Bryant, Mrs. Charlotte V.

Mrs. Charlotte V. Bryant

Mrs. Charlotte V. Bryant succeeded Mrs. Henrietta E. Groesbeck as librarian of the Newton Public Library in August, 1907.[1]  Charlotte V. “Lottie” Harsha was born August 18, 1856 in Shellsburg, Iowa, the daughter of George and Diana (Harrington) Harsha.[2]  When she was just a month old, her mother passed away and very shortly after that she was legally adopted by her grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. James Harrington, of Sycamore, Illinois.[3]  She received her education in the Sycamore schools[4], and, on March 27, 1877, was married to Dr. Charles Bryant, of Sycamore.[5]  They remained there for several years, then moved to Southwest Iowa where Dr. Bryant practiced until his death.[6]  To this union was born a daughter, Claire, who passed away when she was 3 years old.[7]  After the death of her husband, Mrs. Bryant trained to be a librarian.[8]  When she became librarian at Newton she was “well known to many Iowa library workers as the successful and enthusiastic librarian of the Corning Library, where she was formerly a trustee.”[9]  Due to ill health and “the need of rest,” she was obliged to give up her work in Newton in 1916 and went to California “to spend a year with a friend in the mountains not far from Los Angeles.”[10]  In 1922, she returned to Sycamore, Illinois to reside, and for the last 14 years of her life she made her home with her cousin, Mrs. M. F. Carlson, who had been very attentive to her during her extended period of failing health.[11]  “The decedent was a great reader and spent the major part of her time among her books,” the local paper noted at the time of her passing.  “She was especially fond of poetry and could recite reams of it.  Her greatest affliction during her declining years was her failing eyesight, which deprived her of the joy of reading.”[12]  She died on December 29, 1945 at the local municipal hospital, “where she had been a patient for a couple of weeks.”[13]  “Mrs. Bryant had been suffering from a heart ailment for an extended period of time, her condition becoming more critical the past two weeks, due to her having a severe attack of the flu,” the local paper reported.[14]  Interment took place in the Bryant family lot at Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore.[15]  A “Report and Resolution,” unanimously adopted by the Library Board and published in the Newton Daily Journal, said of Mrs. Bryant, “During the nine years she has been with us she has been a most faithful and efficient public servant.  In that time our library has grown from less than five thousand volumes, until now we have nearly ten thousand, thus in a sense, doubling the work of the librarian.”  Furthermore, “So far as known to your committee she has carried out to the letter, every suggestion of the Board.  She has been most though[t]ful and painstaking in all branches of her work; most kind and considerate with all classes of the reading public.”[16]  Personally, Mrs. Bryant “possessed the finer qualities of character which won for her many warm friendships.”[17]  She was a member of the Newton Congregational Church.[18]

-Larry Ray Hurto


[1] The board decided to ask Miss Helen Bringman, “assistant to the librarian,” to take charge of the Newton Library during the month of July.  Special session of the Library Board, Newton, Iowa, June 15, 1907.  See also Iowa Library Quarterly, April-June, 1907, p. 156; The Newton Herald, July 5, 1907.

[2] The Sycamore Tribune, Sycamore, IL, January 4, 1946.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Illinois, Compiled Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2005.

[6] The Sycamore Tribune, January 4, 1946.  This writer could not find a death date for Dr. Charles W. Bryant.  The mention of his death appears in this obituary of Mrs. Bryant, but where it occurred and when is unknown.  He is not buried in the Bryant family lot at Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore, where her remains lie.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.  According to the Fourth Report of the Iowa Library Commission, 1906-1908 (Des Moines:  Emory H. English, State Printer, 1909), p. 11, Mrs. Bryant enrolled in the Summer Library School at the State University of Iowa in the summer of 1907.  This would account for the delay in her taking charge of the Newton Library.  The Newton Herald, July 5, 1907, said she was “taking up special work in the library school at Iowa City.”

[9] Iowa Library Quarterly, April-June, 1907, p. 156.  Mrs. Bryant was present at the special session of the Newton Library Board “to confer with the board in regard to the office of librarian, she being a candidate for the office made vacant by the resignation of Mrs Groesbeck.”  Special session of the Library Board, Newton, Iowa, June 15, 1907.  Iowa Library Quarterly, October, 1902, p. 72, lists Mrs. Lottie V. Bryant as Librarian of the Corning Library.

[10] Newton Daily Journal, October 25, 1916; Iowa Library Quarterly, July-September, 1916, p. 240.  On at least one occasion while she was librarian at Newton, it was reported that Mrs. Bryant returned from her summer vacation of more than a month’s duration “feeling greatly relieved over the betterment in her physical condition.”  Newton Daily Journal, July 25, 1914.  “She will go to California to remain several months and then expects to take up library work again in Iowa,” her retirement announcement said.  Ibid., August 3, 1916.  Her obituary said that she “went south for a few years.”  The Sycamore Tribune, January 4, 1946.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.  Dr. Stuart, Director of the Carnegie Libraries in Iowa Project, advises me that the library in Sycamore was also a Carnegie library.  Email, March 6, 2023, from Shana L. Stuart, Ph. D., MLIS, Director, Carnegie Libraries in Iowa Project (CLIP), School of Library and Information Science, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.

[13] The Sycamore Tribune, January 4, 1946.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Newton Daily Journal, September 30, 1916.  The committee was comprised of Delia B. Meredith, A. K. Lufkin, and Leah Myers.

[17] The Sycamore Tribune, January 4, 1946.

[18] Ibid.