Northwestern Indiana from 1800 to 1900A regional history written by Timothy H. Ball . . . .
Ball, Timothy H. 1900. Northwestern Indiana from 1800 to 1900 or A View of Our Region Through the Nineteenth Century. Chicago, Illinois: Donohue and Henneberry. 570 p.
NORTHWESTERN INDIANA FROM 1800 TO 1900
Those to be mentioned in this chapter are of four
varieties: township libraries, school libraries, circulating libraries, and town
or public libraries.
1. A library coming under no one of these varieties will first be noticed.
In the summer of 1838 there was formed at Valparaiso The Porter County Library Association. A library began to be collected which in 1850 contained about 500 books.
It was neither a public nor a circulating library, for the first by-law adopted was that only members should read the books. In 1855 the books were distributed to the different townships of the county, and, so far as appears, the association was dissolved.
2. The McClure libraries, though coming into no one of the four classes named, also need some mention. From a quite full notice of these given by Mr. Niles in the account of the La Porte Public Library, are taken the following statements: William McClure was "the first president of the Philadelphia Academy of Science, a man of large means, had travelled widely, was intimate with many scientific men, and had an extensive knowledge of science. He became associated with Robert Owen" at New Harmony, a village "on the Wabash River in Posey
County." As Mr. Niles refers for his authority to a "pamphlet prepared by J. P. Dunn of Indianapolis, formerly State Librarian," and as Mr. Dunn says, "The name of William McClure is hardly known in Indiana, outside of Posey County;" and as he also says that "not only have these libraries almost vanished, but even the memory of them is well nigh gone;" and as he adds that "in many years of inquiry" no account of the McClure libraries had been found as given to the public until his pamphlet was issued; it seems appropriate that somewhere in Indiana history some of these facts should be preserved, and therefore, considerable space is here given to a somewhat lengthy extract from a historical sketch "prepared by William Niles."
Robert Owen came to this country in 1823, and he and McClure gathered around them at New Harmony many men eminent in science, including Joseph Neef, the disciple of Pestalozzi and Schoolcraft, the student of Indian life. Owen's experiment ended in failure, and in 1827 Owen returned to England. Two of his sons, however, remained here and were well known and influential citizens of this State.
McClure, like many others at New Harmony, had a hobby, which in his case, was the amelioration of the condition of the working classes, especially through the agency of working men's institutes. The "New Harmony Working Men's Institute" was established under his influence in 1838. He donated to it an order on a London bookseller for 200 pounds. Its library was afterwards joined to another which McClure had aided, and later the township library was added to this combined library, which still exists and has 7,650 volumes with an annual circulation of 24,000 -- which is considered very creditable for a village of 1,000 in the benighted pocket. McClure had a curiously assorted lot of possessions, including some thirty
buildings at New Harmony, and about 10,000 acres of land in the vicinity; also castles in Spain -- or, what is better, over a million reals in Spanish securities; a house in Alacante on the Mediterranean coast of Spain; the convent of St. Gines and accompanying estate of 10,000 acres in Valencia; the estate of Carman de Coix in the valley of Murada. He also held mortgages on property in Virginia, England, France and Spain, and large and curious collections of books, minerals, copper plates of engravings, etc., etc. The last codicil of his will was executed in the City of Mexico in 1840. His will provided that his executors should "donate the sum of $500 out of his other property in the United States of America to any club or society of laborers who may establish, in any part of the United States, a reading and lecture room with a library of at least 100 volumes." The "laborers" were defined in the will as "the working classes who labor with their hands." Under this will 144 associations received donations in 89 of the 92 counties of this State. As a rule they were not long-lived. They were almost always formed for the purpose of getting the donation. In each case the recipients were required to show that they were "laborers" and that they had complied with the provision for collecting a library of 100 volumes, but these preliminary libraries were usually composed of old books of all sorts, hastily gathered together and of little practical value. The Civil War soon took away many of the members -- this being one of several causes that were fatal to the entire plan. In most cases the books were finally divided and became the individual property of the members. Only two or three of these libraries are now in existence.
It seems from Mr. Niles' statement that 144 times $500, or $72,000 went from Mr. McClure's large estate into 89 of our Indiana counties, and surely the northwestern corner of the State is entitled to preserve the name and memory of one who gave so much
for libraries, if in the end it all amounted to so little. That was not the fault of the generous donor.
The Crown Point McClure Library Association commenced putting out books, according to the librarian's record, in August, 1857, and the last record of books taken out is dated March 2, 1885. To readers in Crown Point and the early settlers in the county, the names of those taking out some of the first books would be of interest, such as D. K. Pettibone, D. Crumbacker, E. Griffin, R. F. Patrick, J. P. Smith. R. B. Young, John Wheeler, I. O. Dibble, Z. F. Summers, E. M. Cramer, J. G. Hoffman, W. G. McGlashen, H. Pettibone, A. D. Foster, A. Allman, Johnson Wheeler, Wm A. W. Holton. D. Turner, S. D. Clark, J. H. Luther, F. S. Bedell, and many other once well known names of those who are seen here no more; but a longer list of these names must be omitted.
There are many valuable books in this library; nearly all were books of solid worth, and it is of interest to those who knew the men to notice the different books which each man selected. The last book taken out, March 2, 1885, was taken by Hon. Bartlett Woods, and no one acquainted with him would be surprised to see that the 'book was Democracy in America, by M. De Tocqueville.
The last record in regard to this library, as found in the Librarian's book, is dated June 1, 1885, and it states that W. A. Clark and G. L. Vorhees on that day removed the McClure Library, then "comprising 148 volumes," to the library of the Public School of Crown Point. The books were to be used as reference books by the school and the library was to be "still open to the members as before." This stipu-
lation has been found to be utterly impracticable. The library is practically shut out or shut in from the use of the members of the association. They cannot well visit it in school hours, and it is locked up after school hours.
The following closes that memorandum: "I do hereby vouch for the receipt and proper care and use of the same and shall hold it in charge under the orders of the McClure Library Association."
(Signed.) "GEO L. VORHEES,
"Superintendent of Schools."
One of the boys of the high school put the stamp of the school library on the books and seems to have undertaken to remove the McClure stamp. In the latter, which was certainly not honorable, he did not succeed.
The last president of the McClure Association yet resides in Crown Point. If the time should ever come for a town library in Crown Point the 148 McClure books should go to that library.
3. Of the township libraries provided by the State for the benefit of the children of the public schools and for the entire families connected with the schools, but little mention need be made. Some very appropriate and useful books were put into these libraries, and for a few years they served an excellent purpose, furnishing some good reading matter which many of the families could not then have well secured without some such provision by the State. But finally, as changes came, the township library system was given up.
Then, as the cause of education was generally advancing in the State, and in some parts rapidly, the more enterprising individual schools began to pro-
vide libraries for themselves. In different ways funds were raised to procure books, and some of the township trustees, under a wise provision of the law concerning reference books, would furnish some books for these separate school libraries. In the more advanced counties and townships, nearly every school at this date of 1900 has a library for general reading, containing also some reference books. The selection of these books may not always be most wisely made, some of the libraries containing quite an amount of what some would call light fiction; but it seems to be quite a general principle that those who secure funds have the right to say how the money raised shall be appropriated. The State does not furnish the money to any great extent, according to the proper working of our school laws, and the State authorities have, therefore, no right to select the libraries. Quite generally the teachers select. A good library in every school district, when properly used, is one great help for self-improvement. While the school library system is not yet all that it is capable of becoming, it is quite an advance on the opportunities for reading that many of the children had in the pioneer days; when only a few had access to any large libraries.
4. Circulating libraries, like all other libraries, depend, for the good they do, upon the character of the books. But their existence and use mark a stage of advancement. There are not many of these in our towns and cities.
For some years, after November 4, 1882, quite a large library of this variety was kept in Crown Point by James H. Ball. This furnished reading matter for many families, but it was finally consumed
by fire with the building in which it was kept, and efforts since made for such a library have been unsuccessful. The book of record of the Crown Point Circulating Library has just come to hand and contains fifty-nine pages of the names of those reading the books, closing in May, 1886.
5. Town libraries sometimes come early and sometimes later in the growth of a town and city.
From a quite lengthy sketch of the La Porte Library and Natural History Association, prepared by William Niles, Esq., of La Porte, son of Judge J. B. Niles, when the library was "formally transferred to the City of La Porte, April 25, 1897, to become a free public library," the following statements and extracts are taken:
Mr. Niles writes: "In the midst of the absorbing struggle for the Union, a generation ago, Rev. C. Noyes, of the Presbyterian church, of La Porte, sought to establish a library and reading room here." He soon secured for this abject five hundred dollars, and an organization was perfected. It was soon proposed to unite with the McClure Working Men's Institute, then possessing a library of about seven hundred, "in the main, well selected books." This union was effected before May 11, 1863. That Institute had been organized with about thirty members, workmen in the railroad shops, August 16, 1865.
After various details in regard to the united library association, Mr. Niles states that in 1868 "the natural history collection was begun" by Dr. Higday and others. After many changes in regard to management and financial matters, in 1882, a farm, which by the will of Aurora Case, had come into the possession of the association, was sold for fifty-five
hundred dollars. The association now owned a building and had fifty-three hundred dollars laid aside for future use. Funds also came from the estate of Mrs. Nancy A. Treat amounting to one thousand dollars, and a dwelling house not then to be converted into money, but valued at four thousand dollars, was also go to the library association. It was proposed in June, 1896, to remodel and enlarge the library building and turn the property over to the city. The historical sketch says: "The proposed changes have now been completed and improvements made at a cost of about $5,500. The result is an attractive and commodious building. The present value of the property now transferred to the city may be estimated at $20,000. With this beginning of a fine public library its permanence and great usefulness can not be doubted."
Before closing Mr. Niles says:
For nearly twenty-five years no lecture courses have been given, but before that time many famous lecturers appeared before the association audiences, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, Charles Sumner, George Sumner, Wendell Phillips, Bayard Taylor, Benjamin F. Taylor, Horace Greely (who was also here in 1853, making the trip from LaFayette to Otis on a hand-car because of an accident on the New Albany road), Petroleum V. Nasby, (his first lecture) W. H. Milburn, (the blind preacher, chaplain of the U. S. Senate) J. G. Holland, John G. Saxe, Geo. Thompson, M. P., (English Abolitionist) John B. Gough, James B. Belford (the red-headed-rooster-of-the-Rockies) Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Grace Greenwood, Anna E. Dickinson, Mrs.
Mendenhall, Clara Barton, (her first lecture) Olive Logan and Mrs. Scott Siddons.
To these are added as noted persons who have spoken in La Porte, but not in connection with the association: Daniel Webster, in 1837; Henry Ward Beecher, in 1844; General Neal Dow, in 1879, and two Presidents of the United States and four Vice-Presidents.
MICHIGAN CITY LIBRARY.
Note: The following sketch of this library, through the kindness and courtesy of
Miss Daisy L. Brown, of Michigan City, has come directly
from the Librarian as prepared by her for this book.
To both these young ladies special thanks are returned. T. H. B.
The Michigan City public library had its origin in a legacy of $5,000 left by Mr. George Ames, as a fund to be used for the purchase of books for a public library, in case a library organization should exist within a stated time. In 1894 interest in the organization of a library association began to manifest itself. Early in 1895 a literary society known as "the Fortnightly Club" appointed a committee to look into the provisions of Mr. Ames' will, and to report a plan of organization necessary to secure the benefits of the bequest. Through this committee were submitted the names of fifteen men and women, prominent residents of the town, who consented to form a board of incorporators, and to take the necessary legal steps to organize a public library association.
The next development was the offer by Hon. J. H. Barker, of a contribution of one-third the entire cost of a library building to be erected by the subscriptions of the citizens. A soliciting committee was appointed, and so great was the enthusiasm shown that $30,000 was secured. A beautiful building
of Bedford stone, classic in architecture, and with interior furnishings of marble and of quarter-sawed oak, was erected on a centrally-located corner lot, opposite the city high school. The building was fitted throughout with the best library furniture and appliances and most conveniently arranged for the purposes of a modern library. It contains not only the usual reading, reference, book and delivery rooms, but a finely lighted children's room, a room for the use of students, and one for the use of literary clubs. It is probably one of the best equipped libraries of northern Indiana. Under the law of the State, the library is supported by taxation, and has in addition a small book-fund, endowed by private gifts.
In the summer of 1897, Miss Marilla W. Freeman, a graduate of the University of Chicago, undertook the organization of the new library, and in October the library was thrown open to the public with 3,000 volumes on its shelves. The annual statement of the librarian for May 1st, 1900, reports 5,500 volumes in the library, and a circulation for the year of nearly 40,000 volumes. The library met with immediate popularity and success, and has become one of the most important factors in the educational life of Michigan City. It is in close touch with the work of the public schools, as well as with the literary clubs. Through its collection of technical works, it has made special efforts to attract and hold the interest of the employees of the various factories and other industrial centers of the city. Its gifts have included not only books and money, but a considerable number of fine pictures for the adornment of its walls.
At Winamac was organized a few years ago the People's Library Association. The membership fee authorizing the use of the books of the library is one dollar a year. It is not, therefore, a free public library.
NORTHWESTERN INDIANA FROM 1800 TO 1900
FRONT MATTER AND DEDICATION
CHAPTER 1 - GENERAL OUTLINES
CHAPTER 2 - THE INDIANS
CHAPTER 3 - THE EARLY SETTLERS
CHAPTER 4 - WHAT THE EARLY SETTLERS FOUND
CHAPTER 5 - PIONEER LIFE
CHAPTER 6 - COUNTY ORGANIZATIONS
CHAPTER 7 - OUR LAKES AND STREAMS
CHAPTER 8 - LAKE MICHIGAN WATER SHED
CHAPTER 9 - TOWNSHIP AND STATISTICS
CHAPTER 10 - RAILROAD LIFE
CHAPTER 11 - POLITICAL HISTORY
CHAPTER 12 - THE WAR RECORD
CHAPTER 13 - RELIGIOUS HISTORY
CHAPTER 14 - RELIGIOUS HISTORY
CHAPTER 15 - RELIGIOUS HISTORY
CHAPTER 16 - SUNDAY SCHOOLS
CHAPTER 17 - TOWNS AND VILLAGES OF NEWTON AND JASPER
CHAPTER 18 - TOWNS AND VILLAGES OF WHITE, PULASKI AND STARKE
CHAPTER 19 - VILLAGES, TOWNS AND CITIES OF LAKE
CHAPTER 20 - VILLAGES AND TOWNS OF PORTER
CHAPTER 21 - VILLAGES, TOWNS AND CITIES OF LA PORTE
CHAPTER 22 - EARLY TRAVELS
CHAPTER 23 - PUBLIC SCHOOLS
CHAPTER 24 - PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS
CHAPTER 25 - LIBRARIES
CHAPTER 26 - OTHER INDUSTRIES
CHAPTER 27 - SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS
CHAPTER 28 - THE KANKAKEE REGION
CHAPTER 29 - DRAINING MARSHES
CHAPTER 30 - ANIMALS AND PLANTS
CHAPTER 31 - MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS
CHAPTER 32 - COURT HOUSES
CHAPTER 33 - ARCHAEOLOGICAL SPECIMENS
CHAPTER 34 - BIRTH PLACES OF PIONEERS
CHAPTER 35 - McCARTY
CHAPTER 36 - ATTEMPTS TO CHANGE
CHAPTER 37 - ALTITUDES
CHAPTER 38 - MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS
CHAPTER 39 - SOME STATISTICS
CHAPTER 40 - WEATHER RECORD
Transcribed by Steven R. Shook, April 2012