ASHLAND -- The Ashland County Historical Society recently received a donation of the records of the Halcyon Club.
The Halcyon Club is listed in William Duff’s Ashland, Ohio Centennial Homecoming Week as one of the many social organizations located in Ashland in the early 1900's. But it has also been distinguished as the oldest club in Ashland, so it was interesting to look through the written club records to see how they got started.
Possibly as early as 1898, a few ladies from Ashland thought it would be pleasant to belong to a needle club. The club met at the homes of the various ladies by invitation only. They brought their service, fancy needlework or whatever they chose to bring to enjoy as they socialized with each other.
They had no formal time or date for their meetings, grew to a group of a dozen, and truly enjoyed their time together as they talked, worked on their projects and enjoyed a light lunch.
On Oct. 3, 1910, the ladies met at the home of Mrs. B. F. Brubaker to formally organize a ladies study club. A president, secretary, and treasurer were elected and the club was named “The Halcyon Club” which meant “the happy club.”
The group also adopted a motto of “Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” because it was their policy to never gossip. Their colors were green and white and their flower was the white rose.
The 12 ladies who joined the Halcyon Club that night were Mrs. B.F. Brubaker, Mrs. J.L. Davidson, Mrs. A.L. Sharick (Ruth Thomas), Mrs. H.B. Vanosdall who served as the first president, Mrs. B.C. Miller (Ella Clark), Mrs. J.H. Luther (Nellie Mead), Mrs. S.L. Arnold (Amanda Bryte), Mrs. G.D. Myers (Kate Moore), Miss Harriet Thomas, Mrs. J.S. Soule, Mrs. L.W. Bailey, and Mrs. C.V. Curtis (Evelyn).
The club’s bylaws only allowed for 12 women to be a member at any one given time and the annual dues were 10 cents. At one point, members late for a meeting were charged an extra 5 cents, which was reportedly a sore point for some.
There was much competition among the members regarding lunch menus (often a two-course meal) and decorations. The ladies were also members of the First Christian Church, which was established in 1836.
The ladies decided to study the country of Russia during their first year. During this first official meeting, members celebrated with a Halloween theme. Mrs. Evelyn Williams was a guest and favored the group with a beautiful song. They started their Russian studies with information about its geography.
The Halcyon Club studied many topics over the years and enjoyed many guest speakers. Eventually, it became a tradition for each member when called upon during roll call to answer a question posed by the club president about something they did over a holiday or something new they learned.
Members were faithful to the organization and rarely missed a meeting, making them a very close-knit group.
Over the next 99 years, the Halcyon Club existed here in Ashland, and according to their membership records, it appears the club only had a total of about 86 members since they were members for life once invited to join. As times changed, they changed very little, but their basic principles and the purpose of the club always remained the focus of their activities.
The ladies eventually started having some meetings in the evenings instead of always during the afternoons, donated funds to church and community projects, traveled out of town for dinners, and later allowed 16 members in their group.
One member, Bertha Arnold, once used the club letters to form an acronym that described the Halcyon Club’s members as H-Heavenward Bound, A-Always Faithful, L-Loyal in Heart, C-Character Builders, Y-Yearning for Knowledge, O-Onward Pressing and N-Never Faltering.
Since the club officially existed until 2009, it seems the members always did their best to keep things interesting and fun over the decades and always lived according to their name and motto.
Lori Adams Kaple is the Operations Manager for the Ashland County Historical Society. She can be reached via phone at 419-289-3111 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.