Lincoln Public Library has digitized numerous historic images of the Beamsville, Vineland, Jordan and Campden areas. There is also a searchable index of many birth, death and marriage notices placed between approximately 1900 and 1961 in two local newspapers (the Beamsville Express and the Lincoln Post Express).
Have a Local History question?
History of the Local History Collection
Lincoln Public Library’s Local History Collection was established in 1981, when William F. Rannie, the editor of the Lincoln Post Express, recognized the need to collect printed material on the heritage of Beamsville and the former Townships of Clinton and Louth and to locate a central site to house this collection. Working alongside Barbara Troup, a member of both Council and the Library Board, the Lincoln History Club was founded.
The Local History Collection was the result of a partnership between the Lincoln Public Library and the Lincoln History Club. A request was made to the citizens of Lincoln for any material they would like to donate to the project. This material became the nucleus of the collection, which has grown over the years to provide a wide range of information for historians, genealogists and the general public interested in the history of the community.
Scope of the Collection
Lincoln Public Library’s Local History Collection consists of books (including directories, indexes, and family histories), documents, maps, photos, and oral histories on many topics, including:
• Area History
We also have Town of Lincoln documents, publications of the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society and High School yearbooks.
As well, we house some original documents, including:
• Registry Office deeds
• Minute books
• Tweedsmuir histories
We have microfilm of selected historic and current newspapers, including the Beamsville Express, Lincoln Post Express, West Niagara News, Grimsby/Lincoln News, and NewsNow.
You can print articles found on microfilm for 20 cents/page.
A Brief History of Lincoln Public Library
In 1852, the first library in what is now the Town of Lincoln was established in Louth Township. One year later, John B. Osborne started Clinton Township’s first library in the upper level of the Township Hall in Beamsville. Osborne paid for the upper storey as a lodge room, and made available a small room at the top of the stairs that had space for 200 books. These were small, under-funded libraries, and were not well-used.
In 1886, Moses F. Rittenhouse started a library in the Rittenhouse School in Vineland Station. He stocked it with over 500 books, two sets of encyclopedias, 20 bound periodicals, and 12 magazine subscriptions. Upon his death in 1915, the trustees of the library received $20,000 to endow the library and Victoria Hall. Fifty years later, when the school and Victoria Hall were expropriated for the Queen Elizabeth Way interchange at Victoria Avenue, sufficient money was on hand from the Rittenhouse Trust to build a new library in conjunction with tennis courts on First Avenue in Vineland Station.
In 1887, a Mechanics’ Institute was established in Beamsville to provide reading and self-improvement materials for the working man. The workers at the Gibson Quarry were some of its patrons. In 1915, Beamsville Village Council took responsibility for its funding and operation, and the Institute became a Public Library.
Beamsville’s library moved several times over the years; locations included a room above Riggins’ drug store, the Osborne Block, and the Stirling Block. It later moved back to the ground floor of the building where it started – the old Township Hall on Beam Street. In 1967, the libraries in Beamsville and Vineland Station joined to become the Clinton-Louth Union Public Library, which was renamed the Lincoln Public Library when the Town of Lincoln came into existence on January 1, 1970.
In 1973, following a community survey undertaken by the Chief Librarian at the time, Stan Skrzeszewski, a Jordan branch was established in the former Louth council chambers. In 1980-81 the Beamsville library underwent a renovation and expansion which doubled its size. In recognition of the ongoing support of the Fleming family, the building was named the Fleming Library. As the town of Lincoln grew, the tiny libraries in Vineland Station and Jordan could no longer meet users’ needs, and in 1996 the new Moses F. Rittenhouse Branch was built on Victoria Avenue in Vineland.
On June 21, 2014, when the new Community Complex in Beamsville opened its doors, a new phase in the Beamsville library’s 162-year history began. The project began in 2011 when the Town committed to build a new community complex on the site of the Beamsville Fairgrounds to replace the old arena and library. This facility would be in the midst of a new housing development.
The 7500-square-foot library shares space with an NHL-size rink, a walking track and community meeting rooms. Retaining the Fleming name thanks to a generous donation from the Fleming family, the new library has more space, more computers, more shelving, a larger seating area and an enclosed study room for quiet study or meetings.
As part of the fundraising campaign, members of the public were able to purchase a shelf to commemorate family or friends, and those names can be seen on the ends of the shelves.
Sources: Rannie, William F. Lincoln: The story of an Ontario town. Beamsville, 1974.
Lincoln Public Library. Scrapbook. (unpublished).
Other Heritage Sites
Town of Lincoln Museum & Cultural Centre
The Town of Lincoln’s Museum & Cultural Centre maintains an archives and research library.
This digital collection of primary source documents helps us to understand existence on the edges of the anglophone world from 1650-1920. Discover the various European and colonial frontier regions of North America, Africa and Australasia through documents that reveal the lives of settlers and indigenous peoples in these areas.
The Friends of Lincoln’s History
The Friends of Lincoln’s History operates an archives of materials relating to the history of the Town of Lincoln.
The Pennsylvania German Folklore Society’s Chapter of the Twenty
The Pennsylvania German Folklore Society’s Chapter of the Twenty, based in Lincoln, researches and promotes the culture and customs of the local Pennsylvania German community.
The Ontario Genealogical Society Niagara Peninsula Branch
The Ontario Genealogical Society Niagara Peninsula Branch serves those interested in family history of the area.
The Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid
The Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid is a searchable database with the surnames, cemetery names and locations of over three million interments from several thousand cemeteries, cairns, memorials, and cenotaphs in Ontario.
The Canadian Headstone Photo Project
The Canadian Headstone Photo Project includes numerous photos of local gravestones.
The County Atlas Digital Project
The County Atlas Digital Project includes 19th century maps of the area and a searchable database of the personal names that appear on the maps.
The Historical Topographic Map Digitization Project
The Historical Topographic Map Digitization project, initiated by the Ontario Council of University Libraries Geo Community, includes 1964 and 1973 maps of Beamsville.