Tuesday, July 06, 2010

First library west of the Genesee

Your blogger is known to go birding from time to time, and has visited Oatka Creek Park several times. The park is located in southern Monroe County, the town of Wheatland. Some old building structures there, and the name of the hamlet the park is in, Garbutt, prompted a recollection of an old local history book, History of the Town of Wheatland by Schmidt. On looking at Drake's copy of the book in our local history collection, I was reminded that the first library west of the Genesee was in this little hamlet!

It was The Farmer's Library, founded in 1805, early pioneer days in western NY. John Garbutt, one of a prominent local family, walked from Wheatland to Canadaigua and back, to Myron Holley's store, to buy the first books for the library. One of the titles was a 2 volume geography, Morse's Universal Geography, by Jedidiah Morse, an important early American geographer. (An example of the set is pictured here.) In latter years part of the collection went into forming the Scottsville Library, and another part remained with the Garbutt family and were donated to the University of Rochester's rare book division in the 1940s. There is a good article on the collection and the library here, from the 1946 University of Rochester Library Bulletin.

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