The Hon. John Gilbert’s ashes are by the door of the library.

On May 11, 1916, the Gilbert Public Library in Friend was officially opened. This occasion will be celebrated with an open house including punch and cookies at the library on May 7 from 9 a.m. to noon, during the library’s regular hours.

The Friend Sentinels of 1915 and 1916 chronicled the library’s journey in this way:

Jan. 21, 1915 – Four persons have subscribed the first thousand dollars. Mr. Gilbert, we are assured, is ready to do his part in the erection of the building as soon as the site is secured. Eighteen hundred dollars is the price of the site.

April 1, 1915 – The building will be 27 x 62 feet facing south. It will be one story with full basement and strictly modern. The building is to be located on the Hoyt corner opposite the Congregational Church which is an ideal place for such a building.

May 4, 1916 – Library Opening

7:30 Band Concert

8:00 Program from front steps:

A. McFarlane Chairman

B. F. Barth – “Needs of our Library”

Dr. H.H. Price – “Benefits of our Library”

J.W. Gilbert – “Presentation of the Building”

C.E. Bowlby – “Acceptance for City”

May 18, 1916 – The handsome $8,000 Library Building of which we have given a description several times, was presented to the people of Friend by its donator J. W. Gilbert last Thursday evening.

Fully a 1,000 peoples gathered in front of the building to hear the band music and addresses. When Mr. Gilbert appeared the crowd immediately gave him perfect attention in an effort to get every word he uttered. He made a few historical remarks and told the young people that his hope is that they will take advantage of this gift to enrich their minds.

In closing he said – “Mr. Mayor, unlock those doors, throw them open – the Library belongs to the people.”

John Gilbert’s ashes reside in the library in the entryway. The inscription says: Here repose the ashes of Hon. John W. Gilbert born July 31, 1840 a pioneer and worthy citizen whose ethics were to do good to his fellow man died without hope or fear March 12, 1922.

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