By the turn of the century, the residents of North Ontario (numbering approximately 1000 people) were starting to tire of their Ontario associations. Though linked to Ontario geographically, mainly by Euclid Avenue, North Ontario had many of their own public services like a Fire Department and Police Department. These were funded solely by the residents of North Ontario without any help from their southern counterparts, who had their own public services, including a public library established in 1885.
Lacking any library service north of what is now Foothill Boulevard (the Ontario Carnegie was located just north of what is now Holt) the residents of North Ontario met in April 1900 to discuss the possibility of starting their own library, keeping in mind that they could not “let our children grow up without books.” The group of concerned citizens met at the home of Col. F. W. Hart at the behest of Mrs. Hart.
The Colonel Hart and his wife (name unknown) moved from Ontario to North Ontario in September of 1894. There is no information available regarding the wife of Col. Hart, although much is known of Hart himself. When the couple moved to North Ontario in 1894, Hart swiftly established himself as a businessman dealing with law, real estate and loans. An ad in the October, 1894 edition of the Observer says “He [Hart] has the highest commendations from the state officials and other prominent citizens of Iowa which are an assurance that Ontario has in him not only an able lawyer, but a valuable citizen.” It would seem, from this description, that the Hart family was most likely well respected and relatively wealthy, giving Mrs. Hart the time and opportunity to engage in community affairs such as the creation of a city library. In 1896 another ad notes that Hart has “a flourishing real estate business” and “is doing much to bring that particular portion of our settlement [North Ontario] into prominence.” (Observer Special Edition). As wife of a prominent citizen, Mrs. Hart was undoubtedly expected to join committees and contribute to the community. It is not a great reach to envision Mrs. Hart opening her home to a group of interested residents in hopes of strengthening their community for this children and their future.
In June 1903 the library was forced to move across the street to the east side of 2nd avenue, north of “Ainsle’s studio.” Though several sources mention Ainsle as the location, there is no record of a business existing under this name during this time frame. It is possible that Ainsle was the owner of the space. The rent at this location was $100.00 a year. In 1904 Miss Hattie Holyland took over librarian duties and Frances McCormick took over in 1906. It is unclear whether any of these women: Williams, Holyland or McCormick had any formal library training. In 1904 or 1905 the library was circulating 450 volumes and a “large number of magazines and periodicals.” (Ingersoll, 1967). The library was now open every day except Sunday and books were donated by the community or purchased using the monies made from the check-out charge. In 1904/05 the library board included: M. F. Palmer; President and Mrs. Alice Leonard; Secretary. Cameron (1931, p.35) notes that visitors had to pay 50 cents to check out a book. That money was used to pay McCormick’s salary in 1906.
In 1907 the library was forced to move once again when the block of 2nd avenue was purchased for other purposes. The library was relocated to the “living room in a private home located near the Ruedy building.” As this third space is wholly undocumented, I cannot say with certainty whose home housed the library. However, the 1907 and 1908 editions of News Notes of California Libraries, which published information, circulation statistics and number of subscribers of California libraries, lists “Mrs. C. T. McCulluh” as the librarian of the (newly incorporated) Upland Public Library. I posit that the library was moved into the McCulluh home when the 2nd avenue block was bought out by the city. C. T. McCulluh was Charles Thomas McCulloch (different spellings), manager of Camp Baldy. His wife’s name was Adda Barron McCulloch. According to both obituaries (Charles, 1923 and Adda, 1947), the couple worked together at Camp Baldy for several years after arriving in North Ontario in 1901. As manager of Camp Baldy McCulloch would have been a prominent member of Upland society. I can think of no other reason why News Notes would have a McCulluh listed as “librarian.” The listing in News Notes also says the library has one employee who keeps the library open to the public on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights from 7-8pm, and two hours on Saturday afternoon. It lists the total number of items at 530 with total card holders at 77. In January, February and March of 1907 the circulation was 207. Popular books included The Crisis and The Virginian. An entry from May, 1908 notes that “Miss Alena Brown has presented the library with a history of the world in 32 volumes.”