Magnificent Memorial

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Magnificent Memorial

Newspaper article from The Painesville Telegraph

18 October 1899, page 1, columns 2-5


The Morley Library was formally presented to the Painesville Public Library Association Saturday afternoon.  A large number of the friends of the donor, the trustees of the library association, and representatives of the municipality, the public schools and the College gathered at the new building to witness the ceremonies attending the presentation.   Mr. George P. Steele, the president of the Association presided and first introduced Mr. Morley who was received with great applause.

Mr. Morley spoke as follows:

"Friends and Citizens of Painesville:

"No doubt many of you wonder why I, a citizen of Cleveland, manifest as much interest in your city as this occasion proves.  Most of my youth and early manhood was lived here.  The mortal remains of my father and mother lie in the cemetery across the river; many graves there mark the resting places of members of our family.

"In 1823 our family first settled in the village of Painesville.  I, a lad, came to the village in the fall of 1832, the other members of my father's family came to Painesville a few years later.  Our family was made up of seven boys and two girls.   Here the boys received their business education.  Change is nature's law.   One of my age and early environments appreciates how great the change has been in Painesville, from 1832 to the present time.

"About sixty-five years ago in a small brick school house built on the lot where this library building now stands, I received instructions from Josephus Huntington, the village schoolmaster, who kept, I think, the only school in the village at the time.  In the early thirties, an academy building was erected on the lot where the old high school building now stands.  I attended school at the academy when it was kept by Mr. and Mrs. Saunders (Mrs. Saunders was a sister of the mother of Senator Mark Hanna, who is so prominent in the public eye today.)

"The business of the village at the time was largely confined to State street.  I helped to set out the trees on your public square.  The street then ran through the square.  Many people were in favor of having the street on one side as to enlarge the square, so one night C. D. Adams and myself fenced off the direct road; this made a stir in the village, but thereafter the road around the square remained as at present.  On Liberty street, near the Public Square, was placed the Methodist Meeting House and Town Hall combined.  The Methodists were then primitive in dress and manners; the garb of the leading Methodists was almost Quaker-like in its plainness.  In the meeting house, the males sat on common unpainted benches with backs, on one side of the main aisle and the females sat on the other side of the aisle.  No objection was raised by parents of other denominations to their daughters going to a Methodist meeting.   After the meeting, the young men lined up on the outside of the meeting house, and each young man picked out his girl as she came along.  It is needless to say that those Sunday evening meetings were very popular with the young people.

"All village elections were held in this house, as were also important trials before the justice of the peace.

"I was present at the trial of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, and some of his people.   The trial took place in the town house.  The lawyers of the prosecution managed to get from some of the witnesses the history of the finding of the gold plates from which the prophet Smith claimed he translated the Mormon bible.

"About 1835-6, the familiar names of the prominent citizens were Granger, Storrs, Seeley, Perkins, Skinner, Sanford, Phelps, Gillett, Paine, Morley, Tracy, Rockwell, Adams, Hitchcock, King, Moodey and Mathews.  No male representative of these families, I think now resides here with the exception of the last three, namely King, Moodey and Mathews.

"Painesville was noted for its bright and able men, possessed of strong and sterling qualities; many of these men were of the best New England stock, and some represented large landed interests.

"I recall an amusing incident of that early day.  One of the names just mentioned was that of a person of fine physique, who was highly educated and very dignified and aristocratic.  At times he indulged too freely in the cup that cheers.  In cold weather he wore a blue broadcloth cloak, the garment of the day, gold spectacles and a gold headed cane.  He looked distinguished.  One summer night we found him lying on the sidewalk in a boozy condition.  We raised him to a sitting position with his head on his breast, and then discussed what we should do with him.  One of us proposed putting him in a wheel-barrow, which was nearby, and wheel him home; at this he raised his head, and in a firm loud voice said:  "Its beneath my dignity, sir, to ride in a wheel-barrow."

"The present generation can hardly realize that what is now Lake county furnished all the pig iron consumed at Buffalo, Detroit and the villages on Lake Erie.  There were four blast furnaces, one each at Painesville, Perry, Concord and Madison.  The iron was made from bog ore found at the foot of the ridge along the lake shore between Painesville and the Ashtabula county line.  The daily output of each furnace was about three or four tons.  The principal stockholders of the Geauga furnace were Robert Blair, Charles C. Paine, P. P. Sanford and a Mr. Wood.

"In the Concord furnace, the partners were T. Rockwell, Homer Higley and Jonathan Stickney.  Of the Railroad furnace at Perry were Isaac Gillett, Lewis Morley, Uri Seeley and L. M. Parsons.  In the Arcole furnace were Judge Wilkinson, of Buffalo, and his sons, John and Samuel, and Uri Seeley.  Mr. Wilkes, of your city, was connected with this furnace.  He, with the Wilkinsons, went to Lowell, near Youngstown, and erected the first blast furnace in the United States using bituminous coal in the making of pig iron.  Painesville was one of the pioneer railroad villages in Ohio.  There was a railroad from Painesville to Fairport called the Painesville & Fairport railroad.  The rails were of wood as iron was too expensive.  The rolling stock consisted of one passenger and one freight car.  The motive power was a horse.  The builder of the road was Jonathan Goldsmith; the engineer was Mr. Higham, of Canandagua, N. Y.  The company issued shinplasters of the denomination of one dollar, half dollars, and quarter dollars.  The name Higham was signed to these bills.  It may be interesting to you to know that at one time the village of Richmond, founded by Thomas Richmond, was a close competitor of Painesville, and with its saw mill, warehouses, mercantile houses, steamboats, seemed a worthy rival.  The building of the "cross cut" canal so-called running from Beaver, Pa. to Akron, O., was the principal cause of its down-fall.  Churches, warehouses and other buildings were taken down and brought to Painesville and erected.  In these days money was scarce, and labor cheap.

"For a number if years after leaving Painesville for Cleveland in 1847, I retained business interest in Painesville, and until the death of my parents, made quite frequent visits to your city, and kept in touch with your life and growth.  I have always been interested in whatever concerned the welfare of your city.  The members of our family have a strong personal regard and affection for Painesville.

"This library building is erected in memory of my parents, and I feel that no act of mine would be more pleasing to them than to contribute to the education and culture of your people.

"I wish to say in closing that the idea of presenting your city with this library building grew our of a suggestion made me by Miss Mary Wilcox, of your city.

"I here hand you, Mr. President, a deed of this library building."

Mr. Morley's final words were heartily applauded and much pleasure was expressed over the valuable historical facts which he gave.

Judge J. B. Burrows was then presented to accept the gift on behalf of the association.   He responded as follows:

"Mr. Morley:--I am requested by the Painesville Library Association to signify to you its acceptance of your generous donation.  I willingly undertake the part assigned me knowing full well that I shall not be able to fittingly express the satisfaction and gratitude which are felt by every member of our library board upon receiving at your hands this complete and commodious edifice.

"It is in every respect all that could be desired.  It not only adequately provides for the present but for the future as well.  The east room I am informed has a capacity for forty thousand volumes while the west room of like dimensions, makes a capacious, convenient and attractive reading room.  The room for the library board and librarian, the work room in the basement, the steam-heating, shelving, plumbing, furniture and fixtures are all up to the modern standard of convenience and excellence.

"One of the noticeable and admirable things in the design and construction of this building is its solidity and durability.  It is as firm and solid as a rock from terrace to foundation and as indestructible by time and the elements as the skill of man can make it.

"In the opinion of those better qualified than myself to judge in such matters it is in form and style of architecture entirely appropriate and satisfactory.  As is sometimes said of people, it is so plain that it is handsome and is so unpretentious and symmetrical that one is surprised upon entering to find so much room within its walls.   In my poor opinion a more appropriate and expressive form could not have been selected or designed for a library building.  Shrines and temples are suggested by the serene and grave expression which it seems to wear, and I am sure that we shall see and appreciate more and more the beauty and grandeur of its classic simplicity.  I wish to suggest on this occasion that to you, our benefactor, possibly belongs the distinction of being the first man in this part of Ohio and perhaps in the state to erect and donate a building for a free public library.  If not the first you are well up toward the head of the list.  Library buildings erected by corporate bodies or municipalities are not common as yet in this country.  Most public libraries are kept in town halls, court houses, abandoned school houses and business blocks.  But for your thoughtfulness and liberality the public library of this village would likely have found some such shelter for fifty or perhaps a hundred years.  Your noble act has given us a beautiful and permanent home, in which every one of this village and county for that matter, will feel a just pride.  Every one will have an equal right to its use and enjoyment and even the stranger within our gates as well as the people of the county, are entitled by the rules of our association to its benefits.

"The success of the present library association was assured before your proposition to donate a site and building was made, but this building makes that assurance doubly sure.  It is easy to start but impossible to long maintain a free public library upon voluntary contributions and popular enthusiasm.  The enthusiasm is all right but as you are aware it takes money to keep even a small library going.  At the present day a trained librarian is a necessity.  Books must be purchased and the reading room supplied with newspapers and periodicals.  Rent and incidental expenses must be paid.  I have made mention of these things only to emphasize my admiration of your exhibition of faith in going forward more than a year ago to secure a site and building for a library association that had then just reached an embryonic stage of existence.

"During the past fifty years repeated efforts had been made to establish a public library on a permanent basis.  They all failed.  As you say in your address fifty years ago Painesville had a long list of families distinguished for their character and enterprising spirit.  There were then more wealthy men in Painesville than there are now.  The population of this village has increased very little in fifty years.   And, yet today, the establishment and maintenance of a public library and reading room cannot be prevented.  It is inevitable.  The thing that makes it inevitable, however, is the power of our village council to levy a tax in its behalf, backed by a willingness on the part of the tax-payers to have it done.  Take away this power and willingness and our project would soon go by the board.

"An authorized levy of one mill brings into our treasury about twenty-five hundred dollars annually.  This enables us to pay current expenses and put upon our shelves more than ten hundred now volumes each year.

"The incorporation of our enterprise under the general laws of the state was necessary not only to insure its perpetuation, but also to enable us to secure support from the public revenue.

"Another element of strength in our plan of organization it its distinct and separate unity.  It can have no entangling alliances or connections with any faction, sect, school, church or creed.

"It is gratifying to review the brief history of this association.  Such review must furnish strong and indubitable proof that this elegant building has not been intrusted to incompetent hands.  Less than two years ago the establishment of a public library in Painesville upon a permanent basis was apparently as much of a dream as it was twenty, thirty or fifty years ago.  All these many years it has been one of the things counted and coveted as most desirable.  A canvas made by some of our enterprising ladies disclosed the fact that a large number of citizens were ready and anxious to pay a membership fee of five dollars to launch again an enterprise that had so often proved a disappointment.  A charter was obtained and an organization effected.   It had no books and little money.  A statutory amendment was secured during the closing days of our last legislature by our efficient legislators, Senator Garfield and Representative Reynolds, whereby village councils were empowered to make an additional levy for library purposes and our village council unanimously voted the levy for the full amount allowed by law.  In the meantime Mr. Clifton H. Moore, of Illinois, a former resident of this county, donated to the association a thousand volumes of carefully selected books.  The W. C. T. U. donated its accumulation of some five hundred volumes and the Y. M. C. A. followed suit with a like number of volumes.  Five hundred new books were purchased by our association, so that when the library and reading room was opened on the 27th of May 1898, there were more than twenty-five hundred readable books on the shelves.  By purchase and donations this number has now grown to thirty-seven hundred volumes.  Although this showing is insignificant compared with the libraries in our great cities, it is significant when you remember that upon a duplication of this number our books will out-number our village population, and our library project is not yet two years old by several months.  The patronage of the reading room and library has steadily increased from the opening and there is now an average daily circulation of seventy-five volumes.

"This short history demonstrates, I think, that our public library is and is to be a necessary and permanent institution and that we may hope and expect at no distant day to have upon these shelves such quantity and quality of books as will do no discredit to the "Morley Library."  It is idle for me to attempt to tell you how thankful and delighted we are to have such a home for our youthful yet hopeful enterprise.  It is certainly an ideal library building upon an ideal site.  It is centrally located and near the street car line and yet so far away from it and the business streets as to suffer no annoyance from either.

"Upon this quiet street and facing the "Morley homestead," the home of your honored parents and home of your earlier years, this building shall stand as a monument of your noble generosity and filial piety.

"It will also bear testimony of your discrimination and good fortune in the selection of an architect.  And now, sir, in conclusion I have only to say that the Painesville Library Association with grateful acknowledgements accepts this magnificent gift, and begs to assure you that it and its successors will ever cherish and preserve your name in grateful remembrance and forever hold as sacred the trusts expressed in your deed of conveyance of the Morley Library."

Mayor A. G. Reynolds was then presented to accept the library on behalf of the city.   He said that the value of the gift could not be underestimated.  Libraries were established near the beginning of the race.  They were then only accessible to the kings and priests, but at the present time when there is so much need for every one to come in contact with the great thoughts of great men through the agency of books one who assists in this direction is a public benefactor.  We, at present, may never know the good that may result from the gift, but it will remain a lasting memorial to Mr. Morley and from the hearts of the citizens of Painesville will echo a heartfelt "thank you."

Miss Evans then thanked Mr. Morley in behalf of Lake Erie College.  The value of a public library to a college needs no emphasis.  It is often thought best to be located in large cities in order that the students may have access to the libraries, but those colleges which are located in the smaller towns and yet have a public library are doubly fortunate.  The students will gather inspiration for historical study here.   They will be interested in the history of the town and this will be of great advantage in the college.  The gift of the library is not valued only as a store house of information but as a family gift for the history of the Morley family will become a part of the history of the community.  Miss Evans said that in addition to the thanks of the college she brought her personal thanks and added a small tribute to the large tribute that all gave Mr. Morley.

Supt. W. W. Boyd, on the part of the public schools, said that it was a delightful occasion in the history of the community but to none was it more delightful than to the boys and girls and the teachers of the public schools.  We all admire beautiful things but nothing so excites our admiration as a beautiful human nature and this is nowhere so well shown as in the men and women who establish the public library.  The great responsibility rests with the teachers of getting good into the boys and girls through this means.

President M. S. Greenough, of the chamber of commerce of Cleveland, whose father was for twenty-six years a trustee of the Boston Public Library, then spoke a few words of congratulation.

General James Barnett, one of the trustees of Case Library also congratulated the association and town on having a former citizen who has the public welfare so much at heart.

Mr. Wilm Knox, the architect in charge of the building of the library, then spoke a few words upon its construction.  Mr. Knox said that it had been his effort to have a model library building and that what he had accomplished could be best seen by the people themselves.  The building is entirely fire proof, no wood having been used in its construction except for doors, floor and interior decoration.

Hon. James R. Garfield then spoke for the village of Mentor.  He said the library would be a constant enjoyment to Mr. Morley and his family.  Most of us are so confined in our acquaintances with men that it is a pleasure to feel that we may know the whole world through the agency of books and within these doors.  Mentor expects to derive an equal benefit with Painesville, and Mr. Garfield said that he hoped soon to see a circulating library in the county with the one at Painesville as the center of the w[illegible].

Mr. S. S. Osborne, of Chicago, was then called upon for a few words and said that he wished to congratulate Mr. Morley on having the wisdom to erect a proper memorial for his family.  It is something which will be of more benefit to himself and to others than any tombstone or mausoleum that could be erected.  In doing this Mr. Morley has set an example for all of us to follow.

The deed conveying the property to the library trustees was then read by Mr. Steele and this closed the afternoon's ceremonies.  In the evening the library was opened to the inspection of the public.

The interior of the building is very beautiful.  The entrance hall is tiled and inscribed with the words "Morley Library."  The large east room is for the books and librarian's desk.  The west room will be used as the reading room.   The book-shelves are of the latest pattern.  The interior woodwork is of heavy quartered oak with hard wood floors.  The hall between the two large rooms is of marble blocks.  The ceiling is tinted in white, blue and gilt and is very beautiful.   The walls are tinted a pale yellow.  The building is equipped with private and toilet rooms.  The heating is by hot air and both gas and electricity will be used for lighting.  The books have not been transferred yet but it will not be long before everything will be ready for use.

The following out of town people were present:  Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Morley, of Cleveland; George W. Morley, Walter Morley and Thomas Warren, of East Saginaw, Mich.; Miss Peck, of Milwaukee, Wis.; Mrs. A. M. Marshall, of Duluth, Minn.; Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Doolittle, Hamilton, Ont.; Hon. F. H. Morley, of Colorado Springs; Mrs. James A. Garfield and Hon. James R. Garfield, of Mentor; Hon. S. S. Osborne and Mrs. O. W. Barrett, of Chicago; Miss Helen Morley, Mr. and Mrs. P. M. Hitchcock, Mrs. General Leggett, Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Sterling, Mr. M. S. Greenough, Mr. D. R. Taylor, General and Mrs. James Barnett, Mrs. Mary Morley, Miss Julia Morley, Miss Margaretta Morley, Mr. Charles R. Morley, Mr. John E. Morley, Mr. and Mrs. Field Beckwith, Miss Beckwith, Mrs. Charles Dangler, Miss Alice Hussey, Mrs. Gibson, of Cleveland.

Forty-one of the out-of-town invited guests were relatives of Mr. Morley.  All were entertained at luncheon at the Wilcox Place and the Marshall home.