Brief History of Morrisson-Reeves Library

Morrisson-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana is one of the oldest public libraries in the state. It opened in 1864, long before similar sized communities acquired such facilities through the help of Andrew Carnegie. Richmond's benefactor was one of its earliest prominent citizens, Robert Morrisson.

The new city of Richmond made several attempts to establish a library prior to 1864. As early as 1822 notices appeared from time to time in the local newspapers announcing meetings of various library boards, shareholders, and the like. In 1855 Wayne Township established a library with township funds and contributions (including $500 from Robert Morrisson). Located on the third floor of the Wiggins building, near 5th and Main, it was open only five hours a week. 

Robert Morrisson came from North Carolina to Richmond in 1810 when the town was still a collection of log cabins. As so many others who migrated to this area during this period, he was a Quaker. He had no assets when he arrived, but he engaged in numerous businesses over the years, including a tannery and general store, becoming a wealthy man in the process. In 1818 he was appointed Richmond's first postmaster, and in 1853 he formed the Citizen's Bank with two associates. His philanthropic endeavors were well known even before his gift of the library, and during the Civil War he spent a great deal of money to aid the families of Union soldiers.