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."

“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?


Newly Digitized Richland County Newspapers

The Mansfield-Richland County Public Library has partnered with the Mansfield Memorial Museum, The Ohio Genealogical Society and the Richland County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society to digitize newspapers from Richland County, Ohio.  The project was made possible as a result of a $7,885 grant from the Gorman Foundation.  Those looking to research the newspapers can access the content from anywhere; there is no membership or login required.  This service is completely free to those interested.

Simply go to the address, http://mrcpl.advantage-preservation.com/, and enter in your search criteria.  This could be anything from a person, place or event.  The collection includes over 40,000 pages covering the years 1823-1923 and includes Mansfield newspapers in addition to newspapers from Bellville and Butler.  Any articles of interest can be “clipped” and saved to your computer or printed out.  Simply select the crop icon at the top of the page. Drag it around the desired article and select the arrow at the bottom right corner.  Follow the onscreen prompts to download or print the article.

As always it you have any issues or need assistance stop by the Sherman Room or give us a call at 419-521-3115.

Also, check out the Sherman Room page on the library website to find other useful digital resources.

We hope this will be a helpful resource for the community and look forward to working with other organizations in the future to make more content available.

The Sherman Room Grandfather Clock


Upon entering the Sherman Room, one of the first items that catch most people’s eye is a grandfather clock sitting across from the entrance.  The clock has an ornately gilded brass face; a silvered dial with raised brass numerals; and a sweep seconds hand with a hand painted revolving moon dial. The moon dial rotates, eventually displaying the phases of the moon and changing scenery.  This is an 8-day clock and requires winding once a week.  It was made by the Seth Thomas Company, one of America’s oldest clock makers.

Seth Thomas was born in Connecticut in 1785 and became a clockmaker apprentice at the age of 14 under Daniel Tuttle.  Seven years later, Thomas and Silas Hoadley took a job with Eli Terry.  In 1810 Terry sold his shop to Thomas and Hoadley for $6,000.  In 1813 Thomas sold his half of the business and bought land, which included a clock factory.  The land was conveniently located next to Eli Terry’s new shop.  The two men created a partnership and Thomas continued to make wooded movements until around 1840 when the brass movement was being introduced.  By 1844 wooden movements were no longer being produced and, in 1850, Thomas was producing 24,000 brass movements a year.  In 1859 Seth Thomas passed the company on to his son, Aaron, and died shortly after at the age of 73.  The Seth Thomas name was acquired by different companies throughout the late 20th century and is currently no longer in production.


John C. Larwill from 1896

John Christmas Larwill was born in Wooster, Ohio February 20, 1820.  He came from a pioneering family.  His father, William Larwill, was one of the first settlers in Wayne County, Ohio and his uncle Joseph H. Larwill, along with James Hedges and Jacob Newman, laid out and founded Mansfield, Ohio in 1808. At a young age, J. C. Larwill was appointed clerk of the Ohio State Senate with the influence of his brother-in-law Governor Thomas W. Bartley.  After leaving the Senate, Larwill entered the mercantile business in Loudonville, building up a fortune before he came to Mansfield around 1890.  Larwill was married twice: once to a Miss Workman, who died many years before him, and second to Miss Susan Moore.  He had one son, Arthur Larwill, who preceded him in death on December 21, 1881 at the age of 24.  Upon coming to Mansfield, Larwill became president of the Monarch Stove Company, and was a director in the Ohio Brass Company, Mansfield Gas Company and the Richland Insurance Company.  John Christmas Larwill died on August 30, 1901.

Larwill title


It’s apparent by J. C. Larwill’s will that the library was important to him.  He gave $5,000 to the library association, with his wife Susan acting as trustee, and gave a considerable amount to the Baptist church of Loudonville to help them supply their library.  Susan Larwill contributed many items to the library to continue the legacy of John C. Larwill.  This included not only books, but the Megalethoscpoe, which now sits at the Mansfield Memorial Museum at 34 Park Ave. West, and the Seth Thomas grandfather clock, which sits in the Sherman Room.

The Mansfield Daily Shield. 31 AUG 1901
The Mansfield News. 09 SEP 1901