LULA FAIN MAJOR
In October 1976 Mrs. Lawrence Rockovich, president of “Friends of the Library,” called to ask if I would write a history of the War Memorial Public Library to present to the Library at the “Friends” annual meeting on Friday night, November 19, 1976. It had been felt for some time that there was a need for this to be done.
During the five weeks that followed, the Library Board minutes from the first that were available up through those to date were Read, covering a period of about forty years. Some few were missing. A scrapbook of newspaper clippings at the library for the years beginning in 1937 and ending in early 1940 proved most helpful as did clippings saved by Dr. Rosalie Carter for the years 1937, 1938, and 1939. The minutes of the “Friends of the Library” from 1961 to the present gave added information on the library and were the source of the information used for the brief history of the “Friends.”
These were my main sources of information, but I talked with Mrs. James Buford and Dr. Rosalie Carter who were on the Library Board from its beginning in 1937 until 1968 when the county joined the Regional Library System. I also talked with Attorney General John Henderson who served as chairman of the Library Board from 1938- May 3, 1957. All three were helpful when I needed someone to clarify information I had found. I talked with Mrs. B. T. Nolen who was on the Library Board when the Library moved into the present building, and with Mrs. William R. Deen who has worked part time at the Library since the summer of 1955 of 1956. Mrs. Deen could tell me how the Library was housed in the mid 1950’s and also something about some of the librarians who were there.
The deed Records of Williamson County were used for information on the purchase of the German house for a library and also used to obtain what was included on the gift of the house and property by Mr. and Mrs. John B. McEwen in 1871 to their daughter, Adalicia McEwen German.
The history has four sections - (1) the main part which is the history of the Library (2) a List of the Librarians who have worked at this Library along with the staff, when available, and a sketch of some of the Librarians (3) a list of Library Board members as far as could be determined and (4) a brief history of the Friends of the Library.
Before the final typing by Mrs. Newton H. Smith, Mrs. James Buford who was a Library Board member for so many years was kind enough to Read the history for accuracy. This history was also read by Mrs. William Gibbs, Former Librarian and Miss Gusts, Present Librarian.
I would like to reserve the right to give permission in case anyone at some time might wish to publish this history or any part of it.
It is the plan and my hope that someone will take the responsibility of keeping this history current as the days and years go by.
THE WAR MEMORIAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
Lula Fain Major
The first effort to establish a public library in Williamson County was made by the American Legion Auxiliary in the 1920’s when they placed some books, received as gifts, in a room next to the one the American Legion used in the Masonic Hall on Second Avenue South. This Room was open a few hours a week, and the library which was called “The American Legion Library” was attended by a volunteer librarian, Miss Blossom Amis.
Many people realized the need for a larger and more adequate library. The fulfillment of this need became the 1937 community project of the Business and Professional Women’s Club together with other interested citizens, among them members of the American Legion Auxiliary. Out of their interest, work, and determination came into being the Williamson County Public Library, first as a demonstration and later as a permanent part of our county.
The formal opening of the Williamson County Public Library was on Saturday, June 26, 1937, with ceremonies taking place on the Public Square in Franklin, Tennessee at noon. That morning prior to the ceremony two boys, one of whom was thought to have been the son of Rev. W. H. Armistead, went about town handing out programs for the Library opening. Miss Marion Green kept one for her scrapbook, and it is as follows:
“Books are keys to wisdom’s treasure;
Books are gates to lands of pleasure;
Books are paths that upward lead;
Books are friends. Come, let us Read.”
The Williamson County Public Library extends greetings to its future patrons and invites you to join us in celebrating its opening.
Your Community Library offers to all, both children and adults, free access to its books with their opportunities for a continuing EDUCATION through life, for a most satisfying RECREATION, for INFORMATION in time of need and for INSPIRATION that sustains and stimulates.
Only a desire to render the best possible book service and to extend the appreciation and use of books
among the people of Williamson County motivates your public Library.
Open House will be held on Saturday, June 26
from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.
PROGRAM ON THE SQUARE
1.2. NOON Saturday
Presentation by Business and Professional Women’s Club -
Miss Helen Gildea
Presentation of Library to the County -
Chairman of the Library Board
Acceptance for the Town - Mayor Park Marshall
Music by the High School Band
Circulation of books will begin on Tuesday, June 29
Library hours will be 12 noon to 9 P.M. on Tuesday and
Thursday; 9 A.M. to 9 _P.M. on Saturday
Miss Loraine Binkley, graduate of Peabody Library School
will be Librarian
We’re off! Let us make our Library a success
Mrs. James Buford, a former circulation department librarian at Carnegie Library in Nashville, Tennessee, served as chairman of the ceremony and remembers that Saturday as being a very hot day. She introduced to about one hundred interested citizens Miss Helen Gildea, president of the Franklin Business and Professional Women’s Club, and in brief remarks Miss Gildea presented the library to the people of Williamson County. Responding on behalf of the citizens of the county was James H. Campbell who told those gathered there that “While we have the library now, its permanence is not assured. With the help of all people of the county we hope to assure a constantly expanding and permanent library.” At the last minute the person who was to introduce the Mayor could not come, and Mrs. Buford, thirty minutes before the ceremony was to begin, asked Wallace Smith who graciously accepted. Mrs. Buford said he made a long flowery introduction and to her it was the speech of the day. Judge Smith began by complimenting the Business and Professional Women’s Club on their enterprise and predicted success for a permanent library. Of Mayor Park Marshall he said that he was “the one man whose contributions to Franklin without monetary compensation are unsurpassed by those of any man in the world.” Mayor Marshall accepted the library for the people of Franklin, and John Henderson, speaking for the County Judge, J. M. Burke who was ill, stated that the opening of the library was “one of the greatest advancements made here within my lifetime.” Also taking part in this important ceremony was Miss Winifred Zwemer, a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, who was responsible for the fund solicitation outside of the city area, and the Franklin High School Band which played before and after the speaking.
At the end of the ceremony those present attended the open house being held at the modestly but comfortably equipped library located in a 15’ by 20’ sample room in (or at) the rear of the Post Hotel which was on the corner of the Public Square and East Main Street. Miss Loraine Binkley, the new librarian, was there to welcome the one hundred and sixty-two or so visitors who came to see their library.
The library opened for use on the following Tuesday, June 29. Library hours were from 12 noon to 9:00P.M.on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9:00A.M. to 9:00 P.M. on Saturdays. The longer hours on Saturday were to accommodate the people who came into town only on that day from the county areas. Several persons arrived at the library before noon on that Tuesday to await the opening of the doors. Will Reese Mullens was one of these and had the honor of checking out the first book - Van Dine’s Kidnap Murder Case. He read it, returned it later that afternoon, and checked out another book. In the beginning only one book could be checked out at a time.
The opening of the Library began a six months demonstration period to determine the desire on the part of Williamson County residents for a public Library. It was the culmination of the vote taken on Tuesday evening, January 19, 1937, at the regular Business and Professional Women’s meeting “to get behind a movement to establish a Public Library in Franklin for the use of citizens of the town and county,” and of much planning and work. On February 27, 1937 Mr. Francis K. W. Drury, librarian of the Carnegie Library in Nashville and president of the Tennessee Library Association, spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Business and Professional Women who had invited representatives from various organizations of the county, including schools and churches. The purpose of the luncheon at the Hotel Post, for which tickets were bought for 35¢, was to discuss the beginning of a public Library. The club members chose as their slogan, “Why spend money, time and effort in teaching children to read without giving them something to read?”
A finance committee was appointed. It was composed of Dr. William F. Roth, Jr., director of the Child Guidance Study, Mrs. Tom Henderson, and Jim F. Eggleston, chairman. The responsibility of this committee was to secure adequate funds to pay the salary of a Librarian for six months, and to provide for the rent of a room to house the library. The campaign for funds began the latter part of April 1937. Two teams of canvassers were appointed by the finance committee to work in and around Franklin, including the entire membership of the Business and Professional Women’s Club.
|Team A. Mrs. Tom Henderson, Captain|
|Mrs. Leonard Brittain||Dr. Rosalie Carter|
|Miss Pearl Kelley||Miss Louise Lunn|
|Miss Betty McDaniel||Mrs. B. T. Nolen|
|Miss Kate North||Mrs. M. T. Regen|
|Mrs. Willis Postlewaite||Miss Mary Pope|
|Mrs. Robert Richardson||Mrs. Benton Sparkman|
|Mrs. Tom Tansil
||Miss Anne Tohrner|
|Team B. Dr. W. F. Roth, Jr., Captain|
|Mrs. Chapman Anderson||Mrs. Joe Cliffe|
|Miss Katherine DeYoung||Mrs. Ophelia Fugitt|
|Miss Helen Gildea||Miss Bess Joyce|
|Miss Virginia Kirk||Miss Mary Kate Ladd|
|Miss Ollie Lynch||Mrs. Frances Moore|
|Miss Ruth Skelley||Miss Margaret Tucker|
|Miss Winifred Zwemer||Mrs. Ernest Woosley|
Solicitors for the county area were appointed later and worked under the direction of Miss Winifred Zwemer. Professor Orgain Seay represented the Western section; Miss Sally Critz the South Central; and Miss Roberta Wikle the Northern.
As the necessary funds were being collected, a library furnishing committee representing Home Demonstration Clubs was also at work. The committee under the chairmanship of Mrs. J. A. Hamilton was composed of Mrs. Reams Fleming, Douglas Club; Mrs. Gene Rice, Franklin Club; Mrs. J. M. King, Pioneer Club; and Mrs. Pope Mullens, Progressive Club. A clipping from a local paper in June 1937 tells us something of their work. “The furnishings committee has been busy redecorating in a soft shade of cream. In the center of the room hangs a beautiful indirect lighting lamp, donated by the Tennessee Electric Power Company. A new linoleum furnished by Trice-Reynolds completes the setting. H. J. Potts and Southall Brothers are at work on shelving. Comfortable furniture is being planned.” The ladies on this committee worked with the librarian when she came in early June to see that the Library room was comfortably equipped and that the books were on the shelves. Mrs. James Buford said that this room had been used by the hotel earlier for the sample room. It was here that the trunks of the traveling salesmen were stored. The nucleus of the library when the campaign for funds began was (1) books to be loaned them, and later donated to the library, by the John E. Stephens Post of the American Legion; (2) a collection of about 50 volumes from the Presbyterian Sunday School library; and (3) 100 volumes from the State Department of Education. The public schools in Franklin had also promised to lend the library some books, especially During the summer months. Various citizens, clubs, and businesses made contributions for the purchase of 100 or so new books before the opening of the library.
Dr. Rosalie Carter served as chairman of the Committee on Rules and Regulations, and the following set of rules for library use was adopted by the Board.
- This library is intended to serve all the residents of Williamson County. A registration card will entitle persons to borrow books; but cards must be signed by parents for children under fourteen.
- For the present only one book at a time will be charged to each borrower. The loan period for new books is seven days, for other books fourteen days. Renewals will be allowed at the discretion of the librarian except in the case of reserves.
- Reserves will be taken for books not on the shelves, and patrons will be notified when same are available.
- A fine of two cents a day for adult books, and one cent a day for juvenile books, will be charged for books overdue. The fine is never to exceed one dollar or the price of the particular book borrowed, which ever is least, and is to be collected at the discretion of the person in charge. This charge is not for revenue, but is charged in order to insure the return of books.
- Periodicals may not be taken from the library, except at the discretion of the librarian.
- Requests for the purchase of particular books are solicited. If the purchase cannot be made, the applicant will be so notified, and every effort will be made to secure the book or a substitute from another source.
- The Library will be open from twelve o’clock noon till nine o’cloc on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from nine o’clock in the morning till nine o’clock in the evening on Saturday.
The first Board of the Williamson County Public Library was appointed to secure representation of all citizens in the county and was as follows:
Judge J. M. Burke, County Court
Mrs. James Buford, Staff Consultant (library expert)
Reverend W. H. Armistead, Clergy
Mrs. Tom Henderson, American Legion and Women’s Auxiliary
Jim Campbell, Kiwanis Club
Dr. Rosalie Carter and Miss Winifred Zwemer, B. & P. W. Club
Jim Eggleston, Finance Committee
Mrs. W. W. Harlin, PTA
Harry Kitrell, Business element
W. L. Lowry, Citizen at-large
Miss Virginia Carson, Home Demonstration Clubs
Professor Daly Thompson, Williamson County Schools
Joe Cliffe, Board of Aldermen
Dr. William F. Roth, Jr., Physicians
G. L. Cleland, Agricultural interests
Squire J. H. Patton, County Districts
In the July 1, 1937 issue of the Williamson County News is found the following clipping which appeared along with the list of the Board members as given above.
HONOR ROLL PRESENTED AT CLOSE
OF SUCCESSFUL FUND CAMPAIGN
Two dozen Williamson Countians Tuesday were named by Miss Winifred Zwemer, of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, on an honor roll of persons whose services as committee members “made Williamson County Library out of the whole cloth of a vision in the minds of members of the club with the help of hundreds of our citizens.”
Listed by committees, the names follow:
B. & P.W.: Miss Ollie Lynch, Miss Mary Pope, Mrs. Benton Sparkman, Miss Margaret Tucker
Finance: Jim Eggleston, Mrs. Tom Henderson, Dr. W. F. Roth, Jr.
Location: Miss Helen Gildea, Mrs. James Buford,Jim Campbell, Winder McGavock
Personnel Standards: Dr. Rosalie Carter, Mrs. John McGavock, Miss Nell Shea, Daly Thompson
Furnishings: Mrs. J. A, Hamilton, Mrs. Reams Fleming, Mrs. J, M, King, Mrs. Pope Mullens, Mrs. Gene Rice, Mrs. Postlewaite
General Chairman of Opening: Mrs. James Buford
Assistant to Librarian: Miss Mary D. Voorhies
At the first meeting of the Library Board on a Friday night the 1st of June 1937, W. L. Lowry was elected chairman to replace James H. Campbell who had served as temporary chairman; Mrs. Tom Henderson was elected vice chairman; Dr. William F. Roth, Jr., treasurer: and Miss Loraine Binkley, secretary. Mr. Lowry resigned after about two months as he was moving to California. The Board in September named Mrs. Tom Henderson as chairman and James H. Campbell as vice chairman.
In addition to electing officers, the Library Board at this first meeting asked the finance committee that had raised funds for the six month operation to provide sufficient funds for a year until other means of support could be arranged. Squire J. H. Patton of College Grove was added to the committee at this time. At the second Library Board meeting on Monday night, August 2, the chairman, W. L. Lowry, “opened the business by suggesting a discussion of policy in matters such as under writing the goods of magazine salesmen. It was decided that no such salesman would be permitted to use the name of the library as a means of sales promotion.”
From the time the doors opened to the library room in the Post Hotel, there never was any doubt of the need for a county library or of the desire of the citizens for one. It is said that the use of the library exceeded all expectations. Books and money for books continued to come into the library, A report early in August, 1937 showed that in less than two months 205 persons had registered in the library and 455 books had been circulated. During this period there was a need for the library to be kept open more than three days a week but finances did not permit this.
From the beginning the library not only distributed books but performed other services. In July 1937 a story hour was begun for children. Sometimes the librarian told the story but more often an interested member of the community did this. Mrs. James Buford in August was appointed to the Community Service Committee to be in charge of the children’s story hour. The members of the B. &P. W. made attractive “sit-upons” for the children to use during the story hour. That fall “book talks” were made. The one on October 13th was to members of the Beta Club of Franklin High School at which time Miss Binkley, librarian, spoke on books that were made into motion pictures. In November Dr. W. Carter Williams, former director of the Williamson County Health Department, talked to local doctors and their wives and members of the Williamson County Health Unit at the library. One of the purposes of the talks was to encourage people to become better acquainted with the library facilities. On March 23 of the following year Miss Kate Reese initiated a series of bookchats at the library to which the public was invited. The Community Service Committee of the Library Board announced in February 1939 “that Miss Reese is to continue as official story-teller for the Saturday afternoon programs sponsored by the Library and Recreation Center, This arrangement comes as a courtesy of the Nashville City Supervisor of Recreation, and of Mrs. Garvin of the WPA Division of Recreation.”
Dr. Roth reported to the Library Board on September 16, 1937 that there was enough money on hand from the initial drive to start a library to last until January. Funds now must be raised for the remainder of the year. Various means were employed in addition to donations by the citizens. On November 3 and 4 in the auditorium of the Franklin Grammar School there was a ministrel show for the benefit of the library. It was directed by Robert H. Polk and included many of the leading men of Franklin. The proceeds from this show were sufficient to run the library for two months according to Mrs. James Buford. Then in April 1938 the Board sponsored the appearance of the Curtis players of Nashville in a four-act comedy drama, “Cozy Comers, “ The same month the Library Board, with other organizations whom they would enlist, conducted a campaign for subscriptions to the Williamson County News, Those participating received cash commissions on subscriptions sold and on payments collected on delinquent subscriptions. On two Saturdays in May they had rummage sales with the proceeds going for the support of the library.
The intention of the B, &P. W. in beginning this demonstration was to get a library started, thereby showing the need for one, and then for the county and city governments to take over the financing, Mr. Jim Eggleston appeared before the County Court at the January 1938 session on behalf of the library. He reported to the court that 543 patrons had registered at the library to that date (174 in the rural area and 360 in Franklin) and that 2441 books had been circulated - 759 by rural patrons and 1682 by Franklin residents. As a result of his appearance, beginning in July 1938 the County Court included funds in their budget for the library in the amount of $1,000.00. The county agreed to appropriate this amount “on the grounds that services rendered by the Library would make it possible for Williamson County Schools to fulfill the State Library requirements for the 8th grade certificates.” As a result the library felt it could now operate on a full time basis.
Mrs. Mary W, Hasty, librarian, in a report on the library in January 1939 wrote about this earlier period, “For the first six months the only support was from private donations. The first state aid came in the fall of 1937 when the rural teachers raised money in their communities to match state funds. In 1938, Williamson County appropriated one thousand dollars as a book fund to be matched with state money. It also set aside another thousand dollars as a maintenance fund for the library, “The money the teachers raised was used to start a circulating library as can be seen from the following written in the Library News Column in the Williamson County News by Miss Loraine Binkley in January 1938, She wrote, “The Williamson County Elementary School Circulating Library is being developed as a special collection in the Public Library. These books, which now number 120 volumes, are being circulated to the elementary schools of the County through the teachers. The purchase of the books in this collection was made possible through the cooperation of the elementary school teachers with the State Department of Education. “By the end of the first year of operation there were 674 new books in this special collection. “These books were first available December 18, 193. Between that time and May 21, 1938 they were used by 69 teachers in 44 schools with a total circulation of 2,013.” In the fall of 1938 the librarian began visiting the county schools, taking books, and receiving helpful suggestions from teachers. Many teachers were taking books from the librarian for their children.
In authorizing the increase to full time service, as was mentioned earlier, the Library Board was anticipating favorable action by the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Attorney General John Henderson, chairman of the Library Board, along with civic leaders and a delegation of citizens appeared before the City Council in July 1938 to ask the Council to appropriate money for the library. The application for funds was referred to the City Finance Committee which was instructed to report the next month.
In October Mr. Henderson and Mrs. Hasty, librarian, appeared before the City Council asking for $50.00 a month for the library. In trying to get the Council to understand how important the library was to the county, the librarian stated that 40% of children between 14 and 17 were not in school and needed to have access to books, and that 124 teachers in the county used the 2,000 books in the library for their students. (It might be well to explain here that at this time none of the elementary schools in the rural areas of the county had a library. Some teachers, however, on their own raised money to buy books to be used in their schools.) Mrs. Hasty went on to say that 455 local citizens and various local civic organizations signed a petition asking for city support. Mayor Marshall did not think the town could afford that amount, and the Council did not know whether, according to their charter, that they could legally do this. The Council agreed to act on the matter in November.
When Mr. Henderson attended the November meeting, he reminded the aldermen that the county’s appropriation for the library could not be kept unless the city did its part, as that was the basis upon which the county made an appropriation. It was after his remarks that the Council voted $50.00 per month for the library, but this was not to be paid until a ruling was made on its legality. Mr. Henderson says that neither the mayor nor any of the aldermen wished to file suit, so his wife, Mrs. Margaret Henderson, brought suit so that the issue could be heard. It passed the local court, favorably for the library, and was carried to the Supreme Court where it was presented June 13, 1939. Within about two weeks the Supreme Court ruled that the city could legally give $50.00 a month to the library. As a result, prior to the Library Board meeting of July 10, the library had received $400.00 from the city. The case had been carried to the Supreme Court by Franklin lawyers at no cost to the town, and the Board minutes of June 12, 1939 stated that Captain Tom Henderson “was due most of the thinks for work on the suit.” A letter of appreciation was sent to him after the final decision.
In a statement to the public through a county newspaper in March 1939 and signed by the Finance Committee of the Williamson County Public Library, the financial situation of the library was given. They told of the position of the City Council as stated above and asked for donations to keep the library open until funds could be received from the city which they felt would be in about two months. At that time the library was operating with a monthly deficit, but the Board felt this could not continue. John H. Henderson, chairman of the Library Board, had already been urging citizens to continue donations until the city could make funds available. In talking with Mrs. James Buford, she said if it had not been for the excellent money management of Dr. Roth, treasurer of the Board, during those early years that the library could not have kept going.
Early in 1939 the Library Board conducted a drive for more books. Each family in the county was asked to donate one readable, wholesome book, which need not be new. In January Mr. W. B. Shearon of Nashville had made a gift to the library of 250 books, and the State Department of Education had loaned the library books to be taken to the communities for adults. In addition, in November 1938, Col. John L. Jordan, U. S. Army Retired, gave his “Valuable Library to the John E. Stephens Post No. 22 of the American Legion, which, with the other books in the Legion Library, will be loaned to the Public Library as soon as proper shelving can be had. This loan will give the Franklin Library probably the most valuable collection of books on the Civil War there is in the State. Most of the books contributed by Col. Jordan are out of print and are of great value. “ A list of the books contributed by Col. Jordan was also given. In a newspaper clipping dated May 4, 1939 it is noted that Mr. and Mrs. Tom Henderson were still keeping the Jordan books because of lack of space at the library. This was the case even through the John E. Stephens Post of the American Legion had voted in February to pay for one year the monthly rent of $4.00 for an extra room for library use. Superintendent of Schools, Fred J. Page, in the fall of 1940 gave 300 books to the library. Only the American Legion had donated more books than he.
As of August 1938 the library had a full-time librarian, Mrs. Fred (Mary W.) Hasty, but the library was still not open to the public every day. At the December 1938 Library Board meeting the following hours were approved for library patrons - Monday through Thursday 12:00 noon to 6:00 P.M. and on Saturday from 9:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. The librarian was to use her other time for cataloging and visiting schools. An excerpt from the library column in a county paper on February 23, 1939 shows how important the library had become, at least to several children. “A child from a rural community telephoned the office of a local dentist, recently, to inquire if the library was open on Friday. When informed that it was not, she replied she and a group of her friends would have to cancel their engagements on the following Friday. They would not come to town on a day when the library was not open.”
The Peabody Reflector and Alumni News in January 1939 carried a full report of the Williamson County Public Library written by its librarian, Mrs. Mary W. Hasty. Since it gives such a good picture of the library as of that date, it is being quoted here in its entirety.
“The Williamson County Public
Library, Franklin, Tennessee
Mrs. Mary W. Hasty”
“The challenging opportunities which confront us in the Williamson County Public Library are probably very similar to those of numerous other communities in the South. A large percentage of our readers live in rural sections and have more time for reading than do city people with their many diversions. Therefore they have more need for reading matter since they, until recent months, have been entirely without access to libraries, as has been such a large part of the rural South.
“Our library differs in several ways from the usual public library. First, it serves not only the town in which it is located, but also the entire county. Second, it circulates two different collections of books, one a general collection for any child or adult in the county, and the other a school collection for the use of the children in the rural elementary schools. A third difference is that it is governed by a library board of eighteen men and women representing the farming, business, professional, and organizational groups of the town and county.
“Late in 1936, the need for a community library, long felt by a group of citizens, was crystallized. It became the community project for 1937 of the Business and Professional Women’s Club. A county-wide campaign for funds was launched and completed in a few months. A room, fifteen by twenty feet, centrally located was rented and equipped, and a part-time librarian was appointed for three days a week. The library was formally opened in June, 1937.
“For the first six months the only support was from private donations. The first state aid came in the fall of 1937 when the rural teachers raised money in their communities to match state funds. In 1938, Williamson County appropriated one thousand dollars as a book fund to be matched with state money. It also set aside another thousand dollars as a maintenance fund for the library. Later an additional six hundred dollars was voted by the town of Franklin. These funds, together with private donations, constitute our budget.
“This is our set-up. There is a full-time librarian who was employed in August, 1938. She is assisted by a volunteer worker, by N.Y.A. girls, and by volunteers from the city high school on the busiest days. As previously mentioned, there are two book collections, one for the general public, and the other for the rural school children. The teachers of these children take the books to them, being encouraged to come to the library as often as once a week to return their books and check out others. They take away an allotted number each time, at first only six when the collection numbered less than seven hundred volumes; now ten, since there are more books. This arrangement gives a maximum number of readers for each book. A crosssection of the patronage for two collections shows people from every walk of life, rich and poor, young and old, students from pre-school age to college, laboring, business, and professional people, housewives, invalids, and shut-ins.
“Two major problems have confronted us. The first, how to make people library-conscious, is being solved by several methods. The board members representing all the interests of the town and county, keep always before their respective groups the needs and progress of the library. Each month the librarian takes a message to the County Teachers’ Association. The County Health Department, the Williamson County Child Guidance Study, the city and county superintendents of education, and the rural teachers spread the library message. The two newspapers print each week articles about the library and its projects. A Saturday afternoon story-hour, exhibits, and window displays further remind people of the Public Library.
“The second problem has been how to build up the two book collections. The county and state funds have taken care of the school collection. Due, however, to a delay in getting one appropriation, the general collection has had very little book money. A loan shelf, made up largely of new books borrowed from interested friends, has been started. Shelves of community books have been borrowed at various times from the Department of School Libraries of Tennessee. Inter-library loans from Carnegie Library of Nashville and from George Peabody College have further added to the book supply. A small rental shelf of best-sellers has helped, also, to satisfy readers.
“Figures for the last three months reveal an amazing growth in many directions. The number of volumes increased from 1,658 to 3,000. The circulation for the twelve library days in November was 2,154 - slightly under the combined circulation of the last six months of 1937. This figure really means 7,314 books read, since according to the best estimates each book going to a county school, is read on an average by more than five pupils. And this, in turn, means approximately $7,314 worth of books read from the library in one month, with the books still available for numerous other users. High days in circulation showed a range of 441 to 687 books and periodicals checked out on these days. One hundred thirty-three new patrons were added to our registry. The highest story-hour attendance came December 3, with an audience of two hundred. Such growth, of course, cannot be credited to any one individual, but to the combined efforts and enthusiasm of many, and to the great eagerness on the part of the public for good reading matter."
Mrs. Hasty resigned in the late spring of 1939, and it was not until the following September that Miss Laura E. Howard was hired to replace her. When Mrs. Hasty came, she agreed to fill out Miss Jensen’s term and to have charge of the library until the City Council took action on an appropriation. Mrs. Hasty was asked to remain on the Library Board as a permanent member after her resignation, and when she died in 1943, the Board on July 12 voted to place a plaque in the library in her honor.
During the summer months after Mrs. Hasty resigned, Miss Blossom Amis kept the library open when otherwise it would have had to be closed. She was paid $15 a month instead of the $10 she had been receiving for helping Mrs. Hasty. Miss Amis worked at the library until the spring of 1940.
At a Library Board meeting in October 1939 it was decided to rent larger quarters for the library as their present space was too small. These rooms were in the Old Bank Building on the Square. Before the rooms could be used, it was necessary to do cleaning and repairing as well as to install light fixtures. Dr. Roth obtained the services of Mr. Charles Oliver of Franklin High School and his Franklin High School Manual Training Class in constructing the shelving needed for the books. The move was made on October 31, 1939 by John Henderson, Miss Addie Eggleston, Miss Chloe Yates, and Miss Howard. Now it was possible to unpack and 22 place on shelves the large number of books that had been in boxes and under tables.
The entrance to the new library quarters was through a lobby where there was a table and chairs, a magazine rack, a bulletin board, and a display of books. The circulation desk and the shelves containing the three thousand books Elementary School Collections was behind these. Both the elementary books in this collection and the high school books in their schools were purchased by the librarian, Miss Howard, with county funds matched by state funds. The large room in the back was the General Reading Room and housed here was the public collection of books, numbering nearly three thousand. The library also had a rental section where there were copies of nearly all of the best sellers. Mrs. Hasty had started the rental library to have a small fund to add new books to the general collection. The rental fee was two cents a day, and after a book was rented for awhile, it was placed in the general collection. New opening hours were now in effect. The library was open on Monday and Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.; on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 12:00 to 6:00 P.M.; and on Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. Library hours were changed again in September 1940. This time the library was to be open Monday through Saturday between the hours of 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
In March of 1940 Miss Martha Parks, State Library Supervisor, visited the library and complimented it highly. She visited the library from time to time and was said to have been a helpful friend to the library from its beginning. Later that month at a joint meeting of the Tennessee Library Association and the Library section of the Educational Association, the subject was Community-wide Library Service. The discussions centered around the Williamson County Library, and during the meeting Miss Howard spoke of the history, growth, and development of library service in the county. The program of the library at that time was threefold: (1) provided library service for the elementary schools of the county in a central location; (2) supervised the libraries of the three county high schools (Bethesda, College Grove, and Hillsboro); and (3) conducted a public library for the people of Franklin and Williamson County. Mrs. Hasty began the first service, and the second was begun by Miss Howard. The high school books were selected by the librarian and the high school principal, and Miss Howard readied them for the shelf.
Financing the library was still a nip and tuck situation for the Library Board as they moved into larger quarters even though the county was paying the librarian’s salary for ten months of the year and the city was giving $50.00 a month for maintenance. During the summer months of 1940 when Miss Howard was away, the WPA paid Mrs. Jessie Broadwell to keep the library open. Miss Clemmie Jo Frost took Miss Amis’ place and worked about a year. The library had some NYA help from time to time, and the WPA paid for some library help in the county high schools under Miss Howard’s supervision. In February 1941 the Board discussed ways and means of changing the library from a ten months basis to a twelve month plan. They voted to pay the librarian $100 a month to keep the library open during June and July, and they agreed to raise the money for this. Later that year, they asked the city to increase the amount they were giving, but this was refused. As of April 1942, all NYA help was discontinued and all WPA help with the exception of one worker in the library itself. Miss Howard, as of this, time was no longer required to do supervisory work in the county “except that which might be done at long distance. “ She did have some help one Saturday each month when the teachers had their meeting in Franklin. After that meeting they came to check out books. Four high school girls helped that day and were paid $1.00 each.
World War II affected the library as it did the people it served. The Board voted because of war work to meet every other month instead of month, and by 1947 it was just meeting quarterly. Book reviews which had been arranged for some time by Dr. Rosalie Carter were - for a while because everyone was so deeply involved in the war. The library was asked to aid in collecting books for soldiers. Dr. Roth was on war duty as of October 13, 1942, according to the minutes of that date. Mr. Jim Campbell took his place as treasurer. Dr. Roth visited the Board in October 1945 and July 1948 but seemed not to have served on the Board again.
After the war many citizens of the county were anxious for there to be some meaningful memorial in the county honoring all who had served their country during war. A charter registered September 17, 1945 and signed by Joe C. Carr, Secretary of State, was issued. It read -
“Be it Known, That Lytle Brown, E. E. Byars, H. G. Channell, A. G. Overbey, and T. P. Henderson are hereby constituted a body politic and corporate, by the name and style of THE WILLIAMCON COUNTY WAR MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION for the purpose of raising funds for creating, managing, and maintaining a MEMORIAL in the Town of Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee, to the SONS and DAUGHTERS of WILLIAMSON COUNTY who have served their country during War.”
The American Legion Auxiliary, the American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars were especially interested in this memorial. Committees were formed and work was begun on collecting the necessary funds. By early in 1948 a decision had been made as to what the memorial should be. The Joint Committee met on February 26, 1948. A copy of this meeting follows, as the recommendations laid the plans for the memorial.
“At the meeting held in the Circuit Court Room at the Court House in Franklin Tennessee, at 2:00P.M. o’clock February 26, 1948, under call of T. P. Henderson, Chairman of the Joint Committees, the Committees on our War Memorial representing the local Posts of the American Legion, the Legion Auxiliary and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, unanimously made the following recommendations:
“FIRST: That all unpaid pledges to the Williamson County Memorial Association for the War Memorial be cancelled, and all cash subscriptions be returned to the respective donors.
“SECOND: That the Memorial to our Soldiers be a modern Public Library, to be called The Williamson County Memorial Library; and that sufficient funds be raised to purchase and properly equip a suitable building to house said Library.
“THIRD: That the raising of funds, and the purchase or erection of the Library building, and its equipment, be delegated to a Committee of ten member’s to be known as the Memorial Library Committee, two members of said Committee to be appointed by each the local Post of the American Legion and its Auxiliary, Governing Board of the Public Library; and the copies of these recommendations be furnished said five organizations.
“Present at the meeting were T. P. Henderson, Lytle Brown, Glenn Overbey and R. H. Jennings, Jr., of the American Legion Committee; Mrs. B. T. Nolen, Mrs. Will Lynch and Mrs. Dave Alexander of the Legion Auxiliary Committee; and Howard Sands and Frank Boyd of the VFW Committee. “The only member’s of the Joint Committee who did not attend the meeting were Fulton Beasley of the Legion Committee and Tyler Berry, Jr., of the VFW Committee, both were unavoidably detained by other business. Both Beasley and Berry have stated that they approve of and join in the foregoing recommendations.”
Signed by: T. P. Henderson
CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE
Mrs. Dave Alexander
SECRETARY OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE
A special meeting was called on April 2, 1948 by John Henderson, Chairman of the Library Board. The Joint Committee that had· been appointed to Raise funds for and to select a building for the Memorial library met with the Board. Glenn Overbey was Chairman, Hugh Channell, Treasurer, and Mrs. James Buford, secretary of this joint committee. This committee Reported that they had selected the German property for the library. The American Legion Auxiliary had taken a 30 day option on the building and had paid down $500.00 which would be credited toward the purchase price, if bought for a library. At this meeting plans were made to personally solicit people, civic groups, and businesses in Franklin and the 9th District. People throughout the county were to be contacted by letter. It was Reported that they had almost Raised the down payment.
The Charter of Incorporation for the War Memorial Public Library was Recorded on April 28, 1948 in the office of the Secretary of State, Joe C. Carr. The corporation was “for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a Public Library for the use of and as an aid to education for the Town of Franklin and Williamson County, Tennessee, as a Memorial to all citizens of said County who have served in the Armed Forces during War; and to do all lawful acts necessary to the accomplishment of such purpose.”
Signing for the library were -
Glen Overbey, Mrs. Haywood Sherrod, Lytle Brown, Lucy G. Buford, Helen D. Montgomery, Mrs. Will Lynch, Ed B. Warren, Howard J. Sands, Stewart Campbell and Lucile C. Henderson
On April 30, 1948 the heirs of Mrs. Adalicia McEwen German, also referred to as Frances Addie German, sold to the War Memorial Public Library Association Mrs. German’s former home at the corner of Fifth Avenue North and Fair Street in Franklin. The heirs signing were her son, Dr. Richard M. German and his son, Richard, Jr.; her daughter, Mrs. Graham German Webb and her son, Sam G. Webb; and the widow and daughter of her son, Dr. Dan German, Mrs. Mary J. German and Frances German Rice. The Association paid $20,000 for the building - $5,000 in cash and - the remainder to be paid in three notes of $5000 each due in one, two, and three years and bearing 5% interest.
This lovely old house was well built and in a most desirable location for the library. The house had been built for Adalicia McEwen German (Mrs. Dan) by her parents and was deeded to her in 1871. When John B. McEwen executed the deed, he stated that it was being given “out of the means of his wife and at her request and for the natural love he and she have for their daughter Addie.” It was further stated that it contained “near two acres of land known in the plan of said town as lots numbered 39, 40, 46 and 47, and valued when the improvements are completed at $12,000.” It joined the McEwen home on Fair Street. The house was for her “sole and separate use” and then was to go to her children. When this deed was made, it seems that the house was not completed. When the house was bought for the library, the grounds included only a portion of the two acres mentioned in the first deed. At the time the German house was built, the side yard joined the McEwen yard. Now between the two are a home, a vacant lot where the former home of Dr. Richard German stood, and a branch of the Harpeth National Bank.
By-laws were drawn for the War Memorial Library Association and a meeting was called for the purpose of organization on June 2, 1948. The by-laws which were read and approved at this meeting stipulated that the Board of Directors would be composed of the former Library Board, and two members each from the four patriotic organizations - The American Legion, The American Legion Auxiliary, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its auxiliary - the County Judge, County Superintendent of Schools, and the Mayor of Franklin. The last three were to be members by virtue of office while each patriotic organization would elect its own members to the Board with the other Board members being elected by the Board itself. The Board would have between twenty and thirty members. The number “15” had been written in pencil above “twenty”, presumably at a later date. All members were present at this first meeting except five.
John Henderson, chairman of the former Library Board, presided at this meeting. “He stated that a permanent building had been purchased and a War Memorial Library Association incorporated which should control the building and its uses through this Board of Directors.” The members elected as their chairman John Henderson, as vice chairman Jim Campbell, and as secretary-treasurer Miss Laura Howard, the librarian. At this meeting also Hugh Channell and Miss Howard were elected to the Board. Mr. Channell was already serving as treasurer of the Memorial Library Committee. The membership voted to transfer all books, equipment, assets, and liabilities from the Board of the Williamson County Public Library to the Board of Directors of the War Memorial Public Library.
Two important committees were appointed at this meeting. A permanent committee composed of Glenn Overbey, chairman, Mrs. James Buford, Dave Alexander, Mrs. Alex Steele, and Joe D. Trice was to determine what repairs had to be made to prepare the building for use as a library and how much these repairs would cost. The responsibility of the second committee, called the House Committee, was to take charge of the building and determine which rooms were to be used for what purpose. They were also to see about the cleaning of the rooms and to care for the grounds. Members of this committee were Mrs. B. T. Nolen, chairman, Robert H. Jennings, Tyler Berry, Jr., Mrs. Haywood Sherrod, and Miss Howard.
The remainder of 1948 was spent in getting the German house ready for library use. Repairs amounting to $6,816.46 were made between June 1948 and November 1949. Of this amount $4,642.18 was for digging a basement and installing a furnace. The roof and chimney were repaired; the house was rewired and painted throughout; a water heater was installed; sun porch was repaired and underpinned; some old plumbing was repaired and some new was installed; and the plastering was patched. The building had to be thoroughly cleaned before the library was moved in. In talking with Mrs. B. T. Nolen, who will celebrate her 90th birthday later this year, she remembered how she, Mrs. Tom Henderson, and Mrs. R. Wallace Billington and others worked to get the rooms ready. She remembers having their pictures taken on the side porch of the building during this time.
The library was moved into its first permanent home in January 1949. Of the three moves the library had made since it was established in 1937, John Henderson wrote- “When the books were moved from the Legion Hall to the room on Main Street, they were hauled in a wheelbarrow; when the move was made to the Old Bank Building, the books were carried in two private automobiles, but when the latest move was made a large truck and four men were kept busy for two days.”
In the beginning, the library was using only three rooms and the front hall of the large German house. These rooms were the front one on the right of the hall and the two rooms on the left of the hall. The upstairs rooms were being prepared for renting, and Dr. F. A. Boulware rented the first space in late summer or early fall in 1949 for $60.00 a month. Minutes of several Board meetings indicate that in the beginning the American Legion Auxiliary was re-doing one room for use as a club room, but that they decided instead to let it be rented as the library needed the money so badly. The librarian reported in August 1949 that the circulation of the library in May was 1186, in June 1310, and in July 1273. It picked up considerably in the fall when the teachers began again to check out books for circulation in the schools. The county at this time was appropriating $900 a year for new books at the library and for the high school libraries of Bethesda, Hillsboro, and College Grove. In the fall the Nashville Banner gave a large number of books to the library.
At the October 14, 1949 Board meeting it was decided to ask Captain Tom
Henderson to go before the County Court in January and seek help in getting the library building paid for. The financial situation at this time was critical in spite of the money that had been collected by drives and money-making projects. Mr. John Henderson stated in his brief history, that will be explained later, that the amount collected was $16,000. This included a bequest by Miss Susie Gentry who had died in 1944 and left one-fourth of her estate to the governing Board of the Williamson County Public Library. The money was to be used either in the purchase of books or equipment or in whole or in part in the purchase of a library building. The bequest amounted to $1,884.73, and when placed in the building fund was $1900.00. The interest had been used each year.
Mr. Channell gave a full financial statement at the November 11, 1949 meeting. The library had been bought for $20,000 and $6,816.46 had been spent for repairs. He gave the following as large amounts donated by organizations - A total of $10,467.81.
$1,485.60- original War Memorial Association
4,757.25 American Legion Auxiliary
1,164.00- American Legion
1,233.16- Court House Mural Fund Committee
1,287.80 - Williamson County Library Association – unincorporated
As of this date the amount owed on the building was the two notes of $5,000 each, due April 30, 1950 and April 30, 1951, plus interest of $750. In addition, they still owed Harpeth National Bank $1,550 of the $1,600 borrowed to pay the note due in 1949.
Captain Henderson agreed to meet with the magistrates when County Court adjourned in January 1950 and asked the Board to furnish him with a printed statement, brief and to the point, of the history of the library project in Williamson County which he could use in asking for donations. John Henderson, chairman of the Library Board, wrote the history. It was printed, and a copy of it along with a letter of explanation was sent to Jerry Fly, the County Judge, and to each magistrate. The letter stated that $15,000 would clear the library building of debt and also enable the Board to properly prepare the upstairs for rent in order to make the library self-sustaining. In addition to the letter, the Board members personally contacted each magistrate, and Captain Tom Henderson who was County Commander of the Williamson County Civil Defense Corps wrote all District Captains asking them to contact the magistrates and to urge them to vote for the library appropriation. The District Captains were W. P. Bruce, A. C. Lehew, J. L. Ridley, Leonard P. Bond, E. M. Covington, Sam H. Moran, John P. Holt and Dan Reilly.
The minutes of the Williamson County Quarterly Court at its January term 1950 tell us that Captain Henderson did appear before the court and, after telling something of the library’s history and program, urged the court to adopt the Resolution that was being presented to them. The roll call vote was 43 for adopting the Resolution and none against. The Resolution as read to the Court was -
“Be It Resolved by the Quarterly County Court of Williamson County, Tennessee, in regular session assembled, that the selection by the Patriotic Societies and Business Clubs of Williamson County of the War Memorial Public Library as a memorial to the Honor and Memory of Williamson Countians who served in all past wars, including the War between the States, is here approved, and as evidence of the County’s appreciation of the honor and valor of those men and women, and to assist in the maintenance of said Memorial, Fifteen Thousand ($15,000.00) Dollars is here appropriated to the said War Memorial Public Library out of the general funds of the County not otherwise appropriated, $5,500.00 of which is ordered paid to the Treasurer of said Memorial Library on or before April 1st, 1950 or as soon thereafter as funds are available, and the balance on or before April 1st, 1951, or as soon thereafter as funds are available.”
The county paid $5,500.00 as stipulated in 1950, and the balance of $9,500 was paid the Library Board in February 1951. The last of the three notes due on the house was paid, and Harpeth National Bank released the lien February 24, 1951.
At the Library Board meeting on April 27, 1951~ Mr. Channell reported that all indebtedness on the building and repairs had been paid. He said that the rent from various parts of the building was to be held for insurance, current expenses, and the memorial tablet to be erected to the war dead of Williamson County. At this same meeting “Frank Beasley expressed the gratitude of the Board of Directors for the untiring efforts of the women of the Legion Auxiliary and others who have in such a large measure brought this project to a successful outcome.”
With the payment of the building, the big financial hurdle was behind them, but finances continued to be very limited, and from time to time the Board had to borrow money to meet the very necessary current expenses. Dr. Rosalie Carter said that several times, the Board thought they would just have to close the library as funds were so low. As I read the minutes, so often did I find that one member or other of the Board would volunteer to pay for a needed expenditure or would try to get an individual, a group, or the county or city to help. The women in the American Legion Auxiliary continued to help the library in so many ways. Mrs. James Buford said that she would like us to particularly remember how often Glenn Overbey came to the rescue of the library after it moved to the German house. Mr. Channell, the treasurer, would report that their account would be overdrawn, and she said Mr. Overbey would say, “Hugh, I’ll take care of that.” The sums were never extremely large, but what he did meant a great deal to the library. Mr. Overbey served as chairman of the building committee when the German house was bought and continued to serve after the move. He saw about all the repairs, which were many on an old house, and also made arrangements for the renting of the rooms.
Seeing the limited budget with which the early Board had to work, it would be difficult for them to foresee that the library budget for 1976 would be $55,000.00 with two-thirds being financed by the County and the other one-third by the cities of Franklin, Fairview and Brentwood.
Among some of the early minutes was found a detailed report of the status of the library. Unfortunately, it was unsigned and undated. However, from information within the report, it has been determined to have been compiled in 1953 or early 1954 and seemingly by the librarian who at that time was Miss Howard. Portions will be used here as they give us a good picture of the library and its operation.
“I. Building Fund in Harpeth Bank. Treasurer Mr. Hugh Channell. From this fund, which arises from the rental of offices in the building, is paid the insurance on building and contents; all repairs on building; two-thirds of coal bill; etc.
“II. Library Operational Fund in the Williamson County Bank. From this fund, which arises from the $600.00 annually donated by the City Board of Aldermen; gift of $60.00 per year from the Legion Auxiliary; and Rentals and Fines, books and magazines are purchased; lights, water, telephone in the library; the care of the front yard; the operation of the furnace and one third of the coal bill; the purchase of equipment for the library; etc.
“Through an arrangement made by the Library Board and the County School Board, the library houses the school circulating library of children’s books. The Librarian purchases, catalogues, and circulates these books to the schools, but at all times these books are available for circulation to individual children. The School Board furnishes the funds for the purchase of these books in the main and pays the Librarian’s salary for ten months of the year.
“For about eight months of the year the county elementary schools check out the children’s books. Each teacher may check out whatever number he may wish for a period of a month.
“The county school board through funds from the state allots for Library materials for children - the amount in proportion to the number of children in the schools. This past year, for example, the amount allotted was $2000.00. This amount was divided $850.00 for five high schools and $1,150.00 for elementary schools. This last amount is used for the purchase of books for this library ranging from first grade through eighth.
“Of the $850.00 for high schools, the librarian has nothing to do with the processing of the books for the Franklin High School and the Franklin Training School (Colored). These two supply their own librarians but they get their share of the amount per pupil.
“As for the other three (Hillsboro, College Grove, Bethesda), the books are shipped to this library for processing and then sent out to the schools for their libraries. These schools handle their own circulation, but the purchase, sometimes most of the selection, and the processing is done by the librarian here.
“A good many of the children’s books here are not purchased with school money. The Roth Memorial of three shares of stock was given to the library for children’s books. It amounts to about $12.00 per year. Children’s books are bought with this and put on the shelves with all others. Also many replacements are purchased with Library money.
“Whatever money there is after operating expenses are paid is used as a book fund. It has developed that most of the non-fiction is given to the Library as Memorials. Therefore most of the fund for books is used for the various types of fiction.
“The Superintendent of Education allows $50.00 for mending materials and book processing supplies. All above this amount is paid by the Library.
“Many books are given to the Library as Memorials by friends or relatives of the deceased In the selection of these books any suitable book of permanent value is selected by the Librarian, unless there is a request for a particular book either by the donor or the family. In selecting the books care is taken not to get duplicates. The fields from which the books are chosen are History, Biography, art, music, theater, religion, travel, and other related subjects.”
As was stated earlier, when the library was moved to the German house in January 1949, it used only the front hall and three front rooms - two on the left and one on the right. In 1950 to give more space for shelves, the lower part of the stairway in the front hall was cut and turned around as it is today. Porches had to be repaired and new columns put up.
By August 1950 not only had one room downstairs been rented to Dr. Boulware, a chiropractor, but a second room, this one upstairs, had been readied and rented to the Williamson County Board of Education. It was used by the elementary supervisor two years. At the April 22, 1952 Board meeting it was reported that four offices were now rented. The American Legion Auxiliary had bought screens for upstairs and paid for the shrubbery around the building. This group of women was responsible for supplying the funds for so much of the early work done at the library and continued to give a donation each year. In the fall of 1952 the Library Board was receiving rent from the American Red Cross, the State Highway Department, MacDonald and Johnson, and Dr. F. A. Boulware. Dr. Boulware moved out in 1955, and the rooms were remodeled for Dr. V. L. DiRienzo. These were what is now the reading room and the hall behind it. In 1956 Mr. MacDonald left, leaving two rooms for rent, and in November 1957 mention was made of the Red Cross moving to the Harpeth Bank Building. The Highway Department continued to rent rooms in the building until 1975 when the library needed their space. Dr. DiRienzo stayed until 1961.
In talking with Mrs. William R. Deen who has worked part time at the library since either the summer of 1955 or 1956, it was learned that when she came to work there that the library still used only the three front rooms and front hall. Dr. DiRienzi occupied a room and hall downstairs, and upstairs rooms were rented. The far back room on the right that was the German kitchen was used for storage. Mrs. Deen remembers the many times that Dr. Richard (Dick) German would walk over from next door (there was a lot full of maple trees between the two houses then) with his dog, go back to this room, stand there in front of the fireplace, and talk about all the good sausage and biscuits he ate there.
Gradually as the library grew and more room was needed, all the downstairs rooms were used and a side porch became the workroom. It was in 1959 that the little room on the left at the back now used for magazines was made into an “Easy Book” reading room. Glenn Johnson, a Board member at that time, did the painting and made the shelves, as well as gave the little chairs and hat rack. At the July 1961 Board meeting the members discussed re-renting the rooms vacated by Dr. DiRienzo. Mrs. Tom Henderson appealed to the Board for these rooms to be used instead for the library as extra space was needed so badly. “After much discussion the rooms were to be used to enlarge the library provided the women on the Board manage the remodeling without any expense to the Association. “ Mrs. Deen says that it was through the efforts of Mrs. Claiborne Kinnard, a member of the Board, that the Whitworth family redecorated and furnished the room for a reading room. This had been the German dining room. In 1964 the old kitchen was remodeled for a reference room to house all the books which Mrs. Edward Fryer had sorted out from those stored upstairs. In the summer of 1956 termites got in books that had been stored in the basement. At this time it was necessary to clean the basement of all books and make some kind of disposition of them. In the summer of 1960 the old well back of the building was filled in.
The library now uses the entire building. Just this fall, (1976) some of the juvenile books were moved into a hall and two rooms upstairs to relieve the crowded conditions downstairs. Another upstairs room at the front has been used for a number of years as the Children’s Story Room. It was decorated by the Friends of the Library who sponsored the story hour until a year or two ago when Jane Langston (Mrs. Douglas), a member of the library staff, became story teller. The rest of the upstairs is used for storage.
By the fall of 1955 the work at the library had increased to the point that the librarian needed some help. Miss Howard who had been librarian since September 1939 had resigned as of July 1, 1954, and Mrs. Mary B. Richards worked as librarian for one year. As of October 5, 1955 another librarian had been hired - Mrs. Corinne W. Stewart. Miss Mary Kate Shea had agreed to help Mrs. Stewart and was hired to work one full day a week and four half days at 75$ an hour. The full day was to be financed from petty cash. Mayor Frank Gray was going to try to get the City Council to pay the remainder of Miss Shea’s salary for one quarter. On up into the 1960’s any help for the librarian was financed by the library.
In 1954 10,610 books were circulated; during 1962 the circulation was 10,784 adult volumes and 12,367 juvenile volumes. The library had 11,500 adult books and 14,152 children’s. The number circulated to schools that year was 5,482. Circulation during the summer of 1959 was the largest in the history of the library. It was averaging about 30 new patrons a month. As the number of residents in the county grew, so did the number of people using the library. As of April 1976 there were 30,000 books in the library with about 6,000 on indefinite loan from the Blue Grass Regional Library. The library at that was circulating about 6,100 books a month and had 10,300 registered patrons.
In the early part of 1970 the library set up a new registration system and required identification cards when books were checked out. This became necessary because of the growth in the number of persons using the library. The system went into effect March 1970, and the cards for identification and registration were provided by the Friends of the Library. By December 31 of that year 2,914 people were registered.
An organization that has been of service to the library since its organization in 1961 is the “Friends of the Library. “ The Library Board minutes of February 24, 1961 show that the members discussed the organization of this group for the benefit of the library. Mrs. Tom Henderson and John Henderson agreed to investigate and to find out how this service organization operated and how the library might be assisted thereby. As a result, several people met at the library on September 3, and plans were made to organize the “Friends.” At an open house at the library on December 3, the first officers of the “Friends of the Library” were elected. A brief history of this group and some of the ways in which they have benefited the library can be found in another section of this history.
As the German house was purchased for a library as a memorial to all citizens of Williamson County who had served our country in time of war, including the Civil War, it is most fitting that plaques have been placed in memory of those who gave their lives during the last two wars.
Mr. Leonard Armistead was placed in charge of the veteran’s plaque in August 1950 by the Library Board. For some reason the plaque had not been secured, so in April 1952 Mrs. Alex Steele and Mrs. James Buford were asked by the Board to get a complete list of World War II dead and to have a plaque made. By July these names had been listed and were published for several weeks in the Review-Appeal so that readers could make any necessary additions and/or corrections. A committee composed of Hugh Channell, Glenn Overbey, and Mrs. B. T. Nolen was appointed to select a design and to find out the cost. A design was approved in January 1953, and at that time it was voted to have a second one made for soldiers of World War I. The plaque for World War I cost $290.00 plus $7.95 freight, and the one for World War II cost $595.00 with $6.30 for express. Plans were made and the unveiling of the tablets took place on May 30, 1953 with a most impressive ceremony featuring Captain Tom Henderson as the speaker. Mrs. W. D. Trabue of the American Legion Auxiliary made poppy wreaths for the service. The two bronze plaques hang on the wall to the left of the entrance to the library. Inscriptions on the two plaques are listed below.
|Roll of Honor|
|World War II - 1941-1945||Robert E. Akin||Emory Clyde Fox||W. B. Prince|
|Donald C. Alexander||David Nolen Gentry||Shady Ed. Pulley|
|L. G. Allen, Jr.Dexter Ewing Givens Dexter Ewing Givens David Nolen Gentry||Roy Lee Ray|
|Roy F. Alley||Governor W. Graham||Walter Frank Redmon|
|Ernest Brown Barnes||Cecil Green||Herbert B. Reed|
|James A. Beard||Hillard Green||Frank M. Reese|
|Wallace Booker||Bennie F. Hargrove||John T. Reynolds, Jr.|
|Bennie R. Bradley||James Harper||W. A. Robinson|
|William A. Broadwell||Henry Harrison, Jr.||Edward A. Sawyer, Jr.|
|Curtis C. Brown||Harold Duane Hays||Reedy A. Sears|
|Eugene Lewis Brown||James G. Hicks, Jr.||Cecil Sims, Jr.|
|Charles Buchanan||Jimmie S. Hill||Walter Kenneth Smith|
|Emory Buchanan||James E. Holder||Elbert E. Spence|
|Scobey A. Burchett||Felix Clark Hood||Marvin L. Stephens|
|Simon Burdette||William Everett Horton||Clyde Stewart|
|Dewey Burns||Robert H. Howell, Jr.||James Hollis Stinson|
|Vance Burke||Arthur Jennette||Buford Stinson|
|Robert Shannon Burke, Jr.||William S. Jones *||Edward C. Stolp|
|Ralph D. Campbell||Robert G. Kennedy||Leonard B. Sweeney|
|Silas McKay Carlisle||Delmer King||Owen T. Sweeney|
|Roy Caruthers||Carl W. Landwehr||Roy W. Taylor|
|Beverly Lofton Chadwell||William W. Lynch, Jr.||Mack Terry, Jr.|
|John Overton Colton||Harry H. McAlister||Leighton C. Varden|
|James Robert Cothran||Earl McCord||George A. Vaughan|
|W. H. Culverson||James M. Malone||William L. Vaughn|
|Roy Davis||Leo Carlton Martin||Hunter M. Von Hoff|
|H. R. Dodson||Carl Raymond Mayfield||Warren Caldwell Waldren|
|H. R. Dodds||James B. Meeks, Jr.||John Rome Waldren|
|Mark A. Dodds||Clarence E. Morrow||J. D. Wallace|
|Jessie R. Dorris||Van North||Bruce L. Widwick|
|Albertson D. Eley||Harry F. Oliphant||Joe Wilburn|
|Glenn Eley||Bert Overstorm||Louie G. Williams, Jr.|
|Brooks Fleming, Jr.||John Overton||Ulysses Wray|
|Collins J. Foster||Vallie Pope||Herman M. Young, Jr|
|Elmer F. Poteete|
|Williamson County, Tennessee|
* His name should have read “William S. Jones.”
Roll of Honor
World War I – 1917-1919
Edgar B. Anderson
James Dillard Anderson
Ed M. Byrd
William S. Caldwell
John B. Carter
Carl A. Chilson
Zack A. Green
M. E. Grigsby
Matthew C. Hassell
James W. Holt
W. E. Holt
James T. Johnson
Joe C. Lankford
Owen B. Layne
William C. Logan
Tom W. Maddox
William M. Marlin
James W. Morgan
Isaac W. Morgan, Jr.
Frank C. McClannahan
James L. McKee
Frank M. Ring
John E. Stephens
Wesley N. Thomas
Joe B. Warren
Williamson County, Tennessee
Two other plaques are on the outside walls of the library building on the Fifth Avenue side. One is in memory of Matthew Fontaine Maury, and the other is a memorial to two Williamson County’s earliest educators - Gideon Blackburn and James Hervey Otey. The Old Glory Chapter of the DAR had placed these on the Franklin Elementary School Building at Five Points, and in the summer of 1961 when the remains of the old building which had burned was being torn down, the marble plaques were secured for the library. The DAR and Reverend William Ray paid for having them moved. They read –
THIS TABLET IS PLACED IN HONOR
AND AS A TRIBUTE TO
COM. MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY
THE PATHFINDER OF THE SEAS
BORN JAN’Y 14, 1806
DIED FEB’Y 1, 1873
U. S. AND CONFEDERATE NAVAL OFFICER
AMERICA’S MOST DINTINGUISHED CITIZEN
AND WILLIAMSON COUNTY’S ADOPTED SON
By Old Glory Chapter
Daughters of the American Revolution
THIS TABLET COMMEMORATES
REV. GIDEON BLACKBURN, D.D. AND
JAMES HERVEY OTEY, D.D. LL.D.
AS EARLY EDUCATORS OF WILLIAMSON CO.
THE FIRST AND SECOND PRINCIPALS OF
FROM 1811 TO 1827
GIDEON BLACKBURN, BORN IN VA. AUG. 27, 1772
FOUNDED PRESBYTERIANISM IN THIS CO. JAN. 14, 1811
DIED IN CARLINSVILLE ILLINOIS AUG. 23, 1838
JAMES HERVEY OTEY BORN IN VA. JAN. 27, 1800
FOUNDED THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN TENN. AUG. 25, 1827
CONSECRATED FIRST BISHOP OF TENN. JAN. 14, 1834
DIED APRIL 23, 1863
Placed by Old Glory Chapter
Daughters of the American Revolution
In addition to the outside plaques three have been placed on the mantels in the library. The Library Board placed the first of these in 1950 in memory of Mrs. Mary W. Hasty, former librarian and Library Board member. Mrs. Hasty died in 1943. This plaque is on the mantel in the front room on the left and reads:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
MARY W. HASTY
A LIBRARIAN WHO LOVED BOOKS
AND THOSE WHO READ THEM
The second plaque, placed later that same year, is on the mantel in the room on the right of the front hall. This room has just recently been converted to the children’s room. When Miss Susie Gentry left money in her will for the library in memory of her parents, she stipulated that a plaque he placed, if the money was used for a building. On this plaque one finds -
IN GRATITUDE TO
MISS SUSIE GENTRY
FOR HER BEQUEST
IN MEMORY OF HER PARENTS
DR. WATSON MEREDITH GENTRY
MARTHA JONES GENTRY
The mantel of the reading room has the other plaque. The Whitworth family decorated and furnished this room in memory of Mr. Whitworth in 1961.
THE CHARLES BOSLEY WHITWORTH READING ROOM
“BOOKS ARE GATES TO LANDS OF PLEASURE
BOOKS ARE FRIENDS. COME LET US READ.”
Three brass plates recognize three other gifts to the library. One is the Micro-film Reader which was given by Mr. and Mrs. Martin Tohrner in memory of his sister, Miss Anne Tohrner, who was on the Library Board for so many years. The second has been placed on shelving which was the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Barton Pope in: 1967, while one finds the third on the book drop given in memory of Dr. Tandy C. Rice by his son and his family.
In the very first days of the library a memorial fund was established, and through the years the books purchased from this fund have been a great asset to the library. For many years most of the non-fiction adult books were bought with this money. Now the library does have money avilable for purchasing adult books, and the memorial fund is used for special hooks and often for the more expensive hooks that the library could not otherwise afford. The money in this fund is given in memory of or in honor of someone. In the beginning the fund was made up entirely of gifts given at the death of a relative or friend, but in the 1960’s Mrs. Martin Tohrner through the “Friends” group suggested that people might want to honor a person on a special occasion by placing a book in the library through this fund. Now books are purchased from the memorial fund both in memory of or in honor of a person. To show how much this fund means to the library, in 1968 293 memorial books were bought. Book plates are placed in the books showing by whom and for whom the book is given. Many years ago upon the death of his son, William Roth III, Dr. Roth gave the library three shares of stock, thereby establishing the Roth Memorial fund. Each year the money received is used for children’s books. In 1968 this amounted to $55.00.
In 1968 the War Memorial Public Library began to operate under the State Regional Library System. Col. Campbell Brown at the Library Board meeting on January 8 introduced the idea, and he was asked to investigate and report to the Board. The Regional Library System began in Tennessee in 1937, and the minutes of the January 12, 1946 Library Board meeting tell us that the members at that time discussed whether our county should become a part of this system. It was voted not to join “Due to local conditions.” This seems to have been because of the way the library was being financed. Every few years from that time until 1968, the idea was presented, discussed, and investigated, but each time a decision was made not to join the system. In 1960 when it was discussed, “Mr. Overbey stated that under the Regional set-up, the County would have to appropriate approximately $3,900.00 per year for salaries alone for the library. Mr. Channell pointed out that the yearly operating expenses were in the neighborhood of $1,400.00. The City, which now gives $600.00 annually, has been asked to give $400.00 more, while the County, which gives $2,000.00 per annum is to be asked to give an added $1,000.00 annually.”
In April 1968 Miss Irma Harlan, librarian for the Regional Library System of the State, and Miss Lillias Burns met with the Board to explain the Regional Library System and the advantages to the county. They were:
“(1) Region owns 60,000 books. These could be borrowed and brought to the library by bookmobile.
“(2) In order to be a member the Library has to have a fixed income of 42$ per capita. By 1971 that would be raised to 52$. This would be a fixed income of $10,367.39.
“(3) Bookmobiles would visit the library as well as stations in other sections of the County every two months.
“(4) The regional staff would assist in selecting and processing books.”
At this same meeting Miss Burns explained the new Technical Information Centers. These, she said, were a network of storehouses of knowledge throughout the state and were available for questions on all types of subjects. The centers were set up primarily to serve small business and industry outside of the metropolitan area. Answers were relayed quickly and efficiently. This service has proven most beneficial to many during the years that have followed when they have come to the library seeking information not available there. In 1971 or 1972 the Technical Information Centers became the Area Resource Centers shifting their emphasis from business and industry to all subjects. There are four in the state, and we are still served by the one in Nashville.
The Library Board voted unanimously to become a member of the Blue Grass Regional Library System. There were and are nine counties in the Regional - Giles, Hickman, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall, Maury, Perry, Wayne, and Williamson. At the same meeting Mrs. Walter Carlisle moved that when the new seven member Board was appointed by Fulton Greer, County Judge, and approved by the County Court that the present Board of Directors be automatically dissolved. Col. Brown tendered his letter of resignation that day.
The Board since July 1968 has been composed of seven members who may serve two terms of three years each. The terms of the members are staggered and begin on July 1. As of January 1975 the Board of Trustees was still composed of seven members, but the manner of their election was changed. Five of the seven were to be elected by the County Court upon the recommendation of the Library Board as had been the policy, but the sixth was to be a member of the County Court appointed by the County Judge and approved by the Court while the seventh member was to be a member of the Franklin Board of Aldermen to be named by the Mayor and approved by the aldermen. This is still the policy except that one of the five recommended by the Library Board is to represent each community where there is a branch library. At present branch libraries are in Fairview and Brentwood. Board members have always served without pay. In the minutes of January 1969 one finds that the Library Board was still meeting on the second Monday of January, April, July, and October. By July 1973 the Board had so much business to attend to that they began meeting monthly.
That summer of 1968 and in the months that followed Mrs. Walter Carlisle, working with Miss Harlan, established stations at Lick Creek, Rudderville, Boston, Thompson Station, Nolensville, Arrington, Brentwood, College Grove, and Hillsboro. Fairview was already a station and began being serviced by the Regional on August 1. The Fairview Home Demonstration Club had sponsored the library there beginning in 1964 at the Laundry Village on Highway 100. The library has stations now at Arrington, Boston, College Grove, Grassland, Hillsboro, Lick Creek, Nolensville, Pinewood, Rudderville, Thompson Station, and Triune.
On January 6, 1971 the library began staying open one night a week until 9:00 o’clock, and it still remains open on Tuesday from 9:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M. On every other day except Sunday the library is open from 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. There are now two branch libraries in Williamson County. Fairview became a branch library instead of a bookmobile station in May 1974. In February of that year Mrs. Joe Clinard told of the need for this change. She said, “The Fairview HDC which sponsored the community library that began operation ten years ago had proposed a budget of $1, 500. 00 which would pay a part-time librarian $100. 00 a month with $300.00 for supplies and books. The room for the Library is provided, by the city in the City Hall. The city also has given $50.00 a year for library expenses.” In May she reported that the City of Fairview would contribute $300.00 a year for the library there.
The branch library opened in Brentwood on June 15, 1976 with Mrs. Charles Brown as librarian. The library is located in Building Two of Maryland Farms office complex in one large L-shaped room which has some seating as well as shelving. There is a three year contract on this space.
In 1969 Sam Fleming, who was born and reared in Williamson County, offered to give $25,000.00 toward the building of a library. There were several conditions up on which the gift would be made. One of these was that it be built upon the old elementary school property at Five Points and that this property be made available to the library at no cost to them. On August 14, 1969 a committee was appointed by the Library Board to investigate the possibility of a library being built on this property. The City Council voted to give the city’s interest to the library, and the Ninth Special School District was asked to give theirs. The latter took it before Attorney General John Henderson who ruled that the Special School District could give the land for a library. The School Board appealed and the Court of Appeals reversed the decision. They ruled that Franklin City was only trustee for the property and that the Ninth District School Board had either to use the land for school purposes or to sell it and use the money for their schools.
The library had outgrown its present facilities so other plans for locating a building had to be made. On May 1, 1976 Mrs. Livingfield More, chairman of the Library Board, appointed a Sites and Future Plans Committee to deal with site selection and building plans for the proposed new library. Those asked to serve were: Dale Miles, chairman; J. W. Cross III, Tyler Berry III, Billy Billington, Bill Peach, Duncan Callicott, and Sam Lee. Mrs. More, Library Board Chairman; Mrs. Walter Carlisle, John T. Flaugher and Mrs. James H. Campbell, former Board members; Mrs. Judy Brookshire, librarian; and Mrs. Glenna Patton, Regional Librarian, were also to sit in on the committee’s meetings. Mrs. More asked when she appointed this committee that Mrs. Patton and Mrs. Brookshire furnish the committee with their conception of facilities needed in the new structure. As of this date David Filler has replaced Mrs. More as Board chairman; Leigh Gusts is librarian and Joy Mowery is from the Blue Grass Regional Center; John T. Flaugher has moved; and two have been added - Ken Brison and R. C. Bailey, Mayors of Fairview and Brentwood respectively.
Fuller Arnold was later appointed chairman of the Building Finance Committee. Those serving with him are Wilbur Kelley, Jr., County Judge, Ed Woodard, Mayor, Mrs. Ed Fryer, Paul Ogilvie, Matt Harwell, Hubert Hill, John Sloan, Jr., Tandy Rice, James H. Armistead, Walter Short, and Barton Pope.
When the Quarterly County Court met on July 19, 1976, the Library Board asked the Court for assurance of funding for a library when a site could be selected and plans drawn. The Court voted that the County would make up to $800,000.00 available for a library building. With this backing, the committees are at work on finding a location and making plans for the building.
At the Library Board meeting on September 2, 1976 it was voted to accept the $60,000.00 offer that the Heritage Foundation had made for the present library property. The Foundation will begin renovation of the outside of the building in the near future but will not get possession until the new library building is completed and the present building is vacated.
Miss Lilita Gusts, librarian, lists the following as the services of the library in 1976.
LIBRARY SERVICES - 1976
1.) Book loans * Books may be checked out for 2 weeks. New titles and best sellers are checked out for 7 days.
* Reserves are taken for books on order or for books which are in circulation.
* Approximately 220 in collection
* Records are checked out like books
3.) Art Prints
* May be checked out for one month and may not be renewed
* All are on loan from Blue Grass Regional Library, we have approximately 20 here at any one time. The prints are rotated within the region so that every three months we have a new supply of different prints.
* Library has approximately 80 periodicals, covering a variety of subject areas. Periodicals may not be checked out, but a copying machine is available.
* Library subscribes to local newspapers (Review-Appeal, Williamson Leader,
Nashville Tennessean), and national newspapers (Wall Street Journal and the New York Times Sunday Edition).
* Only the Franklin papers are kept on microfilm. Others are discarded.
6.) Genealogy materials
* Library owns many of the Williamson county records (Wills, marriage, burial, census, tax books, etc.) in either book or microfilm form. Some records from surrounding counties are also available. Information files are kept on various family histories with some family histories available in book form. These and other local history items are non-circulating but can be used for research in the library.
7.) Children’s services
* Library has a special collection of books for children. The Children’s Collection is divided into two sections. Easy and Picture books for ages 4 to 8 are on the ground floor and books for fiction for ages 8 to 14 are arranged on the second floor. Non-fiction books on a juvenile level are shelved with adult books on the same subject.
* A story hour is provided weekly on Wednesday mronings from 10:00 to 10:45. At this time the “Pocket Lady” tells stories and shows filmstrips for age groups from 4 to 8. Special story hours for groups can be arranged atany time.
* Tours of the library are provided to special groups and classes by appointment.
* A Xerox copier (coin operated) is located in the reference room on which copies may be obtained for 10$ each.
* A microfilm Reader-Printer machine is available for reading the film; copies of pages may be obtained for 25$.
LIBRARY SERVICES - 1976 (continued)
9.) Area Resource Center
*Provides books or photocopies of subjects not found in our collection. Books are obtained on inter-library loan from any library in the United States or Canada. Photocopies are supplied from materials which cannot be borrowed from the owning library. Services of inter-library loan are free unless the loaning library makes charge (these instances are rare) and the charge for photocopies depends on the rates of the supplying library.
*Films are supplied through the Area Resource Center. Patron chooses film from catalog listing and film is loaned for use at requested time (subject to availability). Films are loaned for 24 hours. Requestor must be borrowing to show in home, civic group, church group or other non-profit making organization. Films may not be borrowed for showing in public school classrooms. Patrons are charged only for postage needed to return the film.
* When money is donated to the library in memory of or in honor of a person, an event or a cause, the library will mail a card to the family involved and will acknowledge the gift. Abook provides a lasting memorial that can be appreciated by the family and by everyone who derives pleasure and information from it.
ALL LIBRARIANS ARE CHEERFUL AND PLEASANT, AT NO EXTRA CHARGE
This completes the history of the first forty years, lacking two months, of a public library in Williamson County. It spans the period of time from January 19, 1937 when the Business and Professional Women’s Club voted to get behind a movement to establish a library for the citizens of Franklin and Williamson County until November 19, 1976 when this history was presented to the War Memorial Public Library. The library today stands as a tribute to all the many people who through these years have given so unselfishly of themselves and their means so that library services can be available for the pleasure and education of all who live in Williamson County, Tennessee.
Written by –
Lula Fain Major
(Mrs. Herman E.)
The following By-Laws were read at the first meeting of the newly incorporated War Memorial Library Association on June 2, 1948 and were approved on that date.
On August 7, 1959 the following amendment to the by-laws was adopted - “Beginning with the year 1960, any member of the Board who does not attend at least one of the regular quarterly meeting would forfeit his or her membership on the Board, unless leave of absence has been granted.”
BY-LAWS OF THE WAR MEMORIAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
1. The management and control of all business and property of this corporation shall be in a Board of Directors and the officers hereinafter provided,
2. The Board of Directors shall consist of not less than twenty nor more than thirty members. (Notes: “Twenty” had been marked through and fifteen written above in pencil. LFM)
3. The first Board of Directors shall consist of the present members of the governing board of the Williamson County Public Library, the Mayor of the Town of Franklin, Tennessee, the County Judge of Williamson County, Tennessee, the Superintendent of Education of Williamson County, Tennessee, the last three members to be members of the Board during their incumbency in public office, their successors in office to succeed them as members of the Board of Directors, and two members each from the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, each of which organization may name its two members as representatives on this Board.
4. All vacancies on said Board of Directors, with exception of the Mayor, County Judge, County Superintendent, and the representatives of the four organizations above named, shall be filled by a majority vote of the members of the entire Board of Directors who may be present at any regular meeting of said Board.
5. Regular meeting of the Board shall be held on the first Saturday of January, April, July and October of each year, or as soon thereafter as may be convenient.
6. Special meetings may be called by the Chairman of the Board, or by any two members, who shall signify their desire for a meeting to the Secretary who shall thereupon cause members of the Board to be notified. All members of the Board shall be notified of any regular or special meeting by post cards, giving the time of said meeting, to be mailed not less than five days before the meeting, or by telephone or personal communication not less than three days before such meeting, the above notice to be given, or caused to be given, by the Secretary of the Board.
7. Seven members of the Board, at any regular or special meeting, shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business of the Corporation.
8. The officers of this corporation shall consist of a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer, of which the last two officers may be held by the same person, and such other officers as may from time to time be elected or appointed. Such officers shall hold office for a term of one year, or until their successors are elected, and shall be elected at the regular January meeting of the Board by a majority of the Directors who may be present at such meeting.
9. The Chairman shall preside at all meetings of the Board and shall have general charge of the business of the Corporation, subject to the orders of the Board of Directors.
10. The Vice Chairman shall perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the Board of Directors, and in event of the absence of the Chairman at any regular or special meeting shall preside at such meetings. If the office of Chairman becomes vacant for any cause, the Vice Chairman shall succeed to said office for the balance of the term of such office.
11. The offices of Secretary and Treasurer may be held by one person, if so ordered by the Board of Directors. The Secretary shall keep a record of the minutes of the proceedings and meetings of the Board and shall give or cause to be given notice of all regular and special meetings authorized by these by-laws, and shall have custody of all books, records and papers of the corporation except such as shall
be in charge of the Treasurer, or some other person authorized to have the custody and possession thereof by a resolution of the Board.
12. The Treasurer shall keep accounts of all moneys of the corporation received, or disbursed, and shall deposit all moneys and valuables in the name of and to the credit of the corporation in such banks and depositories as the Board of Directors shall designate.
13. Each of the officers shall serve for a term of one year or until their successors are elected by the Board, but any officer may be reelected by the Board at the expiration of the term of office.
14. New By-Laws may be passed, and any of the by-laws hereinabove set out may be amended or repealed by a majority of the Board of Directors who may be present at any regular meeting of the Board of Directors, except that no by-law shall be passed or repealed which shall cause the four organizations named in Section 3 hereof to have less than two members each on said Board of Directors, or to deprive the Mayor, County Judge or County Superintendent from being members.
Mrs. James Buford, a member of the Library Board, made the following statement regarding library work in a local newspaper in 1938.
“Most educated and intelligent people realize that it requires more than the ability to scribble a few words on a prescription blank to be a good doctor, but few realize that being a librarian means more than being able to take down books from a shelf. There are as many different kinds of abilities required in a library as there are in any complex organization. A librarian must have a high degree of executive ability, business judgment, literary skill, technical skill, an intimate knowledge of books, and an equally intimate knowledge of human nature. As the New York State Library School points out, “There are few lines of work in which more varied ability is desirable.’”
THE GERMAN HOUSE
When John B. McEwen bought the Cary Harris property around 1842 the land surrounding the house consisted of some eleven acres which must have covered much of what is now Fair Street and spread into fields to the north. Most of the land lying on either side of the McEwen house was in lawns and gardens.
It was the custom of John B. and Cynthia Graham McEwen to give each of their children a home as they married. Accordingly, when their daughter, Frances Adelicia, married Dr. Daniel German on January 14, 1869, they began to make plans for their bridal gift to her.
The new house, built on the east end of the McEwen’s yard, was connected to the parents’ home by a walk bordered with flowers and shrubs. This intervening space was shady and cool, with the fragrance of magnolias and old-time boxwood scenting the summer air. It was also hallowed ground, for one of two Confederate soldiers who died of wounds in the McEwen house after the battle of Franklin was buried here under a May apple tree.
The house was started soon after Dr. and Mrs. German married, but it was still unfinished on February 8, 1871, when it was deeded to Adelicia German by John B. McEwen “out of means of his wife and at her request and for the natural love he and she have for their daughter, Addie…” Mr. McEwen described the property as being on the following lots in the town of Franklin, near two acres on Fair Street, running “to the corner of the lot in which I live” and known in the plan of the town of Franklin as lots 39, 40, 46 and 47. It was to be “valued when the improvements are completed at twelve thousand dollars.” The property was to be Adelicia German’s her lifetime and then, should she die before her husband, it was to be his while he lived and at his death it would pass to their children.
Both Daniel and Adelicia German were descendants of pioneer families in Williamson County. The McEwens came here when the area was nothing but wilderness and the Germans came soon afterward. Dr. German, a son of Daniel and Elizabeth Rounsaville German, graduated in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania. He served in the Eleventh Tennessee Infantry in the Confederate army until he was transferred to Roddy’s Division in the cavalry of North Carolina where he served as chief-surgeon. He returned to Franklin after the war and continued the practice of medicine until his death in 1911.
Adelicia German always enjoyed a lively interest in local history. She was a teenage girl in her father’s home at the time of the battle of Franklin. The next morning in company with her sisters she walked over the battlefield while it was still untouched by burial details. The girls carried buckets of water to dip out to the wounded and toward this effort Adelicia stooped down to offer a drink to a soldier who was sitting in a crouched position with his gun across his knees. She had the cup to his lips before she realized he was dead. For many weeks afterwards Adelicia, her mother, her sisters and the servants nursed sick and wounded soldiers in the McEwen home.
Mrs. German’s recollections of Franklin in the war days are extremely valuable. Written under the name of ‘Frances’ they give a schoolgirl’s viewpoint of those exciting times. Her writings later covered other subjects equally as interesting.
Mrs. German’s concern with the preservation of local history covered many different phases. Some fifty years ago she and Mrs. Freeman Jordan Hyde located the graves and copied the inscriptions of many Revolutionary soldiers buried in Williamson County. These two ladies also made careful listing of inscriptions on tombstones in Old City Cemetery and Rest Haven in Franklin. They found that many stones were broken or faded beyond reading even then. Of course the damage is much more extensive now with new losses occurring every year. Graham German Webb inherited her mother’s love of history. Her collection of material on the McEwen, Goff, and German families is a treasure of inestimable value.
The German house was built of brick in the sturdy Victorian style of post-war architecture, with the customary large rooms, high ceilings and handsome stairway. At one time on the south side a porch, ornamented with bannisters and arched trim, covered both the front door and the two front windows to the right of it. The east porch had bannisters but other wise appeared very similar to the way it looks today.
After Mr. and Mrs. McEwen died the beautiful lots between the two family homes were sold and the trees and shrubs were cut. Today several buildings occupy that space; the home of the late Dr. and Mrs. Richard German was sold and dismantled in 1976. The McEwen fields to the north are now all commercial property. The McEwen house is owned by Gilbert Merritt.
When Mrs. German died in 1942 her home, passed to her children - Dr. Dan German, Dr. Richard German, Alice G. Green, Graham G. Webb, and Horace German. After the latter’s death in 1967 the German heirs sold the homeplace to the War Memorial Public Library on April 30, 1948. The house was used as a library from that time, but after twenty-five years increased growth in the use of the library, it was obvious the house could not continue many more years as the facility for which it had been purchased.
Through the dedicated efforts of numerous Friends of the Library, members of County Court were made aware of the great need for a new building and a resolution promising funds for such a purpose was voted at the July term of Court in 1976. The German house was then sold in November of that year to the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. In their continuing efforts to preserve local historic buildings members of the Foundation plan to restore the house and insure its well being to future generations.
There are two plaques on the east wall of the German house. In 1910, a tablet honoring Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury was placed on the front of the old Grammar School at Five Points by the Old Glory Chapter of the American Revolution. In 1911 a similar tablet honoring Bishop James H. Otey and the Reverend Gideon Blackburn was placed on the opposite side of the front door of the school by the DAR. When the Grammar School burned on January 13, 1962, the familiar plaques were saved and were placed on the wall of the Library building.
Virginia McDaniel Bowman
November 10, 1976