About Penelope Melson
Ingram Library’s Penelope Melson Society was founded January 27, 2008 to mark the centennial of the library established through the efforts of Penelope and John Holland Melson. In 1906 the Georgia legislature passed the Perry Act, supporting the development of an agricultural and mechanical school in each of Georgia’s eleven congressional districts. Thanks to pledges of support from citizens and local government Carrollton was chosen as the site for the Fourth District Agricultural & Mechanical School.
Penelope ‘Nep’ Stevens was born in Buena Vista, Georgia October 24, 1879, to Hampton Stevens and Adaline Baker. She married John Holland Melson July 8, 1900 in Buena Vista, where both held teaching positions at Buena Vista High School. Professor Melson, a graduate of Mercer University, was appointed principal of the Fourth District A&M School in March 1907. Professor and Mrs. Melson, their six year old son Holland, infant daughter Martha, and Mrs. Melson’s young brother Rabun Cox Stevens, moved to Carrollton December 6, 1907, taking up residence in the dormitory, one of two buildings then under construction. While they resided in Carrollton, the Melsons had two sons, Edwin Stevens, 1910-1912, and Frank Baker, born in 1914.
On January 29, 1908, Professor Melson invited local citizens to shower the institution with “A Cloudburst of Books.” The community turned out for an afternoon of musical entertainment and welcome by the students and faculty. Penelope Stevens Melson joined her husband in hosting the event, which secured 325 books and bound journals that formed the school’s first library. Mrs. Melson organized the collection, first in a closet in the administration building, and later in a converted classroom. Under her supervision the collection grew, and students paid a fee to allow the library to subscribe to current periodicals and newspapers. The Melsons left the institution in 1920, and Irvine Sullivan Ingram was appointed principal. The Fourth District A&M School became West Georgia College in 1933. In 1980, the West Georgia College Library was named in honor of Dr. Ingram.
After serving as the volunteer librarian for the Fourth District A&M School, Penelope Melson continued her community involvement when the family moved to Hogansville, Georgia, where she operated the Calumet Center of Callaway Mills. She died April 20, 1969.
Bonner, James C.; Myron W. House; and James W. Mathews, From A&M to State University: A History of the State University of West Georgia. Carrollton: State University of West Georgia Foundation, 1998.
Cobb, Rena. A History of Marion County, Georgia, Motherland of Many. Wolfe Publishing, 1997.
Heard County Historical Society. History of Heard County, Georgia 1830-1990. Curtis Media, 1991.
Melson, Nep S. Reminiscences of the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School, Carrollton, Georgia, 1907-1920. Hogansville, Georgia: Nep S. Melson, 1941.
Ware, Martha Melson. “Oral History Interview with Martha Ware, 2003 Aug. 2.” LaGrange, Georgia: Troup County Archives and the Troup-Harris-Coweta Library, 2004. Digital Library of Georgia.