Territorial Librarians

The position of Territorial Librarian was a political appointment. Appointees from 1853 until 1889 served at the pleasure of the Territorial Governor. For many years, the appointees were not professional librarians, but acquaintances of politicians or persons of local prominence appointed as reward for past services. Some had backgrounds in history, education and literature, but many were just politically convenient. It was not until the end of the 19th century that the position was awarded to individuals who had trained in the art and science of librarianship.

The Territorial Librarians

Bion (Benjamin) Freeman Kendall, 1853-1857 Sylvester Hill Mann, 1870
Henry R. Crosbie, 1857 Champion Bramwell Mann, 1870
Urban East Hicks, 1858 Isaac Van Dorsey Mossman, 1870-1873
Andrew Jackson Moses, 1859 Benjamin Franklin Yantis, 1873-1875
James Clark Head, 1860-1861, 1863, 1865 Frederick S. Holmes, 1875-1877
Thomas Taylor, 1862 Elwood Evans, 1877-1879
John Paul Judson, 1864 Walter W. Newlin, 1879-1880
Samuel Nelson Woodruff, 1866 James Peyre Ferry, 1880-1881
Henry Lensen Chapman, 1866 Eliza Des Saure Newell, 1882-1887
Levi Shelton, 1867-1869 Eleanor (Ellen) Sharp Stevenson, 1888-1890
Jeremiah D. Mabie, 1869-1870  



Bion (Benjamin) Freeman Kendall,

1853 - 1857

Born Oct. 1827 in Bethel, Maine. Fresh out of Bowdoin College in 1852, Kendall found employment as a government clerk in the Survey Land Office in Washington, D.C. He served as an aide (along with Elwood Evans) on the 1853 Isaac Stevens survey team when the first Territorial Governor made his way to Olympia. Governor Stevens had arranged for the selection of the Territorial Library prior to his departure, and the books arrived by ship in October 1853. The Governor made it to Olympia in November, and Kendall a month later. As Louise Morrison wrote, "Governor Stevens' first message to the Legislature implied that he considered Kendall the librarian," but he wasn't officially elected to the post by the Legislature until April 17, 1854. In that election he defeated attorney Frank Clark on vote of 17-9.

On his qualifications and legacy as Librarian, Maryan Reynolds writes, "Kendall's political activity and connections were his primary qualifications for the post. Kendall immediately built a small facility at Fourth and Main Streets (now Capitol Way) to house the library. The legislators, holding a proprietary attitude toward the library, bridled at Kendall's action; they fully expected the Territorial Library to be located under the same roof as themselves ..." In his reports to the Legislature, Kendall also provided a listing of the Library's holdings, the first version of the catalog. He was also appointed as Chief Clerk of the House, February 27, 1854, and was admitted to the bar later that year.  In April 1855 his short and meteoric rise found him in the office of acting U.S. District Attorney, and he was elected Prosecuting Attorney for the 2nd District in 1856. Although he eventually became "bitterly opposed" to Governor Stevens, he successfully prosecuted Leschi in his 2nd trial held in Olympia, going against defense attorney Frank Clark.

Realizing he was not making any friends in Olympia, he visited Washington D.C. in early 1861 to lobby for a new post, and was actually present when Fort Sumter was attacked. He served as a spy at the bequest of General Scott, gathering intelligence for the Union government during a swing through the Southern States. As a reward, Kendall was appointed Washington Territory Superintendent of Indian Affairs for awhile. One writer has observed that "Kendall, though an eloquent orator, able, energetic and industrious, was noted for his unyielding opinions, bitter and juvenile prejudices, high-handed contempt for the views of others and his indiscreet utterances." He was called Bezaleel Freeman Kendall by his political opponents. His editorship of the Olympia newspaper Overland Press gave him ample opportunity to expand the number of his enemies, and one them shot and killed him in his business office in January 1863. Frank Clark, who had been defeated by Kendall for the post of librarian and was also bested by him at the Leschi trial, was the defense attorney for the man charged with Bion's murder. The accused man fled, never to be seen again. Some historians have suggested it was Clark's firearm that was used as the murder weapon and the killer was merely an instrument of broad conspiracy.

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Henry R. Crosbie,


photograph of Henry R. Crosbie, Territorial Librarian of Washington 1857

Born ca. 1825, Pennsylvanian "Harry" Crosbie was elected to the first three territorial legislative sessions (1854-1855) as a member of the House representing Clark County (then known as Clarke County), where he had been District Court Clerk. In his capacity as a House member he was also on the first Commission on Education. In the 2nd Session he served as Speaker of the House. He was "replaced" in the Third Session. Crosbie held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the 1855-1856 Indian War, and at one point served as a scout for Gov. Stevens to investigate rumors of gold discoveries in the Colville area. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination to Congress in 1856. Also in that year he was made the Washington Territory U.S. Attorney. Crosbie may have been a member of Leschi's legal defense team in the first trial of the Nisqually leader. In Jan. 1857 the Legislature appointed him to the newly combined office of Territorial Auditor and Librarian for one year at a salary of $325. Shortly after his stint as Auditor/Librarian, Crosbie was made a Justice of the Peace in Whatcom County (as well as Coroner, according to one source) and was an instrumental American legal presence during the San Juan Islands Pig War of 1859. Historians have recognized Judge Crosbie as being a level-headed figure in the U.S./British boundary controversy. He was assigned to the Utah Territory Supreme Court in Aug. 1860. As late as 1894 he was still filing financial claims with Congress regarding his personal expenses for the Pig War episode.

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Urban East Hicks,



He was born May 14, 1828 in Missouri where he learned the printing trade in the towns of Paris and Hannibal. Coming to Oregon Territory in 1851 as part of the Ruddell Party, he lived in several places before settling in Olympia. Hicks held a variety of local offices, including County Clerk and Assessor. Hicks also served in the militia during the Indian War of 1855-1856, rising to the rank of Captain. He was charged with erecting blockhouses for the protection of the settlers during the hostilities. Hicks was a school teacher in what is now Lacey 1856-1857. Appointed as Librarian/Auditor 1858, and later as simply Auditor 1865-1867. During his first term, according to Briahna Taylor, the Library was not Capt. Hicks' primary concern:

Financially, Hicks' tenure as auditor was burdened by a territorial debt from the Indian War. Under the federal Organic Act, counties served as the collector of local and federal taxes. Of those taxes remitted to the federal government, Congress appropriated funds to the territory to finance territorial government operations. But counties faced challenges collecting all taxes owed, thus reducing revenues submitted to the federal government and ultimately allocations to the territory. Hicks faced mounting territorial debt.

In between his terms as Auditor he published the Vancouver Telegraph, 1861-1862. He returned to Olympia and produced the Washington Democrat, 1864-1865. His editorials bought about accusations from Republicans that he was a Copperhead. Even so, he was sworn in as Territorial Quartermaster General in 1865. After the Civil War he continued to be on the move and working in the newspaper business up and down the Pacific Coast. In later years he lived on Orcas Island and eventually became a resident of the Soldiers Home and Colony in Orting, where he died in March 1905. The family name lives on geographically through Hicks Lake in Thurston County.

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Andrew Jackson Moses,


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Called "a family of rascals" by one historian, the Moses brothers (Simpson, A.B., and Andrew, a native of South Carolina) along with Elwood Evans, came from Ohio to Olympia 1851 via the Nicaragua route. Simpson had been appointed the Collector and Andrew became a merchant on Main Street (Capitol Way). He had the instincts of an information professional when he ran this notice in the Feb. 5, 1853 issue of the Columbian:

Notice: From and after this date I will keep a register of names of all persons arriving in our new Territory, and I simply suggest to those now here to place their names upon the same book in order hereafter when any person desiring to know the place of residence of any relative or friend who may be living in this section of Oregon, they may know where to find them, and at the same time shall be ready to facilitate transportation to those who may desire going down the Sound. Andrew J. Moses, Main Street, Olympia.

When Gov. Stevens arrived in Olympia, he compiled a roster of prominent locals who, in the words of historian Kent D. Richards, "might provide information or services or who exercised power and influence among their peers." Andrew was among the 30 or so names in the list. He served as a sergeant in the Indian War. It was for the death of his brother, A.B. Moses, that Leschi was executed. In 1859 Andrew defeated his father-in-law, James Clark Head, 22-11 in the legislative vote selecting a new Auditor/Librarian. In addition to holding two territorial posts he was also the U.S. District Court Clerk in 1859. Moses was involved in forming the Alert Hook and Ladder Company, Olympia's first firefighting group. Andrew was admitted to the bar in 1865 and acted as a Justice of the Peace. Vanishing from the Olympia scene after his divorce in 1870, he surfaced in Portland. The May 11, 1872 of the Washington Standard reported Moses had been arrested for forgery. He was still living in Portland, working as an attorney, and providing entertaining newspaper copy through his exploits as late as the 1890s.  Andrew Jackson Moses died in Roseburg, Oregon on April 3, 1897 and was buried in Portland.

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James Clark Head,

1860 - 1861, 1863, 1865

(Head served three nonconsecutive terms as Territorial Librarian.)

[Image available through the Oregon Historical Society, ID# ba000572]

J.C. Head was born in Washington County, Ky. in 1810. His family apparently lived in Illinois before their arrival in Olympia, Aug. 18, 1853. A carpenter by trade, Head also was made a Justice of the Peace and in 1856 presided over the case of the accused murderer of Leschi's brother, Quiemuth. Bion Kendall was the attorney for the defense, Elwood Evans the prosecutor. His first term as Librarian was the last time the office was combined with the duties of Auditor. Both of his roles were eventful in 1860-1861. Briahna Taylor wrote on his Auditor half:

J.C. Head's tenure was highlighted by the Civil War and a tight financial condition. While earlier debts faced during Hicks' tenure had been paid, financial troubles for the territory lingered. Congress faced the mounting costs of the Civil War and reduced the territory's appropriations. This affected the entire territory, including legislators who were not given funds to travel between Olympia and their hometowns for the session. Some had to procure loans to finance their travel and stay in the territorial capitol.

If that wasn't enough, legislators sued J.C. Head the Librarian for refusing to move the collection to Vancouver, proving the importance of a library as a foundation for government. Maryan Reynolds explains the 1861 coup attempt:

A sizable number of legislators sought to move the territorial capital from Olympia to Vancouver. Their first step was to pass a law requiring Territorial Librarian J.C. Head to move his office and the library to Vancouver between June 2 and August 1. Another law mandated a popular vote on the issue during July, which the legislators were certain would favor their cause. But Acting Governor McGill refused to permit the move, and the district court refused to require J.C. Head to show cause as to why he should not move the library.

Head's refusal to budge quite probably saved Olympia's status as the capitol.

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Thomas Taylor,


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Although no oath of office record exists today, Taylor was apparently Librarian in 1862. The March 29, 1862 issue of the Washington Standard includes this Library Notice: "All persons having books belonging to the Territorial Library will please return at once, or the by-laws will be put in force. Thos. Taylor, Ter. Librarian." He quite probably was the same aged Thomas Taylor who was born Oct. 17, 1791 in Frederick County, Va. and came out to Oregon in 1855 from Morgan County, Illinois. In 1861 he served as a member of the House in the 9th Session. For a while he lived in the Grand Mound area and then in Elma. He was a long-time and active preacher. Taylor died in Elma, Wash., May 14, 1886.

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John Paul Judson,


Born May 6, 1840 in Cologne, Prussia, J.P. Judson's family came to Illinois in 1845. In Oct. 1853 they made their way to Pierce County. According to Bancroft, "He earned the money in mining on the Fraser River with which he paid for two years' schooling in Vancouver." The young Judson was appointed Territorial Librarian while still a law student and literally lived in the Library "to have more ready access to the law books then at his command," so wrote John Miller Murphy. He also worked as Chief Clerk in the House in 1864. For a brief time he was school teacher until he earned his law degree in 1867 and went into private practice.

After living in Port Townsend, he returned to Olympia in order to assume the office of Territorial Superintendent of Public Instruction, a post he held from 1873 to 1880. His legacy was overhauling Washington's educational system. As Dryden explains:

The School Law of 1877 was an important milestone because it marked the end of the pioneer period in education. Responsibility for it can be attributed to John P. Judson, Washington Territory's ... superintendent of public instruction. This law created a Territorial Board of Education with specified duties, and it also provided for county boards of education. One section dealt with certification of teachers, qualifications, and examinations.

Writer Angie Burt Bowden echoes, "His term was one of the most important in territorial history, because of its length-- he served six years-- because of the growth in professional spirit and usefulness through the county and territorial institutes; and because of the initiation of the Board of Education." In 1876 he was the Democratic candidate for Territorial Delegate to Congress and lost by a mere 73 votes. In 1877 he also held the office of Olympia Mayor. After his Superintendent term was completed, Judson moved to Tacoma and became a Regent for the University of Washington. His final years were spent in Spokane and then Colville, where he died in April, 1910.

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Samuel Nelson Woodruff,


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He was born Mar. 6, 1829 in Ohio. His journal during the 1852 overland trip to Olympia is now in the University of Washington's collection. He married Samantha Packwood in Feb. 1854 and set himself up as a farmer. Woodruff was listed as "Town Marshall" in a July 1864 edition of the Pacific Tribune, an early territorial paper out of Olympia. His year-long term as Territorial Librarian was not completed. It would appear Woodruff resigned his office, moved back to his native state, and was divorced by Samantha-- in that order. He remarried in Jan. 1869. Woodruff died Jan. 18, 1896 in New Lyme, Ohio.

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Henry Lensen Chapman,


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Woodruff's term was apparently completed by his brother-in-law, H.L. Chapman, although no record of an oath of office exists. Henry was born July 26, 1831 in Ohio. He was a member of Woodruff's party on the Oregon Trail in 1852. Chapman operated a flour and feed store and warehouse on Olympia's Main Street wharf. Prior to his Sept. 1, 1866 appointment as Territorial Librarian by Gov. Pickering, he was a Justice of the Peace. In 1870-1871 he is listed as an employee in the office of the Surveyor-General of Washington Territory. Chapman and his family moved to Oakland, Calif. in 1877, where he died Jan. 20, 1902.

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Levi Shelton,


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The first of the biennial appointments for the job, being Territorial Librarian was just one of the many posts held by Shelton. He was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina in 1817 and lived in Missouri by the 1840s. Arriving in Washington Territory Aug. 7, 1852, he quickly dove into public life. An active Democrat, Shelton was elected to the Thurston County Commission in 1854, and served as a member of the Territorial House during the 7th Session in 1859. He was elected as an Olympia Trustee (City Council) in 1870 and served as the Council (Senate) Sergeant of Arms in 1873. After he retired from farming he became a saloon keeper. Shelton died in Olympia in August, 1878.

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Jeremiah D. Mabie,


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Upstate New York native Mabie was born ca. 1828. He was raised in Illinois, and came to Olympia with his father and brother in the 1850s. Mabie's occupation is listed as "Speculator" in the 1870 census, but he was apparently counted in his final days. He died three quarters of the way into his term as Territorial Librarian, June 15, 1870 of consumption, aged 39.

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Sylvester Hill Mann,


photograph of Sylvester Mann, Territorial Librarian of Washington 1870

He was born May 6, 1817 in upstate New York. Raised in Pennsylvania, Mann was a soldier in a volunteer unit during the Civil War in 1862-1863. His occupation as a Methodist minister took him all over the Pacific Northwest. The Mann family arrived in Oregon's Willamette River Valley via the Isthmus route in 1864. By 1870 Rev. Mann was sent to Olympia, where he found himself appointed to fill out the Territorial Librarian term of the late Mr. Mabie. He took the oath of office June 21, 1870. As the June 20 issue of the Daily Pacific Tribune reported: "The decease of J.D. Mabie having left this office vacant, Acting Gov. Scott has appointed Rev. S.H. Mann to fill it until the next Legislature convenes. We heartily approve of this appointment, though it is questionable whether the new incumbent will be able to fill it for the unexpired term, as the next Methodist Conference will probably assign him to another field." There was no "probably" about it. They did. To Seattle. By Aug. 1, his son, C.B. Mann, was taking the oath of office as his replacement. The roughly five weeks of Rev. Mann's term might be a record for brevity in the office. He was sent to Seattle in 1870-1872, Steilacoom 1872-1874, and finally to Brownsville, Oregon in 1874. He died there Mar. 15, 1876. Considered "somewhat retiring," his poor health was attributed to his involvement in the Civil War.

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Champion Bramwell Mann,


photograph of C.B. Mann, Territorial Librarian of Washington 1870

Longtime Olympia political fixture, C.B. Mann was born Nov. 2, 1844 in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Mann attended Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and graduated from Portland Business College before arriving in Olympia in March 1870. He was assigned to the position of Territorial Librarian and served from Aug. 1 to Nov. 6, 1870. C.B. initially held the occupation of school teacher in Oregon and was chosen school district principal in Olympia at the same time he was Librarian. A Republican, Mann held a variety of public offices: City Treasurer, County Treasurer, County Commissioner, and Olympia Mayor (1894-1895). Early on he became part of Olympia's business community as an established apothecary until 1909, when he went into the seed and paint trade. Later in life he was active in gathering historical and biographical data on the pioneers of Thurston County. In a sad coincidence, although in different states Mann and his only son, Claude, died almost simultaneously on October 19, 1929.

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Isaac Van Dorsey Mossman,


photograph of I.V. Mossman, Territorial Librarian of Washington 1870-1873

"We doubt not," said the Daily Pacific Tribune, "that Mr. Mossman will make an efficient and faithful librarian" when the fourth Territorial Librarian for the year 1870 was named. He was born Aug. 8, 1830 in Centerville, Indiana. Mossman arrived in Oregon City Oct. 20, 1853 as part of the Miller Party. Isaac took part in the 1855-1856 Indian War, holding the rank of Corporal and fighting in the Columbia Gorge and east of the Cascades theater where he was wounded in 1856. For the next few years he held a series of odd jobs in Oregon and Washington, including running a pony express business in the Walla Walla area. Came to Olympia in 1867 and found employment with the city's Street Superintendent. Appointed Territorial Librarian by the Governor Nov. 7, 1870. While still in office of Librarian, he was elected Thurston County Coroner in 1872 and Olympia Marshall in 1873. In 1877 he worked as a Sergeant of Arms in the Legislature. By 1879 his poor health forced him to retire from public life, and he made a living by light work and running a used furniture store. Mossman left Olympia for Oakland, California in 1890 and eventually moved to Portland late in life. He died Oct. 11, 1912 in a Roseburg, Oregon soldiers' home.

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Benjamin Franklin Yantis,


photograph of B.F. Yantis, Territorial Librarian of Washington 1873-1875

Born Mar. 19, 1807 in Garrard Co., Ky., B.F. Yantis emigrated to Missouri in 1835, where he became the Superior Court Judge of Saline County. In 1850 (some sources say 1852) he was part of an overland party to the Oregon country that was an ordeal even by pioneering standards. His wife was included among the several deaths in the group. Judge Yantis ran a stage line to and from points south of Olympia, and in this capacity was frequently the first member of the community to greet new settlers to the town. He was the father-in-law of the previously mentioned Indian War casualty A.B. Moses. In 1854 he was a member of the 1st session of the Territorial Council (Senate). In the later 1850s Yantis was active in Eastern Washington as part of the "Colville Gold Rush" and even participated in early Idaho Territorial legislative politics. He was also Captain of the civilian militia group, the "Spokane Invincibles" during the Indian War. Returning to Olympia, he served in the 1862 10th Session of the House, and the 1873 4th Biennial Session of the House. Also in 1873 he was the last Territorial Librarian elected by Legislature. Yantis listed his occupation as "W.T. Librarian" in the 1875 census. Yantis's grandson, George Blankenship, recalled in a 1932 speech:

"My grandfather possessing sufficient political influence to procure the position, which he did not want, turned the office over to me to assist me in procuring what I laughingly refer to as my education, and then proceeded to wash his hands of the matter."

The Judge died in Feb. 1879. The Yantis name has been part of Thurston County political history for well over a century.

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Frederick S. Holmes,


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He was born May 8, 1849 in Chicago and raised in Kenosha, Wis. Holmes arrived in Olympia Nov. 9, 1853 with his parents, Samuel and Mary. Only 25 years of age, he was the first Territorial Librarian to be appointed directly by the Governor. According Reynolds,

When Yantis vacated the position of librarian in 1875, members of the bar campaigned for Governor Elisha P. Ferry to reappoint Mossman to the post. Ferry, however, nominated Josiah H. Munson. The Legislative Council rejected Ferry's candidate-- a singular occurrence in Washington's history. Ferry then nominated Frederick S. Holmes, who was approved by the council and served until 1877. When Holmes resigned, he cited the pressure of personal business, but wrote, 'I have arranged with my successor to take charge after tomorrow.

Apparently some deal had been made with House Speaker Elwood Evans or the post was filled by some unknown acting-Librarian, as Reynolds adds,

In 1875, the legislature passed a joint resolution instructing Holmes to move the library from Tacoma Hall in downtown Olympia to its old quarters in the capitol building. Holmes apparently ignored the order, for the 1877 session again required the librarian to move the library back to the capitol within five days. Because Holmes was no longer librarian at the time of this order, Elwood Evans, the Speaker of the House who had signed the order, took over the post and obeyed what he had instructed himself to do.

Holmes worked as a bookkeeper and printer for the Washington Standard and later the Olympia Transcript. He tried his hand at the hardware and grocery businesses and eventually ran a fruit farm just northeast of Olympia. He died in April 1916.
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Elwood Evans,


photograph of Elwood Evans, Territorial Librarian of Washington 1877-1879

It is difficult to get away from Elwood Evans while reading about the political history of Washington Territory. Born in Philadelphia Dec. 29, 1828, he was appointed a Deputy Collector of Customs under Simpson P. Moses and arrived in Olympia with the Moses brothers in 1851. Admitted to the bar shortly after setting up shop, he became one of the Territory's earliest lawyers. His initial stay in Washington Territory was brief, in late 1852 he went to Washington, D.C. to campaign for the creation of a territory separate from Oregon. Evans served as an aide to Gov. Stevens during the overland expedition to Washington Territory in 1853, a party that included Bion Kendall. He served as the Chief Clerk of the House during the First Session (1854) and was later elected to fill an unexpired term of a House member. At the same time he filled the role of Thurston County School Superintendent.

An active member of the Whig Party, he led his colleagues into the newly formed Republican Party by the end of the 1850s. Although Evans and Kendall became political enemies, they were united in their hostility to Gov. Stevens and his declaration of martial law. In Jan. 1859 he was instrumental in the incorporation of Olympia and was elected the President (Mayor) 1859-1861. Although Evans lobbied hard for an appointment to the office of Governor, he was never successful. Yet he was frequently in a position to be Acting-Governor. He was made Territorial Secretary during the Lincoln Administration and assumed the right to select a public printer, and awarded the post to Olympian T.H. McElroy-- who, according to Robert Ficken, was "the public face in a printing business partly owned by Evans." He was no friend of Bion Kendall, and some historians have tried to implicate Evans as guilty by association in a murder conspiracy.

In 1868 he once again served as Chief Clerk in the House, and made valuable contributions in compiling the Code of 1869. He was elected to the House in the mid-1870s, rising to the office of Speaker. He apparently took over the office of Territorial Librarian simply to move the facility to the capitol campus (see above). It was during this time he seriously started compiling his history of the region, as Norman Clark observed, "Among the most literate of the territorial barristers, his experiences left him with an intense interest in the drama of those early years, and he had already presented manuscripts to the most enterprising historian of the West, H.H. Bancroft of San Francisco." After he completed his Librarian term, he moved to Tacoma. In 1881 he compiled, along with fellow past Librarian John Paul Judson, the Laws of Washington Territory. He was elected as a member of the First Session of the Washington State House. Evans died in The City of Destiny on Jan. 28, 1898.

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Walter W. Newlin,


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Born in Pennsylvania ca. 1841, Newlin was living and working in Olympia as early as 1870 as a lawyer. Appointed Territorial Librarian in Aug. 1879 by Gov. Ferry, his tenure was brief but eventful. With Newlin, we see the first glimmer of the kind of librarian we recognize in modern times. His Oct. 1, 1879 report laments the lack of a catalog and the poor facilities. He brought in new shelving since books were stacked out in the halls. Walter solicited donations from members of the legal community and government agencies in an effort to upgrade the collection. He also published a bound catalog of the Library's holdings in 1880, with this preface:

To the Profession:--Having no reliable data to go upon, the Librarian found great difficulty in distinguishing missing books from those which were never in the library, and marked as missing those where doubt existed. Those having missing books in their possession are earnestly requested to return the same, and information regarding any of them will be thankfully received.

By May 1880 he had been selected as the Register of the Land Office in Vancouver. His subsequent career took him to Walla Walla and King County. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney for King, Snohomish and Kitsap counties in 1888. He was accused of dismissing serious gambling indictments against brothers Frank and Charles Clancy during September of 1889, but was exonerated by a committee of the Washington State Bar Association. Walter Newlin died November 28, 1889 while visiting his mother in Denver, Colorado.

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James Peyre Ferry,


The son of Gov. Ferry, born Apr. 26, 1853 in Illinois, was no stranger to Olympia politics. Although it might be tempting to say his appointment to fill out the term of Newlin was the result of nepotism, he took the oath of office on May 19, 1880, which means he was probably named by the incoming Governor, William A. Newell. Ferry worked in the newspaper trade as a printer and compositor. He never married and always lived with family members. He died Nov. 23, 1914 in Seattle.

(Image of J. P. Ferry courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society)

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Eliza Des Saure Newell,


photograph of Eliza Newell, Territorial Librarian of Washington 1882-1887

The longest serving Librarian was born in 1853 in New Jersey. In 1882 her father, the eccentric William Augustus Newell, was the Governor. Gov. Newell had appointed his daughter Eleanor as his personal secretary. His other daughter, Eliza, he appointed to the post of Territorial Librarian. The Governor's nepotism forced the Legislature to change the Territorial laws regarding women in office. Maryan Reynolds picks up the story:

In 1881, Governor William A. Newell submitted his daughter's name for Territorial Librarian. The legislature responded by passing a bill establishing that 'Any person male or female over the age of twenty-one years shall be eligible to the office of Territorial Librarian and the word 'he' whenever contained in this act shall be construed to mean 'he' and 'she.'

Eliza Newell, Washington's first female Territorial Librarian, began her tenure on the first Monday in January 1882. Governor Watson C. Squire, Governor Newell's successor, reappointed her to the post in 1884. Eliza Newell had a wonderful way of wording when it came to official business. In her 1887 report to the Legislature she stated her need for a larger budget with this:

The appropriation for incidentals, is too small for the necessary expenses of the Library, which requires postoffice box, stationary, stamps, wrapping paper, twine, light, fuel, and expressage and porterage to be paid frequently for books to be sent to the Library. The shelves of the main Library are filled to dense packing, also those of the annex. The necessity for additional room is manifest to any observer, and I trust that suitable provision will be made to overcome the inconvenience to which the Library is now subjected, and to make provision for the large increase which may properly be expected. The Library now contains ten thousand volumes.

It seems Gov. Newell, famous for being eternally financially hard pressed, used the Library as his residence. According to historian Gordon Newell (apparently no relation):

Previous governors had been accustomed to rent office space for themselves in downtown Olympia, but the always financially embarrassed Newell took over the territorial library rooms in the capitol building to save that expense. When his daughter was out he frequently ambled from his inner sanctum to check out books for clients of the library, a charming example of territorial informality ...

At the end of her term, Eliza married Judge Mason Irwin. She died an untimely death on Dec. 16, 1891.
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Eleanor (Ellen) Sharp Stevenson,


 detail from a photograph of Ellen Stevenson, Territorial and State Librarian of Washington 1888-1890

She was the last Territorial Librarian and by default became the first State Librarian when Washington attained statehood on Nov. 11, 1889. Born July, 1848 in Logan County, Ky., she surfaced as a teacher in Olympia in 1882. In 1884 she was apparently teaching in Mason County. By 1886 Ellen was employed as a clerk for the Legislature and in that brief window of time (1883-1888) when women could vote in Washington (before legal challenges shut down the right), she ran unsuccessfully as a candidate from the radical People's Party for the office of Thurston County School Superintendent. She was appointed by Gov. Eugene Semple to the office of Territorial Librarian. In her 1888 report Ellen wrote:

There has been an allowance of $50 a year for the expenses of the Library. There may have been a time when this sum was sufficient, based on the business transacted by the office, yet, in the two years just passed, it has restricted the business of this office in every department-- limiting the correspondence, the shipping and receiving. It has made of the Librarian both porter and janitor, and necessitated working in cold rooms without fire.

Given the popularity of the current Washington State Library's massive collection of newspapers (on microfilm, hardcopy, and online), Stevenson was prophetic when she wrote, "Newspapers contain the history of the days' proceedings and will grow in value with the years." By 1897 she was living in Spokane where she ran a boarding house. Ellen appears to have lived in Spokane until at least 1915.

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