Lexington Library Company

On November 29, 1800, the Lexington Library Association was chartered by a special act of the Kentucky General Assembly.  The incorporators were Thomas Hart, James Morrison, John Bradford, James Trotter, John A. Seitz, Robert Patterson, John McDowell, Robert Barr, William MacBean, James MacCoun, Caleb Wallace, Fielding L. Turner, Samuel Postlethwait and Thomas T. Barr.[i]

In January 1801, the stockholders of the association held its annual meeting at McNair’s Tavern and appointed a special committee to prepare the by-laws.  This committee included Henry Clay, James Brown, John Bradford, James Trotter, John A. Seitz, Fielding L. Turner and John M. Baggs.  The next week, the by-laws were approved at another meeting.  It is interesting to note that Section 5 included:

“the librarian shall make out in alphabetical order a catalog of all the books belonging to the library with their respective numbers, for the greater ease of the sharer, point out to him what number the book is of which they may want, which catalogue shall be kept in the library for the use of the sharers.”[ii]

The special committee also designed a corporate seal with the “device and motto:  the Goddess of Liberty standing on a rock in a troubled sea, holding a book in her left hand and pointing to it with the forefinger on her right.  Over her head and round about her is inscribed; Science is the Book of Liberty and Lexington Library.” [iii]

Public Square:

In April 1801, the city trustees approved a site to build a library on the northeast corner of the Public Square, opening on Short Street.  The site was twenty-five feet facing Short Street and eighteen feet deep.[iv]

In August 1801, the Amusing Society, a social and dancing organization, donated $94 to the Library.  This was one of the largest donations received by the early library.  In addition, the directors approved exchanging Briggs’ Cookery for Julia and Mystic Cottager.[v]

During September 1801, Fielding L. Turner and James MacCoun were “appointed to receive propositions for the building of a Library-House, either this fall or as early next spring as the weather will admit, and report to the board at their next meeting.” [vi]

During 1802, the directors again appointed Fielding L. Turner and James MacCoun to purchase books from a catalog in Philadelphia and have the forwarded “at the risk of the library.”  The library purchased Quintilian’s Institutes ($4.00), Fontenelle’s Plurality of Worlds (91¾ cents) and Prouds’ History of Pennsylvania (2 volume at $4.18).[vii]

In January 1803, the shareholders elected Fielding L. Turner, John McDowell, Robert Patterson, Thomas T. Barr, John Tilford (Secretary), Benjamin Stout (Treasurer) and Andrew McCalla (Librarian) to the board.[viii]

In February 1803, the library contracted with Matthew Elder to erect a one room, brick building for 100 pounds.   He was paid in two installments, the first when work commenced and the second when finished.  In October 1803, the details were finalized for the building.[ix]

In January 1804, Andrew McCalla resigned as librarian and was replaced by Richard Davidson.  The board approved new Rules and Regulations for the library (see Appendix D – Library Policy) However, in March 1804, the directors set his salary at $50 per year and he promptly resigned.  Next, James W. Hamilton was appointed but also quickly resigned, then Charles Bradford was appointed librarian but he also resigned, then in December James Overton.[x]

From the minute books from April 1804, it appears that at times the pressure of business must have prevented the directors from attending meetings.  The record reveals:

“This being time for the directors to meet, none met.  Adjourned.”

“This being the time appointed by the directors for meeting, Fielding L. Turner, Esq., met.  Adjourned until the next meeting in course.”

John Tilford, Secretary[xi]

On June 9, 1804, the library board met and appointed a committee to:

“to remove the library from Mr. McCalla’s to the library room, and to take an account of the books in the library, and also show which were missing at that time and unaccounted for by Andrew McCalla librarian.  Resolved, That the treasurer raise an account with Andrew McCalla and charge him therein with the price of the books contained in said report as lost, where they do not belong to sets, and where belonging to sets with the price of the set to which such book shall belong, and notify him thereof.” [xii]

During 1804, the library hours were noted as “Saturdays except the first Saturday in the month, between the hours of nine and twelve in the morning and two and four in the afternoon.” [xiii]

During August 1806, Benjamin Stout, Treasurer, published an appeal to the stockholders who had not paid their contributions to pay before September 20th, as which time the directors “proposed to send to Philadelphia for an additional number of Books.”[xiv]

During 1807, three shares were issued to Henry Clay and John Bradford each.  Shares were then valued at $5 per share, but raised the next year to $10 per share.  In 1809, the share price was increased to $15 per share, but fell back to $12 per share.[xv]

In July 1808, David Logan became Librarian when Lewis H. Smith resigned.[xvi]

In October 1809, the Thespian Society preformed Speed the Plough for the benefit of the library.[xvii]

During January 1810, the Library’s charter was amended to increase the number of shares from 200 to 500.[xviii]

1811 Lottery Tickets

Library Lottery:

On January 31, 1811, the legislature approved a lottery to raise funds for the library.  The directors were appointed to oversee the lottery, which were Thomas T. Barr, James B. January, Henry Purviance, Daniel Bradford and Englehard Yeiser.[xix]

1811 Lottery Advertisement

On July 8, 1811, the first drawing selected Lottery No. 3239 for the $500 first prize.  In addition, two second prizes of $100 and six third prizes of $50.  The lottery raised $307.00 which was used to purchase 340 books.  The lottery was managed by John Wrigglesworth. [xx]

During January 1812, the stockholders elected Thomas T. Barr, Lewis Sanders, G. S. Hart, Thomas Wallace and James B. January as directors.[xxi]

In January 1813, the library orders a set of maps of the seat of war so that it patrons to follow the war.[xxii]

In 1814, Thomas M. Prentiss was appointed library, with a salary of $100 per annum.[xxiii]

With the lottery and other proceeds, the collection grew to 2,573 volumes in 1815, from 780 volumes in 1804.  The totaled included the 21 volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica, which were donated by Andrew Holmes.[xxiv]

On January 1, 1815, Thomas M. Prentiss was paid his $100 salary for the prior year as librarian.  During 1816, James Trotter delivered several books (including Says She To Her Neighbor, What!) for the collection and was given credit on his account.  The books were valued by William Palmer, a local bookseller.[xxv]

Lexington Juvenile Library:

In April 1816, the Lexington Juvenile Library’s collection of roughly 500 volumes was consolidated with the library.  The juvenile library was started around 1809, when half dozen boys donated two books each.  The collection steadily grew, especially with proceeds from the lottery.  The juvenile library was located on Market Street, between the Public Square and the Episcopal Church.[xxvi]


In 1817, the directors were John Tilford (Chairman), James G. Trotter, Robert R. Barr, Fielding Bradford, Jr. and Matthew Elder.[xxvii]

In January 1818, Andrew Elder was appointed Assistant Librarian for $50 per year.[xxviii]  In addition, during 1818 the legislature again revised the charter increasing the authorized number of shares to 2,000.[xxix]

Giron’s Confectionary Shop:

In January 1818, the County Court ordered the library to relocate by April 1819, later extended to October 1819.  In June 1819, the library finally moved to Mathurin Giron’s Confectionary Shop for $115 per annum rent.[xxx]  The shop was located on Mill Street, between Main and Short Streets.  However, problems arose when the shop’s patrons interfered with the library.  The directors ordered the librarian to “prevent persons from peeping behind the counter of the library room, except ladies and strangers when invited by an officer of the institution.”[xxxi]

Giron’s Confectionary on Mill Street, circa 1880s

In January 1819, William A. Leavy[1] purchased $470.91 worth of books for the library, from Eastburn & Company of New York and Philadelphia booksellers.[xxxii]

For 1819 the directors were Thomas T. Barr, Robert R. Barr, William A. Leavy, George Shannon and James G. Trotter.  During January 1820, Barr, Barr, Leavy and Trotter were reelected, with Joseph Towler replacing Shannon.[xxxiii]

On January 1, 1820, the library schedule was expanded from Saturday 9 o’clock to noon and 2 to 5 o’clock, with the addition of Tuesday and Thursdays (open from 6 to 9 o’clock in the evenings). [xxxiv]

In September 1821, local printer Thomas Smith was paid $100 “in Commonwealth paper[2]” to print a catalog of the library’s books.  See Appendix E - Catalog Classifications.

In January 1822, at the annual meeting the directors appointed were Thomas T. Barr, Robert R. Barr, James G. Trotter, Joseph Towler and William H. Richardson, with James Logue[3] Librarian and William W. Worsley as Treasurer.[xxxv]

During January 1823, John Peck, Fielding Bradford, Jr. and Joseph Towler formed a committee to “enquire into the property of purchasing another library room.”

During May 1823, the Library was reported “destitute of money” and made an appeal to its shareholders to pay arrear dues and fines.[xxxvi]

In March 1824, Daniel Bradford received four shares (worth $40) for his donation of four volumes of Cooper’s Homer and Essay on Pope and two volumes of Edgeworth’s Practical Education and Bean’s Lex Mercatoria.[xxxvii]

On January 5, 1824, the shareholders elected Horace Holley, William H. Richardson, James W. Palmer, William A. Leavy, Joseph Towler, James Harper, Thomas Nelson, Robert J. Breckinridge, Thomas Curry, Robert R. Barr, John M. McCalla, J. Cowan and Robert Frazer as directors.[xxxviii]

Lexington Athenaeum:

In June 1824, the library merged with the Lexington Athenaeum, which added their collection to the library.  The back room was set aside for the Athenaeum collection, which consisted of newspapers and current magazines.  With the consolidation, the library also received its treasury, which included $300 in “Commonwealth’s paper.”[xxxix]

The directors of the Athenaeum were Revenue George Chapman (President), Leonard Wheeler (Secretary and Treasurer), James W. Palmer, Leslie Combs, James Anderson, William A. Leavy and Norman Porter.[xl]

Kentucky Insurance Building:

In April 1824, the Lexington Library Company purchased the old building[4] of the Kentucky Insurance Company for $3,000.  The building was owned by James Haggin and Robert Wickliffe.  The building was on the north side of East Main Street at Bank Alley (now Wrenn Court), between Upper and Limestone Streets.[xli]

This purchase was funded by $3,000 in subscriptions from 41 Lexington businessmen[5], who agreed to donate at least $50 each “in gold and silver coins of the United States.”  The donations were payable in thirds, the first third upon execution and the remaining at one and two years.[xlii]

In May 1825, the library relocated to its new quarters.[xliii]

During June 1826, the following were directors:  James Harper, Thomas Smith, James W. Palmer, Joseph Towler, Robert Frazer, James A. Brooks, William A. Leavy, L. Castleman, Thomas Nelson, Thomas Kane, John M. McCalla, James Shelby and James M. Pike.[xliv]

At the General Meeting of the Shareholders of the Lexington Library, on June 2, 1827, James Harper, James W. Palmer, James Shelby, Robert Frazer, Thomas Nelson, Thomas Smith, Thomas Kane and William A. Leavy were reelected and John Love, Isaac Bell, Leslie Combs, Peter Hull and George Clarke were elected to the board.  Many of the new directors were associated with the Lexington Athenaeum.  During June 1828, Harper, Palmer, Shelby, Frazer, Nelson, Smith, Leavy and Bell were again reelected, with Joseph Towler, Thomas J. Matthews, Harry I. Bodley and J. P. Robinson elected to the Board of Directors.[xlv]

During June 1830, the following were elected directors Robert Frazer, Thomas Nelson, Thomas Smith, William A. Leavy, Joseph Towler, Harry I. Bodley, James E. Davis, Alvan Stephens, William H. Richardson, Charlton Hunt, William M. Brand, Leonard Wheeler and John B. Coleman.[xlvi]

In June 1831, it was reported that $87.36 was in the treasury.[xlvii]  In 1832, the collection had grown to 6,460 volumes.[xlviii]

In June 1832, William A. Leavy, William H. Richardson, Thomas Nelson, Leonard Wheeler, Alvan Stephens, Daniel Mayes, R. A. Curd, Harry I. Bodley, James E. Davis, Thomas Smith, William H. Rainey and H. A. Griswold were appointed directors.  During June 1834, Leavy, Nelson, Wheeler, Stephens and Davis remained on the board, with E. Barry, Dr. L. P. Yandell, Dr. Robert C. Holland, Jacob Aston, Edwin Bryant, William Swift, James G. McKinney and Fielding L. Turner added.[xlix]

                                          Year ending June 1834[l]




Librarian's Salary*



Books Purchased

$  54.50


Net Deficit


$  54.75

* included $125 due for 1833

Debts as June 1834

Building Balance


Interest Due


Librarian Salary


James Logue for books


A. T. Skillman for books


William A. Levy for books




During July 1834, the library was closed for some repairs and reopened the next month.[li]  In September 1834, James Logue retired and William C. Bell was appointed as Librarian.  The board gave Logue a gold headed cane for a retirement gift.[lii]

In August 1838, the library held a public meeting to discuss “sustaining and supporting the institution.”  Led by Robert Wickliffe, Jr., they passed a resolution “recommending the city authorities to take the Library under its fostering care, and to contribute out of the city finances to its support.  It was also recommended to petition the Legislature to appropriate part of the ground, near the Court-house, and opposite Cheapside, to the erection of a new Library building; and for leave to dispose of the present house occupied as a library.”  During December, the library service is cut to Saturday only, from 10 to 12 and 3 to 5 o’clock.[liii]

In June 1839, the stockholders elected William A. Leavy, General John M. McCalla, Reverend Robert Davidson, George R. Trotter, A. M. Barry, General Leslie Combs, Henry Clay, Jr., Robert Wickliffe, Jr., William H. Rainey, Colonel Alvan Stephens, James Logue and Dr. Robert C. Holland as directors.  Lyman W. Seeley was Librarian, Secretary and Treasurer.[liv]  The next June 1840, Leavy, McCalla, Davidson, Trotter, Combs, Wickliffe, Rainey, Stephens and Holland remained and Leonard Wheeler, James Logue, James E. Davis and Colonel John Wallace were added to the directors.   In addition, Seeley also remained as Librarian.[lv]

Financial Conditions:

From available records, the complete financial condition was not known, however, some indications are available.  The library generated revenues $440 in 1804, increasing to $605 and $737 respectively in 1819 and 1820.  For the year ending June 1, 1824, income peaked at $841.  Then, from 1825 to 1840 the revenues steadily declined to $129.[lvi]

On June 5, 1841, the Directors issued the following report:

“From the rapid decline in the number of shareholders, at the opening of the present year, the receipts of the Library have been wholly inadequate to pay the Librarian’s salary – the trifling sum of one hundred dollars, together with the common contingent expenses of keeping it open.  The number of shareholders is reduced to about fifty, one-fourth of whom are not in the habit of taking out books.  With an empty treasury and trifling income, creditors presenting their accounts, the debts of the Library annually increasing, its credit suffering, although repeated appeals have been made to the citizens, through the press.  In short, the wants of the Library and its decaying condition have become proverbial.  And still there appears to be no disposition in the community to support the institution, which from its establishment, has been the pride of the city!” [lvii]

In March 1841, the Main Street property was sold for $3,000 to pay off debts, including the Librarian’s salary.  Leonard Wheeler and Alvan Stephens oversaw the sale of the building.  For the next five years, from 1841 to 1846, the library was closed with its collection temporarily housed in the upper rooms[6] of several business houses.[lviii]

During November 1843, the following resolution was adopted at the stockholder meeting:

“Resolved, That the Directors shall be empowered to open the Library, when not less than one hundred new shareholders shall be obtained, each of whom shall pay into the hands of the treasurer five dollars - the whole amount to be applied for the purchase of new books.” [lix]

Old Medical College:

In November 1843, the library received permission for the temporary use of the library room in the old Medical College[7].  The building was located on the northwest corner of Market and Church Streets.  The rest of building was occupied as the Odd Fellows[8], City Hall and City Clerk’s office.  Over the next year the room was fitted out with shelves and a counter built.  In addition, James Logue also raised $500 from the sale of shares to purchase new books.[lx]

In March 1846, James Logue was again appointed Librarian and Secretary at the salary of $300 per annum.  The library was reopened in May 1846.  The library was open on Saturdays from 9 to noon and 3 to 5 o’clock and on Wednesdays from 3 to 5 o’clock. [lxi]

On June 6, 1846, the stockholders elected William A. Leavy, Benjamin Gratz, Thomas S. Redd, Leonard Wheeler, Matthew T. Scott, Farmer Dewees, W. S. Chipley, Henry T. Duncan Sr., George R. Trotter, Thomas Grant, William Rodes, Richard Pindell and William A. Dudley as directors.  James Logue was appointed Librarian and Secretary and Wheeler Treasurer.  In 1847, the library issued new rules on borrowing books (see Appendix F - Regulations as to the Receipt and Delivery of Books in Lexington Library).  During June 1849, Leavy, Gratz, Wheeler, Trotter, Chipley, Rodes and Dudley were again elected directors, with Reverend John H. Brown, Robert Wickliffe, Jr., Matthew T. Scott, James C. Butler, Richard Higgins and William H. Rainey begin appointed after May 1847.[lxii]

On July 25, 1854, a fire destroyed the building and damaged the collection of books.  The loss was covered partially by insurance with the Franklin Fire Insurance Company, which paid out $3,000.  The books were removed to offices of D. M. Payne on Short Street.  The collection was further damaged by a fire there on October 12, 1854.[lxiii]

Jordan’s Row:

After the fire, Leonard Wheeler, William A. Leavy, Lyman W. Seeley and John S. Wilson led efforts to find a new permanent home.  On January 10, 1855, the library relocated to Jordan’s Row[9], on North Upper Street, opposite the courthouse.  On October 16, 1855, the library purchased the building from George W. Brand for $2,750.  The library was fitted out using the proceeds from the sale of its share of the old Medical College.[lxiv]

During 1856, the board consisted of Thomas B. Baxter, James C. Butler, J. C. Darby, Robert Long and Charles D. Carr. [lxv]

In July 1859, the library was closed for two months during remodeling.[lxvi]

Civil War:

William M. Mathews was Librarian during 1860, with G. Drummond Hunt, Jr. and Joseph Wasson respectively during 1862 and 1865.[lxvii]  During the Civil War, a number of Yankee Patrons carried away books and papers as Lexington was occupying by Union soldiers.[lxviii]

In August 1862, Burnap & Company managed another lottery for the benefit of the library.  The lottery had a first prize of $4,858, two second prizes of $1,000, two third prizes of $700 and two fourth prizes of $500.  Tickets were available wholesale in lots of 8, 16 and 32 tickets at 50 cents per ticket.  These tickets were sold to vendors in northern states.[lxix]

Old Second Methodist Church:

In 1865, Thomas D. Mitchell led the efforts to purchase a larger building to expand the reading room.  The library was able to raise $4,000 from the sale of bonds to fund the purchase.  The bonds were sold in $50 denomination, for 5 years with no interest.  These bonds were to be repaid from the rent on the Jordan Row property.  In addition, the city agreed to allocate $1,000 towards the purchase.  The bond owners[10] were given the option of exchanging their bonds for perpetual shares.[lxx]

In 1866, the directors were Phillip E. Yeiser, Dr. Stoddard Driggs, John B. Payne, Jr., Richard M. Adams, Dr. John K. Morton, John S. Wilson and W. Owsley Goodloe.[lxxi]

On September 1, 1866, the library purchased from Campbell & Stephens the building[11] on the corner of Market and Church Streets for $5,800.  The library paid $3,250 in cash and agreed to pay the balance of $2,550, with six percent interest, due in one year.[lxxii]  During October 1866, the old library was closed and the books transferred to the new library.  On November 28, 1866, the new reading room opened with 10,860 cataloged and 1,130 uncataloged volumes.[lxxiii]

On January 17, 1867, the General Assembly reincorporated the Lexington Library Company and on March 6, 1872 revised the charter.  The incorporators were Benjamin Gratz, William A. Leavy, Dr. W. S. Chipley, James Wasson, Robert Peter, John W. Cochran, John B. Bowman, Henry T. Duncan, Jr., John S. Wilson, Horace G. Craig, Hiram Shaw, James M. Elliott, Professor J. B. Pickett and Dr. R. J. Spurr.[lxxiv]  See Appendix G - Charter & By-Laws (1872).

In January 1868, the library had 95 stockholders.  During the prior year, the library generated $2,394 (including rent of $1,950), with expenses of $2,300 (including $1,000 paid on present building).[lxxv]

During 1869, the library earned $1,733, with expenses of $1,749.  The library had 125 stockholders and 10,267 books.[lxxvi]  In March 1870, the library was opened every day from 9 to noon and 3 to 5 o’clock.[lxxvii]

During January 1871, Thomas D. Mitchell was elected chairman, with Henry T. Duncan, Sr., Professor J. B. Pickett, Dr. John K. Morton, Lee Bradley and Horace G. Craig elected directors.[lxxviii]  In April 1871, Colonel J. Mason Brown was elected to the board to replace Major Henry B. McClellan, who resigned.[lxxix]

During 1871, the library expended $2,306.29, consisting primarily of Librarian’s salary of $600, new books and magazines of $135.95, lecture room expenses of $374.25 and repay old debts of $713.72.  For 1872, the library’s receipts were $1,440.70, while expenditures total $2,346.68 for a deficit of $905.95.  Receipts were from $850 from rent on Jordan Row building and $531.20 from shareholder’s dues.  The principal expenses were the salary of the Librarian and his assistance of $663.91 and redemption of twelve bonds of $624.75.  The deficit was covered by a loan of $600 from M. G. Thompson, sale of old chairs of $202 and sale of eleven shares of stock for $110.[lxxx]  See Appendix H - Financial Information.

The Lexington Press commented that “unless there is a change in the management of the finances, the bankruptcy of the Library is only a question of time.”[lxxxi]

Stockholder’s Revolution:

At the January 1874 annual meeting, the stockholders elected John S. Wilson was elected Chairman, with W. F. Marrs Secretary, Joseph B. Cooper Librarian and William Christie Treasurer.  The directors elected were Wilson, Marrs, Dr. W. O. Sweeney, C. R. Williams, John R. Graves, John B. Payne, Jr. and H. Marshall Buford.  These individuals were part of the Young Americans, which were associated with the Populist Granger Movement of the 1890s.  This represented a change in the board and management of the library.[lxxxii]

The new board proposed to sell 400 new shares (at $10 each) principally to the farmers of Fayette County and reduce the dues from $3 to $2 per share.  With these funds, the library would restock its shelves with new books.  In March 1874, the Young Americans began to solicit subscriptions, which could be paid at John S. Wilson’s on Cheapside, the Farmer’s & Trader’s Bank or Bosworth & Waide’s on Main Street.  These efforts were only partly successful.[lxxxiii]

Between April 27 and May 18, 1874, the board closed the reading room for improvements.  On May 18, 1874, the new Reading Room was opened at the library, every day from 9 o’clock in the morning to 10 o’clock at night.  The new room measured 24 by 42 feet and was finished in oil cloth, lighted by gas, with 24 burners.  The room was stocked with 31 newspaper and 18 magazines.  In addition, an assistance librarian, William Warren, was hired.[lxxxiv]

For the fiscal year ending 1874, the library’s receipts improved to $1,849, generated from the rent ($1,021) and shareholder’s dues ($779).  The library had a surplus of $42 after expenses of $1,808.  Expenses included salary of $602 and new books of $506.

However, the financial condition deteriorated by 1876, with shareholder dues of $484, down from $779 two years earlier.  In addition, only $40 was received from rents instead of $1,020.  The city council contributed $250 towards the library’s budget.  Expenses consisted primarily of salaries of $435 and new books of $324.  The library operated at a slight surplus of $29, not considering $160 in unpaid salary to the librarian.  In addition, the library had borrowed $500 from the Northern Bank of Kentucky.

In January 1877, at the stockholder’s meeting it was proposed to open the library to the public, if the city would allocate $2,500.  In January 1877, the Lexington Law Library was merged with the library.[lxxxv]

During May 1877, the directors lowered the Librarian’s salaries and reduced hours, by closing between 1 and 3 pm and at 6 pm.[lxxxvi]

In May 1877, the directors met “to consider the best means of meeting the current expenses of that institution.”  Clifton Carr proposed that the library obtain approval from the legislature to impose a library tax on white inhabitants.  However, several members opposed raising taxes given the “extreme depression.”  The stockholders approved the proposal, but the city council refused to forward it to Frankfort.[lxxxvii]

During October 1877, the directors met to address to question of opening the library to the young men of the Murphy movement (a temperance organization).  The directors indicated that the “library is not in a very prosperous condition” and the temperance group should pay for the additional expenses if the library opened in the evenings.[lxxxviii]

In 1877, there were 160 stockholders who owned 177 shares.  The four largest stockholders were William Warfield (6 shares), E. K. Stevens (5 shares), S. P. Simpson (5 shares) and W. W. Dowden (5 shares).  See Appendix I - List of Stockholders (1877).

In August 1880, the Lexington Press reported on the library, that:

“Its revenue is too small to allow it to reach the full measure of its usefulness and too uncertain to allow it to meet the ordinary engagements of such an institution promptly.  The library had only 166 stockholders who regularly paid their assessments.”[lxxxix]

In November 1881, the library could not afford coal for heat in the rooms.  The librarian Joseph B. Cooper was 80 years old and suffered from the winter weather.[xc]

On October 1, 1882, Librarian Joseph B. Cooper retired after 15 years in the position.  He is replaced by Carrie Lewinski as Librarian, who served until 1890.[xci]

In November 1883, an article in the Lexington Transcript indicated:

“Many of the books were contributed nearly a century ago by individual and societies in Europe.  A full and complete Encyclopedia of Arts and Sciences, contributed by a French scientific society, is among the most valuable contributions.  Many of these books were printed as far back as 1730, and some of them are badly moth eaten.  The Society should take steps to preserve them.”[xcii]

Carrie Lewinski   <LPL>

During 1884, the board included H. Marshall Buford (Chairman), Stephen G. Sharp (Secretary), Madison C. Johnson, John R. Graves, Dr. Andrew J. Campbell, J. Hull Davidson and Ephraim D. Sayre.  The library was opened from 9 am to 9 pm every day, except Sunday.  The number of volumes was 15,000.[xciii]

In February 1890, Carrie Lewinski resigned and Mary Hodges was appointed to replace her.  She was the daughter of Colonel John O. Hodges.  She resigned in September 1891, with Katherine Akers being appointed Librarian.  Akers began a complete house cleaning of the old library and reorganized the books and periodicals.[xciv]

In 1890, the Lexington Transcript reported that:

“As to the library, the poor old fossil of a prehistoric age, where rat-eaten tomes mock at the so-called classic shades of Lexington.  What can we say to stir up enthusiasm among literary pockets?  Or pockets unliterary?  A good public library would pay well in this community.” [xcv]

Lexington Library, on Church and Market Streets, circa 1890   <LPL>

Enlargement of Front Door   <LPL>

In 1892, the library’s directors Colonel John R. Graves, H. Marshall Buford, C. Suydam Scott, Ephraim D. Sayre, Hiram Shaw and John Boyd.

Auxiliary Public Library Association:

In November 1892, the Auxiliary Public Library Association[12] was formed to raise funds to keep the library open until 11 o’clock and purchase new books.  The directors were Pat T. Farnsworth, Charles Kerr, George C. Morgan, William P. Welsh, Henry T. Duncan, Jr. and R. F. Looney, Jr.  The auxiliary quickly grew to 100 members, who agreed to quarterly dues of $1.50.[xcvi]

In November 1892, the library extended its hours from 9 to 10 o’clock, with funds raised by the auxiliary.[xcvii]

However, relations between the library and auxiliary quickly soured.  The directors of the auxiliary decided to contest the next election of the library’s boards.  Both groups sent proxies to the stockholders for their votes.  The Lexington Press reported:

“Shareholders were seen and proxies were the prizes in view by the skirmishers on both sides.  Heavy cavalry charges were made by the old guard on the number of proxies piled up by the Auxillaryites and fixed bayonets attempted to break the line the old guard called their own.” [xcviii]

In late December 1892, Charles Kerr, George C. Morgan, Pat T. Farnsworth and W. P. Welsh acquired shares in the library, while Henry T. Duncan, Sr. transferred his share to his son.  However, a clause in the charter required “that all new shares issued must be passed upon by the board of trustees.”  At the director’s meeting, the old board “failed to see the shares lying on the table before them” and did not ratify the transfers.[xcix]

The Auxillaryites regrouped and nominated Henry T. Duncan, Sr., James C. Rogers and Mayor J. Hull Davidson for the board, with the intention that they resign after approving the transfers and appoint Henry T. Duncan, Jr., William J. Loughridge and Pat T. Farnsworth in their places.[c]

In January 1892, at the annual stockholder’s meeting the following board was elected J. Hull Davidson, John R. Allen, Henry T. Duncan, Sr., H. Marshall Buford, James C. Rogers, Wilbur R. Smith and Ephraim D. Sayre.  At the director’s meeting following the stockholder’s meeting, Henry T. Duncan, Sr.[13] resigned and his son appointed.[ci]

In October 1893, the city council ordered that the library be lighted with gas.[cii]

In 1897, the library generated $625 in income, from $450 rental on property owned and from $150 to $175 in dues.  The expenses totaled $530, leaving a surplus of $95 before any repairs or purchase of books.  Their expenses included the salary of the librarian of $480 and janitor of $50.[ciii]

[1] William A. Leavy was the son of pioneer merchant, William Leavy.  He received an education at the Transylvania Primary School and University, from 1803 to 1811.  He then entered his father’s dry goods business.  He was prominent in civic affairs of Lexington, serving as a member of the city council and city school committee.  He was a director of Transylvania University, Lexington, Harrodsburg & Perryville Turnpike Company and Independent Fire Company No. 1.  He married Mary A. Trotter, daughter of Samuel Trotter.

[2] “Commonwealth paper” was banknotes issued by the Bank of the Commonwealth, which was an early form of currency.  This was before the Federal government issued banknotes beginning during the Civil War.

[3] Logue was born in Letter Kenney, Ireland in 1783 and immigrated around 1813.  He settled in Lexington, where he was a noted teacher and opened his own academy (which was co-educational).  He served twice as the librarian, from 1822 to 1834 and 1846 to around 1855.  He was Lexington’s Mayor from 1842 to 1845.  In 1846, he led the efforts to reestablish the library after it closed in 1841.

[4] “the house and lot in the town of Lexington formerly owned and occupied by the Kentucky Insurance Company and now commonly called the Insurance Office on Main Street.”  The lot included 28 ½ feet on Main Street running back 108 feet to a private alley.

[5] These businessmen were William Morton ($200), William A. Leavy ($200), William W. Worsley, James Haggin, Robert Wickliffe, Farmer Dewees, Leslie Combs, Benjamin Gratz, James W. Palmer, Elijah W. Craig, William H. Richardson, Thomas Kane, James M. Pike, Joseph Bruen, Joseph Logan, David A. Sayre, John Peck, Samuel Trotter, Robert Scott, John Deverin, Mathurin Giron, Thomas Curry, Alvan Stephens, Patterson Baine, Bennett J. Sanders, John Brand, Dr. Elisha Warfield, John Love, Thomas Anderson, Robert Frazer, Robert J. Breckinridge, Henry H. Hunt, William Swift, Maslin Smith, John Norton, Robert R. Barr, Thomas T. Barr, William Hanson, Samuel Pinkington, Elijah Warner and Horace Holley.

[6] The books were spread among Stephens, Winslow & Company, Matthews & Norton and Alvan Stephens’ residence, while the shelves when to the cellar of Leavy & Dolan.

[7] The library owned several shares of the old Medical Hall and received a portion of the sale of the lot and salvaged bricks after the fire.

e The main hall of the Old Fellows was located on the southeast corner of Broadway and Main Streets.  Some references list this address in error for the library.

[9] The Berkley, Guthrie & Watson Building, 114 North Upper Street, was built on the site after it was sold in 1885.

[10] Over the next ten years, Benjamin Gratz, Madison C. Johnson, Mrs. John Carty, David A. Sayre, William Warfield, Henry T. Duncan, Jr. Ephraim D. Sayre, John B. Payne, John S. Wilson, James M. Elliott, William W. Bruce, Merit P. Lancaster, Samuel S. Thompson, John B. Morton, M. E. Graves, Charles W. Foushee, Milton G. Thompson John W. Berkley, J. W. Cochrane and John W. Cochran converted their bonds into perpetual shares.

[11] After the fire, the Upper Street (later Hill Street) Methodist Church purchased the damaged Medical Hall for $300 and repaired the damage.  When they disbanded, the building was eventually sold to the Lexington Library Association.

[12] It members included J. Hull Davidson, William J. Loughridge, James C. Rogers, Edward L. Hutchinson, W. P. Kimball, Pat T. Farnsworth, T. L. McConnell, J. D. Wilson, Frank T. Justice, E. M. Duncan, P. J. Keating, R. F. Looney, Jr., H. Duhme, Jr., G. T. Bittman, John Luigart, W. F. Jennings, L. R. Gordon, H. W. Aldenburg, John J. Sullivan, George W. Hughes, C. H. Crimm, Parks Phipps, J. Embry Allen, Charles H. Stoll, J. G. Hubbell, M. A. Cassidy, E. P. Farrell, W. P. Welsh, Henry T. Duncan, Jr., Benjamin G. Bruce, Tom L. Walker, C. J. Reagan, F. T. Ballard Jr., J. S. Wallace, H. W. White, J. W. Robinson, W. M. Stodhill, Charles Kerr, C. M. Alberti, Dudley Wilkerson, Louis des Cognets, James C. Carrick, New York Dentists, Ed Erd, James Wilkerson, J. R. Jewell, W. Worthington, John T. Shelby and Watts Parker.

[13] He was Lexington’s mayor from 1894 to 1895 and 1900 to 1903.


[i] Lexington Observer & Reporter, August 15, 1868, page 3, column 4, “Memoir of Lexington,” page 129 and Wilson, Samuel M., “The Lexington Public Library,” page 6.

[ii] Bullett, page 5.

[iii] “Extracts,” pages 4-5 and Lexington Public Library, Seventeenth Annual Report.

[iv] “Extracts,” page 1, Seventeenth Annual Report and Bullett, page 6.

[v] “Extracts,” page 2.

[vi] “Extracts,” page 2.

[vii] “Extracts,” page 7.

[viii] Kentucky Gazette, January 4, 1803, page 3, column 2.

[ix] “Extracts,” pages 7-9, Seventeenth Annual Report and Bullett, page 6.

[x] “Extracts,” page 12-13, Bullett, pages 6-7.

[xi] Bullett, page 6.

[xii] Bullett, page 7.

[xiii] Seventeenth Annual Report.

[xiv] Kentucky Gazette, September 4, 1806, page 3, column 5.

[xv] Bullett, page 8.

[xvi] “Extracts,” page 13.

[xvii] Kentucky Reporter, October 28, 1809, page 3, column 5.

[xviii] Lexington Herald, September 15, 1901, page 11, columns 3-6.

[xix] Kentucky Reporter, April 20, 1811, page 3, column 3 and July 20, 1811, page 2, column 2, Seventeenth Annual Report and Bullett, pages 9-10.

[xx] Kentucky Reporter, April 20, 1811, page 3, column 3 and July 20, 1811, page 2, column 2, Seventeenth Annual Report and Bullett, pages 9-10.

[xxi] Kentucky Reporter, January 7, 1812, page 3, column 2.

[xxii] Bullett, page 17.

[xxiii] “Extracts,” page 13.

[xxiv] “Memoir of Lexington,” pages 131.

[xxv] Seventeenth Annual Report.

[xxvi] Seventeenth Annual Report, Bullett, pages 9-10 and “Memoir of Lexington,” pages 130-131.

[xxvii] Kentucky Reporter, January 8, 1817, page 3, column 1.

[xxviii] “Extracts,” page 19.

[xxix] Lexington Herald, September 15, 1901, page 11, columns 3-6.

[xxx] Kentucky Reporter, June 23, 1819, page 1, column 3.

[xxxi] “Extracts,” pages 20-21 and 27 and Seventeenth Annual Report.

[xxxii] “Extracts,” page 22.

[xxxiii] Kentucky Reporter, January 13, 1819, page 3, column 5 and January 4, 1820, page 3, column 6.

[xxxiv] Lexington Herald, September 15, 1901, page 11, columns 3-6.

[xxxv] Kentucky Reporter, January 7, 1822, page 2, column 1 and June 10, 1822, page 3, column 6.

[xxxvi] Kentucky Reporter, May 12, 1823, page 3, column 2.

[xxxvii] “Extracts,” page 35.

[xxxviii] Kentucky Reporter, June 7, 1824, page 3, column 2.

[xxxix] Kentucky Reporter, January 21, 1818, page 4, column 5 and “Extracts,” pages 35-36.

[xl] Kentucky Reporter, June 5, 1826, page 3, column 5.

[xli] Fayette County Deed Book Z, pages 240-242 and pages 337-340, Kentucky Reporter, April 5, 1824, page 3, column 1 and May 10, 1824, page 3, column 1, “Extracts,” page 36 and “Memoir of Lexington,” page 11.

[xlii] Fayette County Deed Book Z, pages 240-242 and pages 337-340.

[xliii] Bullett, page 11.

[xliv] Kentucky Reporter, June 5, 1826, page 3, column 5.

[xlv] Kentucky Reporter, June 20, 1827, page 3, column 4 and June 11, 1828, page 3, column 3.

[xlvi] Kentucky Reporter, June 9, 1830, page 3, column 2.

[xlvii] Bullett, page 11.

[xlviii] Seventeenth Annual Report.

[xlix] Lexington Observer & Reporter, June 7, 1832, page 3, column 5 and Lexington Intelligencer, June 12, 1825, page 3, column 4 and June 20, 1834, page 3, column 4.

[l] Lexington Intelligencer, June 20, 1834, page 3, column 4.

[li] Lexington Intelligencer, July 18, 1834, page 3, column 1 and Lexington Observer & Reporter, August 20, 1834, page 3, column 2.

[lii] Lexington Intelligencer, September 19, 1834, page 2, column 2.

[liii] Kentucky Gazette, August 2, 1838, page 3, column 1 and Lexington Intelligencer, December 18, 1838, page 3, column 1.

[liv] Lexington Observer & Reporter, June 5, 1839, page 3, column 2 and July 3, 1839, page 1, column 6.

[lv] Lexington Observer & Reporter, June 5, 1839, page 3, column 2, July 3, 1839, page 1, column 6 and June 10, 1840, page 3, column 6.

[lvi] Lexington Observer & Reporter, February 21, 1846, page 1, column 1.

[lvii] Lexington Observer & Reporter, February 21, 1846, page 1, column 1.

[lviii] Fayette County Deed Book 18, pages 447-448, Deed Book 24, page 471, Deed Book 29, pages 123 and Deed Book 34, pages 368-370, “Extracts,” pages 41-44 and Seventeenth Annual Report.

[lix] Lexington Observer & Reporter, February 21, 1846, page 1, column 1.

[lx] “Memoir of Lexington,” page 110.

[lxi] Lexington Observer & Reporter, April 29, 1846, page 3, column 6, “Extracts,” pages 44-45, Bullett, page 12, Wright, John D., Lexington – Heart of the Bluegrass, Lexington – Fayette County Historic Commission, Lexington, 1982, page 145 and “Memoir of Lexington,” page 133.

[lxii] Lexington Observer & Reporter, June 13, 1846, page 3, column 6.

[lxiii] “Extracts,” pages 41-44, Bullett, page 12, Wright, page 145 and “Memoir of Lexington,” page 133.

[lxiv] Fayette County Deed Book 30, page 364 and Deed Book 72, page 125, Lexington Observer & Reporter, November 8, 1854, page 1, column 5, Ranck, page 196 and Wright, pages 12-13.

[lxv] Bullett, pages 12-13.

[lxvi] Kentucky Statesman, July 1, 1859, page 2, column 3.

[lxvii] Kentucky Statesman, May 29, 1860, page 3, column 7, Lexington Observer & Reporter, January 15, 1862, page 3, column 7 and May 31, 1865, page 3, column 7.

[lxviii] Bullett, page 13.

[lxix] Lexington Observer & Reporter, October 25, 1862, page 1, column 6.

[lxx] Ranck, page 197.

[lxxi] Lexington Press, March 13, 1871, page 4, column 2.

[lxxii] Fayette County Deed Book 48, page 93 and Lexington Observer & Reporter, October 17, 1866, page 2, column 4.

[lxxiii] Bullett, page 15.

[lxxiv] “Charter and By-Laws of the Lexington Library Company of Lexington, KY” (Kentucky Room), Journal of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Kentucky Yeoman Office, Frankfort, 1867, pages 165, 209, 249, 274 and 284 and Acts of the General Assembly, Kentucky Yeoman Office, Frankfort, 1872, pages 496-498.

[lxxv] Lexington Observer & Reporter, January 4, 1868, page 3, column 2 and January 8, 1868, page 3, column 2.

[lxxvi] Lexington Observer & Reporter, January 5, 1870, page 3, column 1.

[lxxvii] Lexington Observer & Reporter, March 2, 1870, page 1, column 1.

[lxxviii] Lexington Press, January 9, 1871, page 4, column 3.

[lxxix] Lexington Press, April 5, 1871, page 4, column 2.

[lxxx] Lexington Press, January 13, 1873, page 4, column 2.

[lxxxi] Lexington Press, January 13, 1873, page 4, column 2.

[lxxxii] Lexington Press, January 18, 1874, page 4, column 4.

[lxxxiii] Lexington Press, January 15, 1874, page 4, column 2 and March 18, 1874, page 4, column 1.

[lxxxiv] Lexington Press, April 26, 1874, page 4, column 1, May 17, 1874, page 4, column 4, May 18, 1874, page 4, column 4 and May 19, 1874, page 4, column 1.

[lxxxv] Lexington Press, January 12, 1877, page 4, column 4 and January 21, 1877, page 4, column 2 and Library Timeline.

[lxxxvi] Lexington Press, May 6, 1877, page 1, column 3.

[lxxxvii] Lexington Press, May 15, 1877, page 1, column 1.

[lxxxviii] Lexington Press, October 6, 1877, page 4, column 2.

[lxxxix] Lexington Press, August 7, 1880, page 4, column 1.

[xc] Lexington Transcript, November 16, 1881, page 4, column 1.

[xci] Lexington Transcript, October 2, 1882, page 1, column 4.

[xcii] Lexington Transcript, November 13, 1883, page 4, column 3.

[xciii] Lexington City Guide, 1883-1884, page 199.

[xciv] Lexington Leader, February 4, 1890, page 8, column 3 and January 7, 1892, page 2, column 2 and Lexington Transcript, September 8, 1891, page 4, column 4.

[xcv] Wright, pages 145-146.

[xcvi] Lexington Press, October 1, 1892, page 2, column 1 and January 8, 1893, page 1, columns 3-4.

[xcvii] Lexington Leader, November 4, 1892, page 7, column 1.

[xcviii] Lexington Press, October 1, 1892, page 2, column 1 and January 8, 1893, page 1, columns 3-4.

[xcix] Lexington Press, October 1, 1892, page 2, column 1 and January 8, 1893, page 1, columns 3-4.

[c] Lexington Press, October 1, 1892, page 2, column 1 and January 8, 1893, page 1, columns 3-4.

[ci] Lexington Press, October 1, 1892, page 2, column 1 and January 8, 1893, page 1, columns 3-4.

[cii] Lexington Transcript, October 14, 1893, page 5, column 1.

[ciii] Lexington Herald, May 23, 1898, page 1, column 3.

William M. Ambrose, Lexington Public Library - Founded 1795 / Free 1898, Limestone Press, Lexington, 2012.

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