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Profiles of Washington Territorial Librarians- Woodruff, Chapman, Shelton and Mabie 1866-1870


Headstone of Jeremiah D. Mabie, Masonic Memorial Park, Tumwater

Samuel Nelson Woodruff, 1866

He was born Mar. 6, 1829 in Ohio. His journal during the 1852 overland trip to Olympia is now in the University of Washington’s collection. He married Samantha Packwood in Feb. 1854 and set himself up as a farmer. Woodruff was listed as “Town Marshall” in a July 1864 edition of the Pacific Tribune, an early territorial paper out of Olympia. His year-long term as Territorial Librarian was not completed. It would appear Woodruff resigned his office, moved back to his native state, and was divorced by Samantha– in that order. He remarried in Jan. 1869. Woodruff died Jan. 18, 1896 in New Lyme, Ohio.

Henry Lensen Chapman, 1866

Woodruff’s term was apparently completed by his brother-in-law, H.L. Chapman, although no record of an oath of office exists. Henry was born July 26, 1831 in Ohio. He was a member of Woodruff’s party on the Oregon Trail in 1852. Chapman operated a flour and feed store and warehouse on Olympia’s Main Street wharf. Prior to his Sept. 1, 1866 appointment as Territorial Librarian by Gov. Pickering, he was a Justice of the Peace. In 1870-1871 he is listed as an employee in the office of the Surveyor-General of Washington Territory. Chapman and his family moved to Oakland, Calif. in 1877, where he died Jan. 20, 1902.

Levi Shelton, 1867-1869

The first of the biennial appointments for the job, being Territorial Librarian was just one of the many posts held by Shelton. He was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina in 1817 and lived in Missouri by the 1840s. Arriving in Washington Territory Aug. 7, 1852, he quickly dove into public life. An active Democrat, Shelton was elected to the Thurston County Commission in 1854, and served as a member of the Territorial House during the 7th Session in 1859. He was elected as an Olympia Trustee (City Council) in 1870 and served as the Council (Senate) Sergeant of Arms in 1873. After he retired from farming he became a saloon keeper. Shelton died in Olympia in August, 1878.

Jeremiah D. Mabie, 1869-1870

Upstate New York native Mabie was born ca. 1828. He was raised in Illinois, and came to Olympia with his father and brother in the 1850s. Mabie’s occupation is listed as “Speculator” in the 1870 census, but he was apparently counted in his final days. He died three quarters of the way into his term as Territorial Librarian, June 15, 1870 of consumption, aged 39.

[The Territorial Librarian profiles were compiled by Sean Lanksbury, Mary Schaff, Kim Smeenk, and Steve Willis]

(Attached, an image of Mabie’s headstone, Masonic Memorial Park, Tumwater)

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