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160 celebration: Priest Point Mythbusting


[One bit of folklore concerning the Washington State Library Territorial Collection has to do with the original source of ownership for a dozen books, mostly vellum bound and chiefly dating back to the 1500s. When old catalogers gather around the campfire at night, they tell tales of the ancient books in WSL that were initially part of the library at the Catholic Mission in Priests Point, in north Olympia. And if this is fact, these library books predate all others in the Territorial Collection for length of Washington residency.

The WSL Manuscripts Collection includes an essay by educator L.M. Dimmitt entitled The Story of Priests’ Point, written in 1932. When WSL Diane Hutchins began to research the history of the Territorial Collection, she felt compelled to include the following note with Dimmitt’s piece. This effort earns her a Mythbusters medal. Here are her notes]


Notes regarding the titles mentioned on pages six and seven of “The Story of Priests’ Point” by L.M. Dimmitt (MS 354)

The Dimmitt article states on page six, “[w]ith the passing of St. Joseph d’Olympia the first spark of the old world culture to reach the Puget Sound country slipped from sight.  In recent years, from some unknown source [emphasis mine], many of the fine old books, some velum [sic] bound, have found their way into the State Library.”  The implication may be that these books had come from the old Mission.  When this article was written (1932), the detailed receipts generated by the purchase by Isaac Stevens of materials for the Territorial Library had not yet been microfilmed.  (This was not done by the National Archives until 1960.  This microfilm, covering book purchases made by Isaac Stevens in 1853, 1854, and 1855, may be found in the WSL collection.  The call number is NW MICRO 027.5797 UNITED 1960.)  Among those receipts is a four-page itemized list compiled by Charles B. Norton on June 8, 1854, and paid (“Voucher no 7”) by Isaac Stevens on August 30, 1854, in New York City.  On one of the margins of this voucher is the statement “I certify on honor that the above account is correct & just, and that I have actually, this thirtieth day of August 1854 paid the amt. thereof.  Isaac I. Stevens, Gov. Wash. Terr.”  Many titles in Latin, French, and Spanish appear in the list.  As demonstrated in the following table, all of the titles mentioned on pages six and seven of the Dimmitt article were included in the 1854 purchase.

Origin of Books Mentioned in “The Story of Priests’ Point” by L.M. Dimmitt
Title in Dimmitt Article: Title on 1854 Norton Bill of Sale: Cost in 1854: Title in January 8, 1856 Report of the Territorial Librarian: Title in WSL Catalog: Call #:
Petri Martyris Petri Martyris de rebus Oceania [sic] $3.00 “Martyr, Works of” [?] Petri Martyris ab Angleria, Mediolanen… T OV 920 P
Benedette Bordone Isolario Isolario de Bordone $5.00 Bordone, Isolarie, Isolario di Benedetto Bordone nel qual si ragiona di tutte l’isole del mondo… T OV 910 fB64
Novus Orbis Regionum Varie Auctores de Novo Orbe $4.25 Vary, Authores de Nore de Orbe, Novvs [Novus] orbis regionvm [regionum] ac insvlarvm [insularum]… T OV 910 qN85
Pedanii Dioscoridi Pedanii Discorididis [sic] $3.75 Pedanii, Discoridi, Pedanii Dioscoridis Anazarbei… T 615 D63
de Procuranda Indorum Salute A Costus [?] de Natura Novi Orbis $5.00 Foquel, De Procuranda Salute Indorum Iosephi [Josephi] A Costa, Societatis Iesu [Jesu], De natura Noui [Novi] Orbis…De procuranda Indorum salute… Salmanticae:  Apud Guillelmum Foquel, 1588 T 910 Ac7i
Burgundo, Joanne Lerio.  Historia Navigatoonis in Brasiliam Historia Navigationis in Brasiliam $1.50 Burgunde, Navigationis Braseliam, Historia navigationis in Brasiliam qvae [quae] et America dicitvr [dicitur]… T 910 B91
Iosephi a Costa.  Societatis Iesu De Procuranda Salvte [?] Indorum $5.00 [cannot identify] De Natuvra [Natura] Novi Orbis Libri Dvo [Duo]… Coloniae Agrippinae, :  In officina Birckmannica, sumptibus Arnoldi Mylij., 1596 T 910 Ac7
Baptiste de Tertre, Iean Historic generale, des isles des Christophe, de la Guadeloupe Historie des Isles des Christophe $2.75 Baptiste, Historie des Isles Christophe Histoire generale des isles de S. Christophe, de la Gvadelovpe [Guadeloupe] de la Martiniqve [Martinique],… T 972.9 T27
A treatise of the laws of travelers of the sea.  V. I & II.  French…printed by Isac Van der Kloot Entretiens des Voyguers [sic] sur la mer 2 v. $1.25 [cannot identify] Les entretiens des voyageurs sur la mer T 272.4 EN8 v1-2      T 272.4 EN8 v3-4
Guterrez de Pubalcova – Don Joseph Tratado historico, politico y legal Tratado de las Indias Ocadentales [sic] $2.50 Rubalcava, Commercie de Indias, Tratado historico, politico, y legal de el comercio de las Indias occidentales… T 972.9 G98
A Las Universidades De Espanee y De La America Con licencia Cigola [sic] Carters [sic] etc. $2.00 Geronymo, Cartas, Cartas al ilmô, y rmô p. mrô f. Benito Geronymo Feyjoô Montenegro… T 180 C48
Voyage of the Magellans 1579-1580…In Spanish. Voyage de Magallanes [sic] $4.25 Sarmiento, Viage al Estreche de Magellanes, Viage al estrecho de Magallanes por el capitan Pedro Sarmiento… T 910.4 G14

Origin of Books Mentioned in “The Story of Priests’ Point” by L.M. Dimmitt

Research and notes by:  Diane Hutchins, Program Manager for Preservation and Access Services, Washington State Library.   11 September 2007.

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