The summer of 1879 was so hot in the Casa Grande Valley that railroad magnate Charles Crocker halted work on the Southern Pacific tracks. He reported to his associates that the rails became too hot for the construction men to handle. The track-laying terminus that blazing desert summer lay nearly seventy miles by dusty wagon road from Tucson, then the only sizeable settlement in southern Arizona. Every day when the Southern Pacific Railroad train arrived from the Pacific Coast, a crowded stage coach pulled by a sixteen-mule team departed for a fifteen-hour journey to Tucson. "Terminus" hardly seemed habitable by hardy men on this transportation frontier, much less by women.
Yet women carne to live in this hot desert valley. When the track-laying Chinese crews began to work again, they built the railroad rapidly eastward. They left a freight and passenger station at terminus, named by 1880 "Casa Grande" after the remains of a four-story prehistoric Hohokam Indian building falling into ruins on the south bank of the Gila River fifteen miles northeast of the new station. By the summer of 1880, four adult women and their five young daughters lived in Casa Grande. Half of the adult women were married to Mexican railroad section hands. One Anglo-American woman was married to the railroad's station agent. The other was the wife of the keeper of the hotel - really more of a boarding house for nine single male residents and transient teamsters, stage drivers, and their passengers. A bookkeeper, two stage agents, a railroad telegrapher, a store clerk, a hostler, a miner, a teamster and a stage-driver boarded at the "hotel. "
The hotel-keeper's wife exerted a marked influence upon the rough males who passed through the tiny transportation village during the 1880's. She was a truly remarkable person. Local gossip identified her as Pauline Cushman, a sometime actress who acted as a Union intelligence agent behind Confederate lines during the War of the Rebellion. Captured and unmasked by rebel officers, Pauline had reportedly been saved from execution as a spy only by advancing Union forces. Her exploits had been publicized by romantic biographies distributed throughout the reunited nation. Whether Hattie Fryer, as she was known to United States census enumerators, was indeed Pauline Cushman or not, her reputation undoubtedly magnified her influence over the hard-working and sometimes hard-acting masculine populace of the freighting village and its transients. The men there and passing through accorded her the honorary title of "M' "
This remarkable woman's Casa Grande Valley reputation did not rest entirely upon her laurels as a Union heroine. She worked actively for fair play during the violence that often marked quarrels between men in an Arizona Territory that did not achieve final conquest of native Indians resisting Anglo-American invasion until 1886. An eye-witness remembered watching in 1885 as "Major" Fryer stood in a room corner with her forty-five drawn to enforce fairness as two men settled their quarrel. While Messrs. Johnson and Robinson sent bullets whistling at each other within fifteen feet of her, "Major" Fryer stood without flinching. Johnson died in the fusillade, so Hattie did not need to exercise her considerable skill as a nurse of men with bullet wounds.
Casa Grande in "Major" Fryer's time served mainly as a break-down point for freight and passengers hauled from the railroad to mines in the arid mountains roundabout. Thus, it attracted mainly a male transient population.
Still, the mines also recruited family men. In 1883, W. T. Hutchinson of Picket Post, a mine camp on Queen Creek in the mountains to the east, came to Casa Grande station to meet his family, which arrived by train. His thirteen year-old daughter Angela had been born in Virginia City, Nevada, in 1870. She lived at Silver King, a famous silver mine camp, for three years. Then the family moved to Wickenburg, yet another mine town. There the matured Angela married a building contractor, Joseph Hammer. They purchased the Wickenburg Miner, which Angela published, and later acquired the Weldon News.
Meanwhile, during the 1880's, entrepreneurs in the Gila River bank village of Florence excavated a canal toward Casa Grande station to carry irrigation water to desert lands near the railroad. As they gradually succeeded in luring farmers to the desert to take advantage of its long growing season for irrigated crops, the character of settlement in the region changed. This irrigation farm colonization brought the fledgling Casa Grande settlement a nearby competitor.
Early in the 1890's, California capitalists invested in a townsite at the Arizola railroad station about three miles southeast of Casa Grande station toward Tucson.
Arizola seemed to be a beautiful place to at least one young bride. The townsite had been "beautifully" laid out, and impressive buildings erected. A "magnificent" hotel reportedly had cost $20,000. The weekly Arizola Oasis began publication in a fine brick building. The streets were lined with palm trees. Arizola appeared to face a prosperous future.
The California investors financing Arizola lost their money in a Los Angeles bank during the financial panic of 1893, however, and deprived of a source of capital, Arizola seems to have withered away.
Daniel S. Weaver and his wife Celestin arrived in the Arizola area in 1894, evidently not deterred by the recent financial crisis. They came from North Dakota thirty years after Daniel and Celestin had married in New York. Celestis Peters was born in Fulton County, New York, on July 22, 1839. With her husband, she migrated to Iowa and then to Minnesota before moving to North Dakota and then to the far warmer climate of the Case Grande Valley. Their daughter Lola, born at Minnesks, Minnesota, on October 9, 1865, accompanied the Weavers to the Case Grande Valley.
The stage coach and freight wagon roads established soon after the railroad located Casa Grande station radiated across the valley and captured much retail custom for merchants there. Retailers opened a variety of family oriented shops and stores to cater to farmers and their wives. The latter were on the whole gentler folk than the fractious freighters "Major" Fryer helped to tame in the 1880's.
In 1907, Mr. and Mrs. T. R. Peart arrived in Casa Grande with their three children, Dan, Harry, and Alice. Lillian Weaver was born to Daniel and Celestia in Minneska, Minnesota, on May 6, 1869. Moving to North Dakota with her parents, she taught school for a while. On December 1, 1888, Lillian married a man twenty years her senior. Now they followed her parents and elder sister to the valley.
By these early years of the Twentieth Century, the internal combustion engine was replacing the horse and mule as wagon motive power. Civic leaders began to build highways for the new-fangled automobiles and trucks built in urban factories to follow across country. T. R. Peart took the lead in Casa Grande in promoting improved roads. He mobilized local citizens in a mass meeting to go to the county seat at Florence to demand an increase in a bond issue to finance road construction. One result was a good-quality highway connecting Casa Grande and the county seat. Within four years after his arrival in Casa Grande, T. R. Peart had already been elected to the city council and was chosen as mayor of the town.
Also in 1911, Joseph and Angela H. Hammer left Wickenburg to move to Phoenix and then to Casa Grande. In partnership with Ted Healy, Angela founded the first weekly newspaper published in Casa Grande, the Bulletin. A dynamic new female force had entered the business arena in the growing railroad and farming village.
The shallow surface mineral lode deposits in the mountains near Casa Grande station tended to play out in the early years of the Twentieth Century. The automotive age created entrepreneurial opportunities for some of those who had lived in the disappearing mine camps around Casa Grande Valley.
In 1912, Hugh Wilson moved from the Orizaba mine camp to Casa Grande and purchased a garage. With him came his wife, Sarah, and their children C.]., Russell, and Lucile. The children had been attending a make-shift school at the mine camp after living on a ranch south of the railroad station briefly upon their arrival in 1907 from Pennsylvania.
By 1913, the nature of settlement in Casa Grande had significantly changed. The freighting village had grown into a farm trading center with several hundred resident farmers and trades people as well as railroad families. The automobile was displacing muscular teamsters with mechanics and technicians.
ORGANIZING THE CLUB
Some of the wives of such different sorts of men living in Casa Grande recognized that they shared common intellectual concerns far from the life-and-death struggles of the town's first decade. They reached the point of organizing themselves to pursue wider interests than their own families, as other women had been doing elsewhere in the United States as the country moved toward ratification of a constitutional amendment extending the franchise to women. Seven good friends met in November of 1913 at the home of
Lillian (Mrs. T .R.) Peart on West Third Street - then on the northwestern outskirts of the village - to organize what they called a "Current Events Club."
By that time, Lillian Peart's sister Lola had married a local machinist, William Lee, and had an eight year-old son.
Celestia Weaver and her daughters Lillian Peart and Lola Lee formed a related nucleus of members for the club. Mrs. Sena Davies, Mrs. Ethel Travis, Mrs. Edith Wilson and Mrs. Sarah Wilson joined them.
Mesdames Lee and Davies later were credited with generating the idea of organization, and the little group chose Sena Davies as its first leader.
The pioneering seven quickly interested eight more wives in joining them: Mrs. Mabel Bayne, Mrs. Angela H. Hammer - who passed through Casa Grande station as a teenager thirty years earlier - Mrs. Genevieve Hutchinson, Mrs. Sarah McMurray, Mrs. Minnie Smith, Mrs. Viola Vance, and Mrs. Margaret O. Zimmerman. Ethel Travis became the club's first secretary, and Margaret Zimmerman its first treasurer.
The railroad brought Margaret Osborne Zimmerman to Casa Grande in 1903 to join her husband, then superintendent of the Producer's Mine at Brownell. A year later they moved to the Jackrabbit Mine. They moved into town in 1912.
The "Current Events Club" members clearly were not satisfied with the relatively limited horizons of their small desert town. They were literate women who had their household chores and children well under control so that they enjoyed leisure time for visiting one another, for conversation and self-improvement. They shared the national penchant for reading to improve their minds. From the beginning of their association, they defined one of the goals as acquiring "literary and artistic culture." They also felt very strongly their need for more knowledge of the world, and for entertainment to be gained from reading. Consequently, they envisioned from the beginning of their association pooling their books and raising funds with which to purchase additional volumes. They planned to share their books with others in a free reading room and library. Conforming to a custom of American organizations, the women chose club colors: lavender and maize. They made the primrose their club flower. They opened their meetings by reciting "A Collect for Women," a prayer written by Mary Stewart.
If the public-spirited women belonging to the Casa Grande Current Events Club did not already know about the woman's club movement, they soon learned of it. In 1914, they renamed their organization the "Woman's Club of Casa Grande," and affiliated with the General Federation of Women's Clubs. That action linked them permanently into a national organization concerned about national issues. The expressed goal of the Casa Grande group remained, on the other hand, the establishment of a public library for Casa Grande. The members accumulated a supply of books and money that would comprise a library fund, led first by Sena Davies and then by Sarah Wilson completing her term. Each of the original fifteen club members contributed about $2 to create a fund of $35 used to purchase city lots, with the goal of building a clubhouse in mind.
In 1914, Angela Hutchinson Hammer severed her connection with the Case Grande Bulletin and launched another weekly newspaper, the Case Grande Dispatch. The two papers became bitter rivals. Even an historian oj the Dispatch, which survived the intense competition, recognized that the rivalry turned anything but ladylike by contemporary standards.
Viola Vance became president of the new Woman's Club in 1915 and 1916. In Casa Grande, as elsewhere, the road to success is seldom without obstacles to be surmounted. The Woman's Club encountered a roadblock in 1916 when fire ravaged the Peart home, and with it the club's books and all of its records. Sarah Wilson organized the bucket brigade that tried vainly to put out the fire. She also again filled out the term of a president who left town. Despite the fire, the club reported at the state convention of women's clubs that it had $370.73 in its library fund.
The fire forced members of the young organization to search for a suitable place to house their books as a new collection grew. The growth in numbers of members of the club itself pushed its meetings out of homes into public places. By the 1915-16 school year, the club was meeting on Saturdays in the public school auditorium. When the city extended its street system, it traded adjoining lots for the ones that club members had originally purchased. fall, the club put on a reception for the town#039;s public school teachers in a move to build good feeling between local parents and those who tried to instruct their often recalcitrant offspring. The club continued holding these receptions each fall until a Parent Teachers Association was finally organized in Casa Grande some years later.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the members of the Woman's Club took up war work under Jane Wilson's leadership. They invested $870 of general and $400 of library funds in Liberty Bonds. Mrs. W. P. Clements chaired a bazaar that netted $140 for the Red Cross. Members did not forget, however, the club's original goal. They began to discuss incorporating as a step toward building a clubhouse to hold their library. Toward the end of this war year, the club joined with the city council to sponsor a community Christmas tree, starting another activity that would continue for many a year.
Jane Wilson was re-elected president of the club in 1918. Members collected 125 books as gifts to men in the armed forces. They were active in public health officials' attempts to contain the 1918 influenza epidemic, and they conducted another bazaar for the benefit of the American Red Cross.
In 1918, the woman who alighted at Case Grande railroad station as a teenager thirty-five years earlier led local women into politics. Angela Hutchinson Hammer ran for the office of state representative from Pinal County, and she won. She won enough later elections to serve until 1924, when she became Immigration Commissioner and dealt in valley real estate.
Mrs. E. R. (Margaret) Zimmerman served as a delegate to the meeting of the League to Enforce the Peace convened in San Francisco on February 19-20, 1919, as members of the Casa Grande Woman's Club began to reach out to endeavor to influence national affairs.
Lillian Peart became club president later in 1919. She and Angela H. Hammer purchased additional lots for the club for $125. This gave the club virtual control of a wedge-shaped block where the original town plat that paralleled the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks met the conventional north-south / east-west alignment of later surveys. By that time, the club had apparently found a temporary place in which to operate its public library. This was a room at the rear of a building occupied by the Pinal County Agricultural Agent, then on First Street. After the war ended, members of the Woman's Club dedicated their land as a park memorial to those who served in the U.S. armed forces. Thus, the women in the club expressed their general solidarity with national leaders of the era. At the same time, they continued to look abroad, contributing $31.50 for Near East relief.
A man presented the club with a bookcase in 1920, and books arrived from as far away as Long Beach and Redlands in California. By that time, Mrs. Lute Byram was president of the organization, which met in the Christian Church. The club subscribed $100 to Armenian relief efforts, but began to take note of local needs, too. Members proposed a hot school lunch program and campaign to encourage school children to drink more milk. Mrs. Charles H. (N. Bess) Prather and Mrs. Robert Allen were acting as librarians. Other club members filled in after 1921 as librarians.
Jane Wilson served again as club president in 1921, when membership had dropped slightly to sixty-six women. The club members had achieved success in terms of their objective of operating a reading room and library, at least in terms of their own usage. The women who belonged to the club shared a less selfish goal of community service, also.
In November, club members began to prepare and to serve school children a hot lunch, meeting expenses in part with profits from a bazaar. Some women in Casa Grande belonged to churches whose ministers opposed dancing and card playing on moral grounds. Dances and card parties proved, nevertheless, to be effective fund raising events, bringing in $251 to support the club's school lunch program during 1922. Sarah Wilson boiled up a huge kettle of soup for the hungry school children, who brought their own bowls and spoons to Central School. Those who could afford a dime paid it; others ate free, and really needed the school lunch program founded by Woman's Club members.
The club reverted to meeting in members' homes, and the officers worked toward legal incorporation under the laws of the state of Arizona. In order to build their own clubhouse and library, the determined women belonging to the group needed a corporation. A corporate entity could mortgage the club's principal assets, its city lots, to raise initial construction funds. This step was completed on January 22, 1923, when the articles of incorporation were granted and a corporate seal approved. The introductory paragraph of the articles of incorporation summed up very succinctly the motives of the members of the organization:
"The Casa Grande Woman's Club Corporation is duly organized and existing under General Laws of Arizona provided for the organization of Corporations for religious, social and benevolent purposes. Its general purposes are the social and educational training and development of its members, and the maintenance of a free public library."
Thereafter, on April 12, 1923, the club's board of directors reached a momentous decision. It recommended immediate action to achieve the club's long-range objectives: building a clubhouse and library combined on property the club owned at the corner of Sacaton Street and Florence Boulevard. The members of the club voted to approve the board's recommendation. Some opponents left the organization, however, fearful that the majority had embarked upon too ambitious a project under president Myrtle Hudson.
Casa Grande then contained a population of less than a thousand individuals. None of its streets had yet been paved; nor were they lighted. The Casa Grande Woman's Club was still, a decade after its affiliation with the national federation, the only secular woman's organization in town. The immigration that would permit founding a College Club was yet to occur. The entry of women into business careers that would allow them to form a Business and Professional Women's Club, Zonta and the Round Table lay in the future. Not even the Parent Teachers' Association had yet spread to the small community in the irrigated stretch of desert near Casa Grande railroad station. Small wonder that some timid women looked with great trepidation upon the bold venture of building a commodious clubhouse at a cost of thousands of dollars at a time when very few women such as newspaperwomen Angela H. Hammer or N. Bess Prather directly controlled cash income.
The mid-1920's in the farm trading center and transportation town equidistant from Phoenix, Tucson and Gila Bend was a period when the Woman's Club provided crucial stimulus and support to community organization. When they embarked on their clubhouse building project, Woman's Club members were still holding their annual fall reception for school teachers, helping to sponsor the town's Christmas tree program, and began to help out with the Casa Grande Ruins pageant.
Financing building construction called forth prodigious effort, dedication, and imagination on the part of the members of the Woman's Club, and cooperation by townspeople. R. J. Paden lent the club the money required to begin construction, some $2,000. A rash of card parties, chicken dinners, summer socials, and fruitcake sales and solicitations of merchants for donations broke out.
One hard-working club member obtained funds by especially dramatic and memorable means. Mrs. Henry (Gertrude) Hager lived on a desert homestead some distance from the small town with its homes clustered around its railroad station. She began to kill the rattle-snakes that she frequently encountered. Boiling away the flesh of these reptiles from their bones, "Gertie" Hager then made novel necklaces of the vertebrae, interspersing them with bright-colored beads. She sold a large number of these desert jewels over a period of years, some going even to foreign countries.
Gertrude Baile-Moncrief] was born in Surrey, England, on August 28, 1886. After immigrating to the United States and marrying Henry Hager, Gertrude moved from Michigan to Case Grande in 1916. The; couple homesteaded desert land. Henry engaged in the real estate business and worked as a city maintenance man. Gertrude served for many years as secretary in the office of the county Agricultural Extension Agent and the Css« Grande Farm Bureau. She acted as society editor of the Case Grande Dispatch for some years, and published in 1941 a volume of poetry, A Violin Speaks. Although the Hegers had no children of their own, "Gertie" became very popular with young people. She was reportedly invited to so many weddings and showers that she finally had to stop gift-giving because the cost became prohibitive. Her favorite present was a pillow case trimmed with hand-knit lace. Thus, her fingers were busy at lace-making even when she sat in a darkened theater watching the cinema.
Henry Jaastad, who later served as mayor of Tucson, acted as architect for the Woman's Club building. He drew up plans for what has been characterized as a Hopi Indian style structure built predominately of dark-colored stone. Gertrude Hager responded to an appeal for contributions with the first load of rock donated for the building. Other people later hauled loads of rock from the Hager land near the Casa Grande Mountains. The club asked each member to contribute a load of stone or sand or its equivalent. Papago Indian workers performed much of the stone-hauling labor.
Construction Committee members Mesdames Maud Temple, Lillian Peart and Jane Wilson chose Michael Sullivan as the building contractor. His skill in stone masonry is attested to not only by the Woman's Club edifice, but also by the First Presbyterian Church structure (converted into a mortuary in recent years) that he built across Florence Boulevard from the clubhouse. The cornerstone of the Woman's Club building was laid on January 25, 1924.
The T-shaped edifice that took shape during 1924 provided interior space for a library in the small southern wing, and a kitchen in the northern one. The entryway through the main double doorway via the covered corridor between the two auxiliary wings opened into a large, open, multiple-purpose hall. As the club's members participated in the project that was an ambitious one for a settlement the size of Casa Grande at the time, they selected more dramatic colors for their organization. For more poetic maize and lavender, they chose brighter blue and gold. In the midst of the construction, club members once again elected Jane Wilson their president for her fifth term. They also began to consider dividing membership on age lines, appointing Mrs. Joe Curry to head a committee on the question of a junior club.
Mrs. J. J. Kruse, wife of a plumbing contractor, organized a long-remembered street carnival to raise funds to pay for laying the floor in the clubhouse. All manner of carnival equipment was produced, and the event achieved lasting impact among local residents. The Woman's Club members received total cooperation from businessmen who roped off two blocks of Main Street opposite the Southern Pacific Railroad depot and erected booths along each side of the thoroughfare. A big street dance wound up the carnival, which earned $500.
Contractor Sullivan and his workmen completed the clubhouse expeditiously, although their best effort with the nearly flat roof that architect Jaastad planned developed leaks for many a year after. The dramatic structure of dark shades of rock cost over $7,300, but the mortgage debt failed to dampen the enthusiastic ceremonies dedicating the clubhouse-library building on November 5, 1924. As one club historian noted:
"Guests came from all over the state for the occasion. Flowers from Mrs. Dwight B. Heard and Donofrio's Floral Company in Phoenix filled the main room and windows. Old Glory and the club colors of blue and gold, recently adopted, were draped above the flowers, and the Service Flag graced the north wall.
"Mrs. Jane Wilson, club president, opened the meeting. Special music arranged by Miss Baker of the High School was presented by the Glee Club. Mrs. Peart spoke about the organizing of the club and of the Charter Members, and Mrs. Jack Harmon told of the splendid work done by the club women. Mrs. Frank Gilbert unfolded plans for the future use of the building and Mr. de Coursey, who measured all the loads of rocks hauled by the Indians through the summer heat, paid complimentary tribute to the success of the Club.
"Mrs. C. H. Lockett, state chairman of the National Council of Women, made an address, followed by presentation of a number of books for the Library by Mrs. Frank Fowler of Tucson. Each delegate had been asked to bring a book ...
"Mrs. Hager read an original poem of the Club's history, and presented a gavel made of mesquite from the Hager homestead ... "
At the beginning of the club's new era in 1925, Mrs, Charles H. (N. Bess) Prather became president, serving also as vice-president of the Southern District of the Arizona Federation of Woman's Clubs.
Born in Oxford, Nebraska, in 1886, "Bess" was reared in Iowa, and earned a teacher's certificate from the University of Missouri. She lived for some time in Colorado. With her husband, she moved to Tempe, Arizona, in 1910. In 1920, the Prathers moved to Casa Grande, where Charles represented the Railway Express Agency. They had three sons. For a dozen years from 1922 to 1934, Mrs. Prather served as local correspondent for the Phoenix Arizona Republic and for the Tucson Daily Citizen.
The new clubhouse enabled the Woman's Club to expand its role in public affairs beyond the teachers' reception, the community Christmas tree, and role in the Casa Grande Ruin pageant. The 1925 Pinal County Fair was held for two days in the new meeting hall.
Woman's Club members and others helped to set up the library again. During clubhouse construction, the library had been closed and boxes of books stored in sheds at the homes of Jane Wilson and Mrs. Sam Bailie. Now the boxes were moved to the new building. Boys studying "manual arts" at the local high school built bookcases for the new building. Mrs. Mattie Fargo Raber supervised the five club members who volunteered to arrange and classify books and to check them in and out.
Miss Mattie Fargo had been librarian at Iowa Teachers College in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She arrived in Casa Grande in 1922 with her dentist husband.
In 1926, the Woman's Club's involvement with University of Arizona archeologist Dr. Byron Cummings and his projects increased. Members of the club made costumes for actors in the Casa Grande Ruin pageant. They also held a benefit ball for Cummings' struggling Arizona State Museum on the campus of the university in Tucson. Locally, the clubhouse served the high school senior class for its dance, and provided a place for stamp collectors' club meetings. Gertrude Hager launched as part of the club's own activities what would become one of its longest-sustained public events as chairman of a flower show held on April 30. It netted $52 for the club's treasury. Many members of the club loved growing flowers. They would bring experts, usually from the University of Arizona's College of Agriculture, to judge exhibits, and awarded eagerly sought first, second and third prize ribbons in numerous categories.
The Woman's Club even helped to launch a men's service club: women served luncheons in their clubhouse to members of the new Rotary Club.
Mrs. Frank (Gabrilla] Gilbert, wife of one of the valley's prominent farmers, became club president in 1927. A Fine Arts Department of the club assumed the responsibility of rearranging the library books and enforcing a new set of rules governing their use. Hugh Wilson contributed a set of books to the collection.
The club achieved a measure of national recognition when President Herbert Hoover honored it for its part in the "Better Homes of America" contest, selecting Mrs. Emma Monk Guild as local chairman. Club members adopted the motto "The higher we climb the more peaks open around us." N. Bess Prather, elected president of the Southern District of the Arizona Federation of Women's Clubs, and Maude Bassler served as delegates for organizing a county Chamber of Commerce.
The club budgeted five dollars per month in 1928 for purchasing new books for the library. Presumably mortgage loan payments restricted the club's ability to expand its library holdings by direct purchase. Re-elected president, Gabrilla Gilbert appointed committees that raised almost $250 with a carnival and $80 at a St. Patrick's Day Dance, so the club could pay the clubhouse architect a final $75 fee, and pay $750 on its debt.
The University of Arizona's cooperative agricultural extension service in 1928 assigned K. K. Henness as Pinal County Agricultural Agent, with offices in Case Grande. With him came his wife, Louise Hodges Henness. She was a native of Arizona, born at Clifton on September 12, 1904, educated in Bisbee schools and the Arizona School of Music. Before her 1926 marriage, Louise had been secretary in a bank and for the Arizona Wool Growers' Association. She soon became an active club member.
The club continued its teachers' reception, sponsorship of the community Christmas tree, serving lunches to the Rotarians, and now organized and sponsored a Girl Reserve Club. When the Casa Grande Ruin pageant was moved to Phoenix, on the other hand, the club protested and withdrew from it. The new clubhouse and the energy of club members enabled the organization to demonstrate its maturity by playing host to the state convention of the Arizona Federation of Women's Clubs on April 3-5, 1929.
That year the library was open three days of each week. Under President Edith deClercq, the club solicited aid from the City Council to maintain the book collection. The group began to rent the clubhouse to serve dinners to members of the local Lions Club twice a month, in another service to a new organization. Improving its clubhouse, the Woman's Club had a raised stage installed at the west end of the main hall. "Gertie" Hager served out deClercq's unexpired term.
Then N. Bess Prather returned to the club presidency in 1930. The annual flower show expanded to include a contest for the best yard, in a move to beautify the town. The club paid Mrs. Bolena Louthan $14 per month as its librarian. Under newspaperwoman Prather's leadership, the club organized a Business Woman's Club department, the forerunner of an independent Business and Professional Woman's group. While economic conditions deteriorated, the club was still able to make $250 from fourteen dances so it could pay $150 on its building loan. In 1931, with Mrs. Prather serving her fourth term as club president, the failure of a local bank seriously crippled the club financially.
In the electoral year 1932, the Woman's Club allowed ten dollars for new books. That was a marked reduction from the $60 spent in 1928. It was not an inconsiderable sum, however, the year Casa Grande stores sold carrots for a penny a bunch. Mrs. A. V. (Cora) Wynne served as club president. Mrs. Elona Doak and Mrs. McNatt kept the library open during September and October. Each received $3 in payment. The Southern District convention of the state federation met in Casa Grande in October.
Mrs. M. M. (Aneida] Bottrielled the club through the bitter depression year, when N. Bess Prather became first vice-president of the state federation. The club created a Hospital Committee, and lobbied government officials to secure a public health nurse.
In 1934, Mrs. Prather became president of the Arizona Federation of Women's Clubs. She presided over two notable fora on education on the University of Arizona campus early in 1935 and early in 1936. The Casa Grande club's board of directors became its library committee under President Elona Doak. It appointed Mrs. Dessa Harbison as librarian at $5.00 per month. The following year the library closed during the summer, but club members held a silver tea to re-open it in the fall, led by President Mrs. A. F. Peters. Mr. D. D. Stone gave a set of the annual reports of the American Bureau of Ethnology to the library. Without doubt there was a waiting list of local Indian buffs eagerly waiting to check out those books. In January, N. Bess Prather had participated in the Washington, D.C., American Federation of Women's Clubs convention. She took some time to lobby for federal legislation to benefit women, especially a birth control measure. She had established a strong Arizona political base during the 1934 gubernatorial campaign of Tempe physician Dr. B. B. Mouer.
Later in 1935, N. Bess Prather joined Margaret Sanger's pioneering birth control crusade as a clinic organizer. She stayed with the Sanger organization until 1937.
A local rancher's wife, Mrs. Roland (Eldora) Curry succeeded farm-wife Peters as 1936 club president. N. Bess Prather mustered local support for her efforts on behalf of national legislation for birth control, pure food laws, and equal women's rights. She remained active in Woman's Club affairs, attending the Tulsa convention of the national federation. Gertrude Hager's growing fame as a poet brought her appointment as chairman of the Poetry Division of the Arizona Federation of Women's Clubs, and she broadcast a radio talk on Arizona poets.
The Casa Grande club varied its practice of having a state university faculty member judge its flower show, inviting Mrs. A. C. Armbruster of the Phoenix Garden Club to judge the 1936 entries. The following year, the Casa Grande club, in cooperation with the Phoenix Garden Club and the National Garden Club, organized a Garden Department. Thus, it took a further step toward building another institution based on its earlier activities.
The wife of the editor of the Casa Grande Dispatch, who helped with editorial and business chores, became president of the club in 1937. She was not Angela H. Hammer, the paper having changed owners a couple of times, but Mrs. E. H. (Effie) Boyd. Her sister-in-law, Mrs. James (Helen) Boyd, wife of a printer in the newspaper plant, became club librarian that same year at $5.00 monthly. A year later, she was keeping the library open on Saturday afternoons.
The University of Arizona extension service in 1938 again intervened in the club's future. It transferred to Case Grande home demonstration agent Flossie W. Barmes. Born in Indiana on July 7, 1882, Flossie Wills moved to Arizona in 1913, and graduated from Purdue University in 1917. After marrying Arthur J. Barmes on November 30, 1922, Flossie continued to work as home demonstration agent in Greenlee, Maricopa and Yavapai counties before Pinal County.
The club helped to send the Casa Grande Drum and Bugle Corps of young people to San Francisco in 1938.
Toward the end of that year, members of the Casa Grande Woman's Club met for a most joyous ceremony. Arizona Federation of Women's Clubs past-president N. Bess Prather wrote and staged a pageant depicting the club's history since its formation. Past-presidents Lillian Peart, Jane Wilson, Gabrilla Gilbert, Edith deClercq, Cora Wynne, Elona Doak, Edna Peters, N. Bess Prather, Effie Boyd, Sarah Wilson and Gertrude Hager spoke about highlights of their respective terms. Letters were read from absentee past-presidents Sena Davies, Viola Vance, Lute Byram, Myrtle Hudson and Aneida Bottriel.
Roland Wiseman, the school district's music instructor, enlivened proceedings with electric organ pieces between the talks, and elementary school boys and girls danced. Mrs. Donald Prettyman sang solos. Mrs. K. K. (Louise) Henness led those attending in singing songs written especially for the occasion by club poetess Hager, Mrs. T. M. Carlton and Mrs. M. M. Bottriel.
The members of the 1923 building committee gave a skit concerning the building plans, and Mesdames Peters and Doak portrayed work on numerous banquets during their years as club president. A representative of the Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce, the president of the Lions Club, the president of the Rotary Club, and the commander of the local American Legion post delivered speeches of congratulations from their male organizations, as did Mrs. T. M. Carlton, president of the Parent Teachers Association.
All of this led up to the evening's grand finale, a ceremonial mortgage burning. Happy club members placed two tall candles on either side of a platter on a table in stage center. At the table stood Mrs. Ben (Jane) Wilson, president when the clubhouse was dedicated in 1924; Mrs. E. H. (Effie) Boyd, immediate past president under whose regime the last money was raised to retire the debt, and President Maude Anderson. Jane Wilson lit the candles with matches sent by past-president Sarah Wilson, and the mortgage went up in smoke to ample applause from the assemblage.
Margaret O. Zimmerman had accompanied her husband to San Francisco, and later to Elko, Nevada, where he worked as a telegrapher. In 1938 he retired, and the couple returned to Case Grande, one of the first of an increasing number of families that would choose the place as a retirement home.
That same year, the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration appointed N. Bess Prather Postmaster of Case Grande. She followed a man who succeeded another club member, Mrs. H. O. (Laura) Pace. Mrs. Prather would serve without missing a day's work until federal regulations compelled her to retire in 1955. She would initiate home-delivery of mail during her long tenure, leading a decisive campaign for clearly numbering houses and erecting standard mail boxes at curbside throughout the town.
The members of the club could begin to look toward library book expansion and other projects under President Mrs. W. (Birdella] Eisenback in 1939, with the club out of debt. By 1940, measures taken by the federal government to help alleviate the economic depression had reached Casa Grande's Woman's Club library. The National Youth Conservation Administration provided a librarian! Still, local women continued to constitute the backbone of the effort. Mrs. Lois Hammer (Angela's daughter-in-law) president of the Parent Teachers Association presented, for example, four books to the library. The Southern District convention of the Arizona federation again met in Casa Grande on October 29-30. The club had a new hardwood floor laid in its clubhouse, too.
The Casa Grande Woman's Club spun off another of the numerous institutions its members have formed. Club president Mrs. T. M. (Hazel) Carlton and Louise Henness, both also prominent P.T.A. members, took leading roles in forming the "Mother Singers," which drew participants from both organizations.
Hazel Tompkins was born March 31, 1897, in Phoenix, which her mother, Ida, had reached by wagon from the Maricopa Wells railroad station. Graduating from the two-year course at Arizona State Normal School at Tempe, Hazel received a teacher's life-certificate. She then graduated from the University of Wisconsin in agricultural journalism. Back in Arizona, Hazel married a North Carolinian, living first at Marana, where her son and eldest daughter were born, then in Casa Grande and a farm home a short distance east.
Led by Louise Henness, the Mother Singers grew from an initial eleven members to some thirty-five singers, including in later years several men who also enjoyed singing. While singing primarily for their own enjoyment, they became quite popular. In time, high school music director John Boyer became director of the group.
In a tragic accident in 1941, Lucille Wood, a former corresponding secretary of the Woman's Club, and her husband, daughter and sister-in-law were drowned. Mourning townspeople donated about 100 books to the library in honor of the Woods family. Toward the end of that year, while Mrs. Paul (Ida) Ripple served as club president, the United States again plunged into a world war. Regular library service became a wartime casualty. President Mrs. V. S. Owens in 1942 stimulated members to take part in wartime activities. In 1943, under Mrs. A. G. Bennett, the club had its books sorted and the library cleaned and conditioned, at a cost of $99.19, but no books were issued for several months. No flower show was held because of the war. On June 25, the club began to rent its building as a Soldiers' Recreation Center. With the help of singing cowboy moving picture star Gene Autry, the club's sales drive sold $17,000 worth of Victory bonds.
JUNIOR WOMAN'S CLUB
In the midst of wartime, the Junior Woman's Department of the club declared its institutional independence. Its members severed themselves from the original club to become a Junior Woman's Club. This new group had been nineteen years maturing as a component of the original organization. The Junior Woman's Club has maintained most cordial relations with its mother organization. With mutual approval a member of the Senior Club serves as coordinator between the two.
While the clubhouse served as a Soldier's Recreation Center, that indomitable Englishwoman, Gertrude Hager, served as hostess and mother image. The members continued to meet under Hazel Carlton as president again in 1944, when the club authorized house chairman Mrs. Christine Franklin to issue books to service men. A notable speaker on the program was Dr. G. Gordon Brown, anthropologist assigned to the research unit at the Gila River Relocation Center for Japanese and Japanese-Americans removed from the Pacific Coast by the U.S. Army. Brown had conducted a pioneering experiment in applied social science in British Africa a few years earlier.
When the American Legion Auxiliary began to rent the clubhouse for its meeting place when it enlarged after the war, Mrs. Roy (Fleta) Williams was 1945 club president. Mrs. Hager completed three years of service as hostess for the Soldier's Recreation Center.
After the end of World War II, the Woman's Club began to resume peacetime activities in 1946 under President Mrs. W. T. (Sunshine) Garrett. Mrs. Lois Hammer resuscitated the flower show. The club planned to repair and finish its library. Mrs. Jean (Mattie) Valette in 1947 supervised ceiling and plastering the library room and fitting it with flourescent lights, all for $223. Investigating the feasibility of a public circulating library in Casa Grande, Mrs. George Wendler reported "the usual disappointing results." Sunshine Garrett had been reelected club president.
Dorothy Sunshine Pinyan was born and educated in Globe, Arizona, where she married W. T. Garrett in 1923. They operated businesses in Globe, San Carlos and Sells before moving to Casa Grande in 1941 and building La Siesta Motel.
She led members in pledging $1,000 toward the construction of a community hospital, while Casa Grande grew rapidly in population. Having served as club treasurer during the final payments on the mortgage and the wartime crisis, Mrs. H. O. (Laura) Pace relinquished that post after ten years.
The club paid its pledge for a new hospital in 1948. That year the energetic home demonstration agent who had arrived a decade earlier became club president. Flossie Wills Barmes had to see that the club's articles of incorporation were renewed. A large sum had to be invested after a health inspection to improve kitchen and sanitary facilities to enable the clubhouse to meet health standards for continuing to serve dinners once a month to members of the now independent Business and Professional Women and the Zonta Club.
N. Bess Prather had been a charter member of the Business and Professional Women and an officer in the state organization to which it was affiliated. The Walter Garretts joined other lovers of square dancing in 1948 to organize the Bow and Swing Square Dance Club, which met in the Woman's Club hall.
Casa Grande's College Club disbanded in 1949, on the other hand. Its members donated its entire book collection to the Woman's Club library. Serving a second term, president Flossie Barmes welcomed the gift with open arms. Both the Junior Woman's Club and the Senior Club boards agreed to work toward a better library. Mrs. Kay Palmer and Mrs. Bertha Brown of the Junior club assisted in selecting new books and acting as librarian during the hours that the library stayed open. By that time, the library contained 1,441 volumes. Club members kept it open throughout the summer on three afternoons each week for two hours. Club members put on a dinner to raise funds with which to purchase more books, and realized $200. The club also created a Hospital Committee to carry out a lasting commitment to improving local health care. It also won a first prize in a national "Build a Better Community" contest.
Club president Flossie Barmes led a spirited campaign in late 1949 and early 1950 against open gambling, prostitution and street sales of narcotics that afflicted Pinal County during the cotton harvesting season. What began as a Woman's Club effort had by early 1950 expanded into a Casa Grande Woman's Committee which included representatives of all clubs, churches and many individuals in a civic re-awakening.
The significant contributions of members of the Junior Woman's Club to the library became readily apparent in 1950. That organization invested some $250 in children's books, and its members assisted in keeping the library open. Holdings had jumped to over 2,000 volumes in good repair, and new bookracks had to be purchased. Under president Mrs. N. N. (Clara) Palmer, a former president of the Willcox Woman's Club, the club remodeled the par¬tition between the library room and main clubroom. Sliding doors were removed, and the space panelled in to leave only a conventional door opening. Traditional money raising activities of club members continued. Mrs. Emil Meyers, chairman of card parties, turned into the treasury $56.75 in profits, but the club's income had ballooned to over $5,800. That sum could not have been imagined by members before the second World War.
In spite of the valiant effort of members of the two woman's clubs to operate a circulating library, user interest apparently diminished. By January of 1951, the library committee abolished evening hours because no patrons appeared at night. By that time, the clubs were purchasing fifty-one books per year and receiving 173 in donations. Mrs. J. S. Farmer led the senior club.
As the population of Casa Grande continued to grow, on the other hand, demand for a public circulating library became more and more apparent. At least it seemed so to Mrs. Amandus Peters, Jr., during her 1952 term as club president, so she kept pushing the concept.
TRANSITION TO CITY LIBRARY
The reading appetite of seven women who decided to pool their books in 1913 led to forty years of organized library operation by Casa Grande Women by 1953. That April, Mayor Charles S. Goff appointed a committee of five persons "to determine ways and means of obtaining, operating and maintaining a Public Library in Casa Grande." Goff pointed out that the city had the power to levy up to 1.5 mills for library purposes. He named Mrs. Maurice Bossuyt, Mrs. Gladys Burkett, John Bendixen, Albert Cruz and John Beggs to the library committee.
In succeeding months, the city council discussed establishing a public library. All of the local schools conducted a student essay contest with the library as the subject. Finally, the council passed an ordinance creating a city library board. The Business and Professional Women made the first contribution to its library fund.
Local newspaper columnist Guy Acuff wrote, "I understand that the state law permits political powers to levy 'a mill' for library support ... I'm all for paying it. There could be no better investment." Acuff added that the Junior and Senior Woman's Clubs had served the community magnificently with the library building. He suggested that they had carried the burden of providing a library for too long, and needed the support of everyone in the city.
In spite of such support from elected officials and opinion-makers, and the leadership of 1953-54 club president Mrs. H. Dewey Ward, the public library project encountered serious opposition. Late in May of 1954, Casa Grande voters approved a bond issue for a jail, but voted 168-167 against issuing $25,000 in bonds to construct a library building. Perhaps the Woman's Clubs of Casa Grande had served the community too long and too well as librarians, so that the dependency of forty years upon these mothers and wives was difficult to overcome. As construction costs continued to rise, voters in February of 1955 defeated a $40,000 library construction bond proposal by 302 to 222 votes. Even Mrs. H. O. (Laura) Pace, wife of a powerful local political leader and member of the Arizona State Highway Commission was unable to sway the voters as club president.
In 1954, Flossie Harmes won election to a two-year term as president of the Southern District of the Arizona Federation of Woman's Clubs.
In the summer of 1955, an important new influence arrived in Casa Grande. Dr. Roland F. Schoen and his wife Barbara relocated there from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on February 2, 1914, Barbara Alderman grew up in Madison and Beloit, Wisconsin. She graduated in 1935 from Beloit College, where her father taught English. Barbara then taught high school English in Whitefish Bay until she married in 1938. Her physician husband practiced in Beaver Dam from 1939 until he volunteered for army service in 1953. As soon as Roland Schoen arrived in Casa Grande, he became intensely interested in Arizona's history, and Barbara was soon invited to join the club.
Under Sunshine Garrett's chairmanship, a newly established Gerontology Committee of the Woman's Club organized a Senior Citizen's Club. This organization continued to meet under the sponsorship of the Woman's Club until the city's Recreation Department took over the Senior Citizen's program.
Organized a Senior Citizen's Club. This organization continued to meet under the sponsorship of the Woman's Club until the city's Recreation Department took over the Senior Citizen's program.
Meanwhile, money had gone on accumulating in the city's library fund. In September, 1954, the Woman's Club suggested to the City Library Board that it set up a Public Library using the Woman's Club Library quarters, equipment, and even books. The club urged using City Library Fund money to purchase additional books and equipment and to pay a salary to a librarian. It offered to turn over all of its books and equipment when and if the city erected a library building.
The city government agreed to the Woman's Club proposal. So the Casa Grande Public Library finally opened on January 15, 1955, in the Woman's Club building erected thirty-one years before. The Woman's Club donated the 2,129 books that formed the core of the new collection, as well as the use of the building, and Laura Pace, club president, heaved a large sigh of relief. The city did purchase additional equipment and it employed former club president Mrs. A. F. (Jane) Peters as librarian, with Belva Westmoreland as her assistant. Jane Peters had been acting librarian for the Woman's Club "because they couldn't get anyone else to do it."
In the fall of 1955, Flossie Harmes was appointed to the City Library Board to replace a male member who resigned. The board's president designated Mrs. Barmes as liaison officer between the board and the Woman's Club.
Once the Casa Grande Public Library benefited from regular tax funding, its collections quickly expanded in number of books and attractiveness to readers. Within two years after the opening of the public library, 4,425 volumes were available. April of 1957 witnessed a peak circulation of 1,803 books, and a thousand cards had been issued since the city library opened. By that time, Mrs. W. C. Wilson served as the club's president, being elected to two terms for 1956-57.
During its first three years of operation, the new city library became the most active in the state of Arizona for its size. Donations continued to outnumber purchased books, 2,018 to 1,595 volumes, but tax funding allowed the library to subscribe to twenty-two magazines and newspapers. Besides the Woman's Club and Junior Woman's Club, the Business and Professional Women, Kiwanis, Rotary Club, P.T.A., Kiwani Anns, and the Christian Church donated books, magazines and equipment to the public library.
The rapidly expanding book, magazine and newspaper collections greatly cramped the space available in the library wing of the Woman's Club building. The Library Board and club president Sunshine Garrett serving her third and fourth terms in 1958-59 urged the city council to find a separate library building. In 1958, a Scout Lodge located in Peart Park was offered to the city for the purpose. Remodelled to accommodate the library, it received the city's collections in October. A. F. "Pete" Peters and Claude Wells took charge of installing bookshelves. Jane Peters moved with the library to the new location.
Mrs. Dewey (Helen) Ward, a Woman's Club past president and City Library Board member, arranged a dedication program held on January 24, 1959, with over 200 persons attending. City attorney Eugene K. Mangum announced that the north wing would become a Museum of Arizona Art and Culture, and the south wing a children's room. Members of the Woman's Club served a tea at the end of the dedication ceremony.
The Woman's Club apron strings had successively been loosened and untied. The Free Public Library offspring had moved from the parental rooftree and taken a new name. As with any cherished child, physical or brain, the interest and concern of the parent organization followed its development over the years. Club president Sunshine Garrett and the members observed with pride the presentation of the 1960 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award to the library for outstanding service to the community.
OASIS GARDEN CLUB
By 1959, the annual flower show initiated in 1926 had grown into a lavishly beautiful and fragrant affair, with an accompanying Silver Tea. Then, as voluntary associations in the by now small city became increasingly specialized in their interests, the Woman's Club turned this function over to another organization. A number of women dedicated to growing beautiful flowers formed the Oasis Garden Club, and asked the Woman's Club to allow them to stage the flower show. The Woman's Club agreed. The annual flower show had not been one of the original objectives of the 1913 Current Events Club organizers as had the library. Still, its thirty-three-year history made it a Woman's Club activity of respectable age and perceptible impact on the appearance of the desert city.
Elected president in 1960, Mrs. Nell Rimol (now Mrs. Newton Gotcher) continued the program for the elderly and presented the club a speaker's lectern. Club members did not watch the city public library only from afar. In 1961, Flossie Barmes returned to the club's presidency and established a Friends of the Library organization which functioned for some time through the Woman's Club to raise funds for the library. Later, as Library Service Chairman for the Woman's Club, Flossie Barmes reported in 1964 that the library collections had reached over 11,000 volumes with a 2,000-book loan from the state, and that a one-day circulation record of 400 items had been set.
The Junior Woman's Club took a particular interest in the children's department of the City Library, purchasing tables and chairs of a size to accommodate the very young. Members of both clubs volunteered to conduct summer Story Hours.
FOUNDING A HISTORICAL SOCIETY
?In 1962, the Casa Grande Woman's Club elected dynamic Mrs. R. F. (Barbara) Schoen as its president. Once again the club entertained the Southern District Convention on October 24. Chairman Helen Ward scheduled the morning session in the venerable clubhouse, but lunch and an afternoon session at Francisco Grande. This is a hotel-restaurant complex west of the city built by the San Francisco Giants baseball club as a spring training facility.
By the time the flower show and the city public library had been cut off from the founding Woman's Club, Flossie Wills Barmes and Barbara Schoen were ready to start another project. Very aware that her grandfather had been a founder of an Indiana town, Flossie decided that the Casa Grande Valley ought to have its own historical society. This idea gained quick support from not only recently-arrived history buffs such as Dr. R. F. Schoen, but also many long-time residents of Casa Grande and its farming hinterland.
Under Barbara Schoen's leadership, the Woman's Club made its community improvement project the preservation of the area's heritage. It converted the old library wing of the clubhouse into a small museum where it began to collect objects associated with the town's past. Response was so great that the project became an overnight success. The club won a state prize of $300 from the Sears Roebuck Foundation which it plowed right back into the project. By the time Barbara Schoen had been re-elected to a second term as club president, it was clear that this project would have to be made independent much sooner than past Woman's Club offspring.
On December 9, 1963, Barbara A. Schoen, Flossie W. Barmes and Jane M. Kyle signed the articles of incorporation for the Casa Grande Valley Historical Society. The Arizona Corporation Commission accepted them on January 17, 1964. An intensive membership drive brought in over 100 members during the society's first year. Nearly one-quarter were Woman's Club members.
The members of the Historical Society met once a month in the Woman's Club hall. By the end of the decade, it was obvious that the society's collections would soon outgrow the old library wing of the clubhouse. The society obtained its own quarters in a downtown business building, and moved its collections on a hot summer day in 1970. Later, the Historical Society moved its meetings to an Arizona Public Service company meeting hall, and in 1975 to the new city library building.
The year 1963 was notable for two other events. The Woman's Club of Casa Grande celebrated with suitable festivities the Golden Anniversary of its organization. Sponsored by this group she recently headed, Flossie Barmes was named Arizona Mother of the Year. The club financed her subsequent trip to New York, and sent her daughter Nell Barmes Robinson as her companion for the activities surrounding the choosing of the American Mother of the Year.
The growth of the historical society was followed by club president Mrs. Dan Smith during two terms in 1964¬66, and then Mrs. K. K. (Louise) Henness during her two terms as president in 1966-68.
Louise Henness had gone to Bolivia a decade prior to her election, when the federal government assigned her husband to work toward improving peasant agriculture in that land-locked and impoverished South American nation. After four years living on top of the Andes Mountains at nearly 13,000 feet above sea level in the capital city of La Paz when not traveling around Bolivia, Louise accompanied her husband to Spain for a year before returning to their farm home east of Casa Grande. Thus, she had contributed in a very direct way to United States foreign relations for five years.
On the eve of separation of the historical society, Mrs. J. S. McKay was elected president in 1968, but served only briefly, so that Mrs. Harvey (Helen) Wedlake completed her term. Then Mrs. O. A. Barnett was elected to consecutive 1969-71 terms, and presided over the physical move by the historical society to its own quarters.
Gloria June Hall was born December 29, 1921, in Cyril, Oklahoma. Moving to Arizona after her marriage, Mrs. Oscar A. Barnett resided in Marana, Cortaro, Rillito and Tucson before arriving in Casa Grande in 1966. She had already served as president of the Marana Woman's Club, thus becoming the second two-club president in the history of the Case Grande organization.
In 1971, the club elected another president who had been born in Oklahoma, but influenced the community as one of its best-integrated residents for over half a century, Mrs. S. H. (Gladys I Albrecht.
Born in Calvin on November 10, 1900, Gladys arrived in Casa Grande October 29,1915. Her family lived at first in a tent-house. She belonged to the first class that graduated from Case Grande High School, then graduated in 1921 from Arizona State Normal School at Tempe as a member of the last class to be awarded a lifetime teaching certificate. She took many university courses later while teaching local children for thirty-seven years and serving seventeen years as principal of various elementary schools until her retirement in 1966. She married a local minister in 1932.
Organizational capacity and willingness of members of the Woman's Club remained unimpaired. On September 20,1971, Mrs. Dan Girard of Phoenix spoke to the club members about the "Meals on Wheels" program that the Woman's Auxiliary of the Maricopa Medical Society had started in the state capital city. Within six weeks, the Woman's Club, under Gladys Albrecht and the general chairmanship of Louise Henness, initiated a Casa Grande "Mobile Meals" program, in cooperation with the Junior Woman's Club, the local Medical Association, and Hoemako Hospital. A hospital dietician planned meals, which were prepared in the hospital kitchen. Recipients paid $1.50 for each hot noon meal, and the club put on a bake sale to raise initial funds to pay the difference between that sum and actual meal cost. The new program delivered III meals during its first month of operation.
The Woman's Club continued to sponsor and carry the main operational burden of the Mobile Meals program until 1976, when federal funds became available to conduct it.
Gladys Albrecht won re-election as president of the club in 1972, carrying through the Mobile Meals program and the club's other activities for improving the quality of life for the aged. These included "talking books" and a "Telephone Circle of Concern." Members of the telephone circle called elderly persons living alone to verify each morning that they were all right.
With sympathetic understanding based on her own experience, Sunshine Garrett responded in 1972 to a call from the county Cancer Society for a volunteer to head the western Pinal County Unit for Reach for Recovery. This is a rehabilitation program or women who have had breast surgery, designed to help them meet psychological, physical and cosmetic needs.
Club president Albrecht had much to worry about in terms of the clubhouse. Its roof still leaked more than occasionally. Vandals repeatedly broke panes of glass out of the windows. Indeed, the building dedicated in 1924 showed signs of age. On the other hand, realtors were making overtures toward purchasing the property. The members of the club decided, all things considered, to hold onto their lots and clubhouse.
In 1973, members of the club turned to a relatively young woman for their president. Yet she is one who combines a career in modern aviation with deep Arizona roots, Mrs. George (Marlene L.) White.
Marlene's great-grandfather, W. W. Jones, had been a pioneer in transportation on the lower Colorado River, arriving in Arizona in 1864. He was Vulture Mine superintendent in 1870, and was the first president of the Arizona Fair. His great-granddaughter Marlene Gomez, born in Yuma on August 20, 1934, came to Casa Grande in 1939.
The new president appointed a committee of eight members to assess the situation and to draw up a master plan for "sprucing up" the clubhouse. The club rejected a $25,000 bid for its property, increased its membership dues, and sponsored card parties twice monthly during the summer months to raise additional money.
In November, Marlene White suggested to club members that their clubhouse might be placed on the Arizona state register of historic sites. The club invited Dorothy Hall, Historic Sites Preservation Officer of the Arizona State Parks Board, to tell the club about the requirements for official recognition. The members of the club then voted to apply for registration. Barbara Schoen and Jane Kyle were appointed to collect the necessary information and to prepare the application. After sixty years of looking forward in time and creating new institutions to serve the people of Casa Grande, the club's members found themselves glancing backward toward their past. Their principal current programs dealt with improving living conditions among aged residents of the city, keeping a perennially leaky clubhouse watertight, planning to take part in the United States
Bicentennial celebration. Now they sought to register their distinctive stone clubhouse as an historic building meriting official protection.
By the time Marlene White was installed for a second term in mid-1974, the Arizona Parks Board had acknowledged receipt of the club's application for historic site status for its clubhouse, and referred it to its Preservation Committee for review. Work continued on refinishing the clubhouse walls, ceiling and beams, cleaning the stones in its massive fireplace, and repairing the window blinds, sanding and refinishing the main hall floor. The club persisted in turning aside inquiries about purchasing its property. It demonstrated more concern for mobilizing a dozen "Talking Books" machines in its program to improve life for the city's elderly residents.
In March of 1975, club members elected Marlene White to an unprecedented third consecutive term as president. They recognized her ability, and her interest in rejuvenating the clubhouse. They also wanted to bring local terms of office into accord with the two-year state terms for which elections were held in even-numbered years.
That fall, the congregation of the Victory Baptist Church which had held services in the clubhouse for several years, moved into its own building. A new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints congregation promptly rented the facility. In other words, the Woman's Club continued to foster emerging institutions.
During Marlene White's third term, benefactors donated $2,500 to the club for installing new cooling and heating systems for the clubhouse. In 1975, the City of Casa Grande finally put into service a spacious new public library building with a professional staff, fully realizing the goal set by the founders of the Casa Grande Woman's Club over half a century earlier. By the end of Mrs. White's term, therefore, the library staff was ready to take over the club's "Talking Books" project. The club's committee in charge of this service to the elderly continued to work with the library's professional staff to insure the continued success of the project.
In November, 1975, the Arizona State Parks Board notified the Casa Grande Woman's Club that its clubhouse had been placed on the Arizona Register of Historic Sites. Originally erected for quite utilitarian purposes, the clubhouse had been so well designed by Henry Jaastad and had served its many community purposes so well over the years in spite of a leaky roof, bat incursions, and kitchen remodeling, that it took its place among Arizona's notable historic structures.
In the spring of 1976, the members of the club elected Jane Kyle president. They again opted for activism: this woman within the year prior to her election had received a citation for recruiting new club members, headed the Ways and Means Committee successfully and run the Bridge Marathon.
As the club renews its membership and turns to women such as Marlene White and Jane Kyle for leadership, it continues to look forward toward the third century of national independence. Proud of the club's past achievements, its members have their vision firmly fixed upon the future.
Charlotte Whitehill Johnson was born in Garwin, Iowa, on January 27, 1901, the daughter of Dr. Nelson M. and Mary Brown Whitehill. She grew up in Boone, Iowa, where her family moved in 1905. There she attended Boone High School.
Charlotte graduated from Grinnell College in 1922, majoring in English. She then taught English, Home Economics, girl's physical education and coached girl's basketball, in Arvada, Colorado, and in Waverley, Iowa. Then she went to Kennecott, Alaska in 1925 to teach eight pupils in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and tenth grades.
In June, 1927, she married George A. Johnson, a metallurgist whom she met at Kennecott, They had two sons, the elder killed in an automobile accident at age twenty. The younger son, a . doctor in Madisonville, Kentucky, is married and has three children. During their married life, the Johnsons have lived in Missouri, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, and since 1957 in Arizona. In 1960, they came to Casa Grande where George worked as a mill foreman at what is now the Hecla Mine, then operated by the Trans-Arizona Co. He is now retired.
Charlotte is a member of the Casa Grande Woman's Club, the First Presbyterian Church and the P. E. O. Sisterhood. She acted as historian of the Casa Grande Woman's Club in 1973-1976.
Dr. Henry F. Dobyns, a resident of Casa Grande in 1928¬1943, earned his Ph. D. degree at Cornell University in 1960, and has conducted research among Southwestern Indian tribes and in several South American countries. His book on SPANISH COLONIAL TUCSON: A DEMOGRAPHIC HISTORY, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 1976, and his NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORICAL DEMOGRAPHY: A CRITICAL BIBLIOGRAPHY was published by Indiana University Press by the Center for the History of the American Indian at the Newberry Library the same year.