The Levi Parsons' Library

 Library Reading Room on South Main Street, Professor Adolf Peck leans against the counter. (Source: Library Archives)

Library Reading Room on South Main Street, Professor Adolf Peck leans against the counter. (Source: Library Archives)

Judge Levi Parsons

 Judge Levi Parsons

Judge Levi Parsons

Levi Parsons attended the Kingsboro Academy (currently the Fulton County Musuem) in his youth and intended to enter Union College, but for some reason he abandoned the plan. In 1844 he began to study law in the office of Judge George Yost in Johnstown. Judge Parsons was admitted to the bar in 1847 and practiced his profession for a short time in Little Falls.

After the discovery of gold in California, he moved there in 1849. He entered San Francisco with $8.50 in his pocket and started digging for gold. His career as a miner was brief. Returning to the city of San Francisco, he joined a group of men who founded the Whig party. He practiced law and in 1850 was appointed the first judge of the Supreme Court in San Francisco.

Through various business ventures he accumulated a large fortune and invested the money in railroad projects. Judge Parsons was the principle promoter and first president of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad, the first railroad in Texas. The railroad center in Parsons, Kansas was named for him when it was founded in 1871.

The Levi Parsons' LIbrary of Gloversville and Kingsboro

During a visit to his native Kingsboro, Mr. Parsons remarked to Dr. Eugene Beach that he would donate $5,000 for a public library, providing the citizens would subscribe an equal amount.

The Levi Parsons Library of Gloversville and Kingsboro was incorporated under the laws of New York State on June 15, 1880. The total amount donated by the Judge was $6,800 in addition to $1,000 worth of valuable books, engravings and manuscripts. More than $8,000 was subscribed by local citizens. Still, it was not a free association or public library, and a year's membership cost $2 per person.

The board of directors consisted of the president of the village of Kingsboro, the principal of the public school and the pastors of the six churches in Gloversville and Johnstown as ex-officio members with twelve additional directors elected to carry out the various duties.

 Professor Adolph Peck

Professor Adolph Peck

Professor Adolph Peck, the library's first professional librarian, was born in Vienna, Austria in 1847 as the son of a linen manufacturer. He studied law at the Unviersity of Vienna, and then made his way to New York City in 1869. After six months there he met Mr. Frank Pauley who persuaded him to move to Gloversville and work in his glove factory. Mr. Peck did not adapt well to the business life and soon began to give private lessons in German and the Classics. Eventually he left the factory and devoted all of his time to teaching in Gloversville, Johnstown and Broadalbin.

In 1874 he was appointed to a position as teacher of language, math and science at the Gloversville public school, and held the position for 14 years. In 1876, he married Clara Sperling. When the Levi Parsons Library of Gloversville and Kingsboro was founded in 1880, Professor Peck was appointed librarian and began his duties on August 1, 1880. A printed catalog of books was issued, and the library was opened to the public during the afternoons and evenings.

The orginial quarters, in a room over the Manufacturers' and Merchants Bank in the Wood Block on South Main Street, were inadequate for library use and Lucius N. Littauer offered rooms in his block on South Main Street, rent free for one year. The Library remained there until 1905.

During the 1880s the library suffered a series of financial reverses because library membership was not free and most working class people couldn't afford it. Finally, the threat of bankruptcy necessitated an appeal to the public and $4,000 was raised.

 A card from the Levi Parsons' Library

A card from the Levi Parsons' Library

Change from a subscription to a free association library was also made. The annual membership dues were replaced with community support for the benefit of all residents and established the Gloversville Free Library in 1888 with a whole new class of regular readers.

In addition to being the library's inital financier, Judge Parsons donated $5,000 for the support of students from Fulton and Montgomery counties who attended Union College. The scholarship still exists today.