Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!
Long before she became known as the “Bird Woman of Indiana,” she was simply known as Jane Brooks, born on April 2, 1831, to Lonson and Mary Smith Brooks. Even at a young age, she was an avid bird-watcher, her favorites being the Meadow Lark in the tree behind her house, and the Savannah Sparrow that scratched the ground outside her window.
Jane grew up mostly in Erie County, Ohio, where she met her future husband, Horatio Hine. Horatio first married Jane’s sister, Cynthia, in 1847, but then Cynthia died eight years later, leaving behind both him and their three children. Jane and Horatio eventually began courting, and in 1857 they were married. They were believed to have had a happy marriage and had three children of their own (Nellie Cynthia, Brooks, and Lemon), but it was said that Jane loved all six children as if they were her own.
The family moved to DeKalb County sometime around the start of the Civil War, to a farm that Jane dubbed “Meadowlark.” Over the years, she kept diaries and notebooks full of observations from her birdwatching. This spilled over into her writing, and Jane became nationally-known for her articles, essays, and even poetry on the wildlife she observed. She was a member of the American Ornithologists Union, and in 1914, President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson even invited her to their summer home for a bird-themed costume party, but Jane was too ill to attend. She died two years later at the age of 85
Want to learn more? Read about Jane Brooks Hine in Twelve Remarkable Women of DeKalb County by Sharon Zonker or in Terri Gorney’s book, Jane Brooks Hine: An Indiana Bird Woman, both of which are available at the Genealogy Center.