The Saturday Club, ‘Suburban’ Archives, State Federation of Pennsylvania Women

From time to time this writer has occasion to refer to the files of “The Suburban” for material for her column that is nowhere else on record. In bound form these files are complete back to February, 1906, when fire completely destroyed “The Suburban” office, then located on East Lancaster avenue.

This particular type of research work is a time consuming affair for the reason that it is so difficult for the writer to confine her attention to the particular subject on hand at the moment. A familiar name in the next column catches her eye, and she must read that article to the end even though it has no slightest relation to the matter on hand!

The old files are indeed veritable storehouses of records of people and happenings in Wayne back almost to the turn of the century–a composite picture in print of our churches, schools, township government and organizations, in short, of Radnor township itself. From time to time sketches made at random from material in these files will appear in this column.

Opening up to May, 1907, issues, a date just forty-five years past, we read of the election to office of the 16th president of the Saturday Club, Mrs. Milton J. Orme. This month the Club elected its 37th president, Mrs. Spencer V. Smith, who on May 20 will be installed in office. Inauguration day feel on June 4, 45 years ago.

In addition to Mrs. Orme, the officers were Mrs. Robert LeBoutillier and Mrs. S. T. Fulweiler, first and second vice-presidents; Mrs. George H. Wilson corresponding secretary, and Mrs. W. W. Heberton, treasurer. There were six directors: Mrs. C. J. Wood, Mrs. Fulweiler, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. W. W. Tarbell, Mrs. F. D. Scanlon and Mrs. C. H. Howson.

On Inauguration Day the Club was very festive in its decorations of green and white, the Club colors. Miss Edith G. Freeman was in charge of a musical program which featured songs by the Club Chorus and by Miss Lilian Walter, soloist, and piano numbers by Miss Marguerite Elder. There was also an amusing skit on “Sightseeing” read by Mrs. J. W. Show. The meeting concluded with a discussion of a subject of absorbing interest–the twelfth annual convention of the State Federation of Pennsylvania Women to be held in October at the Devon Inn with the Saturday Club as the hostess Club.

A matter of even greater pride to the Club was the fact that Mrs. Ellis L. Campbell (now Mrs. William Henry Sayen), a woman who had twice been president of the Club, was now president of the State Federation. As such she would call to order the opening meeting of the Federation. As such she would call to order the opening meeting of the Federation. This meeting would be held in the Ball Room of the Devon Inn.

When the 55th annual meeting of the State Federation is held the latter part of this month there will be several thousand women in attendance. In fact there are only about three or four cities in Pennsylvania with hotel accommodations sufficient to house the delegates. This year the convention will be held in Harrisburg. In 1907 an attendance of 300 was considered large. Many of those from the western part of the State came by a specially chartered train.

To plan for their entertainment required a large and efficient committee. Heading it was Mrs. George Miles Wells, a former president of the Club and one of Wayne’s best known women. Assisting her were Mrs. William B. Riley, Mrs. P. S. Conrad, Mrs. S. T. Fulweiler, Mrs. J. H. Jefferis, Mrs. C. B. Stilwell, Mrs. George H. Wilson, Mrs. C. J. Wood, Mrs. Frank Smith, Mrs. W. A. Nichols, Mrs. Harold A. Freeman, and Mrs. A. A. Parker. All of these women were prominent in the civic and social life of Wayne at that time.

When the Convention opened on Tuesday afternoon in the ballroom of the Devon Inn, delegates were welcomed by Mrs. Orme as president of the hostess club. It was a matter of much interest and pride to Saturday Club members that when Mrs. Campbell responded she was speaking not only as president of the State Federation, but as a charter member and past president of the Saturday Club. At the reception at the Inn that evening they were equally pleased that Mrs. Campbell’s address contained “many references to the home Club.”

Special guest of honor at the reception was Mrs. Sarah Platt Decker, president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. The evening program of entertainment consisted of the presentation of the cantata, “Sleeping Beauty” by the Saturday Club chorus under the direction of Miss Edith G. Freeman. Solo parts were sung by Miss Florence Fulweiler, Miss Lillian Walters and Miss Freeman.

Another feature of the evening was the reading of a humorous poem on “Suffrage” by a well-known leader of that militant group, Miss Jane Campbell.

It is interesting to note what were the matters of paramount importance as evidenced by the topics of talks given at various sessions. In addition to suffrage, there were those on “Modern Methods of Prevention and Cure of Tuberculosis”, “Home Economics as an Educational Phase in Civics” and one on “Civic Improvement” in which Mrs. Edward W. Biddle, of Carlisle, incoming president of the State Federation stated that “in the great present day movements for civic improvement, unquestionably for the most potent single factor is the influence of womens’ clubs”. Club women were also being urged at this time to use their influence in the matter of Child Labor Laws, an issue of great importance in Pennsylvania. Dr. Samuel Lindsay, of Columbia University, strongly recommended a Child Labor committee in the State Federation in his talk before one of its sessions.

The convention had its less serious side, however, in the way of entertainment for the delegates. One afternoon they were guests at tea of Miss M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr College, who later arranged for a tour of the buildings and grounds under the guidance of Senior students. That evening a performance of “Taming of the Shrew” was given at the Devon Inn, followed by the singing of Shakespearean songs under the direction of Mrs. Fulweiler of the Saturday Club.

To those who may not know Mrs. Ellis L. Campbell as the present Mrs. William Henry Sayen, it will be interesting to learn that she is still living in her home on Walnut avenue, and that up to a few years ago was active in the Saturday Club. In addition to serving as president of the State Federation in 1907, she was its first president, and is now an honorary president of that organization.

Wayne’s Company B, part 2 – Anthony J. Drexel Biddle

Company drills were routine for Wayne’s own “Company B”, the organization of which in the early days of World War I was described in last week’s column. Tuesday evenings of each week were devoted to squad drills and Thursday evenings to Company drills. Both were held on the Radnor School Field–offivers and privates alike took this military practice very seriously with the result that the company soon presented a fine appearance.

Eventually the group took up the study and practice of guard duty, in which members were required to memorize the twelve general orders for sentinels as weel as special orders for the sentinel at the posts of the guard. According to Captain Margerum, who has kept such a splendid record of his groups, “this feature of the evening to hear the several posts call out the hour and ‘all is well’ lent a glamour to the situation which few will forget.”

As drills were continued, membership steadily increased, in spite of the fact that many members were going into active service from time to time. Permanent squads were formed with corporals training their respective squads for competitive drill. Captain A. J. Drexel Biddle, U. S. M. C., who had just returned from the European battle front, reviewed a parade of Company B held on the old Biddle estate in Lansdowne. From there the Company procedded to the grounds of the St. Davids Golf Club with music and colors, for drill in extended order.

Aside from the manual of arms and the various maneuvers of company, platoon and squad, members of the Company were rigidly drilled in the matter of military deportment.

Chairman of the Recruiting Committee was A. M. Ware, who was very active in furnishing and placing notices throughout the township. His son, Albert A. Ware, was detailed to drill the awkward squads after he enlisted and went into Camp. According to one historian the Sergeant “was so efficient that he continued in this capacity until he came to the conclusion that his military training in Company B had been something of a detriment, as it kept him from seeing more active duty”.

When Captain Orme informed Company B in January, 1918, that he must resign because of a change of residence to New York, the Company gave him a farewell dinner at the Men’s Club. They also presented him with an inscribed sabre as a token of their esteem. From this time until May, 1918, the Company was under the command of the first lieutenant. At that time an election was held with all military formality, resulting in the unanimous choice of W. L. Margerum for Captain, Norman J. Coudert for first lieutenant and Herbert Plimpton for second lieutenant. On this same date, W. L. Margerum was commissioned a captain in the Philadelphia Military Training Corps.

Only a short time after leaving Wayne, Captain Orme died in New York of influenza. When he was buried from his residence in Wayne, Company B, by special permission of the health authorities, acted as a guard of honor at his home and at the Valley Forge Memorial Cemetery where he was buried. As a mark of respect, the officers of the company wore the usual mourning on the sword hilts for thirty days.

In July, 1918, Corporal Edward W. Maxwell resigned, as he was leaving for England. Supply Sergeant F. F. Adams also left Wayne about this time, while Private Edward Carey Gardner joined the marines.

Special occasions are worthy of notice of any review of Company B’s existence in Wayne. On Memorial Day, 1918, the Company marched to a point off Old Church road for field practice in attack and defense. On that same day, by invitation of Jarvis A. Wood, the company participated in a memorial service in the Central Baptist Church for Lieutenant William Bateman, Lieutenant Pennington Way and Corporal Norman Hallman, the latter a former member of Company B. The Rev. W. A. Patton also invited the Company to the memorial services held in the Wayne Presbyterian Church for Sergeant Wallace C. Dickson, who died in France.

At the Fourth of July celebration on the school field in that same year, Company B made their appearance when in addition to the manual of arms, company and platoon drills, they were deployed as skirmishers with blank cartridges. They gave an exhibition of this feature of the drill regulations. On the evening of the following day, by invitation of Major William C. Tuttle, the company joined the military rally at Bryn Mawr.

The conversion of the Saturday Club house into a hospital during the influenza epidemic has already been described in this column in the story of that organization. Both trained and volunteer nurses and other workers were on constant duty in the sickrooms and in the kitchen. Most of these were women. However, when strong arms were needed for handling delirious patients, a call to the men of Company B went out. In spite of the public dread of the disease the response was prompt.

Among organizations which were formed to operate on a more widespread basis during the days of World War I were a Committee of Public Safety for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the “American Protective League” for the whole country. The former was a Home Defense police force for the various counties of the State as created by Act of Assembly in July, 1917. Charles Wheeler, who was vice-director, appointed T. Truxtun Hare and W. L. Margerum as aides. Lieutenant Coudert was also a member of this organization. Captain Hare commanded Company B of this organization embracing Radnor Township. This Committee of Public Safety was not demobilized until April, 1921.

The American Protective League was organized with the approval of the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigation, under whose direction it operated. In this organization W. L. Margerum was appointed lieutenant in April, 1918.

Several days after Armistice Day the Peace Jubilee was celebrated in Wayne by a rousing parade in which various local organizations participated. Headed by a detachment of Marines from the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Company B paraded with two bands of music, members of the Red Cross in Uniform, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and the fire company, all forming a column worthy of the occasion. Company B. paraded three platoons, with the first Sergeant in charge of the third platoon.

Soon comrades returning from overseas and from camps in this country were home. Among them was Captain Fallon, who had received a special decoration from the French Government because of his services in the Air Force. And of course there were many others.

By February, 1919, rifles of Company B were returned to the P. M. T. C. or delivered on order to other organizations. Among the latter were forty rifles turned over to St. Luke’s School, and sixty to Radnor High School.

Sergeant Edgar L. Hunt was mustered out of Company B. And soon the days of the Company’s activities were a thing of the past, to linger on only in the memories of those who had participated in its work, and those who had stood by admiringly as they saw what had been accomplished in such a short time.

(The End)

The Saturday Club – Red Cross Emergency Hospital for Influenza patients

The Saturday Club

At the annual meeting held in April 1887, it was voted to reduce the dues from three dollars to two dollars. However, “All men becoming life members pay $3.00 and this gives them a membership for life.” Apparently not many availed themselves of this opportunity, for at a meeting held a year later it was “moved that the money be refunded to these gentlemen who have paid their dues for this year and that those who have assisted us be elected honorary members.” Dr. Egbert and Dr. Abbott being the only ones who had paid these dues, the secretary was instructed to return $3.00 to each one.

When Mrs. Stocker was elected president in 1891, she said in her inaugural address, “The Club movement for women is a factor for modern progress. It has stimulated an intellectual and social life without in the least detracting from the duties of wifehood and motherhood. On the contrary, the conscience as regards these duties has been quickened, the ideas broadened and activities stimulated. It is impossible for men to comprehend the narrow groove in which the majority of women have ben forced to live, more and have their being in the past. Club life has revealed women to each other; it has established fellowship on purely human foundations and has opened the doors for a new Heaven and a new earth in which all differences are melted in a simple gospel of unity.”

Club House Built

On October 17, 1898, the board authorized the president and secretary to sign a contract with J. D. Lengel of Wayne for the building of a club house on a lot purchased from the Wayne Estate. Mrs. Ralston C. Ware was chairman of the building committee. David Knickerbocker Boyd was the architect and the total cost of lot and building was $5,145! Then in June, 1912, during the presidency of Mrs. Marshall H. Smith, the contract for alteration to the club house was signed with Mrs. Parke Shoch as chairman of the building committee. These alterations included changes in the basement to provide a dining room and the erection of a stage at the west end of the building. This is the building as the community knows it now, except for the enclosure of the porch which was done in 1930. It is the oldest Woman’s Club House in Delaware County and one of the oldest in the state.

In October, 1907, the twelfth annual meeting of the State Federation of Pennsylvania Women’s Clubs was held at the Devon Inn with the Saturday Club as hostess club. Some four hundred women from all parts of the State were in attendance. Mrs. Sayen (then Mrs. Campbell) was State president at the time.

Aids War Effort

During the years of World War I, the Club devoted much time to Red Cross, to talks on food conservation, to canteen luncheon, to Liberty-Loan programs. In October, 1918, the Club House was turned into a Red Cross Emergency Hospital to care for influenza patients who could not gain admittance to regular hospitals. The children’s ward was in a large tent outside the Club House.

Again in World War II, the Club dedicated itself to the Red Cross by giving the use of its building as an emergency hospital which was also used for all Blood Donor days; by having surgical dressings classes and by maintaining membership in the Wayne Camp and Hospital Committee.

Today the Saturday Club functions as a departmental club with membership in the Delaware County Federation of Womens Clubs, the Pennsylvania State Federation and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. With a membership of more than 200 it meets each Tuesday, October through May, alternating stated meetings with departmental work. Now more than ever before, the Club House is the center of much community activity. Here the First Church of Christ Scientist of Wayne holds its meetings; the Wayne Footlighters give their plays and various dancing groups are in session throughout the week. In addition other community groups meet here less frequently from time to time.

Presidents of the Club during its sixty-three years of its existence include in the order of their terms of office: Mrs. Jane Campbell, Miss Anna Markley, Miss Buxton, Mrs. George R. Stocker, Mrs. E. L. Campbell, Mrs. Charles B. Stilwell, Mrs. Henry Birkenbine, Mrs. Stilwell (2nd term); Mrs. W. B. McKellar, Mrs. George M. Wells, Mrs. C. W. Ruschenberger, Mrs. R. C. Ware, Mrs. E. L. Campbell, Mrs. W. A. Nichols, Mrs. Clarke J. Wood, Mrs. M. W. Orme, Mrs. Parke J. Schoch, Mrs. Marshall H. Smith, Mrs. Henry Roever, Mrs. Smith (2nd term); Mrs. W. Allen Barr, Mrs. John J. Mitchell, Jr., Mrs. Walter H. Dance, Mrs. C. H. Howson, Mrs. Henry Roever, Mrs. F. A. McCord, Mrs. E. E. Trout, Mrs. W. W. Crawford, Mrs. T. Magill Patterson, Mrs. H. H. Kynett, Mrs. F. A. Wallace, Mrs. J.S. freeman, Mrs. A. E. Livingston, and Mrs. Richard Howson, the current president.

The Saturday Club, Part 1

“The Suburban” this week begins publication of a series of articles under the caption “Your Town and My Town”, written by a well-known resident of Wayne, who has been for many years an integral part of our community life. “Your Town and My Town” will give the historical background of the cultural associations which have made Wayne and Radnor township famous along the Main Line. The writer’s commentaries on these various institutions should prove interesting alike to our older and newer residents.

The Saturday Club

In April, 1890, what is now the most powerful and influential organization of women in the world was founded – the General Federation of Women’s Clubs with a membership at present exceeding three million women in America alone. Affiliated membership in foreign countries raises the total to more than five million women.

The Saturday Club of Wayne was already more than four years old when it became one of the first groups to enter the General Federation. Founded in February, 1886, it was the second Departmental Club in Pennsylvania, the first being the New Century Club of Philadelphia. When the State Federation of Pennsylvania Women’s Clubs was organized in 1895, a charter member of the Saturday club, Mrs. Ellis Campbell, now Mrs. William Henry Sayen, became its first president. Mrs. Sayen, one of the founders of the Saturday Club was also one of its early presidents and during the past sixty-tree years has always maintained an active interest in the Club for whose existence she was so largely responsible.

The Junior Saturday Club was founded in 1907 as one of the first Junior organizations, not only in Pennsylvania, but in the entire United States.

The names of the first members of the “ladies organization,” which was later to become the Saturday Club of Wayne, are still legible in a well-worn, black bound book. They are written in an exquisitely fine hand on age-yellowed leaves with an ink now dim with time.

“On February 16, at four in the afternoon, nine of the twelve ladies invited to be present, met in the library room, Wayne Hall, where after some formal remarks, Miss Markley was invited to preside.” But even before this “on a sunny Saturday afternoon, there gathered in Mrs. Sayen’s parlor several bright congenial women, who, over steaming cups of tea, dared discuss the subject of Women’s Clubs – then almost a tabooed subject.” (From an article written for the SUBURBAN of March 29, 1907, by Mrs. A. A. H. Canizares on the occasion of the 21st Saturday Club Birthday Party.)

The first order of business at the meeting of February 16 was the election of officers for the temporary organization. Mrs. James Campbell was elected president with Anna Markley and Mrs. P.W. Ver Planck as vice presidents, Mrs. G. E. Abbott as secretary and Miss Helen Erben as treasurer. In addition to these officers, others, who made the original twelve were Mrs. W. H. Sayen, Miss Phillips, Mrs. Peterson and Mrs. Henry Pleasants, Jr. A little later “there were nominated for membership six other ladies all of whom gave great vitality to the infant club. They were Miss Matlack, Mrs. Stocker, Mrs. E. L. Campbell, Miss M. Rogers and Mrs. Fallon.”

So great was the enthusiasm that club meetings at first took place even during the summer months. Programs were usually in the form of papers written by the members. In one meeting Mrs. Abbott had prepared a paper on chemistry, but “there being so few present it was decided by motion to give the paper into the hands of the entertainment committee to be used again.”

Different “sections” of the club work included science, art, music, literature and household. There were papers on such diversified subjects as “Climatology,” “Materialism,” (so popular it was repeated a second time by Dr. Abbott) and “Geology of the Surrounding Country.” There was also the reading of a few extracts from a book, “Plumbing and Doctors,” and there was a lecture on “Emergencies” by Dr. Egbert and one on Nursing,” by Dr. Wells.

There is an occasional mention of tea, the first at the meeting of October 9, 1886, when “The Club meeting was called to order by the president while presiding at a table, laden with pretty little china cups from which was to be sipped the fragrant tea.”

To be continued