John James Audubon died in 1851. In the late 1800s, George Bird Grinnell and others founded the Audubon Society to protect birds and their habitats. Audubon’s wife Lucy had tutored Grinnell. Grinnell chose Audubon’s name to inspire the organization.
In 1898 a group in Henderson, Kentucky, founded the Henderson Audubon Society. For thirty years, they worked without success to erect a memorial to the famous artist.
When we entered the museum in late October, we saw this plaque inside. It honors Susan Starling Towles.
Susan Starling Towles was the first librarian in Henderson. In 1910, one hundred years after Audubon moved to Henderson, she became president of the Henderson Audubon Society. Her grandfather had been Audubon’s friend. She made it her mission to keep Audubon’s memory alive. She collected artifacts, including many donated by Audubon’s descendants. Audubon had once invested in a grist mill in Henderson. Towles wanted to remodel the grist mill to memorialize Audubon, but a fire destroyed it in 1913. Henderson citizens decided to build a park on the site of the mill. By 1934 they had enough money and donated land to create a 275-acre park.
On the porch of the museum, Ray and I saw this plaque.
The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration were components of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs during the Great Depression. Both of these groups helped to create John James Audubon State Park. Men from West Virginia made up Civilian Conservation Corps #1540. They began work in the park in October of 1934. They built cabins, picnic areas, picnic shelters, trails, a lake, and the museum. I was amazed at the quality of their work.
Today the park has more than 700 acres. Half of the park is a nature preserve. Naturalists have observed 61 species of trees, 200-plus wildflower species, and at least 169 bird species there.
I am grateful for the vision, hard work, and sacrifice of Susan Starling Towles and many others. Their foresight preserved history and protected what God has created for us to enjoy. Thank you for your own vision, hard work, and sacrifice.
Render to all what is due them:
tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom;
fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.