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That is a picture of T.J. (Thomas Jefferson) Majors. T.J. Majors came to Peru before the Civil War, about the time of the first charter for the private college. He left for the Pikes Peak Gold Rush but returned to start a mercantile store. He left a second time to fight in the Civil War, returning after its conclusion. Back from the war, he was elected to the Nebraska Territorial Legislature. From his efforts and the efforts of others, the then private college in Peru was purchased by the brand new state of Nebraska. Thus Peru became the site of a first public higher education institution in Nebraska. At that time the college was just about the only college traveling north to Moscow, Russia, traveling South to Mexico City, and traveling West to Asia. The T.J. Majors building bears his name.
In the mid-1880s the telescope was housed in an observatory in the general area of the T.J. Majors building. Eventually the telescope was used by a local Peru boy, 14-year old Edison Pettit. In 1904, the main floor of the current library building was being finished as a Chapel and Convocation Center with a ceiling almost 40 feet higher than present day. As workmen were painting the ceiling with angels and cherubs, Edison got them to tie a string to the highest part of the ceiling. Near the floor level Edison tied a ball to the string. With this arrangement he studied the movement of the universe and began his career that would lead to becoming an internationally renowned astronomer. During 1930s, Edison was the expert for questions as to whether there was life on Mars.
E.P. Conkle’s students included Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Night of the Iguana), Pat Hingle (106 movies and counting, including two Batman films), Tommy Tune (winner of nine Tony awards, top 1997 album Slow Dancing), and Fess Parker (Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone).
In 1949, her first book, Young Nathan, was published. After that, she published an average of one book every two years and wrote over 200 short stories. Her book, The Swamp Fox, was used by Disney as the base for their TV show by the same title; the show ran from 1959-1961. She was the recipient of the Sower Award from the Nebraska Humanities Council, the Mari Sandoz Award from the Nebraska Library Association, and twice the Junior Literary Guild.
Marion Marsh Brown died February 25, 2001.
The Library houses some of her original manuscripts, research notes, and other materials related to her career at Peru State College in its closed archives.