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The Formation of the First Library in Elwood

The Elwood Public Library had its beginnings in October, 1898, in a committee whose members were: Dr. H. M. Brown, Mrs. D. G. Evans, Mrs. A. D. Moffett, Rev. L. C. Howe and Rev. George Chandler. They were appointed by Mr. J. T. Alexander of Greensburg, Indiana to select a book list for a small, private, subscription library, owned by the International Library Association. That library was maintained by Mr. Alexander in a building located at the northwest corner of South B and Anderson Streets, then known as the Fitzwilliams Building.

During their meeting, in room no. 1, a committee member, Mrs. Alonzo D. Moffett, suggested the possibility of establishing a free, public library. It was decided to have the present librarian, Mrs. Eva Gilmore, send postal cards to twenty persons, inviting them to meet with the committee in the library room to decide the feasibility of this plan. The persons who responded – George Haynes, W. S. James, A. H. McKenzie, H. F. Willkie and Mrs. H. F. Willkie – agreed to meet and discuss this idea.

At a time when buggies and hitching posts for horses were planted up and down Main and Anderson Streets, they agreed to meet November 26, 1898 in the tiny library room. It was at that meeting the decision was made to solicit subscriptions at $10 a share, toward a fund of $1,000, for a new library.

Of particular interest to historians, Mrs. Hester Alverson Moffett and her husband, Alonzo Moffett operated the former weekly Free Press, the Daily Labor Record and the Elwood Daily Record from 1893 to 1919 when the newspaper was sold to D. W. Callahan. Mrs. Moffett is given credit for the founding of the Elwood Public Library. Through her editorials she stressed the need for public rather than private facilities. She helped found the Women’s Press Club in 1913. After her husband died she moved to California and continued her work with libraries in San Diego and Los Angeles. She died in Laguna Beach on August 27, 1935. She was nominated by Jan Connors, editor of the Elwood Publishing Company, and was inducted, posthumously, into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame on April 15, 1989.