Youth Library History

Starting at least in the 1860s, there was a large estate on this land owned by the Slack family. Below we compare two maps: a modern one showing the location of the former Walgreens, now Lillian Desmarias Youth Library, and the 1896 Sanborn map with the location of the Slack estate.

Below is the 1869 rendering of Chillicothe that shows the Slack home.

Courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

William Yancy Slack moved to Chillicothe in 1839 at the age of 22 to be a lawyer in the newly formed circuit court of Livingston County. His career was one of “success and distinction.” In 1842 he became our Representative to the State Legislature. The City of Chillicothe was incorporated in 1851 and Slack served on the first board of trustees. He volunteered to serve in the Mexican War and reached the rank of Captain or Colonel, as there are conflicting reports. He was the “leading citizen” in Chillicothe in the 1850s. In 1861 he was appointed Brigadier General of the 4th Division of the Missouri State Guard. He was wounded in a battle of the Civil War and died on March 20, 1862.

Isabella Rickards Slack was born April 7, 1820 to Dr. and Mrs. Gustavus Bower. Dr. Bower was a noted surgeon in the War of 1812. Adventurer Davy Crockett was a cousin to Isabella. After the death of her first husband in 1858, she moved to Chillicothe and bought one of the few available homes on a large tract on north Washington Street. For one year she taught music at the Beecham Academy in Chillicothe. On January 12, 1859 she  married William Y. Slack. After his death in 1862 she remained in Chillicothe. In 1889 she was appointed a member of the Board of Control by Governor Marmaduke for the Industrial Home for Girls. The first meetings of this board were held in her home since the buildings at the new institution were not yet completed. Slack Cottage at the Industrial Home, which opened in 1902, was named in her  honor. She remained on this board until her death on July 22, 1910. After her death, her only son, Gustavus, and his wife Cora, lived in the home until Cora’s death in 1912. By about 1914 Gustavus was subdividing the Slack property.

We have no picture of Isabella.