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Submitted by: Arlene Goodwin,


The Ladies Literary Club of St. Joe.

Compiled by Mrs. C. C. Woodcox

The first person to conceive the idea of organizing a Literary Club in St. Jo was Mrs. Ada Olds, who, in November of 1895, after much thought and consideration, necessary for such a project, called a meeting of ladies for the purpose of investigation.

The following report is a record of the meeting. Fifteen ladies of St. Joe met at the home of Mrs. Ada Olds on Wednesday night, Nov. 11th, 1895. Mrs. Old acted in the capacity of Chairman and presented the subject as follows:

"Shall we organize a Literary club for study and mental improvement?"

It was decided in the affirmative. Mrs. Priscilla Zimmerman, of Auburn, was present and was called upon to give an outline of the rules and regulations necessary for the work. Each lady present was called on for remarks. It was decided to study U. S. history.

Fourteen ladies placed their name on the list as members.

The election of officers resulted as follows:

President – Mrs. Millie Benninghoff

Vice President – Mrs. Eva Sheffer

Secretary – Mrs. Ella Patterson

Critic – Mrs. Emma Baker

The following committee was appointed to draft a constitution, and by – laws:

Mrs. Addie Patterson, Mrs. Hattie Bearss, Mrs. Laura Baker, and Mrs.

Ella Patterson.

On motion, a vote of thanks was tendered Mrs. Zimmerman for valuable information and assistance in organizing our club. We adjourned to meet with Mrs. Benninghoff Nov. 20, 1895.

The following is just a part of the constitution and by – laws upon which our Club is based:

  1. The name of this organization shall be The Ladies Literary Club.
  2. Its officers shall be President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Critic.
  3. The meetings shall be held on Wednesday night from 7 to 9 o’clock, at the home of some member of the club.
  4. The membership of this club is limited to 25.
  5. Only those are eligible to membership, who desire to study and further the aims for which this club is organized.
  6. The yearly dues of this club shall be (25 cents).
  7. Th motto of this club shall be "Knowledge is better than gold".
  8. Club colors shall be red and green.
  9. This club shall be governed by "Roberts’ Rules of Order".

The club began its first year on November 11, 1895, ending June 20, 1896.

*Mrs. Mort Olds ** Mrs. Elias Zimmerman, sister of Mrs. Mort Olds,

History of the L .L. C.

The meetings were held in the afternoon until April, when it was decided to vote that we change the time to evening.

Devotions were held the first six meeting then abandoned, using the Club Collect instead.

The record of this year’s work shows that the members were loyal, strictly adhering to the constitution.

At this time the names of Mrs. Dell Barney, Harriet Bearss, Mary Herrod, and Marie Johnston became members, singing the constitution.

The second year began Oct 3, 1896 to June 30, 1897, and printed programs were a new feature in our club, of which we were justly proud.

Our study was miscellaneous as follows: President’s Administrations, Constitution of U. S., "Thanatopsis", Lilies of "Queen’s Gardens", "The Building of the Ship", "Declaration of Independence", "Bittersweet" and "King’s Daughters", which proved very beneficial to the club from and educational standpoint.

At this juncture of our club life, we began to realize that all work and no play we would soon cease to be young and gay. In other words, we desired a freedom in actin as well as deep study, and as there was so much pent up enthusiasm within us, it began to overflow.

So by way of social recreation we rendered the "Drama" entitled "The Temple of Fame". The following is recorded in the minutes.

Wednesday evening Fe. 10, 1897, "The Temple of Fame" was give at the Christian Church to a large and appreciative audience. It was a decided success and the proceeds amounted to $24.00.

The names of Miss Laura Shutt, Addie Widney, Letitia Craun, Alice Warner, and Belle Woodcox were added to our list by signing the constitution.

"A very profitable year", was the consensus of opinion for the is second year. Mrs. Addie Filley was President and Mrs. Emma Baker, Secretary.

The third year began October 1897 with twenty-two members and Mr. Millie Benninghoff as President. Our study this year was "Swinton’s History" interspersed with music, charades and spelling test.

One beautiful moonlight night, sixteen members walked to the home of Marie Johnston. A very pleasant club session was held. The infant babe of Mrs. Harriet Grubb died at this time. Resolutions of respect were recorded in the minutes.

Th fourth year began in October 1898, with 23 members. Mrs. Eva Sheffer was the President. Our club study was ancient history. In looking over this year’s work it is evident that we had an inclination toward becoming popular among ourselves, from the fact that another drama was staged at the home of Mrs. Harriett Grubb, entitled "Mrs. Willis’s Will". The committee was Laura Baker an Ada Olds. This proved hilariously entertaining and quite a success. So that we felt perfectly at ease in appearing before the public again.

On Nov. 30th we appeared at the Widney Opera House, staging an evening with Longfellow. This was a decided success in every way. The stage setting was antique. The frilly actors in their quaint colonial garb, accentuated by music, art and drama, will long live in memories of those who are living that participated in the event.

Mary Bartlett, Anna Daily, Minerva Lenhart, Lina Sheffer, Millie Hamilton, Violet Barney Sarah Hendricks, Mattie Tustison, sighed the constitution at this time. The secretary was Adda Widney.

Th fifth year began in 1899 with 22 members and Laura Shutt as president. Our club book was "Social Elements", from which we derived much practical knowledge.

Our program was varied with "papers", readings, and recitations. Music, games, and spelling tests were also enjoyed.

On social hour, on Feb 14th, was a valentine party and drama given at the home of Mrs. Eva Sheffer. The committee was Mrs. Sheffer, Mrs. Benninghoff, Laura Baker, and Laura Shutt.

One guest evening at the home of Mrs. J. D. Leighty.

The marriage of Anna Daily occurred at this time.

Ida Andress, Belle Barney, June Philley, and Jennie Shutt became members by signing the constitution. Secretary was Mattie Tustison

The sixth year began in 1900, with Mr. Ada Olds as President and 23 members. Our text book wad "English and American Litertaure". Special work was "Merchant of Venice", "Othello", "Paradise Lost", The Deserted Village", "Cotter’s Saturday Night", "Lady of the Lake", David Copperfield" and "Adam Bede".

The marriage of Mrs. Addie Widney occurred at this time.

The club joined the State Federation of Clubs at Auburn. Mr. Ella Patterson and Mrs. DeLora Cure were delegates.

Eight new members joined club at this time. Gertrude Abel, Agnes Leighty, Georgia Milliman, Maggie Stafford, Hattie Widney, Iva Yeiser and Bessie Patterson signed the constitution. The secretary was Belle Barney.

Th seventh year began 1901 with 24 members and Mr. Benninghoff as president. The text book was "Masterpieces of American Literature". Authors, poets, and their productions were a dominant feature of this year’s work.

March 19th, we again displayed our talent in producing the play "Consort of Heroines " at the opera house. We had one guest evening at Mrs. A. Filley’s and one social hour. Cupid again knocked at the door and said "now or never" to Lina Sheffer, Gertrude Abel and Bessie Patterson, so we passed them through but retained their membership.

Mable Dixon joined club this year Emma Baker was Secretary.

The eighth year began in 1902 with 25 members and Ella Patterson as president. Our club study was "Europe in the 19th Century". Additional work was the poem "Katrina". A new feature was introduced in our club at this time. The club divided into three sections. Each section gave a surprise program which proved very interesting and novel. The first section entertained at Eva Sheffer’s. Second at Maggie Stafford’s, and third at Emma Baker’s.

At this time death entered our door, taking from our list our loved member, Addie Lake, which cast a gloom over our club. "Gone but not forgotten". –Bessie Tustison, Secretary.

The ninth year of club began in 1903 with 20 members and DeLora Curie as president. Club study "The Awakening of a Nation", was a book about Mexico, and was very instructive, as we learned much of manners and customs of its people. Also about the old Cathedrals, castles, and convents; the beautiful plazas and turreted gardens.

In addition to the study we had an evening on art, domestic science, Audobon, a musicale, and St Patrick’s evening.

The social part of this year’s program outclassed former years, was the opinion of a majority.

Th club gave a Colonial Reception to the public at the Opera House. This entertainment is an outstanding feature in the history of our club, and event that elicited unanimous applause of the people of our town and vicinity. Those present from out of town were John Alden and Priscilla, Miles Standish, and others characters.

The tenth year of Club began in1904 with 25 members and Millie Benninghoff as president. Our study at this time was "Political Economy". This proved to be another favorite book, In connection with this we read the poem "Lucille". At Christmas time we had an exchange in the form of a Christmas pie.

We entertained our husbands on Washington Day at Opera House, besides two social hours, and evening with authors and one Eastertide. – Iva Yieser, Secretary.

The eleventh year of club began in 1905 with 23 members and Ella Patterson, as president.

On our 25th of September was "President’s Day" at the home of our President, Mrs. Ella Patterson. We celebrated this event by inviting the "Acme Club of Hicksville". This was a very enjoyable affair. Other items of interest make this another successful year.

Mrs. Arline Koch and Maud Bishop joined the club at this time by signing the constitution.

Our club study was "Mental Science". This was a very instructive study for variation. We had an evening on literary work, and evening on housekeeping, one with composers, a "Surprise program" at Mrs. Eva Sheffer’s, and a "Puritan evening". Feb. 14th we entertained our husbands with Valentines at the home of Mrs. Emma Widney.

The twelfth year began in 1906 with 21, members and Mr. Laura Baker as president.

Club study was the conclusion of "Mental Science" and Civil Government. A club song composed by Mrs. Benninghoff was a new feature of our program the is year. We gave one evening on "Birds and Flowers" and one evening we entertained our sons and daughters at Mrs. Blanche Leighty’s.

We had one public evening and a Halloween party at Addie Patterson’s was an evening with "Belle’s". Mesdames Belle Woodcox, Belle Swineford, Belle Barney, were the club "Belles". We sang "Bells of Shannon", "Convent Bell", "Old School Days", and Christmas Bells".

The names of Alice Coop, Emma White, Mrs. Mary Buchanan, and Mrs. Mae Openlander were added to our list by signing the constitution. – DeLora Curie, Secretary.

The thirteenth year began in 1907 with 23 members and Eva Sheffer as President. The club study was "Social Spirit in America". This was a very good book, but a spirit of social unrest permeated our club and consequently eight members dropped from our list.

We had three special evenings, Patriotic, St. Patrick’s, Bible Heroines, in Modern Environment".

Debate: Resolved that environment shapes men’s life more than Heredity. Emily Widney vs. Mary Buchanan.

We had an evening with Riley, We had a three minute talk on the wonders of our country by the Club.

Round Table: What are the destroyers of the home.

Book Review "When Knighthood was in Flower", Laura Baker.

Pearl Simanton, Ida Shearer, and Francis Lake became members. –Belle Barney, Secretary.

Th 14th year began in 1908 with 17 members and Mrs. Bessie Tustison as president. Club study was "Great Books as Life’s Teacher’s". This book was a source of inspiration in a spiritual and social uplift to our club. We had various fine social evenings during this year.

First—One evening devoted to "The Home". On November 4th Club entertainment guest at the home of Georgia Milliman with a drama entitled "The Sewing Circle". At Christmas time our program read "Holiday Party" at Mr. Benninghoff’s, entitled "Much Ado About Nothing". Refreshments "As you Like It". A fine time.

Feb 10th – "Lincoln Centennial".

Feb. 17th – Our husband entertained the L. L. C. at three-course luncheon at Jennie Sechler’s. the names of Ethel Berry, Grace Sechler, Zetta May, and Clara Rhodenbaugh were entered by their signing the constitution. Mrs. Belle Barney, Sec.

The 15th year began in 1909, with 18 members and Cora Price as president. Our study this year was "Human Harvest", "The use of the Margin", "General History".

The Club opened with President Day, October 13th we gave a reception to the "Mothers of St. Joe" at the home of Addie Patterson. October 26th an autumn luncheon at Georgia Milliman’s. On December 25th our program read thus; "Christmas Festivities "Entre Nous’". Hostess Mr. Emma Baker. Committee, Tustison and Price. This was accorded one of the jolliest times in our club history. The majority of our ladies wore a bandage around the "facial Extremity" and the muscles of the diaphragm " for two days, in order that digestion might regain its equilibrium.

March 2nd was an evening with children as guests at the home of DeLora curie. The 13th was "An Hour with Noted Women".

The names of Emma Dunkle, Lenore Kagey, Lela Shilling and Lydia Warner were added to our list. This was considered a beneficial year. –Bessie Tustison, Sec.

The 16th year began in 1910, with 21 members and Addie Patterson as President. Club study was "Geographic Conditions of America". This was a very instructive study.

Club opened with Inauguration October 26. Mrs. Minnie Kagey entertained Mother’s Day. In December "Yuletide Surprise Party at Grace Sechler’s. In the midst of our festivities, our husbands announced themselves uninvited. Feb. 22nd, "Washington Day" observed in very fitting manner at Mrs. Arline Koch’s. Indiana Day at home of Zetta May. Mrs. Lora Leighty became a member at this time. -- Mrs. Francis Lake, Sec.

The 17th year began in 1911 with Mrs. Belle Barney as president and 17 members.

The text book was entitled "From Southern Cross to Arctic Circle". Club opened with the president’s session.

The next social event was the observance of Columbus Day, when we invited our husbands to the country home of Miss Lela Shilling. At Christmas time a "Surprise program" was a happy event at Grace Sechler’s. Valentine Day was observed at Lora Lieghty’s. Magazine evening, and a "Symposium of Benefactors", completed this years work.

The marriage of Miss Lela Shilling occurred at this time and the name of Mrs. Jennie Randall was added to our list. – Clara Rhodenbaugh, Sec.

The 18th year of our club began in 1912 with Mr. Belle Swineford as president, and 18 members.

The club study was "Incentives from Life". The book was a source of inspiration in both a spiritual and a social sense.

The first event was observance of inauguration day at Mrs. Swineford’s.

Christmas exchange was at Mr. Jennie Randall’s. February 25th was a reception to our husbands, at Mrs. Bessie Tustison’s, and two "Social Sows" at this time.

Mrs. Lillian Buckingham and Mrs. Cora Curie, Miss Avis Sechler and Miss Frankie Baltz became members by signing the constitution. Also the marriage of Grace Sechler was the means of changing her name to Dilly. -- Grace Sechler, Sec.

Th 19th year of Club began in 1913 with Mr. Clara Rhodenbaugh as president and 20 members. Our club study was "Indiana".

Our opening session was conducted by the officers at the president’s home. We had an October party at the home of Mrs. Grace Dilley.

Our third event was a debate. Subject: "Woman Suffrage", by Mr. Benninghoff and Mrs. DeLora Curie. November 13th was Household evening.

We had a Christmas exchange and a musical evening.

This year’s program is remarkable for the fact there is no guest evening. But our gentleman Husbands filled the vacancy by entertaining their club wives to an elaborate surprise four-course luncheon served in the home of Mr. Addie Filley. We appreciated this greatly.

Th 20th year of the club began in 1914 with 22 members and Clara Rhodenbaugh as president. She was elected unanimously. She served one month of the second year, when the death angel called her spirit home. He body was laid to rest mid a bed of flowers. We lost a faithful true member, but our loss is heaven’s gain. "Gone but not forgotten".

The vice president, Lora Leigthy, was called to fill the vacancy. Our club study was "Investment of Influence". This book was especially good. The club again divided in three sections, No. 1 section entertained at Buckingham’s, No. 2 section entertained at Lora Leighty’s with Christmas exchange and social hour. Feb. 10, was Lincoln Anniversary. At this meeting the husbands were entertained. On March 24th we had a Fanny Crosby recognition night. – Bessie Tustison, Sec.

25th year, 1920-21 – The Silver Anniversary was celebrated by a dinner served in the Lutheran Church Basement, Following the meeting at the home of Mrs. Ella Patterson. A poem was written and given by Mrs. Millie Benninghoff, "A True, Courageous Band."

Some Biographical note son ladies who have passed on while a member of the L. L. C. (Information in { } added by me)


Mrs. Saylor was a sister of Mr. Grant Blatz and of Mrs. Gladys Hart. She was not a member for very long. {1886-1921 White City Cem}


Mr. Swineford lived on what is now known as the Goodall farm. She was a very good club member, very active, of the time of Mrs. DeLora Curie and Mrs. Benninghoff. {Died 31 March 1921 Riverside Cem}

MRS. M. E. OLDS (Addie)

Her husband was publisher of the St. Joe News. She was active in the Lutheran church. The prime mover in organizing the L. L. C.

MRS. W. C. (Wid) PATTERSON (Ella)

Mr. Patterson was one of the town’s banker, and Mr. Patterson was the mother of Bessie Tustison, also a club member.


She was a very good club member, composed our 25th anniversary poem. Mr. Benninghoff was a farmer. They had no family. Mrs. Benninghoff was the daughter of Rudolph and {Hannah Donut}Sechler. {Died 22 Jan 1931 White City Cem}


Mr. Bearass was farmer and the second husband, Mrs. Bearass’s first husband was the father of Henry Hathaway. Mrs. Bearass was the sister of Mrs. Mrs. Alice Warner, who owned a hat shop located , 1st house east of where Jiggs’ Motor Service now stands. {1849 - 10 July 1913, Spencer Twp.}


Her husband was Dell Andress. She was the mother of Garnett and Ruby Andress.


Wife of the proprietor of the fry goods store. Their home was the brick house where Ted Haberkorn now lives and the store was just east of the home. It burned down, Mrs. Barney was the mother of Merritt Barney, father of Mrs. Pauline Baumgartner. She had another daughter, Violet, who married Re. Crates Johnston. {Died 31 Dec 1901}


Mrs. Lake was a sister to Lute Widney Foot and Sylvester Widney, also to Mrs. Mary Widney Sechler, who was the mother of Mrs. Avis Staman, Mrs. Agnes Monroe, and Mrs. Grace Dilley, all L. L. C. members. {Died 12 Feb 1903 White City Cem}


Also a sister of Mrs. Mary Widney Sechler. Mr. Bowen owned the meat market. {1863 – 1911 Riverside Cem}

MRS. J. L. Rodenbaugh (Clara)

Mr. Rodenbaugh (Jim) was a busy and prominent auctioneer. Their home was the first house north of the present American Legion Hall.


The daughter of Mrs. B. S. Sheffer, one of the founders of the L. L. C. She was a teacher. Mother of Evalyn Shafer. {1876 - 9 July 1918 Alton Cem}


Miss Berry was the local postmistress. Her mother was a sister of Mrs. John Betz, who was the proprietor of Betz’ Restaurant here for many years. This was located in what is now a home next to Brown’s Furniture Display Room. Miss Berry died at the home of her sister Hazel (Mrs. Pete Stewart), Spencerville. {1888 - 10 Mar 1917 Riverside Cem}


Mr. Filley was the proprietor of the local sawmill and they were parents of Mrs. Belle Woodcox and Mrs. Nina Kees. { 1850 – 1919 Riverside Cem}


The wife of Jake Sechler and the mother of Merrit Sechler, Cora Curie, and Mr. Flossie Mavis.

MRS. FRANK MAY (Margaret)

Mrs. May lived northwest of St. Joe, the mother of our present member, Mrs. Roy Baker, also the mother of Crates May, deceased. {1870 - 10 Oct 1946 Riverside Cem}

MRS. E. M. MISER (May)

Mrs. Miser was the wife of the local agent for the Standard Oil Co. Mrs. Martha Kennedy, at one time a club member, was her daughter. {Died 22 Jun 1950}


Wife of Wm. Curie, the local hardware merchant for many years. Their home was where Mr. and Mrs. Stivers now live, across the street form Harvey Care. The Curie Hardware was on the bottom floor of the K. of P. building. Composed our Club Song. {Died 1 Apr 1951}


Wife of John Hull, the local barber, whose shop was in the building now occupied by the Brown Furniture Display room. Mrs. Hull was the mother of Mr. Lora Leighty, and of Mr. Merritt Hull, deceased. {1865 – 1950 Riverside Cem}


A sister of Mrs. Avis Staman and of Mrs. Agnes Monroe, both club members.

{1889 - 9 Dec 1951 Riverside Cem}


Mrs. Maurer was married to Mr. Maurer after the death of the first husband, Mr. Bert Patterson. She was the mother of Helen Patterson Hull, who died in Colorado.

MRS. V. R. MONROE (Agnes)

Lived northwest of St. Joe and the sister of Mrs. Avis Staman and Mrs. Grace Dilley. {1895 - 4 Mar 1953 Riverside Cem}


The wife of Mahlon Baker and the mother of Mrs. Charles (Maud) Bishop, who was a club member. Mr. Charles Bishop was a brother of Mrs. Henry Hathaway.

{1863 - 16 Mar 1954 Riverside Cem}


Only daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Byron Widney. Mrs. Cole was a very good club member. We will never forget that she was fatally stricken when dressing to attend our clubs 60th anniversary party. {1885 - Nov 1955 Riverside Cem}


Wife of Earnest Johnson, mother of Mrs. Thelma Baker, who was at one time a club member. {1877 – 1956 Riverside Cem}

MRS. O. K. SHULL (Millie)

Mr. Shull’s maiden name was Hamilton. She was the mother of Mrs. Kathryn Haller and the mother-in-law of Mrs. Frank Shull, both good club members at one time. {1873 - 6 May 1957 Riverside Cem}

MRS. M. E. STORER (Katie)

The wife of our retired postmaster, mother-in-law of Mrs. Wayne Storer and mother of Mrs. Hazel Simanton, both club members at one tine, now honorary. {1889 - 18 Jun 1957 Riverside Cem}


Mrs. Baker was first married to Mr. Merrit Barney, then, when widowed, married Mr. Ora Baker, the father-in-law of Mrs. Thelma Baker. Mrs. Baker was the mother of Mrs. Pauline Baumgartner.


Was the wife of George Bartlett and sister-in-law of Mrs. Alex Filley, therefore and aunt of Mrs. Belle Woodcox. {1867 – 1957 Riverside Cem}


Was married to Mr. Sam Tustison, a town banker. Her mother was Mrs. Ella Patterson.


Was first married to Mr. Rice, who atone time owned the town drugstore. It was located in the Old opera house building which stood on the Yeiser corner and which burned. After the death of Mr. Rice, she became Mrs. Ferris.



Was married to Saxe Hadsell, a farmer east of town just east of the present Hadsell Bridge. She was the mother of Mrs. Portria Hough, who was at one time a member of the club. {1882 – 1960 Alton Cem}


Mrs. Bartholomew was a sister of Mr. Frank Akins her in town, now deceased. she was first married to a Mr. Chapman, who left her a widow. Mrs. Bartholomew had one son, Max Chapman, who married Elouise Bowman. {1874 – 1960 Evergreen Cem Newville}


The widow of Dr. B. O. Shook, a physician and surgeon in the towns of St. Joe and Spencerville for many years. Mrs. Shook’s maiden name was Murray. {1875 - 17 June 1962 White City Cem}


Lived northeast of town, a sister of Agnes Monroe, and Mrs. Grace Dilly. {1891 – 1968 Riverside Cem}


Passed away in Detroit. One of our oldest members, complied the history of the club. Daughter of Mrs. Alex Filley, one of the oldest members of L. L. C. Mrs. Woodcox was a sister-in-law of Mrs. Don Burley, another long-time member. {1873 – 1968 Riverside Cem}


Mr. Buckingham was owner of a meat market in the town and the couple loved beside the store on Main St., across the alley from the hard ware store. Mrs. Buckingham took a very active interest in the Club and its doings up until her faculties failed her in the later years of her life. She died just several years short of 100. {1871 – 1969 Riverside Cem}


The Krises lived on Road 8 northwest of St. Joe. She was a faithful member and contributed much to the club during her years as a member. She died at her home in Auburn. {1884 – 1969 Evergreen Cem Auburn}


A daughter of John and Loretta Hull, Mrs. Leighty lived in St. Joe most of her life, spending he declining years as a resident of W. 7th St. Auburn. where she maintained her home until almost the very last. She was married to Fred B. Leighty, the publisher of the St. Joe News foe many years. She served as an accurate and painstaking Critic for the Club for many, many years, and we all remember her unfailing insistence on correct grammar, usage, and pronunciations.

{1884 - 1969 Riverside Cem}