#82 Kinsley Library – Congratulations and Best Wishes

            I left off last week’s history with the library on the second floor of the Edwards, Noble & Co. building being managed by club women. 

            In March, 1923, Captain E. F. Ewing, superintendent of schools, was chairman of a committee to try to establish a city library.  He offered a large room in the new gymnasium for no cost except heat and light.

            A petition was circulated to establish a one mil tax levy which would raise $2,191 for a city library.  It was necessary for 25%, or 125 of the 500 registered voters, to sign the petition. 

            “It would cost each tax payer, on each thousand dollars valuation of his property, the sum of forty cents a year, less that the cost of one good picture show, and for the men, the price of cigars for a day.” (Kinsley Graphic, March 8, 1923)

            On March 21, the successfully signed petition was turned over to the city commissioners who placed the question on the April 3 ballot.  It’s amazing that they could get something on a ballot just two weeks before the election.  However, this also gave the supporters little time to promote a “yes” vote.  There was a good turnout of 589 voters, but the library was narrowly defeated 286 to 303. 

            The Wednesday Night Club kept the desire for a library alive.  Margaret Hills was a member and had served Kinsley as its second librarian since 1912.  That June, the club held a fundraising card party in the Knights of Pythias Hall (upstairs of 105-111 E. Sixth St.)  Bowers of spring flowers decorated the rooms including peonies, iris, bluets, and “Miss Florence Erwin’s Oriental poppies, gorgeous blossoms, in pale pink.” The event raised $45.

The northside of the gymnasium offered a home for the library.

            Margaret Hills died on January 28, 1925, and so she did not live to see the library move into the north room of the gymnasium on February 17, 1925.   Miss Jessie Fravel, president of the Wednesday Night Club, became the third librarian.  She and club ladies did all the cataloguing of the books. 

            By December there were 2000 books in the library.  To raise money to buy books, children and adults were charged 5 cents a week to check out books on the “new book” shelf. 

            A new City Library organization was formed with representatives from all the clubs.  A second library mil levy election was held on April 5, 1926. This time it carried with a big majority and now “…the burden of carrying the library will be undertaken by all the people instead of the members of the Women’s Clubs who have given so generously of both time and money in the past…” (Graphic, April 5, 1926)

A mock wedding was held after Kinsley citizens passed a
one mil levy to support a public library on April 4, 1926. 

            On April 15, seventy-five club ladies gathered at the home of Mrs. Roy Hatfield (822 Colony Ave.) to celebrate the victory.  At the door, they were given an invitation to the wedding of Miss Gotta Library and Mr. B. Bigger Kinsley (portrayed by Marguerite Ehlers Coover and Elsie Nahar, respectively). 

             I cannot resist describing the event seen in the wedding picture.  It was taken by local photographer, John Cox “by flashlight”.  A little research explains that Cox would have sprinkled powder into the trough of a T-shaped flash lamp, held it aloft, and then triggered a brief and (usually) harmless bit of pyrotechnics.

            According to both the Graphic and the Mercury on April 22, 1926, this mock wedding was acted out by ladies whose names you may recognize from earlier articles.  It began with the singing of “O Promise Me” and the traditional Wedding March. 

            In the picture, the rector with a Vandyke beard and waxed mustache  was Sue Bidwell.  It was reported that her impersonation caused gales of laughter.

            On the left are the two bridesmaids, Ruth Workman and Gladys Fravel, carrying arm bouquets of pink roses. The page, Naomi Garrison, carries the ring on a satin pillow.

            Next to the groom is Mrs. Del Hoffman portraying “Mother Club”.  Beside her is the dashing best man, Eula Leslie.  The woman on the far right is the Matron of Honor, Mrs. Dick Griffee. 

             The humorously costumed woman with a hat in the left background is Mary Vang.  Mrs. B. F. Tatum, second from the right, stands resplendent in a plug hat, diamond stickpin and gentleman’s attire and mustache.  These two played the roles of “objectors” as in, “speak now or forever hold your peace” objectors.  The rector managed to smooth over their objections, and the library was wed to the City of Kinsley.

            In January, 1927, the city began financial support of the library.  The first board members appointed by the mayor were Mrs. Mary Vang, Mrs. Eva Smith, Mrs. Elsie Nahar, Mrs. Martha Gibson, Miss Jessie Fravel, D.A. Baugher, Mrs. Clinton Little, and John Stoner.  Miss Fravel resigned as librarian in May, and Mrs. Lillie Riley took over and remained the librarian until September, 1941. 

            Ninety-five years ago, the doors of the public library opened on the northside of the gymnasium.  Today, our new library sign proudly proclaims “Est. 1927”.  Next week, the story continues with fire, location changes, and another close vote.  

A new sign library sign went up last week just in time for the 95th birthday celebration.