CLINTON, Ill. (WCIA) – It’s a window that makes Clinton what it is today and it’s a window that you can still look through right now. All through the pages of historic books in Our Town Clinton.
They were donated by one of the first settlers in Clinton. And it wasn’t just a few. C.H. Moore donated more than 6,000 books when he passed away in the early 1900’s. Many of which are still inside the public library right now.
“What’s terrifying to me is this book circulated so people could just check it out,” Bobbi Perryman, the Library Executive Director, said.
Inside the original public library, under lock and key, sits a collection of books that started the Vespasian Warner Public Library.
“C.H. Moore, Clifton Moore, was a Clinton resident in the 1800s. He was a very wealthy man as an attorney and a land speculator, and he was an avid book collector,” Perryman said. “When he passed away in 1901, he actually left his collection of books to the City of Clinton for a public library. We had no public library before that time.”
He didn’t leave just five or even ten books. He left thousands of books dating all the way back to the 1600’s. On topics ranging from Illinois history, to hypnotism.
“It’s interesting to see what he was interested in and the people in that time period in Illinois were interested in, because we can learn a lot from the kind of things they liked,” she said.
And he left a book that’s even more special than the rest.
“We call it one of the jewels of our collection. It’s a book called types of mankind. The book itself is actually horrible. It’s about eugenics, but Moore got it just because he collected basically everything. But Abraham Lincoln, also a veracious reader, would frequently borrow books from C.H. Moore and that was one of the books he borrowed,” she said. “He actually was using it as research for a court case he was working on.”
How do they know Lincoln borrowed the book?
Because inside the cover, Lincoln wrote the owner and location of the book. So, if it ever got lost while he was traveling, it could be returned to its owner. That book, and the entire collection, is something the people in Our Town Clinton said is an honor to have.
“It’s a great sense of pride that we have them. As a librarian, who also has a history degree, I just love being around old things and just knowing this is something physical that someone touched that was important to them, and being able to touch it as well, it’s very meaningful,” she said.
These books aren’t on display, at least not anymore, but you can call the library to see the collection. And you too can take a look through the window to the past.