Chattie Ellen (Cowden) Allen – 1996 Inductee

     History has not recorded a great deal about Chattie Ellen Cowden.  Nevertheless she left her mark on the community of Downs and northeast Osborne County.

Chattie was born September 27, 1857, and married Dan Allen January 24, 1882, in Sheridan, Iowa.  In February 1886 the couple moved to Downs, where Dan went to work for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.  They had two sons, Earl and Vivian.

A community-minded woman, Chattie belonged to several clubs and organizations.  Around 1900 Chattie, along with Mrs. Katherine Chapin and Mrs. Alma Duden, took active measures toward establishing the first library in Downs.  She gathered the names of twenty-five supporters who were willing to subscribe to ten dollars of library stock, payable annually for five years.  Churches, clubs, and individuals donated books and periodicals, and after three years 1500 volumes were collected.  They were loaned out from a frame building on Morgan Street with Chattie as librarian.

A formal library association was formed in January 1903, with Chattie being elected as the first president.  She declined the office but continued as librarian.  The next year she encouraged Downs city officials to ask for funds to establish a Carnegie library.  A subsequent gift of $6500 from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation led to the building of the Downs Carnegie Library, which was dedicated in 1905.

Chattie was so fond of the color lavender that she was known in Downs as “Lavender Chattie”.  She continued as librarian after her husband’s death in 1921, finally retiring in 1937.  She went to live in Scandia, Kansas, where she died March 9, 1946.  Her remains were brought back to Downs and were buried in the Downs Cemetery in a family plot.  A portrait of Chattie currently hangs in the Downs Carnegie Library in tribute to this lady’s dedication to the public.

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