|The First Woman's Club of Beckley 1909
|Click on picture for enlarged view and specific information.
First Woman's Club of Beckley
all began in the year 1909 when Miss Ethel McDairmid called a group of local women together for a meeting in the home of Senator
John W. McCreery. One of the charter members describes the meetings of that time as gala events held monthly in the
homes of the various members. She remembers that the ladies dressed "fit to kill" and took the greatest pride in their
sandwiches and coffee. Of course this was the height of the social functions held in Beckley at that time.
1909 yearbook lists approximately 30 charter members. Officers of that memorable year were Miss Ethel McDiarmid
(President), Mrs. Earnest M. Merrill (Vice President), Mrs. George W. Harris (Secretary), Miss Elizabeth Anderson (Treasurer),
Mrs. William Taylor (Director of Music).
club's purpose in those early years was self improvement through literature and music. The year 1909 was spent studying
the literature and music of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the programs were rich in the presentations of famous English
authors, playwrights, and musicians. Miss McDairmid continued as president for the next several years, and the
club furthered its study of different countries including Italy, France, and Germany.
Change and a New Direction
the First World War the ladies put aside their search for culture in favor of giving their all for the war effort.
The Woman's Club, which was federated in 1914, assisted the Red Cross in Beckley by taking complete charge of the surgical
supplies, knitting, and garment making departments.
the mid-twenties the club had increased in membership and broadened its interests. Their purpose had grown to promote
civic interest in Beckley as well as the literary and music culture of its members. Departments were created
and added as need and interest dictated.
By the end of the decade departments
in the Woman's Club included Music, Literary, Civic, Education, Citizenship, and Home Economics. Energy was directed
toward aiding worthy causes and promoting needed change in the community. Current issues were public health, child welfare,
citizenship, illiteracy, disaster relief, hghway beautification, and raising
money to build a new clubhouse.
|Click on picture to enlarge.
A New Clubhouse
During the next ten years there
were many more changes. By 1931 the membership had grown to over 175. A long-wanted new clubhouse was built on
Park Avenue on a lot donated by the Raleigh County Board of Education. A House and Garden Department was added,
and a Junior Woman's Department was organized. The Woman's Club of Beckley became the first club to sponsor
a Public Health Program and conducted a campaign for city garbage disposal.
Paying for the clubhouse was a prime concern during the thirties and led to many
fundraisers. But they continued their charity work supporting many worthy causes like the Scouts, the Salvation
Army, the Crippled Children's Clinic, the Well-Baby Clinic, Mountain Missions, the Red Cross,
and the Cancer Drive. They helped the needy, kept up with current events, and broadened their interests to include
Another War and More Changes
As the coal mining industry grew and the population
of Beckley increased, so did the club's membership along with new opportunities and challenges. In the early forties
the Civic Department was reactivated and organized from among the juniors and became the largest department of the Woman's
Club. Plans were made to purchase a piano for the clubhouse, and two new offices were added - Historian and Music Director.
Health and wellness remained a high priority as they sponsored the Well-Baby Clinic, organized a Health Clinic
Committee, and worked on cancer control.
The Second World War again saw the clubwomen rolling up their sleeves for war work. They
appointed a special chairman for surgical dressings, took charge of the Red Cross's house-to-house canvassing, and
donated to the chapter's War Relief Fund. They started a War Service Committee and a Bond and
Stamp Sales Committee. Membership had increased to the point of having to set a limit of 300 members. In
the mid-forties the club was able to concentrate more on community needs and improvements. They worked with
the City Recreational Council, the Civic Park and Playground Committee, the Community Chest, the
Pinecrest Fund, the Cancer Drive, and other local drives.
|Beckley Post-Herald 12/20/1950
|The Woman's Club Chorus Entertains at Beckley Civitan's Annual Christmas Party (c;lick to enlarge)
By 1950 their interests included youth conservation, social and child welfare, and recreational
facilities. The early years of the 50s saw the organization of a Woman's Club Chorus and the League
of Women Voters under the presidency of Elinor Hurt. In the mid 50s a tree fell on the clubhouse, calling for extensive
remodeling of the structure. As the 1950s grew to a close a new department was formed, the Intermediate Department,
and a 50th Anniversary Pageant, "The Golden Tree," was written and presented by the members. Some
of the many accomplishments during this past decade were the birth of the Mental Health Program, the organization
of the Golden Age Club, support of the Epic Drama Project, and the publication of a club newspaper, The
Beckleyan. The Woman's Club of Beckley had come a long way in fifty years and accomplished much since
that first meeting in 1909.
Club Presidents 1909-1959
1909-1911 Miss Ethel McDairmid
1911-1913 Mrs. E. W. McDairmid
1913-1915 Mrs. W. W. Hume
1915-1917 Mrs. Thomas E. Bibb
1917-1918 Mrs. John H. Hatcher
1918-1919 Mrs. W. H. McGinnis
1919-1920 Mrs. J. L. Bumgardner
1920-1921 Mrs. E. S. Dupuy
1921-1922 Mrs. Henry E. Phipps
1922-1924 Mrs. B. Lacy Hoge
1924-1925 Mrs. J. M. Ferguson
1925-1927 Mrs. James H. McGinnis
1927-1929 Mrs. E. Earl Bibb
1929-1930 Mrs. James W. Watkins
1930-1931 Mrs. W. W. Hume
1931-1933 Mrs. Andrew H. Smith
1933-1934 Mrs. Ross P. Daniel
1934-1935 Mrs. M. C. McCall
1935-1937 Mrs. L. T. Putman
1937-1939 Mrs. Clarence D. Walker
1939-1941 Mrs. R. L. Reardin
1941-1943 Mrs. K. D. Bowers
1943-1945 Mrs. S. A. Ford
1945-1947 Mrs. C. I. Bepler
1947-1949 Mrs. Floyd Sayre
1949-1951 Mrs. Fred Hurt
1951-1953 Mrs. Stuart B. Angel
1953-1955 Mrs. Wayne Reynolds
1955-1957 Mrs. J. E. Otto
1957-1959 Miss Topsy O'Dell
|CLUB HISTORY - Part II