by James Hill
If you’ve ever visited the Northside Branch, you’ve probably seen signs for The Myers Room. Recently, a staff member asked me who Jean E. Myers was. I admitted that I didn’t know but would see what I could find out.
I started by asking current and past staff members who worked for the library around the time of the Northside construction, 1996-1997. Surprisingly, no one had a lot of information. From meeting minutes, we know that when Mrs. Myers died in 1997, she left $78,000 to the library. As recognition of the gift, the Library Board voted to name the new meeting room in her honor. Her connections to the library, though, were unknown. What I thought would be simple question turned into a genealogy reference adventure.
I did a quick search of the library’s paper obituary file. According to the newspaper announcement, Mrs. Myers had “no immediate survivors.” That explains the large gift to the library. From her obituary, I learned her husband’s name was Richard, their marriage anniversary, her birthday, and some family information. I also found her mother’s obituary, Alice Shewalter Ewing (also identified as Showalter).
Next, I searched the Ancestry Library Edition database (free with your library card!) and discovered more background information. For example, her full birth name was Myrl Eugenia Ewing. At some point, she became simply Jean. Even on her tombstone in Greenlawn Cemetery on Eastern Ave., she’s identified as Jean Ewing Myers.
After more database clicking, I found that Jean Ewing Myers’ husband, Richard, was a veteran who was injured in WWII. According to the 1960 census and Chillicothe phone directory, he was a bookkeeper at the Majestic Theater. Jean worked in the home.
Both, Alice Ewing’s obituary and the phone book, said they lived at Myers Lake. I wasn’t familiar with where that was and no one else that I asked could identify it either. It was only after consulting with a long-time local resident that we learned Myers Lake is a now privately-owned body of water between the highway and the Yoctangee Park Annex.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find a picture of Mrs. Meyers and no definitive connection to the library beyond a recollection by a former librarian that she was actively involved in efforts to provide services to the blind. The library’s Outreach Department works in that area as well; maybe that was the common thread.
We continue to be grateful for the gift and still honor her name. If you have any other details, please let us know in the comments below.