Local History


Lincoln Pelham 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).


The Pelham Historical Calendar was published annually from 1977-2001 by the Pelham Historical Society. Local artists, photographers and residents contributed information about the history of Pelham, Ontario.

The Pnyx Collection presents student articles and photographs from the 1933-1950 issues of the magazine of Pelham Continuation School, from 1949, Pelham District High School. While the Calendar describes the homes, families and communities of nineteenth century Pelham, the Pnyx collection shows students adapting to the changes and challenges of the 1930s and 40s.

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“Inverougie” was the name of the residence of Senator William Gibson, owner of the Gibson Quarry and Member of Parliament for the riding of Lincoln & Niagara from 1891 – 1900. Gibson was later appointed to the Senate in 1902. Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a visitor to the home. Today it is a dormitory for students at Great Lakes Christian High School.

“In 1920, a lot was donated by W.H. Fry to erect a library building (in Fenwick). With numerous donations of free labour, the building was completed the same year, and on October 23, 1920, the directors held their board meeting in the new Maple Acre Library.” — from Pelham Historical Calendar 1989.

A Brief History of Lincoln Public Library

A view of the original Rittenhouse Public Library, opened in 1886. It served both the public school and the community until 1969, when the new library/tennis court on First Avenue was opened. The original collection contained 2000 volumes.

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.

On December 6, 1852 the “Constitution and Bylaws of the Fonthill Library Association and Mechanics Institute” were registered at the Fonthill Registry Office. The library was opened on February 2, 1853 with 165 books purchased in Buffalo and 20 more donated by members. In 1856 the library moved to the imposing three story Concert Hall at Canboro Road and Pelham Street. The Concert hall burned in 1888 but fortunately the library had moved to new quarters by then. (Source: Pamphlet by D.A. Stevenson titled The Fonthill Public Library prepared in celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of its Opening – February 2, 1853)

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.


Rannie, William F. Lincoln: The Story of an Ontario Town. Beamsville, 1974. Lincoln Public Library. Scrapbook. (unpublished).

Stevenson, D.A. Pamphlet titled The Fonthill Public Library Prepared in Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of its Opening . Fonthill, February 2, 1853.

History of Lincoln’s Local History Collection

A picture of the South and East walls of the two-storey brick Town Hall, Library, Masonic Lodge. The Town offices and library were on the first floor and the Masonic Lodge owned the second floor. As of 2009, the Masonic Lodge still owns the second floor. The lower floor is part of an expanded library. View full record.

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

The Lincoln Local History Collection consists of books (including directories, indexes, and family histories), documents, maps, photos, and oral histories on many topics, including:

• Agriculture
• Architecture
• Area History
• Cemeteries
• Census
• Churches
• Libraries
• Schools
• Transportation

A coloured image of Rittenhouse Public School. One of the two entrances can be seen on the right. There are stone spheres on either side of the gates. One of these spheres can be seen at the current Rittenhouse Library. View full record.
A postcard of King St. Beamsville  (Reg. Rd 81) looking east. View full record.

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
• Scrapbooks
• Tweedsmuir histories


20 cents/page

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.

Lincoln Historic Images & Births, Deaths and Marriages

Many of the newspapers’ birth, death and marriage notices placed between approximately 1900 and 1961 have been indexed and are searchable here.

View on our Library Catalogue

All of the items in our Local History collection are listed in our library catalogue.


Ancestry Library

Enjoy free online access to Ancestry Library while at the library!

Family Search

Family Search

Find your family. Discover yourself. Learn where you came from, and get to know who you are. Our free family tree gets you started.

Other Heritage Sites

Town of Lincoln Museum & Cultural Centre

The Town of Lincoln’s Museum & Cultural Centre maintains an archives and research library.

The Pelham Historical Society

PHS maintains an Archive housed at the Maple Acre Branch of the Lincoln Pelham Public Library in Fenwick, sponsors monthly lectures, supports regular historical displays within the Fonthill and Fenwick branches of LPPL  and also provides a list of historical research resources on its website.

Frontier Life

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 on 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. 

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