Bill Library, Ledyard, Connecticut

Pre-1884 Library Card issued to Miss Sadie Main

Pre-1884 Library Card issued to Miss Sadie Main

Bill Library, Ledyard, Connecticut

Pre-1923 Postcard of the Bill Library, Ledyard, CT (Public Domain)
Pre-1923 Postcard of the Bill Library, Ledyard, CT (Public Domain)

In January, 1867, Henry Bill, a successful business-owner in nearby Norwich, contacted prominent members of the Ledyard community and gave notice that it was his desire to establish a free library for his “native town.”

Letter to Rev. N.B. Cook, January 12, 1867. From History of the Town of Ledyard, 1650-1900, by Rev. John Avery, published Noyes & Davis, Press of the Bulletin Co., Norwich, Connecticut, 1901 (no known copyright restrictions)

Through the generous donations of books and funds from Henry Bill and his brothers, Ledyard and Gurden, the Bill Library opened Monday, October 7, 1867, with approximately 1,000 books housed in custom-made bookcases installed in the Congregational Church.

The Hartford Courant, Hartford, Connecticut, October 8, 1867, page 8.

A New Library Building

Eventually, the small library in the Congregational Church became inadequate, and plans to build a new library building, separate from the church, was planned. With $3,000 donated by Henry Bill and his brothers, and land donated by Henry Bill, the new building was built on the “Common” across from the Congregational Church. The new Bill Library was dedicated on September 13, 1893, during the annual meeting.and dinner of the trustees of the Bill Library Association.

The Hartford Daily Courant, Hartford, Connecticut, September 20, 1893, page 8

The original building was expanded in 1971 and again in 1982, and is still located at 718 Colonel Ledyard Highway. The library collection contains over 67,000 volumes, and circulates nearly 165,000 items a year to a population of 15,000 residents.

Henry Bill

Born in Groton, Connecticut on May 18, 1824, it was Henry Bill’s desire to “leave a permanent testimonial of [his] great regard for [his] native town,” and so established the Ledyard Library Association with an initial donation of $1,000.  

Henry Billl (public domain)
The Bill Block at the corner of Water & Shetucket Streets., Norwich, CT. Plate from a book published by the Henry Bill Publishing Company.

Henry Bill died August 14, 1891, and is buried in the Yantic Cemetery in Norwich, Connecticut.

Henry Bill Obituary. The Journal, Meriden, Connecticut, August 15, 1891, Page 1

Edmund Spicer

Edmund Spicer, born January 11, 1812, was the first Librarian of the Bill Library Association (1867 to 1890). He died May 1, 1890, and is buried in the Spicer Cemetery in Ledyard, Connecticut.

Sadie Elizabeth Main

Sadie Elizabeth Main born March 13, 1870, daughter to John L Main and Phoebe Frink Main. She married Herbert Richardson (1856-1930) in 1891. Sadie Elizabeth Main died December 18, 1940 and is buried in the Pachaug Cemetery in Griswold, New London County, Connecticut.