Profiles of Washington Territorial Librarians – Isaac Van Dorsey Mossman, 1870-1873
Isaac Van Dorsey Mossman, 1870-1873
From the Desks of the Central Library Staff
“We doubt not,” said the Daily Pacific Tribune, “that Mr. Mossman will make an efficient and faithful librarian” when the fourth Territorial Librarian for the year 1870 was named. He was born Aug. 8, 1830 in Centerville, Indiana. Mossman arrived in Oregon City Oct. 20, 1853 as part of the Miller Party. Isaac took part in the 1855-1856 Indian War, holding the rank of Corporal and fighting in the Columbia Gorge and east of the Cascades theater where he was wounded in 1856. For the next few years he held a series of odd jobs in Oregon and Washington, including running a pony express business in the Walla Walla area.
He came to Olympia in 1867 and found employment with the city’s Street Superintendent. Appointed Territorial Librarian by the Governor Nov. 7, 1870. While still in office of Librarian, he was elected Thurston County Coroner in 1872 and Olympia Marshall in 1873. In 1877 he worked as a Sergeant of Arms in the Legislature. By 1879 his poor health forced him to retire from public life, and he made a living by light work and running a used furniture store. Mossman left Olympia for Oakland, California in 1890 and eventually moved to Portland late in life. He died Oct. 11, 1912 in a Roseburg, Oregon soldiers’ home.
Mossman’s autobiographical work, A Pony Expressman’s Recollections, is part of the WSL collection. In this role you could say he was an early promoter of rapid information delivery.
[The Territorial Librarian profiles were compiled by Sean Lanksbury, Mary Schaff, Kim Smeenk, and Steve Willis]
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