I moved to Michigan from Wisconsin in 1975.
One of the first things I remember doing after our move was to go to the library,
get my library card, check out some books.
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to read.
I have frequented several of the libraries in our area in the past forty years.
I had not visited the largest, most historical, magnificent
Hackley Public Library
until a very snowy January 13, 2016.
Not sure why I hadn't ever visited the
Charles Hackley Muskegon Library
other than the convenience of branch libraries being closer to me.
very large stone exterior, solid oak interior
tables, corners, shelves,
quiet rooms, glass floors
wood, copper, brass
entire second floor a children's library
Charles Henry Hackley was born January 3, 1837 in Michigan City, Indiana, the oldest of five children of Salina (Fuller) and Joseph Henry Hackley. In 1847 he moved with his family to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where his father was in the building trades. By age 14, Hackley had left school and was driving a horse for 15 cents a day. In 1856, at 19, he worked his way from Kenosha to Muskegon on the schooner Challenge to join his father, who had been commissioned to build a sawmill along Muskegon Lake. The day after his arrival in May of 1856, he went to work shoveling sawdust into a boiler in the lumber yard of Durkee, Truesdale and Co. at a monthly wage of $22, a figure soon raised to $26. When the mill closed that fall Truesdale sent him to the lumber camps to scale logs.
The previous summer, young Hackley had learned office procedure and the basics of the lumbering business in the company store in the evening after his day's work outside. When a slow time at the lumber mill occurred, Truesdale suggested that he return to Kenosha for a six-week bookkeeping course. Hackley finished it in four weeks and returned to Muskegon. Meanwhile, the Durkee Truesdale firm had been liquidated and Gideon Truesdale headed its successor. Charles Hackley assumed charge of the books, the supply store, and lumber shipments for $30 a month.
The city's sawmills formed, changed, closed, and reformed. Hackley's family followed him to Muskegon and founded the lumbering firm of Hackley and Sons. This later evolved into the lucrative partnership of Hackley and Hume. This firm was one of the largest operators in the country, cutting 30,000,000 feet of lumber a year at its peak in 1894. In 1864, Charles Hackley married Julia Ester Moore. They adopted one son, Charles Moore Hackley, in 1898, and raised a foster daughter, Erie Caughell (Hackley).
Hackley amassed a fortune of $18,000,000, one third of which he gave back to Muskegon. His first gift, given on May 25, 1888, was for the construction of Hackley Public Library. He served on the Board of Education of the Muskegon Public Schools for twenty years, was an alderman and a state delegate to two national Republican conventions.
Hackley died on February 10, 1905, of a ruptured aneurysm. He lay in state in what is now the Children's Room of the Library and more than 7,000 mourners passed the casket.
(excerpted from Hackley Public Library, A Centennial History by Marilyn Anderson)