JOHN QUACKENBOS PACKARD
THE MARYSVILLE LIBRARY
THE PACKARD LIBRARY OF MARYSVILLE
by Earl Ramey
On February 3, 1855 a meeting was called with
the announced purpose of organizing a "Young Men's Association." This call was
not as exclusive as it might appear because a large fraction of the male
residents of Marysville, at the time, were young.
The main objective of the association was to be the establishment of a library and a reading room. Marysville was yet quite primitive. A suitable place with enough light to allow reading after dark was as scarce as were suitable books to read. Not many persons could afford the cost of a private library, and living quarters were poorly lighted. So these young pioneers with literary interests concluded logically that they would have to organize a cooperative library and reading room as a means of satisfying these interests.
Twenty men signed a preliminary document setting forth their intentions and objectives. Nine of these were elected to form the first Board of Directors.
A few days later another meeting was held and officers were elected. Edwards Woodruff, of anti-debris fame, because [became] the first president of the Association. Dr. D. W. C. Rice, president of "Cal P," Sutter County's first railroad, was vice-president. Dr. J. T. McLean and F. H. Woodward were secretaries and Mark Brumagim, the first banker of Marysville, was treasurer. At this meeting a plan of solicitation to build the membership was adopted. The latter part of the year 1855 was devoted to this campaign for subscriptions. At a called meeting on February 22, 1856, the results of the campaign were announced.
There were six life members who subscribed $100 each and 138 share holders subscribing $25 each. Nineteen members pledged to contribute a fee of five dollars per month for the privileges of the library. The subscriptions would have provided a beginning capital of $4,145, but as we shall note later not all of the pledges were fulfilled.
The list of charter members would serve as a directory of the professional and commercial pioneers of Marysville. The physicians were D.W.C. Rice and J.T. McLean. Attorneys were J.O. Goodwin, R.S. Messick, T.B. Reardon and C.E. Filkins. The bankers were Mark Brumagim, John Jewett, Peter Decker, Lewis Cunningham, John Paxton and Frederick Low. Warren Miller was the leading architect and builder. The Reverend Messrs. D.A. Dryden, W.A. McKaig and E.B.Wallsworth were pioneer clergymen of the town. H.S. Hoblitzell, C.M. Patterson and A.G. Coffin were bookkeepers and accountants. The others were the early wholesale and retail merchants, including W.T. Ellis, Sr., John C. Fall, John Q. Packard, W.K. Hudson, Wm. Hawley, Lorenzo Babb, A.A. Vantine, J.S. Eckman, G. Amy and Levi Hite. This list could be extended to include the 163 charter members.
At the first regular meeting of directors
held on March 4, 1856, standing committees were appointed and authorized to rent
a room for library purposes and to engage a librarian. A room over Cheesman's
store on D Street and the Plaza was secured at $25 per month. Henry Walton
volunteered his services as librarian without cost to the Association.
A.G. Coffin made a trip to the eastern states during the summer of 1856. His literary tastes were evidently valued because he was authorized to purchase books while in New York at a cost of $1,000 provided that he could get terms of $500 cash and $500 on credit. At the time there was only $240 in the treasury, but it was assumed that some member would advance the $260 needed to make the cash payment. Just where the $500 to meet the time payment was to be found was not clear until later when banker Brumagim advanced the amount.
This problem of paying for the first purchase of books is evidence that the pledges subscribed had not been met. But Mr. Coffin was able to purchase 70 books in spite of his very limited fund. It is of interest to note that he enlisted the assistance and advice of the librarian of the New York Mercantile Library Association in selecting and purchasing the books. Also the New York Association sent the Marysville Association copies of their catalog, by-laws, reports and other records which served as a guide for the organization of the new Association.
One problem regarding the new books was very discouraging. They had to be shipped by sea around the Horn, and were so long in arriving (December, 1856) that some members despaired of ever opening the library.
Fortunately, a large number of books, pamphlets, maps and magazines were donated to the Association by benevolent friends of the project, which gifts allowed the fitting out of a reading room. The largest single donation came from a pioneer of Sutter County, Congressman Joseph W. McCorkle, who gave nearly his entire private library. This collection of 141 volumes was valued at $1,500. The directors ordered that the collection be kept intact on shelves and be designated as the McCorkle Library. But to the shame of succeeding custodians there is no trace of this special collection today. This case illustrates a sad phase of the history of the Marysville City Library. Many valuable items have been entrusted to the care of the institution only to vanish.
The Rev. Mr. Wallsworth donated a large number of volumes, and many others gave single or smaller numbers of volumes. The leading stationers, Amy Brothers, maintained a table on which they kept the latest newspapers and magazines from the East. Governor Latham, Senator Gwin and other elected officials supplied documents. The Association succeeded in getting on the free list for publications of the Smithsonian Institution, and the publishers of the local newspapers furnished free subscriptions.
The Association had several other objectives in addition to the library and reading room. They proposed to sponsor a series of lectures to be delivered by visiting celebrities. Only a few of the proposed lectures were presented because it was discovered that not a sufficient number of persons were willing to pay one dollar to produce the fee of fifty dollars for the speaker. Even after reducing the price of admission to fifty cents the lectures did not pay, and they were abandoned.
Another project was of general interest at the time. This was referred to as the "cabinet." It was a case designed to hold, behind glass, specimens of gold-bearing ore. There was intense interest in quartz mining which was taking the place of hand placer extraction which produced only gold dust. Dust was no longer a novelty, but a piece of rock showing a deposit of gold was a spectacle. This cabinet and its contents also have vanished.
The Association proposed to collect works of art. A Mrs. Wills donated a picture of Joan D'Arc and was made an honorary member, becoming the first woman to hold membership. Colonel Emil Sutter, son of Captain John Sutter of Hock Farm, donated a collection of shells and medals, and he was given honorary membership. Many other objects of art, including a plaster bust of Captain Sutter, were donated, but they are not to be found today.
The library and reading room were opened on March 22, 1856. The room, with the librarian in charge, was to be open on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for reading and withdrawing books. The directors very gallantly decreed that ladies would be admitted on Tuesday evenings and would be allowed to draw out books on order of a member. The member, presumably, would be responsible for the books taken out by the lady.
On February 17, 1857, Mr. Walton, the librarian, made his first annual progress report. There were 125 members including 16 life members, 70 shareholders, four honorary members and 35 active members paying the monthly fee of five dollars. There were 2,000 books and pamphlets on the shelves. The circulation was 709 for the first year.
The second annual report made by President Coffin on February 17, 1858, was very discouraging. Interest in the Association had declined. The lecture program had been abandoned. Membership had increased to 131, but 57 members had declared intentions to withdraw. There were debts outstanding to the amount of $121 with only $57 in the treasury. Delinquent dues amounted to $174. However, there were 2,060 volumes on the shelves and circulation for the year had increased to 1,113.
At a special meeting on September 17, 1858, a committee was appointed and instructed to investigate the proposals to arrange for the Masonic Order to take over the library, or for the City of Marysville to accept ownership and to operate the library as a public city institution. This committee reported on September 23 that the Masons had declined to undertake operation, but that the Common Council of the City had appointed a committee to confer with the library committee.
Peter Decker was mayor of the City at this time and was also a charter member of the Library Association. He is credited with persuading the Council to accept the library, although two members were opposed.
On December 15, 1858, a "Deed of Gift" was signed by A.G. Coffin, President, E.E. Rice, Secretary and H.G. Walton, Treasurer of the Marysville Library Association as party of the first part and by the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Marysville as party of the second part. The Association gave to the Mayor and Council and their successors in office forever all of the books, bookcases, maps, pictures, mineralogical and cabinet specimens and all other property belonging to the Association to have and to hold subject to these conditions:
The Library and property would be under the direction, management and supervision of a Board of Directors.
The Directors would be ten persons including the Mayor as presiding officer and
Three to be elected by the Council;
Three to be elected by the School Commissioners;
And three to be elected by these seven and to represent the shareholders and donors of the Association.
The Mayor and Council would make the Library free to the residents of Marysville.
The Directors would keep the library rooms open from early candlelight to 10 o'clock on those nights designated by the Directors, and would provide adequate lighting.
The Council would appropriate $250 each year for books.
A further condition provided that if the City failed to fulfill its obligations the property conveyed would revert to the Association. But any property added by the City would remain City property.
A farewell meeting of the Association was held on Christmas Day of 1858. The announced purpose was to thank and honor Henry Walton who had given three years of free service as librarian. There is evidence that these three years of Association by the young men had caused the Marysville Library Association to take on some of the characteristics of a fraternity. The last record made in the book of minutes carries a slight note of sadness:
"A friendly glass of eggnog was drunk all around in memory of the past, and as a pledge for the future of the Library which was about to pass into the hands of the City. The deed of gift having been perfected, speeches were made and toasts drunk by sundry gentlemen present, and after a pleasant hour of rational enjoyment the company separated."
So ended the Marysville Library Association.
The first meeting of the Directors of the
Marysville City Library was held on December 29, 1858, at the office of W.C.
Belcher who was serving as School Commissioner at the time. Mayor Peter Decker
presided. Representing the Council were Aldermen Thad Dean of the Union Lumber
Company, John Love, a county official and S.W. Selby, a pioneer hardware
merchant. The School Commissioners were Belcher, an attorney, S.C. Tompkins,
city assessor and the Rev. E.B.Wallsworth. These members elected A.G. Coffin,
John Jewett and J.T. McLean to represent the donors. Augustus Wedel was elected
to serve as librarian.
The Council had assigned a room on the second floor of the City Hall at Third and Maiden Lane (now Oak Street) to be used as a library and reading room. The Directors met in this room on January 10, 1859, and adopted a very elaborate set of rules which defined in detail the duties of the Directors, committees and Librarian as well as regulations of circulation and conduct of the reading room. Borrowers were required to deposit five dollars as a guarantee of care and return of books, but this deposit was to be returned on demand.
The new City Library was opened to the public on January 13, 1859. On March 8, 1859, the Librarian reported that 37 persons had deposited the fee of five dollars and were using the library. Presumably, the 16 life members and 42 shareholders of the Association at the time the City took possession were considered eligible to use the library without the deposit.
During the year of 1859 many developments and problems were recorded in the minutes of the meetings of the Directors. The Council had to be reminded to appropriate $250 for books as required in the gift deed. The salary of the Librarian was set at $40 per month. A label for books was adopted, which label listed the rules to be observed. A gift of books was received from Mr. Sands of New York. A rack for newspapers was purchased. Some books were not returned. The room was open from 10 to 12 a.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. every day except Sundays. The Pacific Mail Steamship Company offered free transportation of books from New York. An order for books to cost $244 was sent to New York. And it was ordered that a book be kept to record donations (which book does not exist today). The Directors approved a proposal to communicate with public libraries in the East requesting any duplicate volumes which might be sent to the Marysville Library.
Evidently the position of librarian was not very attractive. Augustus Wedell resigned in 1861 and was followed by Messrs. Vail, Kennedy and Leonard who were in turn followed by the Rev. Mr. McKaig. Mr. McKaig resigned in 1872 and was replaced by Miss Jane Jones, who had the longest tenure, from 1872 until her death in 1894.
Miss Jones and her sister, Polly, had come to Marysville from their native England in 1868 and were conducting a private school for small children. The library position which paid only $25 per month, having been reduced from $40, was a means of supplementing the limited income from the school.
Miss Jones was a very capable woman. It is evident from her annual reports that she is to be credited with the professional character and the literary achievements of the Marysville City Library during the early years of its history.
The position and function of the donors on the Board of Trustees (or Directors) is an interesting matter to follow in the records of the City Library. It has been noted that Jewett, Coffin and McLean were the first donors to serve in 1858. Mr. Coffin left Marysville in 1859 and Peter Decker took his place. Dr. McLean left the City and D.W.D. Rice replaced him. Dr. Rice was in turn replaced by W.T. Ellis, Sr. These three, Decker, Jewett and Ellis, were the last charter members of the Association to serve as donor representatives on the Board. After these three died or moved from the City they were replaced by younger men of the second generation. Decker died in 1888 and F.W.H. Aaron took his place. Jewett moved to Sonoma County in 1890 but maintained interests in Marysville and was kept on the Board as donor until his death in 1911. W.T. Ellis, Sr. was probably the last surviving charter member serving as donor representative. He died in 1913.
After 1915 the donor representatives included Richard Belcher, Harry Carden, W.B. Swain, and George Rubel, no one of whom had been born when the original Association was disbanded in 1858.
Very soon after the City Library was founded a fund was established, the earnings of which were to be used for the purchase of books. This fund was provided by bequests made by residents and former residents of Marysville. There were ten bequests which by 1925 provided a fund of $9,250 giving an annual earning of $754. After 1900 it was no longer necessary for the Council to appropriate $250 annually for books as required in the deed. The income from the trust fund provided more than was being spent for new books.
Over the years this trust fund and the earnings became somewhat confused in and mingled with the general City budget. On February 4, 1935, at the request of "The Marysville Library Association" the Council appointed a committee to administer the fund and agreed that the earnings would be used for library purposes only. Again on September 17, 1951, the Council gave official recognition of the fund and repeated the policy of using the earnings for the purchase of books.
The term "Association" was continued by the Trustees for many years after the City acquired the original library. This practice was probably continued in deference to the donors and their descendants. In the minutes of the period from 1884 to 1892 the references are to the "Marysville City Library Association." Then it becomes "Marysville Library Association" which designation gradually gave way to the "Marysville City Library."
There have been some practices and customs in the history of the library which today seem quaint. During the month of August in 1896 and 1897 the library was simply closed to allow the librarian to take a vacation without pay. In March of 1903 during an epidemic of scarlet fever, measles and smallpox when several homes were quarantined, the City Board of Health ordered that no books be issued and that those books returned from the quarantined homes be fumigated.
The librarians were authorized to purchase and pay for supplies. They were reimbursed if the Council approved. The librarians also employed and paid persons to do cleaning before regular janitors were employed and paid directly by the Council.
City bonds of $3,500 had been purchased for the trust fund. When the bonds became due the Council redeemed them but put the City's note in the fund rather than cash. However, the interest was paid in cash until the note was taken up.
In April, 1901 the Trustees ordered that the library be opened during three shifts each day -- morning, afternoon and evening; but the librarian's salary was increased from $35 to $50 per month.
A suitable location and rooms for the library were a difficult problem for the Council for fifty years after the City took possession. It was provided in the gift deed that adequate rooms would be furnished by the Council. It has been noted that a room at the south end of the second floor of City Hall was assigned. There arose many objections. The view from the windows included the recreation yard of the jail and the inmates at play. Council ordered the only solution possible which was to brick up the windows.
The room was heated by a wood burning stove. It was necessary to employe a man to start a fire each morning. Then the librarian had the responsibility of keeping the fire going. A large box for wood occupied needed and limited floor and wall space. This problem was solved by moving the box to the hallway to allow more shelves where the box had been.
The most serious objection was made by ladies who found it very distasteful when their floor length skirts brushed the filthy tobacco stained steps of the stairs leading to the second floor. There was no solution to this problem. The ladies could not shorten their skirts, and the men could not stop chewing tobacco.
As early as 1860 the Council was looking for a better location for the library. They considered renovating the room over the quarters occupied by the Salamander Hook and Ladder fire company, but the cost was estimated to be too great. Then it was proposed to rent a room in the new Odd Fellows building at Third and D, but the rental was more than Council was willing to allow. A new Masonic Hall had been erected at Third and E in 1861; so a room on the second floor was rented at $25 per month.
In 1858 when the City of Marysville had granted a franchise to D.E. Knight for his Marysville Coal Gas Company, it was provided that the City Hall would receive gas for lighting free of charge. The library room had been furnished free lighting according to this provision; but when Council assumed that the free gas would be supplied at the new location in the Masonic building, the gas company refused, contending that they were obliged to furnish free gas only to City Hall. So, rather than pay the monthly charge for gas, Council ordered the library returned to City Hall in 1871.
The heating problem was solved in 1873 by extending steam pipes to the library room from the boiler in the fire station on the first floor of City Hall. A head of steam was maintained constantly by the fire department to allow quick action by the steam pumpers on the horse-drawn engines before the modern motorized equipment was available. Heating for the library was a by-product of the fire department.
The lighting by gas was never very good. In 1885 a company was granted a franchise to generate and distribute electric current for lighting; and again it was provided that free lighting would be furnished for rooms in City Hall.
This first electric current was very weak, and the type of lamp was inferior. The librarian noted in her report of 1885 that "so called" electric lights had been installed, although she admitted that the new lights made the room more cheerful. Not until after 1898 when stronger current from Yuba river power and the new incandescent lamps were available was the library room adequately lighted.
John Q. Packard, a charter member of the Association, had prospered in Marysville as a merchant, property owner, and capitalist. But this versatile pioneer was not content to limit his activities to Marysville. He was away from the City much of the time, although he maintained interests which called him back frequently. From 1862 to 1872 he was a cotton grower in Louisiana. From 1879 to 1886 he was a mining capitalist in Utah. During the 1890's he built a railroad from Santa Cruz to San Francisco and acquired 8,000 acres of land in Santa Cruz County, which land included valuable deposits of limestone which he later sold at a profit to the Portland Cement Company.
Packard was acquiring so much wealth that he needed an outlet for some of it. When he learned of the bad time the Marysville City Library was having in maintaining adequate quarters he resolved to provide a building.
In October, 1900, Packard deeded to the City of Marysville lots number seven and eight on the northwest corner of Fourth and C Streets. In this deed he reserved control of the land for five years during which time he proposed to erect a building for library use. He was prepared to spend $70,000 for the building. The Council accepted the deed with the conditions.
Packard came to Marysville on a visit in March, 1905, and announced that work on the new library building would begin soon. He had employed William Curtlett, an architect of San Francisco to draw up plans. And he had awarded the contract for construction to R. Dewar of San Francisco. The cost of the building was to be $66,300.
The gray sandstone for the new building came from Packard's land in Santa Cruz where it was quarried. The raw stone was sent to San Francisco on Packard's railroad where it was cut into building blocks by the latest mechanical devices of the time. From San Francisco it was shipped to Marysville on the Southern Pacific railroad. A few years earlier it would have come to Marysville on river boats and barges.
After the old Gillispie brick stable was removed from the site, work began, and the cornerstone was "quietly put into place." A copper box containing newspapers, personal cards, coins, history and other items was placed in the cornerstone. This was done "quietly" because Packard, who was a timid and retiring person, had requested that there be no ceremony.
The last stone block was hoisted and put in place on October 29, 1905, and the last nail was driven on March 14, 1906.
The architect and A.C. Bingham, Packard's agent, accepted the building from the contractor on April 4, 1906, and the keys to the new library were delivered to the Mayor on June 4, 1906. The building was lighted for the first time on July 13 and was opened to the public at 7:00 p.m. on October 12, 1906. On this opening evening, 1500 persons visited the new building.
The Mayor and Council soon discovered that the fine new library building was bringing far more cost than the old simple one-room quarters in City Hall. The librarian was paid $50 per month and a full-time janitor was paid $95 per month. There was an electric bill of $28, a bill of $10 for oil, one for coal of $205 for the coming winter and a monthly bill of $5 for water. An insurance policy on the plate glass window cost $27 and equipment and furniture had cost $3,800. The tax-conscious residents became alarmed.
There had been no professionally trained librarian employed throughout the history of the Association or the City Library. The position was assumed to be a part-time job requiring no special skill. But after the new plant was occupied there was recognized a need for professional administration. The Council appropriated $125 towards the cost of sending the librarian, Miss Mary Subers, to summer school "to instruct her in the different methods of handling a library."
In 1908 the Women's Improvement Club of Marysville undertook as a project the installation of pedestal lights on the steps facing Fourth Street. The Club gave dances and other fund raising programs. On November 12, 1908, it was announced that "the new electroliers on massive bronze columns, each globe containing a cluster of five lights, were burning brightly."
These ladies of the Improvement Club assumed a special interest in the new library. They are the first on record to propose making the library a county institution. At one of their meetings a resolution stated "The members wish it understood that the reading room in the City Library is open to the public. The room is arranged in a very comfortable manner." These ladies also announced and demanded the removal of "a dilapidated and unsightly fence on Fourth Street across from the library. The fence is an eyesore."
In 1914 W.H. Parks, Jr., son of a prominent pioneer, provided in his will a small sum of money to be used by the Improvement Club for any purpose they might choose. They chose to have a book plate engraved to serve as a memorial to Mr. Parks, which plate was to be furnished for use by the library. Imprints of this plate might be found in some of the very old volumes if they have not been discarded.
In 1910 The Native Sons of the Golden West proposed to gather pioneer relics, photographs and other items then in private possession and place them in the City Library for safekeeping. For this purpose they established the California Room on the second floor. This room was in the beginning referred to as the Poppy Room. The contents of this would-be museum and archive have become dispersed, some of the material going indirectly to the Mary Aaron Museum.
A very useful and much-needed feature of the new library building was the "Little Theatre" on the second floor. The availability of this informal meeting place encouraged the women of Marysville to organize an Art Club in 1913. This Club used the theatre for many years for their meetings and programs until the 1930's when a separate building was erected on D Street.
The ladies of both the Art Club and the Improvement Club came to the rescue of the library in 1920 when they organized opposition and prevented the erection of a large billboard by Foster and Kleiser on C Street opposite the library where the present Post Office is located.
In August of 1911 Miss Harriet Eddy of the State Library came to Marysville on a campaign to promote the establishment of county libraries. She appeared before the Supervisors and explained the system and published a long article in the Marysville Appeal describing the plan of assistance offered by the State; but no action was taken by the county government.
The library building at Fourth and C Streets had one narrow escape from demolition. In October of 1955 a committee of the Chamber of Commerce selected the library site as a desirable location for off-street parking. The building was to be razed and the land sold for an amount adequate to construct a new library. The committee proposed to pay $150,000 for the land, which amount they deemed sufficient to pay for a new building. But the Council demanded $200,000 as necessary for construction. The committee then offered $175,000.
A special committee of citizens was appointed by the Council to choose a site for the new library, but this committee never reported. Then when the Supervisors accepted Cortez Square as a site for a new courthouse, it was provided in the deed from city to county that any space not needed for the courthouse would be available for the library. In the meantime, however, interest in the parking lot shifted to the southeast corner of Fourth and C Streets and the library site was dismissed.
The growth of the library during the 66 years from 1859 to 1925 could be estimated in terms of volumes on the shelves, circulation and borrowers. But there are only incomplete records of these factors. It has already been noted that in the first year of the Association (1856-57) there were 2,000 volumes with a circulation of 709. The next year (1857-58) these figures were 2,060 and 1,113. At the time of a report in March, 1859, we are told only that there were 37 borrowers who had made the required deposit of five dollars. For the next twelve years the records are scant because the several librarians evidently did not feel obliged to make annual reports and probably were not keeping specific accounts. After Miss Jane Jones became librarian the annual reports were improved.
In 1879 there were 142 borrowers, but by 1880 this figure had decreased to 126. It had risen to 141 by 1883 but there are no further records of borrowers for the next eighteen years.
The figures for circulation after 1880 are more nearly complete, and it is this factor by which we must estimate the growth. In the years 1883, '84 and '85, the circulation was 2,956, 3,261 and 2,748. In 1890, '91 and '92 the figures were 2,792, 2,770 and 2,759; but by 1900 it had grown to 6,451.
In April, 1900 new requirements for borrowers were adopted. Citizens of Marysville were given the choice of two qualifications. They could continue to maintain the deposit, or they could secure the signature of some responsible resident as sponsor. Non-residents were required to make the deposit. During the year of 1901, 231 new borrowers qualified and circulation rose to 10,947. The next year, 1902, it grew to 14,416. We are given no more figures in the minutes until 1925 when there were 758 borrowers and a circulation of 12,840. A final indication of the use or misuse of the library is an item in the minutes of 1925 stating that $80 in fines was collected.
The last figure for the number of volumes in the library was given in 1880 at 3,295. For some years we are told the number of new books purchased. One gets the impression from the minutes that about 100 volumes were being added each year. During the period from 1880 to 1925, this number, 4,500 added to 3,295 of 1880 would have given 7,795 for 1925; but this estimate is probably too low.*
After 1925 the Council allowed nearly all traces of the old Association to disappear. The Board of Directors provided in the gift deed was allowed to die a natural death. The charter member donors were gone. Even the School Commissioners no longer existed, having been replaced by trustees of special districts. The library became a department of the city government and was administered directly by the Council.
Those of us who have spent the last fifty years using the old Packard Library at Fourth and C are going to feel some of the sadness which was felt by the young pioneers on Christmas Day of 1858 when they disbanded their Association an donated their library to the City of Marysville. However fine the new city-county library might be in contrast to the old sandstone building, the nostalgia we shall inevitably experience could become slightly painful. But this experience will serve as a preconditioner for the sadder event when we must witness the destruction of the last souvenir of the venerable institution where five generations have exercised their literary interests.
*Aside from the librarians in charge during the earliest years of Marysville's literary venture, and after the death of Librarian Jane Jones in 1894, numerous persons filled the position as the years went by.
The list, although incomplete, included Mrs. Susan K. Saul, Miss Mary E. Suber, Mrs. Jennie C. Engell, Miss Clara Tietjens, Mrs. Mary R. Hatch, Miss Donna Louise Burchell (who became Mrs. Kenneth Dempsey), Miss Maxine Rogers, Mrs. Dempsey (second term), and Miss Ella T. Danielson. The latter was followed by Miss Thelma Neaville, who continued until her retirement in 1972. She was succeeded by Ivan Edelman. The present librarian is Jonanthan Little.
Sutter County Historical Society New Bulletin, Vol XVI, No.2, April, 1977 pp 6-27 - Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Marysville Daily Appeal - July 30, 1905, page 4
Mr. Packard Rears A Noble Monument
By request of the founder, the corner stone
of the public library building, which John Q. Packard is erecting for the people
of Marysville, has been laid without ceremony or ostentation. And, unlike the
Carnegie libraries, this structure will bear no indication of the name of the
giver. It is to cost $75,000, and will be an architectural ornament.
It is of interest to learn that the new building is rising on the spot where Mr. Packard, in partnership with the late Col. Edwards Woodruff, did business fifty years ago and laid the foundation of his fortune. From Marysville he removed to Salt Lake, and in Utah he was successful in mining enterprises. For some years he has lived near Santa Cruz, in California, but his heart is still true to the little city of the plain where his early ventures prospered, and where he enjoyed the friendship of many pioneers whose descendants will profit by his generous gift.
This is the second public library building Mr. Packard has erected. The first was presented to the people of Salt Lake City, in like modest fashion, characteristic of the man.
In making such good use of his wealth, Mr. Packard is exhibiting excellent taste and judgment, as well as a kindly and generous spirit. His example is one that many other men of means should follow. There is no nobler monument to the memory of any man or woman than the gift of some public institution of genuine worth, such as a college, school house, library, museum, art gallery, baths, a hospital, park, garden or other pleasure ground. Such a benefaction, although it may not bear the name of the donor, preserves his memory in honor and gratitude, making it far more lasting than if graven upon a costly tomb, which usually blazons to the world the vanity and pride of the dead rather than his virtues and good deeds.
Some rich men build imposing mausoleums, in anticipation of death, carving their names deeply upon granite or marble, lest they be forgotten when their sordid and selfish lives are done. They take a vulgar satisfaction in the delusion that thus they are imposing themselves as persons of distinction upon generations to come. But how poor and mean the gratification of such folish[sic] pride appears by comparison with that self-approval which flows from the contemplation of a gift to posterity so beneficent and lasting as an institution of learning, a storehouse for books, or any other beneficial endowment for free public use and enjoyment.
Although Mr. Packard has not marked the marble with his name, and likewise out of modesty has declined to have the beginning of construction formally honored in any way, no doubt the people of Marysville will always speak of the institution as the Packard free library. And they will be the more grateful and appreciative of the gift, for the reason that it is not hampered by such conditions as the pride or prejudice of a donor often prescribes. - Sacramento Bee.
Marysville Daily Appeal - October 10, 1900, page 1
The City Council Meet to Accept a Magnificent Bequest to the Municipality - John Q. Packard's Gift
A Seventy Thousand Dollar Library Building, Together With the Required Grounds
A special meeting of the City Council was
held at 10 o'clock yesterday morning, all the members being present except
Mayor C. S. Brooks, who presided, stated that the most liberal gift ever offered to the city of Marysville had been tendered to the municipality by John Q. Packard, who was anxious to pass into the custody of the city the deed embodying his benefaction.
Following the Mayor's announcement Clerk F. E. Smith read the deed which had been drawn up by Attorney Richard Belcher and which was from John Q. Packard to the city of Marysville, to whom it donated lots 7 and 8, block 5, range D, city of Marysville, excepting and reserving to the party of the first part, the exclusive possession of said lots for a period of time not exceeding five years from this date, and the right to remove the present improvements, and to make and substitute other buildings and improvements.
The deed is made upon the conditions and trusts following:
That in case of the grantor on or before the expiration of five years from the date hereof shall expend in the improvement of said lots not less than the sum of $70,000, at the reasonable cost thereof, on lot improvements, and in erecting thereon a building with fixtures and appurtenances suitable for a city library building, with library and reading room or rooms, and a hall suitable for lectures on literary, scientific and educational subjects, that then the party of the second part shall perpetually maintain the property and the building, as a library building, and perpetually maintain and keep open at reasonable hours free to the residents of the city, a public reading room or rooms in said building. And the party of the second part having consented and agreed to accept this conveyance upon said trust and for said uses, and to perpetually devote the same to the uses intended, this deed is made and delivered in pursuance thereof.
Councilman Divver then submitted the following resolution of acceptance:
Resolved, That the city of Marysville accept said deed and the property conveyed on the conditions and trusts named in the deed, and agrees to perpetually maintain and use said building when erected for a library building, and for the uses and purposes specified in the deed.
Councilman J. W. Steward seconded the resolution, which was adopted by an unanimous vote.
The following preamble and resolution was submitted by Councilman Steward and was unanimously adopted:
Whereas, John Q. Packard, Esq. has just donated to the city of Marysville a site for a city library building on which he proposes to erect at his own cost, within five years from this date, a library building complete; and,
Whereas, The library and reading room will prove of inestimable benefit intellectually and morally, to our citizens now, and for generations to come, and the building will prove an ornament to the city of considerable architectural and material benefit; and,
Whereas, This gift is a distinct public benefaction and an enduring testimonial to Mr. Packard's public spirit; now, therefore, be it,
Resolved, That as representatives of the citizens of Marysville, and on their behalf, we tender to Mr. Packard our sincere thanks and the thanks of the community for his prominent gift.
Resolved, That this resolution be spread upon a page of the minutes of this Council, set apart for the purpose, and that a copy thereof be presented to Mr. Packard.
Marysville Daily Appeal - October 10, 1900, page 2
MR. PACKARD'S GIFT
In the magnificent gift which Mr. John Q.
Packard yesterday conveyed to the municipality, which for many years off and on
he has made his home, was bestowed a benefaction at once munificent on the part
of the donor and one that will be thoroughly appreciated by the recipients, his
In all of the history of the old city of Marysville, this is, we believe, the first instance in which a citizen of wealth has seen fit to make a bequest to the community of magnitude sufficient commensurate with their circumstances to be particularly noteworthy.
In the receipt of his gift the people of Marysville congratulate themselves in the possession of a citizen whom passing years have served but to broaden and in whom the light of a kindly understanding shines forth in shining contrast to the sordidness all too prevalent in the world nowadays.
Here's to John Q. Packard.
May he ever grow younger.
Marysville Daily Democrat - Sat August 27, 1927, page 4
H. B. P. CARDEN, MRS. HATCH GIVE HISTORY OF LIBRARY
Interesting facts concerning the Marysville
public library were related by H. B. P. Carden, a director, and Mrs. Mary Rolls
Hatch, the librarian, in their talks yesterday before the Exchange club.
Carden related facts from the minutes of the library board, started in 1855 and continued in the same book by numerous secretaries down to the present day. Judge Fields, afterward chief justice of the United States, then a prominent member of the bar here, was an early director. The first librarian volunteered his services free. The first books were donated, and later a citizen who was going to New York was delegated to select books there to a value of $1000.
In 1858 the library was deeded to the city with the requirement that it be continued as a free institution, with a paid librarian.
John Q. Packard, an early day merchant, in 1906 provided the money, $75,000 for the beautiful stone building in which the library since has been housed. He required only that his name be not placed upon it and that a room be always maintained when men may smoke.
The library has been the recipient of many small bequests that now total $10,000, Carden said. These funds are invested and the interest, about $650 a year, is used to purchase new books.
Mrs. Hatch stated there has been a steady increase in the patronage of the library since she came here, and that an average of 3000 books a month have been taken out during the past six months. The library has been closed all this month for complete renovation and has been entirely rearranged.
Every book has been cleansed and re-catalogued and placed in a section of its class. Many old volumes that had been hidden away in the basement for years were found to be priceless treasures and they have been repaired and put back where the student or leisure hour reader may find them. Some are rare works and some are quite old, one in particularly having been written more than two centuries ago.
Whereas the records show that 14,500 volumes have been received by the library in its years of service, the number now actually on hand is found to be only about 10,000, Mrs. Hatch said.
Two Marysville authors are among those listed in the library. There are a number of books by Henry Milner Rideout and a few by Vingey Rowe.
The new system being completed in the building provides a fiction department, and federal, state and city departments, in which works coming under any of those heads are filed.
The California department contains a large amount of highly interesting historical matter, some of which is quite rare now.
Mrs. Hatch stated that she is personally very proud of Marysville's library and is striving to put its treasures more easily within the reach of the public. She will announce the reopening date in the near future. She gives to Councilman Walter Kynoch, who is the member in charge of the library, credit for the great improvement that is now being made in the institution.
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