Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


Chapter 18
Women's Clubs
by Mrs. E. M. Shepard


It would be impossible to write the history of the educational and civic development of any region without taking into account the part which woman's activities have played in the advancement of a community from the primitive to the more complex stage of its existence. As some great crisis is often needed to crystallize into definite action the forces which are destined to be powerful along certain lines of progress, so it has been with the entrance of woman into the sphere of a more or less public field of usefulness, as seen in the history of the last half-century.

The close of the Civil war found the country with many questions of philanthropy and civic betterment to be solved, and it was at this time that the more leisurely class of women began to organize for service in the many directions indicated by the exigencies of the times. Thus the woman's club movement was born, though the full meaning of the movement was not realized at first, even by its organizers. With the fundamental principle of service as its reason for existence, the club, from the first, numbered among its leaders mature women who had entered upon the serious work of life and who wished to be useful. As these associations were found to create a bond of good comradeship between women thus brought together, what was more natural than that the club idea should spread to every department of life until, as with the "making of books," the forming of clubs should have "no end"?

It is not with the many miscellaneous and objectless organizations of women that this chapter has to deal, but with those which have entered into the educational and civic life of the region of which we write—those which have become identified with the welfare of their respective communities, having for their aim the elevation of the average standard of life and the broadening of the social aims of the people. It is through the two avenues of educational and civic interest that woman has entered the field of public service, and been brought into close relation with every vital question that has to do with better human living. With greater leisure than the business man, who, in the main, wages the financial battles of life, she has studied at close range the problems of education that she may help provide for her children the conditions necessary for sound bodily development; for a proper intellectual unfolding; and for the spiritual enlightenment that gives breadth of vision and a true balance to character. And because she loves her family, her home, her town and her state, and feels that no one should be indifferent to those things which make for the highest good of all, for municipal health, beauty, self-respect and good government, she has become an ardent civic worker for the betterment of the community at large, striving for the creation of an enlightened public opinion by means of which all reforms must come to pass. While such ideals have brought the women of our state into the arena, of public service, it is a satisfaction to note that those of the region described in this history were not slow in perceiving the need of organization for the better carrying out of the new aims which had begun to give greater zest to living. Before the women in any of the larger cities of Missouri had caught the enthusiasm of organization, in the city of Springfield, in Greene county, was founded the Springfield Ladies' Saturday Club, now recognized as the oldest literary club in the state, and honored for the work which it has accomplished in its own city, as well as the leaders whom it has given to the broader work of the later state and national organizations of women's clubs. [560]

The opening of Drury College in Springfield, in 1873, gave a fresh stimulus to the intellectual life of this region, and brought a new group of enterprising women to enter into relationships with those already here, and it was not long before the results of these associations began to be apparent. In the fall of 1878 the first of a series of meetings in the interests of the proposed new club was held at the home of Mrs. W. F. Geiger, the result being that the early part of the new year witnessed the completion of an organization that included representatives from many of the principal families of the city. With the year 1879, the active work of this club began with a meeting in the reading room, on the third floor of the old Greene County Bank building, when Mrs. James R. Milner was elected president, a most fitting choice since Mrs. Milner, in addition to having been the most active of all those interested in the project, was fitted by education and her previous connection with the new college, to be a leader in the work. Writing of the early days of the club, Mrs. Milner mentions, among those who were especially active then, Miss A. J. Cowan, Mrs. W. F. Geiger, Mrs. Humphrey Howell, Mrs. Cyrus Eversol, Mrs. Wade Burden, Mrs. W. L. Hardy, Miss Ohlen (Mrs. E. M. Shepard), Mrs. Fearn and the Misses Laura Whitson and Amy Wright. On February 22d of the year 1879 the constitution and by-laws, under which the club should work, were adopted, and that date is now recognized as the birthday of the club.

CHARTER MEMBERS.

The first book of records gives the following list of charter members: Mrs. M. S., Boyd, Mrs. S. H. Boyd, Miss Minnie Brown, Miss Nellie Burden, Miss Clem Culbertson, Miss A. J. Cowan, Mrs. Cyrus Eversol, Mrs. M. E. Fearn, Mrs. H. C. Geiger, Miss Anna Grigg, Miss Emma Grigg, Mrs. W. D. Hubbard, Mrs. H. Howell, Mrs. H. E. Havens, Mrs. W. L. Hardy, Mrs. Rosina Kellett, Mrs. Koch, Mrs. Means, Miss Moberly, Miss Morris, Miss McCluer, Mrs. Milner, Miss Ohlen (Mrs. E. M. Shepard), Miss Fanny Owen, Miss Alice Porter, Mrs. Peck, Mrs. Patterson, Mrs. Phelps, Mrs. Paine, Miss Ophelia Parrish, Miss Perkins, Mrs. C. Sheppard, Miss M. Sheppard, Mrs. Victor Sommers, Miss Taggart, Mrs. Waite, Mrs. Waddell, Miss Laura Whitson, Miss Mary White, Mrs. Dr. Augusta Smith, Mrs. D. C. Kennedy and Miss Lillie Brunner. [561]

In addition to the regular literary meetings, projects of general interest to the community were constantly undertaken by this body of energetic women. Lecture courses were sustained; dramatic entertainments added funds to the treasury; loan exhibitions were planned to call forth hidden art and historical treasures; music of a high order contributed to the elevation of the public taste; and a slowly increasing collection of books was looked upon as the nucleus of a possible public library for the city. Later, two traveling libraries, each consisting of fifty well selected volumes, were kept circulating among the clubs of the smaller towns of this region until the Missouri State Library Commission was established, when that part of the club work was given over to the commission. A suitable permanent meeting place was difficult to find, and the building of a club house was an ambition fostered by the necessities of the case. In the club minutes of 1883 we find the first mention of money out at interest.

In 1884 articles of incorporation were granted to the club, and the accumulation of money for the building of a club house became one of its chief aims. The realization of this ambition became partly fulfilled when, in the year 1906, an arrangement was entered into between the club and Drury' College whereby a certain frame structure on the college campus was turned over to the club, the latter agreeing to put approximately one thousand dollars worth of improvements on the building, and to place in the college library its collection of books, to which it agreed to add, annually, volumes to, the value of thirty dollars. This arrangement, which was expected to be a permanent one, continued until the coming of a new president to the college brought about changes which recruited in the dissolution of the partnership, the return to the club of the money invested in the building, and the seeking of a new home in the Carnegie Library until circumstances should warrant an investment in property of its own. [562]

The Saturday Club, through its individual members, or acting as a whole, has always done its share of the work when civic projects of any kind have been undertaken in the city. Especially has it been active in the general clean-up measures that have been inaugurated from time to time, and the sanitary improvement of the Springfield public square was first undertaken through the initiative of these women who circulated the first petition ever sent out calling upon the mayor and city council to enact and enforce laws relating to the general cleanliness of streets and public stairways. Always, when new civic enterprises have been inaugurated in Springfield, the Saturday Club has been a sharer in the work. The Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations have had generous contributions from its treasury, and such charities of the city as are administered by the Humane Society and Visiting Nurse Association receive valuable assistance from the members.

This club affiliated with the General Federation of Women's Clubs in 1886, being among the first of similar organizations in the country to do so, add when the Missouri Federation was formed, in 1896, its delegates assisted in the organization of that body. In the person of the writer of this chapter, it furnished a president for the Missouri State Federation for four consecutive years, and through various members has had representation in every state and national convention since these came into existence, its women having been honored with offices on both state and national boards.

Mrs. Pope G. Myers is president for the year 1914-15, and Miss Grace Hammond is secretary.

The Friends in Council was founded in the city of Springfield, in 1883, being composed of a few congenial friends who had previously formed a Chautauqua circle. Under the direction of a club of the same name in Quincy, Illinois, the organization became the eleventh in the chain of Friends in Council clubs. The charter members were Mrs. John L. Holland, Mrs. Adelaide H. Toomer, Mrs. Traverse, Mrs. W. L. Hardy, Mrs. Will Hall, Mrs. J. C. B. Ish, Miss Ophelia Parrish and Mrs. J. B. Tolfree. The local club has always maintained a limited membership, fifteen at first, but later raised to twenty, which is the membership at the present time.

Mrs. Virginia Holland was chosen as the first president, and with the exception of two brief interims, during which Mrs. A. H. Toomer and Mrs. W. G. Sweet, respectively, served, she has continued in that office up to the present time. The educational influence of this club has been an acknowledged power among the thinking women of the city. The study outlines, prepared for several years by Mrs. Anna B. McMahan of the Mother Club, of Quincy, Illinois, and later by recognized experts, have included early Greek and Roman literature, Italian, French, German and English classics, and American literature and folk-lore, courses which, under the able leadership of the club president, have made most liberal contributions to the general culture of those pursuing them. More time has been given to Shakespeare than to any other one author.

With much close study, the club mingles a sufficient amount of recreation, and the two occasions of the year when social features predominate are prominent dates in the club calendar. Although claiming to be a "strictly literary" organization, a strong altruistic spirit keeps it in sympathy with the philanthropic movements of the day. Its president is one of the founders of the Springfield Children's Home, and many of its members are active workers on the various committees included in the management of the home. [563]

The club joined the General Federation of Women's Clubs in 1892, and the Missouri State Federation in 1896. In 1897 it was incorporated. During its whole existence of twenty-seven years it has met once a week in Mrs. Virginia Holland's home, the average attendance being remarkably good and the interest in the studies undertaken very great. The president in 1914-15 is Mrs. Virginia Holland; the recording secretary, Mrs. E. V. Williams, and corresponding secretary, Mrs. Rosa Ward Atwood.

HELPED CHILDREN’S HOME.

The Progressive Workers' Club, of Springfield, is composed of a group of women who add to their desire for intellectual advancement, a deep interest in the welfare of the unfortunate, and it is the philanthropic side of their work that has most impressed itself upon the community. This club was organized in 1889, joined the Missouri Federation of Women's Clubs in 1905 and the General Federation in 1914, which is sufficient proof of a broad interest in humanitarian affairs.

It was the first club in Springfield to lay by a stated sum of money for the local Children's Home, an institution to which it has always been a contributor. It aids in the support of a city nurse, and of the Girl's Rescue Home in St. Louis, as well as in all public welfare work of a local nature.

The thirty members of which the club is now composed are constant workers for the relief of poverty wherever it come to their knowledge. The following seven presidents have successively and faithfully served the club during the years of its existence: Mesdames W. H. Fink, Cronk, T. A. Haney, W. L. Hardy, W. R. Daniel, H. E. Steinmeyer and C. E. Teed. The president for 1914-15 is Mrs. C. E. Teed, and the secretary Mrs. M. C. Stone.

The fourth woman's club to be organized in Springfield resulted from the withdrawal of a few individuals from an older club of limited membership, in order that they might bring into club fellowship a large number of women who had expressed a desire for entering upon some plan of literary work. The meeting for organizing the new body was held in the parlors of the Metropolitan Hotel, in 1896, at which time a membership of one hundred and twenty-five women was enrolled, to form a new department club to be called Sorosis. The constitution was made broad enough in character to admit any woman of good standing in the community, and expressed an ambitious desire to co-operate with all existing forces that were striving for educational and social uplift. The charter membership list is not available, but the following were the first officers elected: President, Mrs. Adelaide H. Toomer; first vice-president, Fannie Thornton Hornbeak; second vice-president, Mrs. Bessie Tarr Herndon; recording secretary, Mrs. Margaret J. Phelps; corresponding secretary, Mrs. Mildred Haseltine; treasurer, Miss Emrna McGregor; librarian and historian, Miss Annie Vaughan. [564]

Of the four departments of this club, one studies current events, one classic literature, one Shakespeare and one travel, meeting every other week. Notwithstanding the literary nature of its programs and the social features of the monthly meetings, which include all departments, this organization makes opportunity for doing much practical work. It has aided the Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations, as well as given generous contributions to the Children's Home; and with its, present membership, of one hundred and fifteen women, every civic interest is represented and responded to in such ways as seem most needed. It is a member of the City Federation of Women's Clubs.

The name of Mrs. Adelaide H. Toomer will always be associated with the history of this club, as she was the moving spirit in its earlier years. It was her broad plan of organization that brought a large membership into it, from the very beginning, and caused it to be widely known for its progressive attitude.

As a member of the State and General Federation of Women's Clubs, which bodies it joined in 1898 and 1897, respectively, it has always worked in connection with the various committees of those organizations for such measures as were pending for the welfare of women and children in the state and nation at large.

Several loan art exhibits have been conducted in the city of Springfield under the auspices of Sorosis women, who have thus earned the gratitude of an appreciative public, and many other entertainments of high merit have been given by them. The building of a house of its own is among the plans for the future of this club, and every year a considerable sum of money is being set aside for that purpose. In the year 1914-15 Mrs. J. W. Sanders is president and Mrs. Harry Horton is secretary.

The Busy Women's Idle Hour is a club which grew from a series of social gathering into an organization that has had an enviable reputation for good works in many departments of the established charities of Springfield. In the summer of 1896 a few friends who had been much together in the entertainment of out-of-town guests decided to continue their meetings and devote them to some useful purpose. These women were Mrs. J. B. Jewell and her two daughters, Mrs. Ely and Mrs. Chalfant, Mrs. Harry Jewell, Mrs. M. Holbrook, Mrs. James Abbott and Mrs. J. W. Nier. At the home of Mrs. Harry Jewell this decision was made, and each woman was asked to bring a friend to the next meeting, to be held at the home of Mrs. M. Holbrook. At Mrs. Holbrook's house a regular organization was effected, with Mrs. Holbrook as president and Mrs. Harry Jewell as secretary. Expansion seems to have been the policy of the club, for at its next meeting with Mrs. Charles Baldwin, each member again nominated one more, making the number twenty-four, and thirty is now the limit of the club. [565]

SERVICE TO OTHERS.

That this was truly an organization of busy women is attested by the fact that in those early days the members took their babies along, if there were any, and tended them while planning the activities which were to reach out to the homes of the destitute and carry cheer to the unfortunate and suffering. While the social features that characterized the beginnings of this club were never lost-sight of service to others became the watchword of these women who took upon themselves emergency duty in relieving immediate need whenever it came to their knowledge, and also gave much time to the making of garments and household supplies for the Children's Home and raising money to help defray the running expenses of that institution.

The club belonged at one time to the Missouri Federation of Women's Clubs, but later withdrew in order to devote all its funds to local charities. Notwithstanding this fact, it has always entered heartily into whatever projects the local clubs have undertaken as a whole, and borne their share of expense incurred when conventions have been entertained, or similar demands made upon the generosity of Springfield women. In addition to its other charities it is a regular contributor to the Springfield Visiting Nurse Association. The president of this club, in 19i4-15, is Mrs. Charles McGregor, and the secretary is Mrs. M. Coolbaugh.

The cultivation of the fine arts has always been a distinctive feature of social progress. Twenty years ago the need for some concerted fostering of a broader spirit of culture began to be felt by Springfield music lovers, a group of whom began a course of study on what is known as the Derthick plan with a series of lessons designed to illustrate the correlation of certain motives in music, art and literature. A two years' study along these lines strengthened the desire for work that should be more exclusively devoted to music, and in 1897 the re-named Springfield Music Club entered upon the new plan of work which has caused it to become a widely recognized part of the social and educational life of the city. Beginning with a few individuals, this club has acquired a large membership of men and women, both professional and amateur (some of whom have studied with the best masters abroad), who compose the present working body. Its meetings are held every two weeks, from October to May. [566]

With the study, particularly, of German, French, English and American music, this club has covered a wide range of educational topics at its meetings, while giving musical programs of unusual scope and interest. It has not only sought out and developed local talent but it has done a much appreciated public service in bringing to its home city many noted artists, both in voice and instrumental music, beating all the expenses connected with such undertakings. In 1904, the club, having outgrown its parlor meetings, accepted the invitation of the Martin Music Company to use their music hall, which is the present home of the club. That growth in interest corresponded with the constantly increasing membership was evidenced by the affiliation of the club, in 1908, with the National Federation of Music Clubs, a step which broadened the work of the local body and brought its membership into closer fellowship with similar organizations throughout the country.

While the first records of the society are no longer available, so that a complete list of its charter members might be had, certain names associated with the early musical interests of the city should be mentioned in this connection. Mrs. Ella J. Spohn, now of St. Louis, was the president of the early group of Derthick students, and Professor. A. P. Hall, of Drury College, succeeded her when the reorganization took place. Mrs. Marie Burden, the first secretary and one of the most faithful of the number, will always be remembered as the first music teacher in Springfield, her coming to this city dating back to the years before the Civil war. Dean and Mrs. A. P. Hall, of Drury College, both of whom served as president at various times, were stanch supporters of the new project. Professor Chalfant, Dean of Drury College Conservatory of Music, was associated with it, as was also Professor E. H. Kelley and Professor Busch, a violinist of considerable note, now residing in Seattle. Mrs. G. A. and Miss Birdie Atwood were among the leaders in the club, the latter having been at one time president. The Misses Stella and Lena Whaley and Miss Ada Grabill were prominent, the club having been organized in the home of the Misses Whaley, With the growth of the city, many people of musical ability have been added to the membership, making a constituency that insures success for any project that, the club may see fit to undertake. With active support from the Conservatory of Music of Drury College as well as the large number of teachers who conduct private classes in various departments of music, this club has a great variety of talent for use in its regular meetings, and the public recitals, give under its auspices, are always of a nature to attract large audiences of cultivated people who have been trained by this organization to become appreciative lovers of music. In the year 1914-15 Mrs. C. E. Fulton is president and Miss Earle Craig is secretary of this club. [567]

WORK BY MRS. MILNER.

In October, 1898, Mrs. James R. Milner, whose name at that time was prominently connected with many educational movements in Greene county, organized the Springfield Household Economics Cltib, the object of which was to study health and sanitation through all the avenues of home influence; to further the teaching of domestic, social and civic economy; to elevate the occupation of home-making to the dignity of a profession; to bring the interests of the employer and the employed into more sympathetic relations; and to work for the introduction of industrial training into the Springfield public school curriculum. A large membership, two hundred and fifty or more, was enrolled in the beginning, and much enthusiasm for the new work prevailed. To form study circles, auxiliary to one central club, was the plan of organization, and for several years the club maintained general headquarters, with rest rooms, library, kitchen and accommodations for cooking and sewing classes. To all this, work Mrs. Milner gave her personal supervision, encouraging, inspiring and leading with the determination of one who has a large vision of future accomplishment. It was her superior executive ability that kept a large number of practically independent circles in close relationship with the central organization, and it was not until her removal to another state that the broad plan of work began to seem difficult to maintain. After a time the membership of the separate circles were united in one central club, which has continued a work that was well founded and of distinct value to its home city.

Many good civic and educational movements have had the untiring support of this club, such for instance, as the teaching of domestic science in the public schools, milk inspection, cleaner markets, the placing of trash cans around the public square and the enforcement of the anti-expectoration ordinance, for all of which its members have worked unceasingly in the attempt to create a public sentiment sufficiently strong to bring about favorable legislation.

This club joined the Missouri Federation of Women's Clubs in 1898, and the General Federation in 1900. The president for the year 1914-l5 is Mrs. J. W. Lunsford and the secretary is Mrs. R. H. Collins.

Of all the charter members Mrs. W. R. Bissett, Mrs. J. B. Easley, Mrs. W. H. Fink and Mrs. W. P. Scott are the only ones who now remain in the club. The presidents under whom this organization has done its work are Mesdames Milner, Roberts, Haney, Easley, Hauser, Cahill and Lunsford. [568]

In the fall of 1902 Mrs. Martin Hardwick, of Springfield, organized a group of young girls into a society which was christened "The Hopewells." These girls immediately entered upon a career of usefulness in which they enjoyed the direction and companionship of their older friend, who helped them to realize the satisfaction that comes from service performed for those less fortunate than themselves. As is the case with so many clubs, the earliest records have been lost, but according to the recollection of present members, those who composed the original society were the Misses Mary Bryan, Mary Tefft, Lulu Fisher (Mrs. W. W. Warren), Nannie May Blodgett (Mrs. Carl Eaton), Nell Ross, Dot Leavitt ( Mrs. Charles Jones), Stella Means, Kate Bryan (Mrs. Murray Parsons), Ida Dixon (Mrs. Roy Peacher) and Nan Hackney. Other girls were later admitted to the club, and the member- ship list which was set at twenty-five has usually been full. The story of the work of these public-spirited girls would make most interesting reading could it be followed through all the details of the thirteen years that the organization has been in existence. Summarized in addition to the good comradeship of the monthly meetings, we should have the record of a long list of entertainments with much money raised for the Children's Home, many helps given to miscellaneous charitable objects, and cooperation in the work of the Young Women's Christian Association, which began with the organization of that institution in Springfield and continues up to the present time. No worthy public enterprise fails to interest these girls, particularly if representing the needs of women and children. They contribute regularly to the Visiting Nurse Association and to the Travelers' Aid. Christmas and Easter fairs have been among their favorite methods of raising money, and one of their happiest yearly functions has been the furnishing of the Christmas tree for the little dependents at the local Children's Home. The president of this club for 1914-15 is Mrs. Warren White and the secretary is Miss Mary Bryan.

COMMON INTERESTS.

It often happens that a group of congenial persons, gathered for social purposes only, finds a common interest in the more serious matters of life and such was the case with a little company of women who met with Mrs. A. Y. Morriss, on February 18, 1906, to celebrate the opening of a new home. At the suggestion of Mrs. Shirley Carson the organization of The West End Improvement Circle was effected with Mrs. A. D. Allen as president and Mrs. Leonard Walker as secretary. As the name suggested these women were interested in the advantages which cooperation might give them in the way of mutual improvement, and for two years they continued to work together along these lines. At the same time they began to demonstrate the fact that it is impossible for la body of earnest women to be entirely interested in themselves, and on March 5, 1908, their work took on a wider significance with the change of name to that of The Tuesday Club, and the addition of public welfare work to its other interests. Though every member was a busy house-mother, and the preparation of papers for programs often seemed a task, the semi-monthly meetings found all obligations met and additional plans made for the outside work of the club. A part of this work has always been the sending of flowers to the sick and bereaved, the providing of warmth and food for the needy and cooperation with the Salvation Army in their annual Christmas dinner for the worthy poor. This club limits its membership to twenty-four, and takes especial pride in the harmony that has always been a part of its life. Besides the regular meetings, quarterly social gatherings, to which club husbands and other guests are invited, give variety to the life of the club. Of its charter members, only five now remain, viz: Mrs. A. Y. Morriss, Mrs. A. D. Allen, Mrs. Leonard Walker, Mrs. Frank Brown and Mrs. Shirley Carson. With vacancies in the ranks kept constantly filled by new members, this club continues its work of helpfulness and mercy from year to year, having for its watchword the inspiring motto, "Always at leisure to do good." The president for 19l4-15 is Mrs. Arthur Wright and the secretary is Mrs. A. E. Welch. [569]

The Springfield City Federation of Women’s Clubs was formed in 1906, and is now composed of the Saturday Club, Friends in Council, Home Economics, Sorosis, Progressive Workers, Political Equality and South Side W. C. T. U. organizations, the object of federation being to better correlate all local club work and to secure judicious co-operation in such civic measures as might commend themselves to the activities of the public-spirited women of the city. Under the leadership of Mrs. Gertrude Haseltine Clarke, its first president, much interest was aroused for better kept and more beautiful lawns and gardens, and many prizes were given to successful competitors along this line. There are few movements for bettering local social conditions which the City Federation has not aided. The appointing of a police matron, the Visiting Nurse Association and the Travelers' Aid, at the Frisco railway station, have all had the helping hand of this organization, while public parks and playgrounds are among the projects to which it has constantly directed public attention. Its rest-room for women in the part of the city most frequenter by those who come from the rural districts for the weekly shopping, maintained for several years, but now temporarily closed, has been one of its best undertakings, emphasizing as it does the bond of fellowship between the town and country women and their mutual need of each other.

The present head of the City Federation, Mrs. B. F. Finkel, has brought its membership into cooperation with the new Public Welfare Board, and so enlisted its sympathies along all the lines of philanthropy and practical charity, aiding in the creation of an enlightened public sentiment toward the reforms needed to make Springfield a city in which municipal problems are squarely faced and intelligently handled.

Probably the smallest club in point of numbers that will be taken cognizance of in this chapter is the Ozark Branch of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, formed in 1908, and limited in its membership by the constitution of the national organization of which it is a part. There are thirty-five American colleges and universities of the highest rank in the corporate membership of this association, and only graduates of these institutions may belong to the association and its branches. The elevation of educational standards and the encouragement of our young women to seek higher education, as offered by the best colleges and universities of this and other countries, is the object for which this organization was founded. Competitive scholarships in American and foreign universities are offered to students of exceptional promise, and it is for the support of these and similar objects that the Ozark Branch does its chief work. Local interests are not, however, neglected by this band of college women who are prominent in all civic as well as educational public movements. The members who comprise the Ozark Branch represent the following colleges and universities: Vassar, Wellesley, Radcliff, Colorado and Oberlin colleges, Northwestern, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Syracuse and Chicago universities. Mrs. Edward M. Shepard is president of the Ozark Branch for the year 1914-15 and Miss Rachel Rogers is the secretary. [570]

In the year 1902 the first Parent-Teacher Association in Springfield was formed, in connection with the Berry School. Here parents and teachers met together once each month to consider the welfare of the children in whom they were mutually interested. The problems which are common to the home and the school were discussed, and a better understanding of the partnership between parent and teacher was thus obtained. This organization was not a permanent one, however. After two years of interesting and helpful work the removal of some of the leaders in the movement caused a gradual cessation of activity, and it was not until the fall of 1909 that a similar organization; in the Mary S. Boyd School, began work with an enthusiasm that has grown with each succeeding year until closely following each other, Parent-Teacher clubs were formed in the Bailey, Phelps, Campbell, McDan iel, Rogers, Pickwick, Berry, Bowerman, Weaver, Fairbanks, McGregor, Robberson, Waddell, St. Agnes, Tefft and Greenwood schools. When, in 1912, Missouri organized a branch of the National Mothers' Congress and Parent-Teacher Associations, the Boyd and Bailey Springfield schools became charter members of the branch. This new Missouri organization, to which so many Springfield Parent-Teacher clubs now belong, has conducted two successful state conventions, and Mrs. J. B. McBride, of Springfield, now the state president, has brought to the work an executive force that bids fair to bring every school in the state into its membership. It was the second convention held in Springfield, in April, 1914, that gave special direction to the Mother Club movement in Greene county and formulated plans for definite action.

Parent-Teacher circles are being formed in a number of school districts in Greene county. Shady Dell, Sunnyside and Sunshine schools have new associations. Ash Grove has an organization of over one hundred members and Willard one of thirty. The town of Walnut Grove has also formed an excellent organization. The child is the central thought of these circles which comprise many hundreds of the most intelligent mothers of Greene county, and through their efforts, directed toward the welfare of the child "in home, church and state," it is not too much to expect a decided improvement in the mental, physical and moral betterment of the youth in this part of Missouri. [571]

In 1914, in order to correlate the work of these various Parent-Teacher associations, the Council of Mothers' Clubs was organized, with Mrs. William Rullkoetter as president and Mrs. Lincoln Haseltine as secretary. This council, in which each local club is represented by as many members as choose to attend, serves to centralize and direct the efforts of the large numbers of women who work through the various ward school clubs for the interests of childhood as a whole. In the autumn of 1913 a "better babies" contest was held in connection with the annual Greene county fair, with the assistance of the Springfield Medical Association. This was repeated the following year with such increased interest on the part of the public as to indicate that the time had arrived for the inauguration of a more advanced work in behalf of the little children of the community. Through the various Mother Clubs the Council of Clubs had been able to raise the sum of $500.00 with which to undertake a broader work in the baby-saving campaign, conducted by the cooperation of the Visiting Nurse Association and the Mother Clubs during the entire summer of 1914. The Mother Clubs hunted up the babies in their several wards, and each week a free clinic was supported, when babies were examined and prescribed for and instructions in regard to care given, whereby a considerable reduction in infant mortality during the summer was brought about. With some of the funds raised the Springfield Parent-Teacher clubs, through their council, aid the Visiting Nurse Association to employ an extra nurse, and they have also arranged for a permanent baby ward in one of the local hospitals.

Almost the youngest of all the women's organizations in Springfield is the Visiting Nurse Association, which is largely officered by members of the various other clubs, and supported by contributions from most of the religious, literary, social, fraternal and charitable organizations, as well as by gifts from private individuals. The organization meeting of this association was held in the parlor of the Young Women's Christian Association, June 3, 1912, with nine persons present, at which time a constitution was adopted, officers elected and chairmen chosen for the various departments of work. Mrs. William Rullkoetter was made president, Miss Nell Ross secretary and the following chairmen of standing committees were chosen: Mrs. George Mutschler, social service, Mrs. J. Rothschild, finance and membership; Mrs. John Long, nurse and supplies; Mrs. A. M. Powell, publicity and press. [572]

OBJECT OF THE ASSOCIATION.

The object of this association is to employ one or more nurses to visit constantly among the poor, to aid them with advice in sickness, to instruct in methods of preventing disease and to try to instill better ideas of household sanitation and the care of children. The reports of the monthly meetings of the associations show that the work began with the employment of one trained nurse, who devoted only a portion of her time to charitable work; but at the end of six months it became possible to supply her place with one who gave her whole time to carrying on the work of the association. Mrs. Kellar, who has done exceptionally good service of this kind in the State of New Jersey, was engaged for this purpose and became permanently established in Springfield. A certain amount of financial aid from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company was a welcome addition to the funds of the association, and the securing of a room in the new Greene County court house, to be used, as the office of the visiting nurse, was a step in advance, greatly facilitating the work of that officer.

Early in the spring of 1913 the association began a series of investigations in regard to sewer inspection, plumbing, fumigation and other protective measures, with some attention to housing conditions among the poor, and new committees on sanitation and anti-tuberculosis work were appointed to begin the study of what had been done in state and national societies along these lines, and to especially investigate local conditions. In the fall the cooperation of the Greene County Medical Society was secured, the different members of which agreed to prepare for the local daily papers, short articles on tuberculosis, to be printed before the association should begin its annual sale of Red Cross Christmas seals. Steps were taken toward affiliation with the National Visiting Nurse Association.

Early in the summer of 1914 long-considered plans for establishing a baby clinic were furthered by the favorable cooperation of the Greene County Medical Society, and the promise of student nurses from the Springfield Hospital to assist Mrs. Kellar, the association nurse, with the proposed weekly clinics, the physicians offering their services free of charge. The support of the Council of Mothers' Clubs was also obtained, and these organizations working together, maintained a series of clinics continuing through the entire summer with marked effect upon the lessening of infant mortality. Another achievement of these united forces was the establishing of a permanent baby ward in a local hospital, in which may be received the children of parents who have not the means to pay for medicines and nursing.

No small part of the accomplishment of this association has been the awakening of the public conscience toward matters affecting the public health and the formulating of methods for carrying on efficient and widely distributed relief work. A most gratifying alliance for this organization has been effected through the generosity of the Springfield Elks Lodge, whereby $900,000 set aside for certain of their own charities for the coming year will be administered by a trained nurse who will work in co-operation with the Visiting Nurse Association. The president of the association for 19l4-15 is Mrs. William Widbin and the secretary is Miss Helen Hall. [573]

In the student body of Drury College, as well as among the residents of Springfield, various Greek letter fraternities are represented, and these, through their members, enter quite largely into the social and philanthropic life of the city. It was for the purpose of bringing into closer sympathy the members of the various women's fraternities that the Springfield Pan Hellenic Association was organized in October, 1913. Philanthropic, as well as social aims were at the foundation of this movement, and a monthly contribution to some charitable object is always a part of its work. The main purpose of the organization, however, is the study of the live problems in the fraternity world and such an oversight of local sorority life as will contribute to creating a broader sympathy for, and placing a greater emphasis on, all that is best in fraternity life.

NAMES OF FRATERNITIES.

The women's fraternities represented in this organization are Zeta Tau Alpha, Delta Delta, Pi Beta Phi, Chi Omega, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Delt& Gamma and Alpha Delta Phi. The following names are on the charter membership roll of the Springfield Pan Hellenic: Misses Julia Pierce, Margaret Palmer, Helen McGregor, Clara Schwieder, Grace Pepperdine, Mrs. W.C. Timmons, Peach Rogers, Jess Rogers, Garnet Gentry, Helen Parker, Mrs. J. A. James, Mrs. A. G. Fletcher, Mary Ellis Barbour and Sue Stone.

In order to establish relationship with other women workers in the State, the Pan Hellenic became a member of the Missouri Federation of Women's. Clubs, in the year 1913.

The Springfield Woman’s Civic Club came into existence through a desire on the part of women of the north section of the city to improve their own surroundings. An enthusiastic organization was effected in May, 1912, and the members of the club immediately began the raising of money needed, for their purposes. The improvement of Washington and Lafayette parks, two public squares in residence portions of the city, was the first work undertaken, and the sum of four hundred dollars was expended. With the creation of a city park board it seemed unnecessary for the club to continue its work in this direction, and the consideration of more miscellaneous objects, such as aiding the Visiting Nurse Association and kindred charities, found place in the activities of this group of women. General welfare work appeals to all the members of this club, and it has a field of usefulness in connection with the interests of the north side of the city, a location which has always been so closely allied with those of the Frisco railway system. Mrs. James Wall was the first president of this club and Mrs. Robert Doling, secretary. [574]

On March 11, 1911, a chapter of the P. E. 0. Sisterhood was organized in Springfield, with Miss Adda Starrett as president and Miss Elizabeth Faulkner, secretary. This group of about twenty-five women represents a branch of one of the largest exclusively women's societies in the world, doing work along literary, social and philanthropic lines. The Springfield chapter is active in many praiseworthy ways, prominent among which is the maintenance of a fund for aiding in the education of young women who have no other friends to whom to look for such help. In the matter of local charities the women who compose this chapter are especially interested in the Visiting Nurse Association and the making of garments for the poor.

The town of Ash Grove contains, probably, the largest Parent-Teacher Association of any of the similar bodies connected with the schools of Greene county. It was organized in 1914, and the work done by it is of a nature that is worthy of special notice. The president, Mrs. James H. Barton, writes that it was through the agitation of its members that domestic science and manual training were put into the public schools of that town; the bucket and tin cup habit exchanged for water faucets and individual drinking cups; and the school buildings thoroughly cleaned and renovated. The efforts of this club were also extended to the beautifying of the open space around the public water tank, where ornamental foliage plants, flowers, shrubs and bluegrass were made to take the place of what had once been an unsightly hog-wallow. In December, 1914, these same women conducted a baby clinic for two days in the largest town hall, during which seventy-five babies were examined, and lectures given by local physicians. Better babies, better homes, better schools and a better community are the aims of this up-to-date and progressive association of Ash Grove mothers.

A CLUB OF FARMERS’ WIVES.

One of the most interesting of the women's clubs of Greene county is in existence in the neighborhood of the town of Strafford, and is composed of enterprising farmers' wives. On June 20, 1912, eight neighbors met together and organized The Country Culture Club, with Mrs. C. J. Portrey as president and Mrs. Pearl M. Warren, secretary. A constitution and by-laws were adopted in December, 1912, and the club showed its desire to keep in touch with the best aspects of the women's club movement by joining the Missouri Federation of Women's Clubs, January 16, 1913. The membership list was limited to twenty, and quickly became full. Domestic science and home care of the sick were the first subjects chosen for study, and a traveling library from the Missouri State Library Commission furnished the material for work. A number of leading magazines were taken by the club, and the publication of "The Country Culture Club Cook Book," consisting of tested recipes contributed by its members, is one of the practical results of the work of these progressive rural women. The beginnings of a library of their own also testify to their determination to provide for the intellectual as well as the physical needs, of the neighborhoods purpose which might well be emulated by the women of every rural district in Greene county. The charter members of The Country Culture Club were Mrs. C. J. Portrey, Mrs. Callie Parks, Mrs. Lois Perso, Mrs. Herman Voeltz, Mrs. Pearl M. Warren, Mrs. Emily Winter, Miss Dulcy Creson and Miss Sarah Whitmore. [575]

Another Greene county woman's organization is the Birthday Club, in the town of Strafford, with Mrs. James Gillespie as president and Mrs. A. B. Grier as secretary. This club has but recently been started with the object of endeavoring to improve social and educational conditions in and around the town. One afternoon of each month is spent by this club in the discussion of some literary topic, and one evening each month in the enjoyment of music and games, with the club husbands and children.

The names which appear on the first membership roll of this club are as follows: Mesdames A. B. Grier, Arch Weaver, J. J. Foster, L. C. Ricketts, C. W. McGinty, Geo. Dalzell, W. R. Brooks, W. C. Summers, Arch Belcher, F. M. Grantham and James Gillespie.

In the little village of Galloway another group of women are meeting weekly, their Tuesday Club serving as a means of bringing sociability to a somewhat widely scattered circle of friends, while uniting their interests in the improvement of various aspects of life in that rural district. The church, the school and the community are objects of helpfulness on their part, and sewing for some worthy purpose occupies a portion of almost every meeting. A marked characteristic of these women seems to be a sympathetic attitude toward the young people of the neighborhood whom they encourage in such social gatherings as tend to make for greater contentment with rural life.

The women who compose this club are the Mesdames Baker, Galloway, Lyman, Williams, Johnson, Rose, Fielder Hubble, Wirt, Burke, Smith and others, all busy house-mothers who, nevertheless, find time to visit the sick, cheer the lonely and try to make out of the abundant resources of country life the conditions that shall minister to the highest welfare of all concerned.

With these all too brief sketches of the activities carried on by the club women of Greene county the writer hopes that some true light has been shed upon the part that they are taking in doing for womanhood and childhood some of the things which men have not found time or inclination to do; that their interest in civic progress is demonstrated by a public-spirited participation in many movements inaugurated for the general welfare; that the recognition of the full nature of their power and responsibility in social, educational and industrial affairs is intelligent; and that they are ready to take their rightful share of the burden that must be assumed by those who are committed to a vigorous campaign for a great humanitarian uplift. This chapter on women's organizations is not intended to cover such as have their relations solely with church, fraternal and purely social institutions, since these will naturally be considered in other connections. [576]

DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

The Rachel Donelson Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, was organized in Springfield, June 21, 1910, through the efforts of Mrs. Leonora McGregor Barbour, who was appointed chapter regent by the national board of Washington, D. C., with instructions to organize a local chapter, and she was given opportunity to name the chapter. She is a lineal descendant of Col. John Donelson, who served in the Revolutionary war from Virginia and for whom Fort Donelson, of Civil war fame, was named. The local chapter was named in honor of his wife. Mrs. Barbour has been active in the work of this society in Missouri for a number of years, and for two years she held the office of state secretary.

The Rachel Donelson Chapter is one of the largest and most active in Missouri, or, in fact, the middle west. It has had a rapid growth and new members are constantly coming in. There are about seventy-five members at this writing, Although it began only five years ago with twenty-one charter members, named as follows: Mrs. Mary Bell Parrish Adams, Mrs. Leonora McGregor Barbour, Mrs. Nellie Porter Blain, Mrs. Hattie Leach Chalfant, Mrs. Mamie Campbell Cope, Mrs. Louise Hubble Dickerson, Mrs. Lulu Brunt Dawson, Mrs. Tryposia B. Eaton, Mrs. Ethel Eaton Fellows, Mrs. Hattie Hubbell Frazier, Mrs. Henrietta Geiger, Mrs. Mina Hubbell, Miss Agnes Hubbell, Miss Ruth Hubbell, Miss Helen McGregor, Mrs. Glades McGregor, Miss Elizabeth Parrish, Miss Margaret Sheppard, Mrs. Elizabeth Jones Sebree, and Miss Virginia Williams.

It is a fact worthy of note that the Missouri Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution ranks third in point of membership in the United States, being surpassed only by New York and Massachusetts. This is a remarkable showing in view of the fact that the territory now known as Missouri was unknown during the war of the Revolution. Very few men who took part in that conflict ever lived within the borders of this state, and the dust of a still less number rest in her bosom.

The local chapter entertained the state meeting of this society in October, 1914, which was a notable event. [577]

Meetings of the Rachel Donelson Chapter are held the first Tuesday in each month. A prize of ten dollars in gold is offered for the best examination in United States history in the Springfield high school and five dollars in the rural schools. Each to be awarded at the close of the school year. A copy of the Ten Commandments has been placed in the rooms of every public school in Greene county. Members of the chapter are requested to honor the following days by displaying the flag from their homes and in assisting in proper celebrations on the same: Washington's birthday, February 22nd; Memorial Day, May 30th; Flag Day, June 14th; Independence Day, July 4th.

The object of the chapter is supposed to be purely patriotic and ally efforts to inject politics or gain social prestige are discouraged. Members assist in collecting and preserving manuscripts, records and relies of all kinds pertaining to the Revolutionary war; also in marking and caring for graves of soldiers of that war. Two scholarships are given by this chapter in the Ozark College, which has recently been removed from Forsyth to Hollister, Missouri. A great deal of charity work is also done, poor students in other schools besides the above named college being aided from time to time.

Officers of the executive board of the local chapter at this writing are as follows: Mrs. Hattie McGregor, regent; Mrs. May Dickerson, vice-regent; Mrs. Emma Bissett, secretary; Mrs. E. A. McKay, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Daisy Eaton, treasurer; Mrs. Laura Blain, registrar; Miss Janie Hubble, historian; Mrs. W. D. Sheppard, chaplain. The above officers and the following members compose the board of management: Mrs. E. A. Barbour, Mrs. C. C. Clements, Mrs. L. W. Hubbell, Mrs. J. Bateman. Standing committees: Program, Mrs. W. O. Allen and Miss Ada Evans; music, Mrs. U. G. Dawson and Miss Agnes Hubbell; entertainment, Miss Ruth Hubbell, Miss Helen McGregor and Miss Wilma Bugbee; press, Mrs. Bert Lee and Mrs. McCammon; patriotic education, Mrs. E. A. Barbour, Mrs. H. Bissett, and Mrs. Howell; historic research and preservation of Revolutionary records, Miss Janie Hubble and Mrs. E. E. Adams, conservation, Miss Sarah Hubble; reciprocity bureau, Mrs. W. F. Geiger; magazine, Mrs. J. Bateman; desecration of flag, Dr. Lou Tway Noland; old traits road, Mrs. William Schweider; year book, Mrs. E. E. Adams and Mrs. H. F. Fellows, ex-regent, Mrs. E. A. Barbour. [578]


Next Chapter | Table of Contents | Keyword Search
Greene County History Home | Local History Home