(Transcribed by Karen Meisenheimer from The Belmont Dispatch - June 12, 1962)

Account of Origin Of Public Library

            The following account of the origin of the Belmont Public Library was compiled by Miss Grace Marriner from a newspaper article apparently given to the late Miss Bertha Sortore by its author, Mrs. Harriet Mattoni, a teacher in Belmont in the 1880’s and early 1890’s and a charter member of the Belmont Literary and Historical Society.

            “The great temple in their midst” cannot with certainty be identified.  Perhaps it was the fire hall across from the Erie station, as Mrs. Lester (Della Noble) Bellamy used to tell of carrying books back and forth there in a market basket.  Mrs. Victorine Sortore says she thinks someone once told her that the first meetings were held over what is now the Criss store.  As Grover Cleveland took office March 4, 1885, the first meeting of the B. L. & H. S. was October 7, 1885.

            Now on the seventh day of the eighth month of the first year of the reign of Grover, the Buffalonian, in the County of Allegany, it came to pass that certain of the wives and maidens of the tribe of the Amityites did gather together in the house of one Antoinette, the wife of Irving whose surname was Truman, who did dispense medicine throughout the length and breadth of the land and who was also a singer of songs and a player upon stringed instruments.

            And the wives and the maidens said, let us join ourselves together to become wise in all learning.  Let us get ourselves up into the great temple in our midst and there form ourselves into a company, even as our young men and our fathers do, that they may not cry for shame!  What knowest thou of this? Or what knowest thou of that?

            But after they had agreed among themselves to do these things certain of the wives and the maidens said, we will ask our young men and our fathers to go with us.  But others said, when have they asked us to join their companies or go into their temples of great learning?  And in the end they did agree that they should not go with them.

            And they did appoint, one Harriet whose surname was Mattoni who was already well versed in all the learning of the times, so much so that all the Amityites did send their youths and their maidens unto her to be instructed, in all the wisdom of the land; and also one Ella, the wife of one Charles, who surname was Gorton and who was a great singer whose voice did delight the people throughout all the land, to make laws for them.

            Now on the 14th day of the eighth month of the first year of the reign of Grover, the Buffalonian, they did gather themselves together in the house of one Alzina, the wife of one Charles, whose surname was Anderson who was a physician and did dispense medicine to the Amityites, and there did adopt the laws which had been written upon the tablets.

            And they did agree that any of the wives and maidens of the Amityites, upon the payment of two shekels in silver, should be allowed to join their number.  And they chose to rule over them for the space of three months Adaline, the wife of one Jairus whose surname was Bissell, and Ella, the wife of one Charles whose surname was Groton.  And for their scribe they did choose one Antoinette, the wife of one Irving whose surname was Truman.  And for their money gatherer Amy, the wife of one Miles whose surname was Davis who did dispense merchandise.  And to watch over their treasury that none of the money put therein should be used foolishly, they did choose Mary, the wife of one Edgar whose surname was Chamberlain, a lawyer in their midst and one Mary, the wife of one Timothy whose surname was Eddy.

            And on the sixth day of each week the wives and the maidens did get themselves up into the great temple in their midst, there to become learned in all the books of the land over which Grover, the Buffalonian did reign.

            Now all the other names written upon the parchment are as follows:  Frances (Mrs. Bascom) Mapes, Abigail (Mrs. Andrew) McNett, Dora (Mrs. Eric) Hart, Adeline (Mrs. Hamilton) Ward, Hannah (Mrs. Wilkes) Angel, Mary (Mrs. Virgil) Willard, Betsey (Mrs. Frank) VanCampen, Alice (Mrs. Manford) Sortore, Phoebe (Mrs. Stephen) Holbrook, Jane (Mrs. George) Sortore, Esther (Mrs. William) Granby, Harriet (Mrs. Isaac) Willets, the Misses Clara Steinburg, Emma Graves, Marian and Emily Gorton and Mary Thibou.

            Now on the evening of the 28th day of the 9th month of the reign of Grover, the Buffalonian, these wives and maidens did ask their young men and fathers to go with them to the house of one Harriet, the wife of one Isaac whose surname was Willets, a mighty man in their midst, and to join them in singing of songs and the playing upon stringed instruments.  Now those who did play with skill upon the stringed instruments were Lizzie, the wife of one John whose surname was Bradt, a dealer in merchandise, and George, a great physician whose surname was McNett, and his wife Agnes.  And there was one Grace the daughter of the Frank whose surname was Vanderhoef, who did sing sweetly before them.

            And one Henrietta the daughter of Isaac whose surname was Willets who did recite verses,  as did also one Mary, the daughter of one Joseph whose surname was Demmer.  And Ella the daughter of one Morilyon whose surname was Sortore, did read from a book.

            Then the money gatherer did pass through their midst and did take up four shekels in silver.  And all the people did go well pleased unto their homes again.

            And it came to pass that the wives and maidens did take from out the treasury seventy and six shekels and bought forty and three books for to make a library.  And they did choose one Adelle, the daughter of one Martin whose surname was Noble, to have charge over all these books and to make a record of all which the wives and maidens did take from out their library.

            And the company increased in numbers and riches and wisdom until their fame did spread throughout all the land of the Amityites.