The building having already been described at length in our columns, a description of its exterior appearance need now only be summarized. The main structure is 50 by 28 feet in size, with a wing 38 1/2 by 40 feet for the library proper. The foundation is of ashler granite from the Dummerston quarry and the superstructure of pressed brick laid in red mortar with terra cotta and brownstone trimmings.
The porch, which is reached by a flight of 11 cut granite steps, with granite posts and heavy iron railing, is what is technically known as an "inclosed" porch, jutting out only three feet beyond the front of the building. In the apex of the gable are terra cotta panels, and in the brownstone course underneath is the inscription "Brooks Library," with the date of erection, "1886," above.
The roof, which is of slate, is surmounted by a ventilating tower. The combination of materials is effective, heightening materially the architectural effect. The appearance of the building is graceful and artistic in an unusual degree, and combined with this quality is that air of solidity and enduring strength which is an indispensable requisite in a building erected for such a purpose.
Captain's Chair, Barometer, Daffodils
From the porch, which has a floor of marble tiles, the visitor passes to the interior through doors of oak with plate glass panels to the vestibule, 9 by 13 1/2 feet in size. At the right is a ladies' reading room 18 by 24 feet, and on the left directly opposite a gentlemen's reading room of the same dimensions. In each of these rooms is an open fireplace.
From the vestibule one enters directly into the lobby, 13 by 20 feet, for the reception and delivery of books, in the centre of which is placed the librarian's desk or counter, which extends across the whole width of the room and from which an unobstructed view can be obtained of the vestibule, reading rooms and library room. This arrangement is an especially happy and skilful one and has been much commended.
At the librarian's right is a toilet room for men, beyond which is a ladies' toilet, to which entrance is obtained from the ladies' reading room. At the left of the librarian's desk is a hallway, from which is a stairway leading to a side entrance in the basement. Extending beyond the general delivery room is the library proper, 33 by 40 feet. The subjoined plan shows the arrangement of this floor.
The basement of the building is reached by a flight of four steps at each side of the flight leading to the main floor, opening into a porch and vestibule of the same dimensions as those above. At the right of the vestibule, underneath the ladies' reading room, is a committee and trustees' room. At the left, under the men's reading room, is a room of equal size, the contemplated use of which is for a natural history specimen room. The vestibule leads into the boiler room, on the right of which is a janitor's toilet room, and beyond is another toilet room, which is reached from the trustees' room. At the left of the boiler room is the corridor leading to the side entrance.
As we have already said, the general effect of the interior is one of great elegance and beauty, and it shows that subdued harmony of tone and color which marks all really artistic work of the kind. The finish of the vestibule is of quartered oak; that of the reading rooms is of California redwood bought by Mr. Brooks and shipped around Cape Horn to New York for this especial purpose. The effect of this finish is heightened by panels of redwood burl in the doors of the reading rooms. Over the fire-places are French plate mirrors in redwood frames and the mantels are of the same handsome wood.
The library room has an open timber roof with exposed trusses, an arrangement which heightens materially its effect in point of height and abundant light. The finish of this room is Georgia pine throughout, including the book cases, which are eight in number, four on each side with a capacity for 13,000 volumes. This capacity can be doubled whenever desired by the construction of balconies with cases of the same dimensions.
The floors of the building are of birch stained to a cherry color. All the wood work, including the oak, redwood and Georgia pine is finished in its natural color and handsomely polished. The fine effect of the interior is heightened materially by the introduction of panels of cathedral glass in the upper sections of the windows in the reading rooms and by a panel of similar glass in the space above the outer vestibule doors.
The frescoing of the reading rooms is in the style known as Roman relief. The colors in the gentlemen's reading room are in neutral tints of French gray. In the ladies' room they are subdued tints of love and buff. The ceilings have centre-pieces in relief colors with mouldings and cornices---the coloring in each case being in tints harmonizing with the colors on the walls and giving an effect rarely harmonious and restful to the eye.
The decoration of the library rooms consists of a frieze in Pompeian blue ornamented with borders and walls in Pompeian red. The chandeliers are of plain polished brass. The deep and roomy fire-places are furnished with andirons and fenders of antique iron. In each reading room is a large reading table of quartered oak with chairs and settees of oak in antique design with carved back rails which have the Brooks Library monogram.
On the walls of each of the reading rooms there hang four steel engravings, which were the gift of the late Mrs. Sarah G. Chapin. These engravings are of great artistic merit and several of them illustrate notable historic events. They all have the added value which age gives to works of this kind and all are from the hand of English engravers of well-known standing.
One of the most valuable of these engravings represents the meeting of Field Marshal Blucher and the Duke of Wellington on the evening of the battle of Waterloo, near La Bell Alliance. It is from a painting by T. J. Barker, 1851.
Another, "The Fight for the Standard," from a painting by Ausdell, represents Sergt. Ewart, Scots Greys, taking the eagle from the 45th regiment, the Invincibles, at Waterloo, the titles of the other are---
"Acquittal of the Seven Judges."
"Waiting for the Ferry."
"The Stag at Bay."
"Time of War."
The last two are after paintings by Landseer.
The Stag At Bay
Mr. Brooks, in preparing the words which he meant to say in presenting the new building to his fellow townsmen, paid his own tribute to the architect and builders, as has already been seen. Mr. Currier's skill and good taste as an architect have brought forth a building which is not only a handsome and enduring structure, but it is a model of convenience and of adaptability to the purpose for which it was designed.
Lithograph By George W. Howard
Vermont Phoenix, January 1, 1886.
Its outward appearance and interior arrangement alike stamp it as distinctively a library building, and however taste and architecture may change this building will stand as a lasting testimonial to Mr. Currier's professional ability and faithfulness. Not less deserved is Mr. Brook's tribute to the excellence of the work done by Messrs. Bartlett Bros., the contractors. The book-cases and shelving were built by Hunter & O'Neil, and their work corresponds in excellence with that of the whole interior finish.
The Page steam-heating apparatus, which warms the building in a very admirable manner, using both the direct and indirect methods, was put in by J. F. Anderson. The plumbing was done by White & Galvin. Clapp & Jones accomplished a very satisfactory piece of work in framing so handsomely the engravings given by Mrs. Chapin. The frescoing was done by Wiese & Son of Springfield, and the harmony which they have maintained between their own work and that of the architect stamps them as true artists.
To the Attractiveness of the Free Library--
Cordial Thanks to Mrs. and Miss Shea
Through the kindness of Mrs. George Shea and Miss Mary Ritter Shea, the Brattleboro Free Library has lately been the recipient of two valuable acquisitions.
The first consists of a gift of more than a hundred volumes, many of them costly editions, from the library of the late Judge Shea,---and the second, the loan, by Miss Mary Shea, of a very fine copy in bronze of the celebrated statue of Mercury by John of Bologna. The latter has been placed in the entrance hall, in the most effective position, and lends a charm thereto, which will be appreciated by all who visit the institution.
John of Bologna was born at Douai in 1530, showing artistic talent in early life, he was sent to Rome, but finally settled in Florence. Founding his style upon the study of Michael Angelo he was considered the best sculptor of his time. Among his best works may be mentioned the group of the "Rape of the Sabines," his "Venus Coming from the Bath," and the "Mercury" rendered familiar to us by the plaster casts recently displayed in the window of the firm of Vaughan & Burnett.
The Board of Trustees at their last meeting, passed a vote of cordial thanks, to both Mrs. and Miss Shea, for their thoughtful kindness, in making these valuable additions to the library; thus enrolling themselves among the large number of benefactors who have manifested a friendly interest in the institution.
Judge George Shea, Chief Justice of the Marine Court of the City of New York, the author of "The Life and Epoch of Alexander Hamilton: An Historical Study" (1877), lived on Oak Street with his wife Angelica Barracleough Smith and his daughter Mary Ritter Smith. Angelica's sister Mathilda Cushman Smith married Francis W. Brooks, the brother of George Jones Brooks.
to the library by Beatrice Bruce. It is valued at $1200.
---The museum connected with the free library upon which Dr. W. B. Clark has been at work for some time, arranging and classifying the specimens, the greater part of which is also his gift, is nearly finished and within a few days will be open to the public. The collection is already a sizable one containing many valuable and interesting specimens. In the upper north room are three large cases, a large upright one containing mammals and birds, largely prepared by Taxidermist L. G. Clary although purchased to a great extent of Mr. Cooper of Burlington.
Here are also skeletons of the different classes of vertebrae. Opposite there is a cabinet for the Frost botanical collection, loaned by Wells S. Frost, which will be arranged in a few days. And a case containing geological specimens, obtained from the Boston Society of Natural History, and in it, among the many interesting things, a series of casts of unique fossils from Bohemia.
Sign Over Lintel Names Frost Collection
There is also a cast of a gigantic salamander that was originally described as the pre-dilluvial man, and so held by scientific men in the early part of the century. Another cast is the "Welcome Nugget," the largest nugget of gold ever discovered which was found in Australia and weighed 183 pounds and valued at $41,000.
Most of this collection is the gift of Mr. Clark and includes many interesting specimens picked up by him in England, Switzerland and Brazil. A collection of Vermont marble, the gift of Ex-Gov. Proctor, is arranged on the mantel piece. Down stairs is a large upright case, one side of which contains a collection presented by the United States Fish Commission and a collection of skulls of the different races, together with those of the chimpanzee and gorilla.
In a case below this is the collection of minerals presented by the Smithsonian Institute, and others purchased from the Boston Society of Natural History. On the other side is a collection of fossils of the different geological eras, the gift of Professor Clark. One large wall case contains minerals illustrating economic geology---building stones, ores, etc., purchased of the Boston Natural History Society, and some few obtained from private sources.
Fossil Plate Standing By Front Door Entrance
A large slab with fossil footprints, found at Turners Falls, is the gift of L. M. Howe. Models in plasters of paris show Mt. Vesuvius and its lava streams, and a relief map of Mt. Blanc showing its geology. There is also a large specimen of actinolite from Dover. On top of the central case is a collection of fine corals and sponges. These are only a few of the many interesting points of the museum, which will be rapidly enlarged, though even now interesting enough to warrant the spending of a hour with pleasure and profit.
---Uncle Sam Knight has recently brought to light some of the old records of the Brattleboro post office, bearing date in 1792-99, which are of interest as showing the difference in the amount of business transacted through the office then and now. Though the postage on letters was then ten cents, or upwards, the quarterly receipts were but about $30---much less than the daily receipts now---and the postmaster pocketed only from $7 to $10 for his labor.
The number of letters received apparently did not average a dozen per day, and newspaper and other periodicals were, of course, of little account. During the quarter ending Oct. 1, 1873, about $2000 worth of postage stamps were cancelled---indicating a pretty considerable increase in the amount of business done, particularly when one bears in mind the diminished rates of postage.
Bennington 28th of August '87
you will find by this time I dare say that the government of this State
have been very friendly to yours, such persons who are criminals and
have acted against law and [so]ciety in general and have came from
your State to this we send back to you; and other[s] who have only
took part with Shayes we [go]vern by our laws so that they do not, and
dare not make any inroads or devastation in the Massachusetts.---
As to the Appendix to the Oracles of reason should you procure 18 or 20 pound by subscription in ready money it shall be published next spring. I am sir with respect your Humle Sert---
For Major Tyler.
per favour Majr Hopkins
The Rev. Thomas Pickman Tyler framed this original 1787 letter for presentation to the Society of Natural History in Brattleboro. When this organization disbanded, the Allen-Tyler letter was donated to the Brooks Library. It was displayed here during long years, openly for all, but was finally removed to a local bank vault, or to the library attic, for storage and safety.
Howard C. Rice, Jr. photostated the letter in 1941. The text above was taken from a copy of this photostat, not the original letter, by the Brattleboro-born author Marius B. Peladeau. He notes that the three brackets indicate where the letter was torn when the seal was broken in 1787.
The photostat copy is now in the Special Collections Library of Marlboro College. The original letter is quite likely still in Windham County.
Mrs. Edith Tarbox
The General Card Catalogue
Mrs. Franklin S. Pratt
Resigned December 20, 1917
New Quarters Now Ready for Boys and Girls
Is Furnished by the Woman's Club---
Hours, 3 to 6 Daily---Forenoon Hours on Saturday.
The new children's room at the Brattleboro public library opened yesterday, affording juvenile readers enlarged and more attractive accommodations.
The opening of the new room is the result of a number of years of wanting and wishing on the part of the library staff, supported by others interested in putting the Brattleboro library on a par in this respect with other libraries of its size throughout the state, where a children's room has long been considered a prime necessity.
The southeast front basement room, which hitherto had housed an odd collection of natural history objects, has been cleaned and altered to accommodate the children, under special supervision of an assistant librarian assigned to that room---Miss Sarah Taft---and the room will be open daily except Sunday.
On the first five days of each week the room will be open afternoons only, 3 to 6 o'clock, but on Saturday it will be open from 10 to 12 in the forenoon and 2 to 6 in the afternoon. During other hours of the day children under high school age will not be admitted to the library except when accompanied by parents, or sent on a definite errand by parents for an adult book.
The juvenile books heretofore available in the two alcoves on the main floor of the library will be moved to the children's room, and the two alcoves on the main floor thus vacated will be used for an extension of the adult fiction department.
Entrance to the children's room will be exclusively by way of the basement vestibule, which will be marked by a brass sign, and the children will find in their new quarters furniture fitted for their comfort. The Brattleboro Woman's club, donating $200 from the proceeds of the inter-sex spelling match last spring, is furnishing the room with round tables, and two sizes of chairs, all in the dark walnut finish, purchased by the library from the Readsboro Chair Co.
The walnut desk used for years by the late Judge James M. Tyler---a small flat-top desk covered with green---which was purchased by Miss Pratt at the auction on the Tyler premises last week, will seve for the children's librarian's desk.
Around the room are the freshly varnished wooden shelves, which, for the most part are those transferred from the old public-document room. In making the alterations in the room a new steel ceiling was put in, as well as steam radiators, and the whole place so freshly touched up that it looks very attractive. Four indirect lighting fixtures have been installed, but will seldom be necessary, for the room is well lighted by large windows facing south and east. Full length copper screens are being made for the windows.
A feature which may be enjoyed in the fall and winter is a substantial brick fireplace, which has been cleaned and made ready for business. The books, as heretofore, will be on the open shelves available for the children to take down at will and the same regulations as to withdrawal for home reading will obtain as before.
Although the change in hours for children will require some adjustment among those who have heretofore used the library on week day mornings and evenings, the hours assinged are those in use in practically every library, and parents generally are found to approve of the regulation that children under high school age shall not be admitted to the library during evening hours.
The extension of the adult fiction and non-fiction department on the main floor will be made gradually with the addition of new books as the funds for such may be available.
Florence L. Pratt, Librarian, reported later concerning the juvenile room---
On the walls above the shelves are three colored copies of famous Madonnas, bought in Italy by Miss Crowell; an engraving given by Mrs. Bell of Lawton Hall; and a most interesting map of the United States, drawn in colors, locating scenes of many well-known children's books, drawn and given by a librarian visiting in town, Miss Florence Redfield of New Haven, Conn.
The new children's room still had a back stairway leading up to the adult library. Children could not use this stairway until they had completed the eighth grade.
A History of Its Growth and Something About Mr. Brooks for Whom Named.
A young man, evidently a stranger in town asked the young woman in waiting at a lawn tea, given the other evening by one of the Brattleboro churches, if the man for whom the Brooks Library was named was the same one whose name appears on the Brooks House. The inquirer also asked who Brooks was and if he was not at one time Governor of Vermont. The young woman questioned, born and brought up in Brattleboro, thought Mr. Brooks had never been governor of the state, but she was not conversant with his history and although several were questioned, the inquirer was obliged to turn away none the wiser.
Doubtless had some of the older persons heard the questions they would have been promptly and correctly answered, and no more would have been thought about it. This occurrence has raised the question as to whether the beneficiaries of that splendid institution, known as the Brattleboro Free Library are equally uninformed concerning its inception, says the local correspondent of the Springfield Republican.
The library itself was established in 1842 and "dragged its slow length along for 40 years, as libraries do" with the patronage of a few hundred of Brattleboro's best citizens. In 1881 a movement to merge this "partnership library" into a town affair was begun with a view to making it free to all residents. This was readily accomplished as a means of public good and at the March meeting in 1882 the town "voted to establish and maintain a free public library."
Liberal appropriations were made annually by the town and a few bequests were made by benevolent individuals. The first gift, in 1853 was $2000 payable in annual instalments of $100 each with the provision that "citizens should raise $500 more and that the library should be kept open three days a week". When the transfer to the town was made in 1883, there were 2700 volumes. Hon. C. N. Davenport, the eminent lawyer, bequeathed $1000 and soon after, and in 1886, William H. Wells of New York, a former resident of Brattleboro, gave $1000. Public spirited women raised another $1000 and Lucius Pratt of Newton, a former resident, gave $1000.
The old Fisk Block on Main street, replaced some years since by the Hooker Block, housed the library at first and subsequently the institution found a home in George H. Salisbury's bookstore. It was kept in Fred W. Edwards's bindery where Jacob's bakery now is. Later it was located in Benjamin K. Marshall's jewelry store. Peleg Barrows and then Fletcher Barrows were identified with it. In 1855 it came into the care of E. J. Carpenter and suffered severely from the great fire of 1869, which cleared out the street from High to Elliot street. Subsequently it was found in the same care in Market Block, until the town set apart the lower town hall, so called.
Now for the answer to the question, "Who was Mr. Brooks?" Rev. Dr. George B. Gow, father of Rev. Dr. John R. Gow, the present pastor of the Baptist church, was in the '80s pastor of the same church. At that time this public spirited citizen came in contact with George J. Brooks, who in the '70s had built the Brooks House and for several years was its proprietor. For the establishment of this due credit was given to Dr. Gow at the dedication of that building.
Dr. Holton at that time stated that "with a common interest in the institution a friendship was cemented between these two men, and their many conversations finally culminated in materializing the shadowy idea which for years had been quite possessing the soul of Mr. Brooks and resulted in the library building, complete in itself and elegant in all its appointments."
The giver of the beautiful building bearing his name, at the time of the Civil War, lived at San Francisco and conducted a wholesale paper business. It has been understood that he awoke one morning to learn with surprise that either through an easy-going method of allowing the stock to accumulate, or for some other reason he was the only man in San Francisco that had any paper for sale and he easily disposed of it at fabulous prices in the midst of that paper famine.
Brattleboro has reason, certainly, for gratitude because of her commodious hotel and splendid library, as monuments of Mr. Brooks's liberality. Having witnessed the completion of his gift, within a few days of the time set for its dedication, the honored giver died suddenly at the Brooks House, December 23, 1886.
From small beginnings the library has grown to 17,500 volumes. Annually the town appropriates a liberal sum for its care and maintenance and thousands now avail themselves of its advantages. It is to be hoped that its history as well as its advantages, may be fully known and appreciated and that the memory of the giver may be honored by successive generations.
An oil painting of Mr. Brooks, the work of Brattleboro's great portait painter, the late Robert Gordon Hardie, hangs in a conspicuous place on the walls of the library.
The late Judge Hoyt H. Wheeler recently presented to the Brattleboro Free library a number of interesting and valuable relics. Relics of the Civil War include a Confederate furlough from Fair Oaks, an order for special diet at Fort Wood, a Confederate treasury note of $50, a blank Confederate bond with letter on back, a manuscript poem on Sherman's raid, a poem on Sherman's march to the sea, a Fredericksburg banner of July 14, 1862, and the message of Governor Letcher of Virginia, 1863. Relics of the Spanish war include a napkin from the table of the commander of the Spanish warship, Christobal Colon, at Santiago, and the cap band of an officer of that warship. There is also a case of Continental money. In a case of relics of the family of Major John Arms is a sampler of Susanna Fox, 1803, a watch owned by Ebenezer Fox, and a housewife of Ebenezer Fox.
Vermont Phoenix, September 1, 1883.
---The renovation of the library room has been completed, and the library was reopened for the use of the public this morning. The woodwork has been painted in parti-colors, a heavy terra-cotta paper with gilt frieze has been laid upon the walls, the ceiling has been given a neutral tint, and the window shutters and floor supports have been painted to harmonize with the walls.
The work has been done in excellent taste, and the interior now presents an appearance at once pleasing and harmonious.
It was certainly a "good thought" of Col. Fuller which prompted him to offer to have this work done. It is now to be hoped that sufficient money will be raised from the children's Mother Goose party to give the room some needed pieces of furniture and articles of use and decoration.
The Col. Fuller here refers to Levi K. Fuller.
The old Brattleboro Free Library catalogued books according to a system shelf numbers. The March 9, 1883 Vermont Phoenix reported that Jules Verne's books "The Cryptogram" and "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" were located at shelf numbers 114.2 and 114.21 respectively.
Over Children's Room Mantelpiece
There was a tradition---classical, Christian, humanist, aristocratic---that embodied the humanitas of Christian Europe -- This tradition was founded on the metaphysics of Plato, on the truth of Christian revelation, on the Renaissance code of the gentleman, on theology as the queen of the sciences. In the days when science was still called natural philosophy, the proper study of man was man, which meant moral philosophy---questions of value that depended on the right interpretation, in some immediate human context, of the great tradition. Because there was a great tradition, literature in the universities meant the preservation and transmission of classical literature---and this included classical politics, history, philosophy and ethics as well as tragedy, epic and lyric --
Serving on the Board of Trustees for the Brattleboro Free Library, Howard C. Rice, Jr. was particularly fond of this description for a true and genuine American library. Howard Rice opposed breaking up the Charles Phelps collection.
The death of Francis W. Brooks on February 5, 1885, appears to have prompted George J. Brooks' wish to construct a fine library for Brattleboro as a way of paying a tribute to his brother. By all accounts, George Brooks was an extraordinarily modest man---who would not be inclined to discuss his grief in public.
William C. Hatch's Debtor's Letter From Newfane Gaol
Newfane Gaol Decr 9th 1826
I feel much gratified to you for your approaching Jas. before I was committed and the messenger who brought it carried back to Guilford the letter which was sent to give me the liberties of the prison -- The Execution on which I am committed was issued contrary to the law of this state and Genl Field the agent of the bank I am sure is now convinced of it. -- I have to my own satisfaction that it is so -- and some of the first lawyers in this County are of similar opinion -- I had wished and still wish to ____ and make a fair settlement with every one -- I feel satisfied that the persecutions now going on agt me are intended for ulterior purposes and know it to my own satisfaction that these things are intended for my ruin and it will probably be effected -- and I have only to say that notion may be my fate I will not retreat from an investigation -- I have been guilty of many follies and of many arrers but of the crime of perjury I never was -- and I hope I shall ever be preserved from committing a crime so foul -- I intended to write _____ than with my present feeling. I am able to and I wish for some person to see to such of my affairs as are left at Cavendish -- in particular I wish to know what the sales of my property amounted to by ____ and Mason -- I have written to them but can get no amount -- I am confident the property sold amounts to considerable more than the executions against me and that the balance has gone somewhere and I want to know where it is, that it may go to my honest crediters -- I wish them all to be paid and with the business which I have been draged from I should have done it -- I want to get copies of the Ex- Sherman Hatch against me, John Procter against me and officers returns on each -- will you not undertake and do it as soon as you can and address all to me at Guilford -- I shall be there or here until called away by some higher authority than my own free will -- your brother the general does wrong in saying that he has always been willing and ready to settle with me -- I have urged him to it a long time and the last time we sat down for a settlement in my office he broke it off with a promise to complete it in a few days -- I still have two notes against him and great number of returns for receipts for Execution ____ -- he has received the money bisides a book account to a large amount -- and if he thinks he cannot personally settle with me I am willing to submit the whole to good and indifferent men -- I wish also to make a settlement with you and should be glad to meet you any where in this County at any time when it is in my power -- The law is such that I can make no disposition of any thing except for the support of myself and family -- To Alpheus and Adeline -- I wish you to say that I want much to see them and Edward and I hope it will be in my power while in the land of the living but if I cannot may they be blessed with more prosperous times than I see and may we rest where the storms of the world cannot disturb us --
I am yours Respectfully
This letter was read by scholars researching the Phelps Collection, on the third floor of the old Brooks Library. It was finally either transferred out, or auctioned away, by the Brooks Memorial Library, and it is now in a private collection that is still in Brattleboro, Vermont. The envelope bears the cancellation date of December 12, 1826.
Third Floor, Front Of Building
Which Judge James H. Phelps Has Given
To The Brooks Library.
Books, Pamphlets and Manuscripts Gathered by Himself and Three Generations of Ancestors--Some Things That Can Be Found No Where Else--Old Sermons, Old Law Books, Extensive Files of Newspapers--Especial Richness in Local and Vermont History--Mention of a Few of the Features.
The catalogues have now been received at the free library, from the Reformer job department, of the Phelps addition, and in their neat and well arranged form they afford a guide to a mine of rich literary and historical material, such as very few libraries anywhere contain. This valuable collection of books and documents, in manuscript and in pamphlet, which is converyed to the library by Judge Jas. H. Phelps of West Townshend, is the fruit of a life-time of scholarly gathering by himself, his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, three of whom at least were prominent in public affairs, in the constant receipt of important material bearing upon the history of their times, and uncommonly assiduous in preserving it.
Judge Phelps has always been a man of literary tastes, a superior lawyer, and intimately identified with public affairs, having served not only as representative and senator in the legislature, but as register of probate, judge of the county court, and long the treasurer of his town.
It has long been a cherished plan of Judge Phelps to so dispose of this collection as to confer the largest possible benefit upon the public, and when the late George J. Brooks provided for a free library, he saw his opportunity. He conferred with Mr. Brooks about it, and the latter heartily approved of the plan, which has this year been put into execution, Judge H. H. Wheeler rendering important aid in arranging and classifying the catalogue and supervising its publication.
The catalogue makes a volume of nearly 100 pages, of the same style and general character as the Free Library catalogue, so that it may be bound in with it in the volumes that are hereafter bound. The first part is given to a general description of the volumes, pamphlets and papers, a work so well done as to give a very satisfactory idea of each one, and this is followed by a subject and an author catalogue, so that between the three the student who is in search of information upon any one subject, can hardly fail to be directed to what he wants.
Judge Phelps has imposed only such conditions as are necessary to preserve so important a collection while making it accesible to the public. They are not to be taken from the building but are for the free use of anybody who wishes to consult or refer to them there, and the Brooks' trustees have set apart a room for this purpose. There are among them a good many books and documents that are very rare and can be found in few libraries, public or private, and students, especially in historical matters, will frequently be found making pilgrimages from afar to this room.
There is a good deal of interesting history connected with this collection itself. Chas. Phelps was the first lawyer that came into Vermont. He struck out from Hadley, Mass., with his two sons, Solomon and Timothy, in March 1764, and settled in Marlboro, when there were only two or three families in the town and but few along the river. He was a man of large learning and brought with him a good library of legal, miscellaneous and theological works, most of which unfortunately the patriotism of our fathers prevented our getting.
Mr. Phelps settled upon the place now occupied by Hugh Adams, in the year that the boundary between New York and New Hampshire was fixed at the west shore of the Connecticut. He was largely interested in lands in Draper---now Wilmington,---as well as in other towns, and so got deeply involved in the controversy, that led to the independence of Vermont, which was really a land controversy.
At first he was a "new state" man, but as this solution didn't seem likely to favor his land interests he was in favor of the territory going back to the control of Massachusetts, and had some correspondence on the subject, which with many other letters written and received by him all through the struggle, appears in this collection. Finally he turned in favor of New York, and on this account his books were seized as was also his sword.
The old picture of him and his sons fighting off the Vermont officers with pitchforks, is one of the most familiar in our early history. Constable Abel Stockwell had to get a posse to do it. A judgment for
L750 was rendered against them for this resistance. As this was equal to $3500 of our money, it was pretty heavy for those times; but judgments were then payable in Continental currency, so the actual cost was very small. Mr. Phelps' theological books and sword were afterwards returned to him, but most of his law books went into the hands of the state.
When Nat Chipman and Stephen R. Bradley were appointed to to revise the laws of the state, they made it a condition that they should have the use of these books and should be paid in books, and of all this library that was held together, the bulk went into the hands of the Bradleys, who furnished three generations of distinguished lawyers to the county, and remains in their hands now.
Still at one time or another a good many volumes of Charles Phelps' law books have found their way back to his descendants. Judge Phelps found one a few years ago in an old bookstore in Cincinnati, and naturally was not long in buying it. There are inscriptions in several volumes, detailing the circumstances by which they found their way back. Including these there are 300 or 400 volumes of law books in this present which Judge Phelps makes to the library, and among them some very rare books which can be found nowhere else in Vermont.
There are 140 treatises on common law, among them two copies of the oldest law treatise ever written, a collection of the English statutes and early English law reports, complete set of United States Supreme Court reports, volumes 1 to 58 of the Vermont reports, Tyler's reports, several of the earlier digests, and some reports of other states. The Session Laws of Vermont are complete from 1785 down, except the years 1791 and 1806. As to the laws of one session, that of 1778, it is the only copy known to be in existence.
Charles Phelps, though a "Yorker" was earnestly on the side of the colonists in the Revolution. On the day of the battle of Bennington, the patriot, Col. Carpenter, gave him this release from the draft:
Guilford, August 16, '77.
These may certify that in consideration of Chas. Phelps, Esq., having at his own Charge and Risque, journied to Boston and procured 150 fire arms and ammuntion in proportion, for sd. guns for these Neighboring towns and has been at a Grate expense in money and time in the Premises, and is now on his Journey to Boston with money to pay for the same; that Although he is Draughted by the Capt., etc., to go to the Westward in Defense of His Country on one of the Allarm Lists, I hereby Release him, Therefrom to Enable him to do far Grater Service for his Distressed Country, by doing the above mentioned business at Boston, and his Endeavoring to procure more arms and ammuntion and Salt for the Distressed infant towns on the Hampshire Grants for the Release of the Same People for the other 150 guns and ammuntion, was Procured by the tender Commisseration of the Committy, and most Patriotic Collony of the Massachusetts Bay, afforesaid to whome and for which our hearty and abundant Thanks are over due, when we all Lay open to the Ravages of the enemy at the Shamefull Giving up Ticonderoga etc., to the Regular Troops.
Benjamin Carpenter Col.
This document, with many others of similar local interest, is in the collection. His son, Timothy, the grandfather of Judge Phelps, was the last York Sheriff of Cumberland, now Windham, County, and was banished from the state. Four men escorted him to the line. Their pay roll for this service is among the pages.
Charles Phelps died in 1789. His son, Timothy, remained on the old place in Marlboro. He had two sons, John and Charles, of whom the former, the father of Gen. John W. Phelps, settled in Guilford, and the latter in West Townshend. Most of the first Charles Phelps' books went to the grandson Charles, who was the father of Judge James H.
Timothy was not much of a book man but the second Charles and his son have all through their lives been adding to the collection that came to them. It was in the former's time that the War of 1812 occurred, and he preserved everything he could get hold of in the way of debates and pamphlets relating to it, so that the student who wishes to breathe the spirit of those times, as it were, to comprehend, as it is now very difficult to do, the ugliness with which most of New England viewed this second struggle for Independence, has rare facilities in this collection.
So, too, with the great nullification controversy of 1833, the financial crisis of 1837, the great tariff controversies of 1842 and '46, the annexation of Texas, the Jackson-Calhoun quarrel, with its vast influence upon the policies of the future, growing out of Crawford's malignant revealing of the secrets of Monroe's cabinet.
Indeed more interesting gatherings of controversial literature are scarce in any collection. Many of the speeches upon these subjects, ephemeral in their character from one view, but throwing important side lights upon the questions, add materially to the value of this collection, because so difficult to find anywhere else. There is also a deeply interesting batch of material relating to the Monroe Doctrine, its promulgation, the reports, information and argument leading to it, and some very interesting pamphlets on the Burr conspiracy, both accusatory and defensive.
There are 131 bound volumes of newspapers, including New York and London papers all through the war, and almost up to the present time, Washington, Boston and local papers. Among them are the old-time publications at Fayetteville, making with what are already in the Free Library, practically a complete file of all the publications that were ever issued in Windham County. The early anti-slavery papers are also represented by a 12-years' file of the Liberator, from 1832 to 1843, six years of the Emancipator, 1838-43, and Parson Brownlow's Whig of 1861.
There are four volumes of historical tracts by Peter Force, Capt. John Smith's description of New England, and his papers relating to Virginia, Georgia, and early New England.
There are also 20 volumes of ancient history, and 24 of parliamentary history.
Of dictionaries and lexicons, the collection is particularly good, including Richardson's and Johnson's, a Shakespeare lexicon, and Halliwell's archaic and provincial words, proverbs and customs. There are two volumes of Johnson's, the English edition of 1755.
But as interesting a feature as any is the ancient sermons, of which there is a great collection, especially of sermons by the first ministers in a place, election sermons almost without number, and philosophical and social discourses upon all sorts of occasions. The savings of four generations of such productions make an impressive showing of what the human brain has been grinding out. Among these was the discourse preached at Marlboro at the freemen's meeting of 1789, which was opened by a Congregationalist minister, Gersham C. Lyman.
The collection is particularly rich in matters of state and local history. There is a paper file of manuscript relating to early Vermont history, enabling one to go back to the original documents in many important matters. The Vermont Registers are completed from 1809 to 1884, except for the years 1810 and 1822. The grouping of documents about the great controversies of American history is particularly valuable for its preservation of the speeches of the Vermont senators and representatives, Phelps, Slade, Preniss, Collamer, Foote, Upham, Hall and Marsh, especially the appeals and replies of Mr. Phelps and Gov. Slade in 1845-6.
Ethan and Ira Allen's papers, including Ethan's narrative of his captivity, are all here. There are some interesting extracts from London papers on the Haldimand correspondence, giving the English view of the alleged attempt by the Vermonters to betray the Revolution. There is a paper respecting the treaty with the Indian chiefs at Fort Dummer, about 1736, and Governor Belcher's commission to John Stoddard and others, to treat with the Ontosagos at the Truck House above Northfield. The original charter of Draper is here, as are any number of deeds and other old title documents.
Several of the books printed at Brattleboro and Walpole, including Balmanno's Jones' Law of Bailments (Brattleboro: 1807,) and Powell's Law of Contracts and Agreements, (Walpole: 1802,) will please the eye of the antiquarian.
Out of a host of ther local documents and pamphlets particularly notable are: Wm. C. Bradley's Fourth of July oration at Westminster in 1799; Gov. Chittenden's Thanksgiving proclamation in 1788; John Phelps' Fourth of July addresses at Guilford, and Charles Phelps' at Townshend in 1811; Plumb's and Charles Phelps' addresses on similar occasions at Halifax and Marlboro; Rev. Pliny H. White's address on the Life and Services of Matthew Lyon; Vermont pension rolls, Wars of the Revolution and 1812; History of the remarkable Boorn case at Manchester in which the supposed murdered man, Colvin, turned up alive; Hudson's history of Westminster, Mass.; early reports of the Vermont anti-slavery, Vermont missionary and Vermont historical society; the libel trial, Susanna Torrey v. R. M. Field; a number of Gov. Hall's historical papers; votes and proceedings of different towns and county court records of the earlier dates.
There is hardly a page of the catalogue that doesn't lead out to important researches. The ancient account by J. Philmore of the slave trade; Young's travels in England, Ireland and Wales and Anson's tour around the world; the American Alarm, Boston, 1763; Ruby's Reminiscences of the French War, and account of the life and services of Gen. John Stark; Madame de Riedesel's Letters and Memoirs relating to the American War of Independence; Pollard's rebel history; Fr. Charlevoix's Voyage to Canada and the Gulf of Mexico, (London: 1763); Sir Henry Clinton's and Lord Cornwallis' "Narrative" and "Replies" about the conduct of the Bristish cause in the war of the Revolution; Davila's discourses; Fox's history of the early reign of James II; Samuel Johnson's History and Defense of Magna Charta; the Indianapolis Trials for Treason, disclosing the plans for establishing a Northwestern Confederacy--these are only a few of a vast number of books and documents of great importance.
Such a donation is a monument to the giver more enduring and more precious than any that can be erected by the hand of art.
James Houghton Phelps (1817 - 1893).
The historic Charles Phelps Collection was split apart by a recent Brooks Memorial Library administration and quietly distributed to the University of Vermont, to auction blocks, and to select beneficiaries for additional disposals.
Thomas Landseer, After Edwin Landseer
Perhaps You Will Go and Take a Look for Yourself.
How lately have you been down into the Natural History museum in the Brooks Library building?How much do you know about the specimens there? How many different kinds of "bugs" do you think there are which are "native" to Brattleboro? How long do you think it would take to collect 1000 specimens of insects each different from the other? Do you suppose there is anybody in Brattleboro who would undertake to do this work just from the love of it, and the knowledge which it brings?
This isn't a catechism, or a civil service reform examination paper. The questtions are only some that have been floating around in the head of the bug and snake editor since he was decoyed down into the museum by one of the library trustees the other day.
The object of the visit was to see the entomological specimens which Mrs. F. A. Powers has collected, set up, and arranged in their proper order during the present season. They fill a row of glass cases arranged along the south side of the museum. There are 1005 different specimens in the collection. Speaking in a general way and with no attempt to use scientific terms, the collection includes flies, grasshoppers, locusts, katydids, crickets, dragon flies, laced-winged flies, May flies, gaddis flies, centipedes, spiders, mites, moths and butterflies, bees, ichneumons, saw flies, ants and beetles.
Although living among them all their lives we venture to say that not one person in 20 has seen or individually noticed over a tenth of these specimens of insect life. They make an exceedingly pretty show, classified in families, arranged in pairs, and showing also, in many cases, the larva, chrysalis and egg stages of the insects.
It may increase the popular respect for this summer's work if it is said, for instance, that there are shown here 35 different kinds of dragon flies, 100 of grasshoppers and locusts, 336 of moths and butterflies, and about 350 of beetles. Some of the specimens are very rare, requiring long search to find them; some are very beautiful, as in case of several of the larger moths and the colored beetles; and some are curious, for instance, the treehopper, which grows only on the bitter-sweet vine and looks like a minute prairie chicken glued to the bark, while near by are the eggs safely covered for the hatching.
On a shelf are specimens of another kind, mostly of fish and reptiles, which Mrs. Powers has gathered and prepared, nearly all of them the present summer. This collection includes a good many of the native fishes, and nearly all of the native snakes, among them a big Wantastiquet rattler, black snake, striped snakes, adders, a ringed racer, toads, frogs, lizards, snails, slugs and clams.
Mrs. Powers's work illustrates what may be done by one who has an absorbing love for any line of research into the life of nature. She began it without any previous educational equipment, but the bent showed itself when she was a child and used to fill her pockets with bugs, and snakes, and other pets, which most children abhorred. In mature life she has taken up the study methodically, devoting her whole leisure time to it, gaining her knowldege entirely from standard books and her own research.
The standard entomologies are her inseparable companions, and for the solution of obscure or knotty points she has had an occasional letter of information or suggestion from Prof. Morse, the assistant in entomology in Wellesley college. At the present time in her "breeding cage" at home she has many specimens in the egg, larva and chrysalis state, which she is carefully nursing and watching against the time when, betwixt this and next June, they emerge into the full glory of their insect life.
This portrait gives Brattleboro people their first opportunity to meet the man after whom was named "the only Brattleboro in all the world." So far as is known, there has never been published locally any faithful likeness of the portly Mr. William Brattle, whose name was first on the charter of this town in 1753---but Miss Mary R. Cabot, author of Annals of Brattleboro, recently found this oil painting of the man among the Tercentenary Exhibit of One Hundred Colonial Portraits in the Art Museum at Boston.
The original oil on a canvas 49 1/2 by 39 1/4 inches, was painted by John Singleton Copley (1738 - 1815) and is loaned to the Tercentenary Exhibit by Mrs. Thomas Brattle Gannett.
William Brattle, born in 1706, was a preacher, lawyer and physician and Major General of militia. He was a Loyalist and friend of General Gage, and embarked with the British troops for Halifax in 1776 and died there without ever visiting the town which was to so proudly bear his name. The story of how Mr. Brattle was one of a group of Massachusetts, Connecticut and London capitalists to bid off the lands in this locality at a sale at the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston, in June, 1718, at a price of only a farthing an acre, has often been told, and is to be found in detail in the Annals of Brattleboro, but this is the first time that his portrait has come to light.
About the Province of Massachusetts Bay and Old Fort Dummer.
Mr. A. K. Jones, the long-time bellringer of Harvard college, has presented to the Brooks library an autograph letter relating to Fort Dummer, which is very interesting on account of its age and its contents. It is dated May 24, 1745. The Province of Massachusetts Bay was at first granted to extend from three miles south of the Charles river to three miles north of the Merrimac river, and to carry that breadth throughout to the Pacific ocean. At that time the Merrimac river was not known to come down from the north and to turn east to the Atlantic ocean, but was supposed to come from the west to the Atlantic ocean, and so the grant was supposed to give Massachusetts about the breadth it has now. When the true course of the Merrimac from the north became known Massachusetts was made so wide and New Hampshire so narrow that the line was corrected, and put where it is now in 1741. This letter refers to this correction and to the amount of land gained thereby:
Thus which is a Vast and very Valuable tract of Land being about forty Miles wide from North to South and will Carry that breadth throughout the provinces. The Question then is whether New Hampshire who now has that Land to be Disposed of by the Governor and Council to and among the Inhabitants of the province as by the Governors Commission which you have Lately Seen Plainly Appears and this Vast Tract of Land till it gets above Sixty Miles from the State to be granted Clear of any Quit rent except a Peppercorn for a Township and all above Sixty Miles to pay only one Shilling for one hundred Acres a year, the payment to begin at the end of Ten years from the Grant.
Massachusetts granted the land before the line was straightened as far north as Westminster and claimed far beyond, and this letter shows that New Hampshire was intended by the home government in England and the governments here to extend west of the Connecticut river, and to include Fort Dummer. Of the old fort it says:
The exact Charge of Supporting fort Dummer as it is now garrisoned by the Massachusetts which I have from a Certificate under Secretary Willards hand -- thus the Capt. 20 shillings per month, the Lieut. 18 shillings, one Ser gent, 13 shillings sixpence, one Corporal, 12 shillings, Sixteen Centenalls at 10 shillings each the whole of this for wages is Ten pounds Nineteen Shillings they valued themselves at 8 shillings a man per month which is £8 So that the whole Expense is Eighteen pounds Nineteen Shillings and for these wages, and this subsistence there are Persons enough from Connecticut Government and that part of Massachusetts that will Inlist.
The letter itself is placed in a document file at the library and put upon the catalogue and so is made readily accessible there.
The fifty years following the dismantling of the Brattleboro Free Library mark a low season for the old library's great collections, which still suffer from the covert removals and the virtual vandalism that is inflicted through unnecessary "restoration" works.
Portrait 1848 By Horace Bundy
In a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Brattleboro Free Library association Tuesday night it was voted to accept two oil paintings and a copy of the Dickerman genealogy from P. F. Connors, who went a short time ago to live with his sister in Providence, R. I. The paintings are of ancestors of Mrs. Connors, who was Sarah Dickerman, a great-granddaughter of Dr. John Dickerman, the first physician to practice in Brattleboro.
Vermont Phoenix, January 24, 1919.
This portrait of Dr. John Locke Dickerman has been mistakenly identified as Dr. Lemuel Dickerman (1751-1832). Since Horace Bundy was born in 1814 and did not paint his first portrait until he was twenty-five years old---seven years after Dr. Lemuel Dickerman died---there has been an egregious research error associated with this portrait.
The subject of this painting is not dressed in the fashions of the late eighteenth century, as Lemuel would be if he were the subject's approximate age. An accompanying oil painting likely represents Dr. John L. Dickerman's wife.
Vital Records In Library.
Loaned to Brattleboro by Massachusetts State Library---
D. A. R. to Place Lineage Books There.
The state library of Massachusets at Boston has loaned to the Brattleboro Free library 150 volumes of the vital records of Massachusetts, which are given every library in the state of Massachusetts. These books contain the record of practically every town in the state, up to the year 1850. They are much used by persons for general research and in the study of genealogy. They have been placed in the library in a room opposite the Loud collection, with other books pertaining to genealogy, and early Vermont and early Brattleboro history, and will remain there indefinitely. The trustees would appreciate any books or material pertaining to the early history of Brattleboro and Windham county.
The Daughters of the American Revolution are to place in a case with these vital records their lineage books and other books belonging to the society. This room has been made convenient, with a large study table, for anyone wishing to consult these books for research or study.
On the wall in this room, hang two large oil painting which have been presented to the library by P. F. Connors of Providence, R. I. they are portraits of members of the Dickerman family, former residents of Brattleboro.
Vermont Phoenix, January 16, 1920.
Rev. Lewis Grout's Proposed Gift To The Library.
Rev. Lewis Grout will soon present to the Brattleboro Free Library an interesting volume comprising 28 copies of his pamphlets, most of which were gifts to the aged clergyman's daughter, Miss Annie L. Grout, and which are now collected and bound in loving memory of her life.
The volume contains a sermon delivered on the occasion of the dedication of the Congregational church in Duban, Natal, in 1856 at the time Mr. Grout was an American missionary to Africa; also other discourses delivered in different places of worship in Africa and printed at the request of prominent men of Natal; observations on the Zulu language before the American-Oriental Society, as well as a number of other pamphlets on religious faith and form.
Of special local interest is a discourse on the early history of the Congregational church in West Brattleboro, written by Mr. Grout 26 years ago in which the church history of this region is fully covered.
An essay written for the Chicago Congress on Africa in 1893, in which the author writes of the African languages as factors in the development of that country; "A Practical Sermon" preached in several of the Congregational churches in Vermont eight years ago; several of Mr. Grout's earnest pulpit productions; an outline of Mr. and Mrs. Grout's golden wedding with a beautiful memorial sketch, "Some of the Amenities of a Good Old Age;" a monograph on the early life of Brattleboro; a partial list of the fruits of Mr. Grout's pen; an interesting story on the "Boer and Briton in South Africa;" a critique on Bishop Hartwell's great lecture in Chicago, May 2, 1900; a pamphlet on "The Upbuilding Power of Love" preserved for ready reference.
Mr. Grout is in his 88th year though not physically strong nevertheless is able to attend to the formalities of life to a reasonable degree and is daily honored by kindly letters and the loving attention of many friends. He continues to give more or less time to literary pursuits.
---[Brattleboro letter in Springfield Sunday Republican.]
Vermont Phoenix, December 12, 1902.
Daily Evening Times, May 22, 1891.
The Original Deed of the Southwest Corner of Brattleboro.
A document of unusual historical interest and value has just been presented to the Brooks library trustees, it being no other than the original deed of partition of 5400 acres of land comprising the southwest corner of Brattleboro. This is the tract or territory which was mentioned and described in a historical article on "Brattleboro school districts," printed in The Phoenix of January 16 last. In that article it was said of this tract---
After Judge Wells acquired the New York title to the town in 1766 he sold and deeded 5400 acres in the west part of the south half to William Smith, Thomas Smith and Nicholas William Stuyvesant of the city of New York. The tract extended from near the top of the hill west of West Brattleboro to Marlboro and from the centre line to Guilford. They laid it out into lots covering the lots in the five ranges in the south half of the town from numbers five to 14 inclusive, with a tier of four lots end to end 200 rods long and 80 wide to the east of them, and divided the lots among themselves by partition deed. William Smith was chief justice of the province of New York.
The document in question, which has now so fortunately come to light, is the deed of partition by which these three owners, William Smith, Thomas Smith and Nicholas Wm. Stuyvesant made a division of the 5400 acres of land among themselves.
On one sheet of the parchment composing the deed is a plan or drawing of the territory showing how the lots were arranged and divided, this drawing corresponding with one which had been made from the description of the tract in the article in The Phoenix. At the time this article was published it was presumed that this deed was not in existence.
But when the publication came to the notice of Mr. John A. Goodenough of West Brattleboro, then in Florida, he knew that he had the deed in his possession, and embraced an early opportunity to show it to parties interested and to present it to the library trustees as stated. The deed came to Mr. Goodenough from his father, Robert Goodenough, and was presented to him by Capt. Wm. Holton, who is supposed to have been the agent for the three owners.
It is written on two large sheets of parchment, besides the drawing mentioned, and is a genuine "indenture," showing where the corresponding document was cut off. Underneath the plan is written:
A plan of five thousand four hundred acres of land, lying in the Township of Brattleborough and County of Cumberland, belonging to William Smith, Thomas Smith, and Nicholas Stuyvesant, Esqrs., laid out in one hundred acre lots, each lot being one hundred and sixty rods in length and one hundred rods in width, except the four east lots, which are but eighty rods wide and contain one hundred acres each.
The parchment is well preserved, and the writing for the most part is as distinct as when it left the pen. Although of great historical value, no land titles depend upon the instrument.
The deed bears the date "24 August, 1770".
Vermont Phoenix, May 22, 1891.
H. R. Lawrence has presented to the Brattleboro Free Library a number of interesting books and a framed printed notice dated March, 1821, apparently one of many sent out soliciting patrons for a circulating library that had been established here. The notice reads: "A circulating library has lately been established at the Brattleborough Bookstore, for the accommodation of all who wish to avail themselves of a cheap mode of reading. The library already contains about 300 volumes to which additions will be continually made, of new publications, as they appear in Philadelphia, New-York, Boston and other places. The following are the terms."
Then follows the rates charged to subscribers, non-subscribers and companies or classes. It would be interesting to know where the bookstore was located.
The books presented include 11 volumes by Marrayat, largely sea tales; "Saragassa," by Perez Galdos; "50 Pleasant Stories," by Don Manuel; "Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland," by W. E. H. Lecky; "At the Councillors," by E. Marlett; "Tempest Tossed," by Theo Tilton; and an encyclopaedia by J. H. Walsh.
Vermont Phoenix, October 25, 1912.
Harry R. Lawrence was a local antiques dealer and a specialist in Morgan horses. His "Thunderbolt Collection", documenting the life of Dr. John Wilson, the reformed Scottish highwayman called "Captain Thunderbolt", was given special care in the old Brooks Library.
Antique Copper Weights And Measures Set
Brooks Library Museum
Measures Of Century Ago.
Interesting Display in Thomas's Pharmacy Window--
Scales Apparently Pounded Out on Anvil.
In one of the windows of the Thomas pharmacy has been a display of copper measures, weights and scales that were used in the United States a century ago. To anyone interested an examination of these antiques is well worth the time.
The scales were very evidently pounded out on an anvil, as were the wet and dry measures of all sizes. The accuracy of the scales and measures is almost unbelievable in these days of the most sensitive mechanical devices made under modern conditions.
On the various measures from the gill to the gallon are stamped the initials "P. D." On some of them are two sets of initials, "C. M." and "P. D." Mr. Thomas is of the belief that these were not the initials of the makers, but of scalers of weights and measures who thus put their stamp of approval on the receptacles.
One of the smaller measures apparently had not been accurate and the bottom had been pounded in until, Mr. Thomas finds upon tests---it exactly meets the requirements of the most accurate modern measure.
The half bushel measure of copper weighs 18 pounds and was pounded out on an anvil, the hammer marks being plainly visible. The handles are riveted on and there is not a flaw in the workmanship.
The scales were made in 1814, 100 years ago, while on the bottom of the half bushel measure is stamped: "Made by W. C. Hunneman, Boston, 1817."
Vermont Phoenix, October 30, 1914.
[The Town of Brattleboro donated these weights and measures to the Brattleboro Free Library at some time within the year before the Town Meeting in March 1928].
From The Old Brooks Library
Indenture Deed For Thomas Everett, John Drummond, Ralph Etwall
Dated June 11, 1792
In Original Frame
This Indenture made the Eleventh day of June in the thirty second year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith and so forth and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred ninety two
Thomas Everett and John Drummond were Members of Parliament, Ludgershall, County of Wiltshire. Ralph Etwall was an attorney from Andover who held corporate posts of bailiff, town chamberlain, and town clerk.
Mary Shakshober, Librarian
Mary Frances Shakshober
Portrait By John C. Howe
Courtesy Of Jennifer Shakshober
Books Read In Town
Two-Thirds of Volumes Taken from Library Are Fiction
Miss Mary F. Shakshober, Librarian, Talks Entertainingly
About Literary Preferences In Brattleboro.
It was stated in The Phoenix of Nov. 4 that the people of Brattleboro read fiction magazines more than any other class of magazines, as was shown by the sales at the Brattleboro news store. That they prefer fiction is shown also by the records of books drawn on cards at the Brattleboro Free Library. This town, however, is not alone in preferring light reading. Last year, competent authorities declare, more than 20,000 books were published in the United States, and the greater proportion was fiction of the lighter class.
No other country can compare with ours in the number of books issued for the delectation of the readers, and no country gives such support to an army of writers who earn their living by pounding exciting love and mystery stories from their typewriters.
A representative of The Phoenix spent a pleasant morning with Miss Mary F. Shakshober, of the Brattleboro Free Library a few days ago and she gave him a fund of interesting information as to the class of books taken out by Brattleboro readers. Miss Shakshober has been librarian since 1903, and under her administration the new books at the institution have been selected with care and with an endeavor to choose those most interesting to the majority of readers.
This is a difficult task, as will be realized when one stops to consider the fact that oceans of book advertisements reach her every year, and that the funds available are limited. She is assisted ably in the choice of books by the book committee, consisting of Col. C. A. Miles, Rev. D. E. Trout and Rev. J. R. Gow, D. D.
In 1903, Miss Shakshober's first year as librarian, 80 per cent of the books taken out were fiction. For 1909 fiction had dropped to 64.6 per cent, while the number of card holders was just double that of 1903. It is the policy of the librarian to add to the library the latest books of the popular present-day authors, and these are generally taken out the moment they are put on the shelves and are read until they become so badly worn that it is sometimes found necessary to remove them.
While the books of the latter-day writers are being read there is a regular, growing call for the old standard masters of fiction, such as Dickens, Thackery, Scott, Hugo, Dumas and all the authors of former days whose works are now known as "classics."
The readers of fiction, in a large measure, are those who are past the school age and read for the pleasure there is in reading. The high school of Brattleboro has a very good library, and it is well to remember that the 35.4 per cent of non-fiction books taken from the public library are on the cards of persons not attending school. The favorite non-fiction books are those on travel, biography and history. Books of this class are taken by men and women about equally, while books on gardening, farming and antiques are in great demand.
Of the travel books the favorites are Burton Holmes's lectures and Stoddard's lectures. Of history and biography there are a multitude of authors and no one writer can be said to be the favorite. There is a steady call for works on genealogy, and it would surprise the general public to know the number of persons in town who devote hours and days to the study of their family trees.
Of course books on law, theology, science and other subjects are called for but the demand is small. In the upper portion of the library is the excellent Phelps collection of law books, which cannot be taken from the library, but which are read and studied in the course of the year by most of the lawyers and law students in town.
The magazines are placed upon the table of the reading room and remain there until the next numbers appear, when they are allowed to be taken out. Harper's, Scribner's and the high class magazines are the favorites. The illustrated London News also is much enjoyed by the library patrons. The typographical work and illustrations are much better than in the average American illustrated weekly. Newspaper readers find on the table the Springfield Republican, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor and the local papers
Miss Shakshober is very much interested in the coming generation, and she spends much time choosing books which she thinks will appeal to them. For the little lad and his sister who are just becoming interested in reading there is a great variety of books. Today the "art preservative" has reached such an advanced state of development that the young reader is in a position to get books that are not only interesting for him to read, but are a delight to the eye as well. The children take very good care of the books which they borrow, perhaps, owing to the following little verse posted on the inside cover of each child's book:
Are You a Goop?
The Goops they wet their fingers,
To turn the leaves of books,
And then they crease the corners down,
And think that no one looks.
They put the marks of dirty hands,
Of lollypops, and gum,
On picture-book and fairy-book
As often as they come.
Be it understood that a Goop is something that all good little boys and girls aspire not to be. The Goop book was written by Gellett Burgess, and it is one of the most popular children's books in the library. The Caldecott books are also very popular. As the boy grows older he still enjoys reading fiction and fairy stories, but the latter class is read for several years by his sister after he has begun to devote his reading moments to an altogether different kind of book.
In the '70s and '80s Oliver Optis and Horatio Alger were the boys' facorite authors of fiction. Today these writes' books have been revoved from the library shelves. The element of chance took too great a part in the stories and now authors new to the grown reader stand first in the children's admiration. Indian tales, sea stories and all the good old-fashioned class of stories are read, ut they are written by men who have come forward as writers in the past few years. The Barbour books are popular with the boys being in great part stories of school life.
Equal in the boys' favor with fiction are the books which tell how to build things, camp and outdoor books, and books of history and travel. "Peeps at Many Lands," a series of travel books, is very popular with both boys and girls. The Odyssey, the Aeneid and other Greek and Latin classics have been rewritten in easy style for the young, and they are called for often. Books describing works of art, and giving descriptions of the old masterpieces are not read generally.
Ray Stannard Baker, the magazine writer, has written "The Boy's Book of Invention," and it is one of the most popular books in the library. "The Boy's Book of Steamships" also is read much. Electrical books are in great demand, but the science advances so rapidly it is hard to keep an up-to-date book on the shelves.
Another volume in constant demand is "A Little Cook Book for a Little Girl," by Caroline French Benton. The first copy in the library became so worn that a new copy recently has taken its place. The young girls who take it out say they find its recipes excellent and easily understood. Without doubt the young man who is reading "The Boy's Book of Invention" will have a good cook for a wife, provided he is wise enough to choose a Brattleboro girl for his helpmate in the years to come. The young folks have another book entitled "When Mother Lets Us Garden," which testifies by its appearance that it is a favorite with them.
The people of Brattleboro appreciate the library which is open to them, and in a large measure they are taking advantage of the opportunity to read at least some of the more than 18,000 volumes upon the shelves. And from a talk with Miss Shakshober one soon will learn that the intellectuality of Brattleboro is on a par with that of any other town or city in the country.
Vermont Phoenix, December 2, 1910.
Subject Card Printed By Mary F. Shakshober
Assistant Librarian, April 28, 1902
Librarian, October 16, 1902
A special meeting of the Trustees was held at the Library Monday evening, December 17, 1917. Present were Chairman Shailor E. Lawton, Fletcher K. Barrows, Rev. James P. Rand, Olin L. French, Ephraim H. Crane, Rev. Delmar E. Trout, and Secretary Frank C. Adams---
Facts were presented by book committee relative to position and attitude of the Librarian Mrs. Mary Shakshober Pratt regarding books and in the suppression of the circulation of Pro Ally literature and introduction of Pro German books into the Library. The following resolutions were drawn and unanimously adopted.
Whereas, the Trustees have reason to believe that the Librarian is not wholly devoted to the cause of the United States in the present war, and
Whereas, the usefulness of the Library as a public institution and its continued financial support by the town, demand that the position of Librarian should be filled by a person of unquestioned loyalty, therefore be it
Resolved: that the Librarian, Mrs. Frank Pratt, should be and hereby is given an opportunity to resign; that the Secretary be authorized to accept her resignation to take effect immediately; and that in lieu of one month's notice the treasurer is authorized and instructed to pay her one month's salary; and be it further
Resolved: that the Secretary is hereby authorized and instructed to forward a copy of these resolutions to the Librarian.
Memorandum: The copy of these resolutions sent to the Librarian is to be accompanied by a letter stating that if the resignation is received, the trustees have no desire to give the matter any publicity, and a prompt reply is requested.
Vacancy Occurs At Free Library
Mrs. Mary Shakshober Pratt Gives Up Position of Librarian,
Which She Had Held Since 1902
Vermont Phoenix, December 19, 1917.
Mary Frances Shakshober
Portrait By Arthur D. Wyatt
---An interesting historical document has been presented to the Free Library by Rev. Dr. George and Prof. Williston Walker, the charter of the town of Brattleboro in 1766, signed by Sir Henry Moore, the then Governor of New York. The date is nine years before the exciting outbreak of the quarrels as to the jurisdiction of New York and New Hampshire over Vermont lands. Thirteen years before a charter had been granted by New Hampshire, and now this was obtained of New York by persons named in the document for additional security. It is hung in the reading room of the Free Library.
Brattleboro Reformer, October 1, 1897.
Larkin G. Mead
Bronze Bas-Relief "Inauguration Of Washington" After John Trumbull
Larkin G. Mead's Design Presentation Model For The Washington Monument
This framed photograph is inscribed, "Loaned to the Brattleboro Free Library by O. L. French, March 1915". Olin Lester French was a long-time editor for the Vermont Phoenix newspaper. When the Brattleboro Free Library was destroyed, this photograph was purchased at auction by Ralph Chapman.
The Windham County Reformer for March 11, 1881 describes this work by Larkin G. Mead---
Larkin G. Mead has designed his second bronze tablet for the Washington monument. The first represented the surrender of Cornwallis, this one shows the inauguration of Washington as president on the balcony of the old city hall in Wall street, New York.
These tablets are about 30 feet long by 15 high; and this will contain some 40 principal figures of important persons, besides some other figures, a couple of children among them.
Chancelor Livingston is administering the oath to Gen. Washington, and John Adams, Madison, John Jay, Hamilton, George Clinton, Roger Sherman, are represented among others. James Jackson Jarves says the work is well done in the clay model.
William Morris Hunt -- The Prodigal Son
Vermont Phoenix, June 5, 1908.
---The large painting, The Prodigal Son, by William Morris Hunt, is now properly hung in the north reading room at the Brooks Library. The picture was so large that the mantel on the west wall of the room had to be lowered about two feet to give sufficient space for the frame. Those who do not have occasion to visit the library regularly should make a point of calling there to look at this painting.
The picture was painted by Mr. Hunt in Paris in 1851. It was brought to Boston for exhibition and having been harshly criticised by some, was purchased and removed from public view by Mrs. Hunt, the artist's mother. Later it came into the possession of Jane Hunt, sister of the artist, who was born and brought up in Brattleboro; at her death, she willed it to the Brattleboro library.
As it has never been offered for sale, except at the time Mrs. Hunt bought it, it is difficult to state its actual value. Col. Miles, treasurer of the library, has asked the curator of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, for an estimate on the value in order to have it properly insured. During transportation it was insured for $1000 and is probably worth as much if not more.
Vermont Phoenix, June 12, 1908.
William Morris Hunt's painting, "The Prodigal Son," which has hung in the reading room on the north side, will occupy hereafter a position in the second story in the addition in such a way that it may be seen from the entrance. The public little realizes the beauty and workmanship in the painting. In its new position it will get excellent light from the skylights. This picture was painted by Mr. Hunt while he was in Paris and is one of his earlier works. It is a valuable work of art, because many of the pictures of the artist have been destroyed in various ways.
Vermont Phoenix, July 12, 1912.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry:
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Luke 15: 22-24.
The Century Dictionary
Gift To Library.
Mrs. C. A. Loud Has Presented $2500 in Cash,
Many Books and Paintings and Provided for Bequest of $2500.
A notable gift to the Brattleboro Free library has just been made whereby the institution not only will receive a valuable addition of books and other articles, but will be relieved of the congestion now existing there. Mrs. C. A. Loud of Boston, a native of West Brattleboro, has given outright $2500 in cash and her late husband's collection of books, oil paintings and bric-a-brac, and has made provision in her will for an additional gift of $2500 for the care of the collection.
In view of the gift the library trustees have decided to build an addition to the rear of the building, which will be 30 to 40 feet deep and of the same height as the present structure, and it is their intention to begin the work this spring. The total cost will be $5000 to $6000.
About a year ago Mrs. Loud began negotiations with the trustees for placing the collection in the library. Her husband was a prominent lawyer in Winchendon, Mass., possessing a collector's instinct, and his library contained many standard works and other articles of the character mentioned. Mrs. Loud first contemplated having them placed in a library in Winchendon, but satisfactory arrangements concerning a site could not be made, so she decided to present them to the library here.
The collection embraces about 500 volumes, beautifully bound, numerous oil paintings, largely landscapes by artists of reputation, and articles of statuary, old china, etc.
After the death of George Brooks, who built the library and presented it to the town, his 15 heirs made up a fund of $15,000 with which to help maintain it, and placed the fund in the hands of trustees. The space available for books rapidly became inadequate, and the 20,000 volumes on the shelves occupy all the available room. The income of the fund will be used to assist in building the addition, which will nearly double the present capacity.
Mrs. Loud is an aunt of Mrs. Henry Miller of this town. She was born in West Brattleboro and her maiden name was Henrietta Maria Prouty. Her parents and her grandfather are buried in Meeting House Hill cemetery. Mr. Loud was a classmate of Judge James M. Tyler in West Brattleboro, where he became acquainted with Mr. Loud.
Vermont Phoenix, March 31, 1911.
The oil paintings in the Loud Collection include works by George Frank Higgins, Charles Franklin Pierce, Enrico Menghelli, Frank Henry Shapleigh, Frederick Porter Vinton, Thomas Hill, Wesley Elbridge Webber, Peter Moran, Frank Hill Smith, Thomas Clarkson Oliver, Carl Smidt, and Stephen James Ferris.
The name "Loud" is pronounced "load", as in "to load a wagon".
. . . After being closed more than two weeks in order that workmen might finish work on the new addition, also in order that the librarian might take an inventory and re-arrange the books, the public library was opened Friday afternoon, and many expressions of approval of the changes and improved conditions have been made by those having occasion to visit the building.
All the books have been arranged so that they are more accessible to the public and much easier to find when one is looking for a special volume. The delivery desk has been moved and now runs parallel with the aisle, thus showing the entire length of the library from the entrance. The appearance is a distinct improvement. Two electric lights on the delivery desk aid Librarian Mary F. Shakshober in her work.
The children's books, adult fiction, English literature, American literature, Continental literature, history, travel, sociology and socialism and other subjects are placed in separate stacks, and the arrangement facilitates finding the books. In the rear of the addition is a table on which the atlases are placed and in the south side of the addition is located the reference department. With tables, encyclopedias and other reference books close at hand in the stacks the work of students is made easier, and with a fine lighting arrangement this is one of the most attractive parts of the building, especially to those who find occasion for using reference work. The biographical works are near the reference book stacks, and in the rear of the older part of the building are located the bound and loose magazines. Many of the bound magazines and newspapers and older books have been placed upstairs.
Instead of being placed on revolving bookcases as formerly, the new books are now placed in the front stacks on the south side. Miss Shakshober's office is in the addition and is on the south side . . .
The Loud collection has been taken from the cases in which it was shipped and placed in the upper story in the rear of the addition. It embraces many rare and beautiful works of art, Japanese handiwork, and many valuable bound volumes. There are engravings by many masters, more than 25 oil paintings of marine and landscape subjects, portraits and nature studies, a number of Japan-vases, beautiful shells and other articles.
All these are in the large room in the new addition. In a smaller room is the collection of books in the bookcases in which they were placed by Mr. Loud. The cases are surmounted by a great variety of vases, statuary, Japanese bronze work and works of art.
The books are in excellent bindings and include sets of Shakespeare, Scott, Dickens, Bulwer-Lytton, Dumas, Hugo and others. There are many works of history, biography, travel, art and miscellaneous volumes, among them books that were printed many years ago.
Vermont Phoenix, July 12, 1912.
Library Addition Dedicated
Various Gifts Accepted at Exercises Monday Evening---Historical References.
Though of an informal nature the dedicatory exercises in connection with the occupancy of the Loud addition to the Brooks library, Monday evening were extremely interesting. Gifts from Mrs. Charles A. Loud, Mrs. Larkin G. Mead and from the daughter of Joseph Steen were received in fitting words by trustees of the Brooks Library building and the Brattleboro free library.
The exercises, which were held on the second floor of the addition, were opened at 8 o'clock by Dr. Henry D. Holton. He spoke briefly concerning the interesting occasion which brought the people together and expressed appreciation for the liberality of Mrs. Loud who not only gave the collection of books, works of art and bric-a-brac, formerly the property of her late husband, but contributed $2500 toward building the annex in which the collection is to remain. Judge James M. Tyler speaking for the donor of the collection of books and works of aft, said in part . . .
[Henrietta Maria Prouty was a descendant of the early West Brattleboro settlers William McCune and Elijah Prouty. She was born on April 30, 1833, the daughter of Elisha Prouty and Elizabeth Plummer, and she married Charles A. Loud on April 27, 1854. Three children all died young. Henrietta Loud died at the Brooks House, aged 89 years, on February 9, 1923].
A rearrangement of the books in the Brattleboro Free Library, made possible by the new addition to the building, is taking place, and it is expected that the library will be reopened next week. The interior will present a decidedly improved appearance. A counter will run east and west on the north side, instead of extending across the corridor, leaving an open corridor the entire length of the building.
In the new addition downstairs are six alcoves with book racks on both sides, besides an office and workroom for the librarian. This practically doubles the shelf capacity and will accommodate future growth. The bound magazines and genealogical department will remain upstairs in the old part.
In the new part, upstairs, are three rooms exceptionally well lighted and finished in natural oak with maple floors. One extends the entire width of the building, the others being separated by a corridor. These will contain the Loud collection, pictures and works of art, also the bust of Larkin G. Mead, presented by Mrs. Mead. The Loud collection has not been arranged.
Brattleboro Reformer, July 3, 1923.
George J. Brooks In San Francisco
Children's Room Enlarged.
Changes at Brattleboro Free Library to Give
More Than Double Space Heretofore Used by Children.
Repairs are under way in the basement of the Brattleboro Free Library which will more than double the space available for the largely patronized children's room and greatly increase the appearance of this department.
Under the direction of Fred C. Brown, local contractor, the foot-thick brick walls which divide the basement space in the front into two rooms and a hallway is being torn down. This will make the three rooms into one large one with 10 windows and two fireplaces, the space corresponding exactly with the two reading rooms on the upper floor and the hall.
The librarian's desk will be placed in the center of the enlarged children's room and the entrance will be through a large double door in the center rather than by a smaller side door. Another large door will be put at the front of the entrance and the old iron grill door will be removed, making a hall entrance to the new rooms. The room will be re-decorated and matched.
The work is being done in part with the extra $500 appropriated at town meeting, but it will cost somewhat more than this. The children's room is being used during the changes, a screen being put up at the north side of the room to keep out the dust and dirt.
Vermont Phoenix, April 4, 1930.
Larger Room For Children.
Publicly Opened Yesterday at Free Library--
Present Registration of Children is 1263.
The children's room, greatly improved and doubled in size, was opened at the Brattleboro Library yesterday morning after extensive alterations which give this department of the library an entirely different aspect. The enlarged room was opened to the children and visitors at 10 o'clock and was beautifully decorated with flowers which were donated by interested persons and local florists.
At the present time there is a registration of 1,263 children in this department. The room is in charge of Miss Sarah Taft. It is open from 10 a.m. until noon and from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., when school is not in session, and from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. when school is in session. The room was inaugurated three years ago as an experiment and was outgrown in that short space of time.
When the room was first opened in the basement of the library the south front room was used and now the north front room has been added, the corridor in the middle being torn away and the librarian's desk moved to the center in front of the new main entrance. The light in both of the rooms is exceptionally good.
The south room is being used for the smaller children, the tables and chairs being smaller than those of the north room which is used for the older patrons of the children's department. A reference shelf will be placed in the room occupied by the older boys and girls.
The children's room has proved a popular innovation with children, patrons of the library and the librarians. It is a big help to the comfort of all concerned. The money for renovating of the room was appropriated by the town at the last town meeting.
Vermont Phoenix, May 2, 1930.
Larkin G. Mead
An admirable profile medallion in marble by Larkin G. Mead, the sculptor, has been presented to the Brattleboro Free Library. It is an excellent likeness of Leonard Wheeler, who died in 1853, at the age of 34 years, and is the gift of Mrs. Ada L. Miller of Omaha, Neb., formerly Mrs. Leonard Wheeler. It is the first work for which Mr. Mead received pay, and was made in 1854 from memory and a daguerreotype in the studio of H. K. Brown of Brooklyn, where Mr. Mead was studying. He was then unknown to fame; it was not until New Year's morning of 1857 that the snow image of the Recording Angel appeared at the junction of North Main and Linden streets. The medallion is hung in the northeast reading room of the library.
Vermont Phoenix, February 28, 1902.
Larkin G. Mead Bust
Green Marble Pedestal
The bust of Larkin G. Mead, which Mrs. Mead has given to the town of Brattleboro and which will be placed in the public library has arrived in New York City. Dr. H. D. Holton received notification of its arrival from the New York customs officers several days ago and he wrote to them and to William Mead, of the firm of McKim, Mead & White, a brother of the late Larkin G. Mead. Mr. Mead replied that he would do what he could toward getting the bust into this country free of duty. As it is a work of art for educational purposes it is thought that the government will allow its entry without duty. If the customs officials decide not to allow it to come in free the duty will be twice the value of the bust.
Vermont Phoenix, March 15, 1912.
The bust of Larkin G. Mead, given by the widow of the sculptor, has arrived at the Brooks Library, with its pedestal. The pedestal, which has been unpacked, is of dark green marble. The bust and pedestal will not be put in place until the addition to the library is completed. Through the efforts of Dr. H. D. Holton of this town and William R. Mead, brother of Larkin G. Mead, of New York the bust was admitted to this country without the payment of customs duties.
Vermont Phoenix, March 29, 1912.
Another very similar, if not entirely identical green marble pedestal held the marble "Recording Angel" replicas in Brattleboro.
Old Court House Door.
Placed In The Brooks Library This Week.
Relic Has Been in the Stoddard Family in Westminster for Many Years--Story of the Westminster Massacre Recalled--Account of the Fight Between the Whigs and Tories Over the Possession of the County Building--The First Blood Shed of the Revolution.
A valuable relic has been placed in the Brooks Library this week in the original door of the old court-house at Westminster where the famous massacre of 1775 took place. The door has been a precious possession of the Stoddard family in Westminster for many years, and although Dr. H. D. Holton has been trying for some time to secure it for the library he succeeded only this week. The door is long over 100 years old but it still has a staunch appearance although worn and weather-beaten . . .
Brattleboro Reformer, April 18, 1902.
This Westminster Court House door was returned to its native town in 1924.
The Terrestrial Globe
Houghton Seaverns, Donor, Large World Globe On Standard
Smith's Terrestrial Globe
Containing the Whole of
the Latest Discoveries
also the Tracks of
the most celebrated Circumnavigators
C. Smith & Son 12 Strand
The Smithsonian Standard Barometer
Maria J. Cotton of New York City---Mrs. Henry Allen Chapin---donated the great barometer seen upon these Brooks Library walls since the very first year of the building's opening in 1887. It was manufactured in New York City by H. J. Green and was contained in a wood and glass case that had a hinged door for access to its mechanism.
This barometer in its case stood forty-four inches tall, and was three and three-quarters inches square, hanging upon the wall just without the ladies' reading room, and near to the main reception desk for convenient consultations.
The Henry J. Green Co. manufactured its American stick barometer at 1191 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, New York in 1887 for the United States Signal Service, the U. S. Geological Survey, U. S. Navy, Coast Survey, Fish Commission, and the Smithsonian Institution.
In its hanging dovetailed-fitted box, the "Smithsonian standard" barometer was read to within 1/100 inch. The nickel-plated brass tube supported a mercury-filled well, the barometer tube with the scale attached to the main tube---
Library patrons upon arriving, determined the wind direction by glancing aloft at the banner type weathervane that perched over the ventilation tower, then consulted the great barometer to predict the weather for the following days.
The New Library Building.
Mr. Brooks's Proposed Gift Described In Detail.
---The Springfield Union has made, from the architect's plans, the following description of the Brooks Library building, which, it says, "will undoubtedly prove a model structure of its kind":
The building will be known as the Brooks Library, taking the name of its donor, and will be a structure 50 x 28 feet, with a wing 33 1/2 x 40 feet for the library proper, the basement being seven feet out of the ground. The foundation will be constructed of regular courses of ashler granite, with cut border and rock-faced stone.
The superstructure will be of pressed brick furnished by the Glens Falls Terra Cotta & Brick Company, with Longmeadow brownstone trimmings, and will also have cut borders, rock-faced. The window-sill courses will have a liberal amount of terra cotta bands. The porch, which will be what is termed an enclosed one, jutting out only three feet from the main building, will have terra cotta panels in the apex of the gable. In a brownstone course under the panel will be cut the date 1886, and underneath that the inscription, "Brooks Library." The gable will be coped with Longmeadow brownstone, and the ridges will be ornamented with terra cotta cresting.
The above combination of materials in the construction of the building will greatly heighten its appearance architecturally and otherwise. Surmounting the roof will be a ventilating tower, in which will terminate the ventilating pipes from the lavatories. The roof will be of slate. In each of the basement rooms in front there will be a mullion window, and in the sides of the rooms there will be triplet windows. The rooms of the main floor will have similar windows.
The building, which will set back 31 feet from the street, will be entered by a flight of 11 steps of cut granite, at the sides of which will be a cast-iron railing with granite posts at the foot, one on each side. At the top of the steps, passing through swing doors, the porch, 7 x 16, is reached, which leads to the main vestibule, 13 1/2 x 9. At the right is a ladies' reading-room 18 x 24 feet, and on the left, directly opposite, a gentlemen's reading-room of the same dimensions.
In each of these rooms there will be open fireplaces. Both the reading-rooms will be finished in California redwood. Returning to the vestibule, the visitor passes directly into the room (13 x 20 feet) for the reception and delivery of books, in the centre of which will be placed the librarian's desk, from which an unobstructed view can be obtained of the vestibule, reading-rooms and library room. this feature was considered by the trustees an especially excellent one, as thereby the librarian can at all times have complete surveillance of each room without being obliged to leave her desk.
At the librarian's right is a toilet-room for men, beyond which is a ladies' toilet, to which entrance is obtained from the ladies' reading-room. At the left of the librarian's desk is a hallway 18 x 7 1/2 feet, from which is a stairway leading to a side entrance in the basement.
Extending beyond the general delivery room is the library proper, 38 x40 feet, which will be finished in Georgia pine. It will contain eight double book-cases, four on each side, 7 1/2 feet high, 12 feet long, having a capacity of 13,000 volumes. This capacity can be doubled whenever the trustees desire, by the construction of balconies with cases of the same dimensions. The room will by amply lighted by 14 windows, seven on a side, and will have an open timber roof.
The basement of the building is reached by a flight of four steps at each side of the flight leading to the main floor, opening into a porch and vestibule of the same dimensions as those above. At the right of the vestibule, underneath the ladies' reading-room, is a committee and trustees' room.
At the left, under the men's reading-room, will be a museum, used chiefly for mineralogical specimens. The vestibule leads into the boiler room, on the right of which is a janitor's toilet-room, and beyond is another toilet-room, which is reached from the trustees' room. At the left of the boiler-room is the corridor leading to the side entrance. Under the library room a space will be used for fuel and steam-heating apparatus. The basement rooms will be finiahed in pine.
The work of construction will probably be begun in April next, and the building completed some time in October. The trustees are Geo. J. Brooks, B. D. Harris, Joseph Draper, J. M. Tyler and J. J. Estey.
Vermont Phoenix, December 18, 1885.
Lester C. Akeley Photograph In Detail
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
Detail From Escritoire
Springtime At The Library
Please Return Books Here
Brooks Free Library
Lithograph By George W. Howard
Vermont Phoenix, January 1, 1886.
---Mr. Brooks has awarded the contract for the public library building to the firm of Bartlett Brothers of East Whately, Mass., who were the lowest bidders. The bids, which were seven in number, seem to have taken an unusually wide range, it being understood that the difference between the lowest and the highest was upward of $5000.
The Bartlett Brothers are vouched for as men of undoubted responsibility, and they have an excellent and extended reputation as builders. Among the public buildings which have been erected by them are the stone library buildings at Easthampton and Belchertown, Mass., the new savings bank building at North Adams, a stone lodge for a students' society at Williamstown, and several handsome church edifices in Massachusetts and Connecticut. There is every reason to expect that their work in Brattleboro will confirm and extend the good reputation which they have gained elsewhere.
It is now expected that they will begin the work of excavation next Monday. They agree to have the building finished on the first day of January next, and as much before as possible. The California redwood, for the inside finish, which Mr. Brooks had shipped from San Francisco during the winter via Cape Horn, is due to arrive in New York early in July.
Vermont Phoenix, April 30, 1886.
Brattleboro Free Library 1926 Bookplate
Mead Statue Is Given To Library
Sidney Farr Landscape Lent by Former Resident
The gift to the public library of a statue executed by the late Larkin Mead, famed sculptor, who spent his childhood in Brattleboro, was announced today by Mrs. Beatrice Pierce, librarian.
The donors were two grandnieces and a grandnephew of the sculptor, Mrs. Harold L. Blood and Mrs. William D. Crim and Dr. Robert M. Miller, all of New Jersey.
The statue, which has been placed in the library's museum room, is about three feet in height. Executed in marble, it is a nude figure of a woman and is entitled "Echo."
Larkin Mead was born in Chesterfield, N. H., in 1835 and died in 1910. His eminent career began here as a boy and he was first given recognition for his image in snow of the "Recording Angel," constructed at Wells Fountain. A replica of the statue in marble adorns All Souls Church.
He studied in New York, and in Italy, living for many years in Florence where he became a professor in the Academy of Fine Arts . . .
Brattleboro Reformer, May 26, 1949.
Larkin G. Mead
The Editorial Department for "The Ladies' Repository, Universalist Monthly Magazine, For the Home Circle" in Boston, in commenting upon sculptor Hiram Powers, also said regarding Larkin Mead---
Besides his "Echo," which is well known in the United States . . . the graceful maiden, who has given a blast upon a horn and who is listening for the return of the distant echo. I know of nothing more pleasing than this conception of Mr. Mead's. It is not a subject which stirs the soul like that which Mr. Powers has chosen to represent the Christian's Faith, but it is so winning that you can look at it without ever becoming weary.
Larkin G. Mead's statue "Echo" was damaged in March 1974 by an unnecessary "restoration" work by an approved, but inexperienced art student. The statue in areas is now coated with a deep yellow chemical that appears to be sprayed on permanently. No lesson learned, the pattern was set for the next forty years---a low season for the great collections of the former Old Brooks Library.
"Beauty will save the world"
"Dostoevsky not only preached, but, to a certain degree also demonstrated in his own activity this reunification of concerns common to humanity---at least of the highest among these concerns---in one Christian idea. Being a religious person, he was at the same time a free thinker and a powerful artist. These three aspects , these three higher concerns were not differentiated in him and did not exclude one another, but entered indivisibly into all his activity.
In his convictions he never separated truth from good and beauty; in his artistic creativity he never placed beauty apart from the good and the true. And he was right, because these three live only in their unity. The good, taken separately from truth and beauty, is only an indistinct feeling, a powerless upwelling; truth taken abstractly is an empty word; and beauty without truth and the good is an idol.
For Dostoevsky, these were three inseparable forms of one absolute Idea. The infinity of the human soul-having been revealed in Christ and capable of fitting into itself all the boundlessness of divinity---is at one and the same time both the greatest good, the highest truth, and the most perfect beauty.
Truth is good, perceived by the human mind; beauty is the same good and the same truth, corporeally embodied in solid living form. And its full embodiment---the end, the goal, and the perfection---already exists in everything, and this is why Dostoevsky said that beauty will save the world".
Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov
"The Heart of Reality: Essays on Beauty, Love, and Ethics"
Editor, Translator, Vladimir Wozniuk.
Solovyov was one source for Dostoyevsky's characters Alyosha and Ivan Karamazov.
South Reading Room
Mrs. Beatrice Pierce, librarian . . .also announced that the library has on exhibition an oil landscape painted by the late Sidney Farr, for many years a local letter carrier. The picture, lent by Miss Charlotte Tuthill of Springfield, Mass., formerly of Brattleboro, has been hung in the south reading room.
Brattleboro Reformer, May 26, 1949.
By William Glenn Boyle - Gill, Mass.
Toward the close of chill day's lengthening time,
From the library window's favored place:
Time's numerals in slow high-towered chime
Mark the light that fades from ledged-hill face;
Within: grey shadows dim toward gaining dark,
While lingering - wrap't in wistfull thought -
Rare-walled offerings of art, scarce, I mark
Where the aroma of world's wit is caught.
Harsh fate long ruled me from the realm of books.
From fair elm'd lawns of academic line;
Like ledged hill light my short'ning hour, rarer, looks,
As fades the light from high-hill frieze of time -
Shut from the jostling, and the rush of street,
I hold this moment - gratefully - replete.
This is my poem for the Brooks Library, Brattleboro, Vermont. This poem composed there the late afternoon of Jan 16, 1950. There in the library: my favorite chair with the window view of the busy street, the high church clock, the ledgy N. H. hill beyond the river. This poem remembering many pleasant moments at Brooks Library while trading in Brattleboro.
Main Street In Blizzard 1941
Photograph By Marion Post Wolcott
The Destruction Of The Brattleboro Free Library
June 4, 1971
Title 18. Section 2071
(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.
Charles A. And Henrietta M. Loud Collection
Second Floor Room, Library Addition 1912
Charles Franklin Pierce
Old Mill, England 1877
Frederick Porter Vinton
She wears the blue dress with the white collar,
that white garment with dark red stripes,
and her white and red headress.
Frank Hill Smith
Street Scene, Cairo
Stephen James Ferris
Devil's Way, Algiers, After Mouilleron 1879
Great Yosemite Falls, 1867
Paiute man, woman, child, and dog drinking
Thomas Hill, according to descendants of Isaac Crosby and his son Nelson Crosby, studied with Brattleboro cabinetmaker Anthony Van Doorn for some time, learning to paint chair backs. These chairs are Crosby family heirlooms.
Isaac Crosby was a West Brattleboro blacksmith who removed to the Cedar Street area. Nelson Crosby owned two hundred acres of land nearby, following January 22, 1838. Nelson sold a slate quarry in 1854 to the Asylum For the Insane, from which foundation stone was extracted for new asylum buildings.
Anthony Van Doorn expressed a preference for the cutting edge in many respects, including also his hiring of William A. Conant, the later, famous violin maker. In Thomas Hill's day, artists flocked to the general Crosby neighborhood---especially to Cedar Street and to the Cold Spring area at the Asylum For the Insane.
Charles Franklin Pierce
Wesley Elbridge Webber
Frank Henry Shapleigh
Lake Maggiore, 1874
Street In Chester, England
Mt. Tom Connecticut River Valley, 1876
Greek Messenger of the Gods
Thomas Clarkson Oliver
Coast At Lynn, Mass., 1876
This painting removed from Brooks Memorial Library?
George Frank Higgins
View On Stowe River, Mass.
Landscape, Two Fishermen
This painting removed from Brooks Memorial Library?
Taken To Christine H. Hart's Office On August 22, 1984
"Brooks Memorial Library has agreed to loan the following painting to be placed in the office of Chris Hart in the Municipal Center. It is agreed that the Library may remove the painting at any time and the painting shall not be removed from the Municipal Center without the consent of the Library."
Charles A. Loud was a lawyer who well understood the concept of accountability, and Henrietta M. Loud's probated will strictly forbid the farming out any painting.
Henrietta Loud shared her valuable collection with the people of Brattleboro by working with a library Board of Trustees and a management that was not bland, faceless, and hidden, but composed of active, well-known, patriotic, and loyal individuals who represented an institution that was pervaded by a genuine respect for the truth.
Charles A. Loud
Librarian In The Stacks
Phelps Collection, Attic Inventory 1967
Umbrella Stand, Flag, Tower Rope
Reading Room With Portrait Of George J. Brooks
Christmas Wreath, Newspaper Rack, Fireplace Andirons
The young man is reading "We", Charles A. Lindbergh's account of his transatlantic flight aboard the monoplane called "The Spirit of St. Louis". Pilot and plane figure in the title of this book published in July 1927.
Trustees Meeting Room
Edwin L. Hildreth, Memorial Display
Souvenir Spoon, Sterling Silver, July 28, 1894
Old Brooks Library Engraved In Bowl
Terminal Design In Flowers, Wheat Ears
Dust Jacket Display
Cathedral Window, Regulator Clock, Balcony Woodwork, Framed Engraving
Oaken Doors Open To Main Street
This new book stamp design for the Brattleboro Free Library was created by a patron in 1955. The old Brooks Library was a reliable source of information then, and the open book, shown face up and lit by torchlight, symbolized its truth and political freedom. The Brooks Library was then a respectful, honest , moral, and legal place of genuine learning, in the old American style, for Brattleboro.
George J. Brooks
Specifications of materials and labor required for the erection and completion of a library building for G. J. Brooks, Esq., to be built in the Town of Brattleboro, Vt., on Main Street, located as owner may direct on the lot.
The Contractor at his own cost is to provide all necessary
Photograph By Lewis R. Brown
The Brooks Library 1905
Old Brooks Library - Brattleboro Free Library
The Old Brooks Library was an American-style library that stood on the west side of Main Street until it was torn down on June 4, 1971.
It is especially important to remember a time when the local library was truly professional, honest, decent, and law-abiding---a place for genuine learning that securely housed Brattleboro's historical records, books, and treasures.
The old Brooks Library did not serve any dishonest and hostile political agenda, complete with the "Five Year Plan", nor did it ever target for outsourcing, every major historic collection that it kept in trust for the Town of Brattleboro, or to split, fragment, disappear, or cannibalize the collections entrusted to it, or to give well-placed "gifts" for the benefit of very special friends and superior "citizens".
"This is a benefit; is this a bribe?"
The old Brooks Library did not collaborate with that predatory and uncontrolled group in Brattleboro that even now masquerades as a genuine local "historical society" but acts like any backstreet "chop shop", or as a private auction house without ethics in pilfering from any convenient victim.
Cases of nineteenth-century artifacts were taken from the local Town Clerk's office in 1993. These cases contained West Brattleboro Society notices, the extensive Brattleboro Academy files, land records, an original handwritten charter, early town tax grand lists, company letterheads, bills, stamped envelopes, and the lengthy, red-wax sealed James Elliot - Aaron Burr correspondence from 1804.
The greatest advantage for the correct enforcers here in this particular swindle lies not in the fairly negligible damage done to Aaron Burr scholarship, and not even in the capturing of a fine trophy for collectors and "experts", but rather in destroying the chance for all students and researchers to find in this small attic corner of Brattleboro history, any worth, pride, or joy in discovery.
The old Brooks Library did not approve this group finessing access, with the collaboration of a politically correct, secretive, and all-wise minority controlling the Christian membership, to the local church funds, bequests, historical ledgers, colonial Bibles, the Mrs. Sarah Goodhue family Bible, and antique sets now in several private collections, or missing.
The old Brooks Library did not constantly commit acts of "vandalization through restoration"---such as the grotesque, barbaric destruction by scissors and razor blades, of thousands upon thousands of rare and irreplaceable antique newspapers upwards of one hundred and fifty years old.
Newspapers in perfect condition, or with only slight, superficial, and negligible acidification---an entirely natural process---were never consigned to the butcher's block under this or any other convenient false pretext, such as "lack of space", or dismissed as useless "duplicates", with the resulting ugly slashed mess callously called "the scraps" and sent to total destruction.
When the only remaining original Friday, July 2, 1880 Windham County Reformer was slashed to pieces and dropped in the wastebasket, with the razor blade left lying out on the local history room table, the old Brooks Library would have summarily dismissed the perpetrator.
The old Brooks Library did not completely strip away the irreplaceable dark, antique patina from the 1757 musket that once belonged to Dr. John Wilson, the reformed highwayman called Thunderbolt. When the oil portrait of Dr. Wilson by Otis H. Cooley disappeared from the library in August 1995, the regime's "explanation" was that it was stolen by "high school students".
The portrait has not been seen since.
Sixty years ago, workers in Brattleboro history did not make sport with relics in impromptu and physically destructive games, such as shuffleboard in the Municipal Building hallway, or play wastepaper bucket basketball repeatedly with the 1840's antique taken from the Brattleboro museum.
The game "hang the wash" with antiques was not acceptable then in Brattleboro. Century-old newspapers bound into volumes were not turned into coloring books. The "musical chairs" game was not played anywhere with antiques in order to facilitate their silent disposal or sale.
Nor were historic things defaced and permanently damaged with excessive, unnecessary, inappropriate, and crude use of abrasive household cleansers, heat, paint, opaque tape, scissors, stickers, lead pencils, and large ink stamps, and careless folding. Scrawling large numbers on the autographed flyleaf of Jacob Estey's personal Bible was never a possibility.
Statuary was not smashed, then later sprayed with experimental, permanently yellow-staining chemicals. Interior and exterior architecture was not wantonly, needlessly drilled. Book bindings were not broken and antique patinas were not completely stripped away. Unique eighteenth-century documents that were taken from the Town Clerk's office were not handled with heavy coffeecake grease-soaked fingers.
Aside from the local predators in history, no sitting Town Clerk has the right to release documents and collections that have been in the possession of the Town of Brattleboro for over two hundred years.
Misinformation was not provided concerning the colonial Seth Smith house on Western Avenue. No misleading photographs were published and promoted in the real estate brochure for West Brattleboro's historic Levi Goodenough farm. There was no completely unfounded fantasy about a non-existent "Underground Railroad" house on High Street.
The lack of moral red lights, the political failure to recognize the concept of private property, and the practicality of "Thou shalt not steal", in the greater Brattleboro history arena, has produced some strange violations of common sense, has subjected all to the debilitating effects of petty bookkeepers, and has rewarded the collectors who fail to appreciate the true worth of historic objects, beyond any simple value as political trophy, toy, or treasure trove.
The old Brooks Library did not exploit local churches, nor did it accept and inappropriately spend any funds derived from any bequest that specifically designated as the beneficiary, another library in a local church. The old Brooks library did not allow the covert removal of twenty or thirty antique Bibles from its large collection.
The old Brooks Library understood that moral standards and objective truth exist. This helped librarians to work in an atmosphere of trust. All was open and completely accessible---the Loud Collection, its records, and especially its strictly accurate, stable, and published accession lists, and the minutes of all the Trustees' Meetings which concerned these things. All library trustees were well known in Brattleboro by their real names.
The old Brooks Library never enforced any arrogant, hidden, and hate-driven political agenda. There was no systematic political or religious censorship, shoddy "surveys", unwarranted encouragement of library patron informers, or repulsive gong-show style trivia contests in mockery of genuine learning effort. There was no jeering, anti-Christian pornography.
The old Brooks Library did not allow so-called mentors to borrow entire collections for unspecified periods of time, running into years, until caught and forced to return its remants, torn from their original eighty-year-old, expensive brown leather scrapbook cover.
There were no brutally ignorant and ugly, desecrating attacks made on local history, honesty, and Christian sensibility and traditions by the self-appointed culture masters. The old Brooks Library did not set foxes to guard the chickens, let alone the entire henhouse.
The Historical Society of Windham County's museum at Newfane, and also the small and pleasant Windham County public libraries, will all hopefully defend themselves more skillfully than Brattleboro has so far, when this predatory group begins to range more widely for forage in the coming year 2015.
Hopefully Newfane will be spared from being slowly hollowed out from inside by the re-accessioning, ransacking, and relentlessly hostile looting game played by the "citizens" who have decreed local history to be politically incorrect, not sustainable, and ready for liquidation from the Brattleboro show village.
The sacking of the old Brooks Library building, and the subsequent preying mantis-like steady feeding on its remains, are now accomplished, and only the triumphant third act remains. Brattleboro still needs to protect its own local history. Will it finally recognize the destructive excesses made by these cultural Marxist prodigies? Will Brattleboro always wring its hands and say?
Let the black flower blossom as it may.
It is important to remember, or only just to imagine, the old Brooks Library that truly respected Brattleboro history and its traditions---to remember, in the hopes that in the future such a library may one day be established again, called possibly, as formerly, the "Brattleboro Free Library", worthy of its name, and our trust.
The bound volume for all issues of the 1911 Vermont Phoenix was taken from the Old Brooks Library Collection. It's binding was broken and the weekly issues were cannibalized, sold, and scattered, mostly never to be seen in Brattleboro ever again.
Old Brooks Library Rare Newspaper Sold Away
Vermont Phoenix, April 14, 1911
We just bought a large collection of magazines, books, bound newspaper volumes, booklets, and much more! This is a lot of 2 different issues of the Vermont Phoenix Newspaper from April 14th and 21st of 1911. This newspaper was printed in Brattleboro, Vermont and each paper is 10 pages each. This newspaper lot features great headlines, advertisements, articles, and photos. This newspaper volume is in overall fair condition showing some wear and tears due to age. There is also some flaking present, some creases from being folded and some discoloration. The pages in this volume are fragile and should be handled with care. There are loose pages from the inside pages no longer being bound to the outer covers/ spine. This volume is likely an ex library volume and there may be some occasional stamps present.
This advertisement for the drama "Charley's Aunt" appeared in the April 14, 1911 Vermont Phoenix. The comedy was presented for the benefit of the First Regiment Band. The cast included Myron P. Davis, Alson J. Dugan, C. H. Crane, Fred C. Adams, J. Harry Estey, C. Menzies Miller, Mrs. A. H. Brasor, Miss Elsie Haskell, James P. Ferriter, Miss Jane Brew, Miss Alice Croll, and E. J. Taggart, with the Fred C. Leitzinger Orchestra.