J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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Within four years they had sold enough of this land to meet their maturing notes.
Since then most of the original and subsequent purchases in Evanston have been
sold, but there still remains the Campus, worth $1,000,000, and leased lands to
the value of about $800,000, and non-productive lands to the value of $800,000.
Other purchases followed in rapid succession, but that of land in Chicago, leased
to the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, is the most noteworthy. It cost $8,000.
If free from lease today it would have a value of fully $2,500,000. The founders
must have had a vision of the future of Chicago and the North Shore, for though
under great pressure to sell all of the real estate of the University and invest the
proceeds in educational buildings, they had the courage to hold on to it."

The report further calls attention to the quite wonderful growth of the Uni-
versity, and the increase of its assets to about nine millions of dollars, "though
gifts to it have only been one-third of that amount. This is a remarkable show-
ing when we remember that the trustees have for more than half a century con-


ducted an educational institution frequently making large annual deficits in its
educational budget."


"Books," as a writer has said, "hold the place of honor in the chattels of civ-
ilized society." The intelligence and culture of a community of people every-
where is usually measured by the number of books possessed by its members either
individually or in public collections. "In books lies the soul of the whole Past
Time," says Carlyle. "All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been, is
lying as in a magic preservation in the pages of Books. They are the chosen pos-
session of men." We are proud of our schools and colleges, but we find in our
libraries the learning they teach and even more, for here we find the paths that
lead men to the farthest confines of the imagination. "If we think of it," quoting
Carlyle again, "all that a University, or final highest school can do for us, is still
but what the first school began doing, teach us to read. . . . The true Uni-
versity of these days is a Collection of Books."

The history of the library of the Northwestern University, formerly called the
"Orrington Lunt Library," dates from the beginning of the University. The first
circular of the University, issued in 1856, mentions an appropriation to be "ex-
pended during the current year in books for a library." In 1865, Mr. Orrington
Lunt conveyed one hundred and fifty-six acres of land in North Evanston as a
gift to the library. A portion of this land was reserved as an endowment, the in-
come from which was to be used for the library. The library was named in his
honor, and the value of his gift has greatly increased in the passing years, and is
now estimated at considerably over one hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Luther L.
Greenleaf, in 1869, purchased a collection of books from the heirs of the Prussian
minister of Public Instruction, and presented it to the University for its library.
The collection consisted of eleven thousand volumes, about half of which were fine
old editions of the Greek and Latin classics, many of them bound in vellum, and
the remainder of them works on classical philology. Other gifts followed, and
since that time the number of books has steadily increased, until it has now in its
possession upwards of seventy-nine thousand volumes and fifty-three thousand
pamphlets. In 189-1, a building of a noble design was erected, and this building
is still in use, though already reaching the limits of its capacity.

The library of the Garrett Biblical Institute is distinct from that of the North-
western University, and is housed in a wing of fireproof construction attached to
the Memorial Building. The general character of this collection of books is of
course theological.


The history of the Evanston Public Library begins with the establishment of
the Evanston Library Association in 1870. The initial gift to the Association was
made by Mr. L. L. Greenleaf, always a liberal giver to any good cause needing
assistance, in the form of a sum of money for the purchase of books. In the
course of its first year the Association had accumulated about one thousand vol-
umes. It was supported by an annual fee of five dollars from those who drew
books for home reading. Mr. Greenleaf was the president of the Association during


the term of its existence. The Association was organized as an incorporated body
under the state law on February 23, 1871.

In the fall of 1872, a committee was appointed to ascertain what measures
were necessary to be taken to bring about the transfer of the library to the town.
An act was passed by the State Legislature in March, 1872, authorizing "cities,
incorporated towns and townships to establish and maintain free public libraries,"
and permitting a tax to be levied for their support. Through the efforts of the
committee the proposal for a free public library in Evanston was submitted to a
vote of the people, and in April, 1873, the citizens, without dissent, voted for a
two-mill tax to be levied for the support of a library. A board of directors was
elected, and the Evanston Library Association transferred all its books and other
property to the new Evanston Free Public Library.

The first quarters of the library were on the second floor of 615 Davis Street.
In 1889, the library was removed to 1576 Sherman Avenue, and on the completion
of the new City Hall in 1893, the library took possession of a large space on the
second floor of that building. Here it remained for fourteen years; on January
1, 1908, it was removed finally to its new home, the building constructed for its
use at the corner of Church street and Orrington avenue. On June 28, 1906, the
name of the institution was changed from the Evanston Free Public Library to the
Evanston Public Library.

The presidents of the Board of Directors from the beginning of its existence
as a public library, together with their terms of service, are as follows:

John H. Kedzie, from 1873 to 1877.

Lewis H. Boutell, from 1877 to 1882.

Nelson C. Gridley, from 1882 to 1895.

John W. Thompson, from 1895 to 1906.

J. Seymour Currey, from 1906 to 1908.

Richard C. Lake, from 1908 to the present time.

The new building of the Evanston Public Library was completed in the fall
of 1907, and, with the land upon which it stands, cost about $175,000. The City
of Evanston provided the greater part of this amount. About $70,000 was con-
tributed by many generous citizens. The building has a frontage of one hundred
and twelve feet with a depth of ninety feet, and stands upon a lot two hundred
by two hundred and ten feet in extent. It is an entirely fire proof building, and
the book stacks are constructed to hold over one hundred thousand volumes.

The report of 1910 shows that there are now forty-six thousand volume be-
longing to the library, while the number of books borrowed for home use was up-
wards of one hundred and seven thousand. The library staff is composed of the
librarian and ten assistants. The income for the year ending June 30th, 1910,
was $11,677, not including the income from endowment funds.

It is the special distinction of this library that it possesses a collection of music
including musical scores in great numbers and variety, and pianola rolls for use
with a pianola. Not only is this collection very large and complete, but a room
has been assigned for its special accommodation, in which is a piano with a pianola
attachment, and where at certain hours visitors can play the music, either from
the pianola rolls or from the sheets. The rolls and sheet music may be borrowed


for home use by library patrons in the same manner that books are taken from
the library. This department of the. library was made possible through the gen-
erosity of Professor George Allen Coe, who as a memorial to his wife, an ardent
musician, provided the necessary funds for the purchase of this collection, together
with the piano player and an adequate equipment of cabinets, cases and other fa-
cilities. In addition Professor Coe placed five thousand dollars in the hands of
the Board of Directors for an endowment fund for its maintenance.


Evanston has been under a city form of government since March 29th, 1892,
at which time the question of the adoption of city organization was submitted to
a vote of the people, and carried by a vote of 784 to 26. The population of Evan-
ston at that time was considerably less than twenty thousand, though it was quite
the fashion to claim that it was largely in excess of that figure. The city was di-
vided into seven wards, represented by two aldermen from each ward. This di
vision has continued up to the present time.

The mayors of Evanston have been as follows :

Oscar H. Mann, from 1892 to 1895.

William A. Dyche, from 1895 to 1899.

Thomas Bates, from 1899 to 1901,

James A. Patten, from 1901 to 1903.

John T. Barker, from 1903 to 1907.

Joseph E. Paden, from 1907 to the present time.


During the period previous to the adoption of the name of Evanston the post-
masters were as follows: From December 28, 1846, when the name of Gross
Point was in use as the designation of the postoffice, George M. Huntoon was
the postmaster. He was succeeded on June 28, 1849, by David Warner Burroughs.
On April 26, 1 850, the name of the postoffice was changed to Ridgeville ; and on
May 2, 1854, James B. Colvin was appointed postmaster. On July 14th, 1855,
Jacob W. Ludlam became postmaster.

On August 27, 1855, the name of the postoffice was again changed, this time
to Evanston, which has since remained as its designation. The first postmaster
after the adoption of that name was James B. Colvin, who had formerly served in
the same office when the name was Ridgeville. The list of postmasters, since the
postoffice has been known as Evanston. can be arranged in tabular form, as fol-
lows :

Names Dates of Appointment

James B. Colvin August 27, 1855

Fayette M. Weller January 24, 1857

Webster S. Steele March 25, 1861

Edwin A. Clifford April 29, 1865

Orlando H. Merwin March 16th, 1877

John A. Childs January 6, 1885







Names Dates of Appointment

George W. Hess October 18, 1886

John A. Childs September 16, 1889

David P. O'Leary February 1, 1894

Charles Raymond November 30, 1896

John A. Childs May 10, 1897

The postoffice, since it was established in 1816, has been located in various
places. While the town was called Gross Point it was located at first at the house
of Edward H. Mulford, on Ridge avenue, near where St. Francis' Hospital is now
Situated. When Burroughs became postmaster it was removed to the so-called
"Buckeye Hotel," still standing on its original site at No. 2241 Ridge avenue.
When Colvin was postmaster the first time, the name then being Ridgeville, the
postofiice was removed to Colvin's store on Davis street, where the State Bank
now stands. When Weller became postmaster, the name then being Evanston,
the postoffice was removed farther east on Davis street; and when Steele held
the office it was removed farther west again on the same street. When Clifford
was postmaster it was removed to the store of his father, Leander J. Clifford, on
Chicago avenue, near Davis street, and in 1874 it was removed to No. 617 Davis
street, where it remained many years. About 1889 it was removed to No. 810
Davis street, where it remained until September 28, 1906, when it was finally re-
moved to the handsome building erected by the government for its use, on the
southwest corner of Church street and Sherman avenue.


In a history of Evanston, published in 1906, there was given a list of authors
who were then, or at some previous time had been, residents of Evanston, to the
number of about one hundred men and women, together with a list of works writ-
ten by them including over two hundred and sixty volumes. The literary life of
Evanston began with the establishment of the Northwestern University in 1855.
Naturally the location of an institution of learning attracted a large number of
dwellers here who were in sympathy with the University and its work, or who
were connected with it as professors, instructors or students. This created an
atmosphere that was favorable to the growth of every form of literary activity,
and the book publishers, as well as those of journals and periodicals, soon became
familiar with the names of Evanston people as authors and contributors. Various
weekly and monthly publications have been established here and have enjoyed
prosperous careers.

It was in Evanston that Edward Eggleston lived when he began to write his
remarkable series of books, beginning as a writer of fiction and afterwards be-
coming a historian of national reputation. It was here that Frances Willard be-
gan her literary work, and, possessing a. wonderful diversity of taletits, she at-
tracted the attention of the world to her work in the Woman's Christian Temper-
ance Union. There were other residents who were writers of wide reputation
before coming here, who continued their literary work in this favorable environ-
ment. Many societies of a literary character have enjoyed successful careers, and
their records are a valuable possession of the community.


The first account of the literary history of Evanston is embodied in Frances
Willard's book, entitled "A Classic Town," published in 1891, in which she says:
"The amount of scholarly ink which has been put to paper by Evanston pens will
compare favorably with that of any other community of its size and age in the
world. . . . The literary atmosphere is the highest charm of Evanston. Lit-
erary people, be they great or small, hover by instinct around a center of books
and thought and character."

Macaulay said that "one shelf full of European books was worth more than
the whole native literature of India." The works of Evanston authors may
be regarded as the equivalent of a "shelf full" and perhaps even more, and it is
a satisfaction to find this weighty characterization of Macaulay's thus fairly ap-
plied to the productions of the residents of one community among all the numerous
centers of intelligence to be found in our country.


A gentleman who has long been familiar with Evanston society made the fol-
lowing observations which may be regarded as pertinent even if partial. We
quote a portion of his remarks.

"Evanston may not be won by blandishments. Recognition in a social way is I
not to be found by means of position, wealth or even literary accomplishment.
There is no royal road to the favor of Evanston people. They are reserved, self
contained, even indifferent. One might think it caprice, whim, anything you like.

"There is no explaining it, it cannot be explained or described, but, we may gen-
eralize. The ways of Evanston society are past all finding out, and we have to
classify it, put it in a class with other composites of its kind if mayhap you can
find them. It is not like anything one has ever read in novels of English society
life. You can get little of it even in the 'House of Mirth,' though you may think
you recognize a similarity now and then.

"Evanston has enemies. It also has critics. But Evanston laughs with the j
critics and takes no notice of its enemies. The critics have plenty to criticize and
Evanston knows it and will show not the least vindictiveness on that score. It
even loves its critics and accepts them provided they have shown penetration and
shrewdness in their observations. But its enemies! When you find them you
don't wonder that Evanston despises them. You will even say, 'I love her for
the enemies she has made.' "

Now let us look back fifty years and see the beginning of Evanston society
and one may perhaps account for the tendencies one observes today. After the
pioneer period, Evanston became a "seat of learning," and the new arrivals were
in large part connected with the newly established university. They represented
a degree of cultivation absolutely new in the West, and although Methodist in
their tastes 'and sympathies these new comers combined with their religious sym-
pathies a high order of good breeding and literary culture. Those familiar with
Frances Willard's book, "A Classic Town," can form a correct impression of the
state of Evanston society so late as the '80s; and, while much changed since, the
influence of those who came with the university is today the backbone of the char-
acter of the Evanston community. In the last twenty-five or thirty years a newer


element has modified the old standards of Puritanic austerity, broadened the scope
of social intercourse, and extended a fuller recognition to the artistic aspects of
life. One may say that today no people anywhere gathered in a community has
reached a higher level of literary culture, artistic appreciation, and general sym-
pathy with all good and noble works of human endeavor. Conversely no people
are so hard to approach by unworthy and self-seeking schemers, or are so little
impressed with the mere glitter of pretentious wealth. The richest man finds no
acceptance if he has nothing beside his wealth to recommend him; while on the
other hand the man who has an idea, or an achievement to his credit, however
humble, if united with good breeding, may take a place in the "seats of the mighty."
Evanston is not a "city set upon a hill," though in the enthusiastic language of
those who note its influence it is often so designated. Evanston is rather a city
embowered in foliage, literally and metaphorically. It seeks no notoriety, it asks
nobody's approval, it answers no questions.


It is safe to say that no name among the residents of Evanston looms larger on
the pages of the country's history than that of Frances Elizabeth Willard. A statue
of this distinguished woman was placed in Statuary Hall, in the capitol at Wash-
ington, in February, 1905, having been presented to the National Government by
the State of Illinois. The gift was accepted by a Senate resolution with "the thanks
of Congress," and referring to her as "one of the most eminent women of the
United States." The statue now stands in the "Valhalla of the Republic," a de-
served monument to the "Uncrowned Queen."

Frances Willard came of a distinguished ancestry. Major Simon Willard ar-
rived on the "wild New England shore" in 1634, and was one of the founders of
Concord, Massachusetts. Her father, Josiah Flint Willard, of the seventh gen-
eration from the one above named, became a resident of Churchville, New York,
where Frances was born September 28, 1839. From there the family moved to
the west settling on a farm near Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1846, and in 1858 the
family took up their residence in Evanston. Frances graduated from the North-
western Female Seminary in the year following her arrival in Evanston. After
some years spent in teaching, she was chosen president in 1871, of the "Evanston
College for Ladies," the later name of the institution from which she had gradu-
ated. This name again was changed to that of the "Woman's College," in 1873,
and affiliated with the Northwestern University, Frances becoming the Dean. She
resigned, however, in 1874, and, "abandoning a brilliant educational career," she
entered upon the work that was to absorb her powers and energies for the remainder
of her life.

In 1874, Miss Willard was elected president of the Illinois Woman's Christian
Temperance Union, and gave her whole time to the work. In 1883, she projected
the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union, of which she later became presi-
dent. "Under her leadership the temperance Crusade," said Senator Cullom in
the course of his address on the occasion of the reception and acceptance by Con-
gress of the statue of Miss Willard, "spread as if by magic throughout the United
States. Not content with what she had accomplished here at home, on several oc-


fusions she visited England and assisted the temperance movement, where she ad-
dressed immense audiences in different parts of the country."

On the occasion above referred to an interesting form of the temperance agita-
tion was described. "The most striking and unique incident of her work was the
celebrated Polyglot Petition for Home Protection presented 'to the governments
of the world.' It was signed throughout the civilized world, and in fifty different
languages. The signatures mounted upon canvas, four columns abreast, made more
than a mile of canvas and nearly five miles of solid signatures, 771,200 in all. It was
represented by societies and associations by over 7,500,000 persons. It was ten years
in circulation. In an eloquent and impressive speech, Miss Willard presented it
to President Cleveland, February 19, 1895. The English branch was headed by
Lady Henry Somerset, the magnificent English woman who is leading in temper-
ance reform in England. On the American petition, like Abou Ben Adhem, and
for the same reason, Neal Dow's name 'led all the rest.' "

The late Senator Dolliver added his tribute on the above occasion. "It was
my fortune to hear her more than once," said he, "advocating before the people her
favorite reforms. She was one of the most persuasive orators who ever spoke our
tongue, and her influence, apart from the singular beauty of her character, rested
upon that fine art of reaching the hearts and consciences of men which gave her a
right to the leadership which she exercised for so many years. I remember once
hearing her speak, when General Harrison was a candidate for the Presidency, in
Bangor, Maine. I was on the stump for the Republican candidate and shared in
a full measure the impatience of my own party with those who, under their sense
of duty, were engaged in turning our voters aside in an effort to build up an or-
ganization of their own, pledged to the prohibition of the liquor traffic in America.

"I remember that I was especially irritated because the party which Miss Willard
represented was not willing to let us alone in Maine. Notwithstanding all my
prejudices, I invited a friend, a hardened politician, then famous in public life, to
go with me to hear Miss Willard speak. He reluctantly consented upon condition
that we should take a back seat and go out when he indicated that, he had had
enough. For more than two hours this gifted woman, with marvelous command
of language, with a delicate sense of fitness and simplicity of words, with a per-
fect understanding of the secret places of the human heart, moved that great
multitude with a skill that belongs to genius alone, and to genius only when it
is touched with live coals from the altar. And when it was all over we agreed
together that in all our lives we had never witnessed a display so marvelous of
intellectual and spiritual power."

That Frances \Villard possessed eloquence to a remarkable degree many com-
petent judges have testified. "Her greatest oratorieal triumphs," says Hillis. "were
in villages and cities, where some hall not holding more than a thousand people
was crowded with appreciative listeners. At such times she stood forth one of
the most gifted speakers of this generation, achieving efforts that were truly amaz-
ing. W r hat ease and grace of bearing ! W T hat gentleness and strength ! W T hat pathos
and sympathy! How exquisitely modulated her words! If her speech did not
flow as a gulf stream; if it did not beat like an ocean upon a continent, she sent
her sentences forth, an arrowy flight, and each tipped with divine fire." But she
was not alone an orator; she was an organizer as well. She often said that "alone


W. C. T. U. Headquarters, former home of Miss Willard


we can do little, separated we are the units of weakness, but aggregated we become
batteries of power. Agitate, educate, organize, these are the deathless watchwords
of success." Whittier, in his tribute, recognized this trait in her character. One

Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.2) → online text (page 48 of 55)