Library Girl

Taken from The History of Little Nine Partners of North East Precinct, and Pine Plains, New York, Duchess County.

By Issaac Huntting, Pine Plains, N. Y. Copyright 1897, By Isaac Huntting. Vol. 1  Amenia, New York: Chas. Walsh & Co., Printers 1897

     The first action towards a library at Pine Plains was at a meeting held for that purpose at the public house of Ebenezer Baldwin (Stissing House) December 14, 1797.  Subscription papers were there drawn up for circulation. The amount agreed upon for each subscriber was two dollars and fifty cents, which was called a share or right.  The meeting adjourned to meet again January 9, 1798, at the same place.  This was then North East Town, but this effort was confined to the then small village and its near surroundings. At the time appointed the meeting was held and reported the following subscribers to the library; Jesse Thompson, Samuel Waters, Ebenezer Dibblee, Ebenezer Baldwin, John A. Turck, Cornelius W. VanRanst, Israel Reynolds, Hugh Gamble, Asahel Haskins, Nathaniel Stone, James Graham, John Waters, Peter Husted, Moses Barlow, John Knickerbocker Jr., Robert Camron, David Orr, George Sheldon, John Harris, Silas Husted, Elijah Adams, Andrew Camron, Allen Sheldon, John C. Knickerbocker, Christopher Schultz, John Wigram, Isaac VanLuvan, Hendrick F. Hoysradt, Caleb Reynolds, Israel Curtis, John I. Hoysradt, John H. Sharpstone, Martinus Miller, John A. Hoysradt, William A. Stickle, Isaiah Dibble, Gerardus Winans, Martin Hoysradt, Eseck Wilber, Esborn Sanford, Caleb Norton, Jacob Couse, Isaac B. Smith, Benjamin Wilbur, Germond Husted, Caleb Finch, Joseph Sutherland.  Of these forty-seven subscribers, two, Allen Sheldon and Martinus Miller, lived in "Livingston," now Ancram and Gallatin.  At this meeting of January 9, 1798, trustees were chosen by ballot to wit: Ebenezer Dibblee, Samuel Waters, John Harris, Silas Husted, Christopher Schultz, Ebenezer Baldwin, George Sheldon, Hugh Gamble, Peter Husted, Israel Reynolds, Asahel Haskins, John A. Turck.  Ebenezer Dibblee was chosen chairman of the board of trustees, and was instructed to prepare a certificate of the proceedings of the board and have the same recorded in the office of the county clerk.  At their next meeting, Feb. 7, 1798, Mr. Dibblee reported as having placed with the county clerk this certificate:

     "This may certify that at a meeting of the Subscribers for the first public library in the town of North East, Dutchess county, (denominated Union Library) on Tuesday, the ninth day of January, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety Eight, the following Gentlemen were duly elected to serve as Trustees for said Library the year ensuing. [Names as above.] Given under my hand and seal the 9th day of January, 1798.

                                                                                 "Ebenezer Dibblee, Chairman."

     This incorporated the Union Library of Pine Plains under the statute, and "the first Public Library in the town of North East."  At this meeting of Feb. 7, 1798, the following resolutions were passed:

1st-The treasurer and librarian shall be separate for the ensuing year.

2d-Samuel Waters chosen chairman.

3d-Asahel Haskins chosen librarian.

4th-The first quarterly meeting to be held at the house of Ebenezer Baldwin on the second Tuesday of April next (10th) at two o'clock, p.m.

5th-A committee be chosen to form the By-Laws of Union Library.

6th-The number of committees to consist of five, viz: Samuel Waters, Ebenezer Dibblee, Ebenezer Baldwin, Peter Husted, Asahel Hakins.

     At the next meeting April 10th, 1798, the following by-laws "after a second reading were unanimously agreed to."

First-That said trustees of said library shall have full power to receive from any of the Proprietors, books at their appraised value for any number of shares in said library, provided such books shall not be received in payment for any monies to be paid to said institution.

Second-The library shall be kept in the (center or on what is called the Pine Plains in the)Town of North East.

Third-The librarian shall have power (in his absence) to appoint a substitute to transact the duties of his office.

Fouth-Every transfer right either of books or other property in said library shall be under hand and seal, and shall be approved of by the librarian and entered on his book or record.

Fifth-All fines and forfeitures arising in Union library shall be appropriated to use and augmentaition of the institution.

      After passing these by-laws at this meeting a resolution was passed that a committee of three be appointed to make a list of books to be purchased. Samuel Waters, Ebenezer Dibblee and Ebenezer Baldwin were chosen to select and purchase the books and in november, 798, they received from the treasurer one hundred and six dollars and thirty-six cents, and went to New York and purchased ninety-five volumes.  Eighteen more were contributed about the same time making one hundred and thirteen, the first books that were placed on the shelves of the Pine Plains library.  It is very interesting to read the names of these library books of a hundred years ago.  I copy the list as recorded commencing with No. 1.  the librarian, Asahel Haskins, however, has failed to put works of two or more volumes in consecutive order, which is somewhat confusing.  The books are Aikin's Letters to a Son, Winterbotham's History America, 4 vols., Winterbotham's Atlas, Paley's Philosopy, Pope's Works, 7 vols., Thompson's Seasons, Evelina, 2 vols., Antidote to Deism, 2 vols., Embassy to China, Rollin's Ancient History, 10 vols., Hume's History England, 6 vols., Goldsmith's Natural History, 4 vols., Fool Quality, 5 vols., Washington's Letter's, 2 vols.,  Zimmerman's Solitude, Vision of Columbus, Stallian, 2 vols., Seneca's Morals, Preceptor, 2 vols., Gill Blas, 4 vols., Trumbull's History Connecticut, Edward, 2 vols., Packet Magazine, Robertson's History Charles Fifth, 3 vols., Smellie's Philosophy, Pope's Odyssey, Volney's Travels, 2 vols., Whitney's History, Stile's Judges, Milton's Works, Burk's dignity, Human Nature, Volney's Ruins, Jefferson's Notes, Residence in France, Blair's Sermons, vol. 1,3, Lock's Essays, 3 vols., Abridged, Jeny's View, Condorect, Butler's Hudibras, Homer's Iliad, Works of Dr.Franklin, History of China, 2 vols., Messiah, Young's Night Thoughts, McFingal, Prison of Paris, Payne's Epitome of History, Lady's Library, Carver's Travels, Finlay's Kentucky, 2 vols., Watt's Essays, Rights of Women, Paley's Evidence, Travels of Cyrus, Expedition to Egypt, Grand Prie's Voyage, 2 vols., Voyage in Search of Perouse, 2 vols., Parents' Friend, 2 vols., Blair's Lectures, 2 vols.  Probably not many of these books can be found now, and would not be read if they could be found.

     Thus in November, 1798, the library was ready for the loan of books, and Ebenezer Baldwin who then kept the hotel on the site of the now Stissing House, was librarian, and held that office until January 1, 1800, when he was succeeded by Israel Reynolds.  January 1, 1799, the annual meeting of the corporation was held and Jesse Thompson, Ebenezer Dibblee, Ebenezer Baldwin, John A. Turck, Samuel Waters, Cornelius W. VanRanst and Peter Husted were chosen trustees.  This meeting and other meetins near this date were held at the public house of Ebenezer Baldwin.  in january, 1800, the amount of the library money in the hands of the treasurer was six dollars and four cents, and in this month also ten additional by-laws were passed, amking fefteen in all.  They covered the drawing of books and general management of the library.  A book could be held six weeks, and one cent fine for every day over that time.  The librarain was to assess damages to the books loaned, "vix. for the least grease spot, or rend or soil beyond common usage three cents, and for all greater damage in like proportion, having reference to the size of the book and the set to which it belongs."

     July 2, 1800, Tuesday, the trustees held a meeting at the house of Israel Reynolds, who had succeeded Ebenezer Baldwin, of the Stissing House property. They met there again in January, 1801. In August of that year they met at the store of Ebenezer Dibblee & Son. The first Tuesday in January, 1802, they met at the house of Asahel Haskins, who it is supposed kept the hotel on the site of the now Ketterer hotel. on the second Tuesday in April of that year, 1802, they met at the house of Peter Newkirk, who had succeeded Israel Reynolds.  They met there again in October of that year and also at that house in January, 1803, when Fyler Dibblee was chosen treasurer and librarian. The second Tuesday in April of that year they met at the house of Benjamin R. Bostwick, who it is said kept the hotel at that time on the now Ketterer property, but the meetings following in that year were held at the house of Peter Newkirk.

     The original subscribers of two dollars and fifty cents were "proprietors," and share-holders, and the shares, $2.50, were transferable under hand and seal of the proprietor and approved by the librarian who kept record of such transfers. They were personal estate, and in cases of decease fell to the heirs. Transfers commenced in march, 1799, the next year after the library was organized, and seem to be recorded with care and regularity for eight or ten years following, when the records show less transfers.

     From 1798 to 1804 no changes occurred in this library association other than election of officers and minor matters in the routine of business. In may, 1803, Stephen Eno, the ancestor of the Pine Plains name, came to this village and settled on the "Stephen Eno property" on South street, which he purchased of William Bassett. With the purchase of this real estate he also purchased Bassett's right or share in the library. At the first annual meeting following, which was the first Tuesday in January, 1804, the trustees chosen for the "Union Library" were Jesse Thompson, John Harris, Fyler Dibblee, Thomas Stephenson, Benjamin R. Bostwick, John A. Turck and Stephen Eno. One week from that day the trustees met at Peter Newkirk's, Jesse Thompson being chairman, and appointed Stephen Eno librarian and treasurer, which offices he held without a break, I think, until 1829. His early life and training had fitted him for this position. he appreciated the value of books and a library as an educator of the community. He was the life of the library. A donation of books to the amount of two dollars and fifty cents made the donor a subscriber or proprietor. Books for this library were then principally purchased from individuals in the vicinity. For illustration, he purchased of Hugh Gamble four volumes of Adventures of a Guinea, of another four volumes of Domestic Encyclopedia, of Bernard Mathison eight volumes of Gibbon's Rome for twenty dollars in 1808.  In 1816 of John L. Knickerbocker the History of New York, two volumes by Knickerbocker; in 1817 of Silas Germond History of Ireland four volumes. Books were bought of Paraclete Potter, who had a bookstore in Poughkeepsie. In the list purchased by Mr. Eno possibly within twenty years I find Roderick Random two volumes, Shakspeare nine volumes, Burns' Poems, two volumes of Thadeus of Warsaw, three volumes of The Rambler, two volumes of the Alhambra, Tooker's Pantheon, Byron's Poems three volumes, Literary Magazine twelve volumes purchased from Fyler Dibblee in April 1825 at six shillings each, two volumes of Tales of the Crusades, Hogg's Tales two volumes, Robinson Crusoe, and that curious book The Koran. Can any one tell or will any one tell what became of this old book? The Koran is in the library now, but is a recent publication.

     These are some of the old books in this library in 1828. The number at that time according to the register was two hundred and sixty-one. Mr. Eno ceased to continue as an officer in the association from old age, and not much increase was made to the number of volumes nor interest in the library after his resignation until about thirty years since, when the interest revived, and financial aid came to libraries throughout the state by legislation, and meanwhile that fund was kept up by voluntary subscription from the town people and annual dues from the share-holders. In 1895 it passed to the control of the state board of regents. Mr. Frank Eno has been the librarian for several years, and holds that office now. The list shows about 2,500 volumes, but by loss and mutilation probably the actual number is about two hundred short of that amount.

     The old register of the "Union Library" is a valuable book of history. Very much of name and date it contains is not found in any other book in the town.

             This page belongs to Nettie Stickles any comments or questions can be directed to me.

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