The Coal Creek Library

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"And now, as to how I started the first library in Kansas. The Cutter folks, free-staters from Lowell, Mass., were neighbors of ours and I almost lived at their house. It was the winter that brother Silas went East on that John Brown business, '59, I think, and we were very dull, nothing going on but dances and, being Puritanical folks, we were not allowed to go to them. So I suggested that we get up a library and I called a meeting of all the young folks and we organized the 'Cole Creek Library Association.' We gave 50 cents apiece, raised $10 and sent to Philadelphia for books, and one of them was 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'  Later we gave a supper, raised $50 and got more books. That library is yet running and Miss Martha Cutter Kelley, a descendant of the original Cutter family in whose home it originated, is the librarian. It has more than 2,000 books now. Historians say it was the first library in Kansas. I had a letter last week from an old lady in Pueblo who was in our first organization, saying how that library helped her when she was a girl."

Anne Julia Soule Prentiss, from The Kansas City Star, Jan 13, 1929:   "She Looks Back Seventy Five Years to the Founding of Lawrence" by A.B. MacDonald

Coal Creek Library            The Kelley Sisters

                          The Coal Creek Library                        The Kelley Sisters:  Martha, Edith, Katharine and Anne 


The Coal Creek Library is located in the village of Vinland, Kansas, 7 miles south of Lawrence on E 1700 Road, and 4 miles north of Baldwin City. Martha Cutter Kelley Smith, pictured on the left, has been librarian of the Coal Creek Library since August of 1926. As recently as October of 2011, at age 106, she opened the library for visitors on a Sunday afternoon. Martha passed away January 24, 2014, age 108. Her sisters, Edith Strom, Katharine Benson Kelley,  and Anne Elizabeth Hemphill  preceded her in death, aged 84, 96 and 93 respectively, in the opposite order of their birth.

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