History on the Page: Mansfield Memorial Library Board Bookplates, designed by Louis Lamoreux

This week’s blog post is inspired by a piece of history found within the pages of a book in the history section of the library.

Donations to libraries have often been designated in honor of the donor or in honor of a person chosen by the donor by placing a bookplate inside the book. One such bookplate used in books in the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library in the past bears this image:

Black and white image of a scanned woodcut bookplate, with a central image of the Mansfield Public Library. The words "Free Public Library" are easily visible under the pediment. Under the image are the words "Ex LIbris" and around the image are the words "Mansfield Memorial Library Board."
Bookplate

“Ex libris” is a common phrase on bookplates, especially in personal libraries, as it is Latin for “from the books” or “from the library,” usually followed by the name of the individual or organization that owns the book.

This bookplate indicates that the book was donated to the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library by the Mansfield Memorial Library Board.

As previously discussed in this blog, the Memorial Library Association (or Board, later) was the originator of the public library in Mansfield. The membership of the Memorial Library Association was, from its foundation, female, although men could become honorary members. The organization was founded in 1887 and first had its library in the Memorial Building, also known as the Soldiers and Soldiers Hall, on Park Avenue West.

Memorial Building, Mansfield, Ohio. From the Sherman Room Digital Archives.

However, when the Carnegie library on West Third was built (what is now the Main Library), the Memorial Library Association was replaced in its oversight role by a board of trustees appointed by the city. Instead, the Memorial Library Association carried on its work in supporting the library by hosting lectures, fundraising, and donating materials to the library. This is where our bookplate comes onto the scene, placed into books that were donated to the library, especially when the books were donated in memory of someone.

While the Memorial Library Association had been supporting and donating materials to the library since it opened in 1908, this particular bookplate was used beginning in about 1941. In the Mansfield News Journal from April 27th, 1941, the bookplate made its public debut, and is cited as having been designed by Louis Lamoreux, a local architect best known for designing the “Big House” at Louis Bromfield’s Malabar Farm, now Malabar Farm State Park [Mansfield News Journal, 27 April 1941, page 14]. Some of the early books to bear this bookplate were North American Wildflowers, which was donated in memory of Mrs. Frank Black, and Flowers and Fruit Prints of the Early 18th and 19th Centuries, donated in memory of Mrs. Henry Weaver. Both women were past presidents of the Memorial Library Board.

Have you come across anything seemingly inconspicuous that was hiding years of history lately?

Mansfield’s Summer Amusement: Luna-Casino Park

Summer has officially begun!

Today many people flock to large amusement parks like Cedar Point and Kings Island for summer break fun, but in the history of Mansfield that distinctive roller coaster thrill could be found much closer to home at Luna-Casino Park, on what had been the Sherman-Heineman Park and what is now North Lake Park. The following are postcards depicting various aspects of this park from the Sherman Room Digital Archive postcard collection.

In 1899, the Mansfield News published an article reflecting on the “Growth of Mansfield,” in which it was noted that Mansfield had two well-kept parks, Central Park and Sherman-Heineman Park. At the time, Sherman-Heineman Park consisted of 80 acres with 25 acres being forest, and it boasted nice walkways and artificial lakes. With these amenities, it was a popular spot for picnics and other outdoor social gatherings [Mansfield News, 05 Feb 1899, pg. 9].

By 1905, when the roller coaster began operation, the Sherman-Heineman park had gained an additional two names, Casino Park and Luna Park, as well as a number of new attractions. Now in addition to the water and the walkways, the parks boasted a dancing pavilion, a “figure eight” roller coaster, a shooting gallery, the Casino theater (complete with a fresh coat of paint), a merry-go-round, and a swimming pool [Mansfield Daily Shield, 08 May 1905].

The roller coaster opened in 1905, just in time for a debate around Blue Laws, or laws restricting activities that can be done on Sunday (a common Blue Law was a prohibition against selling or purchasing alcohol on Sunday). A group of four local reverends petitioned Mayor Huntington Brown to ensure that many of the amusements at Luna Park would be kept shut on Sundays, specifically including the shooting ranges and the merry-go-round. Even though the roller coaster was not yet operational, the group also stated that they wanted the roller coaster to be prohibited on Sundays as well [Mansfield Daily Shield, 27 Jun 1907, pg. 6].

However, the owner of the “amusements” at issue, G. W. Bahl determined that the summer fun would indeed continue on Sunday, despite anticipating that at least one arrest might result, as the local group had threatened. And it appeared that the summer fun won out, because on Monday it was reported that all the amusements had been open and well-attended on Sunday, and no arrests had been made.

The Ohio State Reformatory Opening

The Ohio State Reformatory was a massive project, spanning more than fourteen years in construction alone. The foundation of the Reformatory was begun on 27 August 1886. The cornerstone was laid on 7 November 1886 with pomp including Masonic ceremonies and a brief speech by Ohio’s then-governor J. B. Foraker. The contractor for almost all of the work was Hancock and Dow. The final exterior construction work was not completed until 22 September 1900 [1].

But despite the fact that the construction took fourteen years to be complete, the Reformatory was opened and the first convicts brought in ten years after the cornerstone was laid, on 17 September 1896, while many aspects of the planned construction were uncompleted. For security reasons, the exact schedule of events was not advertised, but still there were large crowds present when the 150 men were brought to the Reformatory from the penitentiary at Columbus by a special train to reside in the west wing of cells [2].

“Ohio State Reformatory Boulevard.” Photo from Mansfield Public Library Collection of the Cleveland Memory Project.

The Managers

The Ohio State Reformatory was in the control of a board of managers, who were intended to be non-partisan, with no more than 3 members to belong to the same political party.

The First Superintendent

The first superintendent of the Ohio State Reformatory was W. D. Patterson. However, his term as superintendent was very short at the Reformatory, and he resigned in February of 1897, less than six months after the Reformatory first received prisoners. Although Patterson resigned, the local news of the day claimed that it was not strictly voluntary and was politically motivated, despite the intention and legal requirement that the Reformatory be nonpartisan. The Shield and Banner claimed that Patterson had been “deposed” by the board of managers in favor of the Deputy Superintendent, W. E. Sefton, who was allegedly more to the liking of the governor at the time, as he was a Republican while Patterson was a Democrat. Other reasons given for the preference of Sefton over Patterson included age, given that Patterson was more than seventy at the time and Sefton was “in the prime of his life and a courteous gentleman.”

Other Staff

The other staff of the Reformatory listed when the first prisoners arrived were a chaplain, a secretary, a farm manager, and 25 guards.

The farm manager was, unsurprisingly, responsible for the cultivation of the Reformatory farm. The architect was responsible for the work on the Reformatory that was as yet uncompleted, and would not be completed for another four years, a year beyond the estimate given when the Reformatory opened, due to delays in the iron and steel work. The chaplain was responsible for holding chapel services, and was also responsible for reading all of the letters written by the prisoners.

Curious? Want to know more?

The Reformatory News was published regularly in the local Richland County newspapers. Want to read it? Come visit the Sherman Room and follow the Reformatory’s history through our microfilm archives! For more info, including hours, see our web page at www.mrcpl.org/shermanroom!

Sources

  1. “Last Stone Laid,” Mansfield News, 24 Sep 1900, page 8. Sherman Room Archives.
  2. “Ohio State Reformatory Opening,” Richland Shield and Banner [Mansfield, OH], 19 Sep 1896, page 5. Sherman Room Archives.
  3. “Reformatory News,” Richland Shield and Banner [Mansfield, OH], 9 Feb 1897, page 3. Sherman Room Archives.

Poetry, the Paris World’s Fair, a Battleship, and John Philip Sousa: “The Ohio Poet” Ida Eckert Lawrence

April is U.S. National Poetry Month, and in recognition this blog post explores a renowned poet who was born in Richland County, just outside Belville, although later in life she lived in Kansas, Toledo, and finally Los Angeles.

Ida Eckert was born just outside of Belville to Daniel S and Nancy A Eckert around 1861, and her family lived there until she was about 6 years old. At that point, the family moved to Wayne County, and by 1880 the family had moved to Topeka, Kansas. In Topeka in 1880, Ida married her first husband, Thomas Brower Peacock, and in 1883 they had a son named Aubrey [1-7].

In Kansas, Ida became very involved with the local writers’ scene, from press to poetry. She was a member of both the Kansas Editorial Association and the Kansas Women’s Press Association, and wrote for both newspapers and magazines [8].

Photo from A. J. Baughman, A Centennial History of Richland County

In 1897, already recognized as “a well known writer of short stories and poems,” she married again, this time to Fred A. Lawrence, of Chicago. They were married in Kansas, but shortly thereafter moved back to Ohio, this time to Toledo, where Fred was a partner in the J. Melvin & Co. clothing company [9].

Successes in Poetry

While in Toledo, Ida’s recognition as a poet continued to grow, and in 1900 she published a volume of her poetry with the Robert Clark Company of Cincinnati under the title Day Dreams. The book was fairly successful, and had three print runs at the time [10].

Ida was also honored in 1900 to be chosen as one of the Ohio Women Commissioners to the Paris Exposition, also known as the Exposition Universelle or World’s Fair [11].

While at the Paris Exposition, Ida was further selected to speak to the International Women’s Congress on the topic of women in American literature. Her talk was apparently very well received, and it was reported that she spoke of such authors as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott. She also spoke about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of the women’s suffrage movement and women in journalism [12].

“Brains, industry, and tact are the necessary qualifications, and we have proved successfully that women are no longer children but are representing themselves along all lines of thought and work. In Frances E. Willard, Clara Barton, and Jane Addams our authors may find the heroic souls heroines are made of.”

Ida Eckert Lawrence, speech as quoted in “Ohioans Abroad,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 8 Jul 1900, p 17.

The next year, returning to the United States after attending the Paris World’s Fair, Ida was chosen to write and read a poem to commemorate the launch of the Battleship Ohio (third of its name) from San Francisco. She traveled to San Francisco to read the poem as part of the launch, and on her way west she stopped in Kansas to visit with her family and speak to the Ohio Association there, where she was also well-received [13].

In 1902, Ida’s poetry achieved yet another mark of renown: it was set to music by another Richland County native, Lulu Genet, and arranged for orchestra by John Philip Sousa. The poems that were set to music included “Way Down South” and “Day Dreams,” the title poem of Ida’s poetry volume. Sousa’s arrangements of the music and poetry were performed in Pittsburgh with a full band and a vocalist of Sousa’s choosing [14] .

A Divorce, and a Move to California

The next “newsworthy” event of Ida’s life was her divorce from Fred Lawrence in 1907. Various newspapers described the reasoning for the divorce somewhat differently: the Stark County Democrat reported that she divorced him “because he clipped unfavorable criticism of her poetry from newspapers,” while the Wooster Republican stated that Ida “claimed cruelty…[and] claimed he ridiculed her literary productions,” and finally the Defiance Daily Democrat reported briefly that she filed the divorce “alleging extreme cruelty” [15]. Whatever the reason for their divorce, Ida was not unmarried for very long. She moved to Los Angeles in June of that year and was married to James K. Connor, a “train man,” but they chose not to tell anyone of their marriage until word got out in October when Ida returned to Kansas to visit her family [16]. In the 1920 census Ida was reported as a widow living with her son, still in the occupation of authoring verse [17]. She herself passed away in 1931, and was buried in Los Angeles [18].

Sources

  1. “Noted Poet Visits County,” Wooster Republican (Wooster, OH), 10 Apr 1907, p 6.
  2. 1870 United States Federal Census, Canaan, Wayne, Ohio, digital image, s.v. “Daniel Eckert,” Ancestry.com.
  3. 1880 United States Federal Census, Mission, Shawnee, Kansas, digital image, s.v. “Daniel Eckert,” Ancestry.com.
  4. 1895 Kansas State Census,
  5. 1900 United States Federal Census, Toledo Ward 9, Lucas, Ohio, digial image, s.v. “Fred A Lawrence,” Ancestry.com.
  6. 1910 United States Federal Census, Los Angeles Assembly District 71, Los Angeles, California, digital image, s.v. “James K. Connor,” Ancestry.com.
  7. 1920 United States Federal Census, Los Angeles Township, Los Angeles, California, s.v. “Ida E. Lawrence,” Ancestry.com.
  8. “The Kansas Poetess Married,” Topeka State Journal, 27 May 1897, p 4.
  9. “Ohio Women Commissioners at Paris Exposition,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 29 Apr 1900.
  10. “The Kansas Poetess Married,” Topeka State Journal, 27 May 1897, p 4.
  11. “Ida Eckert Lawrence,” Bellville Messenger (Bellville, OH), 5 Jan 1900.
  12. “Ohio Women Commissioners to the Paris Exposition,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 29 Apr 1900, p 28.
  13. “Ohioans Abroad,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 8 Jul 1900, p 17.
  14. “Sousa Arranges Orchestration and His Band Plays Music Composed and Worded by Former Residents of this City,” Mansfield News (Mansfield, OH), 27 Sep 1902, p 6.
  15. “Late Ohio Specials,” Stark County Democrat (OH), 26 Mar 1907, p 5; Defiance Democrat (OH), 4 Jan 1907 p 8; Wooster Republican (OH), 10 Apr 1907, p6.
  16. “Secret Marriage Announced,” Los Angeles Herald, 30 Oct 1907 p 12.
  17. 1920 United States Federal Census, Los Angeles Township, Los Angeles, California, s.v. “Ida E. Lawrence,” Ancestry.com.
  18. California Death Index, digital image, s.v. “Ida E Eckert,” Ancestry.com.