CHAPTER XXII LIBRARIES. The value of libraries was recognized by the convention that framed the first state constitution in 1S16. A clause was inserted in the constitution making it the duty of the general assembly, whenever a new county was laid off, to reserve ten per cent of the money received from the sale of lots in the county seat for the use of a public library. In 1818 a law for the incorporation of public libraries was enacted. Several county libraries were established under this law. In 1852 a law was passed providing for a tax of one-quarter of a mill on the dollar, and twenty-five cents on each poll, to be used in the purchase of township libraries. Little is known about the Sullivan county library as first established. A president (Samuel Judah) and seven trustees were elected in 1821. Part of the money derived from the sale of lots at Merom was probably applied in the purchase of books, though the residue of the library fund was lost by the treasurer. Whether the sum was recovered from the bondsmen is not known. An act of the county board in June, 1853, ordered "that there be appropriated from the county treasury the sum of $500 for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a public library in the county of Sullivan, out of the ten per cent reserved of the net proceeds of all lots within the town where the county seat is situated, and ten per cent on the donations made to procure the location of the county seat of said county." A library room was established in the court house, the county clerk being librarian. By December, 1854, six hundred dollars' worth of books had been bought. Under the law of 1852, by which the people were taxed for the support of township libraries, the state began the distribution of such libraries. Sullivan county, having a population less than fifteen thousand and more than ten thousand, was entitled to eight libraries. The first distribution, in December, 1854, was as follows: Haddon township, 108 books; Hamilton, 108 books; Gill, 103 books; Turman, 100 books; Fairbanks, 98 books; Jackson, 93 books; Curry, 87 books; Jefferson, 85 books; Cass, 82 books. The full library was 325 volumes, and in 1855 six of the townships received full libraries, and the other three were apportioned two-thirds libraries. In 1855 the Gill township library was kept in a saddler's shop at New Lebanon, Massom Ridgeway being librarian. The notable benefaction of the wealthy citizen of New Harmony which resulted in the establishment in many places of the McClure mechanics' institutes and libraries was also represented in Sullivan county. By the provisions of the donation, three hundred dollars was given to an association of mechanics who would raise one hundred dollars to buy books. Such a library and institute was organized in Sullivan about 1856, and exerted considerable influence on the thought and reading of the time, a course of lectures being maintained here one year under its auspices. New Lebanon also had a similar organization. As to what became of the old county library, the following explanation appeared in the Democrat (December 30, 1884): The books were left in boxes for a long time in the clerk's office, and when shelves were at last put up no care was taken of the books. The room assigned for these books was afterwards given to the clerk, and the books taken up stairs and put in a room then occupied by Calvin Taylor as a law office. During the remodeling of the court house, the library was dissipated, and only a stray volume here and there is left as a reminder of the old collection. At one time there existed what was known as the People's Library, a collection of about two hundred volumes. Fifty persons had each subscribed two dollars to form this collection, which was kept for a while in the W. C. T. U. rooms on the south side of the square, but finally went into the American Bible Society's depository. During the eighties a reading room was maintained by some of the women of Sullivan, who occasionally gave lunches and served ice cream and cake to raise money for the enterprise. Carnegie Library. The establishment of the Carnegie Library at Sullivan was mainly due to the Woman's Club of that town. The history of perhaps the majority of the libraries in the middle west present a similar record of the enterprise and labors of women in behalf of the intellectual advantages and welfare of their respective towns. In 1899 the Woman's Club appointed a committee to work for this object, the members of the committee being, Mrs. Anna Sheridan, chairman: Mrs. Mary Davis, Mrs. Amelia Crowder, Mrs. Helen Alahley, Mrs. Ida Thompson, Mrs. Mary Hays, Mrs. Rachel Harris. By entertainments and lectures a library fund of one hundred was accumulated, but the movement progressed slowly, and letters to Mr. Carnegie met with no response. In 1901 the legislature passed the new library law, requiring a town board to lay a library tax provided a fund equal to a tax of two-tenths of a mill had been raised by popular subscription. The conditions were met in Sullivan, the fund raised and a site offered for the library, and the facts were stated in a letter to Mr. Carnegie. In answer came a promise of $10,000 for the library building. In March, 1904, the contract for the library building was let to J. F. Nicholas for $8,276, and on June 11th following the cornerstone was laid, with Masonic ceremonies. The building was dedicated January 19, 1906. The pupils of the schools visited the building by grades in the afternoon, and many of the school children and other visitors brought books to contribute to the library collection. In the evening the presentation address was made by John T. Hays, and the building was accepted on behalf of the town by William T. Douthitt. Other speakers were Prof. Robert J. Aley of the Indiana University, Miss Merica Hoagland of the Indiana Library Commission, and Mrs. W. R. Nesbit and Mrs. John Chaney. Some interesting details concerning the establishment of the library are contained in the following chronological notes, taken from the newspapers: April 10, 1902-The clubs of town begin to try to raise money for a public library. The women are trying to raise $760 to fill the requirements of law-that being equal to a tax of two-tenths mill 011 each dollar of taxable property. Fifteen dollars is the highest sum to be asked from any one person. April 17, 1902-In response to a committee from the various clubs of the town, headed by Mrs. O. B. Harris, the town board has levied a tax of six-tenths mill for library purposes, which gives an income of $1,100 a year. The amount sought by popular subscription had been obtained. July 17, 1902-The library board is made up of the following persons: Mrs. P. H. Blue, John T. Hays and Mrs. Florence Higbee, appointed by Judge O. B. Harris; George R. Dutton and Dr. Anna E. Sheridan, appointed by the town board; and Mrs. O. B. Harris and John S. Bays, appointed by the school board. July 24-Mrs. Harris was elected president. Mrs. Higbee secretary, and Mr. Dutton treasurer. Nov. 13, 1902-A reading room over McClanahan's store has been opened to the public. All the late magazines are supplied, and in a back room is a table with games. January, 1903-Letter dated Jan. 13 from Mr. Carnegie promising $10,000, the town board having promised not less than one thousand dollars a year. March 28, 1903-Library board accepts offer made by Dr. L. A. Stewart and others of a lot for the library at the corner of Thompson and Eaton streets, west end of Jackson. Aug. 27, 1903-Strikes at stone quarries and the prospect of a direct line to the quarries when the Southern Indiana Railroad reaches Sullivan make it advisable to wait until 1904 to build. Nov. 12, 1903-Library board accepts plans of P. O. Moratz, an architect of Bloomington, Illinois. June 11, 1904-Laying of cornerstone. Procession headed by library board and Woman's Club, to which bodies is due a large share of the credit for the establishment of the library. George E. Grimes, master of Masonic ceremonies, and other participants in the proceedings were Rev. W. H. Grim, Grand Master Frank E. Gavin, Mrs. O. B. Harris and John C. Chaney. Sept. 8. 1904-Miss Julia Mason appointed librarian. March 8, 1906-Carnegie donates another thousand dollars to be used for putting in a furnace and furnishing the basement of the building. June 4, 1906-Unveiling at public library of bust of Daniel W. Voorhees, replica of the one in the Library of Congress. Miss Naomi Harris in charge of the ceremony, and an address by Claude G. Bowers, of Terre Haute. The Academy of Science of Sullivan county was an institution which was organized for the promotion of scientific studies and investigation. The meeting for organization was held July 17, 1882, the first officers elected being: Sewell Coulson, president; J. R. Hinkle, vice president; John C. Chaney, secretary: John W. Spencer, corresponding secretary; John T. Gunn, treasurer; George W. Buff, Uriah Coulson and O. J. Craig, trustees.




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