The Ovid Free Library was started in a very unique way. During Memorial Day services in Union Cemetery in 1898, Mrs. H. A. Porter made the suggestion to Mrs. Cyrus Kinne that the people of Ovid should have a library. With the aid of Mrs. C. E. Garnett and Mrs. G. B. Bristol, a meeting of interested citizens was held on May 20, 1899, in Columbus Hall which was then the old Catholic Church. Attorney Benjamin Franklin was elected Chairman and Dr. G. B. Bristol, Secretary. At this meeting. Attorney F. C. Alien, Mrs. G. B. Bristol, Mrs. C. E. Kinne, Msgr. Hendricks, Mrs. H. A. Porter and Rev. Wesley Mason were appointed as a committee to secure members for the library association. The membership fee was one dollar.
A constitution, modeled after the form suggested by the Board of Regents, was adopted. Five trustees were elected: Attorney Benjamin Franklin, Mrs. C. E. Garnett, Attorney F. C. Alien, Mrs. C. E. Kinne and Dr. Eugene Finnegan.
The Charter from the University of the State of New York was granted on December 21, 1899, to the Ovid Free Library, which now [in 1962] becomes the Edith B. Ford Memorial Library.
The library was placed in the Gazette Office which was then in the James French home. In 1905, it was moved into the County Clerk’s office next to the Court House. It was meagerly furnished until a gift of suitable furniture and floor covering was made by Mrs. Jeanette Doig Benedict in memory of her sister, Christine Doig. The library remained in its Court House Hill location until February, 1962, when, with the help of the Lions Club, it was moved into the new building.
Mrs. C. E. Garnett, a teacher in the Ovid school, was the first librarian. She was assisted by Blanche Gilgen Purcell. After five years, Mrs. C. E. Kinne succeeded Mrs. Garnett and carried on the work until 1920. Both Mrs. Garnett and Mrs. Kinne gave freely of their time without remuneration, for the good the books might do.
Mrs. Eugene Reigle next served as librarian for thirteen years. After her retirement the work was carried on by the following librarians: Mrs. Edward Hawkins, Robert J. Purdy Jr., Mrs. W. E, Clarke, Mrs. Henry Morris Sr., Mrs. James Murphy, Miss Libbie Kinnan and the present librarians [in 1962], Mr. and Mrs. Henry Morris Jr., assisted by many willing helpers.
Among those who served many years as Trustees of the library were Attorney Benjamin Franklin, thirty-six years; Mrs. U. N. Wilson, twenty-nine years; Mrs. Patrick Savage, thirty-three years; Prof. J. L. Walthart, twelve years; Miss Clara Purdy, fifteen years; and Dr. John G. Gordon, fifteen years. The present trustees [in 1962] are Dr. James W. Brownell, Miss Nellie Riley, Mr. Ralph Coryell, Mrs. Roscoe C. Alien and Mrs. Freligh Jones.
During the years, gifts of money and books have been made to the library. In 1951, the interior of the building was painted by the men of the Ovid Fire Department. The Lions Club has also been most helpful.
In 1961, our library became a member of the Finger Lakes Library System. This helps us to offer to the public a larger selection of books and makes available films and records for use by organizations in the community.
In respect to the wishes of Dr. Walter B. Ford, the donor, no formal dedication ceremony is being held. It is with deep gratitude to Dr. Ford that visitors are presented this souvenir booklet describing our beautiful building.
Robert J. Purdy, Chairman
George H. Lynd, Co-Chairman
William R Clark, Treasurer
Mr. John C. Ehrlich, Geneva, N. Y.
Brown & Hoyt Co., Canandaigua, N. Y.
Woodwork and Furniture
Walkerbilt Woodwork, Inc., Penn Yan, N. Y.
Superior Supply Co., Cleveland, Ohio
Dr. James W. Brownell, President
Mrs. Roscoe C. Allen, First Vice-President
Miss Nellie Riley, Second Vice-President
Mr. Ralph L. Coryell, Treasurer
Mrs. Freligh Jones, Secretary
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Morris Jr.