How did the Belcher Library come to be? Our History is one of fascinating facts and recollections.
William C. Belcher, a native of Gaysville, was born in 1820 at the Belcher Farm on the left bank of the White River about one mile below the Village of Gaysville. He graduated from the University of Vermont, was principal of the Plattsburg, N.Y. academy, was on the Staff of Norwich Military University, later studied medicine and got his license (but never practiced medicine). He then became a lawyer and later, a judge. He was an unusually well-equipped amateur botanist. He read in five languages and it was said that he read at least one page of each, every day.
At 74 he died as a result of an accident according to his physician, which happened 6 years prior. He was visiting Yosemite Valley and while riding alongside the driver of a large stage coach, was thrown into rocks when the coach “upset”. He suffered a broken knee and severe internal injuries. The result being that he would use crutches for the rest of his life and eventually the internal injuries would result in an infection and eventual death.
One of the provisions of his Will was the following….”I.S. Belcher (his brother) would retain his (Williams) extensive library in trust for a library in the Village of Gaysville, Vt. He also granted to the newly formed Board, the amount of $10,000.00, the interest from which should be used to purchase books.”*
The Library was first located in a room adjoining the store of Mr. J.A. Chedel & Co. It was later moved to the house beside the Chedel home. About 1944 the books were moved into their new quarters in the Gay building.
The Gay Memorial Library Building as we know it today was given in memory of Robert and Nelson Gay, by Mrs. Frederick Gay, around the late 1930s. The grand Colonial house was originally built by Merrick Gay, father of six children. The two children most associated with Gaysville were Nelson and Frederick. When Frederick retired, he returned to Gaysville from Burlington and restored the house. As he was about to enjoy the property an accident ended his life however his wife kept it for several years. With the full approval of her son and her nephew, the last of the Gays, she decided to Will the house to Belcher Library. Before her long life was ended, both the beloved son and nephew died, so in the end it was given as a Memorial to them.
*Information regarding William C. Belcher was taken from the Marysville, California Daily Newspaper.