Compiled by Marty Schuetz
The Life and Annuity Bldg
Life and Annuity Building: This building was built in 1909 for the L&A Asssociation. The business moved out in 1910 and the building was empty for many years It was purchased for the Masonic Hall in 1919. The front of the building has a chamfered corner entrance which is similar to the front of the original Morrill and Janes Bank Bldg.
The Morrill and Janes Bank and Trust Bldg.
Story Courtesy of the Morrill and Janes Bank and Trust Co.
In 1857 E.N. Morrill, a native of the state of Maine, organized a group known as The Maine Colony to settle in Kansas which had just been opened for settlement. E.N. Morrill represented this section of the USA in Congress 26 years after arriving in Hiawatha. And 12 years after that, he became governor of Kansas.
Going by rail to St. Louis, then by boat and wagon to St. Joseph, Missouri, the Maine Colony members loaded their belongings on a pack pony and came into Kansas on foot. They found the country fertile, grassy prairie land with rolling hills and creeks with patches of timber both beautiful and inviting for a place to become their home. The inhabitants were members of the Pottawatomie, Sac and Fox, Iowa and Kickapoo Indian Tribes and a few early settlers living in shacks, cabins and soddys along the creeks or in embryo settlements. This was a period of adventure and excitement in N.E. Kansas. On October 5, 1857, control of the newly organized Brown County passed into the hands of the Free State voters, giving impetus to new progress.
On January 2, 1871, Mr. Morrill, Mr. W.B. Barnett and Mr. Lorenzo Janes organized the banking house of Barnett, Morrill & Janes in a room over the stone drug store near the corner of Sixth and Oregon Streets. Capital for the venture was $1,500.00 provided by Morrill, who had profited from sale of Brown County land to the railroad, Barnett, who was a wealthy man in his own right, and Janes, who had been a merchant and a director of the First National Bank, St. Albans, Vermont.
In 1872 the total deposits of the bank were $32,000.00. W.B. Barnett and Lorenzo Janes retired from the bank in 1877. Barnett went back to Jacksonville, Florida where he organized the Barnett National Bank and Mr. Janes sold his interest to his son, Charles Janes. In 1887, the Morrill & Janes Bank, with capital stock of $100,000.00 received the very first charter as a state bank in Kansas, under which it continued through the century and into the 21st century to where we are today.
In 1900, the total deposits of the bank were $400,000.00 and in 1917 the Morrill & Janes Bank became a member of the Federal Reserve System. In 1962, the present Hiawatha Morrill & Janes Bank building was erected only a block and a half away from the bank’s original site. By a remarkable coincidence, it stands on the spot where Lorenzo Janes built his home when he first came to Hiawatha 153 years ago.
The Morrill Free Public Library
HIAWATHA EARLY LIBRARY HISTORY
In March, 1882, the Hon. Edmund Needham Morrill, Governor of Kansas, offered $2,000.00 to start a reading room and library in Hiawatha, provided that the city would rent a suitable room, pay for a librarian, and be responsible for other expenses. The library opened May 29, 1882, with 1,300 volumes. Morrill gave $300.00 a year for the purchase of books, and Charles H. Janes, his business partner, gave $500.00 and 200 books, and at his death left a legacy of $1,000.00 plus his private library to the Morrill Public Library.
THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY
Mayor D. F. Honstedt opened correspondence with Andrew Carnegie who offered $10,000.00 for a library building on April 10, 1906. The city then agreed to provide the necessary support of $1,000.00 to meet the pledge. E. N. Morrill donated a site at Oregon and Fifth Streets. M. N. Blair, of Falls City, Nebraska, was chosen as architect to design the building. The contract went to Victor Bauer, of Horton, Kansas.
Stone for the building was quarried locally, and brick was supplied by the Hiawatha Brick Plant. The cornerstone was laid August 29, 1906, and the building was opened May 29, 1907.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BUILDING
The building is rectangular, with a brick exterior above a raised basement of limestone. Twin Ionic columns flank the front door above which is a many-paneled window. Above the windows is surmounted a frieze with a decorative design, and the words "Carnegie Building / Morrill Free Library" are found in high relief above the frieze.
LATER LIBRARY HISTORY
In 1967, the library underwent a major renovation. A new front entrance was added, and the basement was remodeled to serve as the children's department. This doubled the amount of usable space in the library.
On May 29, 1982, Morrill Public Library celebrated the centennial of its founding and the 75th anniversary of the Carnegie building. The library also sponsored the reprinting of E. N. Morrill's 1876 History of Brown County, Kansas, as part of the centennial activities.
Substantial endowments have been made through the years by or in memory of Charles H. Janes, Caroline Morrill, Pratt Brison, John B. Richardson, Mrs. Regina A. Chamberlin, Grace Morrill Dixon, Louis Robinson, George Johannes (who donated a farm), and Paul Bruning (a substantial benefactor in 1980).
DESCRIPTION OF A CARNEGIE LIBRARY
A Carnegie library is a library built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. More than 2,500 Carnegie libraries were built, including some belonging to public and university library systems.
Of the 2,509 such libraries funded between 1883 and 1929, 1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in Britain and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, the Caribbean, and Fiji.
Very few towns that requested a grant and agreed to his terms were refused. When the last grant was made in 1919, there were 3,500 libraries in the United States, nearly half of them built with construction grants paid by Carnegie.