The first Study Clubs in Lyon County, Kansas
From: History of Emporia and Lyon County Kansas
By: Laura M. French
Emporia Gazette Print
Emporia, Kansas 1929


Some of the women's study clubs were established many years ago, and have carried on their work uninterruptedly. The Thesaurus was organized in the autumn of 1883, according to a history of the club written by Miss Mary Herbert, a charter member, a few years before her death. The first meeting was at the D. W. Holderman home, corner Fifth and State, now the W. R. Richards home. Forty persons, men and women, attended this meeting. This number was considered too large for the average home, so two groups were formed, one for either side of Commercial Street. W. C. Simpson, an attorney, was the first president; William Hart, bookkeeper for the Newman Dry Goods Company, was the first secretary. The Chautauqua course of study was decided upon, and the name Study Club adopted. The two groups met every Monday night. Among the members on the west side were Mr. and Mrs. Simpson, Mr. and Mrs. Hart, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Evans, Miss Lena Weed, Mr. and Mrs. D. W. Eastman, Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Wood, Mrs. R. J. Edwards, Miss Lizzie ilolderman, and Miss Mary Herbert. In 1886 the Chautauqua course was discontinued, the men had dropped out of the club, and its name was changed to Thesaurus. Among early members were Mrs. O. D. Swan, Miss Josephine Patty, Mrs. E. N. Evans, Mrs. T. G. Wibley, Mrs. A. R. Taylor, Mrs. Kate Smeed Cross, Miss Julia Hardcastle, Miss Tillie DeCamp, Mrs. J. M. Griffith, Mrs. J. Jay Buck, Mrs. Augusta Berkshire. Mrs. Simpson, of Chicago is, probably, the only living member of this organization at its beginning, and she and Mrs. Swan, of Emporia, and Mrs. A. R. Taylor, Decatur, Illinois, the only ones remaining of those who were members at the time the club became the Thesaurus. Mrs. L. H. Hausam is the president for 1929-1930, and Mrs. A. W. Moore is secretary.

The Literary League was organized in October, 1888. At the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of this club, in 1928, Mrs. A. Pemberton, one of its original members, told the story of the club, as follows: "In the summer of 1888 a group of women who were neighbors were inspired to organize a study club. These women had heard of the Chautauqua Circle and the pioneer women's club, the Sorosis. The call for the first meeting was extended by Mrs. J. E. Evans, Mrs. T. N. Sedgwick, Mrs D. S. Bill, Mrs. L. D. Jacobs and Mrs. A. Pemberton. By the end of the year there was a permanent membership of ten, and the name of Literary League was chosen. The membership was limited to ten for a number of years, then to twelve, then to fifteen, and now to twenty. From being a neighborhood club of the Second Ward it has expanded and now embraces the entire town. For several years it was without constitution, officers or dues. The club always has met weekly, and in early years the hostess of the day presided at the meeting. The first officers were elected in order that the club might become affiliated with the City Federation of Women's Clubs . . . . . . . . During the forty years of the club's existence it has touched upon all fields of knowledge. Its members have been a closely knit unit, of one mind and one object: Growth and mutual help. The presidents have served for long periods. The first president was Mrs. J. E. Evans; the second, Mrs. S. B. Warren; the third, Mrs. Pemberton; the fourth, Mrs. J. D. Graham; the fifth, Mrs. Pemberton; the sixth, Mrs. F. M. Arnold, and the seventh, Mrs. F. L. Gilson."

Mrs. Pemberton was elected president emeritus in 1926, and was the honored guest at this celebration. Mrs. Pemberton, Mrs. L. D. Jacobs, of Garnett, and Mrs. J. E. Evans, of Chicago, are the only ones living of the original members. The Literary League is a member of the State Federation of Women's Clubs.

The Junto was organized in 1889. Mrs. C. N. Sterry was the first leader, and Mrs. J. T. Arnett the second. There were no elected officers at first, and leaders for stated periods were selected. Mrs. G. W. Newman is the only living charter member, and three generations of her family now are Junto members - herself, her daughter, Mrs. Joseph Hughes, and her granddaughter, Mrs. Harold Trusler. Mrs. I. D. Fox was one of the Junto's early presidents, and Mrs. E. W. Barker is the 1929-1930 presiding officer. Mrs. Harold Trusler is secretary.

The Junto, November 14, 1892, federated with the Kansas State Social Science Club, which later became the State Federation of Women's Clubs. The Junto was the first Emporia club to federate. Mrs. L. B. Kellogg and Mrs. J. M. McCown went as delegates from the Junto to Chicago in June, 1893, where was held the first meeting of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, at the time of the World's Columbian Exposition. Mrs. McCown recalls that the meetings lasted through but two days and one evening session, whereas now they continue for two weeks, and then leave unfinished business. Mrs. McCown gave a reading on Kansas Day, "When the Sunflowers Bloom," and D. O. Jones, of Emporia, sang in the Kansas chorus. The Emporia women enjoyed meeting Mrs. Potter Palmer, who was head of all the women's work in the exposition.

The General Federation again met at a World's Fair, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, in St. Louis, 1904, and again Mrs. Kellogg and Mrs. McCown attended. Mrs. J. F. Kenney, of Emporia, played an organ solo on Kansas Day. Mrs. McCown has attended four General Federation meetings, the others having been at Atlantic City and in New York City. The membership of the Junto in 1893-1894, when it was organized formally and officers elected, was: President, Mrs. J. T. Arnett; secretary, Mrs. T. J. Acheson; treasurer, Mrs. Ida Moore Irwin; directors, Mrs. G. W. Newman, Mrs. L. B. Kellogg, Mrs. I. E. Perley, Mrs. T. H. Dinsmore; Mrs. C. B. Graves, Mrs. Luther Severy, Mrs. Henry Dickson, Mrs. Park Morse, Mrs. Iva J. Keebler, Mrs. A. R. Taylor, Mrs. Ellen Trask, Mrs. I. D. Fox, Mrs. Martha Sauber, Mrs. Ellen Hibbard, Mrs. O. B. Hardeastle, Mrs. J. N. Wilkinson, Mrs. J. D. Barnett, Mrs. J. M. McCown, Mrs. J. D. Hewitt and Mrs. T. P. Harper.

Other study clubs which have been organized for long terms of years are the Parliament, the Cosmopolitan, the Research, the M. I. P.


In Emporia, also, the Business and Professional Women's Club, with a membership of from one hundred sixty to two hundred, does important civic work in addition to its regular program of work for and by its members. It has sponsored the Red Cross and Y. M. C. A. - Y. W. C. A. budget drives, doing all of the soliciting, it has fed the hungry and clothed the naked, it furnished rooms in the hospitals and in the nurses' homes. It maintains a scholarship loan fund for the benefit of needy girls and young women. More important than all this, it has been the means of broadening the lives of hundreds of young women and girls employed in business and professional work. It has put these women "on the map" as no other agency could have done, and as never before had been attempted. This organization is a power in the town.

The Women's Relief Corps and the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic have a combined membership of about three hundred, and both do important patriotic and philanthropic work. The Women's Christian Temperance Union long has been a real power in the enforcement of the prohibitory law, and in many other phases of good citizenship activities. And it is interesting to know that, as early as 1859, a lodge of Good Templars was organized in Emporia with a membership of thirty. From Women's Relief Corps No. 70 have been elected a national president, Mrs. Belle C. Harris, and four department presidents - Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Margaret Griffith, Mrs. Marian S. Nation and Miss Sadie Whitehead.

The American Association of University Women and two chapters of the P. E. O. have strong organizations, with working memberships that add distinctly to the cultural assets of the town.

The work of the garden clubs in Emporia adds much to the beauty and attractiveness of the town. The activities of the club members, added to their shining example, move many other citizens to improve their homes and surroundings. Garden Club exhibits are shown each year, free to the public, in a convenient downtown location. The large crowds that see these shows testify to the interest of the townspeople in flower gardens and lawns.

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