few weeks later, Sechler’s received a signed letter from President Eisenhower thanking them for the pickles!

Want to learn more? Stop by the Willennar Genealogy Center to take a look at A History of Sechler Pickles, or click here to search our online photo database. If you want to see this historic factory in person, you can also join in on a free tour this Saturday, according to the DeKalb County Visitor’s Bureau.

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New Nonfiction

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