Hatteberg's People - Martha Smith

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Martha Smith is making history. Martha Smith is history. In Vinland, Kansas this century+ woman is continuing her work at a library that she began when Calvin Coolidge was president in a town where time has its own pace.

It is a perfect day in Vinland, Kansas… In this tiny community history is everywhere. There is the new church, the old Church, historic buildings and this structure. The Coal Creek Library was founded in 1859. This one room library contains the history of the community.

At 103, Martha Smith arrives for a few hours at a place she has worked since 1926.

“Well, the pictures….”

There are pictures that come alive for Martha. The details are fading with age, but she sees the past while living in the present.

“She gave it to the library.”

Spiders weave their fall webs outside and inside Martha weaves the local history for all who will listen.

“These are my relatives.”

Martha’s relatives established this library before Kansas became a state.

“Did I say that the oldest books that have been given to the library are in this case?”

Now, Martha is the oldest librarian in the state at the oldest library in the state.


Because of her longevity by age and job, she has received international publicity and this woman of few words seemed to like it.

“Well, I don’t mind it,” she says, laughing.

History is thick here, and Martha and this library have stuck together seemingly forever. It has been her home. With special reading glasses worn like a crown, Martha has never ventured far from this place. In her 103 years she has never seen the mountains or the oceans. Nor has she flown in an airplane. For her, this little library has been enough.

“I’m grateful for it.”

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