The Bartlett Woman's Club

Serving the Community for more than 70 Years

"The Bide-a-Wee Club was organized at the home of Mrs. Harold Mayer on January 23, 1936, by a group of nine women who were vitally interested in the problems of the day. The care and funding of children and the problems of youth were discussed, while needles and thimbles clicked and crochet hooks flew. Sometimes one of the members read aloud, and at other times they planned trips to various points of interest. So even in its infancy, the Bartlett Woman's Club, although it had no organized work plan, was covering all the departments that later became part of its program.

early club members picture on way to flower show

"On December 30, 1937, the Bide-a-Wee Club changed its name to the Bartlett Woman's Club with Mrs. Ruth Mayer continuing on as president. A yearly program was arranged, and the club voted to affiliate with the General Federation of Woman's Clubs in April of 1938. Departments, such as American Home, International Relations, Membership, and more, were appointed. With a new printed club book containing the club motto, pledge to the flag, committee chairmen, and programs, fifteen proud club members met in September to begin a career of service to the community, promotion of good fellowship, and the advancement of intellectual culture.

"A study of the programs through 1938-1939 is a study of the history of the times, especially the part played by interested, intelligent women. Subjects were foreign born citizens and what they contributed to our country, bells of history, hobbies, finance, motion pictures, civil service and more. Several members assisted the Elgin Woman's Club in making bandages for Sherman Hospital."

On Veterans Day, November 11, 1939, the club dedicated the flag pole and flag it donated to the Bartlett cemetery. After holding tag-days, a card party, a doughnut sale, an ice cream social and kidnapping parties, the club realized enough money had been raised to make the purchase.

"A parade of civic organizations led by the Elgin Drum and Bugle Corps of the American Legion and the members of the Itasca post marched to the cemetery, where the presentation of the flag and pole was made by the president, Mrs. Irene Schultz, to the mayor, Mr. A. W. Sodman."

picture of club members with pioneer women of bartlett

"On June the 27th, 1940, the Bartlett Woman's Club, with the pioneer women of Bartlett as guests, met at the home of Mrs. Alsworth at one o'clock for a garden luncheon. Early days in Bartlett were told by our guests and club members.

"With war drums beating in the distance, the Bartlett's Woman's Club opened their 1941 club year by being very war conscious. Bundles for Britain were packed and shipped to New York and boxes sent to the lads in the services. Two war bonds were purchased and one dollar was donated to Civilian Defense, five dollars to the Red Cross, ...and five dollars to the U.S.O.

club members sending cookies to servicemen

"Although war duties occupied a large share of member's time, the American home, gardens, civic efficiency, music and the arts were not neglected in 1942. Members acted as daytime air raid wardens and fire watchers, hours were spent making surgical dressings for the Red Cross, and some took the Red Cross home nursing course. Collections were made of old silk hose for the war purpose.

"The 1943 new club year opened, bringing greater demands and heavier responsibilities to women who were touched with the tragedy of war. Members headed various drives and spent hours working on surgical dressings for the Red Cross. Many attended nutrition classes for rationing made cooking a serious problem in most homes. A Yank was adopted at Christmas and many fine gifts bestowed on him."
As recorded by Stella Krumfuss, club historian, 1936-1955.

picture of cast from comin round the mountain

Although the club remained focused on war efforts during the 1940s, it also was concerned with and supported many local issues, such as Elgin State Hospital, Girl Scouts, Park Ridge School for Girls, and the establishment of a library in Bartlett. In 1944, "The primary interest of the club is the erection of a community house, which is sorely needed in Bartlett. Card parties, a traveling basket, a bazaar, mystery prizes, a turkey raffle and rummage sale were some of the sources used by the Social Committee to raise funds for this project. Members of the club glowed with much happiness when it was announced at the November 1948 meeting that a community building was to be erected at the park, for their project was a community house for Bartlett. This building is to be built by donations from various civic organizations. The Woman's Club donated $1,000 toward the fund.

picture of charlotte pierce

"The members of the Bartlett Woman's Club began the 1950s with much elation for the Community House (Bartlett Park Log Cabin) was nearing completion and meetings would soon be held in the new quarters. The furnace at the Community House was purchased with donations of $300 from the Royal Neighbors and a donation of the balance of $950 from the club.

"In 1951 the club raised the dues of the club to $5 per year and enlarged the membership to one hundred members. A hobby show, style parade, dog training demonstration and slip cover making lesson were some of the programs enjoyed. The change in school districts (Hanover-Schaumburg Unit District 250, Cook County to Illinois School District U-46) was very ably described by Mrs. Oliver Hardt.

social committee planning "cinderella steps out" fashion show

"As the Bartlett Woman's Club began another year (1952) they were mindful of local, state and national problems. The furnishing of the Community House was one of their major projects. A piano was purchased and individuals bought china and silver. The club paid $89.32 for drapery material and brackets and Mrs. F. Rees made the draperies. The civic committee contacted the village board in regard to speeding cars and the village placed stop signs throughout the village. Also the house-numbers were reported in error and the matter brought before the board.

"Donations were made to the Red Cross, March of Dimes, Herrick House, Traveler's Aid, Geneva Home for Girls, Bartlett Brownies, 4-H Club, Chicago Christian League, WTTW, and $5 to the Bartlett School P.T.A. for the school Halloween party."

As recorded by Stella Krumfuss, club historian, 1936-1955.

Stella Fuerhaken Krumfuss was a life-long area resident who enjoyed writing. Krumfuss, whose pen name was "Esskay," wrote poems and short stories that reflected rural life and times and were published in local papers. The Bartlett History Museum has a collection of her written work in the archives. Krumfuss resigned from the club in 1956 at the age of 71.

members getting ready for their 1960 christmas party

The 1960s began with a membership role of 35 women who met at the "field house" in Bartlett Park at 1 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. Dessert was shared before the call to order and attendance was taken. After committee reports were read and business was discussed, a program was presented. Topics included guest speakers, home movies, musical performances, and holiday celebrations.

The treasurer reports showed that the club maintained a balance on hand of approximately $500. Fundraisers, such as the annual fashion show, fruitcake sales and card parties, allowed the women to support various causes in the Village and beyond.

irene schultz becomes first silver star member

In 1962, a petition from the Bartlett Betterment Association regarding the extension of the closing time for taverns in the Bartlett area was discussed, and it was agreed the Woman's Club would write a letter of protest to the mayor. In the same year, Herrick House, a facility for children with rheumatic fever, was closing its doors due to medical advancements in the treatment of heart disease. The club had supported this facility, located on West Bartlett Road near Route 59, in many capacities.

The formation of the park district in 1964 drew immediate financial assistance from the club. Through the years the club purchased playground equipment and bike racks, refurbished the "field house," planted flowers and more.

The "Sixties" was not only an era of change for our country but also for the club. In 1965 and again in 1967,the club considered disbandment due to low membership and poor attendance at meetings. In fact, from April 1966 till February 1967, the club did not meet.

bartlett teens complete babysitting course 1966

"Twelve members of the Bartlett Woman's Club met at the Community House to discuss whether or not to continue the club in an active status; or should the club disband?," read the first line of the March 1967 minutes. The women agreed to continue and formulate new plans to attract members, but to sever their affiliation with the Kane County Federation of Woman's Clubs.

Twenty-six ladies graced the membership role of the club when the "Me Decade," the 1970s, began. With the passage of the Bartlett Public Library District referendum still two years away, the club continued to support the volunteer library organization. A $200 donation in 1970 was used by the library to purchase books and provide services to the Village's 3,501 residents. Part of the donation money was raised by hosting Tupperware parties, with 15% of the sales earmarked for the Library Fund. Even after the district was approved by a vote in June 1972, the club continued donating money and items, such as a children's table and chairs in 1974.

In November of 1972, the club voted to change the time of their monthly meeting to 8 p.m. This evening time now accommodated working women who wished to attend. Yearly dues remained at $2.50.

The Beautification Committee, in 1974, looked into purchasing baskets of live flowers to be hung on the lamp posts throughout town. Their plans were rejected by Commonwealth Edison. The committee then turned their attentions to the property where Fire Station #1 stands. The club leased the triangular portion of land from the department for $1 a year, for ten years. A redwood welcome sign, purchased for $165, was placed, along with shrubs and flowers, to greet people entering the main thoroughfare of the time. The club also beautified the log cabin in Bartlett Park, where meetings are still being held, by replacing the tile floor, hanging new draperies, and purchasing chair racks and additional chairs.

club members march in memorial day parade 1976

In 1976, the Village celebrated the nation's bicentennial, and the club threw their support, both time and money, behind the events planned. One event it hosted was a tea.

Throughout the decade, the club continued to support local causes, such as the Bartlett Park District, Boy and Girl Scout troops, Herrick House, Bartlett Learning Center (today Clare Woods Academy), needy area families, YMCA scholarship fund, and many more. The club also began a yearly scholarship award. Fundraisers, such as the annual flea market, holiday craft bazaar, fashion show and plant sales, provided the necessary revenue.

Shirley Kasko, Woman's Club president, lead 52 members into the 1980s, a decade that saw the first female Supreme Court justice, astronaut and United States vice-presidential contender.

park district recognize club for their work and contributions

The standing committees during this time were Beautification, Club Historian, Craft, Membership, Moon Lake(convalescent center), Program, Publicity, Scholarship, Senior Citizens' Luncheon, Serving, Social, Telephone, Ways & Means. The club made annual donations to the Bartlett Historical Society, Bartlett Learning Center, Boy and Girl Scouts, FISH, Herrick House, Independence School, park and library districts, and special community needs, such as the Joe Schiferl Fund.

The first senior luncheon was held October 8, 1981 at Immanuel United Church of Christ. All members were asked to bring a covered dish, salad, dessert or rolls. The luncheon was a "large success with about 93 people served." Today the club still sponsors this annual feast.

members at "clash of clubs" competition 1984

Plans for the train station beautification project began in 1984 and continued for a few years. The club's design called for brick pavers, railroad tie planters, shrubs and benches to enhance the area around the station. After a meeting with Valerie Salmons and Orlo Benson in 1985, it was determined the club would pay for the material and the Village would supply the labor to install the items. The cost of the total project was $6,000. Profits from the sale of the "Game of Bartlett" and 1984 Christmas Bazaar were used to pay for the supplies. During this decade the club also decorated the train station at holiday time with wreathes and lights.

bartlett version of monopoly game 1983

More than 125 tasty recipes appeared in the club's 1985 cookbook, which was sold for $5 each. It was reported in the minutes that they were "selling well" and a profit of $515 was made.

In 1986 the club began recognizing and awarding one of their members as "Woman of the Year." The recipient was chosen at that time based upon a point system. Marylou Szydowski was the first to be honored.

The club celebrated its golden anniversary in 1987. For fifty years Bartlett women volunteered their time and talents to support the various causes of the community and surrounding area. The club now sponsored two scholarship programs, one for high school seniors and a re-entry scholarship for women. Monthly programs touched on current issues, such as breast cancer awareness and recycling, along with social activities, such as a craft demonstration from Banbury Fair. Four members, Lois Humbracht, Helen Morris, Ruby Schultz, and Naomi White, were Silver Star members, having been part of the organization for more than half its existence.

dorothy aromi rides on club float in 1991 centennial parade

By the 1990s, Bartlett was a community of more than 19.000 residents who eagerly looked forward to the annual family and women's fundraising events sponsored by the club.

The Bunny Luncheon is one such occasion. Since 1975, this yearly spring lunch has thrilled young children in the community. Three hundred fifty-five tickets were sold that first year, with profits totaling $174. 57. Whether lunch is a hotdog or McDonald's hamburger, one constant remains, a visit from the Easter Bunny himself passing out colorful eggs to everyone. In 1993, the luncheon's profit was $409.08.

easter bunny at first annual easter bunny luncheon 1975

What are the newest styles for the season? You only need to attend the Spring Fashion Show for the answer. From the first "Pageant of Women," presented in 1940, to the annual event which originated in 1946 and today features a multi-course lunch at a local banquet hall, Bartlett Woman's Club members are always ready to model the latest trends. This afternoon of fashion and food is one of the club's largest fundraisers, with profits going toward college scholarships. Gantos and August Max provided the fashions in 1994.

Beginning in 1976, scholarships to help defray college expenses have been awarded to high school seniors and to women returning to the work force. The club has given these monetary gifts to individuals they deem deserving based on established criteria. Four seniors were each awarded $500 scholarships in 1991.

Looking for the perfect gift for someone on your holiday list? Look no further then the Mistletoe Magic Craft Show, a staple since 1973. At first, club members made the assorted decorations, wreaths and such to be sold. Later, local crafters bought table space and displayed their wares with club members selling raffles tickets and lunch items. In 1990, the concession stand alone raised $526.75.

shoppers at annual mistle toe magic craft fair

Besides the traditional events the club planned, new opportunities for community care were present in the 1990s. In 1991, Bartlett celebrated its 100th birthday. The club contributed $2,050 toward the construction of the Centennial Gazebo in Bartlett Park. A retrospective of the club was written for publication in the Bartlett Centennial Book, along with sponsoring a page. Members organized a craft show on July 6 and 7 that featured 27 crafters exhibiting their wares. Proceeds from the table fees were donated to the Centennial Fund. A large personalized brick, in honor and recognition of the club's contributions, was placed near the gazebo by the Centennial Committee. "Rediscover Bartlett," a centennial dance, was hosted on Saturday, October 12 to honor Bartlett firefighters and paramedics. Tickets were $7.50 and club members provided the snacks for the evening.

For the club's 41 members, the new millennium was a time for reflection on 63 years of service to the community. The role of women had certainly changed through the decades, not only in Bartlett, but nationwide. In 1940, only 25% of U.S. women 16 and older worked outside the home. By 2000, that figure had risen to 60%, according to U.S. Census figures. The club had also evolved through the decades to keep current with women's lives and times. Meetings, once held in the afternoon, were now held in the evening to accommodate working women. Topics of monthly meetings were kept up to date with events and issues. The four standing committees of 1939 had expanded to nineteen by 2005. New additions included Candidate's Night, Parades, Senior Lunch, Summerfest, Cookie Bake and more, all reflecting the outreach and scope of the club's focus.

Financial support of worthy causes, such as scholarships, continued, with new ones being added. In 2002, the club first participated in Bartlett "Relay for Life," a fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research and programs of the American Cancer Society. The 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and devastating tsunami that followed led the club to donate $500 to relief efforts through BAPS Care International. Like members before them during past U.S. wars and conflicts, the women continue to support the needs of service men and women now fighting in Iraq. Cards, letters, and money have been contributed. The Hanover Township Senior Center on Route 59 was dedicated in 2004. The club made a donation to the project and in return an engraved granite tile was placed in its name on the Hall of Honor within this new facility.

In 2004, club member Naomi White was honored for 50 years of membership. She was just one of the many members who had been active in the club for decades. Joyce Davis, a member for more than 25 years, was honored once again in 2005 as the club's "Woman of the Year," her fourth time receiving this award since 2000. By this time in the club's history, mothers and daughters and multiple generations, such as aunts and nieces, had served side by side, with the club's motto, "By just and upright living, set a lofty example for others to follow," as their guide.

Long-time club historian, the late Stella Krumfuss, wrote in 1940:

"And so you see all thru the ages, As fashions come and go
The women are marching onward, Striving to reach the goal
And they will keep pressing onward, Their labors will never cease
Following in the pioneer women's footsteps, Creating better living, harmony and peace."

These words still ring true today as Bartlett's oldest service organization, the Bartlett Woman's Club, continues their dedication for more than seven decades of service and sisterhood.

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