Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Fortnightly Club: the Oldest Club in Gig Harbor

The women's Fortnightly Club is the oldest club that is still active in Gig Harbor and on the peninsula.

Gladys Para wrote in May, 1984, that the Fortnightly Club was still active in the community at that time. In June, 2012, the women of the club continued their long tradition of  community service and gave two scholarships to Peninsula School District graduating seniors. 

This woman’s club has had a continuous history here since its founding in 1907. The club originally formed to provide the women in Gig Harbor with means to fulfill social and educational needs. But with the advent of World War I, it expanded to include patriotic and philanthropic service to the community. The services that they established 100 years ago, have over the years that followed, we see with the scholarships awarded to our students.

Fortnightly Club

On December 9,  1907 the nine women that formed the Fortnightly Club included Lenna Patrick, Mary Magoon, Dora McKee, Bessie Green, Lucy Goodman, Littie Secor, Amanda Carlson, Elsie Jacobson and Angela Uddenberg.

Lettie (Mrs. Franklin) Secor gave herself the task of historian of the club and kept a record of their activities for 35 years. Unfortunately Mrs. Secor’s carefully crafted entries were misplaced sometime in the late 1960/70s. So, there is no recorded history of that time despite the fact that the club never even temporarily disbanded during their community activities.   
Club members in the early years of the organization
In 1908 about a year after forming, the members started a library which was first housed in the basement of the Uddenberg residence, with several members taking turns on Saturday afternoons to act as librarian. The books had been donated by interested friends, and members. The collection then moved to the home of Dr. Tymms. When the Tymms moved away the library was transferred to the Kendall store. In 1919, Mrs. J. D. Fuller, who then owned the telephone system, consented to house the library at the telephone office where it remained for twelve years.  Afterwards, it was moved to the Sweeney store at the head of the bay. Eventually it was disbanded due to the school libraries growing, the Tacoma libraries easier reached by ferry, and the difficulty of restocking and housing the books.

 In October 1909 they joined the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Club members having a swim at the sandspit
In the beginning, they met twice-monthly in the afternoon from September to May in members’ homes. For many years, the women walked or rode a buggy to the home where the meeting was to be held. The self-produced literary and musical entertainments and their enthusiastic patriotism during World War I exhibited their willingness to get things done. Not everything they did received public notice.

The club helped families with food, clothing, and sometimes their labor when necessary. They established the practice of encouraging college bound Gig Harbor students by giving them cash loans. The names of those students were lost with the loss of Lettie Secor’s records. However, it is known that a young woman graduating from Stadium High School in 1919 was provided with a loan of $100 to help her begin a lifelong teaching career.

In 1937, the Fortnightly Club received the Gig Harbor Improvement Club building for the payment of the outstanding mortgage. They installed the building's first electricity. In 1962 the Gig Harbor Yacht Club, then six years old, purchased the building. The club members then reestablished the practice of meeting in the members’ homes and could then turn what was used for the building’s expenses to better advantage of the community. “Probably the most photographed check in local history” was then presented to Ruth Bogue, president of the Gig Harbor Library Board. The check was for $3,000. 

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

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