1894 — Saturday Club

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It was 1894. Grover Cleveland was president of the United States. Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time. Karl Benz received a U.S. patent for a gasoline-driven auto. Helena became the capital of Montana. Milton Hershey founded Hershey Foods in Pennsylvania. Louis Comfort Tiffany made his first lamps. Dr. John H. Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan, filed for a patent for “flaked cereals and [the] process of preparing same.” St. John’s Hospital in Anderson was founded.

In 1894, Pendleton had no library and no women’s clubs. Very few women graduated from high school, and outside of the church there were very few social outlets available to women. There was, however, a desire for fellowship and a desire to learn.

A small group of seven women met on Oct. 5, 1894, to discuss organizing a club to promote literary advancement and social culture. They named this group “The Saturday Club of Pendleton.”

The members prepared a “yearbook” detailing the theme and who would be responsible for each meeting for the upcoming year. They followed Roberts Rules of Order. During roll call the member was to respond with a current event or a quotation on the subject of the day; to not do so resulted in a fine of one cent.

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The goal of the club was to learn social graces and acquire cultural knowledge. They would read and share what they learned with each other. The first year they studied the United States. The members of the club honored mothers beginning in 1901, well before the day was officially recognized in 1914. In 1909, a debate was held on women’s suffrage. In October 1917 the club voted to dispense with spending money on social affairs and instead bought a Liberty Bond. During World War I, members of the Saturday Club helped organize the Fall Creek Township Red Cross unit.

Their motto “We Seek for Light, to Bless with Light” was expanded from the self-seeking of culture and learning for the individual to also include the community. They published booklets distributed to high schools; sponsored art exhibitions and spelling bees for students; and sponsored philanthropic activities.

The club still conducts quarterly meetings with about 10 members still attending. The museum has a display and artifacts on the history of the Saturday Club; when the Museum reopens, take the time to look through the materials and see the many things the club has done throughout the years.