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Profiles of Washington Territorial Librarians – Eliza Des Saure Newell, 1882-1887

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, State Library Collections, WSL 160 | Comments Off on Profiles of Washington Territorial Librarians – Eliza Des Saure Newell, 1882-1887


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Eliza Des Saure Newell

From the Desks of the Central Library Staff

Eliza Des Saure Newell, 1882-1887

The longest serving Territorial Librarian was born in 1853 in New Jersey. In 1882 her father, the eccentric William Augustus Newell, was the Governor. Gov. Newell had appointed his daughter Eleanor as his personal secretary. His other daughter, Eliza, he appointed to the post of Territorial Librarian. The Governor’s nepotism forced the Legislature to change the Territorial laws regarding women in office. Maryan Reynolds picks up the story:

In 1881, Governor William A. Newell submitted his daughter’s name for Territorial Librarian. The legislature responded by passing a bill establishing that ‘Any person male or female over the age of twenty-one years shall be eligible to the office of Territorial Librarian and the word ‘he’ whenever contained in this act shall be construed to mean ‘he’ and ‘she.’

Eliza Newell, Washington’s first female Territorial Librarian, began her tenure on the first Monday in January 1882. Governor Watson C. Squire, Governor Newell’s successor, reappointed her to the post in 1884. Eliza Newell had a wonderful way of wording when it came to official business. In her 1887 report to the Legislature she stated her need for a larger budget with this:

The appropriation for incidentals, is too small for the necessary expenses of the Library, which requires postoffice box, stationary, stamps, wrapping paper, twine, light, fuel, and expressage and porterage to be paid frequently for books to be sent to the Library. The shelves of the main Library are filled to dense packing, also those of the annex. The necessity for additional room is manifest to any observer, and I trust that suitable provision will be made to overcome the inconvenience to which the Library is now subjected, and to make provision for the large increase which may properly be expected. The Library now contains ten thousand volumes.

It seems Gov. Newell, famous for being eternally financially hard pressed, used the Library as his residence. According to historian Gordon Newell (apparently no relation):

Previous governors had been accustomed to rent office space for themselves in downtown Olympia, but the always financially embarrassed Newell took over the territorial library rooms in the capitol building to save that expense. When his daughter was out he frequently ambled from his inner sanctum to check out books for clients of the library, a charming example of territorial informality …

At the end of her term, Eliza married Judge Mason Irwin. She died an untimely death on Dec. 16, 1891.

Col. Patrick Henry Winston and the Statue of Limitations

Friday, September 13th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | Comments Off on Col. Patrick Henry Winston and the Statue of Limitations


Captain Patrick Henry Winston

Colonel Patrick Henry Winston

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library

The newspaper on microfilm reel grabbed at random this week holds a tale of “Colonel” Patrick Henry Winston and the Statue of Limitations. Yes, I meant to use the word “Statue” rather than “Statute.” You’ll see why.

“Colonel” Patrick Henry Winston, Jr. was born Aug. 22, 1847 in Windsor, North Carolina, the product of a family line that had also raised Patrick Henry, one of the great orators of the Revolution. Winston’s military rank was not bestowed by the Southern Army, nor was it an honorary title given by Kentucky. In any case he was indeed very briefly a soldier in the Confederacy during the last month of the Civil War. As it turned out, he was the sort of man who enjoyed embracing lost causes and relished the fight.

After being licensed to practice law in 1868, Winston seemed to have trouble finding a star to follow. Although he married and began a family that would eventually  number ten children, it took him 20 years to find a city to settle inРSpokane. And it took him even longer to find a political party to call home. First a Democrat, then a Republican, then a Democrat, then a Silver Republican, thenРafter a bit it becomes too complicated to follow his allegiances. In the end he was a member of Patrick Henry Winston Party. But by 1896 he was part of the Populist Fusion ticket that swept every statewide office in Washington and he was elected the State Attorney General.

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In addition to being politically active, Winston was a newspaperman. After his single term in office he started Winston’s Weekly, which ran 34 issues from Aug. 22, 1903 (Winston’s 56th birthday) to Apr. 9, 1904. To call it a newspaper is sort of misleading. Actually it was more of an ancestor to what we call blogs today. The paper gave him a forum to proclaim his views (such as advocating the U.S. takeover of Canada, or promoting the Right to Die), tell stories, and exhibit his devilish sense of humor.

John Rankin Rogers, who was elected Governor as part of the 1896 Populist sweep, switched to the Democratic Party in 1900 and was the only statewide incumbent to be re-elected. But only after less than a year into term two, he died in office Dec. 26, 1901. Soon there was talk of erecting a statue to honor the late Governor. Here’s how his former fellow Populist office-holder reacted to this news, Winston’s Weekly, Sept. 5, 1903:

THE ROGERS MONUMENT

Statue of Governor Rogers

Statue of Governor Rogers

“In all ages and in all lands monuments have been erected to perpetuate the memory of great deeds and great men.”

“The statue of Napoleon in his imperial robes surmounts the Vendome Column, that of Lord Nelson adorns Trafalgar Square, and a monument to the memory of Washington towers to the sky in the capital of the country of which he was the father. It is a beautiful custom, not only because it is a tribute to departed greatness and a grateful expression of popular gratitude, but because it is an object lesson calculated to inspire coming generations with lofty aspirations.”

“Happily for our country the names of many of her sons are worthy to be inscribed over the portals of immortal fame. Congress has provided a national pantheon in which may be placed by the states the statues of their illustrious dead, and in the Capitol grounds of many of the states there stand monuments erected by a grateful sovereignty to departed worth.”

“In selecting these subjects of a peoples gratitude and veneration the greatest care should be exercised lest what is now an honored and beautiful custom become one of derision and contempt.”

“The state of Illinois could with propriety erect a monument to Lincoln or Grant; Virginia to Washington, Jefferson, or Henry; Ohio to Wm. Tecumseh Sherman; Massachusetts to Samuel Adams; Pennsylvania to Benjamin Franklin; Oregon to Edward Baker; of Washington to General Isaac I. Stevens, her first governor, a brave pioneer, a distinguished statesman, and a gallant soldier.”

“Upon what theory is it proposed to erect a monument to perpetuate the memory of Governor Rogers? What was there in his life as a citizen or career as an office-holder to justify this greatest popular tribute? Except the fact that he happened to die in office, in what respect did his career differ from that of the ordinary run of governors? He was neither a statesman nor a soldier, nor a poet, nor an artist, nor an orator, nor an inventor, nor a discoverer, nor a philanthropist, nor a pioneer. Even as a druggist, which occupation he followed before entering the field of politics, he failed to make any revolution in the science of pharmacy, and although he wrote some ridiculous books which nobody remembers, he never took rank as an author. As a politician he failed to rise above the level of the every day populist politician of the Omaha platform school, beginning his political career by attacking corporations and ending it by soliciting railroad support. After posing as the champion of popular rights, when the opportunity came to go to the front in the fight against the merger, along with Governor Van Sant, he shrunk into pitiable littleness and played the role of a weak and nerveless trimmer.

Clip From the Winston Weekly“It has become fashionable for small minds to attach themselves to what they believe to be popular events and to make merchandise of them.”

“After the exhibition furnished by the last legislature it seemed that the limit of human folly had been reached and that nothing could ever happen again to shock the common sense of the average person in the state of Washington, but the proposition to erect a monument by public subscription to the late Governor Rogers proves that there is no limit to human folly. If the falling political fortunes of these parasites will be temporarily propped by being attached to the remains of John R. Rogers that is no reason why whole communities should be involved in their folly and great state made ridiculous.”

Winston's 1899 Biennial Report

Winston’s 1899 Biennial Report

Winston died Apr. 3, 1904, and his newspaper died with him, the final issue assembled as a printed memorial by his friends. The Rogers statue was unveiled a few months later on the Capitol grounds, known today as Sylvester Park in downtown Olympia. Historian Gordon Newell commented in his book Rogues, Buffoons & Statesmen (1975):

“The body of John Rankin Rogers was buried in his home town of Puyallup, but the school children of the state donated their pennies and nickels to pay for a very bad statue of a good man and the lifesized figure of a frock-coated Rogers stands to this day in Sylvester park, its back to the old gray sandstone statehouse and its face toward a high-rise luxury hotel across from what used to be Main street. Carved in the granite base is the creed of the old Populist … ‘I would prevent the poor from being utterly impoverished by the greedy and avaricious … the rich can take care of themselves.'”

The Washington State Library has a complete run of Winston’s Weekly available on microfilm including via interlibrary loan as well as Winston’s Biennial Reports as Washington State Attorney General.