CLUBS -- SOCIAL SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS -- LODGES
Houston Heights Literary Club
Since its first settlement a very decided civic activity had marked the Heights, the Houston Heights Literary Club being the outstanding organization for women. On January 151 1900, sixteen women of the Heights met at the home of Mrs. C. R. Cummings and formed the Literary Club. Almost immediately after organization of the club, the president, Mrs. Cummings, moved from the Heights and Mrs. C. A McKinney succeeded in office.
In the famous Blue Book for 1907-1908 is the following entry:
HOUSTON HEIGHTS LITERARY CLUB
Organized January, 1899. Membership 35. Meets every Wednesday from October to June at home of president. Officers and executive board: Mrs. W. G. Love, president; Mrs. W. W. Kellogg, first vice-president; Mrs. D.M.Duller, second vice-president; Mrs. Geo. C. Van Demark, recording secretary; Mrs. M. Sheehan, corresponding secretary; Mrs. P. B. Thornton, treasurer. Executive board; Mesdames W. G. Love, W. W. Kellogg, D. M. Duller, Geo. C. Van Demark, F. F. Dexter, W. E. Bennett, and H. N. Jones, Course of study for 1907-8, "American Studies."
Mrs. C. A. McKinney gave 1900 for the club's date of organization, so evidently the Blue Book made a mistake in its earlier date.
Meetings were held at the home of the president until increased membership made it necessary to have a club room. Mr. Carter then gave space in his power house at the waterworks on 19th Avenue.
Houston Heights Woman's Club
Meanwhile the Literary Club was outgrowing its single interest and expanding into enough departments to incorporate itself into the more general title of Woman's Club. In February, 1911, the Arts and Crafts Club, the Musical and Social Club, and the original Literary Club merged into the Houston Heights Woman's Club. All these different groups had come from the membership of the Literary Club or its associates. The charter members of the Woman's Club were: Mesdames W. E. Bennett, 0. F. Carroll, Thomas S. Lowry, A. W. Cooley, G. W. Hawkins, S. H. Webber, W. A. Renn, C. A. McKinney, W. A. McNeill, M. D. Ritter, H. S. Robinson, A. B. Sheldon, P. B. Thornton, W. B. Welling.
Also in 1911, Mr. and Mrs. D. D. Cooley gave ground at 1846 Harvard for a club house and immediately plans were made for the building. The Gilded Fool, starring E. V. Whitty, was the first benefit sponsored by the ladies for the building fund. The club members also promoted a carnival at the playground for the same purpose. The Suburbanite has notice of the formal opening of the Club House on Friday, October 18, 1912.
The cost of the building was $1,500 and by way of comparison the price of the piano (financed by the Music Study Department) was the same amount. Under the able direction of Mrs. W. A. Renn, President of the Woman's Club, the members had their building clear of debt within a year of its erection. Their only trouble was the stage. It was built high, when ladies wore skirts that touched the floor, and twice had to be lowered as skirts got higher and higher.
Early Charity Work of the Club Women
Aside from its cultural character, the old Literary Club was an agency for great good among the poor in the Height. The ladies held a ball once a year at the old skating rink and the proceeds were used as a charity fund. In various other ways the treasury of the club was replenished to serve as a community chest. Committees were appointed to investigate calls for aid and an amount of money was disbursed. The ladies would file the request together with a report on actual conditions found to warrant help, and then would give food and medical aid as far as they were able. There was no other social service available.
Later, the Woman's Club also fostered the first school library in the Heights. Actually in the beginning the books were kept in the principal's office, but the teachers could send there and secure material for classroom use. At least the club had provided books. Very few schools in those days had a library room provided to house the books.
When the Literary Club in February, 1911, merged with its sub-divisions to form the Woman's Club, it must have made other arrangements for its charity work because the Suburbanite on March 11, 1911, shows members of the Literary Club forming a new organization for that specific purpose:
At a meeting held at the home of Mrs. M. Sheehan Monday afternoon for the purpose of forming a United Charity Organization in the Heights, the following officers were elected: President, Rev. C. A. Earl; Vice-President, Mrs. J. M. Limbocker; Treasurer, Mrs. M. Sheehan; Recording Secretary, Mrs. E. F. Patterson; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. W. A. Renn.
A few weeks later the Suburbanite gives an encouraging report on its tag day receipts for charity sponsored by this new organization. The following year the newspaper again mentioned Tag Day and named the ladies responsible during Christmas week "to tag all going and coming on the street cars." Each lady had a number of young helpers appointed for different hours. These young ladies would board the car as it went round the belt and persuade each passenger to buy a tag.
Perhaps the dread disease that gripped all Houston was the immediate cause for the organization of the United Charities. On April 6, 1912, the Suburbanite gives notice about closed theaters and public places of meeting all over Houston and the Heights:
Cerebo-Spinal Meningitis. What do you know about it? Let us urge you to learn more about it by coming to the Baptist Temple, Thursday . . .
The club women of the Heights founded their different groups for mutual pleasure and cultural improvement, but they also considered social work and educational help as part of their reason for organization.
Social Service Leaders
Mention should be made here of outstanding business women in the Heights, each of whom achieved distinction in her professional life of social service.
First place belongs to Mrs. Hortense Ward, who with her husband, Judge W. H. Ward, founded the law firm of Ward and Ward. Mrs. Ward had, in 1910, made news when she was the first woman in Texas to pass the bar examination. But her great contribution to the women of her state lay in her successful battle for "Property Rights for Women."
On March 21, 1913, Governor Colquitt signed the bill defining separate and community property of the husband and the wife and removing disabilities of married women in the management and control of their separate property. The governor then gave his pen to Mrs. Ward. The civil status of women in Texas gained recognition because of Mrs. Ward's intelligent and competent efforts in connection with narital property rights for women of the state. At the time the bill was signed in Texas there were only two remaining states in the Union where women were denied the right to handle their own property and personal earnings.
Mrs. Ward's mother, Mrs. Louisa Sparks, a widow with a large family, for years lived on West 16th and was prominent in the north end of the Heights. Mrs. Ward's sister, Miss Ella Sparks, married Charlie Udell, and lived on West 18th Mrs. Ward's only surviving daughter in 1955 is Mrs. John H. Crooker, Sr.
Another outstanding professional woman in the Heights was Miss Ferdie Trichel, who lived with her family on West 17th Miss Trichel organized and helped to build the Newsboys Home in Houston, which around 1912 was a haven for teen-agers needing protection.
Today the average newsboy is the youngster saving for college or for some extra hobby of his own. But when Miss Trichel was interested, the ordinary boy selling newspapers needed necessities, and in many instances needed most of all a home and good social environment. Miss Trichel tried to provide that. She was a plain spoken, remarkably quiet little woman, whose soft voice went a long way in winning help for her boys.
Fred F. Dexter started a choral club about 1909, and over his store, on 17th and Rutland, he held practice. People joined not because they could sing but because Mr. Dexter made the lessons enjoyable. At the time he was the assistant musical director and accompanist for the Houston Quartette Society, and he and Mrs. Dexter gave themselves freely to the encouragement of musical organization in the Heights.
Programs and Tallies
After the gay nineties, the early 1900's were much the same. Formality with frills was the order of the day Young ladies brought home tallies when they played "high five" and programs when they attended dances. These trophies were pinned in great clusters on the bedroom wall. Also young ladies wore many frills and enjoyed dressing up. Then it was that the Neaubeaux Club was organized by Misses Abbie Mae Hartley, Blanche Bennett, and Lucille Inkley. This organization was strictly for young ladies with their escorts, the name notwithstanding. And it was an important club in the Heights after 1909 or 1910. The Suburbanite records all the "delightful" parties of the Neaubeaux Club.
Its membership included the group out of high school. In 1955, one of its early members said that many of the original members still meet, that when an old girl comes back to visit or to live, she simply takes up where she left off.
No record of charter members could be found, but the Suburbanite files tell of parties held in December of 1911 at the home of Misses Bessie Boyle, Dorothy Hamm, and Althea Lane, and lists members who were present: Marabel Hamilton, Marie Malsch, Helen Whitfield, Marcella Jones, Elsie Vieweger, Marguerite MaIsch, Helen McNeill, Garnett Robinson, Ida Bell, Beulah Barber, Bessie Boyle, Abbie Mae Hartley, Lucille Inkley, Janette Eller, Blanche Bennett, Dorothy Hamm, Mollie Mae Thornton, Edith Yantis, Maud Yantis, Ruby Webb, Mrs. G. J. Robinson.
The South and Embroidery Club
About the same time as the organization of the Neaubeaux, a group of ladies, chiefly from the neighborhood of Coombs Terrace, organized a social club that for many years enjoyed its weekly sewing circle and luncheon in the home of its different members. The club did not specify any civic reason for its being, but its members were leading women in the early development of the Heights and their embroidery club lasted for years. The following names were given by the daughter of one of the first members: Mesdames E. A. Taylor, Harry Van Demark, D. D. Smeaton, J. M. Limbocker, D. Barker, W. P. Harhblen, Hiram Gilliam, H , S. Robinson, P. M. Granberry, S. H. Webber, J. S. Purdy, W. C. Purdy, Julia Coombs, Julia Hamilton, Chas. King, and Frank Witte.
The Sunshine Society
The Houston Heights Sunshine Society was organized in March, 1910, by Mrs. J. A. Gillette with the following ladie as charter members: Mesdames P. 0. Endt, S. D. Wilkins E. M. Johnston, C. Schleeter, T. A. Sinclair, P. B. Thorn ton, R. J. Shallcross, J. W. Blake, Maud Ketterman. Other who soon joined were: Mesdames E. F. Patterson, C. B Udell, C. R. Allman, Louisa Sparks, W. Turney, M. Sheehan J. M. Grant, John Dunlop, H. K. Hodes, H. Yoakum, 0. C Miller, A. Como, S. A. Bozell, R. D. Jeter, Eugene Cook R. J. Webb, F. C. Van Liew, C. A. McKinney, Belle M Costello, J. W. Scott.
Mrs. Costello was for years the society editor of the Houston Chronicle and once a week in that paper she had column devoted to the interest of the Sunshine Society.
The organization's chief end was to make life more pleasant for the old. The ladies kept a list of "four-score" residents whose birthdays they always remembered. 1n 1914, Grandma Burns was outstanding with her party given at the home of Mrs. Shallcross on Mrs. Burns' 108th birthday. The members made annual visits to bring cheer to the old ladies living at Sheltering Arms. They maintained wheel chairs for those in need, made layette outfits, and in one instance financed a blind girl's musical education. 0n April 27, 1912, at Mrs. Udell's home the Society had a silver tea "for Miss Elmo Randall, blind pianist who will graduate next month." For many years the Heights Sunshine Society carried on in neighborhood fashion what the Community Chest later did through organized charity. There was difference, however, in that the Sunshine Society did not consider its work charity, and most of its cases were not in need of anything except the remembrance.
Tuesday Social Club
At the home of Mrs. John Dunlop in May, 1915, the Tuesday Social Club organized with its first five member Mesdames T. A. Sinclair, Walter Davis, R. J. Shallcros R. E. Patterson, and John Dunlop. Specifically social in its purpose this club limits its membership to twelve. Mrs. Dunlop in 1955 tells that after forty years some of the original members still belong and still attend the social functions planned for its closely associated group.
Independent Order of Oddfellows
Houston Heights Lodge No. 225, Independent Order of Oddfellows was issued a charter on May 6, 1905, by F. H. Kneeland. The petitioners for the charter were: G. W. Hawkins, R. H. Towles, P. V. Myers, R. E. Turrentine, and J. S. Patterson. The first report, December 31, 1905, showed the following 43 members: G. W. Arnold, A. A. Berger, J * R. Brown, W. 0. Backus, Sylvester Branham, W. V. Cox, J. C. Denny, T. E. Dillworth, F. B. Davis, J. W. Foote, B. G. Fenner, J. A. Gillette, G. W. Hawkins, H. E. Henrichsen, Charles Horn, R. A. Hudgins, W. H. Hergist, L. H. Hood, F. M. Johnson, R. D. Jeter, W. G. Love, J. B. Lucas, G. T. Lowery, P. V. Myers, C. A. McPherson, J. S. Patterson, L. A. Pledger, H. M. Platt, M. W. Parry, B. Patella, Ben Reinicke, H. H. Reeves, J. C. Smith, R. H. Towles, W. L. Thompson, R. E. Turrentine, W. B. Vaughn, F. C. Van Liew, G. W. Wilson, C. A. Wallace, Charles Winkler, J. H . Wilson, J. R. Gadon.
The story of Fraternal Hall has already outlined the earliest attempt of the Oddfellows to build a place for their work in the Heights. When Fraternal Hall burned in 1912, the lodge had to start anew. Seven faithful members during this period kept the organization alive and met in the hall above Dexter's store on 17th and Rutland. In later years the Oddfellows would grow into a strong group able to build another home of which today the lodge is justly proud.
The Cleopatra Rebekah Lodge No. 62 was organized in February, 1906, by the following charter members: P. V. Myers, G. W. Hawkins, J. S. Patterson, T. A. Goldnap, and William Broker, and Mesdames Elizabeth Brown, Nettie Hawkins, Clara Patterson, Lulu Wallace, and Dora Harris. All of these members had withdrawn from Esther Rebekah Lodge No. 6. Fifteen more members came in by initiation, making a total of 25 members. The first meetings were held in the Wallace-Johnson Hall over the store that later became known as the Nineteenth Avenue Drug Store. After organization, the lodge moved to Fraternal Hall where it lost all records when the hall burned in 1912.
Next the members met in Dexter's Hall and changed their name to Houston Heights Rebekah Lodge No. 62. Under that title they would build their own hall and grow into a strong unit of their organization.
Heights Masonic Lodge
The John H. Reagan Lodge No. 1037 was chartered December 12, 1910. It was organized over the volunteer fire department building, next to Dr. William Olive's Drug Store at 910 Yale Street. The charter members were:
Backus, W. 0.|
Bernard, A. C.
Coulter, A. M.
Damron, P. E.
Dietrich, Emil G.
Fowler, J. C.
French, J. M.
Gordon, J. A.
Groves, A. E.
Hart, C. C.
Helms, Jas. F.
Horn, Chas., Jr. |
Horn, Chas., Sr.
Johnston, E. M.
Neville, E. F.
Reimers, H. G.
Shallcross, R. J.
Stiel, J. C.
Turnsek, 0. J.
Only two of these first members are now living: A. C. Bernard and R. J. Shallcross.
The Masters of Reagan Lodge from its beginning until annexation were: J. M. French, Jas. F. Helms, W. H. Ward, A. C. Bernard, C. C. Hart, Sr., R. J. Shallcross, C. 1. Voss, J. A. Jackson, and R. D. Hardcastle.