Ladies Literary Club, 1899
Ladies Literary Club
By Emma M. Durkee
The earlier history of the Ladies Literary Club is best told in the words of one of its beloved charter members, who is also the seventh club president, Mrs. Ellenor Hyney:
“In the autumn of 1899, four Chautauqua graduates met at the home of Mrs. Frank Ludlow for the purpose of organizing a study club, and succeeded in launching one, naming it, “The Hall in the Grove,” as their intention was to model it somewhat along Chautauqua lines of study. Mrs. Ludlow was elected president, Mrs. Cora Harton, secretary, Mrs. Sabra Sutton, treasurer, and Mrs. Mary Joslyn, club member.
“The office of vice-president, various committees, charter membership, etc., were left for future consideration and more members, which materialized rapidly, so that their membership in the Year Book of 1899-1900 showed a list of twenty-four names, of earnest, intellectual and wide-awake ladies, as the programs of those earlier years proved real tests of acquired knowledge or sent us to the library for deep research and study. We did not in those days resort to the easy way of persuading some college professor, or one of our ministers to talk for us. The title page of our Year Book for 1900-1901 bore this inscription: Programs for Hall in the Grove, the name given us by the Chautauqua students, and which remained ours up to and including the year 1902-1903.”
In the Year Book 1903-1904, the name, “Ladies Literary Club” makes its first appearance. Mrs. Ella Hartwell, president, and Mrs. Ellenor Hyney, first vice-president. At first the membership was limited to 25, and is now limited to 35. Of the first years membership, the only initial members living are Mrs. Mary Joslyn, Mrs. Mary Pratt, Mrs. Ellenor Hyney and Mrs. Ida Goodrich. Mrs. Pratt and Mrs. Hyney are still members of this club.
The Ladies Literary Club joined the Michigan State Federation of Womens Clubs in 1910, and belonged for a number of years, then withdrew. This club is a charter member of the Albion Federation of Womens Clubs, organized in 1915, and also a charter member of the Calhoun County Federation of Womens Clubs, organized in 1922. The club motto is: “We will make the Twentieth Century greater, because the Nineteenth Century has been ours.” The club colors are purple, white and green, and the club flower is the pansy. The annual dues are $2.00.
In a club paper, entitle “Our Todays and Yesterdays”, written by our dear Mrs. Hyney, and read recently at one of our club meetings, she says: “For the first early years of our first decade we studied and wrote upon poetry and biography, from Shakespeare and Milton to Gladstone and Disraeli, then we toured the Old World, and came back to dear America, and explored her wonders, national parks, cliff dwellers, old cities, etc.
“Again, we were interested in the seven wonders of the world in wireless telegraphy, synthetic chemistry, radium and toxin, air-ships, the Panama Canal, the telephone, all had a place on our programs.
“We had not gone far in our second decade before the World War loomed in our horizon, n and we were affiliated with the Red Cross in which we worked at every meeting, also helped at the regular meetings of the Red Cross in 1917-1918, and I might add we have kept pace with events, and added to our programs, new features such as gladdening the hearts of the inmates of the county hospital and other county institutions by fits and entertainments, sewing, also gifts to our local hospital, books and periodicals to our city library.
“We did our share of selling Red Cross, or as they were called, T.B. Stamps until other ways of distributing them were devised. One event in the long past years we neglected to mention which should be remembered. When Prof. Cozine was at the head of the Albion College Conservatory, he put on a delightful concert for us, to which was invited every social organization in town, and the college chapel was crowded almost to suffocation, and the applause was deafening and the result very flattering to our club, and satisfactory to the promoters of the entertainment. I think it occurred in the club year, 1910-1911.
“Some of the years since the war during which we knitted, sewed, made bandages, etc., have been strenuous ones, but we have kept the pace and find our programs, guest days and semi-monthly meetings very pleasant, and our friendships delightful. Some of our dearest members are kept at home to care for sick ones to whom our hearts go out in deepest sympathy.
“There are many questions of the present day hard to answer, and many problems difficult to solve, and to some of the veteran members perhaps, the world moves too rapidly, and seems headed for destruction, but we keep our shoulder to the wheel, steadily and surely, and in these bright sunny days, we feel like exclaiming with Robert Browning:
This brings us to the year 1930-1931. We are still carrying on the work of our predecessors, just adding a little more each year, not it is the care of the unemployed and needy of Albion, but with all this we still have time to study and read, our subject this year has been “Our Latin American Neighbors.”
We are exploring South America, studying the settlements, early Indian civilizations, the Incas, folk lore of South American Indians, and South American patriots.
For diversion we have our sewing day for hospital and county nurse. We had a Christmas party, a musicale at the Parker Inn, a special George Washington Bicentennial program, have planted a memorial Washington tree, and a Leap Year party, library day at our city library, with the former librarian, Miss Ruth French, speaker, the comes the spring time when we walk in the garden of flowers and say “good bye” to meet again in the fall.
The officers for the year, (1930-1931) are: Mrs. Emma Durkee, president; Mrs. Elizabeth Harrod, first vice-president; Mrs. Gertrude Wochholz, second vice-presidentl Mrs. Ida Knack, recording secretary; Mrs. Lillian Titman, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Minnie Foskit, treasurer.
The past presidents are: Mrs. Mary Ludlow, Mrs. Ella Hartwell, Mrs. Louisa Weeks, Mrs. Louisa Kendrick, Mrs. Cora Harton, Mrs. Ellenor Hyney, Mrs. Alice Howard, Mrs. Elizabeth Burns, Mrs. Lillian Dibble, Mrs. Rosella Black, Mrs. Gertrude Pratt, Mrs. Lillian Titman, Mrs. Marie Wochholz, Mrs. Emma Durkee. The first death in the club occurred in 1903, the first name to appear on the “In Memoriam” list, which now numbers 15, was Mrs. Cornelia Ball, the mother of our college librarian Miss Rosa Ball.
Source: Krenerick, Miriam. Albion’s Milestones and Memories. Albion, MI: Art Craft Press. 1932. 116-118