Gracing the west side of the steps to the library is a George Lundeen sculpture, “Classics”, made possible by a generous bequest of Harriet L. Shrieves.
Mrs. Shrieves died Aug. 21, 1998, and she and her husband, Sheldon, were closely involved with and supporters of many of the area’s cultural institutions, including the library.
Her husband’s aunts, Dr. Elizabeth Shrieves and Emma Willard Shrieves, both served on the library board of trustees in 1904 at the time of the construction and opening of the original Carnegie grant library.
It is in memory and in honor of the contributions of the Shrieves family to this institution in the 20th century that the library board of trustees dedicates this statue to library patrons in the 21st century and beyond.
The Shrieves Family
The Shrieves family came to Wilmington from upper New York State in 1872. They were William Randoph Shrieves and Esther Ann Burnett Shrieves the mother and father of seven children four of whom survived: Esther who married and moved to California;
Emma Willard Shrieves, one of those honored by the sculpture; Dr. Elizabeth R. Shrieves, another of those honored; Dr. Edwin Shrieves who became a dentist and married Reba Unthank, daughter of the President of Wilmington College and whose only son, Sheldon Shrieves, is also honored; and Harriet Lawhead Shrieves, the wife of Sheldon Shrieves.
Perhaps the best known of the Shrieves family was Dr. Elizabeth Shrieves. She graduated from Wilmington High School in 1882 and Wilmington College in 1884. After teaching for a while in the county and at Main School, she graduated form Laurn Memorial Medical College of Cincinnati in 1899 and set up practice in Wilmington in 1901.
She was a member of the Wilmington Library Association, a group of DAR members, who were responsible for obtaining a grant from Andrew Carnegie and founding the library in 1903-4. She was the first treasurer of the library and was associated with the library as officer or trustee, and sometimes program presenter, until her death at age 86 in 1950.
Dr. Elizabeth Shrieves was especially interested in obstetrics and assisted with the births of many Wilmington residents. She belonged to the American Medical Association, the Ohio Medical Association, the Clinton County Medical Society, the DAR, Ladies of the Maccabees, Eastern Star, Six and Twenty, and was a charter member of the Wilmington Business and Professional Woman’s Club.
During her lifetime, Dr. Elizabeth Shrieves was accorded special honors by Wilmington College and the Ohio Medical Association. She was a staunch Methodist.
On the other hand, Emma Willard Shrieves, her sister with whom she shared both home and office much of her life, belonged to the Church of Christ Science. It was said that the sisters remained constantly devoted to one another in spite of their strong differences in faith.
Also one of the founding mothers of the library, Emma, too, graduated from Wilmington High School and Wilmington College. Like her sister, she taught in the county schools, as well as at Main School. For a time, she left Wilmington and taught in Boston, Milwaukee, and at the Milwaukee State Normal School.
She returned to Wilmington to help manage her father’s produce business when he became ill. She remodeled a home at the southwest corner of Spring and Sugartree Streets that became the first apartment in the city. She also owned apartments on South Spring Street and on the northwest corner of Spring and Sugartree streets. She converted the Old First National Bank building into a hotel and later an apartment building.
It was Emma who collected many of the family antiques, a hobby that grew out of her search for furnishings for her apartments. Emma believed in home ownership and was known for her charity of quietly helping families purchase their own homes.
Dr. Elizabeth and Emma Shrieves reared their brother’s son, Sheldon Shrieves. Sheldon Shieves also attended Wilmington High School and Wilmington College. He was a graduate of the Ohio State University. Mr. Shrieves managed the family real estate.
After a long romance, he married Harriet Lawhead Shrieves, another graduate of Wilmington High School and Wilmington College. She taught at Arcanum High School and Wilmington High School. She also worked at the Clinton County Air Force Base, the First National Bank, and was the Clerk of the Clinton County Courts for 27 years.
During World War I, Sheldon Shrieves was a member of the Student Army Training Corps. During World War II, Maj. Sheldon Shrieves served in the North African and Italian campaigns. He was responsible for all the ground maintenance of the 82nd Airborne Fighter Group whose P-38s were credited with downing over 500 German planes.
An avid golfer, Sheldon Shrieves was a charter member of Snow Hill Country Club. He also belonged to the Elks, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Clinton County Historical Society, and the American Legion.