Pickering Library Association, Pickering, Missouri

1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren

1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren (front) 
1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren (back)

Pickering, Missouri

According to The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, published in 1882, Pickering, Missouri, located in the northwest region of Missouri, was home to about 200 residents in 1882. The town of Pickering was incorporated in 1879. While many businesses were developed in Pickering’s early days, there is no evidence that a public library was ever established. However, The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, references a circulating library (p. 674) and a library association (p. 682). The current population of Pickering is approximately 160, according to the 2010 census.

John W. Harman

John W. Harman (1842-1892) came to Pickering in 1872. In addition to being the secretary and librarian of the “circulating library” (see The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 674). Harman was the Pickering station railroad agent, a hotel keeper, grain inspector, and postmaster, as well as a member and officer of A. F. & A. M. (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons) Lodge No. 473. Harman died of “consumption” in 1892. He is buried at the Mount Mora Cemetery in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Miles Wallis

Miles Wallis (born 3-10-1810-1903), a successful New York businessman and real estate dealer, came to Pickering in 1877, following his grandson, Dr. William M. Wallis, who settled in Pickering in 1872. Miles Wallis was the proprietor of the Pickering Hotel and served as the Mayor of Pickering. He was a co-founder and President of the “Library Association” (see The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 682), and a generous contributor of “forty volumes of ‘standard works.'” Miles Wallis is buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Maryville, Missouri. The inscription on his gravestone reads: “93 years, 11 months, 6 days.”

J. J. Van Buren

A lifelong Missourian, and longtime resident of Pickering, James Jackson Van Buren was born November 23, 1849, in Savannah, Missouri. In 1879, Van Buren opened the town blacksmith business. Van Buren died October 17, 1926, and is buried at the Coleman Cemetery in Pickering, Missouri.

Bangkok Library Association, Bangkok, Siam

1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Reminder Mailing Card addressed to Mrs. A. Link

1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Mailing Card sent to Mrs. A. Link (front)
1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Mailing Card sent to Mrs. A. Link (back)
Close-up of the Royal Coat of Arms of Siam (from upper right corner)
1897 Stereoscope image of the Royal Coat of Arms of Siam (public domain)

Bangkok Library Association

In 1869, the Ladies’ Bazaar Association, a charitable organization of English-speaking women living in Bangkok, Siam, founded the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association to provide much-needed English-language books to the growing number of English-speaking residents of Bangkok. Bangkok, called “the key to Siam,” became home to many English-speaking missionaries and British trade agents during the reign of King Rama IV, due to trade agreements and Western expansionism.  

In the beginning, the small subscription library was open one day a week and staffed by volunteers. The library contents were housed in private homes and later the vestry of the Protestant Union Chapel. 

The library’s name changed to Bangkok Library Association in October 1911.

Jennie Neilson Hays 

Jennie Neilson Hays was born on September 19, 1859, in Aalborg, Denmark. As a Protestant Missionary, Miss Neilson arrived in Bangkok, Siam, in October 1884. In 1885, Miss Nelson began her relationship with the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association conducting benefits for raising funds and assisting in library duties. Jennie Nelson Hays served as the Librarian of the Bangkok Library Association until her death of Cholera on April 26, 1920.  

Jennie Neilson Hays Passport Photo 1916

In a letter from the American Consulate, dated May 20, 1920, Carl C. Hanson, the American Vice-Consul in Charge, reported the death of Mrs. Hays to the Secretary of State of the United States, Bainbridge Colby.

The letter read:

Death of an American Citizen

Mrs. Jennie Neilson Hays


I have the honor to enclose herewith a report of the death of an American citizen, Mrs. Jennie Nelson Hays, the wife of Dr. Thomas Heyward Hays, now living in Bangkok. Mrs. Hays always took the leading part on all occasions connected with public welfare and was well known for her charitable work. His Majesty the King of Siam sent a special message of condolences to Dr. Hays, and by the King’s command, a royal wreath was placed on the grave of Mrs. Hays. 

I have the honor to be Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Carl C. Hanson

American Vice Consul in Charge

After her death, Mario Tamagno, an Italian architect, was commissioned by her husband, Dr. Thomas Heyward Hays, to design a permanent home for the library on Surawong Road. The Neilson-Hays Library, a then state-of-the-art Neo-classical building, opened to the public on June 26, 1922.

Jennie and her husband, Thomas, are buried at the Bangkok Protestant Cemetery.

Mrs. Williamson

Lady Marion Maria Winifred Crozier Williamson served as President of the Bangkok Library Association.

Maria Crozier was born on October 21, 1875, in the former British territory of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. There she married Walter James Franklin Williamson on August 15, 1894. Sir Williamson was financial counsel to the government of Siam and later, a financial expert at the League of Nations. Sir and Lady Williamson are also known for the contribution to the ornithological community. Sir Williamson was a noted ornithologist whose collection is incorporated into the British Museum of National History. Lady Williamson is the namesake of the Indochinese Bush Lark species mirafra assamica marionae. Lady Williamson died on May 30, 1945, in London, England.

Mrs. A. Link

Erma Link was the wife of Adolf Link, a partner of B. Grimm & Co., importers, and merchants. Adolf Link joined B. Grimm & Co. as a manager in 1903. Under Adolf Link’s management, B. Grimm & Co. grew rapidly. However, at the outbreak of World War I, Siam joined allied forces and declared war on Germany. In February 1918, Siam’s government designated all German residents as enemies of the state. Consequently, Siam’s government seized the Link family’s possessions and placed the family in an internment camp in India. After World War I, the Links returned to Siam, but World War II resulted in house arrest. Despite the effects of the World Wars on the company, B. Grimm continues its 150-year history with Thailand, now operated by a 4th generation Link family. member

Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

1882 Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati Member’s Ticket (Circulation No. B. 69) Issued to J. H. Barker

1882 Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati Member’s Ticket (Circulation No. B. 69) Issued to J. H. Barker (front)
1882 Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati Member’s Ticket (Circulation No. B. 69) Issued to J. H. Barker (back)

Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati was established in April 1835 by Moses Ranney and 44 young men seeking to improve their skills within their mercantile trades.  Lacking useful resources to improve their skills, they banded together to open a library that would cater to the needs of the undereducated and those seeking self-improvement.  With seed money of $1800 and 700 volumes, the Library began operations in the Daniel Ames’ Building on Main Street, below Pearl, for $12.50 per month. Being a modest operation on a shoestring budget, there was no librarian, so all library duties were performed by the Directors. However, due to a steady increase in membership, the Library was able to elect their first librarian by the end of the first year.  By 1836, the Library had approximately 1200 volumes.

The Library held art exhibits, literary readings and lectures by noted clergy, businessmen, and literary figures such as William Makepeace Thackeray, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Horace Greeley.  The Library also encouraged the advancement of women by extending invitations to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Eliza Logan.  Periodicals and worldwide newspapers, such as the London Times were available, as well as foreign language books. The Library also offered classes in languages, mathematics, book-keeping and penmanship.

Early etching by unknown artist of the First Cincinnati College Building.  (No known copyright restrictions.  Used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and the Doctrine of Fair Use)

In Spring of 1840, the Library began its association with Cincinnati College and moved into rented rooms in the Cincinnati College building located on Walnut Street.

The Fire of 1845

On January 19, 1845, the Cincinnati College was destroyed by fire.  Due to the heroic efforts of nearby members, many volumes were saved and transferred to rooms at the corner of Fourth and Sycamore Streets for temporary housing.  This calamity offered the Library a unique opportunity.  In consideration of the sum of $10,000 donated by the Library to go toward rebuilding, the Cincinnati College granted the Library ownership in perpetuity to a suite of rooms in the new building. Plans for a new 3-story building “exclusive of the attic” having “a modern edifice of Grecian Doric order” were announced in the Cincinnati Enquirer on March 3, 1846. The front area on the second floor would be designed for the accommodation of the Library. 

Moving Forward 

The Library remained active during this period of displacement.  In 1853, a block of native marble taken from the Ohio River bedrock was donated to the construction of the Washington Monument.

Engraving on native marble block donated to the building of the Washington Monument in 1853 (public domain)

In addition to continued civic activities and cultural events, membership grew to 2,500 (by 1855) and the number of volumes available to members increased through purchase and donation to over 15,000.  In 1859, women were permitted to join the Library.

The Fire of 1869

On October 20, 1869, a second fire destroyed the Cincinnati College building. Plans to build a new 4-story building were put into place by late 1869, and the Library temporarily moved to the A. E. Chamberlain & Co. building at 137-139 Race Street (between 3rd and 4th Streets).  By 1871, the new 4-story building was opened and the Library was back on Walnut Street.  

1890s photo by unknown photographer of Cincinnati College Bulidng on Walnut Street.  (No known copyright restrictions.  Used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and the Doctrine of Fair Use)

In the early 1900s, the Cincinnati College Building was sold to local business interests and a new 12-story building was built on the Walnut Street site.  A 1905 city directory lists the Library address as 11th Floor Mercantile Library Building.  The Library continues to operate from the Mercantile Library Building.  It is one of the last subscription libraries in the United States.

Early 1900s photo by unknown photographer of Mercantile Library Building at 414 Walnut Street.  (No known copyright restrictions.  Used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and the Doctrine of Fair Use)

Moses Ranney

Moses Ranney (1810-1853) was a local business man and a leading figure in the organization of the Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati. He served as the Library’s first President from 1835-1840. Born in Middletown, Connecticut to Moses Ranney, Sr. and Elizabeth Gilchrist, his father, Moses, died shortly after his birth.  As a young man, he travelled to Cincinnati with his mother and established a business. In 1837, he married Catherine Maria Luckey (1818-1906), and together had six daughters, five of which pre-deceased Ranney.  

A melodramatic article on the vices of drinking published in the February 1, 1855  Lancaster Gazette indicated Ranney’s life took a downward spiral and that he lost everything due to alcoholism.  Perhaps a kernel of truth due to the trauma of loss of multiple children took its toll.

From the Lancaster Gazette, February 1, 1855

Moses Ranney died on August 20, 1852, in New Orleans, Louisiana of Yellow Fever.  He was buried in the Cypress Grove Cemetery.

From the Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), August 22, 1852
From the Richmond Weekly Palladium (Richmond, Indiana), September 23, 1853

H. B. Morehead

Harry “Henry” Blackburn Morehead (1847-1899), son of  Kentucky Governor James T. Morehead, was a stockbroker and principal owner of H. B. Morehead & Co., a stocks and bonds brokerage.  In 1891, being a majority stock holder, he  assumed control and management of the Commercial Gazette Company.    He succumbed to tuberculosis in 1899. He is buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

From The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 28, 1899

J. H. Barker

Joseph H. Barker (1854-1902), son of Capt. Jonathan H. Barker (1814-1900), steamboat captain for the Cincinnati to Louisville Daily Packet Line, was a supervisor for the New Water Company.  He succumbed to liver disease and is buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati,